Has U.S. intelligence been irreparably damaged by the release of Vault 7, to the point where it puts America and it’s operations at risk?
Well, to a certain extent, yes. But that’s only a problem if you think the CIA was targeting and manipulating the right people and entities.
You have probably heard by now of the Wikileaks release of Vault 7, a CIA arsenal of cyber weapons including viruses and malware. The capabilities the CIA has been utilizing include taking over smart TV’s and smartphones to use their microphones, and control their operations. The CIA can also get around popular encrypted messaging services like Whatsapp and Signal if they are used on an infected phone.
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.
Emphasis added. Basically, this release confirmed everything we had already assumed was being done by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The interesting part, is how the CIA used these espionage tools.
As Wikileaks noted, the CIA did not seem especially interested in ISIS, or drug cartels.
But the French Election did interest the CIA. We know they monitored the candidates to intercept communications. The CIA was especially interested in the prospects of French economic growth, specifically which candidates would follow “the German model of export-led growth.”
What does that say about the faltering French economy under Francois Hollande?
Exports have been shaky at best, with large differences month to month. Unemployment is up over 10%, and economic growth has failed to meet expectations.
So in addition to spying on the candidates, did the CIA use their cyber weapons to influence the election?
What is the Media Spinning About Vault 7?
The breach could undermine the CIA’s ability to carry out key parts of its mission, from targeting the Islamic State and other terrorist networks to penetrating the computer defenses of sophisticated cyber-adversaries including Russia, China and Iran, former officials and tech specialists said.
“Any exposure of these tools is going to cause grave if not irreparable damage to the ability of our intelligence agencies to conduct our mission,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. -Washington Post
But we just got a glimpse into that mission. The CIA mission seems to be controlling the world economy and choosing who will win elections of foreign governments. Where is the focus on Isis, China, and Iran coming from? The leaked documents specifically mention 10,000 targets from North America, Europe, and South America.
So really the leak will do damage to the CIA’s mission, but the media is pretending the CIA has a different mission. The media is still pretending the CIA first and foremost keeps America safe, when in reality it is clearly more interested in exerting influence around the globe.
Other outlets like The Guardian sought to assuage fears that any one of us has been targeted. They say the CIA was saving their technology for high stakes investigation, lest it be discovered and the technology updated to stop such hacks. They won’t hack little guys like us!
Matt Blaze suggested a way to steer clear of the hacking tools, “Don’t become a CIA target.”
And I think that says a lot. The fact is, the CIA can target whoever they want for whatever reason they want. How much–or how little–does it take to become a CIA target?
Do those exercising the right to free speech or freedom of the press run the risk of becoming targets… or have they already?
Basically, this confirms what were already the highly suspected capabilities of the CIA. It is really not surprising that they had these cyber weapons, and not a shock that they were less interested in using them to stop terrorists than to influence elections.
The media’s response is typical; pretend that the leak will hurt the United States, and make us more vulnerable to terrorists. This, despite the fact that the CIA was clearly not focused on terrorism.
In reality it is the CIA creating and disseminating these weapons in a disorganized insecure way that makes us all more vulnerable to whoever’s hands the cyber weapons have fallen into. We have been less safe since the CIA built the hacking arsenal.
The information coming to public light might make the CIA less effective in their goals, which does not necessarily make us less safe–depending on who you are, it could make you safer.
That is a big part of this story, that advanced hacking tools are now widely available for basically any organization in the world to use. So it isn’t just the CIA that might be listening into your phone’s microphone, or watching you through the camera.
It is beneficial to get confirmation of the tactics employed by the CIA, and open up a public discussion on the issue. Now at least when we talk about these things it isn’t some “conspiracy theory” but confirmed hacking and spying practices of the U.S. government.
Which also brings up more questions about sketchy incidents like the death of investigative reporter Michael Hastings.
Vault 7 confirmed the CIA’s interest in taking over and controlling vehicles. Michael Hastings died in a strange and mysterious car accident.
He was preparing a report on then CIA Director Brennan’s involvement in sanitizing Obama’s passport records. Hastings died when his car hit a tree and exploded, just three months after Brennan became head of the CIA.