Weekly Intelligence Notes
WIN 37-02 dtd 16 September 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.
Agenda and Registration package goes in the mail this week for the AFIO National Intelligence
War Symposium 2002. Expect it to arrive at your place by 1 October.
The agenda and registration was also e-mailed last week to all current members
and subscribers. I urge you to sign up early. It will help us. We have set up a
great, expanded symposium - at a very moderate price - thanks to numerous
contributing volunteers. AFIO members will have a few weeks for priority
registration, before other professional intelligence associations are also
invited. Our capacity is 250 attendees. If you cannot locate the prior e-mailed
forms, let us know at Symp2002@afio.com
and a set of these messages will be sent to you pronto.
Or watch your mailboxes for delivery of the printed package.
CONTENTS of this WIN
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CONGRESSIONAL JOINT 9/11 INQUIRY STAFF REPORT -- A staff report has created some initial controversy. It stated that CIA had only 3 - 5 analysts dedicated to the analysis of Al Qaeda prior to 9/11. Following are a few of the allegations and responses:
(1) The Joint Inquiry statement reported that “in 1999 the CIA Counter-Terrorist Center (CTC) had only 3 analysts assigned full-time to Bin Laden's terrorist effort worldwide. After 2000 (but before September 11, 2001) that number had risen to 5.
CIA has countered that this was factually incorrect. In 1999, CTC had 9 analysts within its analytic group assigned to monitor bin Laden and Al-Qaeda worldwide. Added to those nine, CIA noted that it had the equivalent of 8 additional analysts devoted to Al-Qaeda issues across the Agency's Directorate of Intelligence (DI). Moreover, some 20 additional DI analysts were assigned to operations issues within CTC to work various aspects from an operational (i.e. counter-terrorist active measures) standpoint.
(2) The report says there were - approximately 35-40 personnel assigned to CTC's special Bin Laden unit.- CIA noted that this unit tasked and directed some 200 Agency officers deployed worldwide to work the counter-terrorism target.
In context, one must consider that (1) mere numbers of people addressing a topic are not by themselves a valid measure of the quality or effectiveness of operations. If it were, one could fix a problem merely by stuffing more people into a room. (2) the real cause of the problem far exceeds the realm of intelligence. Chairman Porter Goss (HPSCI), always a voice of common sense, noted that "failure was much broader than just our foreign intelligence capability. It went to the interrelationship of that ... capability with our law enforcement mechanisms and our regulatory agencies -- the Federal Aviation Administration, the airport people, the customs people, the immigration people and so forth." There was also, said the Chairman, a public "psychological factor" involved -- in the 90's "we enjoyed wonderful blue-sky prosperity, a peace dividend .. We weren't concerned about threats."
It is clear, no matter what follows all these committee meetings, and even with a policy of full global power measures of prevention, intimidation and attention to addressing root causes, that damaging terrorist acts of this nature are not totally preventable, no matter how good the intelligence is -- nor how good preventive measures are -- not here in the US, and not in Israel, Britain, France, Russia, nor elsewhere. Perfection is in the realm of post-mortem 20/20 hindsight.
In further context, warning calls were sounded and the system was on alert. Director Tenet testified in an open hearing before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) in February 2000, “Everything we have learned recently confirms our conviction that (Bin Laden) wants to strike further blows against America. Despite some well-publicized disruptions, we believe he could still strike without additional warning.” In spite of that posture, and the increased CIA and FBI resources dedicated to the problem, the dedicated deep cover Al Qaeda fanatics were able to execute their clandestine operations plan and perform their suicidal attack on 9/11. Three, five, a hundred or a thousand analysts would probably not have prevented it, within previous Congressional and Executive constraints and without the mass mobilization of law enforcement and federal agencies we have now. (Jonkers) (CIA/OPA Public Release 19 Sep 02 //B. Harlow)(WashTimes 8Sep 02, p. A4 //J. Price)
TROUBLESOME GAPS IN US INTELLIGENCE ON IRAQ -- An apparently leaked memorandum by "a senior Defense Department analyst" recently triggered a newspaper analysis of the status of US intelligence on Iraq. The paper concluded that the US has two significant gaps in intelligence community knowledge of the status and intentions of the Saddam Hussein regime. The first gap is the possible location of chemical and biological weapons and missile storage sites; the uncertainty is especially critical since air strikes that inadvertently hit chemical or biological weapons caches could spread a "deadly plume through urban areas and cause thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties." Considering the air patrols over the south and north of Iraq, satellite surveillance and, presumably, CIA operative contacts with anti-Saddam groups, it would be hard to find another country more closely watched than Iraq. Despite the concentrated coverage, "US officials" suspect that Iraq's chemical and biological weapons would be difficult to find, even by ground troops.
The second intelligence problem is finding Saddam himself. He is believed to have used look-alikes to conceal his movements and mislead US intelligence during the 1991 Gulf War. Saddam is obviously paranoid and frequently on the move. Associated with the difficulty of locating Saddam in timely fashion is the challenge of understanding how fiercely his inner circle would defend him, probably under urban warfare conditions. He has ruthlessly purged the top layer of his government of anyone displaying even a hint of disloyalty. The internal Defense analysis of Saddam's Ba'ath party and his most loyal soldiers predicts they would fight a US attack doggedly. "Desperation may drive some to change sides or flee, but others may fight with a vigor not seen during the first Iraqi-American confrontation. A long series of foiled and failed coup attempts have probably depleted the ranks of senior officers and officials who are anything but loyal to the Ba'ath regime and Hussein clan," according to the internal analysis.
The wave of leaks in recent days from a heretofore tightly-controlled administration raises the suspicion that this leaker of intelligence is motivated by an intent to undercut some of the enthusiasm for a pre-emptive US strike to decapitate Iraqi leadership. (Harvey)(USA Today 23 Aug '02, pg. 10 // J. Diamond and D. Moniz)
CRUISE MISSILE THREAT -- A Secretary of Defense classified memo to the White House last month entitled "The Growing Threat Posed by Cruise Missiles" has reportedly stimulated the NSC and assorted working level officials to begin to take a serious look at the threat, what it portends, and how to cope with the problem. Apparently no single piece of intelligence has triggered the interest, just an accumulation of evidence showing foreigners' increased interest in cruise missiles and easier access to small gas turbine engines, precision navigational devices, high-resolution imagery and other useful cruise missile technologies. Capable in some instances of taking off from ships close to US shores and flying below easy long-range radar detection capabilities, cruise missiles present a particular worry for delivery of WMD weapons. At least 81 countries are reported to have cruise missiles of some kind, with the vast majority designed to go against ships at distances of less than 60 miles.
The intelligence community has predicted that one to two dozen countries will have land-attack cruise missiles by 2015; in the short term, what worries US authorities is the possibility of rogue states or international terrorists taking existing aircraft or anti-ship missiles and converting them into UAVs that could work as crude but deadly cruise missiles. Iraq, for instance, is known to have worked on turning Czech L-29 trainer aircraft into UAVs for delivering chemical or biological agents. The most recent official unclassified assessment of foreign missile developments, issued in December, said "many countries" see cruise missiles as a "better alternative" than ballistic missiles for attacks on the United States. In large part because such weapons can be launched nearer to US territory from commercial ships. "We're not just talking about hypothetical situations," said one official. "We have reason to believe that folks are starting to look at this kind of capability."
The fact that foreigners are considering cruise missiles for possible use in attacking the United States certainly should not be a surprise. Critics of the US ballistic missile defense program have been touting cruise missiles as superior attack vehicles for years. (Harvey) (Wash Post 18 Aug 02, p. 1 //B. Graha)
SPACE RECONNAISSANCE PROBLEMS -- With the hunt for bin Laden continuing in Afghanistan, and the war with Iraq approaching, the Defense and intelligence establishments are lacking a full complement of reconnaissance satellites. Two NRO/NSA signals intelligence 'eavesdropping' satellites that should have been operational now, are not. One was lost in a launch failure, and the other has been delayed by the need for modifications. The lost satellite reportedly was a 4-5-ton secret Mercury signals intelligence spacecraft. It was lost in August 1998 when its Titan IVA/Centaur exploded after a wiring flaw in the booster disrupted the vehicle's guidance computer. That spacecraft allegedly was to have been parked in geosynchronous orbit over Africa, where it could have monitored communications in the Middle East, Iran, India, Pakistan--and possibly also Afghanistan when Al Qaeda was moving into the region.
The NRO has several other older operational signal-intercept spacecraft positioned around the globe. The two most recent of these satellites were sent aloft in late 1997 and early 1998. NRO manages the development and launch of the spacecraft, while NSA guides their eavesdropping targets and processes the intelligence. The losses are causing turbulence in NRO management. A former engineer at NRO, David Thompson, said that "the NRO has suffered a shocking decline in the technical performance of its satellites over the past several years. Many NRO satellites never even got launched as they meandered their way through years of technical and program 'management mismanagement,' yet no one was held accountable. NRO is actually moving backward, getting less capability and fielding less capable technology for the future. " Thompson cited several examples of NRO spacecraft problems on previous missions:
*"NRO satellites where the primary mission payload failed a few days after launch.
*"Satellites where components got so hot that they actually melted, causing mission failure due to thermal analysis [flaws introduced in design].
*"Satellites which, after billions of dollars in development, cannot perform basic housekeeping functions.
*"Satellites on which the primary payload does not meet its basic performance specifications."
And, Thompson asserted, "the cost over-runs on large programs are sucking every possible dollar out of future cutting-edge projects. . . .The industrial base management policy of the NRO could best be described as lurching back and forth from over-concentration at one contractor to over-concentration at another, frittering away key investments and payload technology."
The NRO recently has broadened its outreach to medium and smaller companies that can foster ideas, sometimes better than larger contractors. On balance, these spacecraft are enormously complex, state-of-the-art wonder works. NRO has produced marvels in the past. If past is prologue, solutions will be found. (Jonkers) (AvWk&SpaceTech 2Sep 02, p. 34 // Craig Covault)( AW&ST Aug. 17, 1998, p. 28).
CYBER SECURITY PLAN PUBLISHED -- Declaring that government alone cannot protect the nation's computer networks, top White House officials Wednesday presented a sober assessment of the nation's preparedness for cyber attacks and called for ``a new culture of security.'' Before several hundred industry and government officials gathered at Stanford University, Bush administration officials unveiled a largely voluntary plan for computer users and employers to fend off cyber attacks, but refused to call for new regulations or specific incentives. (Levine's Newsbits 19 Sep 02)
BIOMETRIC TRIALS POINT TO PASSPORT FRAUD -- Biometric technology has been used in Australia to find out if individuals are fraudulently holding multiple passports - and it is getting results. The Australian federal government is poised to crack down hard on identity fraud amid indications that trials of biometric technology are already unveiling instances of individuals illegally securing multiple passports. (Levine 19 Sep 02)
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WARCHALKING -- THE NEWEST CYBER THEFT SCHEME -- Warchalking, the technique of highlighting areas where wireless networks can be accessed freely, has been blasted as theft. And the practitioners of warchalking are being slammed as bandwidth thieves in an advisory issued by Nokia. Over the last few months, cyber geeks have been drawing chalk symbols on walls and pavements in cities to mark points where signals from nearby office wireless networks can be tapped into to access the internet. (Levine 18 Sep 02) http://www.vnunet.com/News/1135130
INTO TIBET: The CIA's First Atomic Spy and His Secret Expedition to Lhasa, By Thomas Laird, Grov.
Thomas Laird, a photographer, journalist and 30-year Himalayas aficionado based in Nepal, tells a gripping tale of Douglas MacKiernan's mission. Into Tibet helps illuminate what the agency was doing in China at the birth of the Cold War. MacKiernan was a technical-scientific wizard -- at radio communications, cryptology and meteorology -- and during World War II, he shoved his way into Army intelligence. The Army sent him to Sinkiang, on northwestern China's border with Soviet Central Asia, to run a weather station that predicted what skies America's B-29 pilots would find while bombing Japan.
After the war, the newborn CIA scooped up many military intelligence officers and sent MacKiernan back to Sinkiang under consular cover. Now Soviet troops had seized part of that region and were mining uranium for the weapons that would soon challenge America's atom-bomb monopoly. Riding into the desert, MacKiernan got ethnic Kazakh tribesmen to help him investigate, and try to disrupt, what the Soviets were doing.
Laird argues that MacKiernan played an even more critical role, by burying transmitters in Sinkiang's sands -- perhaps even inside the Soviet Union -- and using microphones to pinpoint the nuclear blast that created the world's second nuclear power in August 1949. Within weeks of the Soviet blast, Sinkiang was falling to Mao Zedong's Communists, and MacKiernan was the only American left there, except for Frank Bessac, a CIA agent who had stumbled into town after failing to organize an anti-communist front among ethnic Mongols. Washington ordered the pair to flee -- not southwest to India, but on a more treacherous route across the Takla Makan Desert in northern Tibet. As they left, MacKiernan handed gold to his Kazakh friends in support of their rebellion against communist rule. News of that act got quickly to Beijing, which proclaimed MacKiernan a spy.
Months later, as the bedraggled Americans stumbled toward the Tibetan border, Washington was in chaos over Sen. Joseph McCarthy's charges that spies riddled the State Department. Amid infighting, State officials dithered over notifying Tibet of the Americans' arrival, and Tibetan frontier guards confronted them, shooting MacKiernan dead. In July 1950, a world focused on the Korean War took only brief note of Douglas MacKiernan's singular death. "U.S. Consul, Fleeing China, Slain By Tibetan on Watch for Bandits," read the headline of the lone front-page story in the New York Times. For more than a half-century, that's all the news on MacKiernan that his real employer, the CIA, has wanted to see published. The agency still classifies as secret his identity as an officer (the first to be killed on duty) and his early Cold War missions: on the Chinese-Soviet frontier in Sinkiang, and in Tibet as it desperately sought independence from Mao's communist China. The book stands as MacKiernan's first public monument to another War in the Shadows, the war between Tibetans and the Chinese Communists, in which, ultimately, we left Tibet to its fate. (Jonkers) (Book reviewed by James Rupert (Newsday), WPost Sunday, September 15, 2002; Page BW13)
separate e-mail went to all members --
providing an Agenda and Registration form
but a printed Symposium Package
is on the way to all members of record.
Expect it to arrive in your mailboxes the week of 1 October
and do not delay signing up for the
AFIO National Intelligence War Symposium 2002,
in McLean, Virginia
31 October 2002 - 3 November 2002
We have planned a program-rich WINNER! (RJ)
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