John Schindler Profile picture
Jul 20, 2018 12 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Time for a tweetstorm on the realities of covert action and influence ops in elections. Since Trumpers are now citing the "Everybody does it" line regarding what Russia and its friends did to the USA in 2016 to help put Trump in the WH. So, here's some espionage #realtalk.../1
First, everybody who can, which means all developed countries, does SIGINT, which today means much cyber collection. So, NSA has collected ("hacked" in amateur parlance) emails and whatnot from foreign dignitaries and VIPs. Yes, it's illegal, but, really, everyone does it. /2
Western countries do this for intelligence purposes, ie informing statecraft, broadly. While small bits of SIGINT may be used for narrowly defined covert action, USG/IC does NOT use this intel to broad-brush shift elections and subvert governments, as Russia did in 2016... /3
RIS in 2016 executed an incredibly aggressive clandestine destabilization campaign against the US election encompassing #deza, Active Measures, moles/agents placed all over DC, and classic Chekist spy methods. One truly for the record books, an epic Kremlin SpyWar success..../4
NOBODY else does that. Probably only a matter of time before PRC does (they've gotten awfully far in Australia), but the Russians are in an intel class by themselves. Yes, US IC tries to covertly influence foreign governments; we do NOT do anything like what RIS did in 2016.../5
People who try to equate US IC with RIS inevitably bring up Italy 1947, Iran 1953, Guatemala 1954. Examples not just from the Cold War, but from its early years. IC got out of this seamy business in the 1970s, when the IC got raked over Congressional coals post-Watergate ... /6
For the last 40 years, IC covert action requires a POTUS "finding" + there's Congressional (HPSCI/SSCI) oversight. This prevents one-offs and kooky ideas from getting executed. Sorry, it's nothing like the movies, folks. It's a bureaucratic process like everything else in DC.../7
So, if you think Lajes Boy as HPSCI chair -- or Trump as POTUS -- signed off on aggressive IC CA against Putin just like the Russians did (and keep doing) to us....there's a really nice bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. Special price, today only -- just for you! ... /8
USG does try to influence, especially the peaceful booting-out of repulsive dictators through democratic means, but since the 1970s it's really pretty overt. The IC assists, but point is walked by DoS and related NGOs. "Color revolutions" as the Kremlin calls them venomously.../9
It's not hiding in plain sight, because it's not even hidden. That the USG, often led by Congress, supports democracy abroad isn't a secret. That's stated US policy. We fund NGOs that push democracy, press freedom, etc. Putin naturally hates this, especially in Russia .../10
This was where some of Putin's venom against Hillary came from, that as SECSTATE she supported pro-democracy efforts in Russia. Nothing secret there. So Vova retaliated with the Chekist toolkit he knows and loves, which is very secret & very nasty. Not equivalent to US MO ... /11
Bottom line, folks, is that there's NO equivalency between Western and Russian CA methods. Everybody spies, everybody "hacks" -- but US/NATO do NOT strategically weaponize intel to overthrow governments like Putin does. Saying we do is simply a lie which needs to be exposed. /12X

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More from @20committee

Sep 16, 2018
OK, except Woodward is exculpatory on Trump's Kremlin collusion only in a highly narrow and technical way, which makes perfect sense if you know Bob's longstanding MO, which he's been chugging at in DC for 45 years and counting.

I shall elaborate....

Bob interviews everybody around POTUS. Anybody in the WH not stupid makes sure to talk to Bob to make sure their take is in the book. Trump, of course, was stupid. So, FEAR isn't exactly flattering to the WH. Bob does NOT interview IC folks at any working level. No access there.
Nobody (except a few top bosses) in the IC will talk to Woodward because 1. They fear and distrust journalists (with good cause), and 2. They remember VEIL, Bob's 1987 trainwreck about Reagan's CIA and DCI Bill Casey. After that, all Bob's IC bridges were burned for good.
Read 6 tweets
Aug 29, 2018
OK, America, it's time to wake up and cut the shit. I have no dog -- zero -- in any partisan fight, but let's discuss what's happened here. It's truly shocking. /1…
A former CIA official's SF86 (ie SSBI to obtain or keep TS/SCI) information seems to be out there -- and is being exploited by her political enemies. This is a VERY serious development, on both the privacy and the counterintelligence fronts. /2
Either her political enemies have a mole inside CIA who's breaking a mountain of laws, or this is tied to HoIS. Remember when the PRC made off with several million SF86s in 2015 because OPM can't shoot straight? Yeah, that. /3
Read 5 tweets
Jul 30, 2018
In my latest column, I compare today's DC Russian penetration problems with the terrible experience the USA had with Kremlin espionage 70 years ago, at the dawn of the last Cold War.

Some lessons and warnings clearly present themselves. /1…
First, the Russian spy network is bigger than you think. And hidden. Public discussions of Kremlin spies represent the mere tip of the espionage iceberg. Most of the turncoats clandestinely working for Moscow will never been unmasked, much less prosecuted. That's reality.

Second, espionage is a tough crime to prove, even when the US Government has gold-standard top-secret intel like VENONA in its back pocket. Does Mueller have something similar today? We may know that answer soon.

Read 7 tweets
Jul 3, 2018
Wow! Somebody's scared shitless of what #NSA knows. Can't imagine why....

OK, maybe I can (1)…
Read 5 tweets
Dec 13, 2017
Look, folks: CI people in the IC were in complete panic in 2016 -- not that Obama WH listened much -- since they KNEW who Trump really was.
2/ OK, time for a mini-rant cum tweetstorm on this since Planet Fox is up in arms now trying to crush the Muller investigation and the FBI.
CI professionals in the IC have known for MANY YEARS that Trump possessed strange, disconcerting ties to the Kremlin. Going back to 80s. /3
Read 9 tweets
Nov 15, 2017
Steaming pile of CYA BS even by DC standards. Author was complicit in SHUTDOWN of DoS effort to fight Kremlin lies.

2/ Stengel's piece is incredibly dishonest. He was complicit in what I told you about in NOV 2015, right here:…
3/ That piece had a list of questions that needed to be answered -- a YEAR b4 the election -- on why DoS/USG refused to fight Kremlin lies.
Read 8 tweets

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