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A private intelligence agency (PIA) is a private sector (non-governmental) or quasi-non-government organization devoted to the collection, analysis, and exploitation of information, through the evaluation of public sources (OSINT or Open Source INTelligence) and cooperation with other institutions.Some private intelligence agencies obtain information deceptively or through on-the-ground activities for clients.
The private sector is the part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is owned by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, rather than being owned by the State.
Private agencies have made their services available to governments as well as individual consumers; they have also sold their services to large corporations with an interest or investment in the category (e.g. crime, disease, corruption, etc.) or the region (e.g. Middle East, Vietnam, Prague, etc.) or to investigate perceived threats such as environmental groups or human rights groups.
In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term "crime" does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted definition, though statutory definitions have been provided for certain purposes. The most popular view is that crime is a category created by law; in other words, something is a crime if declared as such by the relevant and applicable law. One proposed definition is that a crime or offence is an act harmful not only to some individual but also to a community, society or the state. Such acts are forbidden and punishable by law.
A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of part or all of an organism, and that is not due to any external injury. Diseases are often construed as medical conditions that are associated with specific symptoms and signs. A disease may be caused by external factors such as pathogens or by internal dysfunctions. For example, internal dysfunctions of the immune system can produce a variety of different diseases, including various forms of immunodeficiency, hypersensitivity, allergies and autoimmune disorders.
In general, corruption is a form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire illicit benefit, or, abuse of entrusted power for one's private gain. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries. Political corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain. Corruption is most commonplace in kleptocracies, oligarchies, narco-states and mafia states.This is the working definition used by Transparency International (TI), applying to both the public and private sectors. The CPI focuses on corruption in the public sector, or corruption which involves public officials, civil servants or politicians.
Some private intelligence agencies use online perception management, social media influencing/manipulation campaigns, strategic disinformation (such as fake news production/propaganda production ), opposition research and political campaigns using social media and artifical intelligence such as Psy-Group, Cambridge Analytica and Black Cube. The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab described the activity of Archimedes Group as practicing "information warfare".
Fake news websites are Internet websites that deliberately publish fake news—hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news—often using social media to drive web traffic and amplify their effect. Unlike news satire, fake news websites deliberately seek to be perceived as legitimate and taken at face value, often for financial or political gain. Such sites have promoted political falsehoods in Germany, Indonesia and the Philippines, Sweden, Myanmar, and the United States. Many sites originate in, or are promoted by, Russia, North Macedonia, Romania, and some individuals in the United States.
In the politics of the United States, opposition research is the practice of collecting information on a political opponent or other adversary that can be used to discredit or otherwise weaken them. The information can include biographical, legal, criminal, medical, educational, or financial history or activities, as well as prior media coverage, or the voting record of a politician. Opposition research can also entail using "trackers" to follow an individual and record their activities or political speeches.
In computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans. Colloquially, the term "artificial intelligence" is often used to describe machines that mimic "cognitive" functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as "learning" and "problem solving".
The private intelligence industry has boomed due to shifts in how the U.S. government is conducting espionage in the War on Terror. Some $56 billion (USD) or 70% of the $80 billion national intelligence budget of the United States was in 2013 earmarked for the private sector according to the New York Times' Tim Shorrock. Functions previously performed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA), and other intelligence agencies are now outsourced to private intelligence corporations.
Espionage or spying is the act of obtaining secret or confidential information without the permission of the holder of the information. Spies help agencies uncover secret information. Any individual or spy ring, in the service of a government, company or independent operation, can commit espionage. The practice is clandestine, as it is by definition unwelcome. In some circumstances it may be a legal tool of law enforcement and in others it may be illegal and punishable by law. Espionage is a method of intelligence gathering which includes information gathering from non-disclosed sources.
The War on Terror, also known as the Global War on Terrorism, is an international military campaign that was launched by the United States government after the September 11 attacks against the United States. The naming of the campaign uses a metaphor of war to refer to a variety of actions that do not constitute a specific war as traditionally defined. U.S. president George W. Bush first used the term "war on terrorism" on 16 September 2001, and then "war on terror" a few days later in a formal speech to Congress. In the latter speech, George Bush stated, "Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them." The term was originally used with a particular focus on countries associated with al-Qaeda. The term was immediately criticised by such people as Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and more nuanced terms subsequently came to be used by the Bush administration to publicly define the international campaign led by the U.S. It was never used as a formal designation of U.S. operations in internal government documentation.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, tasked with gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information from around the world, primarily through the use of human intelligence (HUMINT). As one of the principal members of the United States Intelligence Community (IC), the CIA reports to the Director of National Intelligence and is primarily focused on providing intelligence for the President and Cabinet of the United States.
Private intelligence agencies have also been seen in fiction. Rubicon, a TV series from AMC, was devoted to the intelligence consultancy American Policy Institute (API). In the Kingsman franchise, we see the inner workings of Kingsman, a private intelligence service of which main character Eggsy is a member. In Season 5 of the spy-thriller series Covert Affairs, we see the CIA contract missions to a private military company called McQuaid Security which Annie Walker eventually joins.
Rubicon is an American television series created by Jason Horwitch and produced by Henry Bromell that was broadcast on the AMC television network in 2010. The series centers on an intelligence analyst working for the American Policy Institute (API) in New York City. He discovers that he may be working with members of a secret society that manipulates world events on a grand scale. The series stars James Badge Dale, Jessie Collins, Lauren Hodges, Miranda Richardson, Dallas Roberts, Christopher Evan Welch, Arliss Howard, and Michael Cristofer.
AMC is an American pay television channel that is an owned flagship property of AMC Networks. The channel's programming primarily consists of theatrically released films, along with a limited amount of original programming. The channel's name originally stood for "American Movie Classics", but since 2002 the full name has been de-emphasized as a result of a major shift in its programming.
Kingsman is a British-American media franchise based on the adventures of the agents of Kingsman, a fictional secret organization. It began in 2012 with the Marvel comic The Secret Service, with two sequels following in 2017 and 2018. The comic series was created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.
Archimedes Group is a Tel Aviv-based private intelligence agency that has operated political campaigns using social media since 2017.
Psy-Group is a former Israeli private intelligence agency which was owned and operated by Joel Zamel from Petah Tikva, which closed after revelations that it was under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The company had conducted both online perception management, social media influencing/manipulation campaigns, opposition research honey traps and clandestine on-the-ground activities for clients. Royi Burstien, a former lieutenant colonel in the Israeli army, headed an intelligence unit under Israel’s government before starting Psy-Group and acting as the vice-president of business development.
Aegis Defence Services is a British private military and private security company with overseas offices in Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Somalia and Mozambique. It is part of the Aegis Group of companies, which includes Aegis LLC, which is based in the United States. It was founded in 2002 by Tim Spicer, who was previously CEO of the private military company Sandline International; Jeffrey Day, an entrepreneur; and Mark Bullough and Dominic Armstrong, former investment bankers.
Disinformation is false information spread deliberately to deceive.. This is a subset of misinformation, which also may be unintentional.
Peter Zvi Malkin was an Israeli secret agent and member of the Mossad intelligence agency. He was part of the team that captured Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960 and brought him to Israel to stand trial. In the movie Operation Finale he was played by Oscar Isaac.
Victor John Ostrovsky is an author and a former katsa for the Israeli Mossad. He authored two nonfiction books about his service with the Mossad: By Way of Deception, a #1 New York Times bestseller in 1990, and The Other Side of Deception several years later.
James Bamford is an American bestselling author, journalist and documentary producer widely noted for his writing about United States intelligence agencies, especially the National Security Agency (NSA). The New York Times has called him "the nation's premier journalist on the subject of the National Security Agency" and in a lengthy profile The New Yorker named him "the NSA's chief chronicler." Bamford has taught at the University of California, Berkeley as a distinguished visiting professor and has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Harper's, and many other publications. In 2006, he won the National Magazine Award for Reporting, the highest award in the magazine industry, for his writing on the war in Iraq published in Rolling Stone. He is also an Emmy nominated documentary producer for PBS and spent a decade as the Washington investigative producer for ABC's World News Tonight. In 2015 he became the national security columnist for Foreign Policy Magazine and he also writes for The New Republic. His most recent book, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, became a New York Times bestseller and was named by The Washington Post as one of "The Best Books of the Year." It is the third in a trilogy by Bamford on the NSA, following The Puzzle Palace (1982) and Body of Secrets (2001), also New York Times bestsellers.
Rafael "Rafi" Eitan was an Israeli politician and intelligence officer. He also led Gil and served as Minister of Senior Citizens. He was in charge of the Mossad operation that led to the arrest of Adolf Eichmann. He served as an advisor on terrorism to Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and in 1981 he was appointed to head the Bureau of Scientific Relations, then an intelligence entity on par with Mossad, Aman and Shabak. Eitan assumed responsibility for and resigned over the Jonathan Pollard affair, and the Bureau was disbanded. He was subject to an arrest warrant issued by the United States FBI. From 1985 until 1993, he was head of the government's Chemicals company, which was expanded under his leadership. After 1993, he became a businessman, noted for several large scale agricultural and construction ventures in Cuba. He was the chairman of the Vetek (Seniority) Association – the Senior Citizens Movement.
Jordanian General Intelligence Directorate, or GID is the intelligence agency of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and forms part of the Ministry of Interior. The GID is reportedly one of the most important and professional intelligence agencies in the Middle East; the agency has been instrumental in foiling several terrorist attacks both in Jordan and around the world.
Facebook, Inc. is an American online social media and social networking service company based in Menlo Park, California. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg, along with fellow Harvard College students and roommates Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes. It is considered one of the Big Four technology companies along with Amazon, Apple, and Google.
Mossad, short for HaMossad leModiʿin uleTafkidim Meyuḥadim, is the national intelligence agency of Israel. It is one of the main entities in the Israeli Intelligence Community, along with Aman and Shin Bet.
Wikistrat Inc. is a geostrategic analysis and business consultancy founded in Israel in 2010 by Joel Zamel and Daniel Green and headquartered in the United States. It describes itself as the world's first crowdsourced consultancy leveraging a global network of over 2,000 subject-matter experts. 74 percent of the firm’s revenue came from clients that were foreign governments such as United Arab Emirates and United States Government after which Deloitte is the biggest contributor.
Yosef "Yossi" Meir Cohen is the current Director of Mossad, the national intelligence agency of Israel.
The Spy Cables are a series of leaked documents from global intelligence agencies that were published by Al Jazeera and The Guardian in 2015. The documents date from 2006 to December 2014 and are largely derived from communications between South Africa's State Security Agency and various agencies. Agencies included in the leaks include Israel's Mossad, Russia's FSB, and agencies from France, Jordan, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom's Secret Intelligence Service, the United States, and countries in Africa.
Black Cube is a private intelligence agency based in London, Tel Aviv and Madrid, and is the trading name of BC Strategy Ltd. The company was founded in 2010 by former Israeli intelligence officers Dan Zorella and Avi Yanus. Its employees include former members of Israeli intelligence units, including Aman, Mossad and Shin Bet, as well as legal and financial experts.
Four Iranian nuclear scientists — Masoud Alimohammadi, Majid Shahriari, Darioush Rezaeinejad and Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan —were assassinated between 2010 and 2012. Another scientist, Fereydoon Abbasi, was wounded in an attempted murder. Two of the killings were carried out with magnetic bombs attached to the targets' cars; Darioush Rezaeinejad was shot dead, and Masoud Alimohammadi was killed in a motorcycle-bomb explosion. The Iranian government accused Israel of complicity in the killings. In 2011 and 2012, Iranian authorities arrested a number of Iranians alleged to have carried out the assassination campaign on behalf of Mossad. Western intelligence services and U.S officials reportedly confirmed the Israeli connection. In June 2012, the Iranian government was confident that it had arrested all the assassins.
SCL Group was a private British behavioural research and strategic communication company. In the United States, SCL has generated public scandal mainly through its subsidiary Cambridge Analytica. It performed data mining and data analysis on its audience. Based on results, communications would then be specifically targeted to key audience groups to modify behaviour in accordance with the goal of SCL's client. The company used to describe itself as a "global election management agency". London-based SCL was founded by Nigel Oakes who serves as its CEO.
Cambridge Analytica Ltd (CA) was a British political consulting firm which combined data mining, data brokerage, and data analysis with strategic communication during the electoral processes. It was started in 2013 as an offshoot of the SCL Group. The company closed operations in 2018 in the course of the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, although related firms still exist.
The KGB and Soviet Disinformation: An Insider's View is a non-fiction book about the KGB's use of disinformation and information warfare during the Soviet Union period. It was written by former intelligence officer specializing in disinformation for the Czech Intelligence Service and retired professor of disinformation at Boston University, Ladislav Bittman.
Joel Zamel is an Australian Israeli inventor, entrepreneur, owner and operator of private intelligence agency firms which offer social media manipulation, opposition research and communications, namely Psy-Group and White Knight, and also the strategic political analysis consultant firm, Wikistrat. Zamel was a director of a Cyprus-based company called ioco.
Henry "Hank" A. Crumpton, was a Central Intelligence Agency operations officer for 24 years, rising to deputy director of the Counterterrorism Center and then heading the CIA's National Resources Division, which focuses on operations in the United States. He was appointed by President George W. Bush as Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State with the rank of Ambassador-at-Large on August 2, 2005. He is the author of The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA's Clandestine Service. He founded and is CEO of the business intelligence firm Crumpton Group LLC.