198: The CIA Spies on Americans

Chris Spangle, Creighton Harrington, and Greg Lenz discuss the Wikileaks revelations of the illegal CIA spying program.

Wikileaks “Vault 7”

 

  • WikiLeaks has published what it claims is the largest ever release of confidential documents on the CIA. It includes more than 8,000 documents as part of ‘Vault 7’, a series of leaks on the agency, which have allegedly emerged from the CIA’s Center For Cyber Intelligence in Langley.

 

  • Julian Assange: “There is an extreme proliferation risk in the development of cyber ‘weapons’. Comparisons can be drawn between the uncontrolled proliferation of such ‘weapons’, which results from the inability to contain them combined with their high market value, and the global arms trade. But the significance of “Year Zero” goes well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace. The disclosure is also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective.”

 

  • Largest intelligence publication in history: 8,761 documents have been published as part of ‘Year Zero’, the first in a series of leaks the whistleblower organization has dubbed ‘Vault 7.’

 

 

  • The time period covered in the latest leak is between the years 2013 and 2016

 

 

  • ‘Year Zero’ revealed details of the CIA’s “global covert hacking program,” including “weaponized exploits” used against company products including “Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows and even Samsung TVs, which are turned into covert microphones.”

 

 

  • WikiLeaks tweeted the leak, which it claims came from a network inside the CIA’s Center for Cyber Intelligence in Langley, Virginia.

 

 

  • Wikileaks claims that the CIA lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized “zero day” exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation. This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred million lines of code, gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA. The archive appears to have been circulated among former U.S. government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

 

  • The CIA had created, in effect, its “own NSA” with even less accountability and without publicly answering the question as to whether such a massive budgetary spend on duplicating the capacities of a rival agency could be justified.

 

 

  • Once a single cyber ‘weapon’ is ‘loose’ it can spread around the world in seconds, to be used by rival states, cyber mafia and teenage hackers alike.

 

 

 

  • CIA’s Decision to Keep Secret Zero Day exploits:

 

 

 

  • In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leaks about the NSA, the U.S. technology industry secured a commitment from the Obama administration that the executive would disclose on an ongoing basis — rather than hoard — serious vulnerabilities, exploits, bugs or “zero days” to Apple, Google, Microsoft, and other US-based manufacturers.

 

 

  • Serious vulnerabilities not disclosed to the manufacturer’s places huge swathes of the population and critical infrastructure at risk to foreign intelligence or cyber criminals who independently discover or hear rumors of the vulnerability. If the CIA can discover such vulnerabilities so can others.

 

 

  • CIA’s “Hackerbase” is housed in the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany where its employees target Computers, iPhones, Androids, smart TVs, and Automobiles:

 

 

  • In addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa. CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( “Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe” or CCIE) are given diplomatic (“black”) passports and State Department cover.

 

 

  • The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany’s counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential: “Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport”

 

 

  • CIA malware and hacking tools are built by EDG (Engineering Development Group), a software development group within CCI (Center for Cyber Intelligence), a department belonging to the CIA’s DDI (Directorate for Digital Innovation). The DDI is one of the five major directorates of the CIA (see this organizational chart of the CIA for more details).

 

  • The CIA also runs a very substantial effort to infect and control Microsoft Windows users with its malware. This includes multiple local and remote weaponized “zero days”, air gap jumping viruses such as “Hammer Drill” which infects software distributed on CD/DVDs, infectors for removable media such as USBs, systems to hide data in images or in covert disk areas ( “Brutal Kangaroo”) and to keep its malware infestations going.

 

  • “Weeping Angel”, developed by the CIA’s Embedded Devices Branch (EDB), which infests smart TVs, transforming them into covert microphones, is surely its most emblematic realization.

 

  • As of October 2014 the CIA was also looking at infecting the vehicle control systems used by modern cars and trucks. The purpose of such control is not specified, but it would permit the CIA to engage in nearly undetectable assassinations. (Michael Hastings)

 

  • Examples of CIA projects: The CIA’s Engineering Development Group (EDG) management system contains around 500 different projects (only some of which are documented by “Year Zero”) each with their own sub-projects, malware and hacker tools. The majority of these projects relate to tools that are used for penetration, infestation (“implanting”), control, and exfiltration.

 

 

  • Umbrage: The CIA’s Remote Devices Branch’s UMBRAGE group collects and maintains a substantial library of attack techniques ‘stolen’ from malware produced in other states including the Russian Federation. With UMBRAGE and related projects the CIA cannot only increase its total number of attack types but also misdirect attribution by leaving behind the “fingerprints” of the groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.

 

 

  • Fine Dining: Fine Dining comes with a standardized questionnaire i.e menu that CIA case officers fill out. The questionnaire is used by the agency’s OSB (Operational Support Branch) to transform the requests of case officers into technical requirements for hacking attacks (typically “exfiltrating” information from computer systems) for specific operations.  Among the list of possible targets of the collection are ‘Asset’, ‘Liason Asset’, ‘System Administrator’, ‘Foreign Information Operations’, ‘Foreign Intelligence Agencies’ and ‘Foreign Government Entities’. Notably absent is any reference to extremists or transnational criminals.

 

  • Improvise: a toolset for configuration, post-processing, payload setup and execution vector selection for survey/exfiltration tools supporting all major operating systems like Windows (Bartender), MacOS (JukeBox) and Linux (DanceFloor).

 

  • HIVE: HIVE is a multi-platform CIA malware suite and its associated control software. The project provides customizable implants for Windows, Solaris, MikroTik (used in internet routers) and Linux platforms and a Listening Post/Command and Control infrastructure to communicate with these implants. The implants communicate via HTTPS with the webserver of a cover domain; each operation utilizing these implants has a separate cover domain and the infrastructure can handle any number of cover domains.

  • Leaker is a Snowden-type whistleblower: the source of the information told WikiLeaks in a statement that they wish to initiate a public debate about the “security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”  Policy questions that should be debated in public include “whether the CIA’s hacking capabilities exceed its mandated powers and the problem of public oversight of the agency,” WikiLeaks claims the source said.
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    • Kim Dotcom chimed in on Twitter, “CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones” and added ” CIA turned every Microsoft Windows PC in the world into spyware. Can activate backdoors on demand, including via Windows update”

     

    • Dotcom also added that “Obama accused Russia of cyberattacks while his CIA turned all internet enabled consumer electronics in Russia into listening devices. Wow!”

     

    • CIA’s hacking division, which formally falls under the agency’s Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI), had over 5000 registered users and had produced more than a thousand hacking systems, trojans, viruses, and other “weaponized” malware. Such is the scale of the CIA’s undertaking that by 2016, its hackers had utilized more code than that used to run Facebook.

     

     

     

    • Wikileaks had previously announced that it would hold an 8am Eastern press conference, as part of the unveiling. However, there appeared to have been some complications, with Wikileaks tweeting that “the press conference is under attack: Facebook+Periscope video used by WikiLeaks’ editor Julian Assange have been attacked. Activating contingency plans”

     

     

     

    • As a result, since Assange appears to have been unable to launch his previously scheduled press conference, he has gone ahead and issued the press release on Vault 7 Part 1 “Year Zero, which is titled: Inside the CIA’s global hacking force:

     

     

     

    • Redactions: Names, email addresses and external IP addresses have been redacted in the released pages (70,875 redactions in total) until further analysis is complete.

     

    Wikileaks CIA Organizational Chart

     

    JFK Connection

    • Jack Kennedy was not above using the Mafia for favors. The family patriarch Joe Kennedy had organized crime ties dating back to his bootlegging days and the Kennedys used these connections to deliver money and votes during the 1960 presidential campaign, principally in the West Virginia primary and in Chicago during the general election, which tipped the key Illinois electoral vote into the Democratic column.

     

    • JFK was also quite happy to move in Frank Sinatra’s hedonistic social circle and share women like Judith Campbell with Mafia dons (until Bobby, Jack’s vigilant keeper, warned his brother to drop both the singer and the call girl).

     

    • As president, Kennedy allowed the CIA to continue its unholy alliance with the Mafia to kill Castro, a covert operation hatched in the final days of the Eisenhower administration.

     

    • As attorney general, Bobby Kennedy waged a merciless war against these very same underworld kingpins. While FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover had long insisted there was no such thing as the Mafia, Kennedy knew better, and he took the number of organized crime convictions from a mere 35 in 1960 to 288 in 1963, a figure that doubled within a year as a result of the momentum built up in the last months of the Kennedy reign.

     

    • Bobby created a “Get Hoffa” unit in the Justice Department to hound the Teamster leader, who had turned the union’s pension fund into a piggy bank for the Mob. He even unceremoniously deported the powerful godfather of Louisiana, Carlos Marcello, who had cops, FBI agents and politicians in his pocket.

     

     

    • Morley revealed that Joannides, the CIA’s top Miami psychological warfare specialist in Miami, had financed and guided the anti-Castro Cuban group, the DRE, that Oswald tried to infiltrate in the summer of 1963.

     

    • CIA Director, John McCone, replaced Allen Dulles as director of central intelligence in November 1961, after John F. Kennedy had forced out Dulles following the CIA’s bungled operation to oust Fidel Castro by invading Cuba’s Bay of Pigs.

     

    • Politico Story on coordinated omission if information provided to the Warren Commission and LBJ’s instructions to cover their pre-assassination tracks which while not a plot, could be perceived that way.

     

    • CIA documents released in 2007 confirmed that in the summer of 1960, CIA recruited ex-FBI agent Robert Maheu to approach the West Coast representative of the Chicago mob, Johnny Roselli. When Maheu contacted Roselli, Maheu hid the fact that he was sent by CIA, instead portraying himself an advocate for international corporations.

     

    • He offered to pay $150,000 to have Castro killed, but Roselli declined any pay. Roselli introduced Maheu to two men he referred to as “Sam Gold” also “Joe.” “Sam Gold” was Sam Giancana; “Joe” was Santo Trafficante, Jr., the Tampa, Florida/Tampa /Miami Syndicate boss and one of the most powerful mobsters in pre-revolution Cuba.

     

    • When Giancana was called before a grand jury in 1966, he was ordered to stay silent, which put him in prison for over a year. Meanwhile, Giancana was deposed as day-to-day boss by Ricca and Accardo, and replaced by Joseph “Joey Doves” Aiuppa.

     

    • After his release from prison, Giancana relocated to Cuernavaca, Mexico in order to avoid further grand jury questioning. He was arrested by Mexican authorities on July 19, 1974 and deported to the United States. He arrived back in Chicago on July 21, 1974.

     

    • After Giancana’s return to the U.S., the police detailed officers to guard his house in Oak Park, Illinois. However, on the night of June 19, 1975, someone recalled the police detail. A gunman later entered Giancana’s basement kitchen and shot him in the back of the head as he was frying sausage and peppers.

     

    • Giancana was killed shortly before he was scheduled to appear before the Church Committee tasked with investigating CIA and Cosa Nostra collusion in plots to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.

     

    • Jimmy Hoffa, president of the Teamsters Union and mobsters Carlos Marcello, Sam Giancana, Johnny Roselli, Charles Nicoletti, and Santo Trafficante Jr.—all of whom say Hoffa worked with CIA on the Castro assassination plots—top the House Select Committee list of Assassinations Mafia suspects

     

     

     

     

     

    • French Gunman: Jean Souetre (he also used the names Michel Mertz and Michel Roux) was a member of the French Secret Army Organization (OAS). It is claimed that he had been involved in an assassination attempt on General Charles de Gaulle as a result of his willingness to grant independence to Algeria.

     

     

    • Jack Ruby connection to French Mercenary Jean Souetre aka Michael Moretz: After his arrest, Ruby asked Dallas attorney Tom Howard to represent him. Howard accepted and asked Ruby if he could think of anything that might damage his defense. Ruby responded that there would be a problem if a man by the name of “Davis” should come up. Ruby told his attorney that he “…had been involved with Davis, who was a gunrunner entangled in anti-Castro efforts.”

     

     

    • Ruby to Thomas Davis to Jean Souerte: Thomas Davis was a bank robber who became friends with Jack Ruby in Dallas.

     

     

     

    • According to the wife of Davis, he also worked for the Mafia. He was also involved in the the Central Intelligence Agency plot to assassinate Fidel Castro and as a gunrunner for the anti-Communist forces in Cuba.

     

     

     

    • In the 1950s and 1960s Davis worked for the CIA in Indochina, Indonesia and Algeria. In the summer of 1963 Davis helped recruit mercenaries for a planned coup in Haiti.

     

     

     

    • Davis was in North Africa when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in November, 1963. The following month he was arrested and jailed in Tangier in connection with Kennedy’s death.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • Thomas Davis was killed when he was electrocuted while cutting a power line in September, 1973.

     

     

    • Documents never seen by the Warren Commission have revealed that some Mafiosi worked with the CIA on assassination attempts against Cuban leader Fidel Castro

     

    • CIA operative David Moralesh: was involved in the Kennedy assassination. Morales’ friend, Ruben Carbajal, claimed that in 1973 Morales opened up about his involvement with the Bay of Pigs Invasion operation, and stated that “Kennedy had been responsible for him having to watch all the men he recruited and trained get wiped out.” Carbajal claimed that Morales said, “Well, we took care of that SOB, didn’t we?”

     

    • Morales is alleged to have once told friends, “I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch, and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard”, presumably referring to the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas and to the later assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy in Los Angeles, California on June 5, 1968

     

    • Oswald and the Frenchman: After returning from the Soviet Union, Lee Harvey Oswald became close friends with Dallas resident and petroleum geologist George de Mohrenschildt. De Mohrenschildt would later write an extensive memoir in which he discussed his friendship with Oswald.

     

    • De Mohrenschildt’s wife would later give the House Select Committee on Assassinations a photograph that showed Lee Harvey Oswald, standing in his Dallas backyard, holding two Marxist newspapers and a Carcano rifle, with a pistol on his hip.

     

    • Thirteen years after the assassination, in September 1976, the CIA requested that the FBI locate De Mohrenschildt, in response to a letter De Mohrenschildt had written directly to his friend, CIA Director George H.W. Bush, appealing to Bush to stop the agency from taking action against him.

     

    • On March 29, 1977, De Mohrenschildt stated during an interview with author Edward Jay Epstein that he had been ordered by CIA operative J. Walton Moore to meet Oswald. He also told Epstein that he would not have met Oswald had he not been ordered to do so. (In fact, de Mohrenschildt had met Oswald several times, from the summer of 1962 to April 1963.)

     

    • That same day, De Mohrenschildt was informed by his daughter that a representative of the House Select Committee on Assassinations had stopped by, leaving a card and intending to return that evening; he then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head shortly thereafter.

     

    • De Mohrenschildt’s wife later told sheriff’s office investigators that her husband had been hospitalized for depression and a fear of persecution in late 1976 and had tried to kill himself four times that year.

     

    • In his memoir, Bound by Honor, Bill Bonanno, son of New York Mafia boss Joseph Bonanno, disclosed that several Mafia families had long-standing ties with the anti-Castro Cubans through the Havana casinos operated by the Mafia before the Cuban Revolution. Many Cuban exiles and Mafia bosses disliked President Kennedy, blaming him for the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion

     

    • Bonanno reported that he realized the degree of the involvement of other Mafia families when he witnessed Jack Ruby killing Oswald on television—the Bonannos recognized Jack Ruby as an associate of Chicago mobster Sam Giancana.

     

    • Information released around 2006 by the FBI indicates that Carlos Marcello confessed in detail to having organized Kennedy’s assassination. The FBI then covered up this information, which it had in its possession.

     

    • This version of events is supported by Robert Blakey in his book, The Plot to Kill the President. Blakey, who was chief counsel for the House Select Committee on Assassinations, concluded that Marcello was likely part of a Mafia conspiracy behind the assassination, and that the Mafia had the means, motive, and opportunity required to carry it out.

     

    • Ruby was known to have been acquainted with both the police and the Mafia. The HSCA said that Ruby had known Chicago mobster Sam Giancana (1908-1975) and Joseph Campisi (1918–1990) since 1947, and had been seen with them on many occasions. After an investigation of Joe Campisi.

     

    • In 1963, Sam and Joe Campisi were leading figures in the Dallas underworld. Jack knew the Campisis and had been seen with them on many occasions. The Campisis were lieutenants of Carlos Marcello, the Mafia boss who had reportedly talked of killing the President.

     

     

    • Mr. Ragano said that in 1963 he took an order from Hoffa to his client, Santo Trafficante, the Mafia boss of Florida, and Carlos Marcello, the Mafia boss of New Orleans, asking that President John F. Kennedy be killed.

     

    • Ragano revealed that in March, 1987, a seriously ill Trafficante, facing emergency heart bypass surgery that he would not survive, told him that he and Marcello were responsible for JFK’s murder. “That Bobby made life miserable for me and my friends,” Trafficante told his trusted lawyer. “Who would have thought that someday (John Kennedy) would be president and he would name his goddam brother attorney general? Goddam Bobby. I think Carlos fucked up in getting rid of Giovanni (John) — maybe it should have been Bobby.”

     

    • A day before Kennedy was assassinated, Ruby went to Joe Campisi’s restaurant. At the time of the Kennedy assassination, Ruby was close enough to the Campisis to ask them to come see him after he was arrested for shooting Lee Oswald. Joe Campisi and his wife visited with Jack Ruby in jail for ten minutes on November 30, 1963.

     

     

    • According to an oral history that Sheridan would eventually give to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Sheridan later informed Bobby that Hoffa had been at a restaurant when he learned JFK had been shot. The reaction of the pugnacious labor leader was unlike that of most other Americans. “He got up on the table,” Sheridan said, “and cheered.”

    • Meanwhile, another Mafia leader and Hoffa associate, Carlos Marcello, sat in that New Orleans courtroom, awaiting his verdict. The second deportation trial for Marcello, who ran the mob in New Orleans and Dallas, was the culmination of a relentless three-year campaign by Bobby’s team to get him out of the country.

     

    • Marcello ended up being acquitted in New Orleans the same day that the president was killed. While serving time later in life, he was caught on a federal wiretap confessing to an FBI informant that he’d had JFK killed, according to FBI files released under the JFK Records Act of 1992.

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