Super Spyware That Can Take Total Control of Smartphones

NSO Group Technologies (NSO standing for Niv, Shalev and Omri, the names of the company’s founders) is an Israeli technology firm whose spyware called Pegasus enables the remote surveillance of smartphones. It was founded in 2010 by Niv Carmi, Omri Lavie, and Shalev Hulio. It employed almost 500 people as of 2017, and is based in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, Israel.

Pegasus is spyware developed by the Israeli cyberarms firm NSO Group that can be covertly installed on mobile phones (and other devices) running most versions of iOS and Android. The 2021 Project Pegasus revelations suggest that current Pegasus software is able to exploit all recent iOS versions up to iOS 14.6. According to the Washington Post and other prominent media sources, Pegasus not only enables the keystroke monitoring of all communications from a phone (texts, emails, web searches) but it also enables phone call and location tracking, while also permitting NSO Group to hijack both the mobile phone’s microphone and camera, thus turning it into a constant surveillance device.

Pegasus was discovered in August 2018 after a failed attempt at installing it on an iPhone belonging to a human rights activist led to an investigation revealing details about the spyware, its abilities, and the security vulnerabilities it exploited. As of 2016, Pegasus was capable of reading text messages, tracking calls, collecting passwords, tracking location, accessing the target device’s microphone and camera, and harvesting information from apps. News of the spyware caused significant media coverage. It was called the “most sophisticated” smartphone attack ever, and was the first time that a malicious remote exploit using jailbreak to gain unrestricted access to an iPhone had been detected.

On August 23, 2020, according to intelligence obtained by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the NSO Group was reported to have sold Pegasus spyware software for hundreds of millions of US dollars to the United Arab Emirates and the other Gulf States, for surveillance of anti-regime activists, journalists and political leaders from rival nations, with Israeli government encouragement and mediation. Later, in December 2020, Al Jazeera investigation show The Tip of the Iceberg, Spy partners, showed exclusive footage about Pegasus and its penetration into the phones of media professionals and activists, used by Israel to eavesdrop on its opponents and even its allies.

The spyware can be installed on devices running certain versions of iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system, as well as some Android devices. Rather than being a specific exploit, Pegasus is a suite of exploits that uses many vulnerabilities in the system. Infection vectors include clicking links, the Photos app, the Apple Music app, and iMessage. Some of the exploits Pegasus uses are zero-click—that is, they can run without any interaction from the victim. Once installed, Pegasus has been reported to be able to run arbitrary code, extract contacts, call logs, messages, photos, web browsing history, settings, as well as gather information from apps including but not limited to communications apps iMessage, Gmail, Viber, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, and Skype.

Misuse
Although Pegasus is stated as intended to be used against criminals and terrorists, use by authoritarian governments to spy on critics and opponents has often been reported.

Use by India
In late 2019, Facebook initiated a suit against NSO, claiming that Pegasus had been used to intercept the WhatsApp communications of a number of activists, journalists, and bureaucrats in India, leading to accusations that the Indian government was involved.

Phone numbers of Indian ministers, opposition leaders, ex-election commissioners and journalists were allegedly found on a database of NSO hacking targets by Project Pegasus in 2021.

Independent digital forensic analysis conducted on 10 Indian phones whose numbers were present in the data showed signs of either an attempted or successful Pegasus hack. The results of the forensic analysis threw up shows sequential correlations between the time and date a phone number is entered in the list and the beginning of surveillance. The gap usually ranges between a few minutes and a couple of hours.

11 phone numbers associated with a female employee of The Supreme Court of India and her immediate family, who accused the former Chief Justice of India, Ranjan Gogoi, of sexual harrasment, are also allegedly found on a database indicating possibility of their phones being snooped.

Records also indicate that phone numbers of some of the key political players in Karnataka appear to have been selected around the time when an intense power struggle was taking place between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (Secular)-Congress-led state government in 2019.

It was reported that the Indian government used Pegasus to spy on Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and diplomats from Iran, Afghanistan, China, Nepal and Saudi Arabia.

Use by Mexican drug cartels
Reversing the intended use against criminals, Pegasus has been used to target and intimidate Mexican journalists by drug cartels and cartel-entwined government actors.

Use by Saudi Arabia
Pegasus software, whose sales are licensed by the government of Israel to foreign governments, helped Saudi Arabia spy on Jamal Kashoggi, who was later killed in Turkey.

Pegasus was also used to spy on Jeff Bezos after Mohammed bin Salman, the crown-prince of Saudi Arabia, exchanged messages with him that exploited then-unknown vulnerabilities in WhatsApp.

Race for Coronavirus Vaccine Pits Spy Against Spy

New York Times

The intelligence wars over vaccine research have intensified as China and Russia expand their efforts to steal American work at both research institutes and companies.

WASHINGTON — Chinese intelligence hackers were intent on stealing coronavirus vaccine data, so they looked for what they believed would be an easy target. Instead of simply going after pharmaceutical companies, they conducted digital reconnaissance on the University of North Carolina and other schools doing cutting-edge research.

They were not the only spies at work. Russia’s premier intelligence service, the S.V.R., targeted vaccine research networks in the United States, Canada and Britain, espionage efforts that were first detected by a British spy agency monitoring international fiber optic cables.

Iran, too, has drastically stepped up its attempts to steal information about vaccine research, and the United States has increased its own efforts to track the espionage of its adversaries and shore up its defenses.

In short, every major spy service around the globe is trying to find out what everyone else is up to.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted one of the fastest peacetime mission shifts in recent times for the world’s intelligence agencies, pitting them against one another in a new grand game of spy versus spy, according to interviews with current and former intelligence officials and others tracking the espionage efforts.

Nearly all of the United States’ adversaries intensified their attempts to steal American research while Washington, in turn, has moved to protect the universities and corporations doing the most advanced work. NATO intelligence, normally concerned with the movement of Russian tanks and terrorist cells, has expanded to scrutinize Kremlin efforts to steal vaccine research as well, according to a Western official briefed on the intelligence.

The contest is reminiscent of the space race, where the Soviet Union and America relied on their spy services to catch up when the other looked likely to achieve a milestone. But where the Cold War contest to reach the Earth’s orbit and the moon played out over decades, the timeline to help secure data on coronavirus treatments is sharply compressed as the need for a vaccine grows more urgent each day.

“It would be surprising if they were not trying to steal the most valuable biomedical research going on right now,” John C. Demers, a top Justice Department official, said of China last month during an event held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Valuable from a financial point of view and invaluable from a geopolitical point of view.”

China’s push is complex. Its operatives have also surreptitiously used information from the World Health Organization to guide its vaccine hacking attempts, both in the United States and Europe, according to a current and a former official familiar with the intelligence.

It was not clear how exactly China was using its influential position in the W.H.O. to gather information about vaccine work around the globe. The organization does collect data about vaccines under development, and while much of it is eventually made public, Chinese hackers could have benefited by getting early information on what coronavirus vaccine research efforts the W.H.O. viewed as most promising, according to a former intelligence official.

American intelligence officials learned about China’s efforts in early February as the virus was gaining a foothold in the United States, according to current and former American officials. The C.I.A. and other agencies closely watch China’s moves inside international agencies, including the W.H.O.

The intelligence conclusion helped push the White House toward the tough line it adopted in May on the W.H.O., according to the former intelligence official.

Besides the University of North Carolina, Chinese hackers have also targeted other universities around the country and some may have had their networks breached, American officials said. Mr. Demers said in his speech that China had conducted “multiple intrusions” beyond what the Justice Department revealed in an indictment in July, which accused two hackers of working on behalf of China’s Ministry of State Security spy service to pursue vaccine information and research from American biotechnology companies.

The F.B.I. warned officials at U.N.C. in recent weeks about the hacking attempts, according to two people familiar with the matter. The Chinese hacking teams were trying to break into the computer networks of the school’s epidemiology department but did not infiltrate them.

A U.N.C. spokeswoman, Leslie Minton, said that the school “regularly receives threat alerts from U.S. security agencies.” She directed further questions to the federal government, but said the school had invested in “around-the-clock monitoring” to “help guard against advanced persistent threat attacks from state sponsored organizations.”

Besides hacking, China has pushed into universities in other ways. Some government officials believe it is trying to take advantage of research partnerships that American universities have forged with Chinese institutions.

Others have warned that Chinese intelligence agents in the United States and elsewhere have tried to collect information on researchers themselves. The Trump administration ordered China on July 22 to close its consulate in Houston in part because Chinese operatives had used it as an outpost to try to make inroads with medical experts in the city, according to the F.B.I.

Chinese intelligence officials are focused on universities in part because they view the institutions’ data protections as less robust than those of pharmaceutical companies. But spy work is also intensifying as researchers share more vaccine candidates and antiviral treatments for peer review, giving adversaries a better chance of gaining access to formulations and vaccine development strategies, said an American government official briefed on the intelligence.

So far, officials believe that foreign spies have taken little information from the American biotech companies they targeted: Gilead Sciences, Novavax and Moderna.

At the same time the British electronic surveillance agency G.C.H.Q. was learning about the Russian effort and American intelligence learned of the Chinese hacking, the Department of Homeland Security and F.B.I. dispatched teams to work with American biotech teams to bolster their computer networks’ defenses.

The Russian effort, announced by British, American and Canadian intelligence agencies in July, was primarily focused on gathering intelligence about research by Oxford University and its pharmaceutical corporate partner, AstraZeneca.

The Russians caught trying to get vaccine information were part of the group known as Cozy Bear, a collection of hackers affiliated with the S.V.R. Cozy Bear was one of the hacking groups that in 2016 broke into Democratic computer servers.

Homeland security officials have warned pharmaceutical companies and universities about the attacks and helped institutions review their security. For the most part, officials have observed the would-be vaccine hackers using known vulnerabilities that have yet to be patched, not the more exquisite cyberweapons that target unknown gaps in computer security.

No corporation or university has announced any data thefts resulting from the publicly identified hacking efforts. But some of the hacking attempts succeeded in at least penetrating defenses to get inside computer networks, according to one American government official. And hackers for China and Russia test weaknesses every day, according to intelligence officials.

“It is really a race against time for good guys to find the vulnerabilities and get them patched, get those patches deployed before the adversary finds them and exploits them,” said Bryan S. Ware, the assistant director of cybersecurity for the Homeland Security Department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. “The race is tighter than ever.”

While only two teams of hackers, one each from Russia and China, have been publicly identified, multiple hacking teams from nearly all the intelligence services of those two countries have been trying to steal vaccine information, according to law enforcement and intelligence officials.

Russia announced on Aug. 11 that it had approved a vaccine, a declaration that immediately aroused suspicion that its scientists were at least aided by its spy agencies’ work to steal research information from other countries.

American officials insist their own spy services’ efforts are defensive and that intelligence agencies have not been ordered to steal coronavirus research. But other current and former intelligence officials said the reality was not nearly so black and white. As American intelligence agencies try to find out what Russia, China and Iran may have stolen, they could encounter information on those countries’ research and collect it.

Officials expressed concerns that further hacking attempts could hurt vaccine development efforts. Hackers extracting data could inadvertently — or purposefully — damage research systems.

“When an adversary is doing a smash-and-grab, there is even more likely a chance of not just stealing information but somehow disrupting the victim’s operations networks,” Mr. Ware said.

While some of Russia’s and China’s spying may have been aimed at checking their own research or looking for shortcuts, some current and former officials raised the possibility that the countries sought instead to sow distrust in an eventual vaccine from Western countries.

Both Russia and China have already spread disinformation about the virus, its origins and the American response. Russian intelligence services in particular are laying the groundwork for a more aggressive effort to escalate the anti-vaccine movement in the West and could use the allegations of spying to give its narrative greater traction.

Russia has a long record of trying to amplify divisions in American society. Current and former national security officials said they expect Russia to eventually spread disinformation about any vaccine approved in the West.

“This case seems to be a throwback to the old Soviet Union,” said Fiona Hill, the former National Security Council official and Russia expert who testified in the impeachment hearings against President Trump. “Russia and the Chinese have been out there on disinformation campaigns. How better to create confusion and weaken the U.S. further than to whip up the antivax movement? But you make sure all your guys are vaccinated.”

Super Secure Secret Shield Entrance

Maxwell Smart entering the headquarters of CONTROL.

Get Smart is an American comedy television series parodying the secret agent genre that became widely popular in the first half of the 1960s with the release of James Bond films. The program was created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry and had its television premiere on NBC on September 18, 1965. The show stars Don Adams (who also worked as a director on the series) as agent Maxwell Smart (Agent 86), Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, and Edward Platt as Thaddeus the Chief. Henry said that they created the show at the request of Daniel Melnick to capitalize on James Bond and Inspector Clouseau, “the two biggest things in the entertainment world today”. Brooks described it as “an insane combination of James Bond and Mel Brooks comedy.”

How the CIA Stole a Soviet Satellite

In a scheme worthy of Mission Impossible, CIA agents hijacked a Soviet spacecraft and probed its secrets.

When did this happen? That’s classified, as is the country where the caper occurred. In the declassified article on the subject in Studies in Intelligence, a CIA journal, much of the text has been blacked out by the agency’s censors.

But the article, released by the National Security Archive watchdog group, is full of tantalizing clues. Not to mention, it’s a great spy yarn.

The theft occurred when the Soviets sent one of their Lunik—also known as Lunasatellites for an exhibition tour of several nations in the early days of the Space Race. The CIA naturally was interested in the Luna probes, of which more than 40 attempted to orbit or land on the moon between 1958 and 1974.

The article in the winter 1967 issue Studies in Intelligence refers to the incident happening “a number of years ago,” so it probably occurred in the early 1960s. The Soviets were scoring propaganda points from their technological prowess by displaying a Luna satellite.

The CIA figured the Soviets weren’t crazy enough to send a real Luna overseas, but they decided to take a peek anyway at an exhibition in one city. With commendable discretion, the article recalls that after the exhibition closed, “a group of intelligence officers had unrestricted access to the Lunik for some 24 hours.”

In other words, American spies sneaked in for an unauthorized private viewing.

American agents were surprised to discover that it was indeed a real Luna, minus its engine and electrical components. Eager to get another look, the CIA sent its industrial experts on another black operation to photograph the craft’s equipment markings, which they hoped would divulge clues about Soviet space production.

But when the exhibition moved to yet another city—one source says it was in Mexico—the satellite had a 24-hour Soviet guard. So much for breaking into the exhibit again.

Ah, but U.S. spies discovered that after the show, the Luna would be transported by a truck to a railroad station and then on to the next city. Could this the break they needed? Maybe divert the freight car onto a railroad siding for a night? Nope, not feasible.

Then how about hijacking the truck on the way to the rail station?

The CIA arranged for the Luna to be on the last truck leaving the exhibition that night. After making sure that Soviet guards weren’t escorting the vehicle, “the truck was stopped at the last possible turn-off, a canvas was thrown over the crate, and a new driver took over.”

What happened to the original truck driver? The CIA history only says that he was “escorted to a hotel room and kept there for the night.” How he was “detained” isn’t clear, but it wouldn’t be surprising if money, liquor or prostitutes were involved.

Fortunately, the Soviet representative at the rail yard waited a little while and then went to his hotel room without raising an alarm.

Now the CIA technicians got to work. Standing on ladders, they broke into the 14-foot-high crate, partially disassembled the spacecraft—including removing 130 bolts from a hatch to the engine compartment—and photographed the insides.

The work began at 7:30 PM. At 5:00 AM, Luna was back on the truck and the original driver delivered it to the rail yard.

When the Soviet representative returned at 7:00 that morning, he found the truck and the spacecraft waiting for him, with no one the wiser.

What did this covert operation obtain? Analysis of the factory markings revealed the “probable identification of this Luna stage, the fact that it was the sixth one produced [and] identification of three electrical producers who supplied components,” as well as other clues to the Soviet space program, according to the CIA article.

Did it make a difference to the outcome of the Space Race? Probably not. By 1967, the Soviet Union was already falling behind, as the U.S. prepared for the Apollo landings two years later.

The KGB planned to assassinate John Wayne

How John Wayne Got Rid of the KGB Agents Hired to Kill Him

It seems like so many dictators just love movies. We all do, but absolute power takes it to a whole new level. Gaddafi had a channel set up just to play his favorite movie – his one favorite movie. Kim Jong-Il kidnapped his favorite actors and actresses to star in North Korea’s movies. Then, of course, the next natural step for these guys is directing movies.

Kim Jong-Il made several films. Benito Mussolini pitched to Columbia pictures. And even Saddam Hussein made a $30 million war epic. But Joseph Stalin was the Soviet Union’s “ultimate censor.”

At the time, global Communism was still very much a growing threat, one Stalin wanted to continue to spread around the world – under Soviet leadership.

He saw how much power and influence films – and the stars in them – held over large audiences. He saw it in Nazi German propaganda during the Second World War and he used it effectively himself to further his own personality cult.

So when he saw John Wayne’s power as an virulent anti-Communist on the rise, he ordered the actor killed and then sent (allegedly) more than one hit squad to do the job. He saw the Duke as a threat to the spread of Communism around the world – and especially in America.

According to the book John Wayne – The Man Behind The Myth, Soviet filmmaker Sergei Gerasimov told Wayne of the KGB plot in 1949. What the Duke and his Hollywood friends did to the hit squad is mind blowing.

Obviously not one to let a thing like Communist assassins get him down, Wayne and his scriptwriter Jimmy Grant allegedly abducted the hitmen, took them to the beach, and staged a mock execution. No one knows exactly what happened after that, but Wayne’s friends say the Soviet agents began to work for the FBI from that day on.

But there were other incidents. The book also alleges KGB agents tried to take the actor out on the set of 1953’s Hondo in Mexico. A captured sniper in Vietnam claimed that he was hired by Chairman Mao to take the actor out on a visit to troops there.

Stalin died in 1953. His successor, Nikita Khrushchev, met privately with John Wayne in 1958 and informed him that the order had been rescinded. Wayne told his friends Khrushchev called Stalin’s last years his “mad years” and apologized.

The entire time Wayne knew there was a price on his head, he refused the FBI’s offer of federal protection and didn’t even tell his family. He just moved into a house with a big wall around it. Once word got out, though, Hollywood stuntmen loyal to the Duke began to infiltrate Communist Party cells around the country and expose plots against him.

Wayne never spoke of the incidents publicly.

Cats, dolphins and one smart raven: the CIA’s secret animal spies

Washington (AFP) – In early 1974, Do Da was top in espionage class, on the way to becoming a high-flying CIA agent: he handled himself better in the rough, carried heavier loads, and could brush off attackers.

But on his toughest-yet spy school test, he disappeared — done in by some of his own kind: ravens.

The bird was a central figure in a decade-long US Central Intelligence Agency program to train animals as agents, helping Washington fight the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

On Thursday, the CIA released dozens of files from its tests on cats, dogs, dolphins and on birds from pigeons to some of the smartest: ravens and crows.

It studied cats as possible loose-roaming listening devices — “audio surveillance vehicles” — and put electrical implants in dogs’ brains to see if they could be remotely controlled.

Neither of those programs went very far. More effort was put into training dolphins as potential saboteurs and helping spy on the Soviet Union’s development of a nuclear submarine fleet, perhaps the most potent challenge to US power in the mid-1960s.

Projects Oxygas and Chirilogy sought to see if dolphins could be trained to replace human divers and place explosives on moored or moving vessels, sneak into Soviet harbors and leave in place acoustic buoys and rocket detection units, or swim alongside submarines to collect their acoustic signatures.

Those programs, too, were given up, left to the US Navy which to this day makes use of dolphins and seals.

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– Hawks and owls –

But what also grabbed the US spy chiefs’ imagination in the Cold War days was birds — pigeons, hawks, owls, crows and ravens, and even flocks of wild migratory birds.

For the latter, the agency enlisted ornithologists to try to determine which birds regularly spent part of the year in the area of Shikhany in the Volga River Basin southeast of Moscow, where the Soviets operated a chemical weapons facility.

The CIA saw the migratory birds as “living sensors” which, based on their feeding, would reveal what kinds of substances the Russians were testing, in their flesh.

In the early 1970s, the CIA turned to birds of prey and ravens, hoping they could be trained for “emplacement” missions like dropping a listening device on a windowsill, and photo missions.

In project Axiolite, bird trainers working on San Clemente island off southern California taught the birds to fly miles over the water between a boat and land.

If the training went well, a chosen candidate would have a tough mission: being smuggled to Soviet Russia, where it would be released secretly in the field, tasked to fly 15 miles (25 kilometers) carrying a camera to snap pictures of a radar for SA-5 missiles, and fly back.

They had red-tailed and Harris’s hawks, great horned owls, a vulture, and a cockatoo.

It was not easy. A cockatoo was “a clever flyer” but “maybe too slow to avoid gull attacks.”

Two falcons died from illness; another promising candidate lost feathers and trainers had to wait for it to molt and grow them back.

– ‘Star’ of the project –

The most promising flyer was Do Da, the raven. In just three months, Do Da went from a successful 3/4-mile trip to six miles from shore to boat, and then four miles back to shore on the same day.

He was the most promising candidate for the Russia mission, the “star of this project,” one scientist wrote, who figured out the right altitudes in the right winds, and acquired “sufficient guile to outwit the native ravens and gulls,” which hid for attacks on him.

But on a training mission he was attacked by “the usual pair” of ravens — and was not seen again.

The scientists were deeply dismayed. “He had a large bag of tricks and was loved by all,” one wrote.

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Fictional Espionage Agencies with Interesting Acronyms

C.I.S.O. (Canadian International Security Organization), from the Captain Canuck comic book series. Not to be confused with C.S.I.S., the current Canadian spy agency.

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C.L.I.T.O.R.I.S. (The Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society), from Red Dwarf

 

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C.O.B.R.A. (Criminal Organization of Bloodiness, Revenge and Assassination), an international terrorist organization, headed by Cobra Commander, from the G.I. Joe series.

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G.R.A.M.P.A. (Global Reaction Agency for Mysterious Paranormal Activity), an international intelligence agency in Marvel Comics.

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I.S.I.S (International Secret Intelligence Service) is the agency employing the lead characters in Archer (TV series). Not to be confused with those blood thirsty Muslim terrorists.

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K.A.B.O.O.M. (Key Atomic Benefits Organization oMankind), from the movie The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear.

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SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), from the James Bond series.

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  • T.H.U.N.D.E.R.(The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves), from Tower Comics.

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U.G.L.I. (Undercover Global League of Informants) in the Hardy Boys book, Secret Agent of Flight 101.

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U.N.C.L.E. (United Network Command for Law and Enforcement) and T.H.R.U.S.H., from The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. (The meaning of T.H.R.U.S.H. was never revealed on the series; but, in the novelizations it was stated to be “Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity”.)

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V.E.N.O.M. (The Vicious, Evil Network OMayhem), the evil mask-wearing cohort from the 1980s Saturday-morning cartoon M.A.S.K.

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V.I.L.E. (The Villains’ International League of Evil), Carmen Sandiego’s band of international thieves.

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Z.O.W.I.E. (Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage), from the movies Our Man Flint and In Like Flint.

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A Real Cone of Silence in Washington D.C.

The Environmental Protection Agency is spending nearly $25,000 to construct a secure, soundproof communications booth in the office of Administrator Scott Pruitt, according to government contracting records.

“What you are referring to is a secured communication area in the administrator’s office so secured calls can be received and made,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman said in a statement. “Federal agencies need to have one of these so that secured communications, not subject to hacking from the outside, can be held. It’s called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). This is something which a number, if not all, Cabinet offices have and EPA needs to have updated.”

It would look something like this:

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Edward Scott Pruitt (born May 9, 1968) is an American lawyer and Republican politician from the state of Oklahoma who is the fourteenth Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nominated for the EPA position by President Donald Trump, Pruitt was confirmed by the United States Senate to lead the EPA on February 17, 2017.

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Pruitt represented Tulsa and Wagoner Counties in the Oklahoma Senate from 1998 until 2006. In 2010, Pruitt was elected Attorney General of Oklahoma. In that role, he opposed abortion rights, same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act, and environmental regulations as a self-described “leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” In his campaigns for Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt received major corporate and employee campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, taking in at least $215,574 between 2010 and 2014, even though he ran unopposed in the latter year. As Oklahoma’s Attorney General, Pruitt sued the Environmental Protection Agency at least 14 times regarding the agency’s actions. In 2012, Pruitt was elected as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association, and re-elected for a second term in February 2013.

Pruitt rejects the scientific consensus that human-caused carbon dioxide emissions are a primary contributor to climate change, and has falsely claimed there is no scientific consensus on climate change. As EPA administrator, Pruitt reversed and delayed numerous environmental rules, relaxed enforcement of existing rules, and halted the agency’s efforts to combat climate change.

From the 1960’s TV spy comedy ‘Get Smart’ the Cone of Silence. Agent 86, Maxwell Smart, always wanted to use the Cone of Silence when what he thought was sensitive information was going to be discussed with the Chief.

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Portable Cone of Silence

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