By Pam Benson
Another glass ceiling has been cracked at least temporarily with a woman now running the CIA's spy division.
The long time CIA veteran leading the National Clandestine Service on an acting basis cannot be publicly named because she is still a covert officer.
The question is whether she will get the job permanently. But her background could be problematic for new CIA boss John Brennan.
According to sources familiar with her career, she was assigned to a senior position at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
In that role, she was involved in the controversial interrogation and detention program set up as the agency tracked and captured suspected al Qaeda terrorists.
By Bill Mears
The Supreme Court rejected an effort by a group of attorneys, journalists and others to proceed with a lawsuit over the federal government's sweeping electronic monitoring of foreigners suspected of terrorism or spying.
The 5-4 conservative majority on Tuesday concluded that the plaintiffs lacked "standing" or jurisdiction to proceed, without a specific showing they have been monitored. The National Security Agency has in turn refused to disclose monitoring specifics, which detractors call "Catch-22" logic.
Justice Samuel Alito said plaintiffs "cannot demonstrate that the future injury they purportedly fear is certainly impending."
The justices did not address the larger questions of the program's constitutionality, and this ruling will make it harder for future lawsuits to proceed.
By Carol Cratty
A former U.S. Navy submarine warfare specialist has been arrested and charged with trying to give classified information about how to track U.S. submarines to people he thought were representatives of the Russian Federation - but who were actually FBI undercover agents, according to federal authorities.
Robert Patrick Hoffman II of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was arrested Thursday morning on an attempted espionage charge.
He appeared in federal court in Norfolk Thursday afternoon for an initial appearance, and the judge granted Hoffman's request for a court-appointed attorney, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office office for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Hoffman will remain in jail pending a detention hearing next Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
According to the indictment, on October 21 Hoffman tried to hand over national defense information to people he thought were representatives of the Russian government, including classified information "that revealed and pertained to methods to track U.S. submarines, including the technology and procedures required."
The government alleges Hoffman intended to harm the United States and give an advantage to the Russian Federation. The court documents do not state whether Hoffman sought any money for the materials.
A law enforcement official told CNN that Hoffman also was seeking money, but the official would not say how much.
The information was given to FBI agents who were conducting an undercover operation. The indictment does not charge the Russian government with wrongdoing.
Hoffman, 39, is described as a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who was trained in cryptology and reached the rank of petty officer first class. He retired from active duty in November 2011. According to his biography released by the military, he served as a submarine warfare specialist.
Hoffman held security clearances, and prosecutors say he signed several documents during his tenure in the Navy promising not to divulge sensitive information.
A U.S. official said Hoffman's home in Virginia Beach was searched, as was a local storage facility he was renting. The official said there was nothing to indicate that Hoffman passed classified information to "actual Russians" any time in the past, but authorities still have to examine items taken from his home and storage locker.
If convicted, Hoffman could be sentenced to life in prison.
Chris Lawrence and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.
By Carol Cratty
The United States has charged 11 people with illegally exporting U.S. microelectronics to Russia for use by the military and intelligence agencies.
Seven suspects were arrested Wednesday in the Houston area, including Alexander Fishenko, a naturalized American citizen born in Russia. He also is accused of acting on behalf of the Russian government without registering as a foreign agent.
Another suspect, Alexander Posobilov, also a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested Tuesday night at George Bush International Airport in Houston. Authorities say he was headed to Singapore and Moscow.
Three other people allegedly involved in the procurement ring are believed to be at large in Russia. FULL POST
By Suzanne Kelly
CNN Intelligence Correspondent
A new study being released by a private Internet security company highlights cyberworld weaknesses when it comes to gathering intelligence on hackers and suggests that businesses take a more military-minded approach to defense.
The cybersecurity company CounterTack polled 100 information security executives at companies with revenues greater than $100 million. Nearly half of the respondents said their organization had been the victim of a targeted cyberattack within the past year.
Some 80% of those polled believe that taking a more military-minded approach to the cyberwar could benefit business, according to CounterTack CEO Neal Creighton, whose firm released the poll Monday. For Creighton, that means incorporating more military-style intelligence gathering into companies' cyberworld defenses. FULL POST
by Suzanne Kelly
Discussions are ongoing over just how stringent new provisions should be as the Senate targets leakers in its upcoming Intelligence Authorization bill, according to a government source.
Many of the options up for consideration put far stricter limits on communications between intelligence officials and reporters, according to the source, who told CNN that early proposals included requiring government employees who provide background briefings to reporters to notify members of Congress ahead of time.
Such background meetings are not widely seen as opportunities to discuss classified programs. Reporters routinely use background briefings to gather contextual information on stories they are covering.
According to the government source, there were also discussions about consolidating some of the press offices within the intelligence community, limiting the number of people who are available to answer common media inquiries.
by Suzanne Kelly
The companies that control critical infrastructure in the United States are reporting higher numbers of attacks on their systems over the past three years, according to a report issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) says the number of reported attacks is up and attackers have been targeting companies with access to the country's power grid, water filtration facilities and a nuclear facility.
According to the report, which was released last week, there were 198 incidents reported to DHS in 2011, up from nine incidents in 2009. Cyber emergency response teams went to the physical locations to investigate and further analyze the threats in 17 of the 198 cases in 2011.
The most common threat was a technique known as spear-phishing, which can corrupt a company's computer system by uploading malicious attachments and gaining access to sensitive information. Eleven of the 17 incidents to which the emergency response teams physically responded were attacks that had been launched by "sophisticated actors," the report said. FULL POST
A Russian lab has discovered a malware program so sophisticated that some are referring to it as ushering in a new era of cyber espionage. CNN's Suzanne Kelly explains the threat.
Suzanne Kelly goes on the set of the hit series ‘Burn Notice’ in Miami to find out whether a spy can really be ‘burned’. Jeffrey Donovan plays Michael Westin, a CIA spy who has been fired, burned, black-listed and is tying to find a new life relying on his old skills. Suzanne brings in a former covert officer for the CIA to find out whether a spy can really ever be burned. The hit show airs on USA network.
CNN's Security Clearance examines national and global security, terrorism and intelligence, as well as the economic, military, political and diplomatic effects of it around the globe, with contributions from CNN's national security team in Washington and CNN journalists around the world.