July 20, 2018

Trump’s Constant Indiscreet Tweets Aid Hostile Intelligence Agencies

INTELNEWS, July 3, 2018, reports:

"...according to former Central Intelligence Agency analyst Nada Bakos, foreign intelligence agencies are among those paying close attention to the president’s tweets...

...All intelligence agencies, explains Bakos, build psychological profiles of foreign leaders. These profiles typically rely on information collected through intelligence operations that are “methodical, painstaking and often covert”. The final product can be crucial in enabling countries to devise strategies that counter their adversaries, says Bakos. But with Trump, covert intelligence-collection operations are not needed in order to see what is on his mind, since “the president’s unfiltered thoughts are available night and day”, she claims. 

The former CIA analyst points out that President Trump’s tweets are posted “without much obvious mediation” by his aides and advisors, something that can be seen by the frequency with which he deletes and reposts tweets due to spelling and grammatical errors. These unfiltered thoughts on Twitter offer a “real-time glimpse of a major world leader’s preoccupations, personality quirks and habits of mind”, says Bakos.

...[Bakos] clearly thinks that the US leader’s use of social media is too impulsive and potentially dangerous from a national-security perspective...."


If only the leaders of Russia and China were as indiscreet as the random Trump!

July 19, 2018

China & Russia Fear Islamic Terrorism as much as West Does

INTELNEWS on July 11, 2018 reports:

"Intelligence directors from Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan met on Tuesday to discuss regional cooperation with particular reference to combating the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Information about the high-level meeting was revealed yesterday by Sergei Ivanov, media spokesman for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR). Ivanov told Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency that the meeting was held in Pakistan and included the participation of SVR director Sergei Naryshkin. TASS reported that the meeting was held under the auspices of Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate and was attended by “senior intelligence officials” from Pakistan, Russia, Iran and China..."


Pakistani agencies (including ISI) had many organisational and personal links with al Qaeda and, of course, the Taliban from the 1980s to the 2000s, but Pakistani agency links with Islamic State have not yet matured. This is partly because Islamic State is more extreme and frequently less venal ie. less bribe-able.

The makeup of the meeting reinforces strategic alliance realities that Pakistan is dependent on China for much missile, nuclear weapons' developments and now submarine building. Meanwhile Iran is dependent on Russia in many respects, including deterring any Boltonesque US-Israeli bombing of Iran.

Overall the meeting recognises China and Russia fear Islamic terrorist attacks as much as Western countries (eg. US, UK, France) as well as India. 

Spain's new S-80 Plus submarine 'too big for its dock'

Also see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S-80-class_submarine for the S-80’s broader problems and specs.

July 18, 2018

Months or Years? Obama's Image ended a perfectly good US Counter-Terrorism Process

In an operation smaller than the much larger US operation that monitored Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda guests in Abbottabad, Pakistan, from 2005 to 2011 (then international exploitation of the intelligence gained):

INTELNEWS JULY 17, 2018 reports:

“A joint Indian-American counterintelligence operation, described as “unprecedented in its scale and scope”, reportedly foiled a major suicide attack by the Islamic State in New Delhi and helped achieve “a string of victories” against the group in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Citing “top diplomatic and intelligence sources”, the New Delhi-based daily The Indian Express said that the “audacious” operation took place a year ago, but details about it were only made available to its reporters in recent days...”


Looking back again to Abbottabad - so many massive counter-terrorism operations continue for years below the surface. As ever, “discoveries” just a few months old that boost a US President’s (in 2011 Obama's) counter-terrorism credentials, actually concern operations of great value that lasted several years. The SEALS Abbottabad operation, requiring the planned execution of bin Laden, supported Obama's image as, not only a Democrat with a conscience, but Obama the hard-nosed "National Security President".

Taiwan's New Submarine Project Wildly Underfunded and Optimistic

It is interesting that countries-companies have been variously reported as submitting submarine designs for Taiwan’s (once again) US endorsed submarine building project. These may be:

-  1 or 2 Indian firms. Though India has never built a conventional submarine other than assembling
   foreign designed submarines. Even the strikingly Russian Delta SSBN-like INS Arihant owes much
   to Russian design assistance especially due to the need to integrate a basically Russian designed
   reactor into it.

-  1 or 2 Japanese firms (MHI and KHI). Though Japan has not built an export submarine since the 
   Matchanu class, for Thailand, in the 1930s. Japan also scrupulously protects its submarine design
   secrets. Notoriously PRC intelligence penetrated Taiwan may not be a secure customer. Matthias
   Halblaub has drawn my attention to this link that indicates even US companies are not secure
   against Chinese intelligence hacking.

-  2 US firms. Though the US has not built conventional submarines since the Barbel class of the
   1950s, and

-  2 unnamed European companies (perhaps from Sweden, France, Germany, Spain or the

As The Diplomat’s (paysite’s) reminded on July 12, 2018 Taiwan allocated a paltry US$65.66 million to complete design work on its future submarines. Then Taiwan is over-optimistic in compressing milestonesto build a fleet of eight domestically designed SSKs, each displacing around 1,500 tons, with the first boat entering sea-trials by 2024 followed by its first operational deployment in 2026."


I argued in April 2018 "BACKGROUND-COMMENTS" that Taiwan is likely relying on updating existing teardrop designs (from Netherlands, Japanese or US companies) which all draw on the US’s sixty year old Barbel design. See Wiki

"The Zwaardvis-class submarine of the Netherlands and [Taiwan's] Hai Lung-class...(built and sold by the Netherlands) were developments of the Barbel class design. The Japanese Uzushio class and its successors were also influenced by the Barbel class."

Taiwan would need fundamental updates to be competitive against China. Major upgrades needed include up to date quiet diesels, new electric motors and broader electrical fitout, new snorkel, new quieting technologies all over the sub, new sonars, photonic masts, computers and other electronics, anechoic tiles, new pressure hull steel and the vast number of other new submarine innovations since the 1950s. The US$65.66 million Taiwan is talking about wouldn’t even cover new sonar integration.

Perhaps Taiwan intends to rely financially and time-wise on a sympathetic US interpretation of America's Taiwan Relations Act (effective 1979). This ambiguously states that "the United States will make available to Taiwan such defense articles and defense services in such quantity as may be necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capabilities". Time and Trump's changeable nature will tell.

A PRC-Hong Kong South China Morning Post article of July 19, 2018 subsequently carried many of the arguments stated above.