Inside the government secrecy industry
I feel a little uncomfortable using The Week's platform to promote my new book, but at the same time, I'm kind of proud of what D.B. Grady and I turned out, and I've spent a lot of time this week giving some other publications a sneak peak at certain passages. This post rounds them all up. I won't do this again — I promise. In fact, tomorrow, I'll give you a preview of two other books by rival authors, both of which are guaranteed to make big headlines when they come out in April.
First: the story of how U.S. Special Forces infiltrated the ISI and set up a spy network to parallel the CIA's.. right when Pakistan's tribal regions began to see a resurgence of al Qaeda activity. From the Atlantic:
A JSOC intelligence team slipped in alongside the CIA. The team had several goals. One was prosaic: team members were to develop rings of informants to gather targeting information about al-Qaeda terrorists. Other goals were extremely sensitive: JSOC needed better intelligence about how Pakistan transported its nuclear weapons and wanted to penetrate the ISI. Under a secret program code-named SCREEN HUNTER, JSOC, augmented by the Defense Intelligence Agency and contract personnel, was authorized to shadow and identify members of the ISI suspected of being sympathetic to al-Qaeda. It is not clear whether JSOC units used lethal force against these ISI officers; one official said that the goal of the program was to track terrorists through the ISI by using disinformation and psychological warfare. (The program, by then known under a different name, was curtailed by the Obama administration when Pakistan's anxiety about a covert U.S. presence inside the country was most intense.
Chapter 17 of Deep State is a comprehensive history of the National Security Agency's expanded surveillance authorities after 9/11. The code name for the set of programs is RAGTIME. From Washingtonian:
Ragtime, which appears in official reports by the abbreviation RT, consists of four parts.
Ragtime-A involves US-based interception of all foreign-to-foreign counterterrorism-related data;
Ragtime-B deals with data from foreign governments that transits through the US;
Ragtime-C deals with counterproliferation actvities;
and then there's Ragtime-P, which will probably be of greatest interest to those who continue to demand more information from the NSA about what it does in the United States.
Ragtime-P stands for Patriot Act. Ragtime-P is the remnant of the original President’s Surveillance Program, the name given to so-called "warrantless wiretapping" activities after 9/11, in which one end of a phone call or an e-mail terminated inside the United States. That collection has since been brought under law, but civil liberties groups, journalists, and legal scholars continue to seek more information about what it entailed, who was targeted, and what authorities exist today for domestic intelligence-gathering..
Finally, a report on ForeignPolicy.com about how the NSA is trying to balance secrecy with a need to counter the threat from China's instatiable cyber-warriors.