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Weekly Intelligence Notes #25-00
24 June 2000

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US, CHINA SIGN PACT TO SHARE INTELLIGENCE ON DRUGS. After years of difficult negotiations, the US and China have signed their first law enforcement agreement, pledging to cooperate and share intelligence in fighting drug-related crime. "Down the line we will certainly want to provide them with the tools to collect evidence and collect intelligence" on narcotics traffic, White House drug czar Barry McCaffrey said. <> (Macartney)

CHINA NEWS OFFICE OVERLOOKING PENTAGON - China's state-run news service Xinhua recently purchased a seven-story apartment building overlooking the Pentagon and plans to evict the residents to turn the 32-unit building into its Washington news bureau. Several specialists in Chinese intelligence expressed surprise that the US government would allow this because Xinhua is described by Western intelligence as a front for the Ministry of State Security (MSS), China's version of the Soviet KGB -- perhaps somewhat analogous to the FBIS relationship with CIA. Although the Pentagon said it didn't matter, that this type of threat had been present and been dealt with for fifty years, as criticism increased the State Dept stated that it will block deal. (Macartney) <> <> <>

FOREIGN CYBER ATTACK THREAT- Richard Clarke, the White House Security Council staff coordinator for security, infrastructure protection and counter-terrorism, said Monday (19 June) that several countries were carrying out electronic reconnaissance today on our civilian infrastructure computer networks for potential use in conflict. Clarke has been warning for years of the threat of an "electronic Pearl Harbor" in the form of blitzes on the computerized infrastructure that increasingly binds the United States. Clarke said he was trying to prod Congress and the public to greater awareness of a computer attack in which cities would lose electrical power and telephones, gas pipelines would be blowing up across the country, and trains could be derailed across the country. His message was that the threat was so important that there should be less public concern for infringements on individual liberty.
Richard Perle, an assistant U.S. secretary of defense for international security policy from 1981 to 1987, said U.S. authorities had detected "intrusions" into U.S. networks from North Korea. He said North Korean hackers had left behind a malicious code designed for possible activation as a kind of Trojan horse. CIA and officials from other national security agencies have told Congress that China and Russia are among a number of countries allegedly developing "information warfare" capabilities, to offset the lopsided U.S. military force superiority -- part of asynchronous warfare tactics -- but also useable by criminal cartels for blackmail or terrorists pursuing their causes.
For its part, the U.S. Defense Department is well on the way of making cyber war on a foe's computer networks and civil/military infrastructures a standard tool of war. Merely mirror-imaging, considering what we plan - and can do - to others, provides a terrifying threat picture if others could do it to us.
( Reuters 20 June, Jim Wolf) (Jonkers)

ONLINE SNAFU EXPOSES CIA NAMES - A classified 1954 CIA file recently released on the web in redacted form by the New York Times, is being re-released by a noted cypherpunk archivist with the names of foreign agents restored, courtesy of a blunder in the method the newspaper
used to conceal that information. The Times released the report titled "Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran" on their web site Sunday. The document details the secret history of CIA and British officials' successful efforts to engineer the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran's elected leadership. It sheds light on the genesis of the CIA's use of illegal covert operations throughout the cold war. (Levine's Newsbits 06/22) (Jonkers)

CRIMINALIZING "LEAKS" - The Senate intelligence authorization bill this year contains a provision that would make it a crime to leak classified information. It may come as a surprise that such a law does not exist, but this country has never had a generalized leak statute. The effort to pass one may seem reasonable; why shouldn't the government have the power to prosecute leakers? But the shift, if enacted, would pose numerous political enforcement problems in this leak-prone capital. <> (Macartney) <>)

PAST SECURITY VIOLATIONS MAY DERAIL AMBASSADORIAL APPOINTMENTS. Amid heightened concern about the security of national secrets, Senator Rod Grams (R-MN) criticized the State Dept for promoting employees with multiple security violations to a level where they are now nominees for ambassador. "I was shocked to find that seven nominees for ambassador posts to foreign countries pending before this committee have double-digit security violations." <>

WINSTON WILEY MAY BE NEXT DDI. According to Vernon Loeb, if the current DDI at CIA, John McLaughlin, is nominated by the White House to fill the CIA's No. 2 post as deputy director of central intelligence (DDCI), as expected, the front-runner to succeed him as deputy director for intelligence is Winston Wiley, a gregarious Near East analyst who now serves as McLaughlin's deputy in the Directorate of Intelligence. Wiley, 53, became McLaughlin's right-hand man in the DI after tours as deputy director and director of the Counterterrorist Center (CTC). He is the only career analyst ever to head the CTC, a role usually reserved for officials from the Directorate of Operations. Wiley, who has a bachelor's degree in economics from American University and a master's in public administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, also served as head of CIA's Persian Gulf Task Force during the Gulf War. (<>) (Macartney)

NO BAIL FOR ESPIONAGE SUSPECT TROFIMOFF. Prosecutors said retired Army Reserve Col George Trofimoff, who was a US Army civilian intelligence employee based at a Cold War interrogation center in Germany, was captured on one tape putting his hand to his heart and telling an undercover agent posing as a Russian agent: ''I'm not American in here.'' Trofimoff, 73, the "highest-ranking American military officer" ever charged with spying, could face life in prison. <> (Macartney)


FUNDAMENTALS OF GOOD SECURITY A recent op-ed piece by the former DCI, Robert M. Gates, injected a tone of thoughtful and frenzy-free perspective into the excited controversy in the media regarding security at DOE, State, some 19 federal security-associated agencies, and of course, Los Alamos. He noted that some of the popular explanations appear to have at least some validity -- e.g. that security discipline has collapsed with the fall of the Soviet Union, that technology has made security harder, and that there has been a lack of senior officials' concern for security. But he also noted that security problems are nothing new, and resources for security are often early victims in budget cutting times. Mr. Gates final words were:
"Perhaps most important(ly), tone and attitude at the top are vital. From the outset of the current administration, whether by allowing people to work at the White House before security clearances were approved by the FBI or showing indifference to and even disdain for security as a manifestation of a cold war mindset, a message has been sent that these issues are no longer very important. Individual senior officials in various departments and agencies have reinforced that message, partly with arrogant attitudes conveying the idea that the rules do not apply to them. Good security still starts and ends with trust, integrity and seriousness of purpose. Agencies need more resources. But simply observing the rules that already exist, from the top down, would go a long way."
( NY Times, 27 May 00, p. A 27) (Harvey)

ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE ON US SECURITY POSTURE - Mr. Paul Redmond, who retired in 1998 as head of CIA counterintelligence, recently wrote and article saying that the US is subject to a national capacity for naivet� that has caused us to let down our guard all too often in peacetime in the past. For example, in 1920 the War Department closed down the counterespionage service. Why? Because since World War I was over, the Germans were no longer a problem, and the threat from "Red agitators" in the military could be dealt with "through the vigilance of noncommissioned officers."
Redmond finds that we have dropped our guard once again since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Defense Intelligence Agency actually issued "no-escort" passes allowing known Russian military intelligence officers to traipse freely around the Pentagon. The previous DOE secretary, Hazel O'Leary, changed the name of the Department of Energy's "Classification Office" to the "Declassification Office." To eliminate the appearance of discrimination among employees, Ms. O'Leary also required that security access badges at the nuclear-weapons laboratories be of uniform color, regardless of the employee's level of security clearance. (Wall St. Jrnl 23 June 2000; <>)(Macartney)

RUSSIAN ONE-METER RESOLUTION SPACE IMAGERY NOW FOR SALE - An agency called Sovinformsputnik now is offering one-meter imagery for sale on the Web. The public offer says that coverage on substantial areas of the U.S., Europe and the Middle East as well as selected areas in South America and the Far East from 1992 onward is included in the archives and available. The Russians are now entering into direct competition with the US commercial firm offering one-meter images for sale, Space Imaging Inc., based in Thornton. Colorado. The Russian development had been expected and was greeted routinely in the US media. One factor that may receive some media interest is that American commercial satellite-derived images of Israel have been limited in sharpness and definition by law thanks to lobbying in Congress by supporters of Israel. The limits on the sharpness of the imagery were tied to the best obtainable by any foreign company, hence the Russian entry may now end the restrictions on the US company. (Source: NY Times 20 Jun 00) (Harvey)

- NATO scientists created a computer virus "by mistake", causing military secrets to find their way onto the internet. The virus, called Anti-Smyser 1, was created by scientists at NATO's KFOR peacekeeping force headquarters in Pristina, Kosovo. They were seeking protection from virus attacks similar to those launched at NATO by the Serbs during the Kosovo conflict. But the experiment went wrong, and scientists accidentally unleashed the virus on themselves.
(Levine's Newsbits 06/20 <>) (Jonkers)


CIA BLOCKS "BOB's" BOOK MANUSCRIPT - The CIA is refusing to allow a flamboyant former operative,. Bob Baer, to publish portions of a manuscript about his 14-year spy career, saying numerous passages in the book contain classified information. CIA officials went to a downtown law office to seize copies of a letter written by Baer's lawyer, Victoria Toensing. They contend that the letter contained classified information, including a list of the disputed subjects in Baer's nonfiction manuscript, and should not have been circulated outside secure government facilities, CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said.

Baer, who left the CIA in 1997, appeared as a consultant on the CBS News program "60 Minutes" three weeks ago and lent credibility to the account of an Iranian defector who claimed to have documentary evidence that Iran was behind the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1996 attack on a U.S. military housing complex in Saudi Arabia. The alleged reason for Iran's involvement was revenge for the downing of an Iranian civil airline 707 by US forces in the Persian Gulf - a disaster similar in terms of outrage and casualties to that of the Panam 707 over Lockerbie. The alleged defector's timing - and Baer's disclosure - was unfortunate in terms of US grand strategy in the Middle East. CIA and FBI officials subsequently concluded that the defector, who identified himself as a high-ranking Iranian intelligence officer named Ahmad Behbahani, was an impostor who lacked basic knowledge of Iran's intelligence apparatus.

In 1997, Baer was the mysterious intelligence officer identified during Senate hearings as "Bob from the CIA" after he secretly told a friend on the staff of the House intelligence committee about the unusual efforts of Roger Tamraz, an oil pipeline promoter and Democratic Party donor, to secure an audience at the Clinton White House. (<>) (Macartney/Jonkers)


WWII OSS RECORDS AT ARCHIVES. In a major release of declassified records, the Nazi War Criminal Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) will open approximately 400,000 pages of declassified Office of Secret Services (OSS) records at the National Archives and Records Administration at College Park, Md. (<>) (Briggs & Macartney)

INSIDE HITLER'S HIGH COMMAND, by Geoffrey P. Megargee, University Press of Kansas, 2000. Footnotes, index and a splendid bibliography. This scholarly work integrates military intelligence into an overall assessment of the German and High Command during World War II. Megargee identifies a serious lack of internal communication between operations and intelligence. The German operations officer asked which action the enemy could take which would most seriously disrupt his forces, whereas his intelligence officer asked which action the enemy was likely to take. Having asked different questions, neither officer was communicating with the other. Moreover, the German military as a whole expected the Soviet Union to collapse, once they had taken Moscow. They - including German intelligence - failed to realize that Asiatic Russia was not a howling wilderness, but had roughly 40 million people, a good railway network, a large share of Soviet industry and raw materials. German geographical intelligence had simply not done comprehensive work in reference to the Soviet Union to support a longer war. Excellent contribution for students of intelligence and of the era. (by Dr. Ken Campbell)


- Rick Francona, Arab specialist, former air attache to Damascus, and author of "From Ally to Adversary - An Eyewitness Account of Iraq's Fall from Grace," Naval Institute Press (ISBN 1557502811) (, provided the following comments on the article on the passing of Syria's President in WIN#24.

1.The importance of correct translation or transliteration: The official U.S. government transliteration of the Arabic spelling is HAFIZ AL-ASAD, or just ASAD when the family name is used alone. The official U.S. government transliteration standard for Arabic is the Board of Geographic Names (BGN) system, developed in concert with the British government. The use of the BGN system is mandated by regulations at CIA and DIA, and I assume at NSA as well for external reports, although NSA also uses the telegraphic Standard Arabic Transliteration System for internal use. The use of proper transliteration becomes increasingly important in the days of computerized databases and search engines. It was just such a transliteration problem that contributed to the exposure of American troops to low levels of nerve agent at the Khamisiyah munitions depot in southern Iraq in 1991. Storage of chemical weapons at Khamisiyah had been suspected and widely reported. Had the Defense Department followed its own regulations and transliterated the place name correctly, it would have easily found the information contained in intelligence databases. This failure resulted in Congressional mandates in the late 1990s to standardize transliterations throughout the intelligence community.

2. Comment on WIN quote: ... 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. A bit misleading. The Ba'th Party, of which Hafiz Al-Asad was a member, came to power in 1963. It was against this government, of which he was a part - he was Minister of Defense - that Asad launched his "Corrective Movement" in November 1970. The same Ba'th Party remained in power, but now under Asad. To put this in perspective, a review of the situation in 1970 might be useful. True, the Syrian regime had lost credibility after its defeat in 1967, but to say it lost its legitimacy may be going too far, although one could argue that it had no legitimacy from the start. Since 1967, there were recriminations tossed about inside the Party and government apparatus. Asad, now the Defense Minister, had quietly aligned most of the Syrian officer corps behind him and he wielded considerable power, but was not the head of state (that was Nur Al-Din 'Atassi). Several things happened in the fall of 1970. In mid-September, King Husayn launched an offensive inside Jordan to counter Palestinian challenges to his throne. The Jordanian army, one of the best in the region, was inflicting terrible casualties on the Palestinian guerrillas. The guerrillas appealed to Syria for help. Asad responded by sending Syrian tanks into northern Jordan to protect the Palestinians from further suffering. Jordan called on Israel and the United States for help against Syria; both agreed to support Jordan militarily, if necessary. Realizing that his forces were no match against Israel, let alone the United States, Asad withdrew his forces. This caused him more problems at home. In late September, Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasir, president of Egypt and de facto leader of the Pan-Arab movement, died, removing any inhibitions Asad might have about seizing power in Syria; Nasir had been a stabilizing influence in the Arab world. In November, sensing that the time was right to end the intense rivalry and competition inside the party and believing that the current Ba'th leadership had lost sight of its original goals, Asad seized power. The names of his co-conspirators read like a who's who of future Syrian military and intelligence leadership (Mustafa Tlas - later Minster of Defense, Muhammad Al-Khuli - later chief of the fearsome Air Force intelligence accused of ordering the Hindawi terrorism attempt in Great Britain in 1986 and later Air Force commander, Rifa't Al-Asad - his brother who later commanded the massacres in Hamah in 1982).

FURTHER COMMENT ON WIN ->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") . A fascinating and confusing piece of history that needs to be told (maybe in my next book?). The agreement to "carve up" (I think they called it "establishing spheres of influence") the Ottoman Empire was the infamous 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain, France and Russia; Russia withdrew from the protocol after its revolution in 1917. The League of Nations gave France mandatory authority over what is now Syria and Lebanon. Lebanon was created by France to protect the Christian enclaves in that area. Jordan and Iraq were created as consolation prizes to the Sharif Husayn of Mecca (Al-Makkah Al-Mukaramah), since Britain could not deliver on its promises that he would retain control of Mecca. His sons, 'Abdallah and Faysal, were placed on the thrones of Jordan and Iraq, respectively, after a great deal of intrigue involving British and French rivalry over Damascus. Faysal was initially installed in Damascus as King of Syria and 'Abdullah was to go to Baghdad as King of Iraq. The French removed Faysal since Syria was their mandate. 'Abdallah marched on Syria and the French. The British defused the situation by creating Transjordan (later Jordan) for 'Abdullah, already there en route to Syria. Faysal was placed on the throne in Baghdad. Palestine raises other issues, such as promises made to the Jews and the Balfour Declaration. For more detail, see an article I wrote last year at

  3. COMMENT OF SYRIA-LEBANON UNIFICATION - >>>Assad wanted to re-unite them. I have heard this several times from Stratfor, yet there is no evidence that bears this out. I have spent years in Syria and even more years covering Syria. I have never detected or heard (except from the Israelis - who have their own agenda) anything to indicate this was Asad's or Syria's intent.
Asad) considered Lebanon to be an integral part of Syria -- In Damascus, local residents refer to Lebanon merely by the Arabic word "al-muhafazah" which means "the province."

4. ASAD SUCCESSION >>>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. Hafiz Al-Asad's recent actions to install a new Syrian government and remove anyone that might oppose Bashar under the guise of a an anti-corruption campaign destroyed any semblance of a fig leaf of democratic processes in the country. What we have now is an 'Alawi dynasty.

5 CONCLUSION QUOTE >>>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. Bashar Al-Asad's primary problem is not with the fundamentalists. In Syria, the fundamentalists, and here we are speaking about the Ikhwan - the Muslim Brotherhood - are ruthlessly dealt with. On numerous occasions, there were and are gunfights in Damascus between security forces and the Ikhwan. The Ikhwan have a tradition of not surrendering; they usually die fighting. Let's assume he is able to consolidate his power base. In Syria, that means the support of the armed forces. After that, Bashar's most pressing problem is the economy. He is western-educated, a scientist and a technocrat, so he is probably well aware of these problems. He will have to reform the archaic Syrian banking, tax and investment laws that have hindered foreign investment. He will have to do something about the infrastructure (especially electrical power generation capacity) to provide jobs for the young Syrian population (half are 15 or younger). It's the economy...

WINs contain intelligence-related open source items and commentaries produced and edited by Roy Jonkers.
Associate Editors John Macartney and Don Harvey contributed to this WIN.

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