The Maskirovka Slips VIII: My Real Fear (Updated)

intel-cognitive-maskirovka-doctrine

(Updated below)

I wasn’t going to do my next Maskirovka post until Sunday night, dealing with the NY Times article about Russian cyber operatives placing evidence of child pornography on their targets computers as part of kompromat operations. But the news that broke earlier this evening, as well as the previous posts and comments, have made me decide to put one up. Specifically my real fear of the true scope of the Russian cyber influence operations. I cannot prove what I’m going to write, it is simply speculation, but it is informed speculation.

My real fear of the Russian cyber kompromat and influence operations is not just that they hacked the DNC, the DSCC, the DCCC and John Podesta’s emails. Nor is it that they then, as Malcolm Nance has stated, modified some of those emails before using Wikileaks to distribute them in pursuit of compromising the Clinton campaign to both sow chaos and make American democracy look chaotic and unappealing and, as has now been reported, install Donald Trump as the President. Rather it is that the Russians used their cyber operatives to hack both the Democratic and Republican parties, including the RNC, Republican Senatorial Committee, Republican Congressional Committee, and various elite and notable GOP members. Both David Corn and Kurt Eichenwald have reported evidence that the President-elect himself was the subject of a kompromat operation, though it is unclear if it was successful.

While it is now well documented that the Russians publicly compromised the Democrats, my real fear is that they’ve privately compromised the Republicans. By doing so they not only make America look bad, and the idea of liberal democracy, both of which are among Putin’s strategic objectives. But they also have leverage and influence over the GOP – the party that now controls both chambers of Congress, the Presidency, and a majority of state legislatures and state houses. Russia has believed that it is in a new Cold War with the US for well over a year. What better way to get an advantage by publicly compromising one political party in the US and privately compromising the other? And this is my biggest fear over the Russian cyber based influence operations in the 2016 Presidential election.

Based on what the Washington Post reported this evening, we are in a cyber war, if not an outright one. And while there has been much discussion as to what war in cyberspace looks like, we had better get in gear and get real serious about moving from concept to doctrine to reality very quickly. All that remains to be seen now is what, if anything, is done in response.

Update at 12:40 AM EST

The New York Times has now reported that Russia did indeed hack the GOP, they just did not release the information. So we do appear to have a public Russian kompromat of the Democrats and a private Russian kompromat of the Republicans. The only question that remains to be seen is what the Russians are leveraging their private kompromat of the Republicans for.

WASHINGTON — American intelligence agencies have concluded with “high confidence” that Russia acted covertly in the latter stages of the presidential campaign to harm Hillary Clinton’s chances and promote Donald J. Trump, according to senior administration officials.

They based that conclusion, in part, on another finding — which they say was also reached with high confidence — that the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.

 



You don’t know how lucky you are boys

Without Comey and rampant Broderism this never would have worked…but it did:

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Let the eagle soar.



Open Thread: President Obama Orders A “Full Review” of Russian Election Hacking

In a move essential to guarantee confidence in our electoral process, and also the proud political tradition of “Make ‘Em Deny It”, per CNN:

President Barack Obama has ordered a full review into hacking by the Russians aimed at influencing US elections going back to 2008, the White House said Friday.

“The President has directed the Intelligence Community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process. It is to capture lessons learned from that and to report to a range of stakeholders,” White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco said at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast with reporters Friday. “This is consistent with the work that we did over the summer to engage Congress on the threats that we were seeing.”

White House spokesman Eric Schultz added later that the review would encompass malicious cyber activity related to US elections going back to 2008…

Democrats were quick to praise Obama on Friday and pressured Trump to change his tune.
“Defending our elections from foreign meddling is more important than any political party’s advantage or disadvantage,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Any Administration should be deeply troubled by Russia’s attempt to tamper with our elections.”

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, California Rep. Adam Schiff, praised the administration for its move and called on the White House to declassify as much as it could.

“Given President-elect Trump’s disturbing refusal to listen to our intelligence community and accept that the hacking was orchestrated by the Kremlin, there is an added urgency to the need for a thorough review before President Obama leaves office next month,” Schiff said in a statement. “More than that, the administration must begin to take steps to respond forcefully to this blatant cyber meddling, and work with our allies in Europe who have been targets of similar attacks to impose costs on the Kremlin; if we do not, we can expect to see a lot more of this in the near future.”

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called the President’s move “constructive” and said he has no doubt about the Moscow’s role…

More detail, and video, at the link.

From that Newsweek link in the top tweet:

Asked if Republican President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team was not concerned enough about Russia’s influence on the election or about other threats to the United States such as infectious disease outbreaks, Monaco said it was too soon to say. As a presidential candidate, Trump praised Putin and called on Russia to dig up missing emails from his opponent, Hillary Clinton, from her time as secretary of state under fellow Democrat Obama.



The 75th Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor: The Day That Will Live in Infamy

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. For the US it was perceived as an unprovoked attack, which broke the domestic political logjam and brought the US into WW II. From the Japanese perspective it was a response to the economic warfare that the US had been waging on Japan since 1939. This included the US embargo on oil going to Japan.

From 1939 through 1941 the US and Japan were locked into a security dilemma (insecurity spiral) as the result of strategic miscommunication – the miscommunication of policy choices and strategic decisions on both sides. As the Japanese attempted to increase their influence throughout Asia, through the use of both economic and military power, the US sought to check them through the use of economic power. A significant portion of the Roosevelt Administration’s response, which was the result of the preferences of President Roosevelt and Secretaries Stimson, Morgenthau, and Ickes, was to adopt the Open Door Policy for China and impose economic sanctions and actions to limit Japan’s activities in Asia. The US policy was to bankrupt the Japanese and therefore stop their expansionism within Asia. The Japanese response was to utilize military power to get out from under the US’s actions – the attack at Pearl Harbor.

So while we take a moment and consider the events of that day, and those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor, there is an important lesson to be relearned as 2016 gives way to 2017. Strategic preferences for policy decisions and the actions taken on them have consequences. For every problem solved or resolved as the result of a successful policy and strategy, new problems arise and are created. And context matters. How one’s allies, partners, and competitors understand what you are doing is as important as how you understand it. Failure to account for this is the difference between policy success and strategic failure.

Here is the link for a full roll call of the casualties and fallen at Pearl Harbor.

And here is the link to eyewitness accounts of the attack.

Here is the sole (surviving?) news report of the attack on Pearl Harbor:

Here is President Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech to the Nation where he declares war on Japan:

And finally, here is the live feed of today’s 75th Anniversary Remembrance Ceremony.

Rest well Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

 



Strategic Miscommunication

There is a long term International Relations concept called the security dilemma, or as I like to think of it, the insecurity spiral. The security dilemma is a Realist concept that arises from the lack of an international sovereign. Basically because there is no overarching international controlling power, the actions of one or more states, usually in regard to military preparations, can/are misinterpreted leading to other states undertaking responses that in turn lead the original actor or actors to respond, leading to more counter responses. All of which causes a crisis of security, an insecurity spiral, which increases the possibility of conflict.

To avoid a security dilemma states, intergovernmental organizations, and a lot of non state actors, try to utilize strategic communication. Joint Publication 5-0 defines strategic communication as:

… efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of … interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power. Also called SC.

President-elect Trump’s recent, unsecured communications with many foreign heads of state have many concerned that these conversations are creating a type of security dilemma whereby the President-elect unintentionally or intentionally changes decades of American policy and strategic posture. And does so without the benefit of a State Department Protocol Officer, State Department pre-briefing to prepare for these calls, and secured comms to ensure that his conversations cannot be intercepted and used against the US (and our allies and partners) in the future. These communications have heightened tensions between India and Pakistan. And we now have an escalation in regard to the People’s Republic of China, which actually places the ongoing security of Taiwan at risk.

While some of this is a unique combination of the age of social media, 24/7 news media, and the Internet and a President-elect who seems addicted to social media and has a unique talent for capturing 24/7 news media, it is not unknown. To a certain extent the events that led up to World War I were the result of a classic security dilemma leading to a catastrophic insecurity spiral and the outbreak of actual war.

More recently, in the early 1980s, the aggressive attempts by President Reagan to pressure the Soviet Union led to a breakdown that almost led to war over the NATO war game known as Able Archer.

Able Archer was a 1983 NATO war game that was misinterpreted by the Soviet Union. The signals intercepts being made by Soviet Intelligence led them to mistakenly believe that NATO, led by the US and Britain, was preparing a nuclear strike against the Soviet Union. This almost kicked off a classic security dilemma as the Soviets mobilized in response to the war game. This was initially misinterpreted by NATO as the Soviets conducting their own, counter, war game. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed. After Able Archer’s conclusion, British Intelligence provided a complete report on the security dilemma that resulted from the strategic miscommunication to Downing Street, which then communicated to the Reagan Administration in order to prevent something like this from ever happening again. The documentary below details Able Archer, the Soviet Response, and just how closely everyone, on every side, escaped a war caused by misinterpretation from unintended miscommunication.



Open Thread: Bull(shitter) in A China Foreign Policy Shoppe

Twitter may be the perfect medium for a Trump ‘presidency’, because 140 characters at a time is about as much of this as a sane person can bear.

Is Trump bullshitting Taiwan? Is Taiwan bullshitting Trump? Are his neocon handlers bullshitting Trump? Who’s zooming who?


Read more



Late Night Open Thread: Is An Iranian Cult Courting Trump’s Cabinet Picks?

… Joining Trump faves Giuliani and Bolton, apparently. I know almost nothing of the MKO, but I do remember the Unification Church (aka ‘Moonies’) spending a supercarrier of money courting various GOP machers during the Reagan Administration — with results somewhere between the farcical and the sinister, depending on your paranoia levels. (Figures that the Bush Crime Family would be the main U.S. beneficiary, of course.)

Getting sucked into Iran’s internal politics seems a lot more dangerous — not least because Trump’s potential cabinet picks have nowhere near the level of political experience of the foreign policy people around Reagan (and back in the 1980s, who could’ve imagined that phrase being written in earnest truth?).

Anybody with more knowledge want to predict whether these “approaches” have the potential for genuine danger? Or is it just more would-be “global leaders” throwing their money down another Trump/GOP rathole?

(Last word is a typo for ‘Paris’, I think.)