Links for 7-27-2018

  • Donald Trump thought he had a deal with Recep Tayyip Erdogan to free American Andrew Brunson. Israel deported a Turkish woman charged with smuggling for Hamas, and in exchange Turkey was supposed to release Brunson. Instead a Turkish court transferred Brunson from prison to house arrest, and Trump and Mike Pence started making public threats against Turkey.

  • The FBI’s application to the FISA court for a warrant to wiretap Carter Page failed to state that Christopher Steele, the source of much of the intelligence information in the warrant application, was biased against Donald Trump.

  • Silicon Valley is now a hotbed of spying:

    We tend to think of espionage in the United States as an East Coast phenomenon: shadowy foreign spies working out of embassies in Washington, or at missions to the United Nations in New York; dead drops in suburban Virginia woodlands, and surreptitious meetings on park benches in Manhattan’s gray dusk.

    But foreign spies have been showing up uninvited to San Francisco and Silicon Valley for a very long time. According to former U.S. intelligence officials, that’s true today more than ever. In fact, they warn—especially because of increasing Russian and Chinese aggressiveness, and the local concentration of world-leading science and technology firms—there’s a full-on epidemic of espionage on the West Coast right now. And even more worrisome, many of its targets are unprepared to deal with the growing threat.


    Political espionage happens here, too. China, for example, is certainly out to steal U.S. technology secrets, noted former intelligence officials, but it also is heavily invested in traditional political intelligence gathering, influence and perception-management operations in California. Former intelligence officials told me that Chinese intelligence once recruited a staff member at a California office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and the source reported back to China about local politics. (A spokesperson for Feinstein said the office doesn’t comment on personnel matters or investigations, but noted that no Feinstein staffer in California has ever had a security clearance.) At the Aspen Security Forum last week, FBI director Chris Wray acknowledged the threat Chinese spying in particular poses, saying, “China from a counterintelligence perspective represents the broadest, most pervasive, most threatening challenge we face as a country.”

  • South Korea summoned a Chinese embassy official to complain that Chinese military planes are infringing on South Korea’s air defense territory.

  • Pakistan’s major political parties conceded defeat to former cricket player Imran Khan in an election that European Union monitors said was unfair.

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