I’m not going to make this a long commentary of my own since I began blogging specifically about this issue in early fall, when all the leading indicators were quite visible (the first national security warning was issued in early October).

It was clear to me some time ago that this would likely be one of the tactics used in Putin’s new efforts to destabilize western opposition to his reassertion of Russian geopolitical clout.  I devoted the last chapter of Surprise Attack to that emerging threat, which has now become far too real.

Of course everyone may take this as reality or simply deny it as some strange political maneuvering – as our new President elect seems to do. All I can do is give my own personal take that it is deadly serious and refer you to the following:

The first article gives some detailed historical context and the second is the current joint intelligence community take on the subject:

https://warisboring.com/russian-hackers-began-honing-their-election-tampering-skills-in-2010-65a05ee88ae7#.59w0mnp72

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/06/politics/intelligence-report-putin-election/index.html

Update:  If  you want an example of how masterfully the Russian leadership is in pursuit of their strategy for destabilizing the U.S. and undermining respect for it internationally read the following – a truly masterful and scary example of psychological warfare:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/07/politics/russia-us-obama-putin-intel-pushkov/index.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Larry Hancock

Larry Hancock is a leading historian-researcher in the JFK assassination. Co-author with Connie Kritzberg of November Patriots and author of the 2003 research analysis publication titled also Someone Would Have Talked. In addition, Hancock has published several document collections addressing the 112th Army Intelligence Group, John Martino, and Richard Case Nagell. In 2000, Hancock received the prestigious Mary Ferrell New Frontier Award for the contribution of new evidence in the Kennedy assassination case. In 2001, he was also awarded the Mary Ferrell Legacy Award for his contributions of documents released under the JFK Act.

11 responses »

  1. DAVID BROWN says:

    FIRST EDIT OF PRIOR POST:

    JUST WHAT DID U.S. INTELLLIGENCE GET RIGHT?
    * Pearl Habor?
    * Protection of U.S. Nuclear secrets?
    * Refusing to give loans and Marshall Plan funds to Russia?
    * Insisting on breaking with Russia and perpetuating the fraud of the Cold War?
    * The need to nuke Hiroshima? Nagasaki?
    * The need to fight the Korean War?
    * Chinese entrance into the Korean War?
    * The Gulf of Tonkin fraud?
    * Wasting 58,000 soldiers lives and 100’s of thousands maimed
    * The Phoenix Program?
    * Agent Orange?
    * Soviet and chinese support of Viet Nam?
    * MK Ultra obscenities against innocent Americans?
    * The Domino Theory?
    * Estimates of the Soviet economy?
    * Estimates of Soviet military strength?
    * Overthrow of duly elected government of Iran?
    * Blowback from that overthrow?
    * Overthrow of the duly elected government of Guatamla?
    * Blowback from that overthrow?*
    * Overthrow of the duly elected government of the Congo?
    * Blowback from that overthrow?
    * Overthrow of the duly elected government of Indonesia?
    * Blowback from that overflow?
    * Preventing Middle East nukes for Israel?
    * Blowback from that failure?
    * The Bay of Pigs?
    * The Northwoods proposal?
    * The Cuban Missile Crisis?
    * The fact that the Russians had tactical nukes on the ground in Cuba?
    * The Chicago plot to kill JFK?
    * The Ft. Myers plot to kill JFK?
    * The Miami plots to kill JFK?
    * Dallas plots to kill JFK?
    * The JFK assassination?
    * The MLK assassination?
    * The RFK assassination?
    * The Malcomb X assassination?
    * The attack on the Liberty?
    * The growth of Al Qaeda on U.S. $?
    * The growth of ISIS and the caliphate?
    * Terrorism?
    * 9/11?
    * Saddam Hussein on U.S. $?
    * Failure to warn Hussein not to invade Kuwait?
    * Iran’s nuclear arsenal as a justification for a needless invasion?
    * The fall of the USSR?
    * Protection of U.S. cyber assets against hacking?

    Obviously, any evaluation and restructuring and prioritizing and focusing of the U.S. intelligence apparatus should be welcomed!
    David S. Brown

  2. David, you have submitted quite a list and to some extent its all over the board in terms of what agency provided warnings and had the front line responsibility. I don’t know if you have read Surprise Attack but I tackle just that same question in regard to may major national security incidents and actually in most cases the intelligence community did see threats and warnings and tried is best to communicate them – from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 not to mention the Cuban missile crisis.

    Unfortunately there is a long road between collections, analysts and the decision makers and often the decision makers at several levels are so cautious that warnings simply don’t get responded to either in a timely fashion or at all. If you would like to chat about that by email just drop me a note…I may pick out a few items from your list and comment on them here but as I said its a pretty long list and you really do need to draw a line between what the intelligence community do/did and what those at the higher levels of command decision making do.

    I’ll give you one brief example, in regard to the Millennium terror attacks of 2000 the intel community was all over it and the Clinton administration responded – and the plots failed. In regard to 9/11 there were frenzied attempts to escalate the intel warning including pleas to Rice and a special visit to GWB at his ranch in Texas and the response was totally different than it had been less than a year before…

    • David Brown says:

      Larry,

      I get that.

      The intelligence community is intimately involved with covert operations, and making covert operations work, and your distinction that intelligence is not responsible for what happens and results from their intelligence work is not as decisive as you believe or present.

      The truth is intelligence has a say on every major decision the White House takes, and for that, they are exposed. Of course I have read “Surprise Attack”, and I really think it is one of the most important perspectives ever furnished, free, to the intelligence community. What, Larry, are they doing with it? I project, nothing.

      So the criticisms are valid. Especially when intelligence acts on its own out of frustration with the WH. David

      • David, I need to qualify myself by saying that in this instance my post and observations on Russian psych/cyberwarfare are totally independent of anything the CIA is doing in covert operations. And frankly covert operations following 9/11 have become dramatically different than they were during the Cold War of the last century. I think its pretty clear from my writing on Shadow Warfare that I cut no slack in regard to intelligence and the covert operations of the last century.

        But in this century, intel activities are increasingly separated between support for overt military action (given that we are involved in so much of that and have been for years now), special operations where intel folks are literally embedded with military forces, technical and signals intelligence which supports both those activities as well as things such as cyberwarfare defense (take a look at the report and see the types of signals work being used in an effort to understand the cyber attacks) and as always geopolitical collection and analysis which is something entirely different.

        Its really a mistake to try and paint “intelligence” with a broad brush (sort of like using the term Mafia in the JFK conspiracy) – especially since today its so much larger an effort than just the CIA. If anyone reading this does not appreciate that point and wants to seriously understand how broad it is I recommend Jeffrey T Richelson’s latest 2016 edition of The US Intelligence Community – it gives a significantly expanded picture over earlier editions.

        To another point, I think everyone who has read my books knows that I write about both sides of the coin in terms of intelligence work (good and bad), generally my take is that the collections and analysis side does a very good job – however they cannot control the acceptance or use of their work product once it goes upstairs to the decision makers. Admittedly in some cases CIA Directors have been to blame for warping intelligence to their own or the administration’s agendas, in other instances its the Natl Security Advisor, the President or even deeper forces such as the neocons who skewed just about everything about Iraq in order to justify going to war there. Its also important to note that there is quite often pressure from the top to come up with an analysis that supports what the NSC decisions want to do anyway and that sort thing can easily make or break careers.

        Its not that the intelligence officers don’t understand that problem, I could refer you to articles and books by intel specialists who go into great length over the challenges of carrying their studies up the chain of command and how difficult it is to get it accepted – especially warnings intelligence. That is a big part of the book I’m working on right now.

        Thanks for the praise for Surprise Attack, actually I figured you had read it. Interestingly both Shadow Warfare and Surprise Attack have done remarkably well at making it into the libraries at both the civilian intel and military agencies/institutions. I can’t say who’s reading it there but they have definitely made it available – run a book search for them at WorldCat and you might be surprised. Of course the problem is that the principals who make national security decisions (the President and his appointees) are the consumers of intel and given the set of individuals incoming to those positions in 2017 I can only feel sympathy for the intel personnel that try to give them advice…after all the new President has already said he knows more than both they and the Generals and has his own sources. I have to say it all reminds me a great deal of LBJ both in terms of personality and decision making, not a pretty picture…

  3. Anthony M says:

    For some months now I have been studying both the similarities and, perhaps more importantly, the differences between the interwar period and the current times. We have a major power that suffered significant loss of land and prestige now resurgent under an autocratic nationalist leader. The leading democratic powers in a more pacifist / less interventionist phase after experiences in recent wars. Significant numbers are turning to extremist populist leaders, often nationalistic in disillusionment after a major financial crisis…
    The differences are also important, geoplitical, technological, sociological, military etc.
    To date Putin’s judgement of how far he can go without serious consequences has been impeccable. A question in my mind, and I do not yet have a firm conclusion on this, is the extent to which this represents a ‘Munich moment’. By that I mean another seeming triumph which could embolden Putin even further but which has so profoundly shocked anyone who has any understanding of the significance of a direct attack on the foundations of American society and liberal democracy that it may well significantly alter reactions to future events.
    It is perhaps too simplistic to look at this simply as an attempt to get a useful idiot into the White House. Western democracy itself is being destabilised, although that involves many other factors. A major risk is that so many people will be watching President Trump with extreme suspicion as to his motives for any and all actions that it may push him into firmer reactions than anyone expects.
    Intelligence can be wrong and has been on many occasions…it is not a precise science but the overall scenario seems clear enough and those denying it have their own motives.

    • I could not agree more with you on this, the real threat is that this is simply one part of Putin’s overall geopolitical strategy, not something unique and certainly not something as simple as his not liking Clinton and making it personal. I really tried to get inside Putin’s strategy in writing the last part of Surprise Attack. It is one of creating chaotic international relations so he can take tactical advantage as things unravel – not at all unlike the Stalin era Soviet strategies actually. Actually a brilliant combination of military pressure/threats and psych warfare coming from someone who learned the craft in the Cold War.

      Putin began to implement this entire strategy as part of his return to power in re-assuming the Russian presidency. It is virtually a religious quest for him to establish Russia as a global power. I would not necessarily equate it to Hitler/Germany and Munich since I don’t think Putin has major territorial objectives but in some aspects it is similar – leveraging Russian speaking populations in Eastern Europe to create political discord is very much like Hitler’s use of the German speaking enclaves prior to WWII.

      The key word – as you stated – is “destabilization” and in that his intent is quite clear and global. My concern is that our new President sees everything in terms of himself (yes, I said that) very much like Lydon Johnson did. And he projects that on everything with virtually no objectivity. And like LBJ, Trump is surrounding himself largely with people who are personally committed to him and have virtually no experience or perspective in their new positions. The only exception in my view is his nominee for SecDef who may have enough nerve to at least stand up to Trump.

      President Trump appears to be in denial about Putin at the moment – which of course is just what Putin wants. Denial of reality led President Johnson and the U.S. into the debacle of SE Asia. It led GWB into the debacle of SW Asia. Its almost impossible to see where Trump’s incoming state of denial may lead.

      And if you want to see how well prepared the Russian leadership is to work this strategy, see the following – masterful and very scary:

      http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/07/politics/russia-us-obama-putin-intel-pushkov/index.html

      • David Brown says:

        Intelligence is the reason any covert operation is conceived, authorized and executed, and wrong intelligence and reasoning means wrong covert operations — separating the two demeans both.

        Also, is there no duty for intelligence analysts to make their conclusions effective — warnings practice surely would be enhanced if they were more involved in knowing how there intelligence is understood, accepted and used.

      • Actually from what I’ve studied, and what you see in Shadow Warfare, most major covert operations originated in high level policy agendas set by senior decision makers (Guatemala, the Cuba project, Contra operations and covert warfare against the Russians in Afghanistan are all examples), often with very little intelligence/analyst input. Sometimes recommendations were asked for before the decision; sometimes not. Most often intelligence/operations was essentially tasked with how to implement projects.

        Quite often the overall intelligence community response was/is that a project was actually unlikely to work. Cuba after the revolution is one example, for three successive years the highest joint intel board advised that Castro could not be successfully overthrown – but two separate administrations didn’t want to hear it and went ahead with covert action anyway. In that particular instance the joint board registered a no while Dulles was just nodding his head and going with the program.

        That does illustrate the point there certainly were occasions in which CIA Directors have been so influential or so tied into senior decisions makers that they did indeed help form covert operations as part of policy making. But sometimes Dulles initiated projects and other times he just took marching orders – he actually proposed eliminating of Castro directly to Eisenhower, in contrast Ike had personally directed Dulles to eliminate Lemumba. Anyway, I’m always ready to discuss covert operations, its just not what I had in mind with this post.

        On your second point, actually there is a professional responsibility for analysts to present their information as effectively as possible, especially threat assessment and warnings intelligence. And they do spend a good deal of though and head shaking on how to accomplish that. There are numerous papers published on that subject within the intel community and I’d recommend Cynthia Grabo’s Anticipating Surprise; Analysis for Strategic Warning – which goes into considerable detail on the challenges, obstacles and practices for getting their work understood and accepted.

        As to use…that’s something else entirely. Unfortunately some of the worst fiasco’s have come from senior staff taking intel and either managing it for their own career interests or on the other side, NSC principals and Presidential advisors essentially shopping for intel that will support their pitch.

      • David Brown says:

        All based on their view of on the ground reality dictated by intelligence — there is no way intelligence gets a pass based on your analysis.

      • David, I still am not seeing what this has to do with the topic of this post but maybe its me. For discussion sake, I could give you a dozen examples of where intelligence gave warnings or advice that was either totally disregarded or morphed to support support higher level decisions. GWB decided to ignore all the warnings about imminent terror attacks in 2001 – as did Rice. GWB was told the day of 9/11 that the attacks had nothing to do with Iraq – yet he ordered the intel folks to pursue that avenue and come up with something to support action against Saddam; when they hesitated Cheney and Rumsfeld assembled intel enough from their own sources to sell the deal.

        If you want to paint with a broad brush, certainly intel never gets a pass since at some point they are always asked for information and analysis so they are part of the process, part of the equation. I’m good with that. And sometimes their analysis and advice is good, sometimes its not. As an example they gave very concrete warning about the Dec 7/8 1941 attacks and about Chinese intervention in the Korean conflict. In contrast they totally failed predict the initial North Korean invasion.

        To be more specific about this particular post, we are not experiencing one of the few instances where virtually every intel agency has presented and is agreement on extensive evidence of Russian intrusion in our political affairs (that level of agreement is fairly rare), starting as far back as 2010. My point was that this is simply a fit and extension with Putin’s overall strategy, which I first laid out in Surprise Attack.

        Yet what we see is a President, a vice president and several members of his party willing to ignore the true implications because they are locked into the view that to do so would somehow diminish his election and his options. Its certainly not the first time we have seen that sort of thing; its now clear that LBJ and his SecDef and NSA fully understood there was no second Tonkin Gulf attack but he chose to go forward with retaliation to strengthen his image in the upcoming elections – positioning himself against Goldwater.

        And we know what that led us into. Whether or not Trump and his Congressional leadership (also in denial for political reasons) will eventually led into something as serious a possibility. That was the point of my blog post.

  4. Anthony M says:

    Yes, in many was disregarding or selectively picking and distorting evidence to fit a political objective is nothing new. It is the precise nature of these events that is unusual. Unfortunately an open society like the USA is far more vulnerable to information warfare attacks as we allow free debate and have significantly lower restrictions on the flow of information than in, for example, Russia and China.
    That exceptionally valuable liberty is also a vulnerability as it can be played to create confusion and obfuscation as appears to be happening in this case. Thankfully there have been studies ongoing for some time on this hybrid warfare strategy (Chatham House did one for NATO some years ago which is in the public domain) but developing an overarching strategy for countering these sorts of threats strikes me as one of the major strategic challenges for all democracies in the coming years, assuming our leaders are actually working in the interests of their countries rather than themselves personally.

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