A bombshell new investigative report in Yahoo News could shed light on the recent spate of 'mystery' blasts rocking strategic Iranian sites like Natanz nuclear plant and ballistic missile bases.
The report details that in 2018 President Trump issued a 'secret authorization' essentially allowing a 'gloves off' approach by US intelligence agencies in conducting cyber warfare against Iran and other so-called rogue states:
The Central Intelligence Agency has conducted a series of covert cyber operations against Iran and other targets since winning a secret victory in 2018 when President Trump signed what amounts to a sweeping authorization for such activities, according to former U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the matter.
It appears the kind of hidden 'dirty war' operations which accompanied the Washington's long-running proxy war against Assad in Syria. This amid a broader Iran policy spanning across administrations - through at least the Bush years - targeting Tehran for regime change.
"The secret authorization, known as a presidential finding, gives the spy agency more freedom in both the kinds of operations it conducts and who it targets, undoing many restrictions that had been in place under prior administrations," the report continues. "The finding allows the CIA to more easily authorize its own covert cyber operations, rather than requiring the agency to get approval from the White House."
But it's not just Iran, according to the report, but other 'official enemies' and so-called rogue states like North Korea, and including Russia and China.
This also as both Russia and China have this week stood accused of attempting to hack US labs and pharmaceutical companies to gain valuable coronavirus research and vaccine development information.
The Yahoo News report continues:
The “very aggressive” finding “gave the agency very specific authorities to really take the fight offensively to a handful of adversarial countries,” said a former U.S. government official. These countries include Russia, China, Iran and North Korea — which are mentioned directly in the document — but the finding potentially applies to others as well, according to another former official. “The White House wanted a vehicle to strike back,” said the second former official. “And this was the way to do it.”
Trump authorized covert ops when Pompeo was director of CIA, then made him Secretary of State. One goal of operation is *destabilizing* #Iran.— Assal Rad (@AssalRad) July 16, 2020
Pompeo never really left CIA, he uses Sec of State post for propaganda & sabotage. He’s an agent not a diplomat.https://t.co/bjMQaSF6ye
In essence this means the CIA can simply authorize its own operations regarding these countries if there's evidence or even just strong suspicion that an entity could be a threat to US national security. This means for example that Iranian or journalists, banks, or their foreign organizations could (and have been) targeted for state-run hacking and cyber-warfare operations.
The finding has made it easier for the CIA to damage adversaries’ critical infrastructure, such as petrochemical plants, and to engage in the kind of hack-and-dump operations that Russian hackers and WikiLeaks popularized, in which tranches of stolen documents or data are leaked to journalists or posted on the internet. It has also freed the agency to conduct disruptive operations against organizations that were largely off limits previously, such as banks and other financial institutions.
Another key change with the finding is it lessened the evidentiary requirements that limited the CIA’s ability to conduct covert cyber operations against entities like media organizations, charities, religious institutions or businesses believed to be working on behalf of adversaries’ foreign intelligence services, as well as individuals affiliated with these organizations, according to former officials.
And now recall the widespread speculation this month that the series of over six 'random' blasts and fires which have disabled key Iranian military and industrial sites is part of either a US or Israeli sabotage operation.
Asia Times recently asked for example: are we witnessing the "the son of Stuxnet?"
Recent explosions in Iran may have been caused by computer viruses similar to the Stuxnet virus that disabled Iranian centrifuges in 2010.
Two of the blasts took place at power plants, one at a missile research, development and production site, one at a new uranium enrichment centrifuge center, and the last (if it can be considered part of the attacks) in downtown Tehran at a medical facility that could have been a cover for nuclear operations such as a hidden command center.
Thus the timing of this new revelation detailing the secret Trump presidential finding essentially giving the CIA near carte blanche powers to wage cyberwarfare is curious indeed.