Weekly Intelligence Notes
WIN 45-02 dtd 29 November 2002
Ed. NOTE: Trust you had a Happy Thanksgiving, the old Harvest Festival. We have appreciated your personal participation, your generous donations, your supportive feedback on our efforts, and your involvement in the AFIO educational intelligence mission, as ever a worthwhile cause. Thank you!
Please note that the last WIN for this year will be #48, to be published on 16 December. The AFIO office will be closed for inventory, preparations for the New Year, editing of the next edition of the "Intelligencer," and to celebrate the holidays, from 15 December until 2 January 2003.
CONTENTS of this WIN
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INTELLIGENCE FY 2003 AUTHORIZATION BILL PASSED -- By a 366-3 vote, the House approved the long-languishing intelligence authorization bill, with the Senate also approving it by voice vote the same day. The President subsequently signed it. Most of the provisions of the bill are classified, but the intelligence committees did issue an unclassified statement accompanying the bill, saying "...the steady decline in intelligence funding since the mid-1990s left the nation with a diminished ability to address emerging threats -- such as global terrorism and the technical challenges of the 21st century." The spending total of the bill is believed to be more than $35 billion, the largest total ever and intended to begin to make up for a decade of inadequate spending.
The bill provides for the creation of a database of known or suspected international terrorists (Ed. note - cannot believe that this was not being done long ago) .
It also provides for the establishment a 'National Virtual Translation Center' to help the Intelligence Community translate foreign languages rapidly, and would provide $10 million for scholarships to encourage the study of languages needed for national security reasons, such as Dari, Farsi and Korean. [Presumably this money would be added to the national security-related fund for the study of languages set up by Congress ten or so years ago.]
The bill further calls for developing a standard method of transliterating names from other alphabets, since agencies were found to be using different spellings for the same Arabic or other Middle Eastern name.
Since the bill established an independent commission of private citizens (subsequently announced to be headed by Henry Kissinger) to investigate the 9/11 terrorists attacks, the media coverage has centered on the commission. The Kissinger commission will be bipartisan and have 18 months to look into a broad array of issues related to the 9/11 attacks such as aviation security, immigration policies, manning and lack of enforcement, Congressional attitudes, as well as law enforcement and intelligence practices. While it is doubtful that intelligence will escape its usual role as the scapegoat, it is encouraging that there is also recognition that the success of the terrorists rested on more than intelligence lack of advance warning. (Harvey) (Yahoo! News 16 Nov '02 // K. Guggenheim (AP); Wash Post 16 Nov '02, pg. 13 //H. Dewar)
UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INTELLIGENCE NAME FLOATED -- SecDef Rumsfeld has allegedly tapped Stephen Cambone, reportedly one of his closest advisors, to become the new Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence (USDI) . Mr. Cambone is currently the Director of the Pentagon's Office of Programs, Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E), and a central player in the Administration¹s comprehensive reassessment of defense strategy. He has been involved in some 200 studies of Pentagon weapons systems. In the process he has vigorously challenged major Service program and policy decisions and advocated cutting major weapon systems to generate savings for investment in so-called transformational programs that would yield more futuristic, lighter, yet more powerful forces. Since taking office, one of SecDef's stated goals has been to retool defense intelligence operations to generate 'a more useful product.' A senior Defense official said "The biggest problem is that the entire (intelligence) organization spent 50 years focused on the same threat, the Soviet Union. It was one big threat, and we had fairly profound means directed at them, technical and human. Now we¹re in a situation where the threats are far more diverse, way less sophisticated and far more scattered. That requires us to refocus the way the entire system thinks about the problem and the way it gathers and disseminates information."
We'll have to see where this new course leads us. If the report of Mr. Cambone's selection is true, it would deliberately place in charge an individual who reportedly has no direct experience with the National or Defense intelligence systems, but who is totally responsive to SecDef's drive to transform the Defense Department -- and Defense intelligence along with it. SecDef Rumsfeld¹s office stated that the defense secretary has not yet made a recommendation to the White House. (Jonkers) (DefenseNews.com, 27 Nov 02 //V. Muradian) http://ebird.dtic.mil/Nov2002/e20021129138961
INTELLIGENCE WARNINGS -- USES AND ABUSES -- Both the White House and Downing Street have become defensive about the flurry of terrorist attack warnings issued recently. Critics argue that authorities are in danger of crying wolf too often.
On the whole the British have been somewhat more cautious in their issuing of warnings than the United States. Prime Minister Blair, sensitive to recent criticism, said on British television: "The difficult dilemma we have is that we have pieces of information, pieces of intelligence, coming across our desks and we have to sift that and weigh it and judge it. We have got to be very wary of acting on general information, of issuing warnings when they are not really justified according to the evidence. The risk then is if we unnecessarily alarm people we end up doing the terrorists' job for them, and the public will get confused if there are different pieces of information coming at them the whole time."
Administration officials have also articulated their dilemma when deciding whether to issue a formal public warning. They have to consider whether withholding alerts will result in a lack of vigilance that could assist the terrorists in carrying out an attack. Skeptics, however, say that the US Intelligence community lives in fear that if they fail to issue a warning and something does happen, they will be criticized for having missed something. But the other side of that coin is that if they do give warnings about an event and it actually happens, they will be open to second-guessing about why they didn't prevent the attack. A bureaucrat's nightmare and politician's delight, with hearings, commissions, studies and reorganizations to follow.
One reason for fewer alerts on the other side of the Atlantic is that the authority to issue public warnings in the United Kingdom is heavily centralized and controlled by the Home Office and the Cabinet Office. Here in Washington, a myriad of law-enforcement and intelligence agencies, as well as government departments such as State, Justice and Defense, have been issuing their own warnings, sometimes to the irritation of the White House itself. The recent warning by the FBI about potential danger to hospitals reportedly prompted a behind-the-scenes rebuke by senior Bush officials.
Party politics are inevitably involved, amid charges that the White House isn't averse to playing politics with talk of terrorist threats. They contend that Bush officials tend to emphasize the threat when facing an impasse on Capitol Hill or for other political ends. Some agency officials are accused of doing the same, especially when trying to secure more funding.
Several weeks after the events of Sept. 11, Sen. John McCain argued that it was time America calmed down and prepared itself for the long haul in the fight against terrorism. That advice remains relevant a year later. Whether the American system is capable of doing that - calming down, taking our inevitable losses, while remaining sensible and resolute -- remains to be seen. (Jonkers) (Insight 25 Nov 02// J. Dettmer //UPI// M Kleinfeld) http://www.insightmag..com/news/331376.html (PJK)
IRAQ WAR INTELLIGENCE CONTEXT -- The UN Inspection Team is doing its job, reportedly without the kind of US (CIA) or British intelligence participation (or infiltration) alleged to be the case with the previous UNSCOM effort. Thus far the UN Team is finding nothing, but this will not matter in terms of the coming US overthrow of Saddam Hussein, by war or political pressure, in 2003. The UN inspections may in fact be useful in cleaning up the target list, as well as for intelligence verification of needed or un-needed preparations for chemical warfare. A reason for war can always be found. The political objective (ultimatum) of regime change has been set. Intelligence justification is a relevant but not a necessary subset.
Operations for 'regime change' in Iraq continue in four principal ways, (1) direct military action and preparations, (2) clandestine intelligence operations, (3) psychological /information warfare and political/ diplomatic measures, and (4) economic sanctions and containment.
Direct military actions include, among other things, a stepped-up bombing campaign against Iraqi air defense installations. US and UK planes are now attacking Iraqi command-and-control centers, communications nodes and fiber-optic networks that connect the nodes of the Iraqi air-defense system. The methodical US/UK air, ground and naval strike force buildup throughout the region is continuing. And, following a Presidential Decision Directive on 3 October, the U.S. has started a program to train up to 5,000 Iraqi exiles for reconnaissance and other support missions inside Iraq.
Clandestine operations include the opening of two CIA stations in Iraqi Kurdistan, one in Salahaddin, the principal town controlled by the K.D.P., and one in Suleimaniyah, the P.U.K.'s stronghold. From here clandestine operations will be coordinated. In addition, Israeli special forces have reportedly been operating inside Iraq's western desert on reconnaissance and training missions, surveying 30,000 square miles for places where Iraq might have hidden the missiles and launchers it is alleged to have kept after the Gulf War. Intelligence surveillance of Iraq, culminating ten years of increased attention, has been increased. Intelligence targeting and preparation of the battlefield in overdrive to support battle planning.
A concerted psychological warfare and propaganda effort is underway, intended to put pressure on Saddam and to 'soften up the battlefield." Recently revised U.S. military doctrine says forces must try to "influence the thoughts and opinions of adversaries and noncombatants" by dominating "the information environment." In the southern US-proclaimed 'no-fly' zone, leaflets are being dropped warning what will happen to individual Iraqi soldiers if they choose to resist, or warning them not to fire at US airplanes, or being part of any chemical warfare operations. The Air Force reportedly intends to put into the air its EC-130 "Commando Solos," planes that will broadcast TV and radio signals into the country. Iraqi opposition groups are said to be turning over telephone numbers of active- duty Iraqi troops to their U.S. military liaisons. If war begins, those in Iraq will presumably get taped U.S. phone messages from their exiled colleagues suggesting it might be sensible for them to stay on the sidelines - publicized information that must be intended to make Saddam's security apparatus nervous - or may be true. In this vein there are also war scenarios "leaked" and widely publicized. Recently the Washington Post and the New York Times ran stories claiming that the U.S. was ready to commit 250,000 troops to an invasion -- intended to instill fear of the inevitable.
Diplomacy is playing its part, with key players, including Russia, France and Turkey, among others, provided with a stake, obtaining quid-pro-quo's, or being strong-armed. It is said that even Iran is being approached through intermediaries. In the south of Iraq, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, led by Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, is backed by Tehran (southern Iraq, like Iran, is mostly Shi'ite). This is an interesting effort, in that Iran's cooperation with the US in Afghanistan resulted in its being included in the "axis of evil." It shows no stone is left unturned, but if true also exhibits a proclivity to favor tactical over strategic considerations.
Economic sanctions have been underway for years. The US is insisting the list of prohibited so-called 'dual-use' items be increased. This is a wonderful designation and can ban anything and everything. Toothpaste is dual-use -- can be used by soldiers.
Bottomline: The current political war coordinates intelligence, diplomacy, psychological warfare and military action. Saddam is being squeezed. The U.S. is testing Saddam's rule and the allegiance of his Ba'ath political party leadership, military officers and security apparatus. If he - and they - do not break, the current effort prepares the battlefield and war will come. The immediate cost of the war is likely to be less than that of the Gulf War ($80Billion), possibly about $50 Billion, according to CBO and Congressional estimates. The long term political costs - and challenge to the intelligence community - in terms of rising extremism and terrorism, are imponderable, but probably calculated to be acceptable and offset by an increase in the near-term security of Israel and secure access to oil. Nobody will weep for Saddam, but numerous other considerations and values are in play. (Jonkers) Time, Nov 23, 2002 /M. Elliott// M. Calabresi) (NY Review Of Bks 5 Dec02, p. 9ff //W. Nordhaus)
AFGHANISTAN INTELLIGENCE -- Unconfirmed and undated field level reporting alleges that the Taleban was disorganized and incompetent, but that al Qaeda was an efficient fighting force. Al Qaeda fighters appeared to be well financed. Some of the captured fighters brought in wore expensive North Face gear, top of the line American hiking boots and Gore-Tex clothing. Many were armed with new M-16, CAR-15, and M-4 rifles. They wore Russian H-gear/web gear and traveled very light, usually with no more than 3 magazine pouches (each pouch holds 3 magazines @ 30 rounds each), giving them great speed on the battlefield.
There is said to have been a substantial core of Chechens with al Qaeda, possibly as many as several thousand in the Kowst Gardez region. They were not only efficient and well organized, but also extremely brutal. One of their preferred fighting tactics was to leave a 2-4 man group in a very precarious position (bait and run). When these men were able to draw fire from U.S - led forces, they ran, drawing them into an ambush. It was the Chechen Al Qaeda that caught Navy SEAL Neal Roberts earlier this past spring and killed U.S. Army Rangers who responded to the incident. Along with shooting Roberts in the hands and feet and cutting off his ears, they also mutilated him by (deleted) before killing him execution style. We should not forget, and keep the brutal Chechen terrorists in perspective, whether in Russia or elsewhere. (Jonkers) (Mustang News, Vol. 23 No. 3, Fall 2002) firstname.lastname@example.org (courtesy J. Goulden)
TACTICAL LASER BATTLEFIELD TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES -- The U.S. Army used a high-energy laser to shoot down an artillery shell in flight on 5 November 2002. The laser tracked, locked onto and fired a burst of concentrated light energy at the speeding shell over the White Sands test range in New Mexico, shifting the paradigm for defensive capabilities and giving a glimpse of exotic new technologies around the corner, not only for the military but for intelligence. Space warfare and Star Wars are not too far off.
The Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser is being developed by TRW for the Army and the Israeli Defense Ministry. In earlier tests in 2000 and 2001, the test bed focused on the threat of artillery rockets, and shot down 25 Katyushas fired singly and in salvos. The U.S. military has also shot down dummy intercontinental missile warheads in tests both inside and outside the atmosphere using projectile weapons, and is examining the possible use of long-range lasers to burn up such warheads in flight. Technological superiority underlies long-term American superiority and strategic security aspirations and objectives. (Jonkers) ( Reuters 5 Nov 02) http://www.msnbc.com/news/831012.asp?cp1=1
COMPUTER SECURITY RESEARCH FUNDING -- President Bush on Wednesday signed a bill authorizing $900 million in grants to spur federal agencies, industry and universities to devote more energy to cyber security research. The five-year program would require the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to bring industry and academic experts together to fund new research and to help attract top researchers to the field. It also would encourage efforts to recruit new students into cyber security programs. (Levine's Newsbits 11/27)
CYBER SECURITY CERTIFICATION -- A new certification program for entry-level computer-security professionals will officially get up and running Monday. The Security+ certification, brainchild of the Computing Technology Industry Association, could become a minimum requirement that would help companies and government agencies hire knowledge-able network administrators. CompTIA is made up of two dozen trade and government security experts, including representatives from Microsoft, IBM and the FBI. (Levine 11/27)
VIRUS DEFENSE -- A Hewlett-Packard researcher says he has come up with a simple way to stem the destructive flow of mass-mailing computer viruses. Dr Matthew Williamson says the best way minimize the impact of future outbreaks is to limit the number of emails an infected computer can send. (Levine 11/27)
FROM ENEMY TO FRIEND: A North Vietnamese Perspective on the War, by Bui Tin, November 2002, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1-55750-881-X, Chronology, Index. For us who were part of it, the Vietnam War remains a dull ache, softened only by the passage of time. It was one of the two Hot Wars within the so-called Cold War, and quite valid in purpose and intent, as Bui Tin confirms. Having been inundated with tendentious, breast-beating, self-justifying etc. reporting (e.g. former SecDef McNamara springs to mind -- I shall withhold commentary), one approaches books about the war with caution. This one is straight-forward -- the opponent's view. Bui Tin, a Colonel in the North Vietnam Army, makes his points in simple, direct language. I found it interesting reading, particularly on key points such as the amazement of the Communists of why we did not move up the Ho-Chi-Minh trail in Laos, leaving Laos and Cambodia exclusively for use by the North Vietnamese invaders; and their delight that we were so constrained by our fears of a Soviet or Chinese reaction to escalation, keeping us imprisoned by rules of our own making dictated from Washington (some of them truly stupid). There may have been more to all this than Bui Tin could know, but his assessments, representing the Hanoi government, are useful. As James Webb notes in a perceptive "foreword,' Bui Tin does not address the ubiquitous communist atrocities typical of a communist regime, but this does not detract from his narrative. In the end he became disgusted with the repressive policies of the Northern regime in South Vietnam, and he saw the Hanoi government for what it was, what some of us who fought there knew, a repressive Stalinist-Communist government. Not a book for fellow-travelers, but one I recommend. (Jonkers)
TERRORIST INTELLIGENCE COLLECTION COURSE : 4 Day Class, 4-7 March 03.
If a terrorist cell were operating in your area, how would you know? What would your organization do? This course prepares you to deal with this threat. Our instructors will be former CIA, SEALs and former SWAT operators. Contact email@example.com (Rqst by AFIO member David Jiminez, El Paso)
Tom B. writes re: WIN 43, DARPA project -- With regard to your article on "Total Defense Awareness"--why does this new organization make "eminent sense" per your review? I see this as just another quick fix by government and law enforcement, which goes along with all the other analytical panaceas that are being pushed since 11 September. I for one don't believe you can "analyze" the spending patterns of the entire U.S. population.
Editor's Reply -- Your point is well taken. I too have a real concern about the Government going overboard and damaging our fundamental American liberties, as reflected in the Constitution and the deliberations underlying it (e.g. Federalist papers) by excessive bureaucratic and political zeal. American conservatives as well as liberals should be concerned.
On the other hand, without security there is no liberty. We need to tighten up our system to be effective in finding the sleeper cells. DARPA is an agency doing research. It makes sense to me to continue their research. We need to see if it is effective. Then we need to make the judgment on whether to proceed in the short run, or consider implications for the long run. (RJ)
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