AFIO Intelligence Notes Issue
22 May 1998
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SECTION I - INTELLIGENCE COMMENTARIES &
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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)
SECTION II - BOOKS &
Nothing new to report
SECTION III - BULLETIN BOARD
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
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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