Did the Flynn-Associated IP3 Presentation Anticipate the Saudi Orb?

Yesterday, I pointed out that IP3, a company that claimed affiliation to Michael Flynn, admitted that US strategy in the Middle East has been to “resource conflict“. One of the two places the company made the claim was in a PowerPoint presentation addressed in July 2016 to the Saudi King but apparently never delivered. The presentation was made public by the Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee. Although the presentation is only 13 slides long, it is such a treasure trove of information that I anticipate several more posts with it as the central theme.

Today, I’d like to concentrate on only the security proposals in the presentation. Because Michael Flynn was previously the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency and because the approach to security by IP3 is highly intelligence-based, one would think that Flynn was central to IP3’s thinking in assembling this part of their plan. Slides 7 and 8 address the security plan. Here is slide 7:

This slide is full of truly oppressive ideas and technology. Note the big reliance on cyber security in the lower left corner. With Keith Alexander on their team, IP3 is clearly relying on his “expertise” as the former head of NSA and his new business venture that he totally invented during his free time while having a job that did the exact same thing. In fact as Marcy pointed out to me, the name for IP3’s security subsidiary, Iron Bridge, echos closely Alexander’s company name of Iron Net. It should not come as a surprise, then, that many of the same suspects appear on both Iron Net’s “A-Team” and IP3.

Just what the heck are “Multi-Intelligence Surveillance Sensors”? When I Googled that phrase, one early result led me to this page , which appears to be a wish list of gadgets and technology put together by the military and intelligence community for the Office of Naval Research to fund in development. Much of that technology would seem to fit with a lot of the rest of the slide. Of course, the retired generals of IP3 would be aware of this and other technology believed to be in the pipeline and already in place for US capabilities. Although that page seems to rely on drones for the aerial cameras, the satellite in IP3’s slide would seem to be addressing similar capabilities.  The satellite definitely fits, though, for “large-area surveillance from tactical sensors across the radio frequency spectrum”. And just what are “Sensors that automatically produce metadata”? Those can’t be good news.

We couldn’t have a collection of retired US generals proposing any project abroad unless it has a major component of training. From the beginning of our time Iraq and Afghanistan, training has played a central role in both our plans and our failures. These guys just can’t get out of the belief that they can train foreign forces despite the ample evidence that we are utterly incapable of achieving any level of success in developing those foreign forces.

Any idea of “thought leadership” when put into a Saudi perspective is truly chilling. If these generals believe that the US “resources conflict” in the Middle East, then how can they escape acknowledging that Saudi madrassas resource terrorism? Of course, IP3 is claiming to be all about peace, so the thought leadership in this case would ostensibly be peaceful, but the entrenched nature of Saudi fostering of terrorist groups seems virtually impossible to stop from within.

Let’s move on to slide 8:

There is just so much to take in here. Notice that the outermost circle is labeled “Space and Cyber”, so the satellites and Alexander’s cyber wizardry are seen as covering everything. But there is a new element on this slide compared to the previous one: “Airborne Awareness”. Hmm, aerial based security. A relationship to China (the cover slide and several others bear the seal of China). That sounds very familiar. Who else has been hawking security services via aircraft and with a link to China? None other than Erik Prince. In fact, if you go to this Jeremy Scahill Intercept article from March of 2016 (just four months before the date of the PowerPoint) and click on the “Libya Border Solution” figure, you will see a schematic that doesn’t seem all that different from this one. Although Erik Prince isn’t mentioned in the IP3 presentation or listed on their website, it’s hard to escape the feeling that he’s lurking in the shadows for this group, ready and willing to broker his services, whether his board approves or not. Although Prince ostensibly is testifying today on his Seychelles meeting, I wonder if he will be questioned about any role he may have had in the IP3 proposal or any other group (say, Kushner’s Cambridge Analytica?) approaching the Saudis.

To finish up here, we have to move back to slide 7. You probably noticed I didn’t discuss the central feature, the “Security Operations Center”. That becomes a thing of beauty. Surely you remember the mysterious glowing Saudi orb and the photo of Trump touching it. It spawned weeks of wonderful memes in social media, but you might not have looked into just what was going on when the photo was taken. Here is the New York Times (hmm, the byline on this story is just “By The New York Times”):

The occasion was the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, based in Riyadh, and the orb was in fact a translucent globe, with the world’s waters represented in light gray and the continents in black. Its purpose appeared to be decorative.

The futuristic look of the darkened room may have helped to fire observers’ imaginations.

It was filled with computer terminals. At one end was a wall of monitors displaying feeds from news networks.

/snip/

Among the many dignitaries at the event were Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, and the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Nayef.

The globe did not appear to have any magical powers, but when the king and Mr. Trump touched it, background music of the kind that might accompany a reality show’s elimination sequence or introduce a cable news program soared and pulsed. The screens glowed with statistical displays and videos about fighting terrorism. An unnamed official who narrated the features of the new control center said the displays used artificial intelligence to track, in real time, news reports and online statements.

It would appear that the Saudis already have their Security Operations Center and that its artificial intelligence-based technology might be similar to some of the technologies suggested in the IP3 slide. That it ostensibly is intended to combat terrorism just seems to me that it’s also aimed at the whole Thought Leader approach.

In the end, though, note that this facility is almost certainly still resourcing conflict, not stability. If you look carefully at the map in slide 8, you see that  Egypt is bright like Saudi Arabia (that’s Egypt’s President el-Sisi on the left, touching the orb), but Yemen is darkened. Don’t forget the Saudis are relentlessly bombing Yemen, using military equipment we have provided them, ostensibly to fight Houthi “terrorists”. From what I can see on the website for the center, there is zero disclosure of what countries and what “international organizations” are participating, but the Layers of Business Operations look pretty familiar. I wonder who helped the Saudis build this center? Who is helping them run it?

Sleep well, folks.

Many years ago, Jim got a BA in Radiation Biophysics from the University of Kansas. He then got a PhD in Molecular Biology from UCLA and did postdoctoral research in yeast genetics at UC Berkeley and mouse retroviruses at Stanford. He joined biosys in Palo Alto, producing insect parasitic nematodes for pest control. In the early 1990’s, he moved to Gainesville, FL and founded a company that eventually became Entomos. He left the firm as it reorganized into Pasteuria Biosciences and chose not to found a new firm due a clash of values with venture capital investors, who generally lack all values. Upon leaving, he chose to be a stay at home dad, gentleman farmer, cook and horse wrangler. He discovered the online world through commenting at Glenn Greenwald’s blog in the Salon days and was involved in the briefly successful Chris Dodd move to block the bill to renew FISA. He then went on to blog at Firedoglake and served a brief stint as evening editor there. When the Emptywheel blog moved out of Firedoglake back to standalone status, Jim tagged along and blogged on anthrax, viruses, John Galt, Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is now a mostly lapsed blogger looking for a work-around to the depressing realization that pointing out the details of government malfeasance and elite immunity has approximately zero effect.

19 replies
  1. lefty665 says:

    Interesting articles. Thanks, I’m looking forward to more. But, Flynn is a second team player, his picture is buried in the middle of the third row of the graphic you posted in the last thread. Alexander, bigger picture prominently placed top left, and a couple of others would be driving the intel side of the show.

    “resource conflict” is brought to us by the same folks who invented “operationalize”. Either the brass is writing it’s own copy or more likely brought along junior officers to do it for them. Unfortunately we cannot prosecute crimes against the English language.

    • Jim White says:

      Flynn claims never to have even been a part of the team at all. But since it was his rumored association that led to the revelation of the PowerPoint, I still think he deserves a prominent role in the discussion. But as you point out, Alexander would appear to play the key role inside this portion of the company, along with Mike Hewitt who is billed as Iron Bridge CEO, also on the top row.

      • lefty665 says:

        No quibble with that, and curious about the Flynn related revelation. Wouldn’t think he was any more popular with most of that rogues gallery than he was with Obama after he blew up the happy talk Afghanistan assessments. All in all he’s an odd duck. Who knew McFarland was still kicking around. I had not heard squat about him after his suicide attempt during the Reagan Administration.

        Think you’ve got an interesting topic. Keep resourcing the blogging:)

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Melania seems to be the only one who knows what these guys are fondling, even as her hubby seems to be reminiscing fondly about something else.

    Or perhaps Melania knows that her home planet’s defenses are immune to attack from the next gen Romulan warbirds this command console is about to launch.

  3. emptywheel says:

    On the powerpoint–does it refer to security for the reactors? because I was worried, as you are. But if it’s jsut security for the reactors it’s actually fairly reasonable.

    • Jim White says:

      Slide 8 says the security is for the reactors and the grid. But if you go back to slide 5, which we looked at yesterday, the Security and Stability bullet points look to extend well beyond the reactors into the society as a whole.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Is this elaborate proposal, and presumably others like it, intended to get the Saudis to put up the seed money so that these generals can finish inventing or stealing the products and services they claim to be able to provide, so that they can then sell them to others?

    One can imagine that a fully staffed and functioning State Dept – one of whose jobs is to develop game plans to forecast, prevent, promote and respond to foreign state conduct – might object to further weaponizing the Middle East with state of the art facilities that might allow the KSA or other actors to operate independently of and in conflict with US interests.

    Or do these generals imagine that service and support agreements will allow them to control all of these new cyber GMOs that they are introducing into the wild?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Be a prince and give us your best guess about who made that proposal.  EuRIKa, I have it!

        I wonder if some HLS-trained aide suggested that if Trump were to put a private network in place to do what it was probably illegal for the government to do – but imposes no pass down restrictions on the outsourcing contractor(s) – then that would be a sufficient hook for the Supremes to overturn a Flynn conviction.  (Although that would solve only one potential charge.)  Donald would avoid having to extend a pardon, Flynn avoids admitting a crime, all is well in Trumpville, and Turkey and our other autocratic allies can solve their problems with “radical” opponents.  The orb of justice would prevail.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The group that made the proposal, currently named Amyntor Group, is familiar with Erik Prince, but denies that he is part of their current proposal.  Principals in the group apparently once included, he died last year, one of the CIA figures that thought up the Iran-Contra scheme.  If at first you don’t succeed….

        • harpie says:

          This orb seems to be a carnival-ian representation of what people might imagine a Tolkeinesque Palantir would be, so I keep thinking about Prince’s company of that name. Marcy wrote a lot about that in early 2011, for example:
          Themis Applies JSOC Techniques to Citzens “Extorting” from Corporate Clients; 2/6/11  

          I have a feeling I’ll be doing a lot of these posts, showing how Hunton & Williams asked “Themis” (the three firm team of HBGary, Palantir, and Berico Technologies) to apply counterterrorism approaches to combat First Amendment activities. […] 

           
          What ever happened to that company? 

  5. SpaceLifeForm says:

    “Sensors that automatically produce metadata”

    Drone IMSI (stingray) and WIFI intercept.

    Big market. Lots of MetaData to collect and sell.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Wi-Fi intercept. Presumably, in the states at issue here, there’s no restriction on picking up whatever traffic the government’s technology can pick up. Thankfully, we have no problem with such governmental overreach in Trumpville.

  7. TarheelDem says:

    Am I right in reading this as saying there are two competing business syndicates–one around the Iron Bridge bunch and the other around Kushner-Prince peddling generally similar sorts of security toys?

    If so, that would explain a lot about the alignments of the “deep state” between Clinton and Trump in the last election.

    Just bidness.  Seemingly deeper and deeper corruption and less actual national security for US citizens.

    Or is Kushner-Prince, just a subcontractor to source specific types of goods and services?

    • Jim White says:

      Those are really good questions I’d like to see answered. I’m not sure we have enough info right now to figure it out.  All that work in the shadows, dontcha know.

Comments are closed.