WINs contain intelligence news selections from open sources and related commentaries produced and edited by Roy Jonkers for over 1,300 on-line AFIO members and for WIN subscribers. Associate Editors RADM (ret) Don Harvey and Prof (ret) John Macartney contribute articles to the WINs.
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SECTION II: CONTEXT AND PRECEDENT
TECH ASSESSMENT OF ISRAELI SPY ALLEGATIONS - Reference last week's WIN (#19) , covering allegations of Israeli eavesdropping on White House conversations, technical analyst James Ross provided comments that may be useful for other users of automated telephone exchange systems. Ross commented that the high-tech White House telephone exchange or PBX is a DMS-100 and "I'm quite certain it was installed in 1993 because, I was told, the Clintons' did not like the idea that human operators would be handling calls." But, according to Ross, "modern PBXs allow the manufacturer or its agent to remotely upgrade the software. My advice to clients for years has been to have the PBX provider install a local on-off switch so that the user can be sure there is no remote access unless the telecom manager has coordinated with the supplier to allow access only when the supplier has requested it and only for the length of time the supplier needs to upgrade the software ... I considered remote
modification of the software to be an extremely remote possibility against my clients because of the complexity of doing the job right, and the chaos that would be caused if any error was made in the modified software ... Could the MOSSAD have purchased the same switch and tested various software mods on it? I think there is little doubt that they could do just that." In short, there may well have been an unlocked "back door" to White House phones and Mossad knew about it.
WIN readers can make the remaining logical deductions. (Intelligence, N. 117, 15 May 2000, p. 17) http://www.insightmag.com/archive/200005306.shtml (Jonkers)
PHONE PHREAKS TO RULE AGAIN? - Related, and possibly relevant, back before there were hackers, phreakers ruled the underground. They may be making a comeback. A phreaker explores the telephone system. Some are just electronic voyeurs who want to understand how telecom structure works. Others exploit vulnerabilities in the system to get free long distance service, re-route calls, change phone numbers, or eavesdrop on conversations.
Rlevine@ix.netcom.com Newbits 5/16/2000) (Jonkers)
US OPENS DE-BUGGED EMBASSY IN MOSCOW - Fifteen years after its construction was halted because Soviet builders had left it riddled with electronic intercept devices, the new U.S. Embassy in Moscow has opened its doors. After the devices were found in 1985, American officials concluded that the building would never be useable. But in 1996 a decision was made to make the building "secure" by tearing down the top two floors and by adding four new ones. Only American workers were used in the new construction. (AP wire, May 12) (Macartney)
THE NEXT E-SECURITY THREAT: CELL PHONES:
The next threat to Internet security could come from mobile phones, as hackers taking advantage of third
generation high-speed access will be able to disguise their location, a Web security firm said on Friday.
"Personal computers are at present the weak link in Internet security. Tomorrow, it will be mobile phones," said Herve Bourgois, European chief executive for Check Point Software Technologies, an Israeli firm. Bourgois said that Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) technology, which allows mobile phone users to use online services, "will generate more traffic, while UMTS third generation technology will speed up the process." "Canny users will thus be able to hack into vulnerable data banks using
their mobile phones and store the information on a laptop computer, or unleash a virus before disappearing."
(http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2569065,00.html) (Ron Levine's Newsbits 5/15) (Jonkers)
TERRORISM REPORT - Secretary of State Albright last week released a new report on terrorism. It states that global terrorism now has a new face: its practitioners are no longer so much the well-organized, state-sponsored groups of old, but increasingly more loosely structured and motivated by religion and ideology. The primary threats to the U.S. now emanate from the Middle East and South Asia.
Of the 169 identified attacks against American targets in 1999 on foreign soil, the report is said to state that 96 were in Latin America (primarily in Colombia and Peru by leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups), 30 in Western Europe (primarily by groups opposed to the war in Kosovo); 9 in countries of the former Soviet Union; 16 in Africa; 11 in the Middle East, and 6 in Asia (primarily related to Kashmir and in Sri Lanka) . In the Middle East, terrorism is related to the perception of partiality and ideological slant of U.S. policies in the area.
In general, foreign terrorism claims fewer victims per year than die from domestic handgun violence in the U.S. in a single day, but has given birth to an abundantly-funded anti-terrorist industry. Given the number of nuts and cranks in the world (sometimes created or stimulated by US actions), however, and the absence of any other real military threats, a strong US anti-terrorist posture is required for economic and political stability. (NYT 8 May2000, p. A27) (Jonkers)
NEW SHIN BETH CHIEF - Avraham Dichter, 47, an agent with decades of internal security service experience, was named on 7 May as the new Head of Shin Beth. Reportedly Dichter also was a former member of a commando unit once headed by the current prime minister, Ehud Barak, a fact that probably did not hinder his promotion.
Dichter replaces Admiral Ami Ayalon, who took over in February 1996, who in turn replaced Karmi Gillon -- who was removed after being reprimanded over the security breakdown which allowed a Jewish terrorist to assassinate prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Dichter is only the second Shin Beth appointment to be publicly announced. The Shin Beth is charged with protecting the chief of state, similar to the U.S. Security Service, and also is said to conduct counter-espionage and security operations, including repressive measures and torture, against the oppressed and restive Semitic population of the occupied West Bank. (AFP 7 May 2000) (Jonkers)
SECTION III: BOOKS & SOURCES
THE PRIVATE LIFE OF KIM PHILBY: THE MOSCOW YEARS, by Rufina Philby, Mikhail Lyubimov & Hayden Peake. Reviewed in the 5/14 NY Times by Joseph Persico. ". . . a 187-page memoir by [Kim Philby's] widow, Rufina Philby, recounting the final years of the cold war's most fabled defector. . . a portrait of dreariness in the twilight years of the Soviet Union ." In the book's final section, Hayden Peake, a former CIA officer who is now a respected intelligence bibliophile (and AFIO member), delivers an insightful critique of the vast literature that Philby's life spawned -- five books, for example, in one year alone. For the espionage aficionado, the most rewarding pages consist of Philby's views on his craft. He makes a convincing case, for example, that a spy caught in the West can very likely beat the rap simply by refusing to confess. (Macartney)
THE BOOK OF HONOR: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA, by Ted Gup, to be released next week, is a narrative history of CIA employees who died in the line of duty. The number of stars on the dramatic Wall of Honor in Langley's main lobby totals 77. But only 40 of those fallen officers' names are listed in CIA's Book of Honor, a gold-embossed volume bound in Moroccan goatskin and locked in a glass case below the chiseled stars. Publication of Gup's book next week will bring the total number identified, officially or unofficially, to 65. The agency refuses to confirm any of the new names. Ted Gup is a former Washington Post investigative reporter who now teaches journalism at Case Western Reserve University.
One of the stories in Gup's book is the focus of Post reporter Vernon Loeb's May 15 on line "IntelligenCIA" column. It's about CIA officer (now AFIO member) Dick Holm and his agonizing ordeal after being severely burned in the crash of a T-28 in a desolate corner of the Congo in 1965. Badly disfigured, eyesight gone, ears burned away, in agony and near death in an "English Patient" scenario, Holm somehow survived, recovered and after 28 months went on to a storied career, the avatar of the CIA hero. He became chief of station in Hong Kong and ran cross-border operations into China. He went back to headquarters and organized what would ultimately become the agency's Counterterrorist Center. He served as Chief of Station in Brussels. He returned to Washington and ran the Directorate of Operations' (DO) Career Management Staff. And then, from 1992 to 1995, he finished his career as Station Chief in Paris. Those members who heard Holm speak at an AFIO luncheon last year will never forget it. Those who missed that presentation can find Holm's "A Close Call in Africa" article from the CIA journal, Studies in Intelligence, at the second URL below http://washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/nation/columns/intelligencia/A59023-2000May12.html
FIRST PERSON: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait, by Vladimir Putin, with Nataliya Gevorkyan, Natalya Timakova and Andrei Kolesnikov, Public Affairs, 2000, 207 pages. This thin volume contains four six-hour interviews with the new president of Russia, along with some brief comments by people who knew him over the years. According to the Washington Post reviewer, Putin comes through in these interviews as an example of Homo Sovieticus, a species upon whom the Soviet system depended to continue functioning. He further finds that Putin displays no political acumen in these interviews, corroborating the fact that he has had no experience in high politics -- but that same comment may be made about some U.S. leaders. Seen in that light, he may be ill-prepared for the inevitable political brawling when the magic begins to disappear. "So far the Russians seem to have treated Putin as an empty vessel into which they can pour their hopes, but those hopes are contradictory, or just pipe dreams." The Post reviewer, Robert Kaiser, finds Putin wanting by dint of his own words. This editor is more cautious, as Putin may rise to the occasion, as others have done in the past. But the title of the book is "off-putting" - it makes one suspect a puff piece or a public relations product. We must wait and see. (Wpost, Bookworld, 7 May 2000, page 9) (Jonkers)<?smaller>
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