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Archive for December 9th, 2013|Daily archive page

Corporate Espionage Firms

In Archive, Palantir, Surveillance on December 9, 2013 at 11:35 PM



The Center for Corporate Policy recently released a report demonstrating how large corporations hire former law enforcement officials to spy on nonprofit organizations considered to be a threat to them. We added all of the firms in the report to a list in LittleSis–Corporate Espionage Firms–to take a closer look at some of the people behind these firms.

ACADEMI formerly Blackwater
Berico Technologies Data analytics
Diplomatic Tactical Services
Global Open Corporate espionage
Hakluyt British private investigative firm
HBGary Federal Subsidiary of ManTech International Corporation
Information Network Associates Premier investigative & security services to…
Inkerman Group London and Kent based company offering counter…
Investigative Group Inc IGI is a preeminent private investigation and…
Kargus Consultants
Ketchum Public Relations Global public relations agency
Kroll Risk consulting company
Palantir Technologies Intelligence & data analytics, cofounded by Peter…
Stratfor Strategic intelligence on global business,…
Total Intelligence Solutions Intelligence gathering firm
TrustWave Corp Private security firm; information security;…
Vericola UK-based private security/intelligence gathering…

A sampling of corporate espionage firms, the people behind them and their former government employers


  • TrustWave, formerly known as NetSafe, was paid by the firm S2i, formerly known as BBI, to assist with electronic surveillance of Greenpeace for Dow Chemical. The report notes that TrustWave’s founder and a current director, Joe Patanella, formerly worked for the NSA.  A quick look at TrustWave’s interlocks shows that Phil Smith, current SVP of Government Solutions, formerly worked at the Department of Justice and the Secret Service.
  • Total Intelligence Solutions was hired by Monsanto to infiltrate unknown nonprofits organizing against the company in 2008. The report highlights the role of Cofer Black, chair of Total Intel at the time, in establishing the firm’s relationship with Monsanto. Black was at the helm of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center until 2002, when he took over counterterrorism efforts at the State Department before leaving to join ACADEMI, formerly known as Blackwater, as vice chair in 2004. Total Intel was launched by Erik Prince, owner of Blackwater, in 2007. In addition to Black, he brought on Robert Richer as CEO, who previously worked at the CIA.
  • Stratfor worked for Coca-Cola and Dow spying on animal and human rights activists, according to emails released by WikiLeaks in 2012. Fred Burton, one of the emailers and Stratfor’s VP of Intelligence, came into the private sector from the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Stratfor’s interlocks show that another vice-president, Scott Stewart, also came from the State Department.

Related Links:

What’s in a Name: Corporate Spy-for-Hire Palantir of “Team Themis”

Mapping the Shadow Government: Booz Allen Hamilton

Intelligence Contractors Give Millions to Lawmakers Overseeing Government Surveillance; Ruppersberger #1 ($363,600)

In Archive, Politics, Surveillance on December 9, 2013 at 11:01 PM




In response to documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, the congressional committees in charge of overseeing the government’s intelligence operations have come to the defense of the surveillance and data collection programs, and the agencies that administer them. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have rejected attempts to reform the programs while advancing legislation to bolster their legal status and providing a funding boost to the National Security Agency (NSA) to protect their secrecy.

The U.S. intelligence budget for 2013 is $52.6 billion. According to the Washington Post, “top secret spending” is divided into four main spending categories: data collection, data analysis, management, facilities and support, and data processing and exploitation. Seventy percent of the intelligence budget is used to pay private contractors. Several of the companies receiving intelligence contracts are major donors to members of the intelligence committees, including L-3 Communications, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Honeywell International.

Data: MapLight analysis of campaign contributions from political action committees (PACs) and individuals from the top 20 intelligence services contractors working with the Department of Defense, ranked by total value of contracts received, to members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Data source: Federal Election Commission from January 1, 2005 – October 4, 2013. Department of Defense intelligence services contracts source: USASpending (contract totals as of September 26, 2013)

  • In total, members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have received $3.7 million from top intelligence services contractors since January 1, 2005.
  • Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from Maryland — home of NSA headquarters — led the committees in money received from top intelligence contractors. Representative C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md., is the largest recipient, having received $363,600 since January 1, 2005. Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., is the second largest recipient, having received $210,150.
  • Republican members of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have received $1.86 million since January 1, 2005, while Democrat members have received $1.82 million over the same time period.
  • Members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have received $2.2 million since January 1, 2005 from top intelligence services contractors, while members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence have received $1.5 million.
  • Lockheed Martin has given $798,910 to members the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence since January 1, 2005, more than any of the other top 20 intelligence service contractors. Northrop Grumman has given $753,101, the second highest amount, and Honeywell has given $714,913, the third highest amount.


*Contract totals were combined for L-3 Communications Holdings Inc., L-3 National Security Solutions Inc. and L-3 Communications Corporation. Department of Defense intelligence services contracts source: USASpending (contract totals as of September 26, 2013)



Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the House committee’s highest-ranking Democrat, received the most from the contractors: $363,600, including $124,350 from Northrop Grumman, mostly from the company’s PAC, top executives and lobbyists. Ruppersberger is one of the “Gang of Eight” top legislators who routinely receive the most-detailed reports on intelligence among congressional members.

His Maryland district includes the National Security Agency, now routinely in the news due to Edward Snowden’s disclosures about the distant and controversial reach of its surveillance. Ruppersberger has called Snowden a traitor. In an interview with a Maryland paper last month, he said about the NSA’s PRISM data-mining effort that “we can’t afford to lose this program.” He did not respond to several requests for comment about the contributions.

Another Maryland legislator on the intelligence committee, Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski, received $210,150 from the companies, the second-highest total among intelligence committee members. Mikulski is also the chairwoman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, which funds most government programs, including those related to intelligence.

Other top intelligence committee recipients from the contractors included Reps. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J. ($205,345) and James Langevin, D-R.I. ($200,850), who also serve on the House Armed Services Committee. LoBiondo is the second-highest ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee and has been on Armed Services since 2003. Langevin is the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Intelligence Subcommittee.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a senior intelligence committee member who has been an outspoken critic of the NSA, in contrast received $24,500 from intelligence-related Pentagon contractors during the study period, placing him near the bottom among the current members. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D.-W.V. a former chairman of the committee, also received relatively little from the companies, $36,100, mostly from the PACs of Lockheed and Honeywell during his last election in 2008. In October, Rockefeller opposed a Wyden amendment that would have disclosed Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court findings of constitutional violations. Rockefeller has announced his retirement at the end of the session.

“World of Spycraft”: Snowden Documents Reveal Western Intelligence Agencies’ Online Gaming Surveillance/Espionage

In Archive, CIA, FBI, GCHQ, NSA, NSA Files, Surveillance on December 9, 2013 at 9:53 AM


James Ball/Guardian:

To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency’s impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.

That vision of spycraft sparked a concerted drive by the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ to infiltrate the massive communities playing online games, according to secret documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The files were obtained by the Guardian and are being published on Monday in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica.

The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which boasts more than 48 million players. Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games’ tech-friendly users.

The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a “target-rich communications network” where intelligence targets could “hide in plain sight”.

Games, the analyst wrote “are an opportunity!”. According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a “deconfliction” group was required to ensure they weren’t spying on, or interfering with, each other.

If properly exploited, games could produce vast amounts of intelligence, according to the the NSA document. They could be used as a window for hacking attacks, to build pictures of people’s social networks through “buddylists and interaction”, to make approaches by undercover agents, and to obtain target identifiers (such as profile photos), geolocation, and collection of communications.

The UK agency did not stop at World of Warcraft, though: a September 2008 memo noted GCHQ had “successfully been able to get the discussions between different game players on Xbox Live”.

Meanwhile, the FBI, CIA, and the Defense Humint Service were all running human intelligence operations – undercover agents – within the virtual world of Second Life. In fact, so crowded were the virtual worlds with staff from the different agencies, that there was a need to try to “deconflict” their efforts – or, in other words, to ensure they weren’t spying on, or interfering with each other, and to make sure each agency wasn’t just duplicating what the others were doing.

Justin Elliott/ProPublica:

NSA officials met with the chief technology officer for the manufacturer of Second Life, the San Francisco-based Linden Lab. The executive, Cory Ondrejka, was a former Navy officer who had worked at the NSA with a top-secret security clearance.

He visited the agency’s headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., in May 2007 to speak to staff members over a brown bag lunch, according to an internal agency announcement. “Second Life has proven that virtual worlds of social networking are a reality: come hear Cory tell you why!” said the announcement. It added that virtual worlds gave the government the opportunity “to understand the motivation, context and consequent behaviors of non-Americans through observation, without leaving U.S. soil.”

Ondrejka, now the director of mobile engineering at Facebook, said through a representative that the NSA presentation was similar to others he gave in that period, and declined to comment further.

One 2009 document says that while GCHQ was testing its ability to spy on Second Life in real time, British intelligence officers vacuumed up three days’ worth of Second Life chat, instant message and financial transaction data, totaling 176,677 lines of data, which included the content of the communications.

Intelligence agencies found other benefits in infiltrating these online worlds. According to the minutes of a January 2009 meeting, GCHQ’s “network gaming exploitation team” had identified engineers, embassy drivers, scientists and other foreign intelligence operatives to be World of Warcraft players — potential targets for recruitment as agents.

The Pentagon’s Special Operations Command in 2006 and 2007 worked with several foreign companies — including an obscure digital media business based in Prague — to build games that could be downloaded to mobile phones., according to people involved in the effort. They said the games, which were not identified as creations of the Pentagon, were then used as vehicles for intelligence agencies to collect information about the users.

In one 66-page document from 2007, part of the cache released by Mr. Snowden, the contracting giant SAIC promoted its ability to support “intelligence collection in the game space.”

It is unclear whether SAIC received a contract based on this proposal, but one former SAIC employee said that the company at one point had a lucrative contract with the CIA for work that included monitoring the Internet for militant activity.

In spring 2009, academics and defense contractors gathered at the Marriott at Washington Dulles International Airport to present proposals for a government study about how players’ behavior in a game like World of Warcraft might be linked to their real-world identities.

After the conference, both SAIC and Lockheed Martin won contracts worth several million dollars, administered by an office within the intelligence community that finances research projects.


The operations raise concerns about the privacy of gamers. It is unclear how the agencies accessed their data, or how many communications were collected. Nor is it clear how the NSA ensured that it was not monitoring innocent Americans whose identity and nationality may have been concealed behind their virtual avatar.

Related Link: 3D Cyberspace Spillover: Where Virtual Worlds Get Real (ODNI SHARP/2008)

WikiLeaks Releases Secret TPP Negotiation Documents: US Pressure, Disagreements, Country Positions

In Archive, Economy, Politics, TPP, WikiLeaks on December 9, 2013 at 5:45 AM



On 13 November 2013 WikiLeaks released the draft text of the crucial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Intellectual Property chapter during the lead-up to a TPP chief negotiators’ meeting in Salt Lake City on 19-24 November 2013. Today, 9 December 2013, WikiLeaks has released two more secret TPP documents that show the state of negotiations as the twelve TPP countries began supposedly final negotiations at a trade ministers’ meeting in Singapore this week.

One document describes deep divisions between the United States and other nations, and “great pressure” being exerted by the US negotiators to move other nations to their position. The other document lists, country-by-country, the many areas of disagreement remaining. It covers intellectual property and thirteen other chapters of the draft agreement. This suggests that the TPP negotiations can only be concluded if the Asia-Pacific countries back down on key national interest issues, otherwise the treaty will fail altogether.


ODNI Intelligence Advisory Committees Identified

In Archive, ODNI on December 9, 2013 at 3:53 AM


Steven Aftergood/SecrecyNews:

In a new report to Congress, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence identified the seven external advisory committees that currently support and advise the DNI.

Ordinarily, government advisory committees that include non-governmental members are subject to open meeting requirements under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. It mandates that “the Congress and the public should be kept informed with respect to the number, purpose, membership, activities, and cost of advisory committees.” The Act was intended to provide a check on the government’s many advisory committees, which have sometimes played an influential role in the formulation of public policy.

But the Act also provides that committees established by the DNI may be exempted from public reporting requirements, as are all of the intelligence-related Committees listed in the new report. The report was released by ODNI under the Freedom of Information Act, with the names of all committee members redacted.  In numerous cases, however, committee members have identified themselves in their own online bios.

The current DNI advisory committees are:

1. Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Senior Advisory Group (SAG) which is supposed “to provide external perspective to the DNI on policy, industry best practices, technology breakthroughs, and best-in-class solutions relevant to current intelligence issues.” SAG members include Jane HarmanJoanne Isham, and Paul Kaminski.

2. National Counterterrorism Center Director’s Advisory Board (NCTC DAB)advises NCTC on counterterrorism policy and technology.  Members include Jared Cohen and Michael Leiter.

3. National Counterproliferation Center (NCPC) Senior Counterproliferation Partners Advisory Board (SCPAB) advises the Center on “a variety of issues facing the Counterproliferation community” including assessments of significant intelligence events and guidance on interacting with military commands.

4. Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Partners Board (HS/LE PB)provides perspectives on the intelligence needs and equities of State, Local and Tribal partners.

5. Advanced Technology Board provides “linkages between the Intelligence Community and the scientific community” as well as “early notice of developments in science that might affect the Intelligence Community.” Members include Robert Fein.

6. Financial Sector Advisory Board (FSAB) provides “insights on information sources, developments, and other areas expected to improve the Intelligence Community’s ability to produce actionable intelligence in the financial arena.” Current members include Bob Rose of Thomson Reuters (who also sits on the NCTC Director’s Advisory Board).

7. Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies is the advisory group established at the direction of the President in response to the controversy generated by the Snowden disclosures. The Review Group members, disclosed by the White House but redacted by ODNI, are Richard Clarke, Michael Morell, Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein, and Peter Swire.

DNI Clapper stated in 2012 that he had “reduced the number of advisory boards to the DNI as part of an efficiency review.”  Among the defunct advisory groups was the Intelligence Science Board, which produced an important study of the science of interrogation practices that became public in January 2007.

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