Weekly Intelligence Notes #15-01
16 April 2001

WIN 15-01 dated 16 April 2001

WINs are produced by Editor Roy Jonkers for AFIO members and WIN subscribers, for educational purposes. Associate editors Don Harvey and John Macartney also contribute articles to the WINs.


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EP3e NAVY RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHT -- The released crewmembers on the Navy EP3e reported that they had fifteen minutes to complete their destruction checklist of the equipment related to their ISR (intelligence/surveillance/reconnaissance) mission before they left the aircraft. This is as it should be -- presumably slim pickings for Chinese intelligence exploitation.
            One aspect of this mission is particularly relevant to public discussions on the topic by AFIO members. That is the frequent use of the term "SPY PLANE" by our media talking heads and press reports, now echoed by Chinese Government officials. AFIO members might do well to protest the use of this erroneous terminology in each case where it occurs. This was a reconnaissance flight, like those flown for more than fifty years off the coasts of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea and in the Middle East, providing important information used to save American lives in recent cases (e.g. Iraq, Yugoslavia) whenever our forces are called upon to execute national security war missions. These reconnaissance flights are perhaps analogous to the cavalry scouts of another era. General Lee was without his cavalry scouts during the battle of Gettysburg, for example -- it left him 'blind' and it showed in the results. Spies and spying are quite another -- important but different -- means of obtaining information on actual or potentially hostile forces. Reconnaissance and spying may both try to gather information, but their modus operandi are dramatically different -- overt versus covert. Educate them! Let them hear from you!
            Chinese officials have clearly been aggravated by the growing frequency of the US recce flights. But even US domestic critics say the reconnaissance flights provide critical intelligence, particularly about other countries' radar defense systems. This kind of intelligence helps the Defense department to figure out how to disrupt communications and disable missile batteries that could endanger American troops and pilots. Even though China is at a relatively early stage in modernizing its armed forces, it has been buying submarines and planes from Russia. The reconnaissance flights help discover how and where China plans to position them. Much of China's buildup is aimed at Taiwan. And in 1996, when China fired three unarmed missiles into the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to intimidate the Taiwanese before their first presidential election, the EP-3E planes made almost daily flights over the strait, soaking up radio messages, radar beams and other electronic signals. In a typical mission off China, the planes carry 14 intelligence specialists. They include some who speak Chinese, who eavesdrop on the military's radio traffic, and others who record the radar signals emitted by antiaircraft batteries. In addition, the presence of reconnaissance planes often stimulates Chinese defense forces to light up their radar systems to track the flights. And as the Chinese fighter jets scramble to intercept the spy planes, the American intelligence officers record the radio chatter between the pilots and their bases and note their flight tactics.
            But the dangers in the mission are evidenced by this EP3e incident. Still, the action is nowhere near as heated as during the cold war, when many American reconnaissance missions were flown along (and sometimes penetrated to provoke a reaction) the borders of Communist countries. From the 1950's through the early 1970's, the Soviet Union, China and North Korea all shot down American reconnaissance planes. Declassified records indicate that more than 30 planes were lost, and at least 150 airmen were killed or reported missing, some of whom are only now being recognized and honored, leaving their families in the dark for decades. (Reconnaissance Fund of the Intelligence Scholarship Foundation ) Those missions were more dangerous, but the EP3e incident serves as a reminder of dedication required by those engaged to serve in the ever-ongoing "silent war," the intelligence mission. "In God we trust. All others we monitor." (Jonkers) (NY Times 14 April01//C. Drew)

CHINA SIGINT CAPABILITIES -- While attention focuses on the captured US Navy aircraft and its personnel, China's own electronic networks continue their work out-of-sight. The focus of China's electronic collection activities is on its immediate neighborhood. According to Professor Desmond Ball of the Australian National University, writing some ten years ago, "There are several dozen SIGINT ground stations deployed throughout China concerned with monitoring signals from Russia, Japan, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and India, as well as internal communications .... The two largest SIGINT stations are, first, the main Technical Department SIGINT net control station on the northwest outskirts of Beijing; and, second, a large complex near Lake Kinghathu in the extreme northeast corner of China."
            Ground stations oriented toward Russia include those at Jilemutu and Jixi in the northeast, and at Erlian and Hami near the Mongolian border. Two sites in Xinjiang, at Qitai and Korla, are in a special category. These have reportedly been operated by China jointly with the US Central Intelligence Agency's Office of SIGINT Operations since the late 1980's. These sites were originally tasked to monitor Soviet missile tests and space launches, but their current status is uncertain.
            SIGINT operations covering India are controlled from a large station at Chengdu, supplemented by the nearby facility at Dayi and "numerous" smaller posts along the Indian border. A major complex at Kunming mainly covers Indochina, and most notably Vietnam. Other significant facilities are located near Shenyang, near Jinan and in Nanjing and Shanghai. Additional stations are in the Fujian and Guangdong military districts opposite Taiwan.
            China has at least two major SIGINT facilities on Hainan: a large complex mainly monitoring signals activity in and around the South China Sea; and a ground station, together with decryption capabilities, for intercepting signals transmitted through US and Russian communication satellites. Ships and aircraft under the South Sea Fleet, headquartered at Zhanjiang immediately north of the island, supplement these to link with a far-reaching electronic intelligence (ELINT)-gathering system.
            The Chinese network of ground stations is supplemented by "half a dozen ships, truck-mounted systems, airborne systems and a limited satellite collection capability," according to Professor Ball. Little is publicly known of China's airborne systems. Ball identified the four-turboprop EY-8, an indigenous development of the Russian An-12 'Cub,' as China's main ELINT and reconnaissance aircraft a decade ago. This role was subsequently assumed by at least four locally modified Tu-154Ms, which some analysts compare with the Il-20 ELINT aircraft deployed by Moscow in the 1980s. Naval SIGINT capabilities appear more extensive. At least eight such specialized ships were operational a decade ago, and their number has since grown to at least 10 intelligence-gathering auxiliary vessels.
            To reiterate, the focus of China's electronic collection activities has been on its immediate neighbors. For example, US sources in Honolulu noted three years ago that Chinese submarines had never sought to mirror Soviet surveillance of US Pacific Command facilities in Hawaii. In the near future, however, China's SIGINT operations against US assets could well expand as the controversy about Taiwan brings US and Chinese interests in conflict. (Jonkers)
((Jane's Defence Weekly 24 March 1999; // 'Signals Intelligence in China,' by Desmond Ball, Jane's Intelligence Review 1995; // Jane's Defence Weekly, April 11, 2001 //R. Karniol).


A CONGRESSIONAL VIEW OF INTELLIGENCE -- The Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Bob Graham, is an articulate proponent of a sound US intelligence capability in the Senate. "I personally think . . . that intelligence is . a 'force multiplier,' because it allows you to use your existing forces more effectively." Indeed, with terrorism replacing a host of Cold War targets atop the national security threat list, Graham noted, "the only real defense is preemptive, so intelligence is more than just a part of a strategy -- it is the strategy."
            Graham actually reached the eight-year limit on committee membership last year. But he secured a waiver from Democratic leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) to serve another tour, knowing that he would be a single seat away from the chairmanship in a chamber split 50-50. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) now holds that post. Now in his third Senate term, Graham, a centrist, has built a reputation as a consummate insider, eschewing partisanship and ideology for the intricacies of government, from Social Security outlays to intelligence authorizations.
            Dramatic reforms should be contemplated across the intelligence landscape, Graham said, because the nation has entered the information age with an intelligence community forged in the aftermath of World War II. But the reform process itself becomes ever more difficult, Graham said, with the world changing as fast as it is. In the 1970s and the 1980s, with the South American drug cartels organized hierarchically like General Motors, Graham said, U.S. officials believed that cutting off the heads of the organizations would bring the cartels down." And there was a lot of U.S. intelligence involved in those successful takedowns in Medellin and Cali," Graham said. "But what we found to our distress was that the drug trade didn't go away, but reorganized itself in a Silicon Valley form; instead of having a vertically integrated organization, you now have many cells of entrepreneurs.. . . So we need to be thinking about the over-the-horizon consequences of these" intelligence successes, he said, "because frequently they aren't what you anticipate."
            One of his priorities, Graham said, is helping the National Security Agency re-engineer itself in the face of rapidly changing telecommunications technology that threaten its capability to intercept communications. Counterintelligence is another area badly in need of reform. But even as the FBI comes to grips with the Hanssen case, Graham said, the entire intelligence community needs to reassess the nation's counterintelligence vulnerabilities in new ways. While the community needs to understand the espionage "wrecks" of the past, it now must also "refocus out the front window on what is coming at us" in a spy world, he said, that's been changing far faster than America's spies. (Jonkers) (Wash Post, //V. Loeb)

CIA ATTEMPTS TO DEAL WITH DATA DELUGE -- A "volume challenge of staggering proportion" was the recent description, probably a large understatement, of the "digital monsoon engulfing" situation confronting the CIA analysts. Of course, the problem impacts all intelligence community analysts, not just the Langley cloister. A recent press item based on a CIA interview session says video and audio signals pour in from around the world at a million new pages each day pace. The efforts to cope with this data fire hose have cost millions of dollars in recent years in a search for "data mining" technologies that produce "knowledge" from raw information. [ It may be noted parenthetically that the usual construct for the assimilation process is from data to information to knowledge It could be argued that data to information is about all that could be reasonably expected from machines, with knowledge coming within the human mind. That could be an old-fashioned view of course.] The answers to the problem rest with the computers, programmed to automatically transcribe audio signals and translate Web pages in Chinese, Russian and numerous other languages.
            Smart new search engines use "natural-language processing" instead of key words to answer complex queries. The head of the CIA Office of Advanced Information Technology said, "There is so much information coming in now in so many different formats -- audio, imagery, geo-spatial, text. If you add language to that, you see how complex the data field is." CIA analysts can perform "cross lingual" searches in English of Web sites in Chinese and ten other languages, from Russian to Japanese, using software called "Fluent." The software translates results almost instantaneously into English. This system of "machine translation" has been in development and experimentation since the 1950s and is credited with becoming increasingly accurate and more powerful [ what that means in absolute accuracy terms is not known] when combined with Web-based search capabilities. A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program called "Oasis" uses automated speech recognition to turn audio feeds into formatted, searchable text. Thus far the computer understands American English only but is being taught English accents, Chinese and Arabic. Other recently developed software is designed to enable teams of analysts to quickly search, assess and reassemble large quantities of "open source" information - a "surge tool kit" - when a quick report within hours is required.
            It is ironic that at a time when "expert" outsiders are critical of the intelligence community for not using more open source data, rather than relying too much on classified matter, that the actual problem is that the analysts are straining to winnow out more pertinent open source data from the gushing fire hose of incoming raw data. (Harvey) ( Wash. Post 26 Mar '01, p.23 // V. Loeb )


RUSSIAN FSB CHARGES US WITH RECRUITING HACKER -- A Federal Security Service officer confirmed a report by the Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper Tuesday that said a 20-year-old hacker was offered $10,000 to hack into the FSB network in January, but he changed his mind after a sleepless night and turned himself in. The U.S. Embassy declined to comment on the allegation. The alleged recruitment attempt comes as Russia and the United States are embroiled in a spying scandal that kicked off in February when the FBI charged veteran agent Robert Philip Hanssen with spying for Russia. Then in March, the United States threatened to expel 50 Russian diplomats for espionage. Russia said it would respond in kind. (Levine's Newsbits)

NEW PROCESSOR SPEEDS ENCRYPTION -- Intel Corp's new Itanium processor increases encryption speed by a factor of six. Michael Fistner, Intel's general manager, said that the net result of the faster chip is faster encryption and decryption of data. In fact, Itanium will perform 1,250 RSA 1024-bit decrypts per second on a single processor or 1,376 Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) decrypts per second on four processors. Comparatively, the survey showed that Sun Microsystems Inc.'s 900-MHz UltraSPARC III workstations can do 192 RSA decrypts per second and the Sun UltraSPARC II hardware SSL accelerator can decrypt 232 per second.( http://www.computerworld.com/cwi/stories/0,1199,NAV47-68-84-88_STO59542,00.html) (M. Levine Newsbits)


TALKING WITH HARRY: Candid Conversations with President Harry S. Truman, by Ralph E. Weber (ed), SR Books, Wilmington DE, March 2001, ISBN 08420-2921-4 (paperback and hardcover), index, bibliography.  For a change of pace - and not without relevance to Intelligence - read this book by Professor Ralph Weber of Marquette University (and, as a side note, a member of the AFIO Board of directors).
            The essence of this book is straight Harry Truman, warts and all, our remarkable President during the end of World War II, the atom bomb, the turbulent beginning of the Cold War, the creation of the CIA, the Korean War, and many other exceptional events - and decisions. Professor Weber provides an introduction and a prologue of the Atom Bomb, then lets the interview takes its course, faithful to the original interviews - a Presidential oral history, but with the trimmings of biographies and notes etc.
            This is what Truman had to say about creation CIA in his retirement recollection: "You see, the Central Intelligence Agency was organized at my direction by Admiral (William) Leahy and Admiral (Sidney W.) Souers, who is now the head of the General American Insurance Company in St. Louis, and two or three other very able and distinguished men like that. We finally wound up by having Allen Dulles, who was the brother of (John) Foster Dulles, in charge of it, and he is a very able public servant . You know we have four or five departments - State, every branch of Defense, Agriculture and Commerce - all with foreign connections. They used to get stacks of messages three feet high, and the President had no way of finding out what was in those messages unless he read them all. That couldn't be done, so the Central Intelligence Agency coordinates the information that comes to every department, as well as to the President and to the State Department, and that way the President has a viewpoint that no other man in the world has, or can get."
            The perspective gets even more interesting in respect to clandestine operations. Truman wrote several letters in the 1960's stating that the sole purpose of the agency was to gather all available information for the President, and that it was not "intended to operate as an international agency engaged in strange activities." CIA Director Allen Dulles visited Truman on April 17, 1964, to remind him of CIA activities done under Truman's authority, including CIA activities in support of the Truman doctrine in Greece and Turkey, covert steps to suppress the Huk rebellion in the Philippines, and the creation of Radio Free Europe. Evidently the President, a straight-stick Midwesterner, disliked the aspects of international power politics, and suppressed his cognizance and memories.
           As to his retirement reading, President Truman said he read the papers "in which I had very little confidence when I had a Central Intelligence Agency ... "
           The book is interesting reading and suitable for sampling -- an insight on an American decision maker at a critical time, who, however little the intelligence profession might have occupied his mind, was a happy consumer of intelligence and was the authority in which it was employed in the interests of his national security policies. Recommended reading. (Jonkers)


COLONEL (ret) James Cox writes

"Last night I read the article about COL Ryszard Kuklinski in the Winter 2000 edition of your Intelligencer Journal.
I want to thank you - and especially the author, Benjamin Fischer - for a wonderful story very well told.
I was the US Defense/Army Attach´┐Ż in Poland from 1997-2000. As a result, I was on the periphery of the Kuklinski business during that period. I remember how various groups conspired to get me (in uniform) in the same room with Kuklinski for a photo to help them "prove" one side or the other of his loyalty or treason. (I avoided it because I knew how many things get twisted when the name of Kuklinski is brought up.) I remember also attending (in a suit) a closed session in an MFA "guest house" in which Kuklinski responded to historians about the information he turned over to the US. After Ryszard's answer, Zbig Brzezinski stood and in the most pointed simple declarative sentences ticked off the "list" of information Kuklinski turned over. The amazing thing was I didn't even know.
Brzezinski was in the audience until he stood up to speak. Talk about a significant historical event!
I have added your article to my scrapbook of my service in Poland. It was a supremely rewarding time for me - an old Cold Warrior - to serve in Poland. I worked harder than I ever have before to assist them in joining the North Atlantic Alliance. They are worth every bit of energy I expended." (Jim Cox)

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