AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #19-08 dated 12 May 2008

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Army Chiefs "Ignored Warnings" Spy Plane Was Unsafe to Fly. The British Ministry of Defense is bracing itself for what is set to be the most damaging allegations so far over failure to provide service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan with adequate equipment. An inquest this week into 14 men who died when an ageing Nimrod spy plane exploded in mid-air in 2006 will hear evidence that the MoD ignored repeated warnings from RAF pilots and ground crew that the planes were unsafe to fly.

The explosion - the single biggest military loss of life since the Falklands war - was caused when leaking fuel ignited after coming into contact with an uninsulated hot air pipe. In December, the MoD took the unusual step of admitting responsibility for the accident, and the Secretary of State for Defense, Des Browne, apologized to the families.

Last month, the High Court ruled sending troops into battle without proper equipment could breach their human rights. An inquest into the death from dehydration of Jason Smith, a reservist, in Basra in 2003, revealed inadequate medical procedures and advice on dealing with the risk.

Later this month the MoD will face another legal challenge, when the mother of a soldier killed by a bomb that destroyed a Land Rover will argue the vehicles should not have been used as they were inadequately armored.  [Johnson/Independent/4May2008] 

Audit Finds Hundreds of Laptops Missing at State Department. An internal State Department audit has discovered that hundreds of employee laptops are unaccounted for at the U.S. Department of State. 

As many as 400 of the unaccounted for laptops belong to the department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, according to officials familiar with the findings. The program provides counterterrorism training and equipment, including laptops, to foreign police, intelligence and security forces.

The State Department's Inspector General launched an audit of the equipment about three months ago. Only the first stage, or inventory of equipment, has been completed.

A State Department official referred all questions regarding laptop losses to the Inspector General. A senior IG official, asking not to be identified, said he could "not comment on ongoing work."

Nita M. Lowey , D-N.Y., who heads a House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees State Department operations, said she was concerned about the security revelations.

Auditors found that the department had lost track of $30 million worth of equipment, according to one official, "the vast majority of which.... perhaps as much as 99 per cent," was laptops. Calculating that the average State Department laptop costs $3,000, another official said, hundreds, perhaps as many as a thousand, were missing. It could not be learned how many employees have been issued laptops.

Mark Duda, a representative of the Inspector General's office at the meeting, warned the managers that they needed to get on top of the equipment issue before it "blows up." He said a scandal loomed akin to the one that engulfed the Veterans Administration in 2006, when news broke that a VA official had taken home a laptop with the personal records of 26 million veterans, where it was stolen.

More than a year ago, the administration's Identity Theft Task Force warned of security vulnerabilities within the government's Internet technology systems.

In May 2007, OMB had ordered all federal departments and agencies to "develop and implement a breach notification policy within 120 days."

Hints of the State Department's laptop losses first surfaced March 31 in an anonymous post at an obscure Web site frequented by employees of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, called Dead Men Working. [Stein/cqpolitics/5May2008] 

DEA Intelligence Analysts Lack Security Clearances. Twelve percent of the DEA's intelligence analysts last year did not have the security clearances necessary, or were otherwise unauthorized to do their jobs, a new Justice Department audit concludes.

The audit released Monday says the Drug Enforcement Administration was slow to complete and share its intelligence reports with other government agencies, despite producing work that generally was praised as useful and effective.

The audit found that 19 of 699 DEA intelligence analysts surveyed had only low-level security clearances needed to review intelligence, while another 62 had not been reauthorized to keep their top secret clearances, as required every five years. One additional analyst had no security clearance at all as of last September, the audit found.

All DEA analysts are required to have top secret clearance in order to fully do their jobs.

In a response to the audit, DEA Deputy Chief Inspector Gary Oetjen said the agency agrees with its conclusions and pledged to correct the gaps.

As of March 30, DEA officials were in the process of making sure all intelligence analysts were reauthorized to have top secret security clearances, said spokesman Garrison Courtney. [Jordan/AP/5May2008]

Belarus Accuses US of Running Spy Ring Amid Escalating Tensions. Belarus accused the United States of recruiting citizens into a spy ring aimed at undermining the ex-Soviet republic.

The U.S. State Department said the allegation was "just ridiculous" and that the department was considering whether to close its embassy in Minsk.

Tension has been building between Washington and the authoritarian regime of President Alexander Lukashenko, and most U.S. Embassy employees have been expelled in recent months.

Valery Nadtachayev, a spokesman for the main security agency, the KGB, told Belarusian television on Monday that the U.S. Embassy had hired 10 local citizens to take photographs of police officials, airports and villages near the state border.

Most of the diplomats were expelled after the U.S. imposed sanctions on a state-controlled Belarusian company and travel restrictions on President Alexander Lukashenko and other top government officials. [iht/5May2008] 

FSB Seeks To Clarify What Is Espionage. The Russian Federal Security Service has drafted amendments to the Criminal Code clarifying the definition of espionage.

While the bill's supporters say it would help prevent citizens from facing groundless espionage charges, critics warn that if it becomes law, the bill could make it easier for the FSB to prosecute scientists and researchers, many of whom have already been caught up in spy scandals.

The draft bill makes a distinction between deliberate espionage and disclosure of state secrets without intent to commit high treason.

But while the amendments may result in fewer groundless espionage cases, they could bring about more cases of scientists and researchers charged with divulging state secrets, said Pavel Chikov, head of the human rights group AGORA.

The FSB in recent years has accused numerous scientists of disclosing state secrets. But the agency has had difficulties proving in court that the defendants acted with intent to harm national security or that they had passed sensitive information to a foreign entity. [Abdullaev/MoscowTimes/6May2008] 

CIA: China's Military Could Get "Adversarial." China's rise is posing serious challenges and its military buildup and international behavior could produce an "adversarial" relationship with the world, according to CIA Director Michael V. Hayden. 

CIA Director Michael Hayden said China was beefing up its military with "remarkable speed and scope," calling the buildup "troubling." He said that China and India will affect strategic planning, "But China, a communist-led nuclear state that aspires to and will likely achieve great power status during this century, will be the focus of American attention in that region of the world."

Hayden said there are differing views about China's rise and its motivations. His view is that China is an economic competitor and increasingly becoming a "geopolitical" competitor.

China's military buildup is the most significant aspect of Beijing's growth, Hayden said, noting that the PLA has integrated the U.S. conflict lessons learned in both Persian Gulf wars. "They've developed an integrated advanced weaponry into a modern military force," he said.

The new Chinese military power could pose a risk to U.S. forces and interest in the region, and the military buildup is also about projecting the image of strength, he said.  [WorldTribune/9May2008] 

Special Investigator Raps Berlin's Probe of CIA Flights. An independent investigator has criticized the German government for its woeful probe of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) flights.

A rapporteur for the German BND secret service commission of enquiry into German collusion into the American extraordinary renditions program, Joachim Jacob, lashed out at the Berlin government in a secret report, accusing German officials of being responsible for major mishaps, sloppiness and false testimony in probing the CIA scandal.

Jacob, who released a 130-page secret report on the case on March 31, also slammed the government for adhering to a legally doubtful position which allows the CIA to illegally transit prisoners through German airspace. According to Jacobs, CIA prisoner flights should be dealt with like police or military flights and hence also needed to have a permit.

The German Government had reportedly a list of at least 437 flights operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency in German airspace, according to the news magazine Der Spiegel. The number includes both movements by planes of the CIA spy agency in German airspace and landings at German airports, it claimed. [GlobalSecurity/8May2008] 

Rules Urged for Canadian Spies in Afghanistan. Canada's spies working in Afghanistan are doing so without a rulebook, the watchdog that reviews CSIS's operations says.

Eva Plunkett, Inspector-General of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, says the agents are doing "commendable work" but that laws governing the spy service need to be updated now that agents are being dispatched to war zones.

A "suitable policy framework" is needed to tell the spies what they should and should not do, she says in her "Top Secret" annual report to Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, which was posted, partly censored, on a federal website this week.

Within Canada, the spy agency's powers to identify targets, recruit agents, plant bugs and break into buildings are subject to strict guidelines and many levels of scrutiny. Whether these same activities - or even more invasive ones - can be legally done overseas remains a murky matter of interpretation.

Earlier this year, it was revealed that CSIS asked a Federal Court judge to sign off on spying warrants that would have allowed counterterrorism agents to follow Canadian citizen suspects to unidentified countries, and then intercept their communications. The judge said he had no authority to endorse any such warrants.

When CSIS was formed in 1984, it was envisioned as an agency that would operate within Canada under strict checks and balances.

In the past quarter century, spy agency officials have always upheld that CSIS's strength lies in the fact that its work is reviewed by multiple agencies. Today, however, the watchdog agencies are wondering how to keep in check its increasing foreign activities, which were never explicitly contemplated in the law.

In the new report from Ms. Plunkett, she points out that CSIS's legal relationship with both the Foreign Affairs and National Defence Departments are completely out of date, suggesting it's not clear where the role of being a soldier or diplomat stops and being a spy begins. This, she says, represents "a lacuna in the operational policy framework."

Parliament generally needs to clarify what Canada's spies can do in 2008, the Inspector-General says. [Freeze/TheGlobeandMail/9May 2008] 

Microsoft Gives Out Back Door Key. Last Summer, Microsoft Corporation quietly introduced a powerful tool for getting past security on laptops and PCs running the Windows operations system (which about 90 percent do). The device is a USB thumb drive called COFEE (Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor). When you capture an enemy computer, you plug in COFEE and then use over a hundred software to quickly get whatever information is on the machine. COFEE can quickly reveal passwords, decrypt files, reveal recent Internet activity and much more. A lot of this can be done without COFEE, but with the Microsoft device, intelligence collection is a lot faster.

Microsoft has distributed thousands of COFEE devices to police and military intelligence personnel in the United States, and some foreign countries. COFEE was developed mainly to assist the investigation of Internet based crime. But military intelligence operators find it very useful in uncovering enemy plans. Islamic terrorists love their laptops, and never go killing without them. [StrategyPage/2May2008] 

Corporate Spies Killing The CIA. The CIA is having a growing problem with their analysts and spies being recruited away by corporations. One unpleasant development for government intelligence agencies in the last few decades has been the growing popularity of "competitive intelligence" (corporate espionage.) It's a big business, with most large (over a billion dollars of annual sales) corporations having separate intelligence operations. Spending on corporate intel work is over $5 billion a year, and is expected to more than double in the next four years.

The corporate recruiters have a pretty easy time of it, as they can offer higher pay, better working conditions and bonuses. The U.S. government is fighting back, at least on the bonus front. The big innovation is an old corporate one, "performance-based compensation." Government employee unions usually fight this sort of thing, because it makes too many union members look bad. But there is no union at the CIA, or at most other intel agencies. So the Director of National Intelligence is implementing a number of new personnel practices, in order to make it more difficult for corporate intelligence operations to recruit government operatives. [StrategyPage/8May2008] 


Yak Polo Games Hit by War on Terror. A polo competition played on yaks in a remote corner of Pakistan has fallen prey to the war on terror. A Pakistani military intelligence agency has ordered that the festival, which is played in a mountainous area of Chitral bordering Afghanistan, on the ancient Silk Road, be moved to a neighboring district because it is too close to a CIA listening post.

Pakistan, a key ally in the US-led war on terror, built the spy station to monitor cross-border infiltration by Islamic militants in an area the CIA believes could be a refuge for Osama bin Laden.

The intelligence agency informed the North West Frontier Province government that the tournament, which is played on arguably the world's highest polo ground at the 13,000ft Boroghil Pass, must be moved for "security reasons".

Officials want to deter foreigners from visiting the area which Russia and Britain sparred over during the 19th century "Great Game" of imperial expansion.

"We will have all the same activities but in a more secure place," said Syed Aqil Shah, the province's minister for tourism.

But locals, who come from Pakistan's poor, semi-nomadic Wakhi people, have complained that the move would entail herding dozens of yaks over a glacier and the 15,000ft Darkhot Pass in the Hindu Kush to Gilgit, a land alien to the Wakhi.

A local dignitary, who asked not to be named, said the move had "caused local anger and threatened the Wakhi's only source of income".

"They have built this so-called listening post next to the road in the valley where they play polo. Why could they not have built it higher up away from the Wakhi?" [Wilkinson/Telegraph/5April2008] 

'Highest Priority' Terror Intel Took Weeks to Share, Report Says. The image of urgent, every-second-counts cooperation by U.S. intelligence agencies fighting terrorism takes a modest hit from a new Justice Department internal audit out Monday.

In a review of Drug Enforcement Administration intelligence operations, the Justice Department inspector general found DEA analysts sometimes took months to cable terror-related intelligence obtained by DEA agents to partner agencies.

Justice IG Glenn A. Fine's team reviewed a sample of three terror-related interagency DEA cables, according to the report, which noted DEA has reported taking steps to fix the problem.

One DEA cable reviewed by Fine's staff alerted outside agencies to Stinger missiles and other weapons being sold by a terror leader for use against coalition forces. Two were on how the Taliban was using drug sales to finance terror activities, and identifying a "significant terrorist cell training and operations in a specific district in Afghanistan."

Those cables took between 39 and 76 days each to prepare and share with other agencies, auditors found.

DEA's intelligence chief Anthony Placido acknowledged the issue, Fine reported, but said, "The information was nevertheless immediately passed informally to the appropriate agencies."

Apparently, Fine was not comforted.

"In our judgment, this informal method of passing along crucial information does not provide assurance that all responsible parties were notified, that sufficient details were provided, or that the information was disseminated appropriately," he wrote. "While we understand the need to properly review cables, we are concerned that the highest priority cables were not transmitted to the appropriate agencies expeditiously."

The process of distributing intelligence within DEA itself is slow, auditors said. After supervisors review draft intelligence reports, they are distributed by hand to other departments in DEA to review. The purpose of the reviews, DEA officials told Fine's auditors, was to ensure the information in the reports did not compromise other ongoing investigations or put agents at risk.

Since the report was prepared, DEA told Fine it has taken steps to accelerate its process of approving intelligence cables. Terror-related reports would be distributed to other agencies within a week after they are drafted, DEA said - and "potential imminent terrorist threat information" would be disseminated "within 24-48 hours." [ABCNews/5May2008]


NSA Spills Its Guts on TEMPEST Attacks. Secret agents [sic] have apparently been remotely scanning and decrypting electrical signals since World War II, according to a newly declassified NSA document. Titled "TEMPEST: A Signal Problem", the document describes leaky signals broadcasting from teletype machines would cause nearby sensors to spike - those signals could then be translated into keystrokes. Known as TEMPEST, this phenomenon was mostly ignored by the United States in the following years, but it appears the Soviet Union, Japan and other countries developed TEMPEST scanning into an art form and used it against the USA.

Leaky electrical signals were first documented in 1943 by a Bell Telephone engineer who was operating an old teletype machine typically used for encrypted communications between the military and government. He discovered that an oscilloscope in a far away part of the lab would spike with each character typed and upon further examination found that he could calculate the plaintext of the encrypted documents sent over the wire. In effect, the engineer was looking at every keystroke typed.

Bell Telephone told the US Signal Corps of its findings and the company was challenged to prove that signals could be intercepted. Over the course of one hour in a secret location in New York, the Bell engineers were able to decrypt a stunning 75% of secret transmissions from 80 feet away.

The demonstration caused the US intelligence community to mandate a 100-foot diameter of control around crypto centers, but that apparently wasn't enough. In 1951, the CIA demonstrated that it could decrypt signals from a quarter of a mile away and in 1962 an intelligence agent stationed in Japan noticed a dipole antenna was pointed straight at their crypto center. The antenna, which was mounted on top of a hospital approximately 100-feet away, mysteriously disappeared after the officer informed his superiors - presumably the Japanese decrypted the agent's message and removed the evidence.

These findings combined with the discovery of microphones and fine metal mesh at several US embassies in Moscow, Prague, Budapest and Warsaw forced the United States to discover new ways of protecting its equipment from TEMPEST sniffing. But apparently this is incredibly hard. One countermeasure was to run ten machines at a time to flood out any sniffer and another was to design machines that would fire off multiple keys at a time. Despite this work, agents were still able to sift through the signals to find the original text. The government finally adopted mandating a 200-foot radius control zone around cypto centers.

The declassified paper also discussed audio surveillance with miniature microphones, something which is actually fairly easy to defeat. The NSA discovered that microphones usually need to be placed inside buildings to be effective and that something as simple as a sheet of paper was enough to muffle the sound. Surprisingly though, the agency also discovered that soundproofing a building actually made it easier to record sounds from the inside because it reduced echoes. [Cheung/tgdaily/1May2008] 

Keeping Secrets From the CIA. The Senate Intelligence Committee is about to release a report that sheds new light on "inappropriate" back-channel contacts between Pentagon officials and a group of Iranian informants - including a key figure from the Iran-contra affair.

In December 2001, two Pentagon Mideast experts - Larry Franklin and Harold Rhode - secretly traveled to Rome. They met with a group of Iranians who supposedly had information about plans by Iranian-backed terrorists to attack Americans - including U.S. troops who were then closing in on Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. The meetings were approved by high-level officials at the White House and the Pentagon. The CIA, however, was kept in the dark. When the CIA and the State Department found out about the meetings a few weeks later, they strenuously protested to the White House and demanded that the contacts be terminated immediately. At least officially, the White House complied.

Now, years later, the Senate Intelligence Committee is producing a report on its investigation of those meetings. The document is part of the panel's "phase two" investigation into the misuse of pre-Iraq War intelligence. 

While Intelligence Committee officials are keeping details of the report under wraps, several sources familiar with its contents said that congressional investigators found nothing illegal about the secret contacts. The meetings were brokered by two Iran-contra figures: Michael Ledeen, a Washington academic and prominent neoconservative activist who was close to a number of senior Bush administration officials at the time, and Manucher Ghorbanifar, a Paris-based Iranian businessman who served as a middleman for arms deals in the 1980s and was long ago branded a "fabricator" by the CIA. U.S. intelligence agencies said at the time that Ghorbanifar had a history of offering information that proved unreliable.

But in the report, the panel does conclude that senior Bush administration officials (including then deputy Defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz and deputy national-security adviser Stephen Hadley) approved the meetings without informing the CIA or its director at the time, George Tenet, thereby allowing intelligence gathering outside of normal channels. The sources say the report also suggests that Ledeen misled the National Security Council about the meetings - a charge that Ledeen strongly denied this week in an e-mail exchange with NEWSWEEK.

The Rome meetings provoked controversy when they were first disclosed in the summer of 2003. They seemed typical of the rocky relations between the Pentagon and CIA during the early years of the Bush administration. According to Ledeen, there was a reason the CIA was excluded from the secret discussions: the Iranians, he said, wanted nothing to do with the agency. Three intelligence sources familiar with the investigation told NEWSWEEK that the Senate report questions whether Ledeen, who first approached administration officials about meeting with the Iranian informants, made up the claim that the Iranians refused to deal with the CIA. The report, the sources said, notes that the two Pentagon officials involved in the discussions said the issue never came up. In an e-mail to NEWSWEEK, however, Ledeen said he is sure he told senior officials who authorized the contacts - including Hadley and Zalmay Khalilzad (now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) - that the Iranians "did not want to talk to CIA people."

According to several accounts of the Rome meetings - including one published by former CIA director Tenet in his memoir "At the Center of the Storm" - Ledeen persuaded Wolfowitz and Hadley, now White House national-security adviser, to allow him to set up the secret sessions. Only later did it emerge that the Iranian informants were in fact contacts of Ghorbanifar. (In his book, Tenet himself labeled Ghorbanifar a "con man and fabricator.") In 2003, administration officials close to Hadley told NEWSWEEK that Hadley had become concerned that Ledeen and Ghorbanifar might be dragging the Bush administration into a repeat performance of the Iran-contra affair, and ordered that the contacts be cut off.

In an interview with NEWSWEEK in Paris in November 2003, Ghorbanifar said that despite the official cease-and-desist order, he still kept in contact with both Rhode and Franklin for months. Ghorbanifar said he told the Americans he could help them recover hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cash that, he claimed, Saddam Hussein had buried. He envisioned splitting the money with the U.S. government: the United States could use part of it to overthrow Saddam; he would use the rest to finance an effort to overthrow the clerical regime in Tehran. The scheme came to nothing.

In e-mails to NEWSWEEK, Ledeen said that the Rome meetings were productive and useful. 

Despite the unorthodox way in which the meetings were arranged and the problematic histories of the people who arranged them, sources familiar with the congressional inquiry said investigators could not declare that the Rome contacts broke the law. The reason: even if the CIA was cut out of the meetings, it was not illegal for National Security Council officials to authorize the contacts. If the committee's criticism of the administration's performance is as mild as advance reports suggest, critics who felt the Rome meetings could unravel deeper Bush scandals about the selling of the Iraq War are likely to be disappointed. [Newsweek/8May2008] 

33 Years Later, Pilots Can Finally Reflect on Covert CIA Operation in Southeast Asia. "The longer I was with Air America, the less I knew what it was." So says Charlie Weitz, a pilot for Air America in Southeast Asia from 1961 through 1973. "Even after 13 years, when people would ask me about it, I really couldn't explain it."

It was an airline covertly owned and operated by the Central Intelligence Agency. As such, its structure was deliberately confusing, according to Felix Smith, former Air America pilot and author of "China Pilot," (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995.) "It was made so by CIA lawyers, so when newspeople would try and figure it out, they'd give up."

The Freedom of Information Act has given former Air America employees more latitude in speaking about the lives they led from 1950 to 1975.

In his book "Flight of the Erawan" (eBookstand, 2006), former pilot John Wiren, for one, recalls muddy Laotian landing strips, and the hot, dusty hub of Air America activity, Vientiane, Laos, with its French cafes and opium dens and where goats and chickens were a part of street traffic.

Air America grew out of the Civil Air Transport, formed in China after World War II by Gen. Claire Chennault, the Flying Tigers legend. The operation moved to Taiwan after the Chinese mainland fell to communism, and CAT, which was established, thus became the flag carrier of Taiwan.

In 1950, the CIA bought the airline through a Delaware holding company. CAT continued to operate passenger flights, while also running the covert Air America flights for the CIA. CAT and Air America along with Air Asia and Southern Air Transport eventually fell under the control of the holding company Pacific Corp.

"We were all basically the same company," said Smith, who began with CAT after WWII and stayed on with Air America until 1968.

Pilots were ex-military who got the jobs largely by word of mouth. After training in Taipei, Taiwan, they were based in Saigon, Vietnam; Udan Thani (known as Udorn) or Bangkok, Thailand; or Vientiane, as was Wiren.

"We went to Laos to get acquainted with up-country operations," said Wiren. With no radar, "our navigational aids were basically following things like the bend in a river or a line of trees. Knowing the exact elevation of every mountain was mandatory."

The activity in Laos was strictly covert, adds Mike Kandt, operations manager in Southeast Asia from 1966-1975. "Treaties signed by the U.S. were such that the U.S. military was forbidden to have any military assets in Laos. The Communists ignored the treaty, so the U.S. government sponsored a guerilla force of its own, the Hmong. Air America provided support for this operation."

"There were things going on that were on a 'need to know' basis," said Wiren. "We just didn't talk about it."

The Air America fleet numbered 200-300 aircraft, fixed wing and rotary. "We operated several different aircraft," said Kandt. "DHC-4 Caribous, C46s, two types of STOLs [short take-offs and landings], the Helio Courier, which could go in remote areas, and a few different models of helicopters."

With a motto of "Anything, Anytime, Anywhere," Air America "moved military equipment, personnel, construction equipment and medical supplies," said Kandt. "We moved refugees, leper colonies; we did search-and-rescue missions for downed military pilots."

Pilots would make 20-30 takeoffs and landings in a day. The pay was roughly $800 per month for a co-pilot and $1,200 for a captain, comparable to that of civilian pilots, with additional pay for hazardous duty in enemy territory.

"You just never knew what you'd be doing from one day to the next," said Wiren. "One day you might be flying farming or medical supplies for Pop Buell or Doc Weldon [U.S. humanitarians], and on another day you might be working for Tony Poe, taking live fish for his ponds for the Hmong people." (Tony Poe was a paramilitary CIA operative whose real name was Anthony Poshepny.)

Among the riskiest missions were picking up downed military pilots with helicopters. "We'd pick up the Air Force tactical channels on our radios," said Weitz, who flew rotary aircraft in such searches and rescues. "The main principle of a successful pickup is speed. The faster you got in there, the better off you were, otherwise you might end up getting shot down trying to do the rescue."

Air America was there when Saigon fell in 1975. "That famous photo you always see of refugee evacuation wasn't the American Embassy," said Weitz. "That was a hotel roof in downtown Saigon, but I'm proud to say those were our helicopters."

Wiren said pilots disliked the "Air America" movie, starring Mel Gibson. "We were not a bunch of drugrunners," he said. "We were a very patriotic and professional group of people."

Still Kandt is candid. "Air America did carry packages of the raw material of what was to become heroin on occasion. This was being done by some of the Lao military people as they had been doing for decades. After a period of time, when it began making its way to our guys in Vietnam, Air America decided they needed to be proactive in stopping it. They brought in sniffer dogs to sniff this stuff out.

"It was a job," Kandt continued. "The political shenanigans that went on, nobody was that much interested. There were many different agencies we worked for, so we were always transporting something different. It was just a job."

And a risky one at that, said Bill Lair, a CIA operative in Southeast Asia between 1951-1979. "Before we got involved in Vietnam, French troops were under attack at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, and the French Air Force couldn't fly in supplies. Air America did that for them and lost one plane as a result. Last year, the French government awarded that crew the Medal of Valor."

Air America lost 280 employees - pilots, freight specialists and others - in Southeast Asia. "The first U.S.casualty of the Vietnam War was an Air America pilot," said Smith. " 'Earthquake Magoon,' whose real name was James McGovern. But since he was considered a civilian, they didn't put his name on the Wall [the Vietnam Veterans Memorial]."

Following their Air America stint, pilots took jobs with overseas airlines, became aviation consultants, flew for overseas heads of state in exotic places.

"After this type of work, everything else seems superficial," Weitz said. "It was, without a doubt, the best time of my life." [Grosscup/Chicagotribune/22April2008] 



SpyCruise® in the Black Sea 2009. Join us on the Seabourn Odyssey in July 2009 to visit some fascinating sites of great historical value, and be accompanied by a group of intelligence professionals drawn from the international intelligence community (including the CIA, RCMP Security Service and the KGB) who will give daily lectures on Cold War espionage, intelligence tradecraft, clandestine equipment and other related topics.
1. ISTANBUL. We shall visit the home and office of Kim Philby, the British Secret Intelligence Service officer who was the local station commander between 1946 and 1949. He was also a Soviet spy and he betrayed details of several covert operations mounted from Istanbul across the Turkish border. Also on the itinerary is the Soviet legation where a GRU officer, Konstantin Volkov, worked until he offered to defect to the British in September 1945. He too was betrayed by Philby who flew from London to handle his case, only to find that Volkov had been arrested by the NKVD. Our escort will be one of the world's leading intelligence authorities who coauthored Philby's biography.
2. SOCHI. Stalin's camouflaged dacha in the woods above Sochi gave him a secure refuge and an isolated, guarded compound in which he relaxed and planned his strategy. His study, billiards-room and living quarters remain unchanged, and we will enjoy lunch in his dining-room where there will be a lecture on Stalin and Lavrenti Beria, his notorious intelligence chief.
3. YALTA. The venue for the great February 1945 Crimea Conference attended by Winston Churchill, Stalin and an ailing President Roosevelt, we will tour the Czar's summer palace where the meetings took place and see the room on the ground floor where FDR stayed, tended by his daughter. We will also visit the Vorontsov villa where Churchill and the British delegation stayed and hear a talk from Nigel West on Alger Hiss, the State Department adviser who was a Soviet spy and a member of the American delegation.
4. BALAKLAVA. This former Soviet Black Sea Fleet base includes an underground submarine depot carved out of a mountain and concealed behind huge camouflaged bomb-proof steel doors. Built in conditions of great secrecy in 1956, the cavernous facility includes a canal to the open sea, a dry dock, weapons bays and workshops, and now accommodates a Cold War museum filled with naval exhibits. We will be accompanied by a former Soviet nuclear submarine commander who worked on the site, and his wife. 
Dates: Embark 8 July 2009, Istanbul. Disembark 18 July 2009, Istanbul. Contact:
SpyCruise® is a registered trademark of David G. Major Associates, Inc. All rights reserved.

Job Vacancies

Phoenix Consulting Group currently has full and part time vacancies at its headquarters and at the Phoenix Training Center both located in Alexandria, VA. 

Instructor Vacancies: The Phoenix Consulting Group has several immediate openings for experienced operations officers to serve as full time and part-time instructors at the Phoenix Training Center located in Alexandria, VA. Candidates must be FTC-MOTC graduates, have recent operational and operational management experience. Military experience, or coordination/liaison experience with the Department of Defense are a plus to include FTC instructor experience and recent service in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Please forward your resumes to: or call Mr. Pierre Joly, Director of Training, Phoenix Training Center, at 703-960-7700.

Contract Specialist: The Phoenix Consulting Group has an immediate opening for an experienced contract specialist at their facility in Alexandria, VA. The ideal candidate would be serving as a contract specialist responsible for pre-award and post-award functions, including price/cost analysis, negotiation, and administration for services, materials, and equipment associated with training and professional or technical services; reviewing and analyzing requests for intelligence related services and training; preparing documentation; preparing solicitation documents, incorporating specific provisions; analyzing proposals for conformance with the solicitation; conducting extensive negotiations before and/or contract award; negotiating with potential customers; monitoring complex contracts, including constant liaison with Contracting Officers and their representatives. Please submit resumes to: ; or contact Ms. Jane Flowers at 703-960-7700.

FTS International, LLC (FTS) actively seeks candidates for immediate and future positions supporting several agencies within the Intelligence Community (IC). 
REQUIRED: TS/SCI CLEARANCE, PREFERABLY WITH POLYGRAPH. Residence in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area (WMA) strongly preferred since most jobs are in this area. Some TDY and out of area jobs are available, but on a very limited basis.
FTS International offers above industry standard salaries and an exceptionally generous benefits. Most importantly, we offer the opportunity to be part of a company where support to our customers is of paramount importance along with employee job satisfaction and long term career growth.
Interested candidates please email your unclassified resume to: John Fitzgerald, President (ISSA/TS),, or Pete Waldorf, Chief Operations Officer (ISSA/TS),, or Frida Kim, Director of Programs (ISA/TS),

Specifically, FTS has requirements as follows:

Education and Training - Bolling AFB and NOVA
- CIAU or equivalent experience
- Instructors
- Multimedia/Web Support, Distance Learning Support
- Staff Development/Coaching
- Admin, Facilities Support, Events Coordinator, Document Management
- Marketing and Policy
- TS/SCI with full scope or counter intelligence poly

Targeting Officers - WMA
- Desk Officers with Nuclear, and Asia experience. 
- Extensive knowledge of DO targeting with familiarity in operations, CA, security, and CI issues.
- Expertise in analytic and targeting tradecraft and methodologies.
- Knowledge of WMD proliferation issues, and specifically of materials and technologies related to production of highly enriched uranium.
- Capable of training and mentoring junior targeting officers.
- Capable of using and exploiting multiple databases and research tools to optimize targeting packages for operations.
- Demonstrated targeting expertise in human enabled technical programs, HUMINT enabled SIGINT and computer ops.
- The candidate shall guide and oversee the development of sophisticated operational leads and proposals; contribute to and develop strategies to drive and refine collection and operational activities; and evaluate technical collection to adjust and redirect targeting and operational activities. 
- The candidate shall apply analytical and operational expertise to identify individuals, networks, or organizations of interest; assess their relevance for operational initiatives using the full spectrum of available methodologies and tools.
- TS/SCI with full scope poly.

Overhead SIGINT System Engineers - WMA
- 15+ year Intelligence Community (IC) professionals. Advanced degrees in Electrical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering or Physics desired. Modeling and simulation expertise in Matlab, STK, X-Midas or other tools desired. Experience with HEO/GEO/LEO orbit regimes, SIGINT, MASINT, IMINT, Project Management, Systems Engineering, Budgeting, Scheduling, Multi-int collection, organizations, and technologies. 
- The successful candidate will have demonstrated strength in writing and briefing, organization, team-building, interpersonal relations, and an understanding of IC capabilities and relationships. 
- He/she will be able to analyze, explain, and brief requirements, specifications, deployment, operations, advanced architectures, and collection opportunities. 
- The candidate will initiate, nurture, and manage IC and private-sector partnerships to pursue mission requirements.
- TS/SCI counter intelligence poly.
- Specific computer tool expertise: MS Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.), Analyst Notebook, Google Earth and other GIS applications, Fast Track Project Management

DNI - variety of positions at Bolling AFB and NOVA
- Multi-agency experience with 2 or more agencies in the IC preferred.
- Duties may include developing strategic plans and metrics, as well as performing process/capabilities analysis and budget allocation.
- Experienced Security professionals required (personnel, physical, policy, operational) 
- The successful candidate would have excellent presentation skills, familiarity with HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT and/or MASINT, ability to identify resources, and interact with all levels of personnel.
- Bachelor�s degree or equivalent work experience.
- TS/SCI counter intelligence poly.

Linguists - WMA:
- Level 5 Certified Instructors in any language, but especially for Persian, Turkish, Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Russian, French, Italian, Serbo-Croatian & Polish. Must be available immediately and have some experience in education or instructional activities. TS/SCI full scope poly
- Chinese translators at any clearance level; technical background preferred. 

In addition to the positions described above, we are especially interested in candidates with the following skills and experience in the IC for jobs in WMA:

- Case Officers, Desk Officers, Reports Officers, Analysts 
- Executive and Office Support 
- Administrative Support Specialists (entry to senior/expert levels in any field), including Paralegals, Policy Specialists, Report Writers/Editors 
- Finance, HR, Logistics, Contracts Support Assistants 
- Science and Technology professionals, including Web Portal Developers, Database Administrators and Developers, System/Application/Software Developers and Architects. 



15 May 2008 11:30 a.m. - Colorado Springs, CO - The AFIO Rocky Mountain Chapter meeting features Elba Seilhan, an Intelligence Analyst who has served tours in Iraq, the Horn of Africa.
Speaker Seilhan was on then MG Petreaus's G2 staff when he was CG of the 101st. The meeting will be held at the Air Force Academy Officer's Club, Falcon Room. RSVP to Tom Van Wormer at 719-570-8505 or The buffet fee is only $10.00.

16 - 18 May 2008 - Bar Harbor, ME - The Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association hosts mini-reunion. The NCVA of New England will hold a mini-reunion at the Bar Harbor Regency, Bar Harbor, Maine.  The reunion is open to all personnel that worked for the US NAVSECGRU or its successor organization in NETWARCOM. Contact Vic Knorowski at 518-664-8032 or visit for information.

17 May 2008 - Kennebunkport, ME - The Maine Chapter hosts Deborah Russell just back from Iraq assignment. The chapter will meet at the Kennebunk Free Library in Kennebunk at 2:00 p.m. Our speaker will be Deborah Russell who recently returned from Kuwait where she served as a law enforcement officer. For further information or to register contact David Austin at

Sunday, 18 May 2008, Washington, DC - KidSpy� Festival -Tradecraft Try-Its at the International Spy Museum. Does your child have what it takes to be a spy? Now's the chance to find out and provide a fascinating session at the Spy Museum! Here's the brief on their upcoming Sunday event:
Ever tried to beat a lie-detector, break a top secret coded message, write in invisible ink or practice the ancient martial art of Ninjitsu? You can try all this and more at the Museum's first ever Spy Fest. Mini-missions, trade-craft demonstrations and trade-craft try-its will allow KidSpy agents and their "handlers" to get an insider's perspective into the shadow world of spying. Join John Sullivan, a polygraph examiner with the CIA for 31 years, as he demonstrates how to conduct a polygraph exam. Forensic scientists from the FBI will be on hand as well to present workshops on handwriting and fingerprint analysis while an expert demonstrates the techniques of Ninjitsu.
Ages: 7+ with an adult. KidSpy workshops are specifically designed for the age range listed. If a child is not age appropriate, The International Spy Museum will be unable to accommodate them.
TIMES: Three Sessions! 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM or 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM or 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Where: International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW, Washington, DC, Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail Station
Tickets: $12; Advance Registration required.
Tickets are non-refundable and do not include admission to the International Spy Museum. To register, call Ticketmaster at 202.397.SEAT, 800.551.SEAT or the Museum at 202.393.7798; order online at ticketmaster; or purchase tickets in person at the International Spy Museum

Tuesday, 20 May 2008 - Arlington, VA - Professor Sadik Al-Azm will speak on “Islam, Secularization, and the Latitudes of Intellectual Freedom” at the National Intelligence Forum luncheon - the name for a joint project of the Defense Intelligence Alumni Association and the Defense Intel College. The event is being held at Dan & Brads, Arlington Hilton, 950 N Stafford St. Arlington, VA 22203, at Ballston METRO station (Parking at Ballston Common Mall for 3 Hours @ $1) Pay at the door with a CHECK for $26 made payable to DIAA, Inc. Social hour starts at 1130, lunch at 1215, program at 1300. Professor Sadik Al-Azm's presentation is co-sponsored by the Costandi Institute and Holland Associates. The Defense Intelligence Alumni Association and the National Defense Intelligence College Foundation sponsor jointly what is called "the National Intelligence Forum." To encourage candor, the forum does not allow media, notes, recordings, or attribution. RSVP by 14 May by email to with your name and names of guests, association, phone number, and e-mail address.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008, 11:30 a.m. - Phoenix, AZ - The AFIO Arizona Chapter luncheon will hear "Inside the Terrorist Mind: The Unconscious Reality of Those Who Would Destroy Us" by guest speaker Barry Austin Goodfield, Ph.D., Senior professor at Henley-Putnam University, an online intelligence university composed of ex-CIA and Secret Service officials. The event takes place at the Hilton Garden Inn in Phoenix, (One block West of Central Avenue on Clarendon and one block South of Indian School Road). For reservations or concerns, please call Simone Lopes at 480.368.0374

Wednesday, 21 May 2008 - Tampa, FL - The AFIO Suncoast Chapter hears from Blackwater Founder/CEO Erik D. Prince. The Chapter is hosting an ad hoc joint meeting with Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association (AFCEA). Erik D. Prince, Founder and CEO of Blackwater, will be our guest speaker, with particularly interesting topics, so mark your calendars now. The meeting will be at the MacDill AFB Surf’s Edge Club in Tampa, Fl. For further information email

Wednesday, 28 May 2008 - Washington, DC - Institute of World Politics Open House. The IWP invites you to join them this evening for their monthly open house program to learn more about the programs and career opportunities through graduate study at IWP. Each program begins at approximately 5:30 pm and concludes by 8:00 pm. RSVPs are strongly encouraged, and preferences are easily requested by visiting the IWP home page at The Institute is located at 1521 16th Street NW, Washington, DC, eight blocks north of the White House and three blocks east of the Dupont Circle metro station (red line). IWP enrolls new students during the spring, summer, and fall terms. Make sure you're one of them.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008, 6:30PM - Washington, DC - From the Secret Files of the International Spy Museum(tm) Spycraft 101: CIA Spytech From Communism to Al-Qaeda.
Rubber airplanes, messages hidden inside dead rats, and subminiature cameras hidden inside ballpoint pens...a few of the real-life devices created by CIA's Office of Technical Service (OTS). These and other clever technical devices are featured in Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda, by the former director of OTS Bob Wallace teams up with espionage gadget collector H. Keith Melton to discuss the operations of OTS...from the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the war on terror. Rare OTS devices including concealments, microdots, and disguises will be on display.
Where: International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW, Washington, DC, Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail Station
Tickets: $20; Advance Registration required. Tickets are non-refundable and do not include admission to other the Museum exhibits. To register, call Ticketmaster at 800.551.SEAT or the Museum at 202.393.7798; order online at; or purchase tickets in person at the Museum.

Thursday, 5 June 2008 - Washington, DC - "Seduced By Secrets: Inside the Stasi's Spy-Tech World" by Kristie Macrakis at International Spy Museum. No Charge.
The Stasi, the East German Ministry for State Security, was one of the most effective and feared spy agencies in history. As it stole secrets from abroad and developed gadgets at home, the Stasi overestimated the power of secrets to solve problems and created an insular spy culture more intent on securing its power than protecting national security. Now for the first time, their technical methods and sources are revealed. In Seduced by Secrets, historian Kristie Macrakis recreates the Stasi's clandestine world of technology through biographies of agents, defectors, and officers and by visualizing their James Bond-like techniques and gadgets. Join the author for this eye opening look at a very frightening and very real wilderness of mirrors.
International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW, Washington, DC, Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail Station

7 June 2008 - Northampton, MA - AFIO New England Spring meeting features Dr. Kristie Macrakis on East German Espionage. The meeting will be held at the Hotel Northampton at 36 King Str., Northampton, MA, 413-584-3100.  A full description of services as well as directions to the hotel, are available on-line at
Our schedule is as follows: Registration & gathering, 11:00 - 1200, Luncheon at 1200 followed by our speaker, Kristie Macrakis, Ph.D. who will speak on East German Espionage, with adjournment at 2:30PM.
Note, as this meeting is a one day event we have not made any arrangements with the Hotel Northampton for a reduced room rate. For additional information contact
Luncheon reservations must be made by May 27th with: Mr. Arthur Hulnick, 216 Summit Avenue # E102, Brookline, MA 02446, 617-739-7074 or  Advance reservations are $25.00 per person, $30.00 at the door - per person.

21 June 2008 - Kennebunkport, ME - The Maine Chapter hosts Tyler Drumheller, former CIA. The Maine Chapter meets at the Kennebunk Free Library in Kennebunk at 2:00 p.m. Our speaker will be Tyler Drumheller, recently retired after a career of service to our country as a Central Intelligence Agency operations officer. For further information or to register contact David Austin at

For Additional Events two+ months or greater....view our online Calendar of Events


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