(CitizensOutpost) The compartmentalization of the Intelligence Community is an ubiquitous web of separate agencies that are connected at the top by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Longstanding agencies such as the NSA and CIA have their intel stored on massive cloud servers which are intentionally segregated and operate under different jurisdictions.
The coordinated effort between intelligence agencies and news outlets in leaking classified information has become suspect in how news is being politicized and targeted at officials, including, of course, the Executive Branch.
The press also has an interest in prolonging the Mueller probe. Russiagate is good for business, mesmerizing viewers with a grand political spectacle featuring one of the media’s biggest draws for the last several decades—Donald Trump, the boss villain who is now in the White House. Maybe most prominent among the interested media organizations is the paper that has colluded with lawbreakers in publishing the names of US persons whose identities have been illegally leaked by intelligence officials and political operatives—the WashingtonPost.
Coincidentally, the owner of the Post also has a major stake in letting Mueller do his work to preserve America’s surveillance and spying complex. In 2013, the same year that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos bought the paper that broke Watergate for $250 million, Amazon Web Services landed a $600 million deal with the US intelligence community. According to a 2017 Washington Poststory, AWS created a “cloud storage service designed to handle classified information for U.S. spy agencies,” including the CIA. The cloud technology was to “usher in a new era of cooperation and coordination, allowing agencies to share information and services much more easily.”
But the temptation for abuse is above no pay grade. Under the guise of operational efficiency, the streamlining of information sharing has also created a powerful back channel of intelligence laundering through agencies by giving the ability to push and pull information between cloud sources, funneling information in a shell game of hide the data source. This has created a dilemma in oversight and auditing as data falls through the cracks of accountability.
…now some intelligence and data experts believe that the CIA cloud is how the Obama administration could have minimized its trail after unmasking US persons. “The NSA database, with its large and ongoing collection of electronic communications, can be accessed through the NSA’s cloud,” says one former senior intelligence official. The NSA can audit it and find out if analysts are violating rules. The NSA does not audit the CIA’s cloud, which is audited by the CIA’s IT people and Amazon Web Services employees who are given security clearances. Says the former official: “There are people in the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Council staff who can move information from the NSA cloud into the CIA cloud. That seems the likeliest scenario to explain how Obama officials first unmasked US persons and then shared information without leaving a trail that could be audited independently, or immediately, at every step. Since unmasking, by itself, is authorized for lawful purposes, it’s the processing and sharing, as with Susan Rice’s spreadsheets, that tell us if the information was being misused.”
Tracking down the flow of data and potential abuses will prove to be a long rabbit hole of a mess, but the American people deserve transparency and accountability when it comes to the potential malfeasance that high-level government officials have thus far been able to hide from oversight. The devil’s in the details.