AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #45-08 dated 24 November 2008
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Section I - INTELLIGENCE HIGHLIGHTS
Iran Denies Report of Ten Spies Seized Near Pakistan Border. A media report alleging that 10 spies entered Iran illegally from neighboring Pakistan is false, according to official statements from Iran.
The report by state television on Saturday said the spies were seized in Iran's south-eastern Sistan-Baluchestan province bordering Pakistan, adding that they were carrying $500,000 in cash, espionage cameras and maps of sensitive regions.
"We deny this report," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi told a news conference, without giving further details.
The area is a volatile province known for frequent clashes between security forces and well-armed drug smugglers. [GulfNews/17November2008]
Bond Set In Espionage Case. A Bakersfield man charged with selling U.S. secrets to a middle east country could be out of federal prison in days. Amen Ahmed Ali was arrested in early Sept. 2006, and indicted on charges he acted as a spy on behalf of the Yemeni government. Investigators say Ali sold what he thought was stolen U.S. military weapons.
The indictment charges Ali, who owns a Rosedale cigarette store, with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, unlawful export of defense articles, and possession of stolen government property.
Bakersfield Defense Attorney David Torres said Federal Court Judge Anthony W. Ishii approved a $1.5 million bond for Ali based on about a dozen properties offered as collateral by friends and family. Torres says he needs to offer the court proof that the properties are worth what the defense team claimed and that there are no back taxes owed or liens placed on them.
Ali faces a possible 30 to 45 year prison sentence if convicted of all counts. [Kget/18November2008]
China Denies Trying to Obtain US Space Technology. China dismissed suggestions that it is seeking to illegally obtain U.S. space technology after a scientist in the United States was convicted of violating the U.S. arms embargo on China.
The scientist, Quan-Sheng Shu, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Shanghai, pleaded guilty in a district court in Norfolk, Virginia, to selling rocket technology to China and bribing Chinese officials to secure a lucrative contract for his high-tech company.
Qin Gang, a spokesman at China's Foreign Ministry, told reporters Tuesday that "the allegation that China is stealing outer space technology from the U.S. is being made with ulterior motives, and is in vain."
Qin did not elaborate.
Prosecutors said Shu, an expert in cryogenics, sold technology to China for the development of hydrogen-propelled rockets. Shu's attorney said the case had nothing to do with espionage or treason.
The Chinese government is developing a space launch facility in the southern island province of Hainan that will house liquid-propelled launch vehicles designed to send space stations and satellites into orbit. The project is overseen by an arm of the People's Liberation Army.
The U.S. maintains an arms embargo on China. The State Department determined that Shu's attempts to sell information on liquid hydrogen tanks and cryogenics equipment for the fueling system of a foreign launch facility constituted an illegal transaction.
Prosecutors said Shu, who is president of AMAC International Inc. of Newport News, had directed employees to falsify information to circumvent U.S. laws.
Shu also was charged with bribing Chinese officials to award a $4 million hydrogen liquefier contract to a French company acting as an AMAC intermediary.
Shu received more than $386,000 in commissions for securing the contract, authorities said. He already had agreed to forfeit that money.
Shu faces up to 10 years on each arms count and five years for the bribery charge and fines of up to $2.5 million. Sentencing is scheduled for April 7. He will remain free on $100,000 bond.
U.S. authorities in recent years have prosecuted more than a dozen cases of either traditional spying or economic espionage related to China. U.S. officials have warned in the past year of increasing espionage efforts by Beijing. [AP/18November2008]
Downed US Spy Plane Now 'Property' Of MILF Rebels. Philippine Muslim rebels recently shot down a US spy drone flying inside their territory in the restive southern region of Mindanao, where American forces are aiding local troops in fighting separatist and communist insurgents.
Mohagher Iqbal, a senior leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), on Friday said that the drone had been captured by rebel forces in the hinterlands of Talayan town in Maguindanao province.
He added that the spy plane was shot down on the night of October 31. Iqbal said the rebels recovered the plane on November 1 and the MILF leadership announced the capture of the drone on the same day.
Iqbal did not say whether the drone was armed or had a thermal and infrared video camera, only that the aircraft had a wing span of eight feet. He said the rebels had fired at the drone with automatic weapons.
The capture of the spy plane exposed the apparent involvement of American forces in local anti-insurgency operations, which is a violation of the Constitution.
The drone is one of many spy aircraft used by US forces in surveillance operations in southern Philippines. It can be deployed for destructive missions.
The US military has a fleet of various unmanned spy planes, from a palm-size remote-controlled aircraft, to bigger and sophisticated high-altitude, long-range remotely-piloted ones designed for long-endurance photographic reconnaissance and electronic surveillance missions, and as attack aircraft.
It had used a Philippine Air Force base on Mactan island in Cebu province in central Philippines as station for its fleet of Orion spy planes. [Jacinto/ManillaTimes/15November2008]
Experts See Security Risks In Downturn. Intelligence officials are warning that the deepening global financial crisis could weaken fragile governments in the world's most dangerous areas and undermine the ability of the United States and its allies to respond to a new wave of security threats.
U.S. government officials and private analysts say the economic turmoil has heightened the short-term risk of a terrorist attack, as radical groups probe for weakening border protections and new gaps in defenses. A protracted financial crisis could threaten the survival of friendly regimes from Pakistan to the Middle East while forcing Western nations to cut spending on defense, intelligence and foreign aid, the sources said.
The crisis could also accelerate the shift to a more Asia-centric globe, as rising powers such as China gain more leverage over international financial institutions and greater influence in world capitals.
Some of the more troubling and immediate scenarios analysts are weighing involve nuclear-armed Pakistan, which already was being battered by inflation and unemployment before the global financial tsunami hit. Since September, Pakistan has seen its national currency devalued and its hard-currency reserves nearly wiped out.
Analysts also worry about the impact of plummeting crude prices on oil-dependent nations such as Yemen, which has a large population of unemployed youths and a history of support for militant Islamic groups.
The underlying problems and trends - especially regional instability and the waning influence of the West - were already well established, but they are now "being accelerated by the current global financial crisis," the nation's top intelligence official, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, said in a recent speech. McConnell is among several top U.S. intelligence officials warning that deep cuts in military and intelligence budgets could undermine the country's ability to anticipate and defend against new threats.
Annual spending for U.S. intelligence operations currently totals $47.5 billion, a figure that does not include expensive satellites that fall under the Pentagon's budget. At a recent gathering of geospatial intelligence officials and contractors in Nashville, the outlook for the coming fiscal cycles was uniformly grim: fewer dollars for buying and maintaining sophisticated spy systems.
Intelligence officials say they have no hard evidence of a pending terrorist attack, and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said in a recent news conference that his agency has not detected increased al-Qaeda communications or other signs of an imminent strike.
But many government and private terrorism experts say the financial crisis has given al-Qaeda an opening, and judging from public statements and intercepted communications, senior al-Qaeda leaders are elated by the West's economic troubles, which they regard as a vindication of their efforts and a sign of the superpower's weakness.
Whether terrorist leader Osama bin Laden is technically capable of another Sept. 11-style attack is unclear, but U.S. officials say he has traditionally picked times of transition to launch major strikes. The two major al-Qaeda-linked attacks on U.S. soil - the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and the 2001 hijackings - occurred in the early months of new administrations.
This year, the presidential transition is occurring as American households and financial institutions are under severe economic strain, and political leaders are devoting great time and effort to that crisis. Frances Fragos Townsend, who previously served as Bush's homeland security adviser, told a gathering of terrorism experts last month that the confluence of events is "not lost" on bin Laden.
As bad as economic conditions are in the United States and Europe, where outright recessions are expected next year, they are worse in developing countries such as Pakistan, a state that was already struggling with violent insurgencies and widespread poverty. Some analysts warn that a prolonged economic crisis could trigger a period of widespread unrest that could strengthen the hand of extremists and threaten Pakistan's democratically elected government - with potentially grave consequences for the region and perhaps the planet.
Pakistanis were hit by soaring food and energy prices earlier in the year, and the country's financial problems have multiplied since late summer. Islamabad's currency reserves have nearly evaporated, forcing the new government to seek new foreign loans or risk defaulting on the country's debt. The national currency, the rupee, has been devalued, and inflation is squeezing Pakistan's poor and middle class alike.
U.S. officials are following developments with particular concern because of Pakistan's critical role in the campaign against terrorism, as well as the country's arsenal of dozens of nuclear weapons. Al-Qaeda has appealed directly to Pakistanis to overthrow their government, and its Taliban allies have launched multiple suicide bombings, some aimed at economic targets such as the posh Marriott hotel in Islamabad, hit in September.
Economic and social unrest has helped drive recruiting for militant groups that cross into Afghanistan to attack U.S. troops.
The financial crisis has also prompted security concerns about China, though experts are divided over how the country will fare if the recession is long and deep. Already, China's export-driven economy has suffered a major jolt, prompting Beijing to announce an economic stimulus package of more than $500 billion. Job losses and shuttered factories have spurred social unrest, prompting some China-watchers to predict a reduction in spending on its armed forces and space programs as the nation turns its focus inward.
In the past month, factory closings have sparked protests and highlighted the growing gap between social classes.
China turned down a request by Pakistan for a $4 billion loan, and its economic stumbles have dampened hopes that it might, by itself, pull the global economy out of its slump.
Yet many China scholars also see great opportunity for the communist giant. Even as the global recession cuts into its export markets, the country continues to experience robust growth at home, thanks to the consumption habits of its rapidly growing middle class. A hefty economic stimulus will ensure continued, if modest, growth, even if exports flat line, said Albert Keidel, a former economist for the World Bank and the Treasury Department and now an East Asia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
China already was on track to surpass the United States as the world's largest economy, perhaps as early as 2030. Now, many experts believe the global recession could help it do so faster.
The implications are enormous for the global economy and for international security, Keidel said.
China could quickly outpace the United States to become the world's influential economy, while also competing in other areas long dominated by Americans. Even if China chooses to keep its military growth on a modest pace, the country will become a significant competitor in key areas such as space exploration, several experts said.
Will the United States be able to retain its edge at a time when its own military spending is threatened with cuts? In recent interviews, several intelligence officials said they anticipate smaller budgets for military hardware and surveillance aircraft because of the economic strain.
James R. Clapper Jr., the Pentagon's undersecretary of defense for intelligence, said his aides are already looking at ways to consolidate and cut. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism programs have had "a lot of money - we've been awash in it, frankly," he told the gathering of intelligence officials and defense contractors in Nashville. But in leaner times, intelligence officials will have to make tough choices. [Warrick&Tate/WashingtonPost/15November2008]
Report On Nuclear Security Urges Prompt Global Action. When armed men attacked South Africa's most closely guarded nuclear facility a year ago, they penetrated the detection systems at the perimeter, cut through an electrified fence and broke into the emergency control center, shooting one worker there in the chest before escaping.
The Pelindaba facility holds hundreds of pounds of weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium. Although the attackers last November did not steal any of it, the assault highlights what a new report describes as the increasingly global challenge of keeping nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.
The South African facility was better protected than dozens of other sites around the world that hold bomb-grade nuclear materials. Yet a team of four armed men made it into the control room and out without being caught.
The report, "Securing the Bomb 2008," is the seventh annual study from Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. The study was commissioned by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonproliferation organization co-chaired by former senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.
President-elect Barack Obama pledged during the campaign to secure all nuclear materials at vulnerable sites within four years. Nunn said the challenge will be to keep that an urgent priority, given so many other competing demands.
In an agenda for the incoming administration, the report urges "a global campaign to lock down every nuclear weapon and every significant stock of potential nuclear bomb material worldwide as rapidly as that can possibly be done." The report also calls for the appointment of a senior White House official with daily responsibility for preventing a nuclear terrorist attack.
While there has been progress in the former Soviet Union in recent years, the report recommends broadening the effort to secure nuclear materials to include China, India, Pakistan and South Africa. The report says the weapons and the ingredients for a nuclear bomb exist in hundreds of buildings in dozens of countries.
About 130 research reactors around the world still use highly enriched uranium as fuel, and many of them have only "the most modest security measures in place - in some cases, no more than a night watchman and a chain link fence," the report says. The South African break-in "is a reminder that nuclear security is a global problem, not just a problem in the former Soviet Union."
In that case, according to the report, the intruders spent 45 minutes inside the secured perimeter of the nuclear compound without being engaged by security forces, then disappeared. It is not known who they were or what they were after. South African authorities arrested three people but released them without charge. The security manager and several of the guards on duty were fired.
South Africa had refused U.S. offers to remove the highly enriched uranium or to help improve security at the facility, the report said.
Matthew Bunn, associate professor of public policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and author of the report, said many nations need to address weaknesses in guarding bulk supplies of bomb-grade uranium and plutonium. In the past, "almost all the cases of theft are bulk materials," as opposed to finished weapons, he said.
The report notes that "it is a sobering fact that nearly all of the stolen HEU and plutonium that has been seized over the years had never been missed before it was seized," referring to highly enriched uranium.
Russia still possesses "the world's largest stockpiles of nuclear weapons and materials, located in the world's largest number of buildings and bunkers," an estimated 250 structures at dozens of sites, the report found. The study concluded that "some serious weaknesses still remain" in Russia, including "widespread insider corruption and theft," "poorly trained and motivated conscript guards forces" and a poorly developed security culture.
The report also calls on the United States to get its house in order, pointing to the inadvertent flight of six nuclear warheads last year to Barksdale Air Force Base.
The report says it is plausible that a sophisticated terrorist group could make a crude nuclear weapon, but so far none has. "The use of a nuclear bomb would be among the most difficult types of attack for terrorists to accomplish," the report says, "but the massive, assured, instantaneous and comprehensive destruction of life and property that would result may make nuclear weapons a priority for terrorists despite the difficulties." [Hoffman/WashingonPost/18November2008]
Intelligence Employees to be Held Accountable for Information Sharing. Federal government employees who use intelligence or terrorism-related information in their jobs will be accountable for how well they share that information as part of their official performance reviews beginning this year.
The Information Sharing Environment (ISE), a little-known branch of the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), has worked with the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to add the new criteria for employees and agencies who deal with intelligence or its dissemination. The criteria will be part of the fiscal year 2009 reviews.
The effort to tie performance appraisals to the sharing of intelligence is part of a broader push to promote a culture of information sharing, a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. The commission bluntly described the status quo this way: "Each agency's incentive structure opposes sharing, with risks but few rewards for sharing information... There are no punishments for not sharing information." The new criteria for appraisals attempts to reverse that and create rewards for sharing information and negative consequences for not sharing.
The new appraisal criteria applies to federal agencies who are members of the Information Sharing Council, which includes the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation, and Treasury; the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI); the National Counter Terrorism Center and the Joint Staff; and the offices of the DNI and OMB.
The ISE issued a guiding document for agencies - Inclusion of Information Sharing Performance Evaluation Element in Employee Performance Appraisals (ISE-G-105) - which requires that a mandatory competency statement be added to performance plans and recommends competency statements for specific employee categories.
Created by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Act of 2004, the ISE supports five communities - intelligence, law enforcement, defense, homeland security, and foreign affairs - and ensures those responsible for combating terrorism have access to timely and accurate information. It is intended to be a trusted partnership among all levels of government in the United States, the private sector, and the nation's foreign partners. [OhmyGov/19November2008]
US Intelligence Helped Find Captured ETA Suspect. Email exchanges intercepted by the U.S. National Security Agency helped lead to the capture in France of the suspected military chief of the Basque separatist group ETA.
The NSA, which intercepts and analyzes foreign communications, tipped off the Spanish authorities to two email addresses used by Miguel de Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina, known as "Txeroki", who was captured by French police along with a suspected female accomplice.
The NSA gave the information to Spain's CNI intelligence service, which forwarded it to the police.
Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said intelligence services "almost always" participate in investigations into the arrest of ETA members.
Txeroki was captured in Cauterets, a ski resort in the Pyrenees near the border with Spain's autonomous Basque region, which ETA wants to see independent. Rubalcaba said Txeroki "was responsible for all the commandos and he coordinated all the attacks."
ETA is blamed for the deaths of 824 people in its 40-year campaign for an independent Basque homeland. [DowJonesNews/18November2008]
Halt Urged to Intelligence Feuds. The incoming Obama administration must stop the legendary struggles between the Pentagon and the CIA over control of intelligence, according to Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, a key member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Ruppersberger, a Baltimore County Democrat, said it would be "a good thing" if Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates stayed on the job after Barack Obama is inaugurated as president Jan. 20.
But he declined to say whether he thinks any of the top intelligence agency chiefs should be replaced. They include Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, Michael V. Hayden, the former NSA director who now heads the CIA, and Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence.
His comments, made to reporters at a breakfast sponsored by the nonpartisan Space Foundation, gave some insight into how Democrats intend to tackle intelligence issues as a new administration and Congress take office in January.
Ruppersberger and others have long viewed the bureaucratic struggle over intelligence as a dangerous dysfunction, a conclusion also reached by the 9/11 commission that called for sweeping reforms. In response, Congress and the Bush administration in 2005 created a new post, director of national intelligence, to provide more centralized management among the nation's 16 intelligence organizations.
But bitter struggles continued between the CIA and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld over budgets and programs, with the Defense Department and its subordinate, the NSA, controlling the bulk of the $47.5 billion intelligence budget.
Continuing interagency clashes were meant to be smoothed out by an executive order issued by the White House in July that spelled out in greater detail the authorities granted to the intelligence director.
Gates, a former director of the CIA, said in July that the new executive order "empowers the [director] without weakening the others."
But Ruppersberger, chairman of the intelligence committee's technical and tactical intelligence panel, said budget struggles continue, particularly over the acquisition and operation of spy satellites.
Ruppersberger said the United States maintains global leadership because of its edge in space technology, but he warned that China is "getting dangerously close."
He called for a new strategic plan to guide satellite development and acquisition, and for a doubling of investment in space research and development. [Wood/BaltimoreSun/19November2008]
Military Eyes Tiny Robots for Spy, Attack Missions. The future generation of flying robots that can hunt, photograph, record and even attack enemy insurgents and terrorists will be as tiny as a bumblebee and look like one, military researchers say.
Engineers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are working on a project to develop insect-sized robots that could slip into buildings and spy on enemy soldiers. These Micro Aerial Vehicles, or MAVs, would be disguised as insects to avoid detection.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, are being used in Iraq and Afghanistan, primarily as for surveillance and reconnaissance, so the military can conduct dangerous missions without putting pilots and expensive aircraft in harm's way.
Military experts say that unlike current flying robots, the tinier versions would be able to swoop undetected into buildings, enabling U.S. forces to identify the enemy, make U.S. attacks against them more precise, and reduce or avoid civilian casualties.
"The way we envision it is there would be a bunch of these sent out in a swarm," said Greg Parker, who is helping lead the research project at Wright-Patterson. "If we know there's a possibility of bad guys in a certain building, how do we find out? We think this would fill that void."
Parker and his colleagues are shooting to bring the robots to reality by 2030. However, much closer - possibly by 2015 - are similar bird-sized vehicles.
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Va., said such vehicles could be useful in today's wars in which the biggest problem is a shortage of intelligence about what terrorists and insurgents are doing.
Philip Coyle, senior adviser with the Center for Defense Information in Washington D.C., said the project is a legitimate research endeavor and that he believes the vehicles could be disguised as birds or insects.
However, he said a major hurdle would be making the vehicles capable of carrying the weight of sensors that include cameras and microphones.
Unlike the bird-sized vehicles, the insect-sized ones would actually use flappable wings to fly, Parker said.
He said engineers are shooting for a vehicle with a 1-inch wingspan and possibly made of an elastic material. The vehicles would control themselves and have sensors enabling them to avoid slamming into buildings and stationary objects, he said.
However, Parker said the tiny vehicles might be able to withstand a few bumps.
An Air Force video describing the vehicles says they could possibly carry chemicals or explosives and be used to attack adversaries.
Parker acknowledges that the project is in its infancy. He said his team is currently trying to come up with designs for flap-winged flight and studying low-speed aerodynamics.
Once prototypes are developed, they will be flight-tested in a new building at Wright-Patterson dubbed the "micro aviary" for Micro Air Vehicle Integration Application Research Institute. [Ohio/19November2008]
CIA Accused Over Missionary Death. The CIA withheld information after the downing of a missionary plane in Peru in 2001, according to an internal CIA report.
The plane was shot down as part of a US-led operation against drugs smugglers, killing a US missionary and her baby daughter.
The CIA inspector general's report says the incident was cast as a one-off error but that there were in fact "sustained and significant" violations.
The CIA said it would carefully consider the report's findings.
The missionary, Veronica Bowers from Michigan, died with her daughter Charity when the Peruvian air force opened fire as their plane flew along the Amazon river after being tracked by the CIA as suspected traffickers. Her husband and son survived.
There were "sustained and significant" violations of procedures, the report says, which meant other aircraft were also targeted without proper checks having been made.
"The result was that, in many cases, suspect aircraft were shot down within two to three minutes of being sighted by the Peruvian fighter - without being properly identified, without being given the required warnings to land," the report said.
Internal inquiries that revealed the problems were hidden from Congress, the National Security Council and the Justice Department, the report says.
Instead, for six years, the agency "incorrectly reported that the program complied with the laws and policies governing it".
Republican Representative Pete Hoekstra, who made public the report's unclassified sections, called for a criminal inquiry into the matter.
A CIA spokesman said the agency had not yet decided how to handle the report's findings. Paul Gimigliano said the agency's director, Michael Hayden, had received the full report, and the CIA took questions of responsibility and accountability "very seriously". [BBC/21November2008]
Intel Panel Foresees Lesser U.S. Role. The top U.S. intelligence panel this week is expected to issue a snapshot of the world in 2025, in a report that predicts fading American economic and military dominance and warns of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
The predictions come from the National Intelligence Council (NIC), part of Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell's office.
The NIC report, a draft copy of which is titled "Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World," is slated for release as early as Thursday.
The report also predicts "a unified Korea" is likely by then, and that China will be the world's second-largest economy and a major military power.
"The United States will remain the single most powerful country, although less dominant," according to a "working draft" of the document obtained by The Washington Times. "Shrinking economic and military capabilities may force the U.S. into a difficult set of tradeoffs between domestic and foreign-policy priorities."
A senior intelligence official said some details have changed in the final report, but "the thrust is the same."
The draft says:
"The next 20 years of transition toward a new international system are fraught with risks, such as a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and possible interstate conflicts over resources."
"We see a unified Korea as likely by 2025 and assess the peninsula will probably be denuclearized, either via ongoing diplomacy or as a necessary condition for international acceptance of and cooperation with a needy new Korea."
Thomas Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and chairman of the NIC, said Tuesday that the report "should not be viewed as a prediction." Even "projection" is not entirely correct, he said, though he used that word several times during a luncheon at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. [Kralev/WashingtonTimes/19November2008]
Section II - CONTEXT & PRECEDENCE
The Information Fortress Known As North Korea. Some intelligence is smuggled out by groups and individuals these days, but the main thing outsiders know about the reclusive regime is that they know nothing.
For months, North Korea watchers have played a frustrating guessing game: Is leader Kim Jong Il healthy? Incapacitated? Or even dead?
Many speculate that the reclusive 66-year-old has been sidelined by a stroke, while the government in Pyongyang continues to release undated photos showing an active Kim, sporting his trademark bouffant, at public events.
The question of Kim's whereabouts underscores the difficulty of knowing anything conclusive about what goes on in North Korea, an isolated society with somewhat primitive technology and an obsession with forbidding any information - even the price of rice - to escape its borders.
For years, the autocratic Kim has cloaked his impoverished nation beneath a veil of secrecy that has defied the prying eyes of outsiders. Making a cellphone call to the outside world can be punished by death.
As a result, analysts say, estimates about Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities and the scope of internal dissent at best remain semi-informed speculation.
These days, much of the information gathering on North Korea comes not from governments but private individuals and human rights groups that have managed to piece together a clandestine network of internal reporters. Some nongovernmental aid organizations return from the country with observations of what goes on there.
Most North Koreans are limited to government-controlled news and are rarely allowed to travel from their hometowns.
Analysts say North Korea's closed society has proved virtually spy-proof.
The few foreigners allowed inside North Korea have almost no ability to move around on their own, are under constant observation in their supervised itineraries and are rarely allowed to speak to average citizens without government minders present.
Western intelligence officials acknowledge that both Kim and his late father, the nation's founder, Kim Il Sung, have successfully shut out spies for decades.
"I speak of the CIA's record in North Korea as the longest running failure in the history of American espionage," said Donald Gregg, a CIA station chief in South Korea in the 1970s and a former U.S. ambassador to Seoul. "It has always been the toughest of the tough targets. In my day, we truly did not know what was going on there.
"We might have recruited the odd North Korean serving in the African desert who would do anything for a bottle of whiskey. But then he'd go back to Pyongyang, and that would be the end of it. I hope it has gotten better."
Even South Korean officials, with arguably the biggest stake in keeping tabs on the North, acknowledge their limitations.
Kim Suk-woo, a presidential aide in Seoul in the early 1990s, cited reports that soon after assuming power in 1994, Kim Jong Il conducted a study of the failure of former Eastern Bloc communist countries.
The North Koreans "concluded that one major problem was leaks and determined that all sorts of information about their society was critical and should be kept secret or destroyed," the South Korean said.
As a result, outside intelligence is often based on accounts from people like Zhu Sung-ha, a defector who escaped from North Korea in 2001. Many analysts criticize reports from defectors as too narrow in scope to be of use. But Zhu, now a journalist, disagrees.
Taken together, he says, the purviews of individual defectors bring forth a picture of life in North Korea.
He criticized South Korean intelligence for not getting inside the Pyongyang government. "The two Koreas have been at war for 60 years," Zhu said, in reference to the state of war that has officially existed since the Korean War. "During that time they should have placed someone close to Kim. I am surprised their intelligence is so weak."
As a result, much of the limited snooping comes from unlikely sources, including amateurs who use Google Earth satellite mapping technology to track North Korean military hardware.
Howard said he founded his Open Radio for North Korea broadcasts as a way to encourage the open trading of information between the Koreas.
He said the nadir of North Korea intelligence gathering came during the 1990s famine when outsiders were unable to determine how many residents were dying from starvation.
Years after the famine, some North Koreans are more willing to offer information - often for payment - figuring they must put the welfare of their families before that of the state.
But despite small successes by activists and private groups, government spies remain stymied.
"When Walter Mondale was U.S. ambassador to Japan in the mid-1990s, he once told me that anyone who described himself as an expert on North Korea was either a liar or a fool," said Marcus Noland, a North Korea analyst for the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. "That still applies today." [Glonna&Lee/LosAngelestimes/14November2008]
November 23 - Anniversary of President Reagan Endorsing CIA Support of Nicaraguan Contras. On Nov. 23, 1981, President Ronald Reagan provided the United States' Central Intelligence Agency with $19 million in military aid to support guerrilla groups fighting Nicaragua's Sandinista government, which led to the 1986 Iran-Contra affair.
Nicaragua was ruled by a leftist military government that had been established by the Sandinista revolutionaries after overthrowing Anastasio Somoza Debayle, a brutal and corrupt dictator, in 1979.
The goals of the Nicaraguan government ran counter to American interests in the region and were seen as a vehicle for Soviet political strategy. President Ronald Reagan, who believed that anti-Communist insurgents should be supported wherever they might be, allowed the CIA to fund and train Nicaragua's counterrevolutionary guerrillas, the "Contras," primarily made up of soldiers from Somoza's National Guard.
President Reagan signed off on a top-secret document, National Security Decision Directive 17, which gave the CIA permission to recruit paramilitary units to take part in covert actions against the Sandinista regime.
News of the CIA directive leaked to the press in 1982; Congress acted to block these operations, and by 1984 the Boland Amendment made further support of the guerrillas almost impossible. However, members of the Reagan administration continued to push for the ouster of the Sandinista regime.
In 1985, National Security Advisor John Poindexter used a third party to send funds to the Contras, sanctioning the redirection of funds from illicit U.S. sales of arms to Iran to the Contras. The deal would be made public in November 1986 by Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa, sparking a major political scandal known as the Iran-Contra affair.
In June 1986, the International Court of Justice ruled that the U.S. violated international law by providing aid to the Contras. The court ruled that the U.S. owed compensation to Nicaragua, but the Reagan administration ignored the verdict and the case for compensation was dropped in 1991.
Breaking with President Harry S. Truman's policy of "containment," Reagan's foreign policy was based upon John Foster Dulles's "roll-back" strategy in which the United States worked actively to push back the influence of the Soviet Union, especially in the developing world.
A 1983 White House directive given to the State Department read, "The U.S. must rebuild the credibility of its commitment to resist Soviet encroachment on U.S. interests and those of its Allies and friends, and to support effectively those Third World states that are willing to resist Soviet pressures or oppose Soviet initiatives hostile to the United States, or are special targets of Soviet policy."
Daniel Ortega headed the ruling junta of Nicaragua after the ouster of the Somozas in 1979. He won an election in 1984 to become president and stepped down when he lost the 1990 election to the center-right opposition. He spoke of the conflict with the U.S. in a 1997 interview with CNN.
"Historically speaking the United States has been interfering in our country since the last century and so we said, 'The Yankees will inevitably interfere. If we try to become independent, the United States will intervene,'" he said.
Ortega made a comeback in 2006, winning the presidential election with 38 percent of his country's vote. "Running on a platform of reconciliation and peace, Ortega - who was careful not to mention the United States on the campaign trail - broadened his base by forming alliances with former Contras and making peace with the Roman Catholic Church, once one of his harshest critics," wrote the Council on Foreign Relations.
Oscar Manuel Solbavarro, also known as "Comandante Ruben," joined the Contras shortly after the Sandinistas came to power in 1979. He eventually became chief of staff of the resistance army. In an October 1997 interview with CNN, Solbavarro reflected on the American support for the group.
"I think that the support we received from the U.S. government wasn't aimed at us achieving a military victory in Nicaragua. I think we received help to pressurize the Sandinista government into making changes," he said. "And it was not just the pressure that we exerted as guerrillas, but there were also the interests of the neighboring countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Honduras." [FindingDulcinea/23November2008]
November 26th is the Anniversary of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. Following is an article from Koreanwar.com on the battle. In mid-October of 1950, it seemed that the Korean War was all but over. Almost all of North Korea had been taken by the United Nation forces, which were spearheaded by the United States. The feeling that the war was in its final stages was short-lived, however, as the battle of Chosin Reservoir loomed on the horizon. The United States made a grave error in misjudging the intentions of China, which helped to precipitate the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. When the seventeen day conflict was over, the Battle of Chosin Reservoir would be a defeat for the UN forces, but remembered as one of the United States Marines finest hours.
The brutality of the North Koreans, who massacred civilians and prisoners during the Korean War, was well known. The American led UN forces were looking forward to a total victory over what they considered a barbaric enemy. However, China had warned that if UN forces crossed the 38th parallel, Chinese troops would come into the war. Without a seat at the UN, and with no diplomatic relations with the United States, the true intentions of the Chinese government were muddied by poor communication. In their white fur uniforms, the Chinese blended into the snow on the ground as they crossed the border into northeast Korea, where the Chosin Reservoir was located. 20,000 UN troops would quickly be encircled by 200,000 Chinese soldiers.
The UN armies, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, had been given orders to advance to the Yalu River, which was on the border of China, after their decisive victory at Inchon in September. The US Eighth Army and the X Corps, headed by Lieutenant General Ned Almond, comprised of the US First Marine Division and elements of the US Seventh Infantry Division, along with Independent Commando Royal Marines, moved toward the river. They were totally unaware of the Chinese activity, despite their surveillance. By late November, they were surrounded and their advance had been halted by the poorly equipped, but overwhelming, Communist horde.
On November 26, 1950, the order was given to make a fighting withdrawal to the south, towards the seaside city of Hungnam. Ten Chinese divisions, along with North Korean soldiers, formed a gauntlet that the retreating men would knowingly have to cope with. An American unit from the Seventh Infantry was isolated on the eastern side of the Chosin reservoir and eventually all but wiped out by a Chinese division. Major General O. P. Smith, commanding the First Marines, was ordered to lead the breakout to the south to escape the trap. The incredible cold, including temperatures as low as 48 degrees below zero, made the march and fighting unbearable. Smith was quoted thusly when asked if he was retreating. "Retreat, Hell! We're attacking in a different direction."
As they withdrew, the Marines were indeed attacking, or under attack by the swarming Chinese. The UN forces enjoyed air supremacy; their bombers flew hundreds of missions a day against the Chinese. Over 4,000 wounded were evacuated out of the Chosin Reservoir when the weather cleared sufficiently, with some 500 reinforcements flown in. The intense cold would take its toll on both sides as the conflict wore on. As they escaped, the Marines and soldiers obliterated a full seven divisions of Chinese warriors as they tried to stop them.
Survivors of this action recalled how the Chinese would attack. They came in waves, with the first wave coming down upon the Marines the only one that actually had guns. When they were killed, the second wave would advance and grab up the weapons and fight on. The third wave came and took the guns from the dying second wave to battle with. Some soldiers swore that a fourth wave of Chinese would remain behind and machine gun any of their own troops that thought of retreating.
The weather made it almost impossible for the UN army to be re-supplied, until it cleared in early December. Ammunition and rations were dropped from the air, but the fight was far from over. The Marines and soldiers still had to fight through to the port of Hungnam to evacuate by ship. The Marines took their dead with them, sometimes having to lash them to the tops and fenders of their vehicles. The bodies were frozen solid; the grisly decision often was made to literally break off dead soldiers' arms so they would fit on or in transporting vehicles. Wounded men, because of the frigid temperatures, actually saw their blood freeze where they were hit. Many Marines froze to death, while several thousands of men suffered frostbite.
Finally, on December 11, 1950, the withdrawal was complete. Technically a defeat, the heroism and valor of the Marines attracted attention from around the globe. They had inflicted massive numbers of casualties on the enemy. 2,500 UN forces had been killed, 5,000 wounded and 7,500 were suffering from frostbite. In contrast, the enemy had ten times the number of dead, 12,500 wounded and 30,000 frostbite victims.
The entire X-Corps was withdrawn from North Korea. Hungnam was destroyed, so as to be of no use to the Communists. The Marines returned to the south, where they fought once again with the UN side until an armistice was called in July of 1953. Despite their terrible losses, the Marines defiantly consider the Battle of Chosin Reservoir to be one of their proudest moments. Even now, do not mention to a Marine the word "retreat" when discussing this battle. The Chinese as well felt proud; for the first time in a century they had defeated a Western army in a major conflict. To this very day, historians consider the Battle of Chosin Reservoir the most savage battle of modern times. [Koreanwar.com]
Section III - COMING EVENTS
EVENTS IN COMING TWO MONTHS....
1 December 2008 - Miami, FL - The Board of Directors and Members for The Ted Shackley Miami Chapter of AFIO cordially invites you to a membership cocktail party honoring Gen. John K. Singlaub. Hosted by our chapter, we will gather to honor this Great American and
hope you will save the first week of December date. All paid members
and those wishing to renew membership or join are welcomed. We will
also welcome invited guests to enjoy cocktails plus dinner. Location: TBA Your printed invitation will be forth coming
Hosts: Tom Spencer, Esq., Robert Heber and special guests
Time: 6:00 to 8:30pm Food and Beverage will begin promptly at 6:00
Contact: Tom Spencer: TRSMiami@aol.com Robert Heber: 786-473-7000
2 December 2008, 5:30 - 8 p.m. - New York, NY - " The Coming Collapse
of China" is the theme of the AFIO NY METRO Chapter Dinner featuring
author/lawyer Gordon Chang. "Beneath the surface, there is
a weak China, in long-term decline and even on the verge of collapse.”
A fascinating topic/speaker! Chang previously wrote "Nuclear Showdown."
5:30 PM – 6:00 PM: Registration; 6:00 PM: Meeting Start, BUFFET DINNER AND OPEN BAR – Until 8:00 PM. Location: STEELCASE BUILDING, 4 Columbus Circle, Manhattan Between 57th & 58th Streets on 8th Ave.
COST: $40. Per Person; $20. Per Student. RESERVATIONS: Strongly Suggested, Not Required.
Inquiries to Jerry Goodwin, President, AFIO - New York Metropolitan Chapter, at 646-696-1828 or at email@example.com
03 December 2008 - Ft Meade, MD - The National Cryptologic Museum Foundation conducts special Pearl Harbor Remembrance Program. Program will review the attack from the Japanese perspective and a Japanese historian will be part of this fascinating reexamination of history. Further information to appear here in coming weeks. Visit the NCMF website at http://www.nationalcryptologicmuseumfoundation.com/
3 December 2008, noon - Washington, DC - Spycraft: The Secret History
of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda is the
featured book at the Noontime Lecture Series at the National Archives.
From James Bond to Maxwell Smart to Mission: Impossible, spies and
their gadgetry have been captivating public interest for decades. Until
now, however, much of the information about the tools used by real-life
spies has been deemed "inappropriate for public disclosure." Join us as
Robert Wallace, 32-year veteran of the CIA, former director of the
Agency's Office of Technical Service, and AFIO member, discusses his
book and brings to life the history of the OTS and its operations both
in the engineering laboratory and in the field.
Event takes place in Jefferson Room at The National Archives. Further information: http://www.archives.gov/nae/visit/
Saturday, 6 December 2008 - Florida - The AFIO North Florida Chapter meets at the Orange Park Country Club. Meet
and greet (and partake of Quiel's delectable hors d'oeuvres!) starts at
11:00 am, with lunch at noon, followed by program and Chapter business,
then adjourn by 3:00 pm.
This is a very important meeting, as we will be attending to two key issues: First, we will hold election of officers -- a proposed slate will likely be announced in either the next newsletter or via later e-mail, but of course nominations will also be accepted from the floor. In addition, we are working on updating our Chapter Bylaws as required to bring them more in line with the 2008 Chapter Bylaws Policy & Bylaws Boilerplate published by National HQs -- We will have a list of proposed changes for review at the meeting or, with luck, published in the newsletter for review beforehand. Information on a program will hopefully also be included in the newsletter. One agenda item for the meeting will definitely be a report on the recent AFIO National Conference attended by Dane Baird.
Please RSVP to Quiel at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible -- now is not too early! -- and as usual family and guests are cordially invited. See you there!
9 December 2008 - Tampa, FL - The Suncoast AFIO Chapter meets in Ballroom A at the MacDill AFB featuring bestselling author Burton Hersh. Hersh is a graduate of Harvard and has been a successful Historian and Journalist for over 35 years. He has focused on the Kennedy family and events surrounding all of the prominent family members. Bobby and J. Edgar, The Nature of the Beast, The Shadow President: Ted Kennedy in Opposition, The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA, The Mellon Family: A Fortune in History, and The Education of Edward Kennedy are among the publications by Mr. Hersh. December’s topic will revolve around information about the JFK assassination not included or supported by the Warren Report. Lunch is $15.00 inclusive. For further information email email@example.com
Thursday, 11 December 2008 - McLean, VA - CIA "Martial Law" Kuklinski Conference. Details are at top page, right column.
16 December 2008 - Arlington, VA - The Defense Intelligence Alumni Association and the National Intelligence Education Foundation hold their National Intelligence Forum at the
Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery in the Ballston Common Mall. Pay at the door with a CHECK for $29 payable to DIAA, Inc Social time starts at 1130, lunch at 1200, program at 1245
Dr. Cindy L. Courville will speak on Africa Dr. Courville was U.S. Ambassador to the African Union. She has been Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council, where she helped craft United States policy towards Africa. She is now on the Faculty of the National Defense Intelligence College.
The National Intelligence Forum covers topics of current interest. The Defense Intelligence Alumni Association and the National Intelligence Education Foundation sponsor it jointly. To encourage candor, the speaker must approve in advance media, notes, recordings, and attribution. The Defense Intelligence Forum is open to members of all Intelligence Community associations.
The restaurant is located on Level 1 of the Ballston Common Mall at the corner of Glebe Road and Wilson Boulevard. It's just two blocks from the Ballston-MU Metro Station on the Orange Line. Entrance to a covered walkway to the mall is at the Metro station exit. Park at Ballston Common Mall for 3 Hours for $1. RSVP by 9 December by email to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Include your name and the names of your guests, your association, your telephone number, and your email address.
15 January 2009 – San Francisco, CA – The AFIO Jim Quesada Chapter hosts Stanislav Levchenko, former Russian KGB Major. Levchenko defected to the United States in October 1979, and was
instrumental in detailing the KGB's Japanese spy network to the U.S
government, including Congressional testimony in the early 1980’s. A
Soviet court condemned Levchenko to death in 1981. Levchenko published
his autobiography, On the Wrong Side: My Life in the KGB, in 1988.
Major Levchenko's talk will focus on the new Russia and its imperial
The meeting will be held at United Irish Cultural Center, 2700 45th Avenue, San Francisco (between Sloat and Wawona). 11:30 AM no host cocktails; noon - luncheon. $25 member rate with advance reservation and payment; $35 non-member rate. RSVP required. E-mail RSVP to Mariko Kawaguchi (please indicate meat or fish) no later than 5PM 1/05/09: email@example.com or mail check made out to "AFIO" to: Mariko Kawaguchi, PO Box 117578 Burlingame, CA 94011. (650) 622-9840 X608.
-21 February 2009 - Baltimore, MD - Ethics in the Intelligence
Community 2009 - The 4th Annual Conference of the International
Intelligence Ethics Association
List of topics
• The Foundations of Ethics in Intelligence
• The Ethics of Intelligence Assassinations: The Israeli Experience
• The Application of Stakeholder Analysis to Covert Action
• Legitimizing Intelligence Ethics: A Comparison to Ethics in Business
• Surreptitious Physical Searches: An Ethics of Privacy
• Many Spheres of Harm: What's Wrong with Intelligence Collection
• The Ethical Implications of the Downing Street Memos
• The Role of Ethics Reform in Turkey's Bid to Join the EU
• Evolution of British Intelligence & Counter-Terrorism: Northern Ireland, 1969 - 1998.
Location: The Johns Hopkins University at Mt. Washington Conference Center Baltimore, Maryland
Register now and save $50.00. This year, on-line registration is available and encouraged by all attendees. You can reserve your space at the conference and get a hotel room at the same time!
Registration Fees: Individual - Institution - $450; Individual - $375; Student - $250
For more information about registration fees, including fees for early and late registration, go to http://intelligence-ethics.org/conference/09/index.html.
Registration fees include continental breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Friday, and continental breakfast and lunch on Saturday.
Lodging: The Mt. Washington Conference Center has 48 guestrooms for conference attendees. Single rooms with a queen-size bed and double rooms with two double beds are available.
The room rate is $150 per night.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contract us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
5 - 6 March 2009 - Houston, TX - "Terrorism, Crime & Business" Symposium - Understanding the Fundamental Legal and Security Liability Issues for
American Business. A conference sponsored by St. Mary's University.,
School of Law, Center for Terrorism Law. Four
Main Symposium Themes: • An overview of the aims and objectives of the
global terror threat posed by al-Qa’eda-styled terror groups, sub-State
terror groups, and “lone-wolf” terrorists.
• An analysis of the specific threats to American business sectors that are deemed part of the nation’s “critical infrastructure,” i.e., energy, petrochemical, electric utilities, communication, transportation, health, banking and finance, agriculture, water and shipping. • An understanding of the varied legal issues associated with terrorism and criminal negligence claims against businesses that have suffered a terror attack or serious criminal act in cyberspace or the physical world. • A comprehensive review of how to develop appropriate physical security methods.
SPEAKERS and LOCATION: The symposium will be held at the Federal Reserve Bank, 1801 Allen Parkway, Houston, Texas. The registration fee is $300.00, which includes breakout refreshments, a hosted lunch,
and extensive printed materials, e.g., Terrorism Law: Materials, Cases, Comments (5th Ed. 2009). Participants may qualify for Continuing Legal Education Credits (CLE). For registration information and details, contact Ms. Faithe Campbell at (210) 431-2219; email@example.com. Additional information is also available at the Center for Terrorism Law website: www.stmarytx.edu/ctl.
For Additional Events two+ months or greater....view our online Calendar of Events
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