26 FEB 16 – Executive Intelligence Summary – Forward Observer Shop

26 FEB 16 – Executive Intelligence Summary


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…

  • OPM Chief Information Officer Retires Before Scheduled Congressional Hearing on Data Breach
  • Cape Town Gang War Provides Insight into Potential WROL Conditions
  • Investor Jim Rogers Points to Central Banks Losing Control of Global Markets
  • Roll-Up of February Polling Data on Beliefs / Attitudes of the Nation
  • DHS/FEMA Areas of Improvement
  • The NYPD’s Warrantless Cell-Site Simulator Program

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National PMESII:

Political/Government: OPM Chief Information Officer Retires Before Scheduled Congressional Hearing on Data Breach

On Monday, the Chief Information Officer at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) retired, effective immediately — two days before she was scheduled to testify at a hearing before the House of Representatives.  Donna Seymour was responsible for overseeing the computer systems hacked by the Chinese in two separate occasions in 2014.  That hack resulted in the personnel and security files of 22 million Americans being leaked, in addition to 5.6 million fingerprints of cleared U.S. personnel, which now pose a grave counterintelligence security risk to U.S. Armed Forces and intelligence officials.

Before the 2014 hacks, the U.S. Inspector General warned the OPM that the computer systems were vulnerable to intrusion.  Those vulnerabilities are still so significant that the Department of Defense is now taking responsibility for protecting personnel and security records in the future.  The House hearing, which was scheduled for Wednesday, was cancelled.

(AC: Several weeks ago, I chatted with a information systems security team leader who works for Microsoft.  “Those files shouldn’t have even been online,” he said.  Those files would have been considered Sensitive But Unclassified, otherwise known as SBU.  SBU information typically resides on what’s called the Non-classified Internet Protocol Router, or NIPRNet, which is a private government network accessible through the Internet.  Higher classified networks like SIPR and JWICS are not accessible through the Internet.

The OPM didn’t even discover that they’d been hacked until 2015, a year after the information was stolen.  And, unfortunately, we might never know about other cases of unauthorized access to sensitive government information.)


Military/Security/Defense: Cape Town Gang War Provides Insight into Potential WROL Conditions

The Western Cape Province of South Africa has been undergoing a major gang war and might shed some light on conditions in a world Without Rule of Law (WROL).  According to one study, Cape Town is the 20th most violent city in the world — more dangerous than Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis and Baltimore.

Gang members in the province are estimated at potentially 100,000, with perhaps 10,000 willing to commit violence at any time.  These members make up between 75 and 130 gangs in a province of around six million people.  Shootings between rival gangs have been so dangerous that schools are now shut down during high intensity gang battles.

Despite growing by fifty-three percent (53%) in the past nine years, the local South African Police Services (SAPS) are still losing the pitched battle against gangs.  “The public have no trust in the police stations. There is no confidence in SAPS—they are completely discredited to the public,” according J.P. Smith, a Cape City official.

Mirroring a worst case scenario in the States, Smith describes what’s going on beneath the surface:  “There’s purposeful, malicious undermining on a political level, and you see that in the starvation of [law enforcement] resources.”  But SAPS still continues bi-weekly anti-gang patrols, driven in part by intelligence gathered throughout the week.

“The fact that you have a two percent conviction rate for gang violence tells you the whole story,” Smith says.  “It’s completely political. It’s also why they don’t want specialized units. Because the guys who have one foot in the gang environment don’t want their businesses to be scratched.”  (Continue Reading…)

(AC: If our assumption is that the U.S. is on the verge, over the next five or ten years, of joining the formerly developed world, or list of formerly advanced economies, then gang warfare could certainly erupt at similar levels as Cape Town in some very specific U.S. regions.  Take out a map and identify cities where gang warfare is already active.  The FBI several years ago estimated that one and a half million Americans are members of gangs which account for 48% of violent crime.

A few of the main causes for the gang wars in South Africa are an uneducated and unskilled class of society — what W.E.B. DuBois described in late 1890s America as the “submerged tenth” and what ethnographer Elijah Anderson today calls the “ghetto underclass” — along with the drug trade which represents an opportunity to survive and make a living.  We see the same primary causes for the American gang wars — the much belabored lack of opportunity, lack of education, drug and alcohol use/addiction as a vacation from reality, bias towards gang membership as a means of survival, et cetera, ad nauseum.

From an intelligence perspective, our first look is to identify if there’s already gang activity in our area.  If so, then begin work on threat identification of those gangs and analyze their strengths and capabilities.  If there’s no gang activity in your community, then identify the nearest areas where gang activity exists, and then identify factors or conditions that would entice those gangs to begin operating in your area.  Learn as much as you can about these groups — gangs signs, tagging/graffiti, and colors — so you can spot indicators of their expansion into your area as soon as possible.

Ideally, we at the community level want to work with local law enforcement to help catch the bad guys and improve community security.  That means that the community should understand that each member is a pair of eyes and ears and has a responsibility to funnel information into our community security team or SHTF intelligence section.)


Economic/Financial: Investor Jim Rogers Points to Central Banks Losing Control of Global Markets

“We’re all going to suffer.  I can think of very few places that won’t suffer.  Maybe North Korea won’t suffer.  Maybe… Cuba.  But most people are going to suffer next time around.”

Jim Rogers, an American businessman and renowned investor, was on Crush the Street earlier this month speaking about global financial volatility.  Rogers said that 2016 and 2017 “won’t be good” as central banks are losing control of global markets.  “The root cause, of course, is the gigantic debt which has built up in the developed world in the past few decades… and the American central bank, starting with Alan Greenspan, has done nothing but print money every time there’s a problem…  And, of course, this is the first time in recorded history that we’ve had all central banks, all major central banks, printing a lot of money — the Japanese, the Europeans, the Americans, the British — it’s the first time where everybody’s printing a lot of money… And whether it falls apart this year or next, it’s going to fall apart.  It has to.”

“… the market knows this is over and we’re not going to play this game anymore.”

(AC: In all fairness, I can remember in 2008 when I first started getting into preparedness — from a secure facility in Baghdad, reading Jim Rawles and Alex Jones in my downtime — that Jim Rogers, Peter Schiff and many other investors were calling for increased volatility and eventual market collapse with the Fed under Ben Bernanke.  I explicitly remember Gerald Celente making his rounds in 2008, saying that by Christmas 2009 we wouldn’t recognize America due to massive collapse. While on leave, I spent virtually every last penny that I owned on seeds and ammunition.

Aside from Celente, one thing many of these investors had in common was that they said that the Federal Reserve would step in and try to “save the day” through massive monetary expansion at the cost of increased peril in the future.  And, indeed, the Federal Reserve temporarily prevented global meltdown in 2008-2009.  Printing money to prop up markets was the in-vogue thing to do, but I do think we’re getting towards the end of the line.  A major indicator is watching the massive transfer of wealth from the American People and the U.S. Government to global bankers and friends of the oligarchy.

A major pet peeve of mine for years has been blogs and other SHTF sites saying that the market was going to crash in three months or six months, or that the world had until October or until next March until societal collapse.  These folks have been saying these things for years.  I certainly think we can all agree that the overall trends are very, very negative, but the important thing for us to do, unless you’re a money manager, is to stop trying to guess the market collapse or front run the banks, and focus on describing the effects of a stock market crash and subsequent global recession.

Knowing how all of this is going to affect your community is way more important guessing at the date of market collapse.  How will this affect my community?  Answer that question as specifically as you can, while thinking about the geographical areas around you, the people and demographics in those places, the security and law enforcement personnel who call these places home, etc.

Use the acronym ASCOPE (Areas, Structures, Capabilities, Organizations, People, and Events) and identify how each of these will be affected by a market crash.  You’ll be reducing uncertainty in the process and increasing your overall awareness.  And that’s what intelligence is all about.)


Social/Demographic: Roll-Up of February Polling Data of Beliefs / Attitudes of the Nation

  • Eighty-one percent (81%) of likely voters believe the government is corrupt, while thirty-three percent (33%) say that it’s very corrupt. (Report)
  • Forty-four (44%) of likely voters believe that terrorists are winning the War on Terror. (Report)
  • Sixty percent (60%) of likely voters believe that the Islamic State (IS) is a very serious threat.  Twenty-seven percent (27%) believe that IS is a somewhat serious threat. (Report)
  • Forty-seven percent (47%) of likely voters rate the Obama Administration’s efforts against IS as poor. (Report)
  • Fifty-six (56%) of likely voters believe that Guantanamo Prison should not be closed. (Report)
  • Eighty-three (83%) of likely voters are not concerned about an IRS audit. (Report)


Infrastructure/Energy: DHS/FEMA Areas of Improvement

In late 2015 Congressional subcommittee hearing, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate gave a testimony of progress in a report entitled, Ready and Resilient?.  (Download)  In the report, Fugate cites six “core capabilities” that need to be improved:

  • Cybersecurity
  • Housing
  • Infrastructure Systems
  • Long-term Vulnerability Reduction
  • Economic Recovery
  • Access Control and Identity Verification

The first four have been areas of improvement for four consecutive years.  Economic Recovery was also listed as an area for improvement in 2012 and 2013 reports.

(AC: Russia, China, and other state-sponsored and non-state-sponsored hackers have been wiping the floor with the U.S. Government and Armed Forces for years when it comes to cybersecurity.  This month the Obama Administration pledged an additional $19bn in cybersecurity funding, and it’s also reached out to private sector cybersecurity firms for help; most notably, DHS moved into a facility in Silicon Valley, California, to work alongside tech companies.  The thing to keep in mind is that money will not fix this problem, especially considering the waste, fraud and abuse that comes along with $19bn.  The fundamental problem is that humans are most often the weak point of security, and until you change the corporate and government culture towards security, we will continue to be plagued by cybersecurity problems.

Infrastructure and Vulnerability Reduction were also highlighted in the report.  Nearly six years ago in 2008, the Congressional EMP Commission estimated that a $2bn investment would protect the grid from the effects of an EMP attack or EMP-like solar event.  Consider that the 2003 Northeast Blackout alone resulted in $7-10 billion in economic costs; and that event could be repeated, caused by something as simple as a solar flare.  Now consider that Senator Coburn in Fiscal Year 2012 found that tens of billions of dollars of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP; food stamps) were spent on Taco Bell, beer and condoms.  This is collusion or incompetence at the highest levels, and maybe both.

This nation has serious security gaps and vulnerabilities, especially in cybersecurity and infrastructure.  Frankly, we’ve just gotten really lucky that we’ve not had worse problems so far.  Most terror attacks we’ve experienced have been conducted by virtual amateurs.  If a professional and determined enemy were to attack infrastructure weak points, this nation could easily be sent into a downward spiral that could result in full or partial economic and/or societal collapse.  Keep in mind that the same EMP Commission member Peter Pry, a former CIA Intelligence Analyst, estimated that 90% of Americans could die within two years of a grid-down event.)


Information Systems/Surveillance/Communications: The NYPD’s Warrantless Cell-Site Simulator Program

The New York Police Department used cell-site simulators over 1,000 times without a warrant between 2008 and 2015.  Cell-site simulators trick cellular phones into connecting to the simulators, equipment like Stingrays and DRT Boxes, and provide law enforcement access to not only cell phone meta-data, but also, in some cases, phone calls and text messages.

(AC: If it’s happening in New York City, then we can safely assume that it’s happening in at least all major cities, and probably elsewhere around the nation.  The fact of the matter is that, without a warrant, this should be a violation of the Fourth Amendment, but their defense is that your cell phone emits a signal and users have no expectation of privacy.  Earlier this week, I reported on a court document that defended this practice.  Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh:

Because [the suspect] chose to keep his cell phone on, he was voluntarily sharing the location of his cell phone with third parties.

[The suspect]… was quite aware that he was bringing his own cell phone into the house.  And he was quite capable of turning it off.


Meanwhile, cell phone applications like Snoop Snitch identify and report nearby cell-site simulators.)



AC: Analyst Comment; an opinion, explanation or clarification

DHS: Department of Homeland Security

EMP: Electromagnetic Pulse

EXSUM: Executive Intelligence Summary

FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Authority

OPM: Office of Personnel Management

OSINT: Open Source Intelligence

SAPS: South African Police Service

SBU: Sensitive But Unclassified

SHTF: Shits Hits the Fan

WROL: Without Rule of Law


Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

1 Comment

  1. Thank you very much for all your work, I appreciate it. Really like the ASCOPE evaluation, will put it into practice this weekend.

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