Weekly Intelligence Notes #24-00
17 June 2000

WINs contain intelligence-related open source items and commentaries produced and edited by Roy Jonkers. Associate Editor John Macartney was a major contributor to this WIN.

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WEEKLY INTELLIGENCE NOTES (WIN) #24-00 dtd 17 June 2000


PRESIDENT ASSAD'S DEATH IMPACTS MIDDLE EAST INTELLIGENCE REQUIREMENTS -- Hafez al-Assad, a member of the Alawite sect and a former Syrian Air Force officer, came to power by staging a coup against a military regime that had lost legitimacy by its loss to Israel in the 1967 war. Assad was part of an Arab nationalist dream following the example of Nasser.
Assad's foreign policy, however, turned less on Nasserite pan-Arab issues than on Syrian national interests. For example, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan had all been carved out after World War I of the former Ottoman Empire's province of Syria by Western Powers (Britain and France - the story of the betrayals involved was told by "Lawrence of Arabia") . Assad wanted to re-unite them. On this question here was terrific tension between Assad and Nasser, on the one hand, and Assad and Yasser Arafat, on the other. Arafat wanted a secular, independent Palestinian state; Assad wanted Palestine returned to Syria. Assad created and supported a number of Palestinian groups opposed to Arafat over this. He defined his war against Israel in a very Syrian way.
Assad, of course, knew that Israel was not going out of existence, and that the future of Palestine was therefore an academic issue. But Lebanon was not. He considered Lebanon to be an integral part of Syria. Hafez al-Assad of the Alawites was allied with many other clans in Lebanon, from all different religions. Indeed, when Assad first intervened in Lebanon in the 1970s, it was on behalf of a Christian clan with long- standing ties to the Alawites, and against the Palestinians, who Assad saw as alien interlopers in his country.
Assad came from a world where religion counted for less than blood and friendship. It was a world that Westerners always misinterpreted- - as being torn by religious war when it was really clans, frequently of the same religion, fighting each other, allied with clans of different religions, as they have done in this area for thousands of years.
Assad was a paradox. He came to power in a military coup - in the tradition of Ataturk and Nasser. He governed as a military dictator striving to build a modern secular state. He opposed Muslim fundamentalists at the point of a gun. Yet, at the same time, he
was a traditionalist in the deepest sense of the word. He was inextricably bound up with the ancient feuds of the Levantine clans. He ruled for 30 years. Assad came to power as a Nasserite, but ended his days somewhere between a Syrian nationalist and an Alawite clan leader, doing business in the traditional way.
Assad was heir to a tradition whose greatest claim to moral legitimacy was that it rid the Arab world of corrupt dynastic rulers. He died leaving his son in power, as one would expect an Alawite clan leader to do - but not the leader of a modern nation state. In a way Assad presided over the liquidation of his own revolution. In the end, that tells much about the condition of the Arab world - and in the long run this may be as important as the single US public focus and fixation on "peace talks" with Israel.
From political and intelligence perspectives the central questions appear to revolve around the degree of internal stability that can be maintained in Syria and whether Assad's son, if and when he consolidates power, can resist the tide of Islamic fundamentalism -- a movement that has seized the notions of both revolution and republicanism and which looks to Ayatollah Khomeni for guidance.
(Stratfor - provided courtesy G. Dothyl) (Jonkers)

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN EXPECTED Deputy DCI NOMINEE -- President Clinton's nominee for the number two position at the Central Intelligence Agency is expected to be John McLaughlin, who currently heads CIA's intelligence division, government sources said Monday. The nominee would fill the vacancy left by Air Force Gen. John Gordon who this month will take charge of the new semi-autonomous agency created in the Energy Department to oversee U.S. nuclear programs. (The Senate hastened its consideration of Gordon's nomination after two computer hard drives containing nuclear secrets went missing at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. They were found on Friday under questionable circumstances).
Congressional sources said that unless something negative yet crops up, the Senate Intelligence Committee would probably look favorably upon McLaughlin as the nominee. McLaughlin started at the CIA in 1972 and worked on European, Russian and Eurasian issues in the Directorate of Intelligence, which produces analysis for policymakers. He was appointed head of that division as deputy director for intelligence (DDI) in July 1997. McLaughlin is also an amateur magician who sometimes uses tricks with cards or rubberbands to make the point that analysts need to be aware that situations are not always as they seem when observed from one angle. (Reuters, 19June00; http://www.excite.com/) (Jonkers)

George Trofimoff, 73, was arrested in Florida on 14 June, accused of spying for the Soviet Union for 25-years while serving as a civilian chief of the US Army element of the Nuremburg Joint Interrogation Center in Germany from 1969 to 1994. Born in Germany, the son of Russian parents, Trofimoff was naturalized as a US citizen in 1951. He retired from 35 years of US Army civil service employment in 1995. Since he was also a member of the US Army Reserve, where he rose to the rank of colonel, the press has overlooked his civil servant status and has been referring to him as the "highest ranking" of American military spies. He supposedly was paid about $10,000 a year by the Russians for his treason, indicative of a rather low-ranking spy, for a total of $250,000 over the 25 years. When arrested, Trofimoff was reportedly working as a bagman in a grocery store.
German authorities arrested Trofimoff and his "handler" (a Russian orthodox priest and childhood friend) for espionage in 1994, but could not make the charges stick due to Germany's 5-year statute of limitations on espionage. The US, which has no such limitation, has apparently been investigating ever since. He finally fell victim to an apparent FBI sting operation. One of these days the pieces of this sad story may add up to a coherent whole. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57948-2000Jun14.html  http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/061500army-spy.html  http://www.washtimes.com/national/default-2000615225635.htm  (Macartney/ Jonkers)

STATUS OF DOWNED US NAVY FLIER CHALLENGED. Lt Cmdr Michael Speicher was the first US casualty of the Persian Gulf War, listed as "killed in action" after his F-18 fighter jet was shot down over Iraq on 16 Jan 1991. But a Senate panel says there is evidence that he survived the crash, disappeared in Iraq and was abandoned by his country.  The pilot's fate remained largely unexamined until a Qatari military officer happened upon the wreckage of Speicher's plane in December 1993 and reported it to U.S. officials.
Two years later, a Pentagon team received Iraqi government approval to visit the crash site and determined that Speicher had ejected from the aircraft. The Pentagon team also found Speicher's flight suit in the desert, according to a recent report by the CBS News program "60 Minutes II" that was subsequently confirmed by U.S. officials. And most recently, according to "60 Minutes," an Iraqi defector in Jordan told U.S. officials that he had driven an alert American pilot from the desert to Baghdad. The defector also picked Speicher's photograph out of a photo lineup. The Senate intelligence committee included language in the 2001 intelligence authorization bill requiring the DCI to set up a unit to investigate such cases and last week the committee sent a letter to DCI Tenet about Speicher. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35414-2000Jun10.html  (Macartney)



John Pike, an owlish policy wonk, is producing detailed vistas of classified landscapes on the web -- a nuclear weapons plant in India, a plutonium production facility in Pakistan, military airfields on the China coast, a missile base in North Korea, even the secretive "Area 51" at Groom Lake, Nevada -- perhaps the most restricted military reservation in the Americas. Not so many years ago, any one of those pictures might have landed him in jail. Today, however, Pike makes each new image public with impunity on an Internet site maintained by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), where he works. Indeed, the way private surveillance satellites are being linked to the Internet is more than an electronic convenience. It is the inevitable next step in an information revolution that with dizzying speed is transforming what we can know about our world and who controls that knowledge. 
  http://www.fas.org/irp/imint/hotshots.htm  (Macartney)

ECONOMIC TARGETING AND ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE. American military theorists are elaborating on a new way of dealing with rogue states by concentrating on economics and financial infrastructure rather than purely military targets in response to threats. The change has been made possible by sophisticated new weapons delivered on short notice to carefully picked targets as a means of wreaking economic havoc. But it raises other questions that military and diplomatic planners will have to keep in mind as they weigh the utility of new weapons systems. One of these is that such tactics would require an improvement in economic intelligence. Providers of that intelligence would have to be familiar with the workings of the financial world and have access to data that is often confidential. Countries targeted in this manner might complain that they are victims of economic espionage, and the countermeasures they take could stifle economic activity beyond their own borders, even in America. http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/164/editorials/Weaponry_weds_economics+.shtml  (Macartney)

RUSSIA PUBLISHES WEAPONS BROCHURE. Russia's Defense Ministry and military industry have produced the first public encyclopedia on its strategic nuclear arsenal, providing unprecedented details about Moscow's weapons systems. The book was produced in cooperation with arms exporters and is a comprehensive collection of photographs and diagrams on most Soviet, and now Russian, strategic weapons systems, including intercontinental ballistic missiles, missile-launching submarines, bombers, and testing and support facilities and equipment. The book appears to be a "sales brochure" for Moscow's weapons exporters.
The highly detailed information contained in the book on Russian missiles has raised questions among some U.S. national security officials that Moscow is preparing to put its nuclear warhead and missile know-how up for sale. This public speculation appears to be one of Washington's standard "scare" balloons. The encyclopedia contains interesting weapons data, but in itself is no surprise or indicator of a changed policy -- the Russians have been exporting arms all along, just as we do, just on a lesser scale. As noted, Russian arms sales are a fraction of US arms sales worldwide -- the problem occasionally is that they may be open to sell them to states we do not favor or oppose. 
  (Macartney /Jonkers)

STALIN THOUGHT U.S. WOULD STAY OUT OF KOREA. New evidence from Moscow archives indicates Stalin had access to a key Asian policy document, NSC 68, probably supplied by British spy Donald Maclean, from which the Soviets drew the conclusion that the US would not counter an invasion of South Korea by the North. The Cold War History Project in Washington holds a conference on this subject June 21st.

WAR GAME SCENARIO: CHAOS IN MEXICO. A new day is dawning in the military, and Pentagon, and war games are trying to train for it. The National War College in last week tried out a different, maybe more realistic, scenario: Mexico's government is overtaken by drug lords. Two million refugees flee across the United States border. Some Americans are injured and killed by armed Mexican bandits. What to do? Participants were stumped by the fictional conflict. The final solution: invade Mexico. (Macartney) <http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/000619/19whisplead.htm>



OPERATION ROLLBACK: AMERICA'S SECRET WAR BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN, by Peter Grose, Houghton Mifflin, May 2000, 320pp. An intriguing history of the fledgling U.S. intelligence war against the Soviet Union, Grose's chronology account centers on the late 1940s and early 1950s. As with the military in these years, reductions in spying resources were reversed as attitudes hardened toward the Sovietization of Eastern Europe. Grose is an astute analyst of how the secret war was started and who its promoters in D.C. officialdom were. In contrast with his later criticism of U.S. secret operations, diplomat George Kennan was the primal instigator of them, subsumed as "Rollback." http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0395516064/ref=pd_nfy_me2_nr/  (Macartney)

A TIME FOR SPIES: Theodore Stephanovich Mally and the Era of the Great Illegals, by William Duff, Vanderbilt U Press, 1999, 270pp. The story of Theodore Stephanovich Mally, the legendary Soviet intelligence officer who directed the trained Philby, Donald Maclean, and many others, is as significant and compelling as that of Philby himself. In this enlightening new book, former FBI Special Agent William E. Duff offers a gripping portrait of Mally and the historical and psychological factors that influenced and motivated him. A native Hungarian who had been captured and imprisoned in a Tsarist POW camp during World War I, Mally was freed by the Bolsheviks and came to embrace the new religion of communism. He served the cause from the beginning, rising from a counterintelligence assignment in the Crimea in 1921 to the crowning point of his career, chief of Soviet espionage in London during 1935- 1937 --Booklist http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0826513522/ref=sim_books/002-0200195-3664015  (Macartney)
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