Cyberwar: The New Forever Battle, Indicators of Compromise

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

The United States is in the midst of the most resounding policy shift on cyber conflict, one with profound implications for national security and the future of the internet. The just-released U.S. Cyber Command “vision” accurately diagnoses the current state of cyber conflict and outlines an appropriate new operational model for the command: since cyber forces are in “persistent engagement” with one another, U.S. Cyber Command must dive into the fight, actively contesting adversaries farther forward and with more agility and operational partnerships.

The vision, however, ignores many of the risks and how to best address them. Most importantly, the vision does not even recognize the risk that more active defense – in systems and networks in other, potentially friendly nations – persistently, year after year, might not work and significantly increases the chances and consequences of miscalculations and mistakes. Even if they are stabilizing, such actions may be incompatible with the larger U.S. goals of an open and free Internet. More here including the critique of the report.

*** Meanwhile we know all too well about Russia and China’s cyber espionage, yet when proof surfaces by hacking into their documents for evidence… both countries begin another denial session. And Trump invited Putin to a bi-lateral meeting at the White House? Any bi-lateral meeting should take place outside the United States in a neutral location like Vanuatu or the Canary Islands…

TheTimes: Russian attempts to fuel dissent and spread disinformation have been exposed by a cache of leaked documents that show what the Kremlin is prepared to pay for hacking, propaganda and rent-a-mob rallies.

Hacked emails sent by Moscow-linked figures outline a dirty-tricks campaign in Ukraine, which was invaded on the orders of President Putin in 2014. Experts said that they exposed the dangers faced by Britain and its allies because Russia used the same weapons of disinformation, bribery and distortion to attack the West.

Bob Seely, a Tory MP and expert on Russian warfare, said his analysis of the leaks, which comprise thousands of emails and a password-protected document related to the conflict in Ukraine, revealed a “shopping list of subversion”.

“There is overwhelming evidence that the tools and techniques of Russian covert conflict are being used in and against the UK, the US and the EU,” he added. “In the wake of the Skripal poisoning it’s more important than ever that we understand these methods.”

The cost and extent of tactics were disclosed in a third tranche of the so-called Surkov leaks, named after Vladislav Surkov, a Kremlin spin-master said by some to be Mr Putin’s Rasputin.

Two previous tranches, published online by Ukrainian Cyber Alliance, a hacker activist collective, were said to include emails from an account linked to Mr Surkov. He has been closely involved with the management of Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, two Russian-controlled “statelets” in Ukraine established by pro-Moscow separatists.

The latest publication appears to contain emails found in accounts linked to Inal Ardzinba, Mr Surkov’s first deputy, and to a Ukrainian Communist party leader. They suggest that the Kremlin paid local groups and individuals in Ukraine that were willing to advance its aim to fracture the country.

One set of correspondence from October 2014, which appears to have been sent by a Russian politician to Mr Ardzinba, contained proposals to fund cyberoperations, including hacking email accounts for between $100 and $300. A wider plan to “troll opponents”, “demotivate enemies” on social media, and amass the personal data of targeted individuals in Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, was priced at $130,500.

The Russian foreign ministry has denied in the past that Mr Ardzinba has had anything to do with propaganda in Ukraine. According to Mr Seely, the leaks appear to reveal plans to plant new historical and philosophical ideas. The emails also include an event and two books that would claim that an area of Ukraine had Russian heritage.

Other proposals included the orchestration of anti-Ukraine, pro-Russia rallies. These involved the transport of “sportsmen” trained in martial arts to agitate at the rallies, bribes to local media to feature the protests and bribes to police to turn a blind eye. A month of rallies in Kharkiv was priced at $19,200. It included 100 participants, three organisers and two lawyers. It is unclear if the rallies took place, though others orchestrated by the Kremlin did happen, the research said. Moves to get 30 ex-communist figures elected to local government were floated in June 2015, at $120,460, the leaks said.

The Kremlin has claimed in the past that the Surkov leaks are fabricated and in the information war between Ukraine and Russia falsehoods may have been planted. However, the authors of correspondence in the first two tranches confirmed their authenticity. They were supported by the Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank, after an analysis of metadata.

In their analysis of the third tranche, Mr Seely and his co-researcher Alya Shandra, managing editor of an English-language Ukrainian news website, say the leaks are “very likely to be authentic”. Ms Shandra and Mr Seely plan to publish their report with the Royal United Services Institute.

Peter Quentin, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said: “There is no reason to believe these leaks are any less credible than the previous tranches. This third tranche certainly seems to fit with the trend of well-documented subversion by Russian activists in the region.”


China and Russia Military Collaboration Against the West

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Imagine the conversations in meetings between respective military officers of these two countries. As the United States has very little in the way of remote espionage in China and due to the expulsion of U.S. diplomatic personnel from Russia, the U.S. has even less intelligence officers in and around Russia… so, what could be coming that we may soon miss?


China is expanding its access to foreign ports to preposition the necessary logistics support to regularize and sustain deployments in the “far seas,” waters as distant as the Indian Ocean, Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. In late November, China publicly confirmed its intention to build military supporting facilities in Djibouti “to help the navy and army further participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations (PKO), carry out escort missions in the waters near Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, and provide humanitarian assistance.” This Chinese initiative both reflects and amplifies China’s growing geopolitical clout, extending the reach of its influence and armed forces.

China’s expanding international economic interests are increasing demands for the PLAN to operate in more distant seas to protect Chinese citizens, investments and critical sea lines of communication (SLOC).

China most likely will seek to establish additional naval logistics hubs in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan and a precedent for hosting foreign militaries. China’s overseas naval logistics aspiration may be constrained by the willingness of countries to support a PLAN presence in one of their ports.

So far, China has not constructed U.S.–style overseas military bases in the Indian Ocean. China’s leaders may judge instead that a mixture of preferred access to overseas commercial ports and a limited number of exclusive PLAN logistic facilities — probably collocated with commercial ports — most closely aligns with China’s future overseas logistics needs to support its evolving naval requirements.

Preferred access would give the PLAN favored status in using a commercial port for resupply, replenishment and maintenance purposes. A logistics facility would represent an arrangement in which China leases out portions of a commercial port solely for PLAN logistics operations.

Such a logistics presence may support both civilian and military operations. China’s current naval logistics footprint in the Indian Ocean is unable to support major combat operations in South Asia. A greater overseas naval logistics footprint would better position the PLAN to expand its participation in non-war military missions, such as non-combatant evacuation operations (NEO), search-and-rescue (SAR), humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) and sea lines of communication (SLOC) security. To some extent, a more robust overseas logistics presence may also enable China to expand its support to PKO, force protection missions and counterterrorism initiatives.

For example, in 2015, the PLAN’s naval escort task forces performing counterpiracy escort duties in the Gulf of Aden were able to utilize Djibouti and Oman for basic resupply and replenishment. The 156 page report is here: Electronic attack J-16

A dedicated electronic warfare (EW) version of the Shenyang J-16 fighter completed its maiden flight on December 18 last year. The first images of the aircraft — sometimes described as the J-16D or even J-16G — reveal several changes compared to the standard J-16 fighter-bomber: most obviously, two large EW pods on the wingtips that are very similar in appearance to the AN/ALQ-218 tactical jamming receivers used by the Boeing EA-18G Growler. The aircraft also features a new, shorter radome and the standard 30mm cannon and the optical sensor in front of the starboard side of the windshield have been removed. In addition, several conformal dielectric EW arrays can be seen around the fuselage, front section (behind the radome), and intakes.

In the wake of Russia’s demonstrations of advanced electromagnetic spectrum and communications jamming capabilities, most recently displayed in their incursion into Ukraine, China also is upping its game in this space, demonstrating similar capabilities in the Pacific.The U.S. Department of Defense, in an annual reportto Congress on China’s military and security developments, assessed that the country is placing greater importance upon EW, on par with traditional domains of warfare such as air, ground and maritime.

“The [People’s Liberation Army] sees EW as an important force multiplier, and would likely employ it in support of all combat arms and services during a conflict,” the 2016 report asserts. “The PLA’s EW units have conducted jamming and anti-jamming operations, testing the military’s understanding of EW weapons, equipment, and performance. This helped improve the military’s confidence in conducting force-on-force, real-equipment confrontation operations in simulated EW environments.”

According to the report, China’s EW weapons include “jamming equipment against multiple communication and radar systems and GPS satellite systems. EW systems are also being deployed with other sea- and air-based platforms intended for both offensive and defensive operations.”More here.


Collaboration on Satellites

…uh huh… Joint military operation locations:

Moscow and Beijing saw arms sales and military technology cooperation — totaling about $26 billion from 1992 to 2006 — according to estimates cited in the report. Moscow sold Beijing, “export versions of the Su-27 and Su-30 fighter, the S-300 SAM defense system, Sovermennyy-class guided missile destroyer and Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine,” the report said, citing data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Fears of China copying Russian systems led to a drop off in arms sales between the two countries – especially higher end weapon systems. Chinese arms manufacturers are notorious for taking, modifying and reproducing weapon designsMore here.

Russia and China are planning to merge their satellite tracking systems, RT.com is reporting.

The giant system will be able to cover most of an area including China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. according to RT, the Russian-funded news outlet.

The two nations will reportedly negotiate terms of the merger in May during a conference in China.

Russia and China will be able to share data on positions of navigation satellite groups and to improve efficiency in a real-time environment, RT reported.

The merger was initiated by Chinese officials.

“If the project is implemented, it will allow for an improvement in accuracy for both systems,” a spokesman for the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos was quoted.

Japan and India are getting set for their own regional navigation satellite systems, RT reported. The system is expected to be operational by the end of the year.


Judge To Tennessee: You’ll Take Refugees Whether You Want To Or Not

By: James Simpson | The Federalist

Last March, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) initiated a lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of the Tennessee legislature, charging the refugee resettlement program imposes unconstitutional unfunded mandates, requiring states to pay for resettlement whether they participate in the federal program or not. For a year, the sides engaged in legal maneuvers while the judge dawdled.

This March, despite multiple Supreme Court rulings that the federal government cannot compel states to pay for unfunded federal mandates, the judge dismissed the case. He claimed the state of Tennessee, while fully responsible for financing the state’s share of resettlement program costs, did not have standing to bring the suit.

Many aspects of the refugee resettlement program force states and local governments to continue to accept refugees even if they choose not to participate in the program, and pay for a laundry list of services to those refugees once resettled. The lawsuit focused specifically on the requirement for the state to pay exorbitant Medicaid costs or risk losing up to $7 billion in federal Medicaid reimbursements, an amount equal to 20 percent of the entire state budget.

In his 43-page decision, the judge ruled that, according to Tennessee law, only the Tennessee attorney general had the authority to sue, but would not have standing anyway because the state had not first attempted to gain relief through an administrative appeal directly to the federal government. (Tennessee’s attorney general and governor had declined to back the suit.) Thus the state would be put in the impossible position of having to first lose some or all of that $7 billion before it could sue.

The case demonstrates how convoluted the refugee resettlement program is, and despite the enormous burdens it places on state and local taxpayers, has remained resistant to successful challenge.

Sticking It to Tennessee for Obeying the Law

The day after the decision, the Center for Immigration Studies held a discussion at the National Press Club, “Should States Be Able to Opt Out of the Refugee Resettlement Program?” In attendance were CIS Executive Director Mark Krikorian, CIS refugee resettlement expert Don Barnett, TMLC President Richard Thompson, and St. Cloud, Minnesota, City Councilman Jeff Johnson.

Remarking on the ruling, Thompson stated, “The judge basically backed off because it was too controversial and ruled on the basis of standing of the legislature to bring the lawsuit, and standing of some very courageous individual legislators who put their name in the lawsuit as well.”

“It reminds me of the tale of two legislatures,” he said. “On the one hand, you have the General Assembly of Tennessee taking a strong stand, believing that the government is wrong, and yet not violating the rule that the government has set. They go into court through the due-process aspects of the case and make a case that this government is violating the Tenth Amendment and the Spending Clause. On the other hand, you have the tale of a California legislature who says I don’t give a d-mn what the federal government says and they go ahead and violate whatever rules that they feel that they can get away with.”

Thompson said he believed the decision had numerous holes, and if the plaintiffs were willing, he would appeal, as far as the Supreme Court if necessary.

Refugee Resettlement Affects Communities

The panel focused on the lawsuit and an excellent analysis of the issue published in January by Don Barnett. Barnett noted, “When the Obama administration raised the refugee admission quota for fiscal year 2017 to 110,000 – a really great raise over his average. His average is probably about 75,000 a year. So it was raised to 110,000 on the way out. New Jersey, Maine, Kansas, and Texas formally withdrew from the program. Actually, however, this is a program that states can never leave.”

Johnson has seen refugee resettlement problems played out in his community up close. With a rapidly expanding Somali refugee population, St. Cloud is beset with a crime rate 92 percent higher than the state average, the prospect of terrorism (last September a Somali Muslim refugee stabbed 10 people at the local mall before being shot and killed by an off-duty policeman), and cultural clashes.

Johnson gained notoriety last October when he proposed a resolution declaring a moratorium on refugee resettlement to St. Cloud. Despite strong support from city residents, the council overwhelmingly rejected Johnson’s proposal.

Don’t Want to Run a Refugee Program? Tough

The 1980 Refugee Act created the U.S. Refugee Assistance Program, which uses private, tax-exempt organizations called “voluntary agencies” or “VOLAGs,” and a network of subsidiaries, called “affiliates,” to resettle refugees within the United States. These organizations are paid by the head to resettle refugees. The act requires consultation with state and local governments before refugees can be resettled, and allows states to opt out of the program altogether.

The act also promised to cover the state portion of federal welfare program costs for refugees for three years. This was an important factor in passing the act because refugees use welfare at rates much higher that of U.S. citizens or even other immigrant groups.

Recent court decisions in Texas and Alabamahave questionably declared the “consultation” provision advisory only. VOLAGs largely ignore it anyway. Furthermore, by 1991 the federal government had stopped providing reimbursement to states for the state share of refugee welfare costs.

Finally, in 1995, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) of the Department of Health and Human Services created a regulation (45 CFR 400.301) allowing VOLAGs to take over the role of state governments in refugee resettlement when those states choose to drop out of the program.

States that opt out become known as “Wilson-Fish“ states, named after a 1984 refugee law proposed by Reps. Pete Wilson and Hamilton Fish that suggested alternative ways for refugees to receive welfare. The regulation, however, is not based on the actual law. ORR essentially invented it to continue taxpayer-funded resettlement in states that no longer willingly participate.

When States Aren’t In Charge, the Numbers Spike

VOLAGs receive anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 for each refugee they resettle, so they seek to maximize refugee numbers, and find it much easier to place more in states with no oversight. The numbers make the case.

Between fiscal year 2002 (the earliest state-by-state data available) and fiscal year 2017, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas dropped out. Of these, five have been run by VOLAGs long enough to compare resettlement data before the state left the program and after. The table below shows the results.

Note that even in just the first year, refugee resettlement in those states shot up an average of more than 50 percent. In total, these states have seen an average annual increase of 127 percent since they relinquished program oversight.

Source: Refugee Processing Center; Interactive Reporting; www.wrapsnet.org.

As a result of all these factors, the refugee resettlement program has evolved into a largely unfunded mandate on states, and especially in Wilson-Fish states. The TMLC complaint specifically charged:

Defendants have exceeded and, absent relief from this Court, will continue to exceed the powers granted to the federal government under the Spending Clause of the United States Constitution as well as the limits imposed upon the federal government by the Tenth Amendment, thereby infringing upon the constitutionally-protected sovereignty and powers of the State of Tennessee.

Defendants included the U.S. Departments of State and Heath and Human Services, their respective refugee resettlement offices and leadership, including former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and HHS Secretary Tom Price. The government, under newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, filed for dismissal. Perhaps Sessions was overwhelmed in his new job and poorly served by those underneath him, but this was one opportunity to rein in the out-of-control refugee program.

The House Judiciary Committee under Bob Goodlatte introduced the Refugee Program Integrity Restoration Act (H.R. 2826), last June. Among other things, it assures that states that leave the program will not get more refugees against their will. The bill has languished in committee.

But there is a much easier way to accomplish the same goal. That would simply be to rescind regulation 45 CFR 400.301. The administration could do this today, giving Wilson-Fish states an immediate break. Then the lawsuit could continue its long march through the courts on appeal until it reaches a sane jurist. It would then be immediately declared unconstitutional, and that would be the end of the story.

James Simpson is an economist, author and investigative journalist. His latest book is “The Red Green Axis: Refugees, Immigration and the Agenda to Erase America.” Follow Jim on Twitterand Facebook.


EXCLUSIVE: MARXIST DEMOCRATS PART 5: KANIELA ING for Hawaii’s First Congressional District

By: Trevor Loudon | New Zeal

Kaniela Ing

Several hundred communists and socialists will run for public office on the Democratic Party ticket this year. One of them is Kaniela Ing, who is vying for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, from Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.

Despite running as a Democrat, Kaniela Ing is a member of this country’s largest Marxist organization, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) – a fact not revealed in his campaign literature.

Kaniela Ing is running for Congress in 2018, HI (1).

Father, Native Hawaiian, and state legislative leader, Kaniela Saito Ing is running for Congress as a proud progressive who will ensure no one gets left behind (HI-01). Kaniela is the only candidate looking at this seat who has a record of fighting for everything we believe in–like womenʻs rights, LGBT equality, climate action, and more. With your support, he will take our island values to DC.

State Representative Kaniela Ing of Maui held a press conference November 5 2017 to officially announce his 2018 candidacy for higher office. Ing plans to run for U.S. Congress to fill the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa.

“Standing up to Trump is important, but it’s not enough. Leaders must stand up to big-money corruption everywhere and offer a positive vision to win the world we want to see. .. I am running a grassroots campaign to put people before profits, keep Hawaiʻi Hawaiʻi, and offer a new generation of progressive leadership. I am uniquely positioned with decades ahead of me to build the seniority and influence Hawaiʻi needs.” 

Kaniela Ing DSA endorsement

District 1 has been a safe Democrat seat with at least 4 Democratic Party contenders, but the fact that Kaniela Ing, who already holds public office and can draw on the Honolulu DSA branch for doorknockers and phone bankers, works as a big advantage for him. If he looks likely to win the August 11  primary, Ing can expect money and support from more than 30,000 DSA comrades nationwide.

Like his mentor, the late Congressman Mark Takai, Kaniela Ing got his start as UH Manoa Student President, fighting tuition increases and Laura Lingle‘s budget cuts as ASUH President.

Kaniela Ing was elected to the State House in 2012, quickly rose up the ranks, and currently serves as Majority Policy Leader.

When I first ran for State House at 22 years old, I could count the folks who thought I had a chance on one hand—and half of them lived at my mom’s house. I was in a Republican district, running on a progressive platform, but I couldn’t stand by while the tea-party incumbent sold-out our islands.

So I personally knocked on 15,000 doors. I walked my neighborhood from noon to sunset, after working a full-time sunrise shift cleaning locker rooms at a nearby resort. It was an uphill battle, but people could relate to my grassroots message. So they joined the campaign. We were outspent-10-to-1, but still won by a huge 26 percent.

During my six years in the State House, I have always put people over corporate profits. We took on corporate polluters, special interest lobbyists, and even billionaires. I quickly rose up the ranks to become Majority Policy Leader, setting ‍‍ legislative priorities statewide. We expanded voting access, women’s equality, LGBTQ rights, environmental protections, gun safety, and more. Now, I’m taking this grassroots, progressive energy from Hawaii to Washington D.C.

Kaniela Ing is a crypto-communist running as a Democrat. His campaign is deceptive in nature and needs to be exposed. If he is not exposed, Ing has a good chance of winning a Congressional seat. Please help spread this information throughout Hawaii District 1 and beyond.

Watch and circulate Trevor Loudon’s shocking documentary The Enemies Within as widely as you can before November 2018. It is a vote-changing experience.


Read more:


Schiff Never Complained when Obama Normalized Relations with Putin

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Remember, under the Obama administration, rogue nations such as Iran and Cuba were placed as among the world’s good actors. Hillary went to Russia with a ‘reset button’ and gave Moscow more authority and power in regions of major conflict. Yet it is Congressman Adam Schiff and his friendly Democrat friends that are continuing to whine about Trump’s interactions with Russia or Russians.

So, Obama set the table on the friendly approach to Medvedev and Putin and Russian aggression around the world has more than threatened equilibrium, it is deadly.

Have you wondered why Bashir al Assad has not been brought before a global tribunal for war crimes?

UNITED NATIONS – Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution referring the Syrian crisis to the International Criminal Court for investigation of possible war crimes, prompting angry responses from the proposal’s supporters who said the two countries should be ashamed.

This is the fourth time Russia and China have used their veto power as permanent council members to deflect action against the government of President Bashar Assad. The 13 other council members voted in favor of the resolution.

More than 60 countries signed on to support the French-drafted measure, in a dramatic demonstration of international backing for justice in the conflict which has sent millions fleeing and killed more than 160,000, according to activists. More here.

*** That is right, Russia has veto power and they have used it since at least 2014. Does it even make sense that Russia is part of the Security Council in the first place? Nope…

As the United States continues to fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan, who has been supplying the Taliban with weapons? Yup…Russia. You see, Russia has training operations with real fighting equipment and when the training is complete, they leave the high tech equipment behind and tell the Taliban to come get it.

Did Adam Schiff or Maxine Waters get on TV and demand impeachment over Obama’s relationship with Moscow? Nah….

While not a fan at all of MSNBC, Richard Engle however did an exceptional reporting piece on Putin including who else was to be assassinated by poison, including Christopher Steele of the Trump dossier.

So, in solidarity with Britain, the Trump administration took aggressive action in expelling several Russian diplomats (read spies) as did at least almost three dozen other countries. Trump also closed the Russian diplomatic post in Seattle. What was going on there was terrifying and it is questionable on why Obama did not order it closed in December of 2016. Read below for what the FBI knew and yet was unable to take action due to the Obama White House.

Russian Post in Seattle

Among the 27 countries that have retaliated for what is believed to be a Kremlin-ordered chemical-weapon attack on an ex-Russian intelligence officer and his daughter in Britain earlier this month, the United States took by far the most dramatic steps: ousting 60 diplomats in total, including 15 suspected intelligence operatives based at Russia’s United Nations Mission alone—the most significant action of its type since the Reagan administration. (The move prompted Russia, on Thursday, to announce the expulsion of 60 U.S. diplomats and the closure of the U.S. consulate in Saint Petersburg.) But it was the Trump administration’s announcement of the shuttering of Russia’s consulate in Seattle that turned heads. Why Seattle? What was going on there? Would the closure matter?

While Seattle is an important city for Russian intelligence collection efforts domestically, its consulate’s profile has generally been quieter than San Francisco’s or New York’s, according to two former U.S. intelligence officials who asked to remain anonymous but have knowledge of Russian activities in these areas. But the closure of the consulate is noteworthy nonetheless: Along with the administration’s shuttering of the San Francisco consulate in 2017, Russia will now lack a diplomatic facility west of Houston, or any diplomatic presence on the West Coast for the first time since 1971. Russian intelligence officers—at least those under diplomatic cover—will no longer operate in easy proximity to America’s two great tech capitals. Indeed, at least in Seattle, suspected Russia spies have already been caught attempting to infiltrate local tech companies.

“Certainly, there were enough issues that were important to the Russians in Seattle—the naval bases, Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon,” says John Sipher, a former CIA officer who worked closely with the FBI on counterespionage issues. “There was always nervousness within the national security agencies that the sheer number of ethnic Russians in these industries was something the Russians could take advantage of. I don’t know if closing Seattle was a strategic choice; nonetheless, the concentration of high-tech and military resources makes it a sensible target.”

After the closure of the Russian consulate in San Francisco, former senior U.S. intel officials told me that facility had, for decades, functioned as the primary hub for Russian intelligence-gathering in the Western United States. It featured key classified communications systems, and was a crucial collection center in Russia’s long-running effort to map out America’s fiber-optic cable network.

One of the two anonymous former intelligence officials I spoke with called Seattle a top-five U.S. city for Russian counterintelligence work, but a “smaller operation” than San Francisco. Seattle did not have the same type of communications facilities as San Francisco, the two former officials said. In fact, Russian diplomats used to regularly drive a van with protected diplomatic information from San Francisco to Seattle, said a second official, though the frequency of those trips decreased over time, when U.S. officials suspected the Russians had begun to move their communications to encrypted channels online.

Still, the Seattle area has some rich espionage targets. Firms like Boeing and Microsoft have long been of interest to Russian operatives, the former intel officials said. So have the many military bases in the area, including, pre-eminently, Naval Base Kitsap, located just across the Puget Sound from Seattle and home to eight nuclear-armed submarines. Administration officials have openly cited the Seattle consulate’s proximity to Boeing, and sensitive military bases, as reasons for its closure.

Because there is a seven-hour float from Kitsap to these nuclear-armed submarines’ dive point, the two former officials said, there are numerous opportunities to track the subs’ movements—a longstanding concern for U.S. intelligence and military officials. Knowing when a submarine is headed out to sea or how many submarines are running patrols at a given time, and potentially identifying new technologies on these vessels, are all valuable pieces of intelligence, these officials said. Moreover, U.S. intel officials have worried that in a worst-case-scenario—actual armed hostilities between the two countries—information gleaned from Russian operatives in the Pacific Northwest could be used to identify “choke points.” For instance, they might know the ideal places to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at a fishing boat in a narrow channel, which could prevent military vessels from deploying.

In the past, suspected intel operatives based at Russia’s Seattle consulate were observed engaging in the same sorts of behavior as their counterparts in San Francisco, the two former intel officials said, including tracking down potential fiber-optic nodes (as part of Russia’s long-term effort to map where data were being transferred), or Cold War-era intelligence-collection sites, in Northwestern forests. U.S. officials also believed Russian operatives were traveling to remote beaches in the area in order to “signal,” or cryptically transmit and receive data, with interlocutors offshore. (There was a specific beach in Oregon these individuals would favor, the two former officials said.)

More recently, however, these activities appeared to die down, these individuals said, an event one of the former intel officials attributes to Edward Snowden’s 2013 disclosures, which some in the intelligence community believe led Russia to overhaul its strategies for domestic intelligence-gathering. Generally, this person said, Seattle seemed like a “proving ground” for junior Russian intelligence officers, a place to send less-experienced operatives to acclimate them to the United States. After Snowden, U.S. intel officials started seeing more “travelers” in the Seattle area—suspected intelligence operatives working under both diplomatic and nonofficial cover—flying in remotely to meet with individuals, the two former officials said.

The biggest Russia-related concern in Seattle was “cyber-related activities,” which were separate from the consulate, the two former officials said—including those of the local Kaspersky Labs affiliate. In July 2017, U.S. officials banned Moscow-based Kaspersky, which produces anti-virus software, from being used on any government computers, over fears about the company’s connections to Russian intelligence. U.S. counterintelligence officials were concerned that Kaspersky was being used as a tool for Russian covert communications, the two former officials said, and were also examining whether individuals affiliated with Kaspersky were actual engaging in cyber-espionage domestically. “As a private company, Kaspersky Lab does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russia, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber espionage efforts,” a spokesperson for Kaspersky said. “The U.S. government actions against Kaspersky Lab lack sufficient basis, are unconstitutional, have been taken without any evidence of wrongdoing by the company, and rely upon subjective, non-technical public sources, such as uncorroborated and often anonymously sourced media reports, related claims, and rumors, which is why the company has challenged the validity of these actions in federal court.“

“Was Kaspersky looking at Microsoft or Boeing as opportunities to exploit? Was it just business development? Or were they actually engaged in trying to penetrate these enterprises?” asked one of the former officials. “The suspicions on Kaspersky have pretty much been borne out … when you look at the recent U.S. government decision, and what has been publicly reported on what the Israelis have been able to find out.” In 2017 the New York Times reported that Israeli intelligence had hacked into a Russian espionage operation, observing Russian operatives using back doors in Kaspersky software to scan for, and purloin, U.S. intelligence documents.

Russia’s interest in Microsoft is also well-documented. In 2010, U.S. officials deported Alexey Karetnikov, a 23-year-old Russian national, from the Seattle area, where he had been working at Microsoft as a software tester. U.S. officials believed he was actually a Russian intelligence officer, and linked him to the ring of 10 “illegals”—Russian deep-cover operatives who had been living in the United States—that U.S. officials had arrested and deported earlier that year. Two of those undercover operatives, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills (whose real names are Mikhail Kutsik and Natalia Pereverzeva), had lived in Seattle for years, even starting a family there. In Seattle, Kutsik worked at a telecommunications firm, and both operatives took finance classes at the University of Washington. In a 2017 article in Seattle Met Magazine, Kutsik and Pereverzeva’s former investments professor said he believed the Russians were interested in his class because many of his students went on to work for Amazon, Boeing or Microsoft. Kutsik, Pereverzeva and Karetnikov were not known to have been coordinating their activities with the Seattle consulate, one of the former officials said.

Even as Russian espionage continues to migrate outside consular facilities—to travelers, and individuals working locally under nonofficial cover—it is “no coincidence” that both shuttered diplomatic outposts were on the West Coast, said one of the former officials. No matter when—or if—these two consulates are reopened, Russian interest in the West Coast is likely to continue far into the foreseeable future.

Where is Adam Schiff now?