AFIO Intelligence Notes Issue 29

3 August 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.

See the AFIO Homepage <> for back issues.


Fort Myers Officers Club, Arlington Virginia
Speakers: Major General (USA ret) Jack Singlaub (Operation Tailwind)
and Dr. Hamilton Merritt, Nobel Prize Nominee (Tragic Mountains, Lao-Hmong)
Luncheon Chairman: Mr. Theodore Shackley
Send check for $26 (members and guests) or $29 (non-members) to AFIO.


FAIRVIEW PARK MARRIOTT (same as last year), VIRGINIA (DC area)

Overall Symposium Chairman: Peter Earnest, President AFIO

DAY ONE: Technology Challenges: the Shape of the Future.
Session Chairman: Lieutenant General (USA, Ret) James Williams.
Invited speakers include: National Security Advisor, Dir NRO, Director NSA, Directors of the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. VISIT to CIA Headquarters.

DAY TWO: Security Challenges - The Future is Now.
Session Chairman: Mr. Ted Shackley (CIA ret)
Invited speakers include: Chairman HPSC/I, US Congress; Staff Director SSCI, US Senate, Dir. FINCEN (international financial crime), and experts on Russian International Crime networks, Worldwide Executive Protection, and National Infrastructure Protection.

Also: The first AFIO AWARDS BANQUET , with awards to a chapter for program excellence and membership growth, an AFIO member for contributions to AFIO, an AFIO member for greatest number of new members recruited, and a national media figure for informative and balanced reporting on intelligence-related subjects. DCI invited to speak.

DAY THREE: AFIO Breakfast with distinguished speaker, General Membership Meeting (vote on Bylaw changes), Board Meeting with Chapters.



SIX RUSSIAN SATELLITES IN IMPROPER ORBIT. Six satellites -- reportedly designed for the GRU -- apparently went into improper orbits after being launched simultaneously from the Plesetsk cosmodrome recently. Identified as Strela-3's, the satellites are also known as "space mailboxes for Russian spies." according to the Russky Telegraph newspaper. Strela-3 satellites record radio messages transmitted by Russian intelligence agents throughout the world and relay those messages to intelligence headquarters in Moscow. They also transmit messages sent from Moscow to agents abroad. Highly classified until recently, the existence of the system was confirmed by Russia's former military intelligence chief, Fyodor Ladygin, when the government decided to produce a commercial version to earn cash. Intended for a circular orbit 868 milers above earth, the satellites instead are in elliptical orbits, passing 812 miles above the earth at the lowest point and 1,171 miles at the highest point, according to a mission control spokesman. The military still intends to use the satellites but will have to "adjust some settings." Russia's allocation of scarce resources to this launch in spite of dire economic problems indicates that at least one government understands the importance of intelligence. (Phil. Inq. 18 June 98, p 25) (DH)

SATELLITE IMAGES FOR SALE -- CHEAP. A new step in the public availability of satellite images of most any place you want to see whenever you want to see it, occurred recently with the advent of a new Microsoft web site, known as the Terraserver, on the Internet. The site offers free browsing with searches by city, region or latitude and longitude coordinates. Users can then pan or zoom within the digital picture by "pointing and clicking." The price of downloaded images ranges from $7.95 to $24.95 depending on the size of the area covered, according the the president of Aerial Images, a Raleigh, NC, provider of high-resolution satellite imagery, including those from Russian archives. Among the images featured are formerly classified Russian photographs sharp enough to pick out objects two meters across.

While satellite imagery has been available to the public for years, the Terraserver makes two meter imagery available to the customer in minutes, not weeks or months. The site ( is bound by federal rules not to let users from service providers in denied nations, such as Iran, Libya, Cuba or North Korea, download satellite shots. The Terraserver system has no way of knowing if a user in another country were acting as a front for a blacklisted nation. (Reuters 23 Jun 98) (DH)

GLOMAR EXPLORER SAILING ONCE AGAIN - One of the world's most famous _ or notorious, depending on perspective - "spy ships." the Glomar Explorer, has been rescued from nearly a generation in mothballs to participate in deepwater oil exploration. Howard Hughes had advanced the original cover story, recovery of manganese modules from the ocean bottom, so well, that the ship's real mission of recovering a sunken Soviet submarine did not leak until a year after part of the sub had been recovered. According to newspaper accounts, two nuclear-tipped missiles were also brought to the surface. Many years later, Moscow was given a video of the at-sea burial of the bodies of six Russian sailors.

The huge sub-snagging grappling claw of the original Glomar has now vanished, the swinging hull doors are welded shut and the opening to the sea, once vast, is now no larger than a backyard swimming pool. Global Marine employees pilot the ship, but two oil companies, Chevron and Texaco split drilling privileges in return for paying the Houston company a total of $260 million over five years in hopes of finding wells in the Gulf of Mexico. (Sarasota Herld Trib 14 Jul 98 p. 30) (DH)

SR 71 RETIRED, AGAIN - The Air Force has announced that the last six of the world's fastest, highest-flying airplane, the SR-71 Blackbird, have been retired. Two operational aircraft and one trainer had been maintained for the past several years at the insistence and funding of Congress, despite the Air Force position that the planes were no longer required. In a speech to reporters, NRO director Keith Hall noted that battlefield commanders these days want instantaneous collection and real-time delivery of data for exploitation -- and that the SR-71 system could not deliver. While cameras and signal receivers of the plane could gather massive amounts of information, it required days of processing and analysis to extract useful intelligence from the data. Satellites, the U-1, and UAV's can deliver useful intelligence as it is being collected. Mr. Hall made the point that no military Command or user has articulated a requirement for the SR-71 now or in the future. (Def. News 8-14 Jun 98, p52) (DH)

CYBER WARFARE - President Clinton has directed that the DCI place priority on defenses against foreign computer attacks. The DCI, at a Senate Hearing, testified that the nation could face an "electronic Pearl Harbor." He continued, "an adversary capable of implanting the right virus, or accessing the right terminal, can cause massive damage."

The US currently lacks an adequate means to protect the integrity of vital public and private databases. But, said Tenet, " we're not asleep at the switch in this regard" and that a great deal of effort was being expended on defensive as well as offensive cyber capabilities. Issues included the need to coordinate technologies to avoid government hackers tripping over each other, and the establishment of legal and ethical parameters for programs such as disabling opponents' power or telephone networks or inserting false information into adversaries' computers. Two other cyberwar issues - - encryption policies and the so-called "millennium bug" needed to be resolved. The standoff between the FBI and the software industry over whether to grant the Government a digital "back door" to recover encoded internet communications was harming national security. It puts the nation at risk for a major terrorist event. should be treated like nuclear bombs and placed under a sort of Strategic Command, but military chiefs are opposing such a Cyber Command. These and related issues will be discussed, among others, at the AFIO Symposium 12-13 November 1998. (Telegraph (London), 9 Jul 98; Straits Times, June 26) (RJ)


- THE PENTIUM MISSION, by Joe Fontana, Orchises Press, Alexandria Va 1998 (ISBN 0-914061-72-0) . For a change of pace, a novel of murder, suspense and intrigue in the international intelligence community This novel by a veteran international lawyer and current professor is recommended reading. (RJ)

- DECISION FOR DISASTER: BETRAYAL AT THE BAY OF PIGS, by Grayston L. Lynch, 1998. The author was the CIA case officer on the command ship, leading the first combat team ashore.. For clandestine operations history buffs, an action-packed story by a field operative. (RJ)


14 September - AFIO LUNCHEON, Fort Myers Officers Club, Arlington Virginia
1030 - 1400. Speakers: Major General (USA ret) Jack Singlaub (Operation Tailwind) and Dr. Hamilton Merritt, Nobel Prize Nominee (Tragic Mountains -- The War in Laos). Luncheon Chairman: Mr. Theodore Shackley
Registration: AFIO members $26, Non-members $29. Send check with name and address to AFIO, 6723 Whittier Ave, Ste 303A, McLean VA 22101-4533

12-14 November AFIO National Symposium and Convention, Fairview Park MARRIOT, Fairfax County, Virginia. CHALLENGES FOR INTELLIGENCE: THE FUTURE IS NOW. Registration information will be disseminated shortly.

7 December - NOTE: The AFIO luncheon originally scheduled for 7 December 98 has been POSTPONED until January 1999. The Board meeting is also postponed.


TAPS - Peter Sherman, a director of MI 5 from 1978-1982, died 15 June, aged 76. His former colleagues remember him as an excellent manager with a reputation for a lively intelligence, patience, professional skill, wit and good humor. (The Times, 1 July 98)

NEW CHAPTER - The newly organized AFIO Northeast Florida Chapter will hold its first organizational Dinner Meeting on Friday 11 September 1998 at the holiday Inn, Palatka, at 5:00 pm. For reservations or information, contact Col Barney Barco (352) 475 2351, or email <

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