Weekly Intelligence Notes
WIN #28-02 dated 15 July 2002
Weekly Intelligence Notes (WINs) are produced and edited by Roy Jonkers for non-profit educational uses by AFIO members, ISIS associates and WIN subscribers. RADM (ret) Don Harvey contributes articles to selected WINs.
CONTENTS of this WIN
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US PLANS FOR ATTACK ON IRAQ -- A planning document for the invasion of Iraq was published by the NY Times on 5 July 2002. It allegedly reflects the state of concept planning some two months ago. It was either purposely leaked as part of a psychological warfare operation (or possibly a deception - less likely) against Saddam, or as a domestic political move appeasing the impatient "kill-Saddam lobby," or is an illegal leak (a violation of law). Whatever the genesis or validity of the information published, it increases pressure on the Saddam government, particularly in view of other preparations evidently being implemented. These involve a range of covert actions, intelligence preparation of the battlefield, military activities or rumors of activities, and diplomatic moves. The seriousness of US planning to bring Iraq to heel is also a message to the local Arab potentates and regimes, who survive by betting on the winner.
The document published portrays a huge air assault, a US invasion from the North (Turkey) and South (Kuwait - British/US), and attacks by US/UK Special Operations forces and CIA elements on depots and laboratories with suspected chemical warfare capabilities, and on the remaining short-range missiles that Iraq is still permitted to possess.
Considerable attention is devoted to organizational details, like the precise tonnage of American munitions stored at various bases around the Persian Gulf, deployment time lines for troops leaving East and West Coast ports for the gulf region, and the complexities of interwoven intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance networks. It describes in precise detail specific Iraqi bases, surface-to-air missile sites, air defense networks and fiber-optics communications to be attacked. In spite of all this, many essential elements are not included, leading to the conclusion that the published plan is but an element in the total spectrum of actions being undertaken against Saddam's Iraq.
The threat as seen from Iraq is formidable -- a hostile neighbor (Iran) and a hostile local Goliath, Israel, armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction, along with the world's super power, the US with its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, supported by the UK with its traditional oil-based interests in the area. Saddam, a small-time local dictator, is vulnerable to a combination of external and internal pressures. Unlike the Taliban, Saddam's rule is not based on Islamic fundamentalism, but on control by the secular Ba'ath party, and on his clan (for which he was, in the early years, an 'enforcer'). He is vulnerable from other clans and minorities, as well as from disaffected elements, opportunists looking for survival and power, and possibly even Islamic fundamentalism in the endgame. From all indications, the game has begun, the intelligence war is on, and the end is totally predictable. It is unlikely that Saddam will be around in 2004. (Jonkers) (NY Times 5 July 2002, p.1 //E. Schmitt)
JOINT CONGRESSIONAL PANEL INITIAL CONCLUSIONS -- Members of the joint Senate and House panel investigating the performance of the intelligence community relative to September 11 have begun to talk to the press. According to the unofficial reports from the committee, the panel has identified four areas for substantial reforms: (1) Improved dissemination of intelligence between the various agencies; (2) Better technology to penetrate computerized communications; (3) Enhanced ability to spy on terrorist networks with CIA and friendly foreign agents; and (4) Creation of a domestic intelligence capability to prevent and preempt attacks on US soil.
Contrary to much media wish-fulfillment speculation, the joint Congressional panel uncovered no single piece of information that, if properly analyzed, could have prevented September 11. "As far as I know, there is no smoking gun," Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind) said. The ranking Republican Senator on the panel, Richard Shelby (R-AL), said, "It would be nice to find a smoking gun...But absent that, we're looking for problems that need to be solved." [If the Senator's frequent public criticism of the current DCI is any indication, it is unlikely that the panel neglected any opportunity to highlight the possibility of a "smoking gun."]. The panel spent six months of culling through intelligence files and nearly a dozen closed-door hearings. It has decided to delay recommending any changes to the intelligence system until after Congress has created the Department of Homeland Security.
The panel's recommendations, whenever published, will predictably trigger a spate of politically-motivated and media carping that they are not far-reaching enough, do not rearrange enough deck chairs, and do not clearly identify culprits. (Harvey) (Wash. Post 11 Jul '02, pg. 1 // D. Priest and J. Eilperin )
ARABIC NAMES: SOME OF THE NITTY-GRITTY OF INTELLIGENCE -- In none of the political and media chronicles of the problems of intelligence and its proposed solutions has the "Arab names" problem been addressed, even though one would guess intuitively that it is an important barrier to working on the terrorist threat. In fact, Arabic transliteration confusion has posed very real obstacles for both law enforcement and intelligence agencies. There are conflicting methods used to translate and spell the same names, a problem compounded by antiquated computer software at some agencies that does not allow searches for approximate spellings of names. For example, one search of databases on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi found more than 60 different spellings of his name. Just because a suspected terrorist is obscure and being tracked in several countries does not mean his name is any more clear than Gadhafi's. And then there is duplication, "I can't tell you how many Mohamed Attas we've run across," said one intelligence official. A listing of some two dozen alleged al-Qaeda operatives and financiers' names compiled by Justice and Treasury officials was passed to Saudi Arabian authorities with a request that the bank accounts of the individuals be frozen. The Saudis, when they stopped laughing, told the US the list amounted to a bunch of nicknames, Arabic versions of mobster handles such as "Vinny the Chin." While beneath the attention of the politicians and the media talking heads, the Arabic name problem solution would probably do more for American intelligence than any of the touted reorganizations. (Harvey) (USA Today 1 Jul '02, pg. 1 // J. Diamond)
US DATA BASES ON TERRORISTS -- In the three months before September 11, the CIA forwarded an average of 300 names per month to US agencies watching for terrorist activity. In September, the number spiked to nearly 1,000. In October, it peaked at 1,400 names. It has since leveled off at less than 900 new names per month. And in addition to CIA's activities, the FBI, INS and other agencies concerned with terrorists have gathered their own lists. But there have been problems. The FBI's computerized storage and search capability was so woeful that the bureau went to the Mormon Church for help this year - the Mormons' data base contains millions of names, including alternate spellings. Government data bases -- with names such as the Modernized Digitized Intelligence System and Joint Virtual Intelligence Architecture -- have been characterized as a "30-year old, archaic system" by at least one intelligence official.
Efforts to remedy the situation are underway: the CIA and INS have been developing sophisticated computer programs to expand the government's search capability. The capture of hundreds of suspected al-Qaeda terrorists and the questioning of many more suspects elsewhere has helped in the construction of a database that includes fingerprints, photographs and DNA samples. The beginnings of a standardized procedure for translating and spelling names (one would suspect such a procedure was developed years ago but that is what the article said) is underway in the INS. CIA has developed a "link analysis system" in its Counter-Terrorism Center to help determine family relations among suspected terrorists. The government already is tracking individuals who appear interested in breaking into sensitive government computer networks. Reports such as this one in the press give hope that eventually the US will be on top of the problem from an infrastructure viewpoint, but they also indicate that there is still a long way to go. (Harvey) ( USA Today 1 Jul '02; pg. 6 // J. Diamond)
HOUSE BOOSTS PENALTIES FOR COMPUTER CRIMES -- Preparing the nation for future cyber attacks, the House voted to increase penalties for computer crimes and make it easier for Internet service providers to disclose dangerous material to government agencies. The legislation also states that immediate threats to national security should be included among emergency instances where law enforcement can tap into computer communications. It passed 385-3. Many think of cyber crime as a form of vandalism, but "it can devastate our businesses, economy or national infrastructure," said Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the chief sponsor. "A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb."
(Levine's Newsbits 15 Jul 02) ( http://www.nandotimes.com/technology/story/467151p-3735069c.html )
FBI PROJECTS POWER GRID AS POTENTIAL CYBER TERROR TARGET -- Power and energy companies are projected to become a primary target of computer hackers who have managed to penetrate energy control networks as well as administrative systems. Ronald Dick, director of the FBI's cyber crime division, said he is concerned that the United States' power grid may be moving into the cross-hairs of cyber-terrorists.(Levine 15 JUL 02)
CYBER TERROR DEFENSE EXERCISE -- for the first time ever, federal, state and local government officials are partnering with representatives from the private sector and the utilities community in a exercise designed to identify the links between them in responding to and defending against cyber terror. Operation Dark Screen, the brainchild of Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas), is a three-phase exercise that will help all the players involved better understand their roles in preparing for, recovering from,
and protecting the nation's critical infrastructure in case of a cyberattack. (Levine 15 JUL 02)
SPIES BENEATH BERLIN, by David Stafford, published in the United Kingdom, reviewed by Oleg Gordievsky in the Literary Review July 2002, and is available from the Lit. Review (London) bookshop. These highlights are based on the review.
The book appears to provide a highly informed British perspective on the Berlin tunnel, complementing and amplifying the story told in David Murphy's BATTLEGROUND BERLIN. In the early 1950s a critical situation prevailed in the Western intelligence community. For various reasons, but particularly as a result of the treasonable activities of Kim Philby in Britain and William Weisband in the US Army Security Agency, Moscow replaced its coding system, and the West found itself unable to decipher any Soviet traffic. The West lived in the fear that it would receive no hints of a forthcoming Soviet attack on any part of the world. Germany, and especially Berlin, seemed the most likely target. (Incidentally, this is why American code-breakers failed to provide credible advance warning of North Korea's attack on South Korea in 1950).
In December 1953, on the premises of Section Y of the SIS, a joint American and British group took the bold decision to build a tunnel under Berlin. The Soviet communications cable it was planned to intercept, which ran under the Schönefelder Chaussee quite close to the American sector, contained 81 speech circuits, producing a total of 162 two-and-a-half-hour reels of tape each day. Each circuit required one transcriber. Along with collators, cardists, signals experts and typists, the minimum number of people involved in the project was 158. The Soviet cables also carried telegraphic material. Some of this had to be sent on to the code-breakers at the National Security Agency (NSA) in Washington and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in Cheltenham. In addition, a small advance-processing unit was set up in Berlin itself to handle the top-priority material. This unit had to recognize instantly any crucial indicators of some unexpected Soviet move, thus short-circuiting the usual inevitable delays when material was sent to America or Britain. The actual construction of the tunnel was entrusted to the US Army Corps of Engineers, which was uniquely equipped for the task. Ever since the American Revolution, it had worked on some of the USA's boldest engineering projects. The job was completed on 28 February 1955. The engineers had been tunneling through 1,476 feet. Over 3,000 tons of soil had been excavated, and all of this undetected by the numerous Soviet and East German military personnel who had been keeping a sharp eye on the area alongside the boundary between the sectors.
However, the most sensational detail concerning this entire grandiose project was that the KGB knew about it from the very beginning. It turns out that at the very heart of the SIS there was a traitor, the notorious George Blake. Once the tunnel was in full operation, the KGB waited for eleven months before the Soviet occupying forces suddenly "discovered" it. They organized this "revelation" in such a way that it did not even cross the minds of their opponents that there might be a mole within the Western intelligence community. A furious propaganda campaign against the "evil CIA" and "US imperialism" was whipped up, and Moscow orchestrated the appropriate reactions in Western and Third World media outlets over which it had influence. Then came the turn-around. Blake was discovered. His arrest and the disclosure of his treasonable activities completely changed Western perspectives on the Berlin tunnel. Critics said that as Moscow had known about it from the outset it obviously "could not have been the success so widely trumpeted by Allen Dulles and the CIA". "It must, instead, have offered the KGB a perfect opportunity to use it for misinformation and deception." Stafford goes on to say that in the view of many commentators, then and later, [the] "intelligence was not gold or even silver, but fool's gold, false and worthless. Four years' planning and hard work, and millions of dollars, had been uselessly poured down the drain." The KGB once again had tricked the naïve Americans and penetrated the rotten SIS. The Cold War intelligence game was being played by fools, charlatans and rogues.
What were the facts, astounding as they may seem? Far from using the tunnel for disinformation and deception, the KGB's foreign intelligence branch had taken a deliberate decision to conceal the tunnel's existence from the Soviet Army and the GRU (military intelligence), who were the main users of the cables that were being tapped. The reason for this decision -- hard, perhaps, for many Westerners to understand -- was the need to protect their invaluable source, George Blake. The key KGB decision-makers realized that, if the Soviet military started using the communications cable for sending out disinformation, the West would guess that a campaign of deception was afoot and that the Soviets knew about the tunnel, and this would spark off a mole hunt that would inevitably lead to the exposure of Blake. The main source of the revelation that the Soviet lines of communication were not utilized for disinformation was General Sergei Kondrashev, Blake's former control and the top KGB expert on Germany. He subsequently told the Americans that he had immediately realized that any attempt to use the cable for deception "would have involved too many people and would have risked Blake's security." Blake himself, who escaped to the USSR and is still living in Moscow, recently confirmed that "99.9% of the information obtained by the SIS and CIA from the tunnel was genuine."
In other words, Operation Stopwatch/Gold was a success and even a triumph for British and American intelligence. Stafford has produced a remarkable book, written in precise, concise and elegant English, which reminds us of something we should never forget -- how a few outstanding Britons and Americans helped to preserve the peace, security and freedom of the West in the harshest years of the Cold War. These selected highlights of the review cover only the main points -- for the interesting details, read the book. (Jonkers) (Literary Review Bookshop price L14.99, call UK 0870 429 6608.)
(courtesy Scot Crerar)
Tom M. writes on EBBN #07-02, ANTI-TERRORISM PRODUCTS -- "I consult with a couple of companies which may have useful technology in the war on terror. Thus, I was very interested in the article "Ready to Evaluate Anti-Terrorism Products" in AFIO EBBN #07-02, dtd 16 JUL 02. It suggested we contact AONN with new technology projects for their possible funding. Imagine my surprise when I downloaded and printed the AONN web page. I believe that this entire link is an insidious hoax, perpetrated to embarrass the Community, or perhaps something much worse. First, the page is so poorly organized that it makes little sense. Some of it sounds like it was written by a 60's flower child. However, my main concern is with the written content of the site. It almost seems to be written to smear or discredit legitimate intelligence analysts and businesses, rather than to recruit them. Maybe it's just a way to collect the identities of people and businesses related to the anti-terrorist war. Maybe it's a way to assess technical progress in countering terrorists.
ED. NOTE: This item was included in the eBBN without further vetting, as it featured a "dot gov" address and related to the war on terrorism. Looking at the Website, however, AONN identifies itself as similar to AMTRAK in its relationship to Government. That is not "The Government" as we know it. Readers are well advised to take Tom's critical comments to heart - caveat emptor - be warned. (RJ)
Lew Regenstein writes on COLD WAR ESPIONAGE -- The C-SPAN Book Review Channel over the weekend featured a talk by Richard Aldrich, author of "The Hidden Hand," which discusses Cold War espionage by the US & UK. He said some very interesting and provocative things, and I think we should have one of our experienced and knowledgeable former operations officers review the book and address these charges & statements.
For example, he said many US agents infiltrated into eastern Europe were caught because their forged Eastern Bloc passports, while made of paper pulp identical to that used by the Soviet Union, contained American staples, which were of higher quality & did not rust and so stood out and were incriminating. It's hard to believe we could be so incompetent, and I'd love to hear the true version of this.
Most interestingly, he claims many if not most of the East European communists purged & executed during the purge trials of the late 40s & 50s were intentionally incriminated by US intelligence so as to eliminate them & create chaos among the communist leadership. He says up to a third of the Politburo & agency heads were purged in some countries, and that Allen Dulles bragged about the effectiveness of these deception operations. If true, someone should receive a Nobel Peace prize, but this is the first I have heard of this (though I am familiar with some stuff done to Communist Chinese officials when I was there).
There also was a very successful "Operation Tamarisk," run by the military intelligence services of US-UK-France, thru their military liaison missions in East Germany, that gathered discarded paper, letters, & rubbish from Soviet trash bins & military maneuvers, including used toilet paper! (Sounds like my old job!) You see, there wasn't much toilet paper available, so Soviet troops would use documents, manuals, code sheets, letters, etc. for toilet paper, & this could later be retrieved & read. Letters to & from home also provided info on morale, especially during the war in Afghanistan, when Soviet troops were sent to hospitals in E Germany to conceal casualties. But the E Germans did not separate their trash, so in the garbage cans one would find not only letters but also amputated arms & legs. When the intel agents complained to headquarters about doing that messy job, headquarters responded with a request for the arms and legs, to see what kind of shrapnel was responsible. Aldrich says Tamarisk ran during the entire Cold War and was very successful.
Other stuff Aldrich said:
* The Brits wanted to provoke a war between the US and USSR around 1948 before the latter got a nuclear capability;
* an off-course U-2 during the Cuban missile Crisis, which strayed into the USSR, almost caused a first strike to be launched by both the Soviets, then the US. Thus, "intelligence can make the world more dangerous, not less." he says.
* In 1946, some expert Italian codebreakers under "Barbieri," who were working against the US and the Brits, were hired by the Brits to work against -- the French.
* Taiwan blew up an Air India plane on the way to the Bandung Conference in Indonesia because it thought Chinese Premier Chou En-lai was on board.
We probably have several people who can knowledgeably discuss these issues, and it would be interesting to see them do so.
Larry writes on
Homeland Security -- A US Government Symposium on 'Information Sharing and
Homeland Security' has been scheduled for
August 19-21 in Philadelphia, PA. The event is co-sponsored by the U.S.
intelligence community, law enforcement agencies and other Homeland Security
stakeholders. Information on the symposium may be found at the following website
at the Holiday Inn, Tyson's Corner, McLean, VA, is scheduled for 29 July 2002, from 10:30 (bar opens) a.m. to 2 p.m., including lunch.
Ron Kessler, author of THE BUREAU: The Secret History of the FBI, will present at 11 am, the results of his research and assessment of the FBI, a topic most relevant and timely in terms of the flood of criticism that has inundated that agency.
Robert Baer at 1 pm, as previously announced, will discuss his book SEE NO EVIL: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism, including his activities as a covert agent in the Middle East and his personal, critical assessment of CIA. Both authors are expected to have their books available for sale and inscription.
You may agree or disagree with the assessments, but the combination will make for an unusually provocative as well as timely and interesting luncheon session. See our Website www.afio.com for details to sign up for this interesting session. It can be done by e-mail to AFIO (AFIO@AFIO.com) with your credit card, or by sending a check for $27.00 for yourself and guests by mail to AFIO, 6723 Whittier Ave, Ste 303A, Mclean, VA 22101. (RJ)
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