Andrea Thompson, the State Department official in charge of U.S. arms control negotiations with Moscow, and her husband had a years-long friendship with GOP operative Paul Erickson, the former boyfriend of convicted unregistered Russian agent Maria Butina — ties this official did not disclose to her superiors or to Congress during her confirmation process in the spring of 2018.
The full extradition hearing to decide whether Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should be sent to the United States to face accusations including spying charges will take place in February next year, a London court ruled on Friday. Assange, 47, faces 18 counts in the U.S. including conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law. He could spend decades in prison if convicted.
“The idea of an Anglo-American conspiracy that secretly runs the world is hardly new among fringe groups, left and right, but it gets an odd boost from this president. Britain is the club that Trump desperately wants to join but simultaneously resents. He’s the ‘America First’ populist who this week exalted in being received by British royalty.”
It might sound kind of paranoid, but it’s reality. The Department of Homeland Security is warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies could pose serious risks, including that the data they gather could be stolen. Since drones are now commonly used by electric utilities, oil companies, and even the Interior Department, the security of the nation’s power grid is a chief concern.
“Assange is not a journalist. He is a spy. The fact that he gave stolen U.S. intelligence to al-Qaeda, the Taliban, China, Iran and other adversaries via a website rather than dead-drops is irrelevant. He engaged in espionage against the United States. And he has no remorse for the harm he has caused. He once called the innocent people hurt by his disclosures ‘collateral damage’ and admitted WikiLeaks might get ‘blood on our hands.’ Sorry, he does not get to aid and abet our enemies, put countless lives at risk and then hide behind the First Amendment. The Justice Department is right to indict him for his crimes.”
With 2016 still fresh in everyone’s mind, the intelligence community is leaving nothing to chance. The FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Office of the Director of National Intelligence have briefed the 2020 presidential candidates on potential cybersecurity and espionage issues they may face, and how to recognize ways that foreign influence operations might try to affect their campaigns. Let’s hope they take it more seriously than a certain past campaign did.
Chelsea Manning was ordered back to jail after refusing to testify in front of a second grand jury looking into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Manning told federal district judge Anthony Trenga that she would “rather starve to death” than give testimony.
Amid a deepening trade war with China, President Trump on Wednesday declared a “national emergency” via executive order to protect U.S. communications networks in a move that gives the federal government broad powers to bar American companies from doing business with certain foreign suppliers. But instead of Russia, it appears to target China.
Alexander Torshin, then a Russian central banker, brought his protégée, Maria Butina, for meetings with senior officials from the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve in 2015. Torshin has since been sanctioned by the U.S. and cannot return, while Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to serve as a Russian agent and is serving a prison sentence.
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that he wouldn’t use the word “spying” to describe the bureau’s investigative work, breaking from Attorney General William Barr’s use of the term in reference to the probe of Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford has warned Congress that China uses U.S. companies to steal secrets and benefit its military. A new report from the Pentagon says that China steals military secrets in many ways, saying China engages in “… [targeting] foreign direct investment, cyber theft, and exploitation of private Chinese nationals’ access to these technologies, as well as harnessing its intelligence services, computer intrusions, and other illicit approaches…”
While speaking with Russian reporters by phone, convicted Russian agent Maria Butina called her 18-month sentence a “disgrace” and said that she did not expect such a “severe punishment.” Butina pleaded guilty for failing to register as a foreign agent of Russia.
A U.S. government report indicated that nearly 17,000 Americans were unmasked by U.S. cyber spies for their contact with foreign intelligence targets. Government protocol mandates that when a message is intercepted by the NSA, in which one of the participants is American, the American’s name and identity is blacked out. Unmasking can occur when requested by intelligence officers or high-ranking government officials.