Mt. Vernon Register-News

CNHI Special Projects

August 29, 2013

US spying successes, failures, objectives detailed in top secret 'black budget'

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The CIA is pursuing tracking systems "that minimize or eliminate the need for physical access and enable deep concealment operations against hard targets."

The agency has deployed new biometric sensors to confirm the identities and locations of al-Qaida operatives. The system has been used in the CIA's drone campaign.

The NSA is also planning high-risk covert missions, a lesser-known part of its work, to plant what it calls "tailored radio frequency solutions" in hostile territory — close-in sensors to intercept communications that do not pass through global networks.

Spending on satellite systems and almost every other category of collection are projected to remain stagnant or shrink in coming years, as Washington grapples with budget cuts across the government. But the 2013 intelligence budget called for increased investment in SIGINT.

The budget includes a lengthy section on funding for counter-intelligence programs designed to protect against the danger posed by foreign intelligence services as well as betrayals from within the U.S. spy ranks.

The document describes programs to "mitigate insider threats by trusted insiders who seek to exploit their authorized access to sensitive information to harm U.S. interests."

The agencies had budgeted for a major counterintelligence initiative in fiscal 2012, but most of those resources were diverted to an all-hands, emergency response to successive floods of classified data released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

For this year, the budget promised a renewed "focus . . . on safeguarding classified networks" and a strict "review of high-risk, high-gain applicants and contractors" — the young, nontraditional computer coders with the skills the NSA needed.

Among them was Snowden, then a 29-year-old contract computer specialist who had been trained by the NSA to circumvent computer network security. He was copying thousands of highly classified documents at an NSA facility in Hawaii, and preparing to leak them, as the agency embarked on a security sweep.

"NSA will initiate a minimum of 4,000 periodic reinvestigations of potential insider compromise of sensitive information," according to the budget, scanning its systems for "anomalies and alerts."

Washington Post staff writer Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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