May 22nd, 2013
07:02 PM ET

Satellite agency analyzes twister destruction for first responders

By Pam Benson

The people who usually analyze imagery from U.S. spy satellites are helping emergency workers respond to the devastation from this week's deadly twister in Oklahoma.

Shortly after the tornado struck, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to provide expertise to assess video, pictures and satellite imagery of the destruction.

And for the first time, NGA analysts are using an unclassified website to share that information with first responders.

Their assessments aim to help rescue workers conduct search and rescue operations and begin recovery efforts.


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Filed under: Intelligence • NGA • Tornado
Clapper:  Sequestration disastrous for intelligence programs
DNI James Clapper speaking at the Geoint Symposium in Orlando, Florida
October 10th, 2012
11:16 AM ET

Clapper: Sequestration disastrous for intelligence programs

By Pam Benson

Looming across-the-board cuts to the intelligence community budget will be devastating if Congress fails to act according to the nation's top intelligence officer.

"If sequestration is allowed to happen, it will be disastrous for intelligence," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a group of intelligence officers and contractors gathered at a conference in Orland on Tuesday.

Clapper said every major intelligence program is "in jeopardy of being wounded" because the budget deal Congress passed last year does not allow the intelligence community any flexibility to prioritize needs.

"The current arrangement pre supposes that everything we do in intelligence is of equal import and we all know that's not the case,' Clapper said.

The cuts would be approximately 10% and would impact programs as well as personnel.

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Filed under: Congress • Intelligence • James Clapper • NGA • Sequestration
First on CNN: Scoop on inside discussions over proposed leak provisions
Top leadership of Senate and House intelligence committees discuss concerns over leaks
July 5th, 2012
12:01 AM ET

First on CNN: Scoop on inside discussions over proposed leak provisions

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.


Bin Laden raid nets one intel employee big bonus
May 18th, 2012
05:25 PM ET

Bin Laden raid nets one intel employee big bonus

By Arielle Hawkins

The identities of the Navy SEALs who raided Osama bin Laden's compound remain a mystery, but one man who helped get them there is getting his due financially.

An employee with the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, has won a Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for analysis of satellite imagery of the terrorist's compound in Pakistan.

The staffer "oversaw and validated trade craft and methodologies applied in the final pursuit of and successful raid on the Osama bin Laden compound in Abbottabad," according to an announcement about the financial reward from the Senior Executives Association, a non-profit group which runs the award ceremony. FULL POST

The very model of a successful bin Laden raid
May 16th, 2012
06:03 PM ET

The very model of a successful bin Laden raid

By Mike Mount

Inside the Pentagon there are historical displays for almost everything the military has done dating back to this country's Revolutionary War. There are also models of all kinds: planes, trucks, missiles, ships and submarines.

On Wednesday an unassuming display popped up in one of hallways with little fanfare. At first there was passing interest, but as word spread more and more people started to gather around, asking questions and taking pictures.

The Styrofoam-and-acrylic model turned out to be a bit of new Pentagon history - it shows Osama bin Laden's walled compound and surrounding farmland.

Designed and built to be used in the planning for the May 2011 raid that killed the al Qaeda leader, the model also was taken to the White House to brief President Obama on plans for the raid.

It was built over a six-week period in the months before the raid and has sat on display in the lobby of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, just a few miles from the Pentagon and White House.

Until last week, the model was considered classified and only those working or visiting the building could see it.

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Filed under: 1 Year After Bin Laden's Death • Al Qaeda • Intelligence • Military • Navy SEALs • NGA • Osama bin Laden • Pakistan • Terrorism
Spy moms unite
Nada Bakos at work in Iraq
May 12th, 2012
08:18 AM ET

Spy moms unite

By Suzanne Kelly

Nada Bakos used to go work with a Glock strapped to her thigh. The former targeting officer for the CIA started her intelligence career as an analyst in 2000. But then September 11 happened.

"Everybody's life changed," said Nada Bakos, who, like many other women who were serving as analysts prior to 9/11, moved to the counterterrorism and eventually made the switch to the operations side, which meant she wasn't just analyzing the data on the bad guys, she was going after them.

She didn't yet have a family when she accepted her assignment as a targeting officer in Iraq, working alongside special forces in the hunt for the now-deceased terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. She won't share the details of exactly what she did to help find him, but she saw definite advantages to being a woman in the arena, noting that she sometimes had a very different experience than her male counterparts when it came to working within the norms of the culture.

"I got a completely different response than the men did," said Bakos, describing one particular effort to gather information. "How is a 26-year-old white male gonna walk up to a woman in the Middle East and say 'Hey, why don't you talk to me?' "

After a couple of years, Bakos realized that she knew more about Zarqawi than she did about many of the other men in her life. That, in part, was a wake up call to do something more:  She wanted to start a family.  But she was deep into her career on the operations side. That was a problem. FULL POST