Weekly Intelligence Notes
4 February 2000
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SECTION I: CURRENT INTELLIGENCE
NSA SYSTEMS CRASH -- During the last week in January, NSA's backbone
data processing computer system crashed and was down for four days, from Monday
to Friday. NSA spent $1.5 million on emergency repairs and consultants to put
the system back into operation. The failure was not attributed to adversarial
action, nor to delayed Y2K problems, but to system overload. NSA stated that no
important intelligence information was lost. All of the intercepted material was
saved and processed later.
The crash caused concern in Congress. SSCI Chairman Senator Richard Shelby said
that a technical advisory group appointed by his committee two years ago found
NSA "an organization in desperate need of organizational restructuring and
modernization of its information technology infrastructure." HPSCI Chairman
Porter Goss said the incident demonstrates a "lack of management
attention"in the past and a "chronic underfunding of infrastructure at
NSA." Goss' HPSCI committee has criticized NSA for failing to modernize its
computer-processing capability while committing huge amounts of money to upgrade
its worldwide system for intercepting communications. (Ed. Comment - in the real
world, this is not necessarily an unusual budgeting strategy in the Washington
theater - funding collection systems first, then have the new collection
capability drive funding for processing upgrades -- been there, done that). (Wpost
2Feb00, p.A19; Pincus) (Jonkers)
DCI ASSESSMENT OF CAUCASUS SITUATION -- DCI George Tenet presented a global
overview of the worldwide threat in 2000 to the Senate Select committee on
Intelligence on 2 February 2000. He provided the following assessment on the
situation in the Caucasus and Central Asia:
Chechnya has significance for the Caucasus and Central Asia, a part of the world
that has the potential to become more volatile as it becomes more important to
the United States. As you know the US has expended great effort to support
pipelines that will bring the Caspian's energy resources to Western markets. One
oil pipeline is expected to pass through both Georgia and Azerbaijan. Western
companies are trying to construct a gas pipelines under the Caspian Sea from
Turkmenistan through Azerbaijan and Georgia en route to Turkey. Although many of
the leaders in the region through which the pipelines will flow view the United
States as a friend, regime stability there is fragile. Most economies are
stagnating or growing very slowly, unemployment is rising, and poverty remains
high. This creates opportunities for criminals, drug runners and arms
proliferators. It also means the region could become a breeding ground for a new
generation of Islamic extremists, taking advantage of increasing
dissatisfaction. There is not much popular support for Islamic militancy
anywhere in Central Asia or the Caucasus, but as militants are pushed out of
Chechnya, they may seek refuge - and stoke militancy - in the South Caucasus and
See the CIA website for the complete text of the speech. http://www.odci.gov/cia/public_affairs/speeches/dci_speech020200.html
RUSSIA, GEORGIA AND CHECHNYA SITREP -- Russian Interior Minister Vladimir
Rushailo and his Georgian counterpart Kakha Targamadze announced on Jan. 22nd
that they agreed to begin joint border operations --codenamed Undercover -- to
police the Chechen-Georgian border, according to a Russian radio report.. If
true, this may significantly impact on the resupply of arms and ammunition to
the Chechen bands and may diminish the level of Chechen operations. The channels
of abundant supply of modern arms and ammunition to the Chechen (insurgents,
rebels, extremists, bandits - take your pick) , is, of course, one of the
unscrutinized and unpublicized mysteries of the Chechen conflict.
Georgian state policy has apparently adapted to the reassertion of Russian power
in the Caucasus region. A few weeks into the Chechen campaign, in early November
1999, Georgia insisted that it would unilaterally patrol and seal the border.
But in December Russia dropped paratroopers at the top of the Argun Valley, the
most accessible connection between Chechnya and Georgia, and sealed the border
themselves. Now, Georgia appears to have agreed to participate in a joint
operation, which means having a Russian military component on Georgian
territory. Seen in the larger context of the US and Western push for influence
in the region (i.e., the "Great Game" of oil, pipelines and
geopolitical power), the Chechen war also sends a signal of stronger Russian
reassertion of interests to the local regimes, at least for the moment. (Russian
radio and Stratfor Global Intelligence 25 January 2000, http://www.stratfor.com/SERVICES/giu2000/012100.ASP
SECTION II: CONTEXT AND PRECEDENT
FORMER DCI JOHN DEUTCH SECURITY VIOLATION -- According to an article by
James Risen in the New York Times, a classified report by the CIA's Inspector
General concluded that top CIA officials impeded an internal investigation of
former DCI John Deutch's mishandling of large volumes of "enormously
sensitive" classified material. The IG report stopped short of accusing Mr
Tenet or his aides of violating any laws.
DCI George Tenet made the following statement in this regard: "...
the bottomline is that a complete investigation was done, decisive action
was taken and steps have been implemented to improve our security process. At
the conclusion of the IG's investigation last August, I made the tough decision
to suspend the security clearances of my former boss and predecessor. Copies of
the IG report were provided to our Congressional oversight committees at that
time. The IG report did not conclude that anyone intentionally impeded the
investigation..." Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla) Chairman of the HPSC/I, said he
was satisfied that both Tenet and CIA Inspector General Britt Snider had
appropriately handled the Deutch case.
There are obvious questions of law, politics and national security involved in
this matter. In addition, James Risen drew a comparison of the treatment of the
former DCI with Los Alamos computer scientist Wen Ho Lee (who some think is a
possible scapegoat for DOE's years of deficient counterintelligence security
policies and practices). Both placed extremely sensitive files on their
unclassified home computers in violation or regulations and law. Both deleted
large number of files from their computer when they found they were under
investigation. One is accused of treason, the other merely of "sloppy"
security practices. One is denied bail and sits in jail, the other received a
slap on the wrist. At least from the open source information available, there
are reasonable grounds for reporters to raise questions. The DCI, however, has
stated that the two are not comparable. "In one instance, there is an inent
to do harm to the United States. That's a legal judgment that's been made. In
the other instance, a similar legal judgment was not made."
Be that as it may, for intelligence professionals, aside from the potential harm
done to national security, the key question is: what kind of the example has
been set by a senior official -- and particularly the DCI? And how is this
treated? The reported offense involved storing some of the nation's most
sensitive national secrets on a home computer that was also used to access
pornographic internet sites and send and receive e-mail. As such it was
obviously accessible to hackers and foreign adversaries -- although the DCI
stated that there was no evidence that Deutch's unsecured home computer had been
hacked into, he also said there was no sure way to tell that it had not been.
If all this turns out to be true, it must be profoundly disturbing to both
current and former professionals in the intelligence community. As can be
documented with historical examples, "sloppy" security practices can
harm the nation as much as deliberate espionage - or even more.
"Sloppy" security practices cannot be tolerated for the rank and file,
who are asked to follow the law and the example set by superiors.
"Sloppy" security practices are no excuse for the high-risk behavior
reported. The dismissal of the problem by writing it off as "sloppy
security practices" won't do. We must wait a further reassertion of moral
authority, personal responsibility and leadership in this case. (New York Times,
1Feb2000,J. Risen; AP 3 Feb Tom Raum; Wpost 2 Feb p.A8 , Loeb and Pincus; CIA at
WEBSTER COMMISSION REPORT -- The Commission on the Advancement of Law
Enforcement, chartered by Congress and headed by former FBI and CIA Director
William H. Webster, has published a 185 page report, finding that lack of
coordination among law enforcement agencies is a glaring weakness that makes the
US more vulnerable to global crime and terrorism. The report further finds that
there has been "poor integration" of domestic and foreign
intelligence-gathering. It therefore recommended that the attorney general get
authority to direct all federal law enforcement policies and practices. Another,
and more controversial recommendation was that the FBI should get control over
the enforcement functions of the the Drug enforcement Administration (DEA) and
the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF / Treasury Department). This is
unlikely to be implemented. (Wpost 2 Feb2000,. p. A8; D.Vise) (Jonkers)
REVISED RUSSIAN CONCEPT ON NATIONAL SECURITY -- On January 14th the
Russian Government published a 21-page Concept on National Security that
broadens the possible scenarios in which Russia would consider using nuclear
weapons from the previous national security document published in 1997.
Previously the formulation was that nuclear weapons could be used "in case
of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation as a sovereign
state." The new document states nuclear weapons could be used "in the
case of the need to repulse an armed aggression, if all other methods of
resolving the crisis situation are exhausted or have been ineffective."
Changes to the 1997 document were stimulated by the reaction against the US/NATO
attack on Yugoslavia and Western criticism of Russian actions in Chechnya. The
new document views the West as increasingly confrontational. It criticizes the
US for trying to create "unilateral" solutions to global problems with
military force, "sidelining the basic standards of international law,"
and asserts that "the level and scale of threat in the military sphere is
increasing." Specifically, the document holds that NATO's use of force
outside the alliance's borders, without sanction from the United Nations -- and
the incorporation of this practice into alliance doctrine last year, "is
fraught with the threat of destabilization of the whole strategic situation in
In the past this type of document have been mostly useful in gauging the
thinking of the Russian military and political elite. This type document is not
binding, and are often rewritten or ignored. Russian policy in defense and
foreign affairs has been quite ad hoc. Also, the document could have worse -- it
could have included language allowing an "early first use" of nuclear
weapons, but that was not included. (Wpost 15Jan2000, p.A21) (Jonkers)
DOMESTIC TERRORISM -- A freelance writer for the magazine Salon, Dan
Savage, published an article in which he claims to have gone on a self-appointed
clandestine operation by working on the volunteer staff of Presidential
candidate Gary Bauer, with the objective of infecting the candidate with his
"flu bug and all". Described as a gay journalist, he said he licked
the doorknobs, telephones and coffee cups in the Des Moines office where he
worked, and put a pen in his mouth and gave it to the candidate when he asked
him for an autograph. The reason for the action was his opposition to Gary
Bauer's position on homosexuals. In writing about his exploit, Savage wrote
"Score! My bodily fluids - flu bugs and all - were all over his hand!"
State Republican officials in Des Moines were said to have asked the local
prosecutor to launch a criminal investigation. (Wpost, 3Feb2000, p.C1) (Jonkers)
NETWORK SECURITY -- Most company and personal computer networks are wide
open to attacks by dedicated hackers. David Ignatius, writing in the Washington
Post, alleges that some of the most powerful tools traditionally used by
intelligence agencies - which allow them to "overhear conversations and
read our mail" - have been privatized and used by new
"privateers"-- former intelligence officers who are out now, offering
their skills on the open market. He advises that companies that want to protect
themselves against these electronic attacks should invest in
Companies are more vulnerable than they realize. Firewalls may not do the job.
If installed right out of the box, they usually contain default passwords and
other trapdoors that allow smart hackers to get in. Packet sniffers on a cable
allow one to read everything on the cable loop. DSL technology is harder to
crack - but not impossible. Ignatius concludes by saying that "civil
libertarians still seem to focus their angst on privacy threats from government
intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but they're way behind the time. Like
everything else in the global economy, snooping has been privatized." (Wpost
30Jan00, p.B7; D. Ignatius) (Jonkers)
SECTION III: BOOKS AND RELATED MATTERS
THE SECRET WAR AGAINST HANOI : Kennedy's and Johnson's Use of Spies, Saboteurs
and Covert Warriors in North Vietnam, by Richard H. Shultz Jr. HarperCollins,
1999. ISBN 0-06-019454-5.
In January 1961 President John F. Kennedy, having just taken office, was
informed of intelligence estimates showing that North Vietnam was intensifying a
campaign of murder, mutiliations,kidnappings, ambushes and armed attacks in its
effort to take over South Vietnam. Kennedy's angry response was to try to do to
North Vietnam what it was doing to the South. Kennedy initiated a set of covert
actions that, as Richard H. Shultz Jr. says in his illuminating account of the
consequences of Kennedy's decision, would "put Hanoi on notice that there
was a price to be paid for its attempt to subvert South Vietnam."
Kennedy, in typically bold but also impetuous fashion, believed in
unconventional warfare, which he felt needed to be developed to respond to the
unconventional methods of global Communist subversion. And, as Mr. Shultz
explains in "The Secret War Against Hanoi," that tenet got the United
States into the biggest set of covert actions undertaken during the cold war.
Mr. Shultz subjects the secret effort, which lasted from the early 1960's to
1972, to a searching, critical, dispassionate analysis. His book, which focuses
on the activities of the Studies and Observation Group, or SOG, as the secret
warfare organization was called, is impressively researched and soberly
presented, though not so soberly as to smother the passion that Mr. Shultz has
for this subject. One cannot help but be impressed by the derring-do of many in
the American armed forces.
But reading it is also a 400-page lesson in how not to wage special war against
a determined and badly understood foe. In Mr. Shultz's telling of it, the secret
war, which was not so secret to the North Vietnamese, was conceived almost
without considering the nature of the enemy.
Among the points made clear in this history is Kennedy's critical role in
increasing American involvement in the war. Contrary to the sentimental views of
some historians -- and revisionist filmmakers like Oliver Stone -- Kennedy
showed no sign of souring on the war and wishing shortly before his
assassination to bring about an American disengagement. On the contrary, in Mr.
Shultz's account, Kennedy was so impatient to get results that when the C.I.A.
failed to do so, he transferred the operation to the Pentagon, where Defense
Secretary Robert S. McNamara enthusiastically backed it.
"Mr. Secretary, I hear what you are saying, but it's not going to
work," William E. Colby, the chief of the CIA's Saigon station, told Mr.
McNamara at a meeting in 1963. North Vietnam was what one CIA analyst aptly
called a counterintelligence state where total control of the population made
the task of stirring up trouble almost impossible.
If Kennedy's era was characterized by a reckless ignorance of the Vietnamese
reality, President Lyndon B. Johnson's was saturated by political caution. The
most effective covert operation, especially in its early years, was the
dispatching of reconnaissance teams across the borders into Laos and Cambodia to
call in air strikes on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, North Vietnam's essential
infiltration route to South Vietnam. Mr. Shultz cites a North Vietnamese general
interviewed after the war who said that the only way the United States could
have prevailed was to cut the trail.
Mr. Shultz then elaborates on the bureaucratic obstructions of SOG's
cross-border reconnaissance. The most serious of these came from the State
Department and from major figures like W. Averell Harriman and Kennedy's
ambassador to Laos, William H. Sullivan, who were concerned that cross-border
excursions would ruin the neutrality arrangements that Harriman had negotiated
in Laos in 1962. That concern, combined with inconsistent and hesitant policies
by the Johnson administration, enabled Hanoi to increase its defenses along the
trail and to step up its operations while SOG was inactive. Mr. Shultz attaches
great importance to the 1962 Laotian accords, which in his view essentially gave
the game away to the North Vietnamese.
But he also shows, apart from American bureaucratic weakness, that SOG soon
began to experience terrible casualties as North Vietnam strengthened its
defenses. In 1969 one American ended up killed, wounded or missing in every
other reconnaissance mission. "It was basically a waste of effort,"
the American commander in chief in Vietnam, Gen. William C. Westmoreland, told
Mr. Shultz of the missions. Mr. Shultz believes that this need not have been the
case. Still, the unblinkered account he gives leads to the conclusion that,
however brave and potentially useful it may have been, the secret war against
Hanoi was close to a wasted effort the way it was conducted during the long and
tragic American military engagement in Indochina. (New York times, 1-12-00,
Richard Bernstein) (courtesy R. Heibel)
NOTE: Professor Shultz will address the AFIO luncheon meeting on 20 March at the
Ft Myer O'Club - call 703 790 0320 for reservations)
WIN articles, commentaries and critiques are based on open sources and written
or edited by the Producer/ Editor (Roy Jonkers) email@example.com.
Commentary and opinions included are those of the Editor or others listed in the
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