Weekly Intelligence Notes #01-03
WIN #01-03 dtd 7 January 2003
Weekly Intelligence Notes (WINs) are produced and edited by Roy Jonkers for non-profit educational uses by AFIO members and WIN subscribers. RADM (ret) Don Harvey contributes articles to selected WINs.
CONTENTS of this WIN
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IRAQ INTELLIGENCE -- In Iraq, signs are everywhere that the government and its people are preparing for conflict and war. President Saddam Hussein has changed his tone in an address broadcast to the Arab world, designating the US as an ally of Satan (in a reverse spin of the 'evil' designation pinned on him), announcing that the US is preparing to invade, to draw away attention from its economic problems and driven by Israeli and oil resource interests. He said the US is setting the stage for further inroads on neighboring Persian Gulf states. He is promising tough resistance and exhorts the Iraqis that should be ready "to sacrifice their soul and life in defense of the nation." He also has recently made (for him uncharacteristic) appeals to religion, as leaders are likely to do in times of war. The Iraqi Government has announced increased food rations, and the population is hoarding supplies, driving up prices. The ruling Baath party has organized "war games" for its members. Party militias have been conducting exercises. Media reports speculate that the Iraqi military battle plan involves scorched earth tactics, including destruction and setting ablaze oil fields, and a strategy of concentrating defenses in the areas of Baghdad and Tikrit, apparently resigned to losing the south and north to invading forces.
What is a successful short-war, low-casualty-war strategy for the US/UK? In Afghanistan in 2001, ethnic and tribal divisions were effectively exploited by covert CIA operators familiar with people and territory and possessing boxes of cash, and with special operations forces and airpower doing the rest, suffering minimal casualties. The US strategy for Iraq is likely to have different components, but Iraqi tribal politics may play a role.
Iraq has a network of tribes, overlaying the commonly accepted ethnic (Kurd/Arab) and religious (Sunni/Shiite/secular) divisions within the country. There are about 150 major tribes, which break down into about 2,000 smaller clans. Of the larger groups, roughly 30 to 35 are believed to have a significant role in controlling Iraq. Saddam Hussein's tribe, the Tikritis, fill many senior government positions as well as in the security organizations and the presidential guard.
The Baath Party, which came to power in 1968 with Saddam Hussein as a vice president, was a secular party that considered the tribes (and religions) as outdated, with loyalty instead owed to the state and the president. Even the use of tribal names was banned. Things began changing in the 1980's, when the government needed soldiers for the fight against Iran, and the tribes obliged. After Baghdad lost its sovereignty and control of large swaths of the country in the years following the Persian Gulf Kuwait war in 1991, Saddam's Ba'ath party government resurrected the role of the tribes. He reached out to the tribal leaders, allocating them areas to supervise in exchange for more autonomy over tribal affairs, and dispensed cash, cars, arms, schools and other bounty to assure their loyalty. Although traditionally their loyalties can be switched overnight, these are not impoverished and backward tribal leaders, as in Afghanistan, nor is their strength as great. The US strategy, employing both incentives and fear, must be more sophisticated.
After assisting Iraq and Saddam in the 1980's, the US for the past ten years has worked at every level, overt and covert, to infiltrate, isolate, impoverish and influence Iraq, and to diminish or overthrow the regime. Tribal contacts have been sought in meetings with chieftains in neighboring countries to see if they could influence their Iraqi cousins (the major tribes in Iraq have related branches in Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the other Persian Gulf states and Turkey). The covert results are unknown and may well be promising, but overt media reporting and Iraqi exile sources have not been comforting. In addition, various US statements, designating the Iraqi regime as evil, intimating a long occupation and war crimes trials for the Ba'ath party leaders, pronouncements on western control of the oil resources, and some Christian evangelical leaders calling Islam itself fundamentally evil, may not have been helpful. On the other hand, fearsome US airpower, intensive intelligence and covert operations, coupled with the destitute military and civic condition of Iraq due to the prolonged sanctions, bombings and financial restraints, and with Iraq's sovereignty in tatters (US dictates of no-fly zones etc), may lead to a successful short-low-casualty war and achievement of the REALPOLITIK objectives sought. (Jonkers) (ABCNews.com, 30 Dec 02) (NY Times 5 Jan 03 //N. MacFarquhar)
US SPECIAL OPERATIONS ENHANCEMENT -- SecDef Rumsfeld has reportedly approved unprecedented authority to USSOCOM (US Special Operations Command) to conduct global operations against terrorist networks, along with major resource increases. Included are a new battle-planning staff and the transfer of certain intelligence assets to the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the DELTA and SEAL teams who do the actual fighting (along with the Air Force's 160th Special Operations Wing). SecDef's objective is to have one single, global Combatant Command to assume responsibility for the worldwide war on terrorism, and thereby to have a mechanism for quickly deploying commandos to attack terrorists anywhere within hours of discovery. USSOCOM will have the authority to plan and carry out certain missions, covert operations and quick strikes with "hunter-killer" teams, independent of the currently established combatant commands.
This is a significant change in the conduct of global clandestine operations, and one must assume that it will be tightly coordinated with CIA and FBI operations. The plan also calls for prior diplomatic arrangements so covert operators can enter countries quickly to carry out their mission and then make prompt exits.
Since its inception in 1987, USSOCOM has been a "supporting" command, providing personnel and equipment to regional Combatant Commands, which then plan and direct the missions. USSOCOM henceforth can itself also act as a Combatant Command. For example, if intelligence locates al Qaeda operatives in Somalia, SOCOM can be directly tasked to get them. For regional operations, however, such as the current covert war against Iraq, USSOCOM special operations forces will continue to operate under the authority of the regional combatant command, in this case US Central Command, USCENTCOM.
USSOCOM currently oversees some 47,000 personnel. Since 1987 it has been authorized to buy its own equipment, by-passing the normally laborious and lengthy DoD and Service acquisition procedures. SOCOM will receive a one-time infusion of $7Billion this year to buy aircraft and other equipment, and to accommodate 4,000 additional personnel. This is in addition to its FY 2003 budget of $4.9 Billion. The regular USSOCOM annual budget for FY 2004 reportedly will be increased to $6 Billion. (Jonkers) (WPost 6 Jan 2003, p. A1 //R. Scarborough)
US INTELLIGENCE SOFTWARE COMPROMISED? -- The president of Inslaw Inc., has requested that the ' Commission on Terrorist Attacks' investigate whether the Intelligence Community's versions of the firm's Promis database software had been bought by bin Laden and used in computer-based espionage operations against the US. It is alleged that the FBI traitor Robert P. Hanssen had provided it to the Russians, after which bin Laden allegedly bought it from the Russian mafia on the black market. Un-named 'law enforcement representatives' are reported to have confirmed that bin Laden was able to monitor US investigations of his network, including electronic banking transactions.
It may all be true, but quite possibly a publicity stunt to gain support for a decade-long running claim against the Government. The Government has denied using the Promis software, or that Hanssen delivered it to the Russians. Hanssen made extensive use of the FBI's computerized case management systems, including Field Office Information Management Systems (FOIMS) and Community On-Line Intelligence Systems (COINS) as part of his activity. There may be a relationship of these systems to the Promis software, which appears to be crucial part of Inslaw's case. A Federal court reportedly ruled years ago that the Justice Department had used "trickery, fraud and deceit" to steal the Promis program, but that ruling was overturned on appeal. Whatever the merits of that case, there is a possibility of system compromise - due to Hanssen's treason - beyond the Russians, although the image of bin Laden in his air-conditioned caves in Afghanistan supervising batteries of sophisticated computer analysts is not immediately persuasive. (Jonkers) (WTimes 6 Jan 03, p. A3) (J. Seper)
RESEARCH CONTROLS -- More federal research dollars are coming with strings attached as the government tries to keep sensitive information out of the hands of terrorists. Some federal agencies, for example, are pressing to review papers on certain topics and ban foreign researchers who have not been specially screened. (Levine 3 Jan 02)
TRAFFIC CONTROLS -- In a rambling building that overlooks a freeway in San Diego, a bank of computers monitors the travels of trucks carrying hazardous materials, making sure they don't go anywhere near specified landmarks, such as the White House or the Arkansas capitol building.
Using GPS software, the computers also track cars for seven police agencies. Some of the vehicles are waiting to be stolen, while others are driven by unsuspecting suspects who are under surveillance. Armed with satellite tracking technology and remote-control devices, police officers from Virginia to Southern California are arresting car thieves who have unwittingly stolen booby-trapped Camrys and Accords. When a thief drives off with a "bait car" that's been left parked somewhere, police track its location, dispatch officers and use remote control to stop the vehicle in its tracks. (Levine's Newsbits 3 Jan 02)
CLOAK AND DOLLAR: A History of American Secret Intelligence, by Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2002, with Notes, Bibliography & Index, ISBN 0-300-07474-3. The author, an Englishman who touts himself as a "leading expert on American espionage," and who has published three previous texts on the topic, here presents a thesis of an American Intelligence Community possessed by a "Confidence Man" mentality that developed during the Cold War. He writes from the perspective of a skeptic who has 'special knowledge.' The first chapter, "The American Spy Considered as a Confidence Man," sets the tone of the entire text as it examines the historical development of US intelligence. The culminating chapter, "The Real American Century?" is a wholly critical treatment of 1991 to the present. Jeffreys-Jones manages to describe every major occurrence and every key player in virtually every field of intelligence with a critical slant that is relentless. Covering the FBI, DIA, CIA, NSA and all points in between, nothing and nobody escapes.
If professionals in the "business" can recognize the fact that here is a very talented author who is running the critical gamut, leaving no stone unturned, this is, front to back, a book worth reading, if for no other reason than underscoring the fact that it covers and criticizes everything. It's a little like being an amateur bee-keeper - a delightful pastime, but be sure and wear your netting! (Reviewed by AFIO member C. Roades)
THE PURSUIT OF OBLIVION: A Global History of Narcotics, by Richard Davenport-Hines, Norton, 2002. the author provides an overview of cultural attitudes towards hallucinatory, stimulating, narcotic and inebriating substances, concentrating on narcotics, including opium and heroin. He also treats cocaine, which is not a narcotic but a stimulant. Because the use of drugs is so widespread today, what complex modern societies choose to do about the negative consequence of their availability is of great economic, political (and intelligence and special operations) significance. The history of American drug policy bulks large in his analysis, because the US is powerful and rich, and hence internationally persuasive. It is also because the US is resolutely (sometimes hypocritically?) puritanical. Through time, the US has consistently opted for prohibition over regulation. The book is good, even if not easy reading. It will make few people happy, and a good many sore. It is a powerful indictment against a mostly failed policy, and provides additional reasons why that policy ought to be seriously reexamined and debated. (Reviewed by Sidney Mintz)
(1) Historical records declassified and released this month under Britain's 30 year rule are listed and described by the UK Public Record Office here:
(2) The Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) volume on the Berlin Crisis, 1961-1962, which was published ten years ago, is newly available online here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/frus/kennedyjf/xiv/
(Secrecy News 6 Jan 03)
NCIX FEATURES -- The FBI's NCIX is beginning 2003 with some new initiatives in response to customer feedback. First, we bring you "Spy Biographies," which features a picture and a brief narrative of each of the convicted spies in our 2002 wall calendar. Second, wall calendar background screens from the 2002 calendar are now available. Finally, the January 2003 background screen calendar is now posted. All of these new offerings may be viewed by linking to the NCIX Web site at http://www.ncix.gov/ .. As a reminder, there are no copyright restrictions on any of the information or graphics on our Web site. (RJ)
AFIO QUESADA CHAPTER MEETING -- The San Francisco Bay Area Jim Quesada Chapter holds its first meeting of 2003 on January 15 at the Presidio Golf Club. Major General Michael Myatt (ret.), Commander of the USMC Task Force that Liberated Kuwait in 1991, will be the speaker. No host cocktails at 6:30; Dinner at 7pm. Dinner is $35 with a reservation, or $40 at the door. For a reservation, contact Mary Lou Anderson at: email@example.com.
AFIO MEMBER ON TV HISTORY CHANNEL -- Rick Francona, Arabic speaking former US attaché, author and specialist on Iraq, will appear in a special history presentation: Saddam's Bombmaker, on Thursday, January 16 10:00 - 11:00 PM - The History Channel
MITRE CORP MEETING -- The MITRE Corporation presents - ANALYTIC DISCIPLINES DAY - on February 3, 2003, at the MITRE facilities, 1S100, S-Building, 202 Burlington Road, Bedford, Massachusetts. The agenda includes a Classified Session (K-Building) from 0800 - 0900 am, and an unclassified session 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (S. Building) . Further information see website http://nrrc.mitre.org or register with Paula MacDonald, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or via telephone at (781) 271-7037.
IN MEMORIAM - Ronald Alexander MacMillan, 90, AFIO Life Member, died on 17 December 2002. He served the US Government for 36 years, retiring to his native state, California, in 1968. There he was active in local conservation efforts, was an active hiker and an accomplished swimmer until this past year when he was slowed by late developing hydrocephalitis. He is survived by his wife Sue McCone MacMillan, two children, two grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. We salute a life well and fully lived. (Jonkers)
LETTER on the COLOMBIAN DRUG WAR. William W writes ref WIN 48-02 dtd 17 Dec 02 -- I was in the Office of Public Safety (Byron Engle's old outfit) in VN in the '60s and Colombia in the '70s. I recall reports required of us based on, as you describe it, the mechanical and bureaucratic model. Success was all too often judged by the amount of things that we provided, money we spent, people checked at checkpoints, items seized, and so forth, rather than the strategic outcomes or impacts of our policies and programs...
I recall in the mid 70s that DEA stated that they were turning the corner on the cocaine trade in Colombia. DEA claimed to have made x number of contacts and associations with sources of information about the notorious Cali Group in Colombia. X number of arrests and x kilos of seizures followed. What the DEA didn't realize was that those contacts and associations (sources) were in the Medellin Group (later termed the Medellin Cartel) and those Cali Cartel people arrested were commercial competitors of the Medellin Cartel. The animosity of the two groups towards each other had frequently lead to bloodshed and betrayal. They were both old line smugglers and were referred to as the Mafiosos of Cali or Medellin, always warring with each other. Unfortunately, the DEA outcome was that the Medellin Cartel, through its then unchallenged leadership in the production and sale of cocaine and heroin from Colombia gained such economic and political power that it has been able to hold the Colombian government at bay for at least two decades. It even assisted with the financing of a then almost defunct insurgent group, the FARC, which now controls large amounts of Colombia. But, the DEA could claim success by the number of arrests and seizures that resulted from their sources.
The sad truth is, no matter how many arrests we make, tons of whatever we seize, fields we spray, money and supplies we give to foreign governments, the matter is one of a continuing and growing demand followed by supply. The outcomes of our efforts have not been impressive as we continue to see this cancer grow alarmingly within our society. The light at the end of the tunnel, drawing its power from the mechanical-bureaucratic reporting system, has been obscured by the impacts of reality.(RJ)
LETTER - on NIGERIAN SCAMS, Charles P. writes re: WIN 47-02, dtd 17 Dec02 -- Thank you for your piece on Nigerian 419 Advance Fee Fraud operations. Education is one of the primary means available to counter 419. The piece, and the "Wired" article to which it links, do illustrate one relatively minor type of Nigerian Goods and Services 419 operations. However, for a complete and comprehensive view of Nigerian 419 operations, please go the '419 Coalition' site, http://home.rica.net/alphae/419coal/ and pay particular attention to the Main page and the News sections (2002 all the way back to 1996). The Links section is also quite good as well. '419 Coalition' is more accurate and comprehensive on Nigerian 419 operations than any single article on 419 can possibly be. Indeed, 419 Coalition serves as a primary resource for journalists etc. and law enforcement agencies worldwide working on 419 matters. So, those interested, do feel free to drop in anytime and visit! (RJ)
LETTER - RESEARCH ASSISTANCE REQUESTED - My name is MAJ Gregory Joachim and I am a Foreign Area Officer completing a Master's degree in International Relations at Boston University. My thesis is on the 1958 All-African People's Conference in Accra, Ghana. One of the chapters of my paper deals with the extent to which United States and Soviet intelligence organizations penetrated the conference and influenced its proceedings. I am interested in interviewing former intelligence officers who reported on the conference or served in Ghana in December of 1958. I was referred to AFIO by Professor Art Hulnick. REPLIES to: MAJJoachim@aol.com
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