Good morning. Here’s your Daily Situational Awareness briefing for Monday, 16 August 2021. You can receive this daily intel brief via email by signing up at

  • Situational Awareness
  • T-Mobile gets hacked
  • DHS to hire contractors
  • Congress to protects whistleblowers
  • U.S. natural gas goes global
  • Sysco on food disruption


You can watch today’s Daily SA briefing on YouTube (click the box above).

T-MOBILE: The telecommunications company T-Mobile is investigating reports of 100 million compromised user accounts. The data includes device usage, social security numbers, and drivers license information, which were obtained by unknown technical means and removed from T-Mobile’s servers. The unnamed group is asking for 6 Bitcoin in exchange for the data, but the cellular carrier is making no public indication as to their response, citing the ongoing investigation. (Analyst Comment: In 2019, the Chinese-backed Operation Softcell compromised at least 10 carriers around the world, capturing similar datasets. The information is used to conduct espionage, blackmail, and to gain understanding of user patterns of life. – D.M.)
DHS: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to hire private contractors to analyze social media for signs of domestic violent extremism (DVE). The expansion in scraping and analysis is in response to a perceived intelligence failure before the 6 January Capitol Hill riot. This effort coincides with a broader push by Washington to root-out extremists inside the military and government. (AC: Friday’s extension to the DHS terrorism advisory front-loads concerns over racially or ethnically motivated violence and points out that some of the radicalization operations are coming from Russia, China and Iran. A confirmed link between a DVE and nation-state would dramatically change DHS’s authority to investigate and prosecute online activity. – D.M.)
WHISTLEBLOWER: The Senate Intelligence Committee is changing the rules for whistleblowers from the Intelligence Community. New rules would streamline the path between an intelligence professional’s reporting and Congress. Additional changes include making disclosure of their identity a crime and providing a whistleblower the opportunity to sue after a “leak”. Other changes would ensure no Executive official can stop a complaint through administrative wrangling. (AC: This is specifically in response to President Trump’s first impeachment trial in which a “whistleblower” presented a hearsay complaint, likely at the behest of political operatives. This would create a closed-loop of reporting between Congress and whistleblowers, possibly increasing the risk of politically motivated investigations. – D.M.)
LNG: Oklahoma’s Chesapeake Energy purchased Louisiana’s Vine Energy to begin liquified natural gas (LNG) exports to Europe and Asia. Other companies currently export to Europe and Asian markets, which are increasingly reliant on U.S. natural gas during the global recovery. The new export operation will require pipeline and storage facility construction across the central U.S., showing a potential boom in the gas market. (AC: Short term, this is expected to reduce regional energy prices with new gas terminals coming online. The strategic purpose is to supply Europe with LNG during the winter and mitigate Russian threats of energy cut-offs. Main European partners include Lithuania, which remains a target of Russian ire and susceptible to energy disruptions. – D.M.)
FOOD DISRUPTION: The commercial food distribution company Sysco is having trouble meeting demand. Sysco’s CEO said difficulties are primarily in pork and poultry as suppliers work to increase production. The increased demand on food suppliers is driving many to change minimum order amounts and dropping customers if they can’t pay. A recent Gallup poll showed 60% of surveyed consumers reported change in purchase habits due to product unavailability. (AC: The commercial food supply remains stressed due to labor and shipping costs. Consider visiting your farmer’s markets instead of supermarket retailers. – D.M.)
HURRICANE SEASON: Tropical Storm Fred is expected to cause flash flooding and river impacts due to heavy rainfall across the Southeast. Storm surge warnings continue for the Florida Big Bend and Panhandle regions. Tropical Depression Grace is not expected to impact the U.S. Gulf Coast until Saturday morning. Tropical Depression Eight is expected to circulate in the Atlantic with no impact to the U.S. coast.

In today’s Early Warning briefing, Mike explains this weekend’s Afghanistan “intelligence failure,” and looks at some near term domestic fallout. Upgrade your Situational Awareness to Early Warning here: