• 8. Russia’s Modern-Day SMERSH

    SMERSH, the counterintelligence unit created by Joseph Stalin in 1943 to conduct sabotage and assassinations behind German lines, was disbanded in 1946, with its operatives and missions moved to the NKVD (later, the KGB). It was revived in three James Bond books as 007’s main nemesis. It now appears that SMERSH, or an organization with similar missions and methods, has been reconstituted within the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence organization. Its name is Unit 29155, and its mission is to conduct assassinations and sabotage in Western European countries.

  • How a Poisoning in Bulgaria Exposed Russian Assassins in Europe

    Western security and intelligence officials say the attempted 2015 poisonings in Sofia of a Bulgarian arms dealer was a critical clue that helped expose a campaign by the Kremlin and its sprawling web of intelligence operatives to eliminate Russia’s enemies abroad and destabilize the West.

  • The Chinese Threat to U.S. Research Institutions Is Real

    The Chinese government is pursuing a comprehensive, well-organized, and well-funded strategy to exploit the open and collaborative research environment in the United States to advance their economic and military expansion at our expense. Josh Rogin writes that for too long, U.S. research institutions have been asleep to Beijing’s efforts.

  • State Officials Are Unhappy with Rollout of Election Security Framework

    The federal government has developed a new threat-notification framework, which is meant to give U.S. officials a consistent process for alerting state personnel, the private sector, Congress, and the public of foreign attempts to interfere in U.S. politics through influence operations or cyberactivity. Sean Lyngaas writes that “State officials were only given a generic, one-page summary of the document, which is still restricted to the federal government” and quotes the secretary of state of West Virginia, who said that the document “was “either done without [states’] input or our input was ignored.”

  • Cambridge Five Spies Burgess and Maclean Lauded by Russia as Heroes of Anti-Fascism

    The Russian intelligence community on Friday honored two of the notorious Cambridge Five spy ring, whose members spied for the Soviet Union from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. The Cambridge Five also included Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, and John Cairncross. The five were attracted by communism, and the Soviet Union, as young Cambridge University students in the early 1930s, after coming to believe that British – and, more generally, Western — passivity in the face of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler was aiding in the growth and spread of fascism. Maclean and Burgess defected to the Soviet Union in 1951, and for three years lived in the town of Samara on the Volga. On Friday, a plaque bearing the two Britons’ names was unveiled on the wall of the apartment where the two lived until returning to Moscow in 1955.

  • GOP Senators: Chinese Drones Pose National Security Threat

    A group of GOP senators called on the administration to restrict the use of Chinese drones by U.S. government agencies. “American taxpayer dollars should not fund state-controlled or state-owned firms that seek to undermine American national security and economic competitiveness,” they write.

  • The United States Should Not Act as If It's the Only Country Facing Foreign Interference

    “Right now, Russia’s security services and their proxies have geared up to repeat their interference in the 2020 election. We are running out of time to stop them.” This stark warning from former National Security Council official Fiona Hill serves as a sharp reminder of the threat to democracy posed by foreign interference and disinformation. Russia’s ongoing interference in U.S. affairs is just a small piece on a big chessboard. A key foreign policy goal of the Kremlin is to discredit, undermine, and embarrass what it sees as a liberal international order intent on keeping Russia down and out. Russia’s systematic attack on U.S. democracy in 2016 was unprecedented, but its playbook is not unique.

  • How New Voting Machines Could Hack Our Democracy

    The United States has a disturbing habit of investing in unvetted new touchscreen voting machines that later prove disastrous. Jennifer Cohn writes that as we barrel toward what is set to be the most important election in a generation, Congress appears poised to fund another generation of risky touchscreen voting machines called universal use Ballot Marking Devices (or BMDs), which function as electronic pens, marking your selections on paper on your behalf. Most leading election security experts instead recommend hand-marked paper ballots as a primary voting system, with an exception for voters with disabilities.

  • Voting-Machine Parts Made by Foreign Suppliers Stir Security Concerns

    Voting machines which are widely used across the United States contain parts made by companies with ties to China and Russia, researchers found, raising anxious questions about the security of voting machines which use overseas suppliers. Several government agencies are now looking into the issue. Alexa Corse writes that a report issued Monday by Interos Inc., an Arlington, Virginia-based supply-chain monitoring company, says that voting-machine vendors could be at risk of using insecure components from overseas suppliers which generally are difficult to vet and monitor.

  • The Crossfire Hurricane Report’s Inconvenient Findings

    The DOJ IG report, Michael Sanchez, writers, confounds the hopes of Donald Trump’s more ardent admirers by failing to turn up anything resembling a Deep State cabal within the FBI plotting against the president, or deliberate abuse of surveillance authorities for political ends – but it also paints a disturbing picture of the FBI’s vaunted vetting process for FISA warrant applications.

  • Justice Department Inspector General’s Report Raises Troubling Questions About FBI’s Role in FISA

    The Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded that the FBI’s initiation of the Russia probe met legal standards, but the report issued last Monday by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) strongly criticized the FBI’s handling of one aspect of the probe: the request for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) wiretap of ex-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page and subsequent renewals of the FISA. Peter Margulies writes that along with the record of Russian election interference compiled in the Russia probe, institutional reforms to the FISA process will be a valuable legacy of the investigation.

  • Telefonica Deutschland Chooses Huawei to Build Its German 5G Network

    Rebuffing U.S. pressure, German mobile provider Telefonica Deutschland announced Wednesday that it has chosen Finland’s Nokia and China’s Huawei to build its 5G network in Germany, the company. Huawei is a global leader in constructing equipment and infrastructure for ultra-high-speed 5G data networks, but the intelligence services of leading Western countries have argue that Huawei is a security threat because of its close ties with the Chinese military and intelligence establishments. 

  • U.K. Intelligence Probing Russian Election Meddling

    Britain’s cybersecurity agency is investigating whether state-sponsored Russian hackers were behind the leaks of British government documents used by opposition politicians to embarrass Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party ahead of Thursday’s general election.

  • The New Kind of Warfare Reshaping Global Politics

    The list is long: Russian internet trolls interfering in the 2016 U.S. election; Russian operatives murdering Putin’s opponents abroad; Chinese spies manipulating Australian politics while the country’s coast guard ships harass Japanese fishing fleets, and much more. Simon Clark writes that these are not random acts of autocratic aggression. Rather, they are examples of a new form of warfare which is becoming a bigger challenge for the United States and its western allies: gray-zone conflict.

  • Picturesque Alpine Region Served as “Rear Base” for Russia’s GRU Agents

    The French intelligence services are leading an international hunt for Russian spies after what was described as a “rear base” of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency was discovered in southeastern France. GRU agents used the region of the Haute-Savoie as a “stopover,” during which they would be given the final briefings before moving on to their missions in various European countries.