July 2020


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The links below are organised by the month in which they are published


AIPIO Awards Scheme

Each year, the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers (AIPIO) seek to recognise excellence in the intelligence profession through the AIPIO Annual Awards Scheme. Each year the AIPIO Board presents awards in five categories: 

Publication       |     Organisation        |        Individual     |          Young Intelligence Professional     |   Innovation in Intelligence

Nomination forms are to be returned by 5pm on 2nd October 2020 for consideration.

Completed and signed nomination forms (and copies of papers for the publications award) should be scanned and emailed to membership@aipio.asn.au.

Award winners will be notified by the AIPIO Board by the 23rd October, 2020.  All awards will be presented during the AIPIO National Conference.

The AIPIO Board will only issue awards where nominations are of the highest standard and there will only be one award for each category.

Nominees for the Publication and Individual Awards do not have to be AIPIO members to be eligible.  

Nominees for the Organisation Award do not have to be affiliated with AIPIO to be eligible. 

Nomination Form Here ► Nomination Guide Here



Exposing How The Chinese Communist Party Is Reshaping The World

In this landmark follow-up to the bestselling Silent Invasion, Hidden Hand exposes the Chinese Communist Party’s global program of influence and subversion, and the threat it poses to democracy.`

With its enormous economic power, China is now a global political and military force engaged in an ideological struggle with the West. Combining a mass of evidence with unique insights, Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg lay bare the nature and extent of the Chinese Communist Party’s influence operations across the Western world – in politics, business, universities, think tanks and international institutions such as the UN. This new authoritarian power is using democracy to undermine democracy in pursuit of its global ambitions.

Combining meticulous research with compelling prose, Hidden Hand brings to light the Chinese Communist Party's threats to democratic freedoms and national sovereignty across Europe and North America – and show how we might push back against its autocratic influence.

Learn more at Booktopia


This Is How You Train As a Spy in the CIA’s Most Elite Covert Unit

Source meetings at Panera. Dead drops all over DC. How to develop a cover identity. Former spy Amaryllis Fox tells all in this excerpt from her book, Life Undercover.

“I start the CIA Field Tradecraft course in the fall of 2005, learning the basics of elicitation, dead drops, bumps, brush passes, and surveillance detection. 

“My small band of classmates and I run around DC at all hours of the day and night, marking signal sites with chalk and identifying the license plates of cars that trail us, sorting the training surveillants from the real ones, high on the fact that the civilians around us are carrying on with their normal days, oblivious to what’s happening right in front of them.

“We’re given our first operational assessment: a bump, which means finding a target of interest in some public place and manufacturing a reason to get him or her talking. 

“The aim is the much-coveted “second meeting”: an opportunity to continue the conversation somewhere else at some later date; this offers the operative the chance to build a relationship and, with it, access to whatever information the target might hold. 

“I know from my time at the Agency’s Counterterrorism Center how precious that information can be. The location of a detainee, delivered hours before she’s to be beheaded. 

“The name of a seller on his way to provide Soviet-era tactical nukes to a contact in al-Qaeda. The security loophole that Hezbollah plans to exploit to walk catastrophic biological agents out of a scientist’s deep freezer.

► Read more



On Dual and Single Process Models Of Thinking - Wim De Neys

Popular dual process models of thinking have long conceived intuition and deliberation as two qualitatively different processes. Single process model proponents claim that the difference is a matter of degree and not of kind. 

Psychologists have been debating the dual vs single process question for at least 30 years. In the present paper I argue that it is time to leave the debate behind us. 

Wim De Neys presents a critical evaluation of the key arguments and critiques and show that—pace both dual and single model proponents—there is currently no good evidence that allows us to decide the debate. Even if the debate were to be solved, it would be irrelevant for psychologists because it does not advance our understanding of the processing mechanisms underlying human thinking.

► Read the full Perspectives on Psychological Science article here


ASIO and the Monitoring of Irish Republicans in Australia during the “Troubles"

After the “Troubles” broke out in Northern Ireland in 1969, the Australian government became increasingly concerned that these international tensions would manifest themselves within the Irish diaspora. Sympathy for Irish Republicanism was identified in a number of nationalist and socialist groups in Australia which were monitored by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). Although chiefly focused on the Communist Party of Australia, ASIO monitored Irish Republicans alongside other left‐wing groups and social movements. Based on recently released ASIO files, this article explores the extent to which they were surveilled.

The article argues that the monitoring of the Irish Republicans can fit into two periods. The first period, from the outbreak of the “Troubles” in 1969 to 1972, was when Irish Republicanism was seen as an extension of the Communist and Trotskyist groups in Australia. The second period, from 1972 through to the late 1970s, saw security services much more concerned about Irish Republicanism as terrorism, as international terrorism and the expansion of the IRA's bombing campaigns outside of Northern Ireland became an increasing concern. This shift in perceptions of Irish Republicanism demonstrates a wider shift in focus for ASIO and the Australian authorities from Cold War counter‐subversion to counter‐terrorism.

 Read the Australian Journal of Politics and History article here


Toward a Theory of Situation Awareness in Dynamic Systems 

This paper presents a theoretical model of situation awareness based on its role in dynamic human decision making in a variety of domains. Situation awareness is presented as a predominant concern in system operation, based on a descriptive view of decision making. The relationship between situation awareness and numerous individual and environmental factors is explored. Among these factors, attention and working memory are presented as critical factors limiting operators from acquiring and interpreting information from the environment to form situation awareness, and mental models and goal-directed behavior are hypothesized as important mechanisms for overcoming these limits.

The impact of design features, workload, stress, system complexity, and automation on operator situation awareness is addressed, and a taxonomy of errors in situation awareness is introduced, based on the model presented. The model is used to generate design implications for enhancing operator situation awareness and future directions for situation awareness research.

► Read the full article here



Former top intelligence officials create "briefing book" for 2020 candidates – including Trump

Two former acting CIA directors have enlisted former intelligence analysts in compiling a "briefing book" on global security challenges and are sending copies to all declared 2020 presidential candidates – including President Trump.  

The 37-page report is intended to serve as an unclassified, written version of a typically classified oral briefing offered to the presidential nominees of both parties. The authors, John McLoughlin and Michael Morell, who is also a CBS News Senior National Security Contributor, have led such briefings in the past.

"Given that the U.S. faces the most complex and difficult national security and foreign policy environment in decades and given the ongoing debates in the U.S. about the basic facts on key issues," the former officials wrote, according to a copy of the report reviewed by CBS News, "we thought it would be useful to bring a version of the 'nominee briefings' to all the candidates running for president in 2020 as early in the process as possible."

► Read more here


Intelligence Community Releases Artificial Intelligence Principles and Framework

Intelligence Community (IC) released the Principles of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Ethics for the Intelligence Community and the related Artificial Intelligence Ethics Framework for the Intelligence Community. These principles and framework, which the director of national intelligence (DNI) recently approved, will guide the IC’s ethical development and use of AI.

“The IC leads in developing and using technology crucial to our national security mission, and we cannot do so without recognizing and acting on its ethical implications,” said DNI John Ratcliffe. “These principles and their accompanying framework will help guide our mission leads and data scientists as they implement technology to solve intelligence problems.”

The Principles of AI Ethics demonstrate the IC’s commitment to ensuring its use and implementation of AI respect the law, protect privacy and civil liberties, are transparent and accountable, remain objective and equitable, appropriately incorporate human judgment, are secure and resilient by design, and incorporate the best practices of the science and technology communities.

► Read more here



China could be using TikTok to spy on Australians, but banning it isn’t a simple fix

In an age of isolation, video sharing platform TikTok has emerged as a bonding force for many. But recent headlines allege the service, owned by Beijing-based company ByteDance, is feeding users’ data to the Chinese Communist Party.

Earlier this week, the Herald Sun reported an unnamed federal MP was pushing for the app to be banned.

Following suit, Liberal senator Jim Molan said TikTok was being “used and abused” by the Chinese government, while Labor senator Jenny McAllister called on TikTok’s representatives to face the Select Committee on Foreign Interference Through Social Media.

TikTok has denied the accusations and rebuffed suggestions it should be banned in Australia. But why is the federal government examining this app so closely? And could it really be a tool used by the Chinese government to spy on us?

► Read the full story at The Conversation


Philippines: China Should Comply With Sea Feud Ruling

The Philippines on Sunday renewed its call for compliance with a 4-year-old arbitration ruling that invalidated China’s vast claims in the disputed South China Sea on historical grounds “without any possibility of compromise.” Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. issued the call on the anniversary of the July 12, 2016, ruling by an international tribunal in The Hague that he said “conclusively settled the issue of historic rights and maritime entitlements in the South China Sea” based on the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. 

► Read the full article at Real Clear Defense


A US research lab with nearly $2 billion in government funding is hacking smart devices at the border and studying 'human odor signatures' to interrogate criminal suspects

A secretive research lab called Mitre Corporation has existed in the US since the late 1950s and is receiving nearly $US2 billion a year in funding, per a Forbes report.

Among its projects are developing systems for infiltrating connected devices at the border to hinder illegal crossings, studying human body odor as a means to detect deceit in interrogations, and designing software capable of gleaning human fingerprints from social media photos.

Mitre’s primary objective has been to protect national security from its inception, but its contribution to advanced surveillance technology has drawn the attention of privacy advocates.

► Read the full story at Business Insider


Police are worried about white extremists organizing on Gab Chat, leaked documents show

Violent white extremists are sick of getting doxxed on Discord, and will "likely" move their organizing efforts to an encrypted messaging alternative created by Gab, an alt-right favorite.

So claims a May 26 law enforcement bulletin leaked, along with 269GB of files from over 200 police departments, in late June by hackers and published by Distributed Denial of Secrets, a journalist organization specializing in the publication of leaked documents. 

The bulletin, designated as "For Official Use Only" and created by the Central Florida Intelligence Exchange Fusion Center, provides valuable insight into how law enforcement follows extremists around the web as their preferred communication platforms change with the times.

► Read the Mashable story here


National Security Implications of COVID-19: A Framework

The current global pandemic of the disease called COVID-19—caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus—will sharpen several challenges to U.S. national security and influence the country’s ability to meet those challenges.  “But how, exactly?” impatient policymakers and current practitioners of diplomacy and national security may ask, as they seek to construct U.S. responses.  

Avoiding speculative predictions at this point, we can start with a framework: an intellectual scaffolding on which to consider emerging implications before acting on them.

► Read the story at Real Clear Defense


The Boogaloo Tipping Point: What happens when a meme becomes a terrorist movement?

On may 29, two federal security officers guarding a courthouse in Oakland, California, were ambushed by machine-gun fire as elsewhere in the city demonstrators marched peacefully to protest the killing of George Floyd. 

One of the guards, David Patrick Underwood, died as a result of the attack, and the other was wounded. For days, conservative news broadcasters pinned the blame on “antifa,” the loosely affiliated group of anti-fascist anarchists known to attack property and far-right demonstrators at protests. 

But the alleged culprit, apprehended a week later, turned out to be a 32-year-old Air Force sergeant named Steven Carrillo, the head of a squadron called the Phoenix Ravens, which guards military installations from terrorist attacks.

According to prosecutors, Carrillo and an accomplice, 30-year-old Robert A. Justus Jr., were part of the “boogaloo” movement, a patchwork of right-leaning anti-government libertarians, Second Amendment advocates, and gun enthusiasts all preparing for another American civil war.

► Read the full story here


How a Chinese agent used LinkedIn to hunt for targets

Jun Wei Yeo, an ambitious and freshly enrolled Singaporean PhD student, was no doubt delighted when he was invited to give a presentation to Chinese academics in Beijing in 2015.

His doctorate research was about Chinese foreign policy and he was about to discover firsthand how the rising superpower seeks to attain influence.

After his presentation, Jun Wei, also known as Dickson, was, according to US court documents, approached by several people who said they worked for Chinese think tanks. They said they wanted to pay him to provide "political reports and information". They would later specify exactly what they wanted: "scuttlebutt" - rumours and insider knowledge.

He soon realised they were Chinese intelligence agents but remained in contact with them, a sworn statement says. He was first asked to focus on countries in South East Asia but later, their interest turned to the US government.

That was how Dickson Yeo set off on a path to becoming a Chinese agent - one who would end up using the professional networking website LinkedIn, a fake consulting company and cover as a curious academic to lure in American targets.

► Read the full BBC Online article here


This sculpture at CIA headquarters holds one of the world's most famous unsolved mysteries

In the middle of CIA headquarters, there sits a sculpture that contains a secret code that has stumped top cryptologists for decades.

In the late 1980s, artist Jim Sanborn was commissioned to create a sculpture to be displayed at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. 

Knowing some of the world's top intelligence officials would see the piece practically every day, Sanborn made a work of art that is, in a word, puzzling.

Unveiled on November 3, 1990, it's called Kryptos, and it contains a cryptographic challenge. Surely, someone would crack the code in just a couple of weeks, Sanborn thought.

But no one did. And, today, Kryptos remains one of the world's most famous unsolved mysteries.

► Can you crack it? 


Five Eyes alliance could expand in scope to counteract China

Plans mooted to pool strategic resources and lessen west’s dependency on China. 

The Five Eyes intelligence alliance could be expanded to include Japan and broadened into a strategic economic relationship that pools key strategic reserves such as critical minerals and medical supplies, according to centre-right MPs working internationally to decouple the west from China.

The coronavirus crisis has revealed the west’s key strategic dependencies on China, and plans will be announced shortly under Five Eyes auspices for a major increase in production of rare and semi-rare metals from Australia, Canada, and America in order to reduce dependency on Chinese stocks.

Critical minerals, known as rare earth elements, are the key components in a wide range of consumer products including mobile phones, laptops and TVs, and have widespread defence applications in jet engines, satellites, lasers and missiles. On average, China has accounted for more than 90% of the global production and supply of rare earths during the past decade, according to the US Geological Survey.

► Read the full story


Coronavirus: Iran cover-up of deaths revealed by data leak

The number of deaths from coronavirus in Iran is nearly triple what Iran's government claims, a BBC Persian service investigation has found.

The government's own records appear to show almost 42,000 people died with Covid-19 symptoms up to 20 July, versus 14,405 reported by its health ministry.

The number of people known to be infected is also almost double official figures: 451,024 as opposed to 278,827.

Iran has been one of the worst-hit countries outside China. In recent weeks, it has suffered a second steep rise in the number of cases.

Since the outbreak of the virus in Iran, many observers have doubted the official numbers.

There have been irregularities in data between national and regional levels, which some local authorities have spoken out about, and statisticians have tried to give alternative estimates. 

► Read the full story



Rundown of China's spy agencies will make uncomfortable reading for some

You know about the CIA. And the FBI. The whole world knows that James Bond worked for MI6.

Everyone knows the name of the Soviet Union's notorious foreign espionage service, the KGB, the training ground for today's Russian President, Vladimir Putin. Most people have heard of the ruthlessly efficient Israeli Mossad. Most Australians have heard of the domestic spy agency ASIO. And a few will know of Australia's overseas spy agency, ASIS. But can you name one of China's intelligence services? Just one?

► Read the full Sydney Morning Herald Story


Four Functions the Intelligence Community Should Rethink

The pandemic and new challenges abroad require change.

As he settles into his role as Director of National Intelligence, John Ratcliffe has the opportunity to lead the intelligence community through a series of unprecedented national crises and position it to thrive in the “new normal.” Given laws on civil service hiring, handling classified information, and other requirements unique to the national security apparatus, intelligence agencies may be less able than private companies to reinvent their business models on the fly. However, adversity often presents opportunity.  

In the wake of 2020’s transformative events, U.S. intelligence agencies must challenge longstanding institutional habits and embrace new ways to meet the nation’s strategic challenges.

► Read more


Stamps And Spies: The Cia’s Involvement In Postage Design

In 1960, many Americans sent mail to Czechoslovakia, wrote the correct addresses, and paid the proper postage, but nevertheless found their envelopes returned undelivered. The envelopes were still sealed, so no one had opened them and decided on the basis of what was written inside to send them back. Instead, the problem was stuck to the front of the envelopes: All the returned envelopes had a postage stamp featuring Tomáš Masaryk, the leader of Czechoslovak independence. The stamp was part of the ‘Champions of Liberty’ series honoring non-Americans who had struggled for political freedom in their homelands.

The stamp’s message was not lost on Communist Czechoslovakia. In a letter to the State Department, the Czechoslovak embassy accused the United States of “not issuing the stamp to honor Masaryk as it had alleged, but to use it as a propaganda means against the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.” In response, the State Department insisted that issuing stamps of “honored personages of various nationalities is an accepted international philatelic practice.”

► Read more



Thirty Years Later, Soviet-Era MI6 Double Agent Describes Escape From KGB

The KGB colonel knew his cover was almost blown.

He had been suspiciously summoned to Moscow. They had got him drunk on cognac while a KGB general grilled him for four hours. He'd be executed if they could catch him. They seemed to be closing the net. But the MI6 double agent couldn't risk openly fleeing.

After he sobered up at home, Oleg Gordiyevsky turned to his last resort -- an emergency escape plan devised by the British intelligence services that was hidden in invisible ink in a collection of Shakespeare sonnets.

Pulling bed sheets over his head to elude surveillance cameras in the ceiling and walls of his Moscow apartment, Gordiyevsky soaked the book cover in water, revealing a set of instructions. He set about memorizing them.

► Read the full story


Appointment of the new Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)

Foreign Secretary approves the appointment of Richard Moore CMG to succeed Sir Alex Younger

The Foreign Secretary, with the agreement of the Prime Minister, has approved the appointment of Richard Moore CMG as the new Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). Richard will succeed Sir Alex Younger, who will leave the Service in the autumn.

Richard is currently Political Director in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and a former HM Ambassador to Turkey. Richard previously held director roles in the Secret Intelligence Service and has been Deputy National Security Adviser in the Cabinet Office.

► Read more here​​​​​​​



Applying Method to Madness: A User’s Guide to Causal Inference in Policy Analysis

When national security practitioners — military and civilian alike — encounter academic social science, often in the context of professional military education, they usually respond in one of two ways. 

The first is with deep skepticism, sometimes bordering on antagonism: All this academic theory is nice, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the real world where I do my job! Why should I believe this analysis? You can make numbers say anything you want! 

The second is with uncritical acceptance: I don’t understand the math, but it was published by people with PhDs so it must be true! This theory predicts X, so that’s what will happen, right?

► Read the full article


Creating, Fast and Slow

Instead of bickering about the superiority of specialists or generalists, why not recognise that creative strategies involve trade-offs?

Innovation is considered to be a sport for interdisciplinary brokers and boundary spanners these days. However, contrary to trends in the business literature, creativity is not always developed through a broad network. For winners of the highest accolades, like the Nobel Prize or the Fields Medal, deep commitment to narrow questions and a thorough understanding of a particular topic are essential to push boundaries into new frontiers.

Typically, when we talk about these different creative strategies, “generalists” are those who choose to broker knowledge across various domains and “specialists”, those who focus on a single narrow field. Generalists have spread their experience to learn a little bit about a lot. Specialists, on the other hand, know a lot about few topics. There are, of course, benefits to both.

► Read the article


Give Better Intelligence Briefings with Zachery Tyson

This session focuses on the elements of effective intelligence briefing: first impressions, strategy, organization, audience, setting, delivery, graphics, and metrics of success. It's intended audience is broad - analysts of all types in government and the private sector who seek to enhance their briefing skills to better serve their clients.

► Link to session​​​​​​​

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The subjects, thoughts, opinions, and information made available in AIPIO Acumen reflect the author’s views, not those of the AIPIO.