Weekly Intelligence Notes #30-03
1 August 2003

WIN 30-03, dtd 1 August 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   


SYMPOSIUM ANNOUNCEMENT:  The AFIO National Symposium: the Changing Face of Intelligence,  will be conducted Saturday 1 November through Tuesday 4 November 2003, with a variety of activities,  including sessions at the Hotel in McLean (Saturday),  in Washington DC (Sunday) at the NRO (Monday), and at another facility at Langley (Tuesday). A great chance to discuss critical issues with top leaders. We expect a full house. You may register now at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel at Tysons corner, Virginia, (703 448 1234) at the AFIO preferred rate of $89 per night. We'll do our best to provide you with an absolutely top program, trumping last year's acclaimed conference. (RJ)

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          Congressional 9/11 Report Released

          Policy Futures Market Canceled



          Niger Yellow Cake Saga (Cont'd)

          Air Passenger Screening Alert

          Terrorism Defense: The Border Fence



          Computerized Voting Vulnerable to Fraud

          FBI Wants to Tap Internet Phones

          Feds Help Local Police in Identity Theft Fraud



          Sleeping With the Devil



          Symposium Announcement



          Gus w. Wrote in response to the NIGER article in WIN 29




CONGRESSIONAL 9/11 REPORT RELEASED -- The joint panel of the House and Senate intelligence committees released its 900 page report on the failure of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies to prevent the terrorist plot from succeeding. As expected there are many pages of criticism of the intelligence agencies, a renewed recommendation to establish a cabinet-level Secretary/Director for Intelligence, and some controversy about pages relating to Saudi Arabia that remain classified.

          The report states that the F.B.I., C.I.A. and other agencies had amassed a huge amount of information about al Qaeda before the attacks, but that none of the intelligence offered a "smoking gun" that indicated exactly how, when or where the attacks would take place. It provides some new insights into the hijackings and details about the activities of the F.B.I. and C.I.A., but leaves unanswered questions about precisely how the plot for 9/11 was hatched. There are plenty of blanks still left to be filled in. As expected, a further, more broad-range study is underway.

          The Administration has shown little interest in the panel's proposal to create a single cabinet-level intelligence chief. One doubts that such an official would have made one iota of difference in preventing 9/11

          Representatives of the country's intelligence agencies noted that the report offers little new information. Since the attacks all agencies have taken further steps to expand and improve counter-terrorism efforts -- including the sharing of information. The FBI has completely re-made itself, so that intelligence analysis is now a desirable career field within the Bureau, a remarkable achievement. More importantly, the externals have changed -- the former legal restrictions on intelligence and law-enforcement guarding our constitutional civil liberties have been relaxed or changed (e.g. the "PATRIOT" act) under the impetus of the "war" on terrorism, the Executive and Congressional political will is now mobilized and focused behind this "war," and significant new financial resources have been made available to the intelligence agencies.  The environment in which intelligence operates has therefore fundamentally changed from what it was before 9/11, and throwing stones at former shortcomings without considering the contextual fabric is less and less relevant. 

          Finally, there is a classified portion of the report dealing with Saudi Arabia that has not been released. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi nationals, part of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda movement, whose primary objective is to overthrow the Saudi government, which it views as corrupt. The US is a target only by extension, because of its support of the House of Saud and tangentially for what has been happening in Palestine. The Saudi government, which remains in power through a network of financial support distributions, whatever one may think of it, is therefore on the same side as the US Government, a target for the al-Qaeda terrorists. This is a complex issue, and a political hot potato for Congressional posturing because of the various domestic political constituencies involved. .

          The best one can say for this congressional report is that it is democracy in action, and useful for future historians. We will be awaiting the next report. (Jonkers) (New York Times 25 July 03, p.1 //D. Johnston)


POLICY FUTURES MARKET CANCELED -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has the charter to think "out of the box.'  It is an entrepreneurial organization that has performed magnificently in technology achievements, but has recently encountered some political turbulence when proposing "social-science" information projects (such as the Terrorism Information Awareness (TIA) project). Admiral (ret) John M. Poindexter, the head of DARPA's Information Awareness Office, now has just resigned under Congressional pressure over the "Policy Analysis Market" project, called FutureMAP (Futures Markets Applied to Predictions).

          The project was conceived by a math and computer science specialist who joined DARPA in 2000. Using a model of a political futures market developed at the University of Iowa, which has proven better than pollsters and pundits in predicting the outcome of presidential elections, he proposed a "market" for assisting analysts in predicting regional political events and terrorist threats. After approval in 2001, DARPA awarded initial design contracts to two small firms. They proposed setting up a market to anticipate major events in the Middle East and South Asia that would be internal to the Government, limited to intelligence analysts and others within the Government.  This approach, however, ran into legal prohibitions against moving money among agencies. So the next iteration envisioned a public market. It also narrowed the scope to eight countries in the Middle East. Under the plan, most of the trading was to have centered on predictions based on general indices regarding economic health, civil stability and military posture, but there were also provisions for future contracts on the possibility of a terrorist attack, assassinations, or a coup.

          In late 2002 Adm. Poindexter approved field testing the project, which envisioned registering traders by 1 August and starting trades on 1 October. The intelligence agencies and the Securities and Exchange Commission were briefed. There were no objections. The project did not make it to the Secretary of Defense or his senior officials -- but this is not unusual for such a minor project. But in May the project came to the attention of some lawmakers, who were tipped-off to look at the Web site, which showed trading examples to include betting on the possibility of the assassination of Yasser Arafat. The senators called a press conference and denounced the project as bizarre and morally repugnant, prompting the SecDef to cancel it, and the Admiral has now quit.

          There is much food for thought in this tale, other than the tremendous DARPA error in how it was portrayed on its Website. There is, for example, the underlying notion that the free-thinking marketplace, involving impersonal risk assessment judgments backed by money, is better at combining all the variables of information to make a prediction than Government bureaucratic intelligence and political analysts. This is worth further examination. On the flipside, there is also the unexamined notion that some of these contracts could become self-fulfilling predictions. Furthermore, once started for one area, where would it stop? Assassination bets on which head of state?  One would need to limit the activity. Finally there is the ingenuity of the proposal itself, and one trusts that DARPA will be undeterred in pursuing its imaginative ways to optimize predictions of terrorist incidents and behavior. (Jonkers) (WashPost 1 Aug 03 p. A1 -// WP 30 July p. A17 - V. Loeb and B. Graham // WP 31 July p. A-19 Prof. Wolfers & Zitzewitz, Stanford))




NIGER YELLOW CAKE SAGA (Cont'd) -- Intelligence is always vulnerable to deception. Bogus intelligence, as Milt Bearden recently pointed out again, is the bane of statecraft decision-making. President Bush has now accepted responsibility for the infamous "sixteen word" insertion in his speech claiming an Iraqi nuclear threat based on a report that Iraq pursued purchase of uranium from Niger, now generally publicly recognized as based on fraudulent intelligence. There remains the interesting question as to who produced this deception? Some reports point to the Italians or the French, others to Iraqi exiles, others to decades-old information. But this begs the question of the depth of the analysis and why now? Who stood to gain from this assertion? Who wanted Iraq to be invaded by the US?

          As to the facts, such as they are available in the public media, uranium is produced in two mines -- Somair, run by Niger and France, and Cominak, a joint venture among Niger, France, Spain and Japan. Almost all of the 1,500 workers are from Niger. Explosives and mechanical diggers are used to extract the matte-black uranium ore from open-cast and underground mines. The ore is taken to nearby factories, ground into small pieces, treated with sulfuric acid, filtered and turned first into a solid yellow substance and then into a fine yellow powder. The yellowcake is then packed into hermetically sealed metal drums for export, each weighing some 280 pounds, identified by the name of the mine and by number. Somair's director general said that in the 40 years since extraction began at Arlit, there had not been a single case of uranium being lost or stolen. He could not understand how uranium could be sold illegally to Iraq, because all movements of uranium were monitored closely by the French, by the companies, and by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The Niger Government had no possibility of selling uranium to Saddam because of French control.

          Furthermore, the yellowcake produced in Niger is 75 percent uranium and would need to undergo expensive, high-technology processing before it could be used to make a nuclear bomb. There is no evidence that Saddam had such a technology. Finally, it takes 1,000 tons of uranium ore to produce 9 - 13 pounds of yellowcake for export. Saddam would have needed hundreds of tons of yellowcake to supply enough uranium to make nuclear weapons, making the illegal movement on such scale even more conspicuous and unlikely. The deception was crude, for dummies only. That's us. (Jonkers) (WashTimes, 31 July 03// D. Harrison) (Media General News Sevice //J. Hall) (NYTimes 20 July 03 //Milt. Bearden) http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/20/weekinreview/20BEAR.html  


AIR PASSENGER SCREENING ALERT -- The Department of Homeland Security has approved expansion of its passenger surveillance system, aimed at identifying potential terrorists, to include identifying 'criminals.'

          The system, CAPPS II, uses commercial information services to sort through demographic and marketing data to establish whether passengers are "rooted in the community." Classified government computer systems are then used to review passengers with questionable reports against other databases. Against terrorists, this is OK, but it appears that a warning flag should go up about this coverage expansion to include 'criminals.' The definition of 'criminals' is fungible. After including criminals, who else, what next? Unless tightly controlled and consistently monitored, it is a step on the way toward Big Brother - and we don't want to go there. (Jonkers) (WasP 31 July03 //R. O'Harrow)


TERRORISM DEFENSE: THE BORDER FENCE -- Israel is not the only country building a fence to prevent militants' infiltration.  The longest such fence has been under construction for decades between India and Pakistan. The Indian fence consists of a thick mud wall, topped by an 8-foot high, 30-tier maze of barbed wire, along with Israeli ground sensors, radars, and French thermal-imaging devices to detect movement. Some 900 miles of fence have been completed, and the intent is to cover the entire 1,800 miles of border with Pakistan. The fence is now pushing ahead in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, to prevent militants from entering. Pakistan considers this area disputed territory and objects to the fence along the cease-fire line. India proclaims its right to build the fence within Indian territory. This difference makes building the wall unhealthy. Some 21 bulldozer drivers constructing the wall have been shot.

          The fence will make infiltration of militants difficult, but not impossible. It must be augmented by good border intelligence, possibly by assistance to the impoverished border villages so that they will provide information to India. Real security will ultimately depend on peace between Pakistan and India, just as it does with Israel and the Palestinians. (Jonkers) (WPost 30 July03 p. A16 //R. Laskshmi)




COMPUTERIZED VOTING VULNERABLE TO FRAUD -- An electronic voting system used in some states as an alternative to the troublesome punch-card ballots is highly vulnerable to fraud, computer security experts warned in a study released Thursday. (Levine 07/24) http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/news/editorial/6376399.htm




FBI WANTS TO TAP INTERNET PHONES -- Internet telephone calls are fast becoming a national security threat that must be countered with new police wiretap rules, according to an FBI proposal presented quietly to regulators this month. Representatives of the FBI's Electronic Surveillance Technology Section in Chantilly, Va., have met at least twice in the past three weeks with senior officials of the Federal Communications Commission to lobby for proposed new Internet eavesdropping rules. The FBI-drafted plan seeks to force broadband providers to provide more efficient, standardized surveillance facilities and could substantially change the way that cable modem and DSL (digital subscriber line) companies operate. (Levine 07/29) (http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1105_2-5056424.html) (http://news.zdnet.co.uk/internet/security/0,39020375,39115339,00.htm)

(http://news.com.com/2100-1028_3-5056424.htmln) (http://www.msnbc.com/news/945608.asp)


FEDS HELP LOCAL POLICE IN IDENTITY THEFT FRAUD -- Stolen credit card and Social Security numbers. Check fraud. Drained bank accounts. Ruined credit. Nightmares for victims, identity crimes also can be vexing to local police departments trying to unravel the crimes. To help local police officers better understand and investigate these crimes, an electronic package is being mailed out Tuesday to more than 40,000 police departments and other law enforcement authorities, the Secret Service said Monday. (Levine o7/29) http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/internet/07/29/identity.crime.ap/index.html




SLEEPING WITH THE DEVIL: HOW WASHINGTON SOLD OUR SOUL FOR SAUDI CRUDE, by Robert Baer, Crown 2003. Baer, a former CIA case officer with assignments in the Middle East, detests Saudi Arabia, as is made clear by title of this book. It is filled with tales of meetings of Washington power brokers with Saudi princes, wealthy Saudis carousing their way through Europe ("Saudi Arabia spends a staggering percentage of its GDP on sex," or underwriting the US budget by "spreading their money everywhere, like manure on a winter's field." According to Baer, Saudi Arabia has become "a breathtakingly irrational state - a place that spawns global terrorism even as it succumbs to an ancient and deeply seated isolationism, a kingdom led by a royal family that can't get out of the way of its own greed." Nevertheless, in the final analysis Baer concludes that the devil we know is better than the alternative. He derides as utter nonsense proposals to encourage democratization in Saudi Arabia, nor does he think that Americans will someday wean themselves from dependency on Saudi oil. "Like it or not, the US and Saudi Arabia are joined at the hip. Its future is our future." This appears to be a book of mixed virtues, but certainly filled with facts as well as assertions and sweeping generalizations, of educational and entertainment value as additional background and context for intelligence on the Middle East. (Jonkers) (based on review by Lawrence Kaplan, Sr. Ed. New Republic// WP 27 Jul03)




SYMPOSIUM ANNOUNCEMENT:  The AFIO National Symposium: the CHANGING FACE OF INTELLIGENCE, will be conducted Saturday 1 November through Tuesday 4 November 2003, with a variety of activities, including sessions at the Hotel in McLean (Saturday), in Washington DC (Sunday) at the NRO (Monday), and at another facility at Langley (Tuesday). A great chance to discuss critical issues with top leaders. We expect a full house. You may register now at the Sheraton Premiere Hotel at Tysons corner, Virginia, (703 448 1234) at the AFIO preferred rate of $89 per night. We'll do our best to provide you with an absolutely top program, trumping last year's acclaimed conference. (RJ)





Gus W. wrote in response to the NIGER article in WIN 29: "500 tons of uranium" really means uranium oxide, U3O8, or yellow cake. Yellow cake has two meanings, unpurified or purified. U3O8 has to be converted into UF6 before it can be distilled into weapons grade U235 by centrifuge or gaseous diffusion.



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