Weekly Intelligence Notes #47-01
3 December 2001

WIN 47-01 dated 3 December 2001

Weekly Intelligence Notes (WINs) contain information and commentaries based on world media sources related to intelligence issues or events, selected, written or edited, and produced by Roy Jonkers for non-profit educational uses by AFIO members and WIN subscribers. Associate Editor Don Harvey contributes articles to WINs

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NATIONAL TERRORIST THREAT ADVISORY -- Call for special vigilance -- The FBI is urging all local law enforcement and private sector security to be on the highest state of alert. Please immediately notify the FBI of any unusual or suspicious activity. This is an FBI Awareness of National Security Issues and Response (ANSIR) report of the National Threat Warning System. (gharter@leo.gov)  The FBI warning reinforces a similar alert announced by White House Homeland Defense Chief Tom Ridge on Monday 3 December. The President has said that such alerts would be issued whenever there was credible evidence of another strike after the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington, in which some 3,400 people died. Some have questioned the number of these non-specific general alerts as inducing the "cry wolf" syndrome leading to disregard of the announcements. Others have questioned their practical utility. But we must have confidence in the Government. Skepticism about political expediency, or CYA posturing, needs to be set aside. On guard!  Thinking about these warnings and the terrorist threat in a long-term context, however, the US might well take a look at how civilized countries like Britain, France and Spain have coped with brutal long-running terrorist campaigns (i.e. IRA and Basques). These nations generally seem to have adopted a firm but disciplined approach in their use of law and force within their countries, not succumbing to recurrent attacks of hysteria or employing mass punishment, and not descending to the primitive savagery we see in Palestine. The US will obviously need to make systemic changes, but we must take care to hold on to our civilized values, retain tight discipline in the use of governmental force against our citizens, not fall victim to our own propaganda, and above all, pay attention to our constitution (it is not, and never was, a suicide pact, but is disregarded at our peril) as well as the wisdom and insight of the framers of that document. (Jonkers) (FBI ANSIR Report/ Agent Gary Harter; WPost 3&4 Dec 01, p. A1)

CIA CASUALTY IN AFGHANISTAN -- Johnny "Mike" Spann, 32, a native of Winfield, AL died when Taliban prisoners rioted in Mazar-e-Sharif. He was the first combat casualty of the United States' war against terrorism. A few hours after his death was confirmed, CIA Director George Tenet issued a statement describing Spann as a hero who died on the front lines, serving his country. CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, referring to some media criticism about the public release of Johnny Spann by name by the Agency, said that 44 of the 79 CIA agents killed in the line of duty, including Spann, have been publicly identified. Of the 44, more than 30 worked in the Directorate of Operations, the clandestine division that included Spann, a Marine who joined the CIA in 1999. Said Harlow, "The circumstances surrounding his service at the CIA and his tragic death were such that his entire chain of command concurred that his name could be released without compromising security or any current intelligence activities. Moreover, the Spann family strongly supported the decision to publicly acknowledge Mike's affiliation with the agency and concurred with the text of our public announcement before it was released."  A fund has been set up in Winfield for Spann's children. Checks may be sent to the Michael Spann Memorial Trust Fund, c/o The Citizens Bank, P.O. Box 550, Winfield, AL 35594. (Jonkers) (Birmingham News, 4 Dec01 //M. Orndorff) http://www.al.com/printer/printer.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/base/news/10074609182800729.xml

FBI REORGANIZATION -- FBI Director Robert Mueller unveiled a major overhaul of the Bureau that places more emphasis on counter-terrorism and cyber crime, and puts him on the front line of operations. A dozen existing divisions, including the FBI's 27,000 personnel, are now reorganized under four new executive positions reporting directly to the Director, thereby reducing the span of control. The overhaul is intended to address the post-September 11 world, and to prevent the kinds of public embarrassments suffered by the Bureau in recent years. Director Mueller named four new Executive Assistant Directors, including (1) Ruben Garcia Jr., for Criminal Investigations; (2) Dale L. Watson, for Counter-Terrorism / Counter-Intelligence; (3) Kathleen L. McChesney, for Law Enforcement Services; and (4) Robert J. Chiaradio, for Administration. There will be no replacement for the post of Deputy Director, currently held by Tom Pickard, who will retire by year's end. All FBI divisions and offices will realign under one of the four executive assistant directors. Mueller said that two new divisions will be created, one for Cyber-crime, addressing intellectual property investigations as well as high-tech and computer crimes; and one for Security, responsible for the integrity of FBI personnel, contractors, visitors, information systems and facilities. Further, four new Offices will be created: (1) Law Enforcement Coordination Office, for improving FBI dealings with state and local law enforcement and information-sharing (a much-needed improvement); (2) a critical Information Technology Office; (3) a Records Management Office, chartered to modernize record systems; and (4) an Intelligence Office, charged with enhancing analytical and intelligence capabilities. The Director stated that the announcement on 3 December covered merely the first phase of the reorganization. Future parts will include phasing out or downgrading some FBI functions, possibly activities like bank robberies and narcotics investigations. One might postulate that it will be some time before the FBI will settle down with all these changes - reorganizations, a favorite Washington activity, always creates much bureaucratic turmoil. (Jonkers) (WTimes 4Dec01, p. A3) (Wpost 4Dec01, p. A 16)

NEW SECURITY POLICY ??? --  On the 18th and 22nd of November, the Washington Post featured front page stories by a well-known journalist of "Deep Throat" fame concerning on-going American intelligence activities. The story appeared to violate standards the Bush Administration had espoused earlier in reproaches by the President and SECDEF directed at Congressmen for leaks to the press. The first story gave considerable detail about "secret paramilitary units" from CIA's total covert action force, called the Special Activities Division, of about "150 fighters, pilots [operating armed Predator UAVs] and specialists," mostly "hardened [not otherwise specified] veterans who retired from the US military." The six-man units in Afghanistan were reported to be in civilian clothing and to be identifying aerial targets as well as seeking al Qaeda leaders. The story alluded to "some turf friction and complaints" of the Air Force about CIA lack of sharing intelligence. [A subsequent CIA press release dismissed the Air Force complaints as groundless.] Although the US Navy appears to have executed the bulk of the air strikes in Afghanistan, the first story did not mention the sharing or non-sharing of intelligence with the aircraft carriers. The second story concentrated on CIA's success in urging 50 countries' intelligence services or police agencies to detain 360 suspected bin Laden-related terrorists, viewed as key to the "War on Terrorism." When one country balked at providing the information CIA wanted, a "covert CIA team" reportedly broke into a facility overseas and stole the information. [Subsequent local intelligence cooperation was not mentioned.] The stolen data was passed to a fully cooperative foreign intelligence service which had the individual arrested. Specific nations identified as cooperating with the CIA included Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. To underline the importance of the paper's scoop, the story noted that, "An exhaustive search of English-language newspapers worldwide turned up the names of only 75 foreign terror-related arrests since Sept. 11." While President Bush said the American people "aren't going to see exactly what's taking place on their TV screens," he probably was not saying that readers could learn near-real time details of intelligence operations in a Washington paper either. The two stories centering on CIA exploits would have been noteworthy in previous administrations but are remarkable in an administration that has stressed the need for security on military and intelligence operations. The journalist chosen for what appears to have been a CIA data dump is known for his access in high places. A competing newspaper has pointed out that none of the dozen or so of his front-page stories in the current crisis have been subject to serious factual challenge. The detail and the currency of the intelligence information being released to the public in these two stories forces the conclusion that a heretofore security-minded administration, apparently at a very high level, has reversed course on what the public needs to know, and not only know, but know in a hurry [i.e. "we want the credit right now."] It will be interesting to observe the reproofs or lack thereof directed at Congress for leaks henceforth. (Harvey) (Wash Post 18 Nov '01, p. A01 by Bob Woodward; Wash Post 22 Nov '01, p. A01 by B. Woodward; Reuters 18 Nov '01 by J. Wolf; NY Times 19 Nov '01 by F. Barringer)


RUSSIANS IN KABUL -- The Kremlin has sent some intelligence agents to Kabul to gather information about Chechen followers of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Personnel of the GRU (military intelligence) and SVR (foreign intelligence) are working under cover of a Russian humanitarian mission from the Emergency Situations Ministry, which flew last week to Bagram air base, north of Kabul, aboard a dozen IL-76 cargo planes. Officially, the group's tasks are to open a field hospital for Afghans hurt in the conflict and to rebuild the Russian embassy, which has been damaged by bombs. These are the first armed Russians to return since the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan ended in 1989. Sources in Moscow said the agents' mission is to find evidence of links between Osama Bin Laden and the hard-line Islamic rebels terrorizing Chechnya and Russia. The Russian government has accused Bin Laden of funding the rebels and training them in Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. The agents have been searching dozens of houses used by Al-Qaeda. Some of the documents found are reportedly in Russian and may have belonged to Chechens training there. The Russians are also seeking evidence to back their claims that Khattab, a particularly ruthless Chechen commander, is associated with Bin Laden. Russia has long supplied the Northern Alliance with arms, and supports a significant role for the alliance in the post-Taliban government. Obviously, the Russians are asserting their national interests in their backyard. "Of course we are interested in having a presence in Kabul," said a Russian intelligence source. "Afghanistan is much closer to our border than it is to Britain and America. We have been fighting Muslim terrorists for years." (Jonkers) (London Sunday Times, 2 Dec. 2, 2001 //M Franchetti).

CENTRAL ASIA STRATEGY - AZERBAIJAN --  The president of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Council, Jayhun Mollazade, said that Azerbaijan is offering the US the use of an old Soviet air base in the suburbs of Baku. He said a U.S. military advisory group is currently in Azerbaijan to check out the base, and that the US is investigating ways to strengthen Azerbaijan's customs and border guards. "Azerbaijan is offering full-fledged partnership with the United States." Their long-term objective is said to be membership in NATO. Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, is strategically placed for the air campaign in Afghanistan or as an avenue for exerting influence in Central Asia. Sandwiched between Russia and Iran, which are both reluctant to allow U.S. warplanes to cross their territory, Azerbaijan could potentially serve as a launching point for flights to Afghanistan or a stopover point between European bases and Central Asia. In return for over-flight rights and the possible use of airbases, the US is apparently prepared to lift a longstanding (1992) ban on aid to Baku, imposed in the aftermath of the Afghan conflict over Nogorno-Karabakh with Armenia, which has a powerful special interest lobby in the US Congress. The US has already secured similar cooperation from other two former Soviet republics in Central Asia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Elements of the 10th Mountain Division are based in Uzbekistan, and the United States has a commitment from Tajikistan to use airfields. In addition, as noted in earlier WINs, a NATO Air Support Operations Center (ASOC) is being set up in Georgia. Azerbaijan is a secular Islamic country. It has had some success in reining in militant Islamic groups. Last year, Azerbaijan gave prison sentences to members of Jayshullah, described by Azerbaijani officials as a terrorist group. The government also said it detained members of Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical fundamentalist Islamic group. Azerbaijan's oil wealth should help to speed full normalization of relations with the US. It all fits in perfectly with the opportunities presented by the anti-terrorist campaign umbrella for increasing US power and influence in South Central Asia and its oil wealth, an area where Intelligence will play an important role for many years in support of high diplomacy, policy and strategy. (Jonkers) (Defense Week, 26 November 2001, Pg. 1// N. Hodge)

THE SINKING OF THE KURSK --  President Putin fired some admirals and disciplined a dozen others within hours after saying that the investigation into the sinking of the Kursk "enables us to draw a rather definite conclusion of the quality of preparations for, and organization of, military exercises and the organization of the search-and-rescue operations." The Kursk sank on 12 August 2000. The crew of 118 died. The disaster laid bare both the vulnerabilities of Russia's decaying naval force and the failings of its top leadership. When the sub sank, naval and government officials waited more than a day to announce the disaster, gave erroneous times for the sinking and were tardy in dispatching rescue missions. They issued reports of live sailors on board and accounts of rescue efforts that never took place. The Russian President backed away from the allegation that the Kursk sank after colliding with a US submarine. He said the investigation was continuing, but "it should be admitted that, despite a large amount of work done, no objective evidence proving this theory has been received." An article in a Russian defense journal stated that the Kursk was testing a volatile torpedo propulsion system that blew up, ignited other torpedoes, and caused a cataclysmic explosion. (Jonkers) (Wpost 2Dec01, p. A34 //D. Williams)


WORMS AND VIRUSES -- "VBS/Mass-Mailing Worm, W32/Goner.A," a new and cleverly designed worm, caught the e-mail and anti-virus software worlds by surprise over the weekend. Many of those protection programs had to rush to rewrite and update their software to prepare subscribers of the daily or weekly virus update services [in which all e-mail users should participate for safety] with protection from this dangerous "Goner" worm which poses as a screensaver file from a friend. This fast-spreading mass-mailing worm takes advantage of scripting built into Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express and spreads by silently mailing itself to all the addresses within your computer's Outlook or Outlook Express address book. It also installs other features which it hides from view, and deletes the files and anti-virus definitions of any common anti-virus programs which were not undated and prepared to detect it.  UPDATE YOUR ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE daily.it takes only seconds. Make it a habit to do so before clicking to check for incoming mail. This is far less painful than trying to eliminate one of these once an infection has taken place.  ALSO, do NOT download or click on attachment files - even from friends (after all, the virus uses their address book and you're in it) - unless you were expecting the file and it is prescreened by your antivirus software. Anything else is an invitation for computer security problems and the potential loss of financial, personal, or other data. Network Associates Inc./McAfee Anti-Virus Products:
Symantec Corp. for Norton Anti-Virus Products: http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/w32.goner.a@mm.html
Trend Micro Inc. http://www.nipc.gov/incident/cirr.htm
[Gary Harter / FBI's ANSIR news release]

BADTRANS VIRUS �- The AFIO office also has been receiving several infected messages in recent days triggered by the BADTRANS virus. This virus, which was first detected two weeks ago in Britain, has spread from Britain to over 140 countries worldwide, including the US, at epidemic levels since 25 November. Any e-mail account using Microsoft's Outlook program with an out-of-date antivirus program is vulnerable to this worm, and computers can become infected WITHOUT OPENING THE FILE -- if the preview feature is active on your e-mail program.  Simply previewing the e-mail is enough to activate this "Trojan." The virus is transmitted by e-mail and operates by installing a "Trojan" program on a computer's hard drive, which then records every keyboard stroke and logs them in a hidden file that hackers can then collect and use to gain access to credit card details, secret passwords and other sensitive information. Badtrans spreads by sending copies of itself to the senders of any unread e-mails in the Outlook inbox. The virus can be detected and blocked by some types of virus screening guards. Again, readers should update their virus protection software on work and home computers on a daily basis. (Jonkers) (PJK 11/29/01)


INFORMATION SECURITY OVERSIGHT OFFICE (ISOO) REPORT FOR FY 2000 -- The new ISOO report was transmitted to the White House on September 17th and publicly released on November 27th. The ISOO report to the President indicates that classification activity increased by some 200%. The total annual estimated cost of protecting classified information in government and industry was $5.2 billion, an increase of $200 million. The report stated that "the primary factor responsible for this dramatic increase... is the burgeoning electronic environment." At the same time, some seventy-five million pages were declassified in FY 2000. Of this total, the CIA declassified 5 million pages in 2000, a record high for the Agency. A mammoth combined total of nearly 795 million pages have now been declassified since President Clinton's executive order 12958 took effect in October 1995 (Jonkers) (Secrecy News 28 Nov 01)

ROOSEVELT'S SECRET WAR: FDR AND WORLD WAR II ESPIONAGE, Random House, 2001, 566 pp., illustrations. Excerpted from review by Joseph Goulden: When war loomed, Mr. Roosevelt realized that the nation needed more in the way of intelligence. The army had less than 70 intelligence officers to cover the entire world, and the head of naval intelligence said that a "real undercover foreign intelligence service does not exist." FDR's cautious answer was creation of what became the Office of Strategic Services, largely at the urging of William Donovan, a World War One hero turned corporate lawyer. General Donovan's ambition was to run a coordinated intelligence service that would draw upon all sources of information.
     Such did not happen, and Mr. Persico rightly assigns some of the blame to General Donovan himself. OSS's problems began with defeats by two masters of bureaucratic in-fighting. General Douglas MacArthur ordered his Pacific theater off-limits to OSS. The FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, muscled OSS out of Latin America.
     But a more formidable opponent was General George Veazey Strong, the chief of army intelligence, who considered OSS to be a "bunch of socially connected amateurs." General Strong did not trust Donovan's information security and denied him access to the crown jewels of American intelligence, the decrypts of German and Japanese messages obtained through intercept operations known as Magic and Ultra. "Denied access to these decrypts," Mr. Persico writes, "Donovan could never be the player in secret warfare that he hungered to be."
     When General Donovan protested; FDR sided with the military. So much for the idea of "central intelligence."
     After an insightful review with many more details and critical judgments, of which this slightly edited excerpt is only a token, the reviewer finds that Mr. Persico's book is sprightly written and well sourced, and that even though some of the ground he covers is well trod, he provides an entertaining read. The full review will be included in the next edition of AFIO's "Intelligencer." (Jonkers) (From review by Joseph Goulden, printed in WashTimes)


Mike W. writes on OSAMA bin Laden's Videos -- 

In three videos released, watch Osama's hands. Each video is different. The watch switches from left wrist to right wrist and back, and there are, or are not, rings on the finger, and the finger positions are markedly different. If the media can't understand this as signaling, they are brain dead. Interesting observation! (Jonkers)


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