Early Warning for 17 January 2018

Early Warning is a daily intelligence report published each morning at 8am CST that alerts readers to the largest events that happened overnight and the developments expected to shape the day. Published via the web and also made available through email, Early Warning is available for both Strategic Intelligence and National Intelligence subscribers.

Here’s your Early Warning for Wednesday, 17 January 2018.

House Republicans last night produced another short-term funding agreement that may keep the government funded through 16 February. The major sticking point remains to be a DACA deal, and how Trump can appease the base while still finding support from Democrats. The deadline for a budget agreement is this Friday, 19 January, otherwise parts of the government shutdown over the weekend and into Monday. If the Congress agrees to another short-term funding solution, it will be the fourth since September 2017. (Analyst Comment: This is a major source of instability for the nation, and especially so in the short term. The Republican-controlled Congress has less than a year to pass a budget before Democrats threaten to achieve parity in, or potentially take over, the Senate. If a budget is not passed before then, the Democrats will certainly hold hostage the American First policy, which is likely to increase government dysfunction and instability. Democrats may be desirous of a government shutdown before the mid-term elections this year, as it makes the Trump administration appear )

Global elites are setting their sights on next week’s annual gathering at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland. In an annual pre-meeting survey, global leaders and influencers report that ‘political or economic confrontation between major powers’ is somewhat or significantly rising in likelihood, as compared to last year. Extreme weather events, natural disasters, cyber attacks, and data fraud or theft round out the top risks by likelihood. “Profound social instability”, “political or economic confrontation between major powers”, and “state-on-state military conflict” are chief concerns for WEF participants. [source (PDF)]

According to an interview Lt. Gen. Alan Lynn, the head of Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), defense officials are planning for a cyber worst case scenario. “We call it the terabyte of death. We’re preparing for it, we know it’s coming and it’s just a matter of time before it hits us,” Lt. Gen. Lynn said. DISA is charged with maintaining information technology for the Defense Department. (source) (Analyst Comment: Lt. Gen. Lynn described his tenure at DISA by saying that one gigabyte cyber attacks used to be a big deal. Now they’re experiencing hackers trying to shut down the military’s internet access with 600 gigabytes of traffic, and eventually a terabyte attack against the military’s internet access points may be insurmountable. Cutting off internet access, even for a short period of time, at the outset or beginning of a conflict could pose major disruption for the Defense Department, and it’s apparently a realistic enough threat for officials to be preparing for it.)

A former CIA officer has been arrested on Monday night after arriving at JFK airport from Hong Kong. Jerry Chun Shing Lee (aka Zhen Cheng Li), 53, was living in Hong Kong after leaving CIA employment in 2007. During an investigation in 2012, FBI counterintelligence agents found that Lee had handwritten notes containing the identities and contact information for both CIA employees and assets operating in China, in addition to source meeting locations and covert facilities. Lee made his first appearance in a court room yesterday afternoon and is facing 10 years in prison for the unlawful retention of national defense information. (source) (Analyst Comment: Although Lee is being charged with unlawful retention of classified information, it’s likely that Lee was responsible for much more than just having some notes stuffed in his luggage in 2012 — five years after leaving the Agency. Lee was not arrested after FBI agents discovered the classified material in his suitcase, probably because he was under surveillance. It’s routine for counterintelligence investigators to surveil known or suspected moles in order to find other connections that may not have been discovered if the agent is arrested. Given that CIA operations in China suffered a string of major setbacks starting around 2010, Lee may be responsible for helping the Chinese disrupt U.S. spying operations in the country.)


Critical Intelligence:


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Samuel Culper 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.

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