EXECUTIVE INTELLIGENCE SUMMARY – 25 MAR 16
The National PMESII section is a break down of national- and regional-level Political, Military, Economic, Social, Infrastructure, and Information events and trends. Appendix: Collection of acronyms and definitions used.
[wcm_nonmember] In this EXSUM…
- Spy Prosecutor Believes Charges Against Hillary Clinton Are Likely
- DDIS to Begin “Hacker Academy”
- Faber: Markets Down Further in 2016, U.S. to Enter Recession
- MS-13 Re-Establishing Itself; Indicators of MS-13 Activity
- Updates for Renewable Energy in Appalachia & Texas (PDF Download)
- Iran-Linked Hackers Responsible for New York Dam Cyber Attack (PDF Download)
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Political/Government: Spy Prosecutor Believes Charges Against Hillary Clinton Are Likely
The chief prosecutor of Israeli spy Johnathan Pollard says that charges against Hillary Clinton are likely, although the FBI is likely to reduce what should be felonies down to misdemeanors, as they did with Gen. David Petraeus. Former U.S. Attorney Joseph diGenova, who prosecuted the then-Navy intelligence analyst for passing top secret intelligence to Israel, points out that the Department of Justice’s granting immunity to Clinton’s IT aide is a sign that a grand jury has been convened.
Military/Security/Defense: DDIS to Begin “Hacker Academy”
Earlier this week, we reported that the Danish Defence Intelligence Service (DDIS) in August will begin enrolling Danish hackers into a “hacking academy”. Those who graduate will be recruited to serve in the DDIS, likely against Russian adversaries. This follows a trend of European nations training counterintelligence and cybersecurity professionals, because those are two areas where NATO is outmatched by their cold war Russian foes. Two things are clear to us. The first is that NATO is preparing to fight a war against Russia, and the second is that Russia is signaling continued operations in Europe, much like their activities in Ukraine. (Read the full report here.)
Economic/Financial: Faber: Markets Down Further in 2016, U.S. to Enter Recession
In a Bloomberg TV appearance, international investor Marc Faber reaffirms his belief that 2016 is the year of the American recession, which will lead to a global recession. He also says that the U.S. stock markets will fall this year.
(AC: I just got back from visiting some family in California for a few days. They’re a pretty conservative bunch, many of them are self-employed, but few of them had any clue that a recession is looming this year. Being self-employed, they understand that a recession is going to hit them directly in the pocketbook because their businesses are tied into the greater economy.
We’ve reported in several EXSUMs now that a growing number of analysts and successful investors expect a recession this year. If you’re trying to reach those in your family or community and spread the message of being prepared, I’d encourage you to use the recession as a talking point. Many Americans still remember the pain of 2008, so remind them that since the 1900s, the U.S. has had a recession every six to eight years. From 2008 to 2016 is eight years on the head, so we’re at our historical window. Use that as a jumping point.)
Social/Demographic: MS-13 Re-Establishing Itself; Indicators of MS-13 Activity
Despite the decapitation of the local MS-13 chapter in Washington D.C. in the mid-200s, MS-13 is seeking to re-establish itself in the D.C./Baltimore metro area. Gang analysts say that MS-13 in that area has focused on the sex trade, recruiting young girls to work at brothels, instead of carrying out its trademark numerous murders.
“What we are beginning to see is an attempt to re-establish themselves as the preeminent gang in the Maryland area,” the Montgomery County (MD) State’s Attorney said. “They are actively trying to build their numbers again. That is based on direction they are receiving from outside the U.S.”
(AC: MS-13 should be of significant interest to those who live in metro areas, especially close to major large cities where gang activity is already high. What makes MS-13 so dangerous is their propensity for violence, their ability to hide in the ‘human terrain’, and their top-level leadership which resides outside the U.S. — much like the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And if its leaders in El Salvador are urging growth in the D.C. area, then a safe assumption is that they’re urging expansion in other large cities.
Previously, we’ve reported on the recruiting tactics of the MS-13, favoring the recruitment of middle and high school kids because they receive shorter sentences than adults who carry out the same gang violence. We highly recommend doing some online searches for the presence of MS-13 in your areas of operation, or asking law enforcement contacts where you live. Some indicators you should begin searching for are existing Latin communities or influxes of Central American immigrants, as MS-13 is known to use these communities as recruiting pools. MS-13 is primarily a Latin gang and is especially tied to El Salvadorian communities. Beyond that, sex and drug trafficking, along with gang-related violence, are hallmarks of MS-13 activity. If these indicators are already observable in your area, then you may be at increased risk of MS-13 activity there.)
Infrastructure/Energy: Updates for Renewable Energy in Appalachia & Texas
Earlier this week, Duke Energy Corporation announced plans to build electric production plants that convert livestock waste to electricity. North Carolina, where the plants will be built, is responsible for nearly 15% of the U.S. pork production, second in overall production by state behind Iowa. (Appalachian Redoubt Download: North Carolina’s Public Utility Infrastructure)
Meanwhile in Texas, wind and solar energy production is rapidly expanding for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) power grid. ERCOT is one of the three power grids in the U.S., and serves the state of Texas. Falling solar panel prices that make solar competitive with fossil fuels have allowed Texas energy producers to increase solar installations by fifty percent (50%). According to SNL, wind and solar production is going to constitute 66% of ERCOT’s energy increases in 2016. (Texas: The ERCOT website is a great tool to investigate your power grid. They produce a graph that shows consumption measured against production, potentially allowing early warning of brownouts.)
Information Systems/Surveillance/Communications: Iran-Linked Hackers Responsible for New York Dam Cyber Attack
In 2013, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-backed hackers broke into the command and control system of a dam in upstate New York. This week, the Obama administration announced that it had indicted seven hackers allegedly responsible for the attack, in which attempts were made to disrupt the operations to the dam. (AC: Earlier this month, we produced a report on the potential for Iranian terror attacks against the U.S. and what that would likely look like.) (Download the indictment).
In related news, the United States Government (USG) reported a ten percent (10%) increase in cyber attacks in 2015, compared to 2014. Officials cited their ability to detect additional attacks as part of that increase, however, the number of successful intrusions that have gone unnoticed may never be known.
(AC: As we’ve reported previously, cyber attacks have been and will continue to be the preferred method of harassing the USG and its interests for several reasons. Firstly, because U.S. infrastructure is vulnerable to cyber attack. Considering the relative ease of attack and accessibility from a world away, along with the intelligence value of mapping out infrastructure or accessing databases, cyber attacks will certainly continue into the future. Frankly, we should just get used to hearing about attempted or successful cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure a monthly basis.)
AC: Analyst Comment; an opinion, explanation or clarification
EXSUM: Executive Intelligence Summary
OSINT: Open Source Intelligence