Weekly Intelligence Notes

WEEKLY INTELLIGENCE NOTES (WIN) #49-00 dtd 8 December 2000

WINs contain intelligence items and commentaries based on open source media reporting, selected, written, edited and produced by Roy Jonkers for AFIO members and WIN subscribers.

WINs contain proprietary and copyright information, and may be electronically re-disseminated only as approved by the Editor, except in single instances for purposes of membership recruitment.




YEMEN PRESIDENT NAMES USS COLE ATTACK PRINCIPAL CULPRIT -- In an revealing interview, Yemen President Ali Abdallah Salih, the second longest-ruling Arab state leader (after Gaddafi), named Muhammad Omar al_Harazi as the key conspirator who gave instructions to the two people who executed the suicide mission against the USS Cole. Harazi is identified as the culprit who funded the operation and paid for the safe houses in Aden. He was said to have been born in Saudi Arabia, of Yemeni origin and used to be in Afghanistan. "He is what we call an Arab Afghan," according to Salih, who further stated that the two perpetrators of the suicide attack were also, with 80% certainty, born in Saudi Arabia, of Yemeni descent, and trained in Afghanistan. Asked to identify the ultimate mastermind, Salih was less certain. "Is it Osama bin Laden? Israeli intelligence? Or some other regional intelligence agency -- trying to spoil the US-Yemeni relationship?"
Salih is sailing a sporty course. He has sent back to US ships offshore the bulk of the Marines and two armored cars that were landed immediately after the incident. He has not permitted direct FBI interrogation of suspects, but did, on 29 November, sign an agreement that allowed US investigators greater access to Yemeni information, to be present at interrogations, and to pass written questions to Yemeni interrogators. Salih stated that those convicted will not be extradited to the US -- they will be tried under Yemeni law in Yemen.
Asked about his repeated identification of Israel as one of the possible 'masterminds' behind the attack, Salih showed how he must dance on a tightrope balancing a wave of anti-Israel sentiments in the Moslem world (as a result of the killing and maiming of some seven thousand Palestinians recently) with his efforts to continue good relations with the US, answering "We criticize Israel because it is not serious towards the peace process. Based on the fact that Israel is not committed to the efforts exerted by President Clinton and is not complying with the U.N. resolutions, we believe Israel might be involved in such incidents." (WashPost 10 Dec00, p. B1 // Lally Weymouth) (Jonkers)

THE NEW - AND OLD - RUSSIA -- The conviction this past week of Captain Edmond Pope, a former US Navy Intelligence officer, to twenty years imprisonment for espionage, demonstrated the clumsiness of the FSB efforts at open court prosecution. But also, in a larger perspective, it emphasized the way that President Putin is trying to regain control and to hold together the fractious Russian federation, by using the security services to instill internal discipline and order. "Spy mania" is one of the tools of the trade, used in different variations in most countries, including the US, to pass repressive legislation.
The Pope case, one of a number underway in Russia in recent months, was conducted in an inept fashion. The newspaper Novye Izvestia said many recent spy cases had been poorly prepared by former KGB agents who "are not trained to get information that would become a convincing argument in court and withstand the probe of the defense." Naum Nim, senior editor of Index on Censorship magazine, said the security services do not want to engage in an open battle over the evidence. "For them, any procedural matters are still rubbish," he said. "They seriously think, even now, that their opinion is the most convincing evidence. They do not want to learn procedural nuances." In Russia, as in the US, spy cases without a confession are often difficult matters for open court proceedings.
The Pope trial has highlighted the increasing reliance President Putin is placing on the FSB and his old KGB colleagues to hold the Russian state together. One of the objectives is to get control over the state government mechanism, which, after 1989, became like an apartment store with everything for sale and with corruption pervasive (including the KGB and its successors) . In the early 1990s, many former Soviet military and industrial secrets were peddled around the world, often by ex-members of the KGB. "The bosses at Roscosmos [the Russian Space Agency] were selling everything they could lay their hands on," says an engineer who requested anonymity. It would be as if the archives of CIA and FBI as well as DoD and NRO were thrown open for a fire sale, while at the same time the country's natural and industrial resources were being purloined on a wholesale basis. The Russian state and its government were breaking apart in the name of democracy.
Discipline and fear of consequences are now being reintroduced. Control is being reestablished, and perhaps, Captain Pope, a former Naval Intelligence officer reportedly doing field research on a hot Russian torpedo (the Shkval), got caught in this closing of the doors. The Pope trial was not an isolated case. Russia has been awash in allegations of espionage and spy trials involving other nationalities, some of which, like the Pope case, appear to be based on weak evidence.
Analysts say the current wave of treason trials is in some measure a reaction to the breakdown of order following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. "Over the past decade, things were too lax," says Alexander Pikayev, a security expert with the Carnegie Endowment in Moscow. "Our national security system collapsed, and we had political illusions about the goodwill of foreign countries."
Putin now has promised to establish a "dictatorship of law" in Russia. In his battle against the regional autocrats and economic robber "boyars," to use a term from the time of Ivan the Terrible, to get control of the state and restore order, Putin has elevated veterans of the KGB and its successor agencies to his inner circle and installed them in key government posts. Again this resembles Ivan's choice over 300 years ago - he used the Oprichnina secret police to break the boyars hold on power, as Putin now struggles with break-away provinces and alleged economic robber barons like Berezovsky, Guzinsky et al. Thus Putin turned to veterans of the security services when he appointed seven unelected super-governors to oversee Russia's 89 regions.. Five of the seven new posts were given to former KGB agents. One other was Viktor Cherkessov, 50, a friend of Putin from St. Petersburg. The powerful economic barons are being investigated for graft, theft, tax evasion and double-dealing - again by the security services. And the spy trials are useful to reestablish the FSB's importance and re-awaken suspicions about foreign intentions. The FSB is in a sorry state, and a weak reed upon which to rely, but that appears to be Putin's game. It may not be pretty in terms of democratic ideals, we may or may not find it to our interest, but understanding the process as well as the rationale is useful.
One final note. As predicted in previous WINs, Edmond Pope will be pardoned, either directly or as part of some deal beyond our view. (based on WashPost, Dec8, page 1/// D. Hoffman & Christian Sc. Monitor Dec 6, p.1//S. Peterson) (Jonkers)


PERILS OF THE POLYGRAPH FOLLIES -- The fiscal 2001 Defense Authorization Act expands the Department of Energy's burgeoning polygraph program to include all employees who handled sensitive compartmented information (SCI), a possible addition of 5,000 employees to DOE's polygraph backlog. Since Energy Secretary Bill Richardson first proposed initiating polygraphs for several hundred employees in the fall of 1998, Congressional concern over Chinese espionage at the nuclear labs has now expanded the program, with the latest provision, to 20,000 personnel -- perhaps the US Congressional version of "spy mania" also in full bloom in Russia.
Sandia National Laboratories personnel are said to be upset over the mandatory polygraphing. Lab employees describe the tests as "insulting," "counterproductive" and "wasteful." One lab employee has even noted that "if one wanted to conspire to destroy the labs, the best way to do so is by using screening polygraphs to [prove] the loyalty of Lab staff.' "  The President, undoubtedly reflecting his security advisors' opinion, said in signing the FY 2001 Defense Authorization Act, that he was "deeply disappointed that the Congress has taken upon itself to set greatly increased polygraph requirements that are unrealistic in scope, impractical in execution, and that would be strongly counterproductive in their impact on our national security."
In other (unrelated) polygraph publicity, Aldrich Ames, in a published letter from prison, asserts that polygraphing is a pseudoscience, saying he knows from experience they do not work in counterintelligence investigations. Ames passed two lie detector tests while conducting espionage on behalf of the Soviets and Russians. However, he decried the use of the polygraph as an (unfair) coercive interrogation tool.  And finally, in the ongoing "Perils of the Polygraph" topic, the polygraph played a role in the recent CIA "secret chatroom" affair, reported in the last WIN. CIA officials discovered the covert chat rooms earlier this year when one of the participants showed "deception" when asked the question about computers." Some 160 employees were chastised, and four fired. (see last WIN) Wash Post Dec 11, 2000 // Vernon Loeb)

PENTAGON OPENS FIFTH REGIONAL SECURITY SCHOOL -- The Defense Department has launched its latest regional security school -- the Near East South Asia (NESA) Center -- to promote closer military security ties between the United States and other nations. NESA is the fifth such facility to be organized, with the others in Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. "The centers are powerful forces for promoting stability and security," said Alina Romanowski, Dep'y Asst. SecDef for Near East and South Asian Affairs, "They are also building bridges between militaries that have often stared at one another through the crosshairs of gun sights."
The centers - academic institutions staffed by international teams of national security experts - are among the few venues where senior Pakistani and Indian military officers, or Arab and Israeli officers, can come together in a neutral setting, and discuss items of mutual interest.  The Marshall Center is the oldest of the five, established in Garmisch, Germany, in 1993. The 'Asia Pacific Center' was activated in Honolulu in 1995, followed by the 'Center for Hemispheric Studies', and the 'Africa Center for Strategic Studies', at the National Defense University in Washington.
NESA's geographic reach will cover more than 20 nations across the Middle East and South Asia, from Morocco along the North Africa littoral, through the Levant and across to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. But only countries that have current diplomatic ties with the United States are invited. Libya, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan are cut out of the loop. Like two of the other centers, NESA itself will be based at the National Defense University in Washington. Pentagon officials hope to have two three-week seminars and one one-week seminar in the center's inaugural year of 2001.
(EuroStars&Stripes Dec 9, p.5 //by Chuck Vinch) (Jonkers)


HOSPITAL FILES HACKED -- A computer intruder broke into a Seattle-area hospital and downloaded thousands of private medical records earlier this year, according to security news Website SecurityFocus.com. The break-in of University of Washington Medical Center computers occurred this summer, according to SecurityFocus. Among the records viewed: the name, address and Social Security number of over 4,000 cardiology patients, along with each medical procedure the patient underwent. Hospital officials are disputing the story.
<http://www.msnbc.com/news/499856.asp> (Levine 6 Dec 00)
- -- - -- - - -
SCHWAB FINANCIAL SITE VULNERABLE TO ATTACK -- Charles Schwab's Website is vulnerable to a well known attack that could allow a hacker to gain access to sensitive account information, the financial services company acknowledged Wednesday. Originally reported by San Francisco-based programmer Jeff Baker on the Bugtraq security mailing list on Wednesday, the vulnerability involves "cross-site scripting." The vulnerability, which uses popular Web programming languages such as JavaScript to hijack a customer's Web browser, is similar to one acknowledged by E*Trade in September. By exploiting the vulnerability, "malicious users can fool other users' Web clients ....which allows them to do things such as stealing that client/server's cookies," Elias Levy, Bugtraq's moderator and the chief technology officer of SecurityFocus.com, wrote in an advisory.
(Levine's Newbits 7 Dec 00)

NATIONAL GUARD TAPPED FOR INFORMATION WAR DUTIES -- The Pentagon formally tapped the National Guard and reserves to shore up the Defense Department's information warfare apparatus Wednesday, calling for 182 reserve officers and enlisted staff with information technology backgrounds to form five support teams. The teams -- known as "joint reserve information operations and information assurance organizations" -- will be on the Pentagon's front line of information warfare. The Defense Department has had a difficult time keeping highly trained IT specialists when far more lucrative offers abound in the private sector. However, many of those skills are resident in the reserve component, where part-time soldiers work full time in information technology.
( Levine 7 Dec 00)

PERSONAL FIREWALLS FAIL THE LEAK TEST -- In an attempt to show that personal firewalls may afford their users little protection against serious threats, a respected PC security expert has released a new software tool that pokes holes in many of the leading desktop security packages. Security-conscious Internet users, especially those on broadband connections, have made desktop firewall software into a booming business for companies like Symantec and Network Associates. But according to Steve Gibson, president of Gibson Research, almost all of these utilities only provide "pseudo protection" against attacks. That's because they put most of their effort into blocking incoming hacker attacks, while paying only scant attention to what he calls internal extrusion.
(Levine 6 Dec 00 // rlevine@ix.netcom.com)


? A Letter from Dr. Derrin Smith, AFIO Chapter president, points out some interesting coincidences that may have affected US-Romanian relations and intelligence assessments. His letter is relevant since former President Iliescu has just been re-elected by an overwhelming majority. He writes (some parts deleted):

The historical circumstances of our intelligence analysis for US policy makers related to Romania deserve serious re-examination. Specifically, we urgently need to assess the impact that the reporting of the turncoat Nicholson may have played. He was CIA station chief in Bucharest at the time of the December 1989 revolution and for some time afterwards, and could have skewed our understanding of personalities and events in Romania. Although outsiders can only speculate at what Nicholson, later revealed to be a Soviet agent, reported, it is known that he continually blocked real dialogue between the U.S. Embassy and both Iliescu and his Security Advisor, Ioan Talpes.
But the interesting questions do not end there. After Nicholson's replacement, Romanian-U.S. relations experienced greater short-term progress in the intelligence domain than any other area. In 1993, the relationship had progressed enough that Romania and the U.S. co-sponsored the first regional meeting of intelligence service chiefs in Bucharest, with the Americans presiding. The CIA representative, sent to chair the meeting, was Aldrich Ames, also later revealed as a Soviet agent. During the meeting, Ames reported that his room had been broken into and his files and codes rifled through, thus sending the U.S.-Romanian relationship into a tailspin.  It would be instructive, and perhaps constructive, to review the reporting and recommendations reported during the Nicholson-Ames period. Is it possible that these traitors tainted a decade of relationships between the US and Romania?
Recently new issues have arisen regarding the Romanian-U.S. relationship and the role of the Party of Social Democracy (PDSR) in advancing U.S. strategic interests in the Balkans region. DCI George Tenet is on record as noting that Romania could play a role as a linchpin for stabilization in the eleven-nation Black Sea region. The recent establishment of the U.S.-sponsored Southeast European Cooperation Initiative (SECI), now headquartered in Bucharest and working on problems of transnational crime, money laundering, terrorism, and the trafficking of drugs, black market weapons, and fissionable materials, emphasizes the DCI's sentiments and Romania's emerging role.

Dr. Smith closes his letter by recommending that US Intelligence examine the past, involving Nicholson and Ames, and "renew first-hand channels of communication between trusted U.S. sources and PDSR (the majority party headed by Iliescu) representatives, to enable us to monitor behavior as well as rhetoric. The election of a new administration in the U.S. and of a new Iliescu administration in Romania is an opportunity to place U.S.-Romanian relations, and the pursuit of our national security interests, on a new and more reliable footing in the Balkans." (for full text of letter, email derrin.smith@worldnet.att.net Also ref: http://ww.getgocorp.com 
(Derrin Smith, President, AFIO Rocky Mountain Chapter ) (Jonkers)


AFIO MEMBER NAMES ON THE WEB -- We have been informed that the names of 2,600 AFIO members contained in the 1996 AFIO Directory -- the LAST DIRECTORY THAT WAS AUTHORIZED TO BE PUBLISHED BY THE AFIO BOARD -- are now listed on the Web. The Cryptome Website, reportedly specializing in publishing "leaked" classified documents, attributes the listing to the late Robert T. Crowley, formerly CIA, who allegedly provided the directory to a journalist before his death. This is an unconfirmed uncorroborated allegation. The Cryptome site identifies the list as containing the names and addresses of "2,600 CIA members" throughout the world. If factual, this may well be a violation of the law. If the listing is in fact an AFIO 1996 directory, it is an unauthorized violation of copyright and of the privacy of the members concerned. . If this proves to be true, we regret this invasion of our members' privacy by this UNAUTHORIZED (by AFIO) reproduction of our 1996 Directory, but are pleased that our judgment to stop further publication of directories since 1997 has been confirmed as correct. The matter is being further examined.
Our records reflect that AFIO was made aware in 1997 that the 1996 directory had been placed on the Internet by Public Information Research, of Austin, Texas, and that groups claims to have been using AFIO names since 1988. A protest letter was signed by my predecessor and sent to PIR on 3 March 1997, citing copyright violation.
Since 1997 no AFIO membership directories have been published to protect members from commercial exploitation. AFIO now guards and protects the names and addresses of its members to respect their privacy. (http://www.Cryptome.org) (R. Jonkers)

Opinions expressed are those of the Editor or the Associate Editors, each of whom has a perspective based on fifty years or so of professional experience on behalf of US national security.

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