Weekly Intelligence Notes #16-03
WIN #16-03 dtd 23 April 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
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NORTH KOREA INTELLIGENCE -- Diplomacy is underway to solve the crisis. Strong public rhetoric from North Korea and the US may hide progress. North Korea, designated as part of the "axis of evil," apparently sees its military as the principal means to influence the international community. The country’s Foreign Ministry said that the American-led war in Iraq had taught Pyongyang “it was necessary to have a powerful physical deterrent force.” Pyongyang therefore is a threat to global stability. Recent provocative moves have included restarting the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, test-firing missiles, and attempting to intercept a US reconnaissance plane. North Korean fighter planes are now on long-distance patrols to discourage US and Russian reconnaissance flights. General Leon LaPorte, commander of US forces in South Korea, recently cited the North's crumbling economy, its active nuclear weapons program, proliferation of missile technologies, large conventional military forces and special operations forces aimed at South Korea (not to mention the 11,000 artillery pieces pointed across the DMZ) as a significant threat. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov warned of an "imminent catastrophe.
An interesting sidelight is that a number of North Korean nuclear scientists have reportedly defected, an activity that may further feed Pyongyang's fears, and assists US Intelligence. An Australian press article indicated that up to 20 of North Korea's military and scientific elite, among them key nuclear specialists, have defected to the US and its allies through a smuggling operation involving the tiny Pacific island of Nauru. The defections started last October and were made possible with the help of 11 countries that agreed to provide consular protection to smuggle the targets from neighboring China. Among those believed to be in a safe house in the West is the father of North Korea's nuclear program, Kyong Won-ha, who left his homeland late last year with the help of Spanish officials. Debriefings of Mr. Kyong are said to have given intelligence officials an exceptional insight into North Korea's nuclear capabilities. The operation - codenamed Weasel - has been largely facilitated through non-government organizations and private citizens from South Korea, the US and its allies
Another interesting sidelight is that direct US exposure on the Korean Peninsula may be reduced. Studies are underway to have South Korea assume an increasingly dominant role in its national security, and will 'review' the location and strength of US forces in South Korea (39,000 at present). (Jonkers) (24/25 April 2003)
THE NEW UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR INTELLIGENCE -- A recent interview with Dr. Stephen A. Cambone has illuminated some of his priorities and approaches. His boss, Secretary Rumsfeld, is known as anything but a passive consumer of intelligence, with the view that policy makers must "engage analysts, question their assumptions and methods, seek from them what they know, what they don't know and ask their opinions." Dr. Cambone has said that the challenge for the United States is "to recover the lost art of strategic warning" and to give to policy makers what they need to buy weapons, organize forces and counter emerging threats over the next 5, 10 or even 15 years. [Longtime critics of intelligence would challenge anyone being able to estimate specifically enough to be useful to acquisition policy as much as 10 or 15 years into the future.] Spotting and identifying trends well would allow Defense leadership to "adjust the disposition of US forces, the arrangement of our basing structures, identify weapons systems in which we ought to invest and those in which we should begin to disinvest." Dr. Cambone considers he was appointed by the Secretary to make sure that the analysis and inquiries are responsive to the policy makers' needs. He envisions a give-and-take where senior policy makers are briefed in a manner that can only be described as interactive, allowing them to reach deeply into the intelligence community for raw data and full-score analysis for nuance beyond the summaries they receive. The staff working for Dr. Cambone will be about 100 people when at full strength. Its role is "not to shape the answer" from intelligence officials, but to "inform the analyst of the interest" of senior decision makers so they can direct their work. "The politicization of intelligence, I think, happens when intelligence is thought to be more than it is," Dr. Cambone said. "And what it can be, at best, is a summary judgment at a given moment in time based on the information that one has been able to glean."
It is heartening to have a new senior intelligence official with relatively brief exposure to the intelligence world holding a realistic view of the limitations of its products. However, it could well be that he is too optimistic in his expectation that senior decision makers will be willing to expend their time to ensure the intelligence types really understand the policy needs. (Harvey) (NYTimes 11 april 03 //T. Shanker)
SADDAM's SECRET POLICE FILES -- Last week, at the Baghdad headquarters of the Mukhabarat, the secret police, an Iraqi man went up to press photographers carrying a bulging, grimy white rice sack. “Tell the world what happened here,” he said. Inside were more than 200 cassette tapes, videos and passports, photographs and negatives, CDs and floppy disks, as well as a fat binder thick with documents addressed TO THE DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE IRAQI INTELLIGENCE SERVICE. The contents of the bag from the Mukhabarat do not reveal any smoking guns--but the tapes and documents, as well as Baath Party papers now captured, do offer interesting insights into the often brutal ways Iraq was ruled.
The Iraqi regime was armed with competing tools of espionage and terror. The IIS was the Baath Party's security arm. The director of the IIS, Tahir Jalil Habbush, comes across in the papers as an exasperated bureaucrat. He has to send out memos reminding his personnel of the most elemental tradecraft, such as “not mentioning informants’ names when sending correspondence.” He rails against Iraqi spies who tried to monitor Turkish commercial companies but “couldn’t use the companies’ computers, so they failed.” IIS spies have to be sternly reminded not to use home computers “to surf the Internet and send e-mails, lest highly classified information leak out.” He scolds IIS agents who are amusing themselves by making harassing phone calls.
At one point, the harried IIS director appears to lose his composure altogether. The occasion was a meeting of agents to discuss surveillance of anti-Saddam religious groups in January 2002. Habbush demanded to know more about the threat from Islamic fundamentalists and particularly, the Iran-based Shiite opposition group, Al Dawa. The agents fumbled about with “weak and incomplete answers,” and the director “got angry and stormed out of the meeting...because nobody there knew the last thing about intelligence work.” The IIS’s once vaunted network of international agents apparently atrophied over time. An evaluation of the IIS stations in Paris, Rome and Athens for the first half of 2002 rated them all “zero” for intelligence gathering and counterespionage.
(Jonkers) (Newsweek 28 April 2003 ed. //Liu, Nordland & Thomas)
SADDAM & THE CIA -- During the Cold War Saddam was seen by U.S. intelligence services as a bulwark of anti-communism and they reportedly used him as their instrument for more than 40 years. While many have thought that Saddam first became involved with U.S. intelligence agencies at the start of the September 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts with U.S. officials allegedly date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim.
In July 1958, Qasim had overthrown the Iraqi monarchy in what one former U.S. diplomat described as "a horrible orgy of bloodshed." Iraq was then regarded as a key buffer and strategic asset in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. In the mid-1950s, Iraq joined the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact, which was to defend the region and whose members included Turkey, Britain, Iran and Pakistan. Little attention was paid to Qasim's bloody and conspiratorial regime until his decision to withdraw from the pact in 1959. Washington watched in marked dismay as Qasim began to buy arms from the Soviet Union and put domestic communists into ministry positions. This prompted CIA Director Allan Dulles to say publicly that Iraq was "the most dangerous spot in the world."
Saddam, while only in his early 20’s, became a part of a U.S. plot to get rid of Qasim. The assassination was set for Oct. 7, 1959, but it was completely botched. Saddam escaped, and then was maintained for some time in Egypt. Among Western intelligence personnel, Saddam "was known as having no class. He was a thug -- a cutthroat."
In February 1963 Qasim was killed in a Baath Party coup. A senior CIA official strongly denied CIA involvement, but the agency quickly moved into action. They provided Baath Party lists of suspected communists, and Saddam presided over mass-killings at Qasr al-Nehayat (the Palace of the End). A former senior CIA official said: "It was a bit like the mysterious killings of Iran's communists just after Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979. All 4,000 of his communists suddenly got killed." Saddam soon became head of al-Jihaz a-Khas, the secret intelligence apparatus of the Baath Party. In the 1980's Saddam received US assistance during the war with Iran, reportedly including intelligence and WMD. But the Saddam-U.S. intelligence alliance of convenience came to an end at 2 a.m. on 2 August 1990, when 100,000 Iraqi troops, backed by 300 tanks, invaded its neighbor, Kuwait, and Saddam's Iraq became the enemy. (Jonkers) (UnitedPressIntl (UPO.com) 10 April 2003 ///R. Sale) (http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=3D20030410-070214-6557r)
PLANNING FOR THE NEXT CYBERWAR -- Buoyed by its decisive win in Iraq, the Pentagon is betting billions that the information technology system that helped defeat Saddam Hussein will evolve into a more potent weapon than cluster bombs and howitzers. Department of Defense futurists call it network-centric warfare. Other military strategists simply refer to it as the digital war. The first Gulf War was analog, they say. This one was digital. (Levine's Newsbits 18 April 03) http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,58422,00.html
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION FUNDING DATA MINING -- The National Science Foundation funds research "right at the cutting edge of discovery," Director Rita Colwell said in a recent interview. So it is only fitting that the foundation announced on Friday that it is funding eight projects that go beyond the technologies currently being developed to mine large amounts of data. (Levine 18 April 03) http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0403/041803td1.htm http://www.computerworld.com/databasetopics/data/report/0,11188,04142003,00.html
IRAQ WAR EXPLOITATION SCAMS -- Pervasive scam artists are seizing the opportunity to cadge money from unwitting patriots. "The only thing that makes it worse is that they are preying on something that people fundamentally feel should not be preyed upon," said Audri Lanford, who runs Internet ScamBusters, which debunks digital hoaxes. "But I guess you could say the same thing about schemes that prey on the elderly." (Levine 21 April 03) http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,110343,00.asp
EAVESDROPPING TECHNOLOGY -- Cisco Systems has created a more efficient way for police and intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on people whose Internet service provider uses their company's routers. The company recently published a proposal that describes how it plans to embed "lawful interception" capability into its products. Among the highlights: Eavesdropping "must be undetectable," and multiple police agencies conducting simultaneous wiretaps must not learn of one another. If an Internet provider uses encryption to preserve its customers' privacy and has access to the encryption keys, it must turn over the intercepted communications to police in a descrambled form. (Levine 21 April 03) http://news.com.com/2010-1071-997528.html
NEW FBI DATA MANAGEMENT ANALYSIS TOOL -- An automated data analysis tool will power a new FBI counterterrorism database, letting bureau analysts easily pore through more than 1 billion documents and share information with other intelligence agencies. The tools, ClearTags and ClearResearch, will draw patterns from terrorism- related intelligence collected from several sources into a centralized data mart that's part of the agency's modernized Trilogy network. (Levine 17 April 03) http://www.gcn.com/vol1_no1/daily-updates/21790-1.html
EXECUTIVE ORDER ON CLASSIFICATION -- The Justice Department Office of Information and Privacy provided its take on the new executive order on classification policy in "Executive Order on National Security Classification Amended," April 11, at http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/foiapost/2003foiapost14.htm (Secrecy News 23 April 03)
DECLASSIFIED CHERNOBYL DOCUMENTS -- The Security Service of Ukraine (Sluzhba Bespeky Ukrayiny or SBU) this week posted an archive of declassified documents concerning the nuclear power plants at Chernobyl and the accident that occurred there on April 26, 1986. The 121 documents, published in Ukrainian, detail construction flaws that were identified by the KGB long before the 1986 accident and provide contemporary accounts of the accident itself. The Chernobyl site remains a disaster area and a public health hazard. Soviet secrecy concerning the Chernobyl accident is one of the factors that precipitated Gorbachev's glasnost campaign and arguably helped lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The April 21 SBU release announcing publication of the declassified documents is here. http://www.sbu.gov.ua/reports/ann21-04-2003.shtml The documents themselves are posted here: http://www.sbu.gov.ua/history/arhiv/01_2001.shtml
FIXING INTELLIGENCE: For a More Secure America, By William Odom, Yale University press, New Haven 2003. Reviewed by Eric Lichtblau.
Talk to the counter-terrorism officials assigned the unenviable job of heading off the next big attack, and a sobering consensus emerges: no amount of steely self-fortification -- no million-dollar airport scanners, no border watch lists, no new federal bureaucracies -- will be enough. Essential to any counter-terrorism strategy is access to intelligence on the enemy. F.B.I. and C.I.A. agents have to be able to infiltrate suspected terror cells at home and abroad. Spy satellites have to track their movements. Money-laundering specialists have to trace the cash. Electronic eavesdroppers and code breakers have to listen in on conversations. And analysts have to piece it all together -- connect the dots. William E. Odom's important and thought-provoking book, ''Fixing Intelligence,'' starts from the premise that America is failing miserably in these vital tasks.
The book builds on a study that Odom, an adjunct professor at Yale University and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, completed in 1997. He offers a cogent if sometimes labored primer on how the intelligence community works (and doesn't work) and why its labyrinth of competing agencies has impeded the flow of information within the government. He traces the roots of modern American intelligence to the fallout over Pearl Harbor and the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency in 1947. For the last 40 years, he says, the intelligence community ''has remained essentially unchanged,'' unwilling because of bureaucratic intransigence and proprietary turf wars to make the structural reforms needed to keep it relevant and effective.
Odom demands wholesale changes, and his solutions will no doubt irk many inside and outside the intelligence community. Make the director of the C.I.A. into the czar of the nation's intelligence industry, he says -- an idea sure to unnerve civil liberties advocates, who worry that an agency with a history of abuses will be given free rein to trample on Americans' rights. Rename and restructure the C.I.A. to distance it from its record of embarrassments, he suggests. And strip the F.B.I. of its role as the nation's chief spy catcher. ''The F.B.I. has a disastrous record of finding and convicting foreign agents,'' Odom observes; its failures demonstrate the need for a wholly new national agency responsible for counterintelligence. Odom acknowledges that in writing this book he is trying to reach two different audiences: the policy makers and intelligence experts whom he seeks to influence, and the lay public that he seeks to inform. He may well succeed in lighting a fire under the first group. But his intended broader audience will probably want more than he gives. He teases readers with insightful glimpses into the problems in the intelligence community without providing many of the necessary details to bolster his case. Even as he promises ''to strip away much of the arcane terminology'' that the community uses, he relies too often on bureaucratic doublespeak and charts to make his point.
Part of the problem is that as a onetime insider, he thinks there is a lot that the public shouldn't know about the spy business. Odom maintains, for instance, that the United States might have been forewarned about Pearl Harbor had it not been for the publication in 1931 of ''The American Black Chamber,'' by Herbert O. Yardley, a former American intelligence official, which revealed new details about the country's decoding operations and prompted the Japanese to modernize their communication systems. ''The Puzzle Palace,'' a best seller by James Bamford in the 1980's, offered an unsparing look into the workings of the NSA.; it won't be found on Odom's list of favorite reading either. He writes that Bamford's work became ''the handbook for hostile intelligence services,'' and typifies the dangerous overexposure of intelligence practices, an overexposure that may have played a part in the NSA's failure to detect Al Qaeda's planning for the Sept. 11 attacks. These are harsh charges, and Odom never substantiates them. Nor does he disclose that he was a senior official at the N.S.A. when the agency threatened to have Bamford prosecuted for revealing classified secrets in his book. Ultimately, it seems, Odom believes that the very intelligence leaders whose work he so stingingly criticizes are in the best position to judge what the public should know.
BOOK SIGNING -- Dan Pinck, author of "Journey to Peking: A Secret Agent in Wartime China," and father of the President of the OSS Society, will discuss his exploits as part of the OSS in China during WW II, and will sign books at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC on Thursday May 15 during two sessions, 12 noon-1 pm (Museum Store), and 1 pm - 1:30 pm (Garbo Meeting Room). There is no charge to attend.
GUATEMALA REDUX -- The 1954 overthrow of the government of Guatemala in a CIA-led coup will be the subject of a U.S. State Department conference next month entitled "The United States, Guatemala, and Latin America: New Perspectives on the 1954 Coup." That episode served in some ways as the template for a whole series of cold war covert actions. The State Department has just published the schedule of the May 15-16 conference, linked from here: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/15021.htM
IN MEMORIAM -- Jack Shirley, 76, a legendary former CIA official who helped run America's "secret war" in Laos between 1961 and 1968, died yesterday in the Thai beach resort of Pattaya after a long bout with cancer. Shirley joined the CIA in its early years after World War II. In 1954 the CIA became involved in Laos where a line was drawn against the communists of North Vietnam after the defeat of the French. Starting in 1961, Mr. Shirley and other CIA officers armed and supported rugged, indigenous ethnic minority Hmong tribesmen fighting against the Pathet Lao communist guerillas in Laos, and against the North Vietnamese traveling on the so-called "Ho Chi Minh Trail" to re-supply their forces in South Vietnam. Jack Shirley and hundreds of CIA and other officers did their duty and their best in god-awful circumstances (as did the Hmong, who saved American lives, but whose tribal existence and culture were severely damaged in the process). After the war Shirley settled in Thailand, and regaled listeners with his tales. Jack complained about a lot of the [U.S.] bureaucracy during the war and the needless loss of life, He had a good sense of humor and a genuine affection for Asia and its people. We salute the passing of a legendary character and warrior of America's "silent wars." He did what had to be done, and did it well, and more, in a war that had to be fought. All honors. (Jonkers) (WashTimes 15 April 03 //R. Ehrlich) (courtesy Scot Crerar)
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