AFIO Intelligence Notes Issue 20

22 May 1998

AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes (WINs) are a 1998 initiative to enhance services to AFIO members and to encourage them to recruit new members. We need new members!

WINs are produced by Editor Roy Jonkers, and includes adaptations of articles produced by RADM Don Harvey (USN ret) and AFIO members. WIN re-transmission is not permitted except without concurrence of the WIN Editor.

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NOTE: This is my last WIN for awhile as I go on my annual walking vacation in Europe. I am pleased to report that Dr. John Macartney has agreed to publish the next four WINs.

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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE COMMENTARY - DCI George Tenet recently discussed his estimate of the state of intelligence and some of his remarks were provided to the press. The DCI was quoted as stating that CIA's espionage capabilities had been seriously eroded since the end of the Cold War, and that rapidly shifting foreign policy interests of presidents had further whiplashed clandestine activities. To remedy this situation, Tenet committed himself to a sustained base program of recruitment, training and retention of personnel to operate against "hard targets" around the world. In addition he planned to cope with presidential surge requirements by establishing a reserve of former operations officers to meet these needs without decrementing the base.

The DCI also commented that targets of satellite imagery and electronic intercepts were becoming "harder to attack and easier to conceal." Satellite imagery with excellent resolution is now widely commercially available, and other governments share in the technology and satellite operational know-how. SIGINT is increasingly complicated by the rapid pace of advances in communications and computer technologies and encryption. These factors adds to the relative importance of human source intelligence operations.

He further noted that intelligence analysts must now cope with a revolution in data flows - ten times as much volume as a decade ago. They are being overwhelmed by data. The DCI stated that he would ask the laboratories at Los Alamos and Sandia to assist with solutions to this problem.

A bottomline to the DCI's analysis was the need for an increase in "strategic" clandestine HUMINT operations - long term, sustained, operating under non-diplomatic cover as well as from embassies, understanding the risks, but slowly and patiently building agent capabilities that may provide the vital data at the critical time.

George Tenet's plan is not without detractors. Some disagree with the increased emphasis on espionage as a solution and prescribe instead improved research to understand unpredictable and unstable world politics, and production of de-politicized national estimates. Melvin Goodman finds that the CIA, in its 50th year, shows signs of bureaucratic lethargy: too large, layered, top heavy, and inflexible. He writes " It is time to create a separate analytical agency outside the policy process in order to return to Harry Truman's raison d'e^tre for the CIA: producing objective and incisive intelligence reports." (WP 25 May 98 p. A4; and Chr.Sc. Mon 18 May, p 11) (RJ)

SECRET SERVICE - A foreign government leader expressed his concern about his privacy during visits to the United States, based on a recent court decision compelling Secret Service agents to testify against the President. The concern is attributed to Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien who is quoted as saying he might have to reconsider how he interacts with his Secret Service bodyguards. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson recently ruled that Secret Service agents could not remain silent about the president's activities if called to testify, and this presumably extends to foreign visitors.

Secret Service spokesman Arnette Heintze said that the need for close proximity had been shown in previous assassination attempts on presidents. "Somebody has to weigh this issue very cautiously, because political assassinations are a way of life." Agent Timothy McCarthy, wounded in the 1981 attempts on President Reagan's life, added that the judge's ruling threatened the already difficult relationship between agents and foreign leaders. (WT 25 May 98, p A16) (RJ)

CHINA TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS - Four Senate committees, including the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, will be involved in an investigation into satellite technology transfers to China. The intelligence committee is involved because highly sensitive and classified matters will be discussed. The subject involves a Presidential waiver in 1996 permitting the launch of some US satellites in China. There are accusations that foreign campaign donations swayed decisions in this matter. Two things may be said - one is that of the scandals swirling around Washington, campaign financing is undoubtedly the most serious and the most real - and generally covered up by both parties. And what damage was done to national security - or more likely, will still be done by these investigations - remains to be seen. (WT 24 98 p. A6) (RJ)

NORTH KOREA - Designated as a rogue state for its involvement in missile sales to unstable regions, efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, and terrorism against South Korea, the North Korean communist regime is becoming involved in organized crime.

Smuggling has become a stock-in-trade for North Korean diplomats. During the past year they have been caught smuggling money, gold, narcotics, ivory and pirated CD's. Frank Ciluffo of the Center for Strategic and International Studies is quoted as saying that " unlike Latin America or Europe, where organized crime attempts top penetrate the state - by bribery, influencing decisions etc. - North Korea is penetrating organized crime."

North Korea appears to have opened itself up to partnerships with criminal gangs involved with activities ranging from counterfeit money and cigarette production to harboring hijacked ships and international narcotics smuggling. Western intelligence agencies are reported to have evidence that North Korea has large-scale opium production for export. Russian intelligence officials reported that North Korea has been engaged in opium and heroin smuggling for many years. (WP 25 May 98) (RJ)

NATO - The NATO Expansion instrument of ratification passed by the Senate on 30 April was signed by the President on 21 May 98. It amends the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty by adding three nations, the former Soviet satellites Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. The treaty amendment must be ratified by all 16 NATO members to become effective. This is the first step in one of the great policy gambles of the post-Cold War period, with some eminent policy thinkers calling it a monumental blunder and great missed opportunity, others a great achievement towards stability in Europe. The Russian press noted that a tank gun pointed in your direction, even if decorated with daisies, is still a tank gun. For the US intelligence communities it means expanded intelligence-sharing within the expanded NATO structure. (WP 25 May 98, p A8)

COLOMBIA - The 20th Intelligence Brigade, which had been accused by the US Government of promoting death squad activities, has been disbanded. US action to revoke the visa of General Ivan Ramirez, who oversaw the operations of the 20th Brigade, may well have contributed to the decision. Military commanders announced that intelligence gathering and operations would henceforth be done on a decentralized basis by special units assigned to each army division.

Colombian army units have for some time been involved in training and exercises with US Special forces teams at remote jungle bases where guerrillas and drug traffickers are most active. The special Forces teams are instructing the Colombians in light infantry tactics, intelligence gathering for anti-drug operations, and counter-terrorist operations. The US program is authorized under a 1991 law. Training was suspended in recent weeks pending the presidential elections at the end of May.

US intelligence analysts of the Colombian scene, a mixture of civil war, narcotics operations and criminal activities, have concluded that the line between guerrillas and narco-traffickers has become increasingly blurred. In recent months two Marxist guerrilla movements, the FARC (15,000 troops) and the ELN (5,000 combatants) have defeated government units and now exercise some measure of control over 50% of the countryside.As a result, Colombia, which is the hemisphere's second oldest democracy, but also the world's top cocaine producer, is facing an increasing threat to its stability. Massive demonstrations have been taking place recently to protest the increasing pace of violence and massacres by both leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary forces as the 31 May date for the presidential elections approaches.

The US is engaged in an across-the-board policy assessment by State, Defense and Intelligence agencies, weighing intelligence and policy considerations on insurgency, narco-trafficking, corruption, criminal activity and human rights in relation to Colombian Government capabilities and actions. (WP 25 May 98, p. A1, and WP 21 May p A31) (RJ)

ISRAEL - Israeli security forces, which have been the subject of some negative press publicity within Israel recently, are awaiting a ruling by Israel's Supreme Court on the legality of their use of torture in interrogations of Palestinians. The Israeli Government position is that "modest physical pressure" is useful in discovering plots, and in 1987 an Israeli government commission advised that "moderate physical pressure" could be used against suspects in special circumstances.

Israeli human rights advocates say that the 1987 finding has been abused and used to justify state-sanctioned torture on a regular basis. Eighty-five percent of the young Palestinians detained last year were subjected to torture, although most were later released without any criminal charges. Israeli torture methods include violent shaking, binding and gagging in painful positions, forced wearing of hoods soaked in vomit or urine, sleep deprivation, and subjection to blasts of frigid air and super-loud sounds. Some have died during this process.

Yuval Ginbar, director of B'tselem, said that such brutality only foments more hatred against Israel. "Many democracies fighting against terrorism use interrogation techniques that are clever and intelligent and have proved no less effective than brutal methods." The nine justices on the panel hearing the case made it clear that they were dismayed by having to rule on this case in the absence of legislative guidelines for security interrogations. Israel is a signatory of international conventions on torture. (WP 21 May 98 p. A38) (RJ)

PIRACY ON THE HIGH SEAS - The economic crisis in Asia is likely to cause a further increase in the amount and violence of piracy in the area. Financed by crime syndicates, heavily armed piracy has been on the upswing. The last stronghold of piracy in the South China Sea was broken up after the Opium Wars in the late 19th century. Since then low level piracy has continued. Thai pirates gained notoriety in the 70's by their vicious attacks (robbing, raping and killing) preying on Vietnamese boat people. In recent years the scale of attacks has again increased. Now, with the Indonesian economic and social breakdown, another step-up in piracy along the essential sealanes among the 13,000 islands extending 3,000 miles is probable.

The London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported 229 cases of piracy on the high seas during 1997, more than double those reported in 1991 (107). Of these cases, 91 occurred in Southeast Asia, 19 in East Asia, 24 off India, 10 in the Persian Gulf, 34 in the Americas, 41 off Africa, and 10 elsewhere.

The seas around Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines are the most dangerous. The modern buccaneers target all kinds of ships. Heavily armed, they steal cargo and sometimes whole ships, and take crews as hostages to demand ransom. During the past six months three fully loaded tankers were hijacked. Last year pirates killed 51 seamen. Regional navies, hampered by dwindling budgets, are often ill-matched against the well-armed pirates financed by crime syndicates. (WT 25 May 98, p. A14) (RJ)

INDIAN NUCLEAR TEST (continued) - Admiral Jeremiah will report his findings on why the intelligence community was caught short by the Indian nuclear tests on 3 June 98. Three possible reasons (right or wrong) have already appeared in print. The first was that US reconnaissance satellites were targeted to cover a ballistic missile test rather than the nuclear test site, possibly diverted by an Indian deception (the Indian announcement of a missile test).. The Indians, from past experience with nuclear tests and US protests, and with their imaging satellite in orbit, understand how satellites collect, and how they can be diverted or deceived.

Secondly, diplomatic reporting from India indicated that no immediate tests were expected. This had the effect of keeping satellite reconnaissance coverage of Indian test sites at a routine level of spot-checking rather than a high collection priority.

And thirdly, there was apparently no US "mole" in the Indian nuclear establishment to provide the crucial tip-off. The Indians have been very good at counterintelligence, and very aggressive in the way they protect their secrets. It is of interest in this regard that last year India fired its chief of counterintelligence after accusations that he was a CIA spy. (WP 25 May 98, p. A4) (RJ)


Nothing new to report


Memorial Day 1998 - We salute those who did their duty at their Nation's call and died in wars near and far. LtCol John McCrae's poem written in 1915 (he died on the Western Front in 1918), applies to all -

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
That marks our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep
though poppies grow
in Flanders fields

And for that cause, the torch that passed, the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln still provide our beacon

It is for us to here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from this earth. (From the Gettysburg Address, Nov 19, 1863).

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