AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #29-09 dated 11 August 2009






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Australian Police Arrest Four In Major Anti-Terror Sweep. Australian police launched a major anti-terrorism operation, arresting four men they said were suspected of plotting an attack in the country.

About 400 officers from state and national security services took part in at least 19 pre-dawn raids on properties in the southern city of Melbourne, Victoria, on 4 August, state police said in a statement.

Police said members of a Melbourne-based group had "been undertaking planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia." The four men arrested are Australian citizens ranging in age from 22 to 26.

The group was allegedly linked to hostilities in Somalia, the statement said without giving further details.

The Australian newspaper reported those detained were Islamic extremists who had planned to launch a suicide attack on an Australian army base. Members of the Melbourne group allegedly traveled to Somalia in recent months to train with the extremist group al-Shabaab, and were supposedly planning to use automatic weapons to kill as many soldiers as possible, the newspaper reported, without providing sources for its information.

Police refused to confirm the report or release more details, but said there would be a news conference later Tuesday.

The United States has designated al-Shabaab a foreign terrorist organization. The U.S. State Department's annual terrorism report in April said al-Shabaab was providing a safe haven to al-Qaida "elements" wanted for the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. [NPR/5August2009] 

US 'Tourists' May Face Iran Spy Charges. Iran has arrested three Americans for illegally entering the country from neighboring Iraq, and a prominent Iranian MP says authorities are investigating whether to charge them with spying.

A US official rejected the allegation, and a security official in Iraq said the three were merely backpackers who got lost while hiking in a mountainous region where the Iran-Iraq border is not clearly marked.

The case is the latest source of friction with Washington over the detention of Americans, following the espionage trial earlier this year of American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi. Such a confrontation could be especially thorny this time around, when Iran is mired in its worst political crisis in 30 years over the disputed June 12 presidential election.

The Americans - freelance journalist Shane Bauer, his girlfriend Sarah Shourd and Joshua Fattal - were hiking in a picturesque region of Iraq's northern Kurdish region near the Iranian border that is known for lush vegetation, pistachio groves and fruit trees.

The Iraqi regional security chief in Sulaimaniyah said the area is poorly marked and the three simply lost their bearings when they crossed into western Iran and were arrested on Friday. He urged Iranian authorities to free them.

"Our investigations proved there was no political or military reason for the border crossing. They simply made a mistake," said the Iraqi official, Hakim Qadir Humat Jan.

"They came as tourists. Nothing about the way they were travelling points to a possibility of spying. Their financial situation was also weak - they travelled in a crowded bus and stayed at a cheap hotel - and they entered Kurdistan legally."

"I call on the Iranians to set them free," Jan said, adding that the mountainous area where the Americans were arrested contains dense foliage and narrow trails, and it's difficult to make out where Iraqi Kurdistan ends and Iran begins.

An Iranian MP and member of parliament's National Security Committee rejected the suggestion the Americans were tourists and said authorities were investigating whether to charge them with espionage.

"Surely we can say that they came as spies," said Mohammad Karim Abedi, a hard-liner, speaking on Iran's state-run Al-Alam TV. "The concerned authorities will decide whether they were spies or not. If it is proven that they were spies, the necessary legal procedures will be sought against them."

"The US forces are trying to leave some security elements behind, after leaving Iraq," Abedi added. "It's unacceptable to penetrate Iran's borders this way ... We condemn this." [NineMSN/5August2009] 

CIA Whistleblower Complaint Declassified. In May 2001, CIA officer Franz Boening submitted a memorandum to the Agency Inspector General alleging that the CIA's relationship with disgraced Peruvian intelligence official Vladimiro Lenin Montesinos may have involved violations of U.S. law.

There is no evidence that the CIA Inspector General ever took any action in response to Mr. Boening's memorandum, which was presented as a whistleblower complaint. CIA classification officials, however, responded quickly and energetically - to silence him. Information contained in the Boening whistleblower complaint is classified, declared CIA information review officer Ralph S. DiMaio and its disclosure "reasonably could be expected to cause damage to national security."

Pursuant to the non-disclosure agreement that Mr. Boening had signed upon employment at CIA, Agency officials forbade him from publicly revealing his allegations, though he said they were based on published news reports and other open sources. And CIA classified most of the substance of his 2001 complaint, including even (or especially) the name of Montesinos.

With the assistance of attorney Mark S. Zaid, Mr. Boening went to court to challenge the Agency's censorship of his allegations as an unlawful act of prior restraint. Eight years after submitting the document, he emerged more or less victorious, as the CIA withdrew most of its objections, and permitted publication of the 2001 whistleblower complaint regarding Montesinos with only a few remaining redactions.

Mr. Boening is still obliged to comply with his Agency nondisclosure obligations, advised R. Puhl, the chairman of the CIA Publications Review Board, and he must seek a new Agency review if he wishes to make any changes at all to the newly authorized text, including any deletions of material.

"If you add or delete material to or otherwise change the text the Board has approved for publication, you must submit these additions, deletions, or changes to us before giving them to your publisher or anyone else," Mr. Puhl wrote in a February 13, 2009 letter. [Aftergood/SecrecyNews/4August2009] 

Power Struggle Hits Iran Intelligence Agency. Beyond the power struggle playing out on the streets of Tehran is a complex battle for control of Iran's intelligence ministry - a pivotal institution in the regime's repression of dissent.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fired Intelligence Minister Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei late last month after Mr. Ejei objected to the president's efforts to name an in-law as first vice president.

The departure of Mr. Ejei, a hard-line cleric close to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, two other Khamenei loyalists, and nearly 20 other high-ranking officials appeared to weaken the leader's hold over the ministry and strengthen the power of the Revolutionary Guards, Iran's elite military force.

The Guards have been heavily involved in the crackdown on dissent since the disputed June 12 presidential election, and there is an unconfirmed report that the force has created a parallel intelligence service called Tehran intelligence. Mr. Ahmadinejad and many of his closest allies are Guards veterans.

Mr. Ejei was responsible long before the elections for jailing numerous Iranians and Iranian-Americans on charges of promoting a so-called velvet revolution. However, he apparently was not loyal enough to Mr. Ahmadinejad.

In the aftermath of the departure of Mr. Ejei and others - including the head of counterintelligence - some Iranian conservatives are blaming him for the government's failure to stop dissent as well as other ministry public-relations bungles.

A conservative Web site, Baztab, attributed the removal of Iran's counterintelligence head to the government's failure to press for convictions on espionage charges of former nuclear negotiator Hossein Mousavian and two Iranian-Americans, scholar Haleh Esfandiari and journalist Roxana Saberi. Conservatives also have accused Mr. Ejei of a disappointing performance in dealing with the post-election riots.

Pro-Ahmadinejad circles quoted by a reformist Web site, Mizan News, stated that the officials were fired for failing to maintain security and repeatedly ignoring information that a large number of Iranians with anti-government backgrounds were traveling to Iran from England in the lead-up to the elections.

Mr. Ahmadinejad also criticized the ousted minister for bringing a case in 2007 against Ms. Esfandiari, who was 67 at the time of her arrest and had been visiting her elderly mother.

Supporters of the theory that Ahmadinejad supporters in the Revolutionary Guards falsified election results in the incumbent's favor pointed to Mr. Ejei's dismissal as proof that the Guards have appropriated some of the Intelligence Ministry's functions. Under Iranian law, the president assumes caretaker responsibilities for up to three months in the event a minister is dismissed.

A high-ranking intelligence official named Majid Alavi has been appointed as interim manager and as Mr. Ahmadinejad's personal representative to the ministry. Mr. Alavi is a fluent Arabic speaker who served four-year terms in Saudi Arabia and Sudan before being expelled from the latter, according to the Persian-language news site Roozonline. He also has strongly supported the harsh crackdown on protesters.

Some of the approximately 20 other high-ranking officials who have been fired or forced to retire wrote a letter to the director of the ministry's intelligence protection office, Mizan News reported, expressing fears that Mr. Ahmadinejad would erase security files relating to his allies, including the in-law he tried to name as his first vice president.

The latest purge at the ministry is a continuation of Mr. Ahmadinejad's efforts to stack supporters there for the past four years. In the process, he has antagonized intelligence officers who worked in the administration of his more liberal predecessor, Mohammad Khatami, as well as that of conservative pragmatist Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who preceded Mr. Khatami.

Jahan News, a conservative Web site, claimed that a reformist former intelligence officer currently working in the judiciary called a member of the campaign staff of Mehdi Karroubi, a defeated reformist presidential candidate, three days after the election results were announced and advised him to increase the number of protesters on the streets.

The outcome of the power struggle in the ministry may give a good indication of whether the Ahmadinejad camp will triumph or whether his re-election will turn out to be a pyrrhic victory.

Ervand Abrahamian, an Iran specialist at Baruch College and the author of "Tortured Confessions," a history of Iranian prisons, said that "the people running the Intelligence Ministry are already Ahmadinejad people. ... There is conflict - some conservatives like Rafsanjani just don't like Ahmadinejad's dangerous policies and want to curtail his power, but I don't know if they'd go as far as taking over the ministry." [Athanasiadis/WashingtonTimes/6August2009] 

Obama's Battle Against Terrorism To Go Beyond Bombs and Bullets. The U.S. government must fundamentally redefine the struggle against terrorism, replacing the "war on terror" with a campaign combining all facets of national power to defeat the enemy, according to John O. Brennan, President Obama's senior counterterrorism adviser.

Previewing what aides said will be the administration's most comprehensive statement to date on its long-term strategy to defeat al-Qaeda and other violent extremists worldwide, Brennan said in an interview that the United States will maintain "unrelenting" pressure on terrorist havens, including those near the Afghan-Pakistani border, in Yemen and in Somalia.

However, Washington must couple the military strikes that have depleted al-Qaeda's middle ranks with more sustained use of economic, diplomatic and cultural levers to diminish Islamist radicalization, he said, exercising "soft power" in ways that President George W. Bush came to embrace but had trouble carrying out.

"It needs to be much more than a kinetic effort, an intelligence, law enforcement effort. It has to be much more comprehensive," said Brennan, who will address the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Thursday. "This is not a 'war on terror.' . . . We cannot let the terror prism guide how we're going to interact and be involved in different parts of the world."

The U.S. shift in tone comes as Obama national security officials, six months after taking office, are seeking to maintain a fragile bipartisan consensus over continuing Bush-era policies that damaged al-Qaeda while taking advantage of changed political circumstances at home and perceptions abroad.

While Obama campaigned on similar themes - and a White House budget office memo in March notably retired the "global war on terror" moniker - aides now seem to be trying to fill in the blanks, defining the threat and U.S. goals and challenges.

The time has come to "lower the temperature of the discourse . . . and soberly discuss what steps we want to take and not take," said Michael E. Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the U.S. clearinghouse for analyzing terrorism threats. "What we've learned over the last several years is, nuance is important here."

U.S. officials are advancing American ideals - promoting political participation and economic development - and attacking the factors that breed terrorism, Brennan said.

"We are not saying that poverty causes terrorism, or disenfranchisement causes terrorism, but we can't mistake there are certain phenomena that contribute to it," he said. "Terrorism needs to be fought against and certainly delegitimized or attacked, but some of the underlying grievances that might in fact lead individuals astray to terrorism cannot be ignored."

Brennan is in some respects an intriguing choice to deliver the new message. A former career CIA analyst, Saudi Arabia station chief, and chief of staff to former director George J. Tenet, he was heavily involved in CIA counterterrorism operations for most of his 25-year career, helping stand up the NCTC under Bush before retiring in 2004. After liberal critics questioned Brennan's role in post-9/11 detention and interrogation policies, he withdrew from consideration as CIA chief and Obama moved him to the White House.

Brennan's "Jesuit-like" demeanor has made him a key bridge between administrations, said David Cohen, a CIA veteran and now New York Police Department counterterrorism official.

Brennan has also brought perspective to internal debates over intelligence policy in the Obama White House, where few senior officials have exposure to the world of spycraft, intelligence officials said. Brennan is known to have opposed declassifying Bush administration legal opinions that authorized harsh CIA interrogations, though the Obama White House acted contrary to his advice.

"John understands how intelligence and policy support one another - that's a major asset," said CIA Director Leon E. Panetta, whom Obama subsequently named. "He is a vital link between the CIA and the NSC."

"His portfolio is growing, not shrinking," said Mark Lippert, a longtime Obama foreign policy aide and now chief of staff for the National Security Council, which is run by Brennan's boss, national security adviser James L. Jones. Brennan's role spans terrorism, cybersecurity, swine flu and some intelligence matters. "He has the president's trust. . . . Folks from all parts of the policy and intelligence community respect him," Lippert said.

Even as the Obama administration softens U.S. rhetoric, it continues a controversial policy of attacking suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban safe houses inside Pakistan's autonomous tribal region. A missile apparently launched by CIA Predator drone struck a house in Pakistan on Wednesday, killing a woman identified as the wife of Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander linked to the assassination of former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Unmanned drones have struck targets in Pakistan at least 31 times this year, killing more than 360 people, according to a tally by the Web site the Long War Journal. Such attacks are opposed by some prominent Defense officials who say the strikes are counterproductive because they fuel anti-Western sentiment in Pakistan.

Brennan, who declined to comment on CIA operations in the region, acknowledged internal disagreements but said that al-Qaeda must continue to be pressured.

"It's important to maintain the offensive against what are clearly terrorist training facilities and camps, and we're working closely with the Afghanistan and Pakistan governments to root out these facilities," he said. At the same time, the use of lethal force must be "very focused, and ensure that we are not incurring any type of collateral damage." [Hsu/WashingtonPost/5August2009] 

Russian Secret Service Helped Hizballah Bust Israel's Lebanese Spy Rings. Western intelligence sources in the Middle East have disclosed that a special unit of the Russian Federal Security Service - FSB, commissioned by Hizballah's special security apparatus earlier this year, was responsible for the massive discovery of alleged Israel spy rings in Lebanon in recent months with the help of super-efficient detection systems.

Those sources report that the FSB and Hizballah have amassed quantities of undisclosed data on Israel's clandestine operations in Lebanon and are holding it in reserve in order to leak spectaculars discoveries as and when it suits their purpose.

This disclosure would indicate that the Russian agency, which specializes in counterespionage, is engaged for the first time in anti-Israel activity in the service of an Arab terrorist organization. An Israeli security sources describes this turn of events extremely grave. It also cast an ominous slant on Moscow's deepening strategic involvement in Syria.

It was generally assumed until now that new electronic devices supplied by France to the Lebanese army were instrumental in uncovering the suspected Israeli spy rings. It now transpires that the Lebanese army was not directly involved; it only detained the suspects handed over by the Shiite Hizballah.

Those same sources disclosed that FSB agents, by blanketing every corner of Lebanon with their sophisticated surveillance systems, were able to detect the spy rings one by one and additionally hack into Israeli intelligence data bases.

The Russians dated Israel's massive clandestine infiltration of Lebanon to shortly after its 2006 Lebanese conflict. The Lebanese Shiites sustained heavy casualties and, fearing an Israeli surprise attack at that point, began conscripting thousands of young Shiites as fighters pell mell, without checking their backgrounds. In their haste, they also rounded up Syrian and Egyptian migrant laborers in Lebanon.

Israel used the opportunity to recruit large numbers of agents in both these groups, especially among the conscripts sent to Revolutionary Guards camps in Iran and Syrian military facilities for training. [DBKA/7August2009] 

Al-Qaeda Will Pose a Threat for 20 Years, Top Spy Official Says. Al-Qaeda will be a threat to the U.S. for the next 20 years, relying mostly on conventional explosives in their attacks, according to the U.S.'s top intelligence official.

The group will be able to conduct operations even as the U.S. and Pakistani governments target its leaders in al-Qaeda's hideouts in Pakistan's tribal regions, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said.

Al-Qaeda "will continue to plot against the U.S. and its interests abroad over the next 20 years," Blair said in written answers to the Senate Intelligence Committee that were obtained July 30 by the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists under the Freedom of Information Act.

Last year was the 20th anniversary of al-Qaeda's creation. Its longevity is due to an ability's to adapt to the loss of leaders assassinated by the U.S. and develop Internet public- relations campaigns to attract recruits, intelligence officials have said.

In 2008, al-Qaeda confirmed the death of Abu Khabab al- Masri, its expert in nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

In his answer to questions posed by committee members following his Feb. 12 appearance before the panel, Blair said al-Masri's death was a "temporary setback" and al-Qaeda's "ability to shift responsibility to other senior leaders and existing trained replacements will enable it to recover."

U.S. intelligence indicates the group is intent on obtaining weapons of mass destruction and detonating them in the U.S., Blair said. Still, its inability to get such devices makes it likely the group will rely on its proven expertise with conventional bombs, he said.

Al-Qaeda's "most probable" means of attacking the U.S. homeland is with "a conventional explosive" because the group "is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices and is innovative in creating capabilities and overcoming security obstacles," Blair wrote.

The group will be able to plan operations in part because the Pakistani government has had "mixed" success in rooting out al-Qaeda in the tribal areas, Blair said.

The failure of peace agreements with militants forced the resumption of operations by a Pakistani army "already tested by limited capabilities, morale problems and increased commitments throughout the tribal areas," Blair wrote.

The army's problems are so serious that "it is not clear if Pakistan has the capacity to do more than respond to immediate threats," he said.

Blair asserted that Osama bin Laden remains al-Qaeda's "spiritual leader," though he is unable to contribute to daily operations because of the U.S.-led search for him.

In 40 pages of answers, Blair also gave his impressions of Saudi Arabia's program to rehabilitate militants who were arrested and imprisoned there.

He called the program "the most comprehensive of its kind" and said efforts are made to find jobs and even wives for terrorist suspects.

The Saudi government, though, undermines the program when it "intentionally loses court cases mounted by detainees who believe they had been held for too long" as a way of showing the complaints are being addressed, Blair said. [Bliss&Capaccio/Bloomberg/7August2009] 

U.S. Intelligence Head Says Afghan Army Must Grow to 325,000. Afghanistan's army must more than triple in size to about 325,000 to effectively protect its population, according to the top U.S. intelligence official.

The army under the current U.S. plan is slated to grow from 93,000 to 134,000 by 2011, a commitment requiring Afghanistan to boost the army's budget from about $242 million today.

That budget would have to grow to at least $946 million annually to support the larger force, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told the Senate Intelligence Committee April 24 in written answers to questions posed after he testified at a panel hearing Feb. 12 on worldwide threats.

Blair's answers are unclassified but were not released until the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists obtained them July 30 under the Freedom of Information Act.

The new U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is assessing how much to boost the Afghan National Army and police from their current combined level of 175,000. His estimate won't be presented until later this month at the earliest, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said.

The strength of Afghanistan's force is critical to the Obama administration's goal of driving the Taliban from population centers, holding and consolidating gains and building a viable local economy without foreign economic aid.

In letters and face-to-face meetings, U.S. lawmakers and defense officials have urged the administration to increase Afghan security forces - police as well as the army - to at least 400,000 by 2011. That's almost double the current U.S. target of 230,800.

In a May 19 letter to President Barack Obama, 17 Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, including Chairman Carl Levin, ranking Republican John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, an independent who's also head of the Homeland Security Committee, said 400,000 Afghan security forces are needed. They cautioned Obama against "taking an incremental approach" that "does not reflect the realities on the ground."

Blair was not asked to address the size of the Afghan national police, who number 82,975 today and are scheduled to grow by about 14,000. A DNI spokesman didn't respond to questions about what size force the director would recommend.

Blair said the intelligence community's projection for the Afghan army's size was based on a U.S. Army counterinsurgency formula that suggests 25 troops for every 1,000 residents.

Afghanistan's population is 32.7 million. Most of the insurgents are in areas of Afghanistan dominated by Pashtuns, the nation's largest single ethnic group, who make up about 40 percent of the Afghan population, Blair wrote.

Using the ratio in the Army's Counterinsurgency Handbook, roughly 325,000 security forces would be needed "to extend security throughout Pashtun areas," Blair wrote.

Blair, in his letter, also outlined the intelligence communities' view of the Taliban, the militant extremists who harbored al-Qaeda and were toppled by the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.  [Capaccio/Bloomberg/5August2009] 

British Embassy Official Appears in Spy Show Trial in Iran. Hossein Rassam, an Iranian who worked as the embassy's chief political analyst, appeared in court on 8 August in prison-style clothes, alongside 100 other people detained in the aftermath of June's post-election protests.

The Foreign Office immediately issued a statement condemning his treatment, which is likely to send relations between Britain and Iran to a new low.

Mr. Rassam, 44, was arrested in June, as the Iranian authorities cracked down on the huge street protests sparked by claims that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had rigged the results of that month's presidential election to return himself to power. His reformist rival candidate, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, accused him of "fraud".

After a spell being questioned in Tehran's Evin prison, Mr. Rassam was released on $100,000 bail, but charged with harming national security. Friends have described him an Iranian "patriot" who is being used as a scapegoat by the Iranian regime.

However, reports in Iran's official media claimed that he had told the court that he had been instructed by the embassy to witness the riots which erupted after June's presidential election.

"Hossein Rassam is on trial for espionage ... today in the court he talked about the clear interference of British diplomats in recent unrest and his contacts with moderate politicians and Mousavi's headquarters," the official Fars news agency said.

In a statement to the court quoted by Fars, Mr. Rassam told the court that "based on the order of British embassy, the local staff were asked to be present in the riots."

He mentioned the names of Tom Burn and Paul Blemey, described by Fars as the two British diplomats later asked to leave Tehran in tit-for-tat expulsions.

Fars said that the prosecutor in the case said Mr. Rassam was given the duty of meeting representatives of political groups, ethnic and religious minorities, and student groups and to relay the news of Iran's riots to London.

The judge in the case reportedly commented that the allegation merited a charge of espionage.

Tehran accused Britain of orchestrating the opposition demonstrations following the June 12 election, which sparked some of the worst turmoil in the Islamic republic's 30-year history. Thousands of people were arrested and around 26 killed in the ensuing crackdown by police and security forces.

Mr. Rassam's trial comes just three days after Britain's ambassador to Iran, Simon Gass, attended President Ahmadinejad's re-inauguration ceremony. Britain pointedly did not send a message of congratulations, having made its position clear about the "abuse of human rights" that followed the election.

Outside the court, riot police clashed with relatives of some of those put on trial, according to one reformist website. A similar tranche of detainees appeared in court last Saturday.

The defendants are also charged with "attempting to carry out a velvet revolution ... (and) having close contacts with foreign embassies and media," it said.

Also on trial on Saturday was Frenchwoman Clotilde Reiss, 24, who was working as a lecturer in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. She was arrested on charges of espionage as she tried to fly out of Tehran on July 1. She is facing up to five years in jail for spying after allegedly taking photos of an anti-Ahmandinejad demo and sending them to a friend or friends in France. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has described the accusations against her as "total fantasy". [Freeman/Telegraph/8August2009] 

Ex-Kebab Cook Admits Lying About Ties to Hussein. A former cook has pleaded guilty to lying about his ties to Saddam Hussein's government on immigration forms, federal prosecutors in Maryland said.

Mouyad Mahmoud Darwish, 48, was born in Iraq, but became a Canadian citizen in 1994, according to court documents. That was six years before he moved to the United States to work as an accountant and driver for the Iraqi Interests Section, a quasi-Iraqi embassy housed in the Algerian Embassy in the years before the United States toppled Hussein's regime.

Darwish's job at the section was arranged by 68-year-old Saubhe Jassim Al-Dellemy, the owner of Gourmet Shish Kebab in Laurel, prosecutors said. Al-Dellemy is an Iraqi national and a member of Hussein's Ba'ath party. He came to the United States in the 1980s with the Ba'ath party picking up his tab.

In return, Al-Dellemy spied on Hussein opponents operating in the United States and passed the information to the Iraqi Intelligence Service. He admitted in December to the arrangement with the intelligence service upon pleading guilty to acting as an agent of a foreign government. He faces up to five years in prison when he's sentenced in September.

In January 2000, Al-Dellemy obtained permission from the Department of Labor to hire Darwish as a cook at the shish kebab shop, court documents said. At the same time, Darwish began his work at the section. He applied for a work visa and then permanent resident status, but was denied in both cases.

However, Darwish did continue to receive permission from the Department of Labor to work at the restaurant under the pretense that it was his sole source of employment.

When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, the military discovered numerous documents pertaining to spying activities in America, prosecutors said. Those documents eventually led investigators to Al-Dellemy and then Darwish.

One of those documents showed that Darwish also reported information to Iraq's spying agency, prosecutors said.

In August 2002, Darwish informed Iraq that the U.S. military was training Iraqi volunteers in Virginia. They were getting paid $2,000 per month.

Darwish and prosecutors have agreed he'll receive a sentence of one year and three months, although a judge could send him to prison for up to five years when Darwish is sentenced in September. [WashingtonExaminer/9August2009] 

High Court Rules on Ex Spies' Suit Against the CIA. The Supreme Court has ruled that former Soviet-bloc spies could not sue the CIA for allegedly backing out on a pledge of lifetime support in return for espionage services.

A former high-ranking diplomat and his wife, identified in court filings only as John and Jane Doe, had argued that the CIA should not be immune from lawsuits alleging a breach of a spy contract.

But in an unanimous opinion by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, the court said a 130-year-old Supreme Court ruling dictated that former spies could not sue because of the secret nature of spy pacts, which are made with the understanding that "the lips of the other were to be forever sealed."

According to filings, the couple wanted to defect from their country during the Cold War but were pressured by U.S. authorities to instead spy for them. In exchange, the CIA promised to provide them lifetime security.

When their spying was over in 1987, the CIA helped them resettle in Seattle with new identities, benefits and a bank job for the husband, the suit said. They received a $27,000 yearly stipend.

The CIA stopped the subsidy when John Doe's salary from the bank hit $27,000, the suit said, but the two were promised the agency would "always be there." However, the couple contended that when Doe lost his job in 1997, the CIA refused to reinstate the stipend, saying the couple had received enough pay for their spy services.

A lower court in San Francisco had allowed the lawsuit.

The case is Tenet v. Doe, 03-1395. [SunJournal/9August2009] 


How Vital Were Cold War Spies? The world of espionage lies at the heart of the mythology of the Cold War. Along with nuclear weapons, spies were the emblems of the conflict. But while the tales of adventure, betrayal and mole hunts have proved a source of rich inspiration for thriller writers, did they actually make a difference to the outcome?

Did intelligence make the Cold War hotter or colder?

It is difficult to know the answer.

"There were secrets that were important to keep secret and there was intelligence which it would be very helpful to have known," argues former British Foreign Secretary David Owen. "But my own instinct is that we didn't really - with a few exceptions and a few important exceptions - really know exactly what was going on."

One reason it is hard to make a judgment is that much of the intelligence collected was military or tactical in nature, and would only have proven useful if the Cold War had gone hot.

Much effort was expended in stealing secrets like the Soviet order of battle or the design of new Soviet tanks which would have been invaluable in case of war.

This type of intelligence was collected by electronic means and satellite reconnaissance, as well as by human spies. It was used to work out how to best equip and prepare the military.

Sir David Omand, the former UK Intelligence and Security Coordinator, says: "Intelligence during the Cold War had a very big impact on the shape and size of the British defense program, on the kinds of equipment we bought and very specifically the actual capabilities that were built into that equipment to be able to encounter whatever intelligence showed was the capability of Warsaw Pact forces."

During times of "hot war", intelligence plays an important but ultimately secondary role in supporting military operations.

But, during periods of tension short of full-scale military action like the Cold War, intelligence takes on a more central position.

In the absence of traditional warfare, intelligence becomes itself the primary battleground as each side tries to understand the enemy's capabilities and intentions, as it seeks to undermine their position using covert action, psychological operations and forms of subversion.

Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6) had a troubled beginning to the Cold War, not least because it was penetrated by its Soviet counterpart, with men like Kim Philby and George Blake handing over secrets.

But slowly it became more professional, recruiting and running agents who could provide information on the activities of the Soviet bloc.

Some former diplomats query the record of intelligence in providing insight into political trends.

Rodric Braithwaite, a former ambassador to Russia at the end of the Cold War and later Chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, is something of an intelligence skeptic.

"I was always rather encouraged by the Joint Intelligence Committee, who used to send us drafts of their assessments on Soviet affairs with the secret bits cut out because they didn't want to have them sloshing about in Moscow.

"With the secret bits out, the conclusions they were coming to were exactly the same ones that we were coming to in Moscow because the information that mattered was available at both ends and it was mostly either conversations with people, which were not particularly secret, or what was in the newspapers."

But Sir Gerry Warner, a former deputy chief of MI6, believes intelligence helped ensure politicians had a realistic understanding of what the Soviet Union was up to.

"It is always a temptation if somebody is saying 'I am a friend of yours and I don't mean any harm' to accept that.

"But if you are being told all the time by a microphone in your ear that it is totally untrue and that he's holding a knife behind his back, he's about to kick you where it hurts, the temptation is less to trust him."

Running agents behind the Iron Curtain involved risk - risk to the life of an agent but also politically in terms of raising the temperature.

"The main concern was always balancing the value of possible intelligence against the risk," explains Sir Gerry Warner.

"If an espionage operation was uncovered it was always an important public event - the media got into it, the other side would play it up - and therefore there was a political risk clearly."

Spy rows flared periodically. In the early 1970s, the UK expelled more than 100 Soviet diplomats from its embassy in London.

So did these kind of operations and activities fuel distrust and paranoia?

The identity of most agents remains secret but a few have become public and one or two of those can be claimed to have made a real impact.

One was Oleg Penkovsky, a colonel in Soviet military intelligence.

His information - passed to MI6 and the CIA in the early 1960s - helped President Kennedy manage the Cuban missile crisis successfully by identifying the extent of Soviet missile capability and how far the Soviet leader Nikita Kruschev was likely to push events.

The most useful strategic intelligence comes from penetrating the leadership of your enemy so that you understand not just their military capability but their intentions.

That was something MI6 only managed late in the Cold War largely thanks to KGB Colonel Oleg Gordievsky, who spent a decade towards the end of the Cold War supplying intelligence to MI6 which revealed how paranoid the Soviet leadership was of a first nuclear strike by Nato.

"The British service could not believe it but because I proved it very well they eventually believed it," he said.

"Knowing your enemy is very important indeed," argues Baroness Daphne Park, a former MI6 controller.

"It was very important that we should know that they were as paranoid as that. I don't see how we would have known it any other way."

Col. Gordievsky's insights had a profound effect on both Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in rethinking how they approached the Soviet Union, which in turn helped them manage the end of the Cold War.

"What nobody wanted was to be surprised," Sir John Scarlett, the chief of MI6, told me in his office.

"And that intelligence knowledge, intelligence base if you like, gave knowledge which greatly reduced that fear of a surprise attack.

"And, as the Cold War developed, more confidence developed that the other side was understood, and that helped manage the situation and was a key reason why we got to the end without a blowout."

The one thing the spies failed to predict, along with everyone else, was of course the end of the Cold War itself. [Corera/BBC/5August2009] 

Cuban Spies Exploit "Sister City" Program. Cuba's primary foreign intelligence service, the world-class Directorate of Intelligence (DI), exploits the "Sister City" program, a concept conceived by President Eisenhower to enhance international understanding through the use of people-to-people exchanges.

The DI views this program as a lucrative tool to meet with sympathizers and agents, spread disinformation and identify candidates for the next generation of spies. So important is the program that DI officers helped establish or sustain programs in six of the first eight U.S. cities to create such relationships.

The six cities exploited were Mobile, Ala.; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Richmond, Calif.; Oakland, Calif.; and Tacoma, Wash.

Orchestrated from the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, the Sister City effort gives the DI a plausible reason for travel throughout the U.S. It views this as a necessity, given the 25-mile travel limit Havana and Washington impose on each other's diplomatic missions. Historically, half of the Interests Section's 26 assigned diplomats are spies. With this, the DI sustains its efforts as a long-term intelligence operation against "target-rich" sites across the U.S.

From 1993 to 2003, the DI's noticeable role evolved with the legitimate growth of the Sister Cities program. Operationally, its visibility and the success of the program are inversely proportional. In short, the DI proved able to significantly reduce the public appearances of its officers as its U.S.-based efforts thrived.

As the DI effort matured, it capitalized on the travel to and from Cuba by the respective Sister City committees. In Cuba, these visits are coordinated by the Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples, known by its Spanish acronym ICAP. Former DI Officer Juan Reyes-Alonso said a large staff of collaborators aids ICAP's small cadre of DI officers. Mr. Reyes-Alonso noted that, as a result, roughly 90 percent of ICAP personnel are thought to be DI-affiliated.

The timing of the DI's inclusion of Cuba-based intelligence officers proved fortuitous. In May 2003, the U.S. expelled 14 diplomat-spies in retaliation for Cuba's provision of U.S. secrets to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unprecedented expulsion crippled most DI operations into early 2005.

However, the DI's targeting of the Sister City program is thought to have survived intact. Most likely, it temporarily redirected the entire effort to Cuba-based officers with little adverse effect. By 2006, the Interests Section undoubtedly had retaken the reins, albeit much more discreetly than its overt style of 1993-2003.

Consider, for example, the heavy-handedness of Afro-Cuban DI officer Felix Wilson Hernandez. A specialist in targeting blacks, he served in Washington from 1996 to 2000.

Mr. Wilson featured prominently at the national formation meeting of the U.S.-Cuba Sister City Association in Pittsburgh in March 1999. That same month, he went to Cambridge, Mass. - an emerging sister city - and lectured at Harvard University about blacks in Cuba. One month later, Mr. Wilson was in Richmond, Calif., interacting with its significant black and Hispanic populations. He also repeatedly visited Seattle community leaders in preparation for the World Trade Organization conference in the winter of 1999. At the time, Seattle's Friendship Committee was active in its sister city initiative.

In the late 1990s, Intelligence Officer Josefina Vidal handled all "exchange programs," including Sister Cities. She traveled to Cambridge in July 1999 for an event commemorating the Cuban Revolution and was back in October 2002 for a discussion on the Cuban Missile Crisis. In May 2003, she found herself among the previously cited 14 diplomat-spies expelled.

In March 2000, Intelligence Officer Fernando Garcia Bielsa arrived to replace expelled spy Jose Imperatori. In February 2002, he gave the keynote address at a "Cuban Five" event in Cambridge. All five of the convicted spies Mr. Garcia spoke of were directly or indirectly involved in the February 1996 murder of four Americans. That same month he traveled extensively throughout Southern California, giving numerous speeches on the "Cuban Five" and the Cuban Revolution. In May 2003, he, too, was among those expelled for espionage.

In April 2000, DI Officer Oscar Redondo Toledo arrived to run the Sister City program with Mobile, Ala. In June 2002, he was the keynote speaker at an event in Philadelphia. Five months later, he was expelled for espionage.

A little known DI officer supporting Sister Cities at that time was Alejandro Pila Alonso, who worked with the Havana-D.C. Sister City Committee. Co-sponsored by the Howard University Students Association, Mr. Pila's experience against academic targets certainly played a role in his coverage of the Havana-D.C. initiative.

For at least 16 years, the DI has methodically exploited the Sister City program while U.S. counterintelligence services did little or nothing to stop it. The U.S. can no longer be an accessory in espionage conducted against it.

Visionary and bold counterintelligence and security activities are needed to cripple or destroy this DI endeavor. Havana will only end its covert role when the U.S. makes it too costly to continue. The question is, when do we start? [A four-time war veteran and recently retired spy-catcher, Chris Simmons is an internationally known expert on Cuban intelligence.]  [Simmons/WashingtonTimes/9August2009] 

Holocaust Survivors Campaign for Russia to Disclose Fate of World War II Hero Raoul Wallenberg. Swedish humanitarian worker Raoul Wallenberg is credited with saving tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from deportation to Nazi concentration camps during World War II. But after Soviet troops took control of Budapest in 1945, he was arrested and never seen or heard from again.

On what would have been his 97th birthday, August 4, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation brought together survivors rescued by Wallenberg to renew the call for Russian officials to unseal the record of his fate.

Many of the people in their 70s and 80s who gathered recently at the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation's Manhattan offices lived through the Nazi terror in Hungary. They all credited their lives to the same man, Raoul Wallenberg, a young Swede who briefly ran the Budapest arm of a U.S. agency called the War Refugee Board.

According to those witnesses, during his six months in Hungary in 1944, Wallenberg would coolly, calmly intervene to save Jews destined for concentration camps by handing out false Swedish identity papers, sometimes as Nazi and Hungarian fascist troops stood by. Those rescued were then sheltered in "safe" buildings on which Wallenberg posted signs like "Swedish Library," to claim diplomatic status.

Kayla Kaufman, now a great-grandmother who still works in public relations, was one of the lucky ones. "In the Talmud, it says if you save one life, it's like saving the world," she often says.

She was saved along with her parents and three siblings. "And today we are 201 people because of his miraculous work, his courageous work. And the 100,000 he saved probably number a million today."

Kaufman never met Wallenberg. Her family was saved after her father, a rabbi, was plucked out of a death-march by Wallenberg, and pleaded as well for his wife and children. "And he [Kaufman's father] said when you saw this person, for whatever reason it was, the Nazis sort of made way for him," Kaufman said. "He had this charisma, this sort of like, 'Yes, I can, and you can't stop me.' He was a young kid, like 31, 32."

Wallenberg, a Swedish Lutheran, survived the Nazis, but was arrested on suspicion of being a U.S. spy when Soviet troops took control of Budapest in January 1945. Historians say the order came from high officials at the KGB, or perhaps even directly from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Nothing was ever heard from Wallenberg again. Historians say that Sweden saw him as an obstacle to good relations with the Soviet Union and did not ask for his return, although the arrest violated international law.

According to a Wall Street Journal investigation this year that quoted memos archived in Russia's Foreign Ministry, Sweden's ambassador to the Soviet Union told the deputy Soviet foreign minister in December 1945 that "it would be splendid if the mission were to be given a reply ... that Wallenberg is dead." Six months later, the report said, the memos say he made the same suggestion to Stalin, who replied that the case would be "examined and solved."

Twelve years later, Soviet officials released a document saying that Wallenberg had died of natural causes in a Moscow prison in 1947. But some inconclusive reports suggest that he lived past that date, and that he may have been executed.

Groups dedicated to Wallenberg have made his heroism more widely known. But as Holocaust historian Mordecai Paldiel notes, "We still don't know what happened to the man." Paldiel says there is every reason, however, to believe that former Soviet officials are still alive who have direct knowledge of what happened to Wallenberg. Even younger former KGB operatives, he notes, such as Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, might be privy to the truth.

So, the Foundation and the survivors continue to press for Russian leaders to encourage the story to be told, and to release all records relating to Wallenberg. "It's in the interests of everyone, including the Russian authorities, to come out with the full story, to put it behind us," Paldiel says. But he believes that those who were involved in Wallenberg's imprisonment and possible execution will never disclose what they know unless they are given judicial immunity by Russia's government.

To publicize their campaign, the Foundation gathered together for the first time New York-area survivors saved by Wallenberg. The elderly men and women, together with friends and family, marked what would have been Raoul Wallenberg's 97th birthday by adding their signatures to a poster for a worldwide campaign, "100,000 Names for 100,000 Lives," aimed at discovering Wallenberg's fate. The plea will be delivered to Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. [VOANews/7August2009] 


As a CIA Spy, I saw in Iran What the West Cannot Ignore, by Reza Kahlili. Today the West must make one of the most important decisions of our era. Will we defend what remains of democracy and freedom in Iran, or will we succumb to Tehran's murderous government?

It's a question that goes to the heart of our own security. Iran is a thugocracy of Islamic mullahs, and it will soon have nuclear arms. Any misconception about the intentions of fanatics with nuclear bombs will have grave consequences.

I know because I spent years alongside them as a CIA spy working under cover in Iran's Revolutionary Guards starting in the 1980s.

The Guards Corps was set up as a check on the regular Army and to serve and secure the Islamic revolution. Thirty years of Western appeasement hasn't stopped them from terrorizing the West - or Iranians. Today, with Tehran's leaders caught in a power struggle over the June 12 election and the legitimacy of the regime, the Guards, led by zealots, are calling the shots.

The Guards - and the hardliner clerics they protect - are vulnerable, however. This summer's grass-roots uprising has put them on the defensive. A strong Western hand now could tip the balance.

We don't have a moment to lose. If we can't upend the Guards now, how can we do so once they have nuclear bombs?

Washington could lead the way by refusing to recognize President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who earlier today took the oath of office for his second, four-year term. Instead, the United States should demand the freedom - and the freedom of speech - for all who've been arrested and tortured in recent weeks. And we should toughen sanctions to include cutting off Iran's gasoline supplies.

The people of Iran are desperate for a show of support from the West. By standing with them, we can uphold our duty to defend democracy and take a stand for the security of the free world.

Such a stand would mark a radical policy change. For the past 30 years, the West has tried very hard to appease Iran's mullahs.

In the 1980s, I helped make known a secret pact between Iranian mullahs and some European governments. Thirsty for Iranian oil, the Europeans gave the go-ahead to Iranian agents to assassinate opposition members abroad without interference, as long as European citizens were not at risk. Hundreds of dissidents were gunned down.

The US has also been guilty of trying to appease the mullahs. Almost every administration after the 1979 Iranian Revolution has tried in vain to create better relations through back channels. Yet those efforts haven't stopped Iran's rulers from arming terrorists, taking hostages, and suppressing their own people.

The brutal killing of Iranians by their leaders that we're seeing today is nothing new. Ruling clerics have been killing political opponents, along with their families and friends, for 30 years - but inside prison walls.

I've been inside those walls and I've seen teenage girls who were raped before execution so they were no longer virgins and therefore, according to their Islamic beliefs, couldn't go to heaven. I've seen hundreds hung on cranes. I've seen women and men lined up in front of firing squads after being severely tortured; their families would be forced to pay for the cost of the bullets. Western officials were quite aware that this was happening, but they let their thirst for oil blind them.

Today, however, the screams of Iranians young and old calling for democracy and freedom cannot be ignored. The post-election uprising has started the countdown of the end of the thugocracy in Iran. This is the desire of the Iranian people. It should be our desire, too.

So far, the West has kept fairly quiet about Iran's unrest. President Obama and others say they don't want to give credence to Tehran's claims of a Western conspiracy behind the protests. And by not ruffling the regime's feathers, they hope to negotiate improved ties and resolve the nuclear impasse.

But how do you negotiate with a government composed of terrorists?

Right now, the Revolutionary Guards have near-complete control of Iran. This terrorist organization is expanding its power throughout the Middle East. Its ultimate goal is to bring the demise of the West.

With the help of North Korea, the Guards are working on long-range ballistic missiles in tests that are concealed by their space project.

The Guards have also accelerated their production of Sejil, solid fuel missiles, and are working nonstop to improve the range of those missiles. Today they can strike Tel Aviv, Riyadh, US bases in Iraq, and the US Navy's Fifth Fleet headquarters in Bahrain. Their goal is to be able to target all of Europe.

The Guards are also working on their nuclear bomb project in facilities unknown to the West.

Iran's defense minister, Mostafa Najjar, who oversees the development of missile and nuclear technology, was in charge of the Revolutionary Guards forces in Lebanon that facilitated the attack on the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut on Oct. 23, 1983, killing 241 US servicemen.

The current deputy defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi, who oversees the distribution of arms and missiles to terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Hamas, was the commander of the Guards' elite Quds Forces and the chief intelligence officer of the Guards in charge of the terrorist activities outside of Iran.

Mr. Vahidi is currently on Interpol's Most Wanted List for the attack on the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994 that killed 85 and injured more than 100.

Many Iranian officials have Interpol arrest warrants, and even supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has been recognized in courts as one who has ordered such acts.

Fanatic radicals such as these are incompatible with a free Iran. This is the best opportunity in 30 years to change course and stop succumbing to thugs. Will we seize it? 

"Reza Kahlili" is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons. He is writing a book about his life and experiences as a CIA agent in Iran's Revolutionary Guards. [CSMonitor/5August2009]

CIA Director Panetta: Reform Suffers for Bush Apparatchiks and Spy Chiefs, by Stephen Lee. CIA Director Leon Panetta wants the world to know: he is on a mission is to promote the agenda of top-level intelligence chiefs and former members of the Bush administration chickenhawk-ocracy who fear accountability for their policies, which not only diminished American honor but increasingly appear to have been riddled with incompetence while yielding little worthwhile intelligence.

In an op-ed in the Sunday Washington Post, Panetta intended to make the case, yet again, that subjecting Bush-era intelligence misdeeds to investigative scrutiny amounts to just so much political score settling. But Panetta's Washington Post piece affirms that he drank the CIA kool-aid and is an avowed defender of the CIA and Beltway conventional wisdom that holds that all calls for accountability for Bush-era intelligence abuses are nakedly partisan attacks that could not possibly be motivated by serious, well-informed concern for US intelligence policy.

This same conventional wisdom puts forth a false choice: America can either sweep past intelligence misdeeds under the rug, or stab junior intelligence officers in the back so that Democrats can take cheap shots at dethroned Republicans.

To begin making his point, Panetta claims that the intelligence chief of "a major Western ally" asked him, "Why . . . is Washington so consumed with what the CIA did in the past, when the most pressing national security concerns are in the present?"

It would be interesting to know just which "major Western ally" thinks that CIA is unfairly getting grief, when most of America's major Western allies have strongly disapproved of both US intelligence's unilateralism and humans rights abuses.

Canada, that closest of US allies, actually fired the head of one of its security agencies after revelations that Canadian officials were complicit in a US operation that erroneously sent a Canadian citizen to a Syrian torture chamber.

America's other close ally, the United Kingdom, has experienced domestic political repercussions and court challenges over UK spy service complicity with CIA detention and torture operations, with repeated reports that senior US officials have threatened to cut off security ties with the UK if details of US torture and detention operations are disclosed in UK courts or media.

Italy is actually trying CIA renditions officers for kidnapping, and Germany attempted to do so as well after CIA abducted and imprisoned a German national in a case of mistaken identity. Other EU countries have mounted their own investigations of CIA rendition activity that may have taken place in their territory.

Despite Panetta's hang-out of this suspect anecdote, America's major Western allies - and their pesky, independent courts and accountable democracy - turn out to be a lot of the reason why Bush-era intelligence activity won't just go quietly into the night. Maybe Panetta is confusing what he heard a "major Western ally" spy chief ask, with what a "major authoritarian ally in the Middle East" or a "major authoritarian ally in the former Soviet republics" spy chief might have uttered.

Panetta goes on to lament that there has been a fundamental breakdown in the 'consensus' between the executive and legislative branches regarding intelligence and covert operations. "We need broad agreement," Panetta writes "between the executive and legislative branches on what our intelligence organizations do and why. For much of our history, we have had that. Over the past eight years, on specific issues - including the detention and interrogation of terrorists - the consensus deteriorated."

Of course that consensus deteriorated - it was built on lies and outhouse lawyering. No less an eminence than President Bush denied that the US used torture and illegal imprisonment in the fight against terrorism. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld assured Americans and the world that Guantanamo housed only "the worst of the worst." To drum up support for invading Iraq, Bush officials concocted specious intelligence to connect the 9/11 attacks to Iraq. As more details of US military and intelligence excesses emerged, journalists and critics of these policies were excoriated - even accused of treason - by Bush administration supporters. Meanwhile, Bush administration ideologues devised a Rube Goldberg tangle of secret legal justifications that sustained the radical new reach of US intelligence activity into torture, extrajudicial imprisonment, and new domestic spying operations.

Panetta, and by extension, the Obama administration will not be able to restore intelligence policy consensus between the executive and legislative branches until it forthrightly confronts the deceit and abuse that gutted that consensus in the first place. The Obama national security team will need to do more than just say, "It's okay to trust us now."

And so far, there's not much indication that CIA and the intelligence community are really doing anything differently. Obama administration lawyers continue to stymie courtroom defendants with the same old 'state secrets' assertions. CIA still maintains that it can magically turn information it previously released to the public back into super-secret classified information. Investigative reporters continue to uncover more horrors from the torture and detention programs, and that intelligence officers involved in egregiously botched intelligence operations - like the ones in which the wrong guy ends up in a hellhole prison in Afghanistan, or a homicide occurs - continue to climb the career ladder. In short - many of the policies of secrecy and uncritical defense of a broken intelligence culture and ingrained resistance to accountability are still very much in existence. Unfortunately, Panetta says practically nothing in his Washington Post piece that actually gives lawmakers or the public assurance that CIA is on a track to more constitutional, humane, and above all, more effective intelligence operations.

Disingenuous appeals of "trust me" on the pages of the Washington Post aren't going to stop what Panetta calls "recrimination" that will supposedly cause the brave men and women of CIA "pay a price." Senior Bush (and maybe a few Obama) apparatchiks and spy chiefs - who devised and sustained intelligence policies that don't conform with American traditions of decency and humanity need to come forward to accept responsibility for these policies.

It's a matter of honor in the profession of arms, after all: good leaders protect their subordinates from harm, and accept responsibility when their subordinates go astray. Panetta, an old Army guy, ought to know that the troops eat first.

But stalwart Sergeant Rocks are far and few between in the ranks of national security policymakers and senior intelligence bureaucrats. Resident Bush chickenhawks Cheney (five draft deferments due to "other priorities in the '60s"), Addington (dropped out of the US Naval Academy), and Yoo (lifelong attorney and thinktanker) never were fortunate enough to learn manly-man military leadership lessons.

And I'm sad to report that leaderly honor is in shockingly short supply in CIA hallways as well - I remember, quite clearly, one CIA manager in full-on, cold sweat panic at the unfairness of it all when she learned she might possibly have to take the heat for an errant subordinate. Later, as a consiglieri-contractor to a senior operations manager, I witnessed dizzying combinations of blame-shifting, blame-deflecting, blame-denying, and counterblaming - and even swallowed a lot of that blame myself.

Panetta's - and Obama's - instincts are correct when the promise to protect CIA's rank and file from prosecution. But protecting the troops from prosecution is not the same as resisting accountability. To begin with, Panetta should take highly visible action to show the American public, lawmakers, and the world that CIA polices itself and takes its ethical, legal, and moral obligations very seriously. Egregious acts of cruelty and violence that significantly exceeded operative policies, such as homicides and sexual assaults by individuals against detainees, ought to be referred with vigor by CIA to the Justice Department. Several such cases are known to exist and should be acted on immediately. Intelligence professionals of all ranks would welcome prosecution of murderers, sadists, and worse who are in their midst.

Panetta should support and commit to facilitating a full accounting of Bush era intelligence excesses - whether that arises from Congress, the courts, or a special commission. If such inquiries determine that prosecutions for criminal policy are warranted, however, they should be focused on Senior Intelligence Service officers, appointed intelligence leaders, and enabling policymakers. So far, Panetta has protected his senior-most officers.

SIS officers were, ostensibly, expert advisers and organizational representatives to senior US policymakers on intelligence matters. Senior intelligence officers should have advised Bush administration officials that the Jack Bauer/24 vision of intelligence operations does not work in reality and would certainly damage US honor and credibility. And if Bush administration officials wouldn't accept such expert intelligence counsel and advice, these senior officers and appointees should have visibly and publicly resigned in protest. But they didn't - SISers and appointees went along with Bush administration directives that didn't have the backing of true consensus between the executive and legislative branches of government. When the mask came off that fake consensus, Congress and Americans started wanting answers.

Today, CIA's institutional resistance to any kind of accountability - as embodied in Panetta's beg for less scrutiny in the Washington Post - ends up making the agency look like its senior officers are indeed in a hurry to put the past behind. But if Panetta's new era of trust and consensus is to emerge, CIA will need to earn that trust. That means Panetta should end old, reflexive secrecy that looks absurd and accomplishes nothing for national security. It also means that CIA should meaningfully and visibly police itself and take decisive action against senior intelligence officers who misused their trust and responsibility.

Intelligence officers I know favor getting rid of senior-level incompetents, cowards, and opportunists who steered US intelligence away from American values. Maybe morale would actually improve if Panetta took bold steps to restore professionalism and ethics to the spy ranks - instead of nursing an intelligence status quo that doesn't boost the reputation or security of America. [Lee/Examiner/4August2009] 

A Lot of Cloak, Not Much Dagger, and a Bit of Genius, by Charles McCarry. Deservedly or not, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has enjoyed a formidable reputation for omniscience, omnipotence and dark doings ever since it was founded in 1947. In most of the world, this view of American intelligence probably still obtains, notwithstanding the findings of recent investigations. How can the United States, with visible power that is so overwhelming, not also be possessed of invisible powers and secret intentions that boggle the imagination?

There is a certain justification for regarding the CIA as some sort of parallel universe. It is, after all, secret. Its resources truly are enormous (although no one but the president and a handful of lofty government officials know just how enormous).

It lives by different laws of moral physics than the rest of the U.S. system. The purpose of an intelligence service is to commit on foreign soil acts that would be illegal in the homeland. As one of the men who trained me when I was a CIA rookie half a century ago cheerily observed: "Espionage is a criminal enterprise. Every time you recruit an agent, you suborn him to treason, which is a capital crime in every country in the world."

Americans have always had difficulty coming to grips with that reality, but they have understood this: The CIA came into being, as its most revered director, the late Richard Helms, liked to put it, "so that there would never be another Pearl Harbor."

During the bitterest periods of the Cold War, public opinion supported that rationale and accepted that a certain amount of distasteful practice, occurring offstage, was a reasonable price to pay for preventing the end of Western civilization.

Actually, in my time as a CIA covert operative in Europe, Africa and Asia in the 1950s and 1960s, I observed very little skulduggery. We and our prime adversaries eschewed violence against each other as a sort of charm against revenge. The one fellow officer who habitually did carry a gun was regarded as something of a cartoon figure by the rest of us.

Much of what we did could just as effectively have been done openly and owed more to gamesmanship than to concealed weapons. We were infinitely more likely to fund a democratic trade union or a political party than blow up the offices of a communist front.

My colleagues were highly intelligent, squeaky-clean workaholics who were, as one of them once said to me, "nice boys who went to Yale and wouldn't hurt a fly." This will come as a shock to people who imagined the old CIA as a fascist conspiracy, but the agency I knew was made up of wall-to-wall knee-jerk liberals who were deeply shocked when the New Left attacked them in the '60s.

Most of the American spies I knew are long since dead. Whoever the new people are in Langley, and whatever their hidden accomplishments and publicized mistakes may be, I'm pretty sure that they are at least as baffled by the anathema that is now being hurled upon them as were my late friends.

But there has been a new Pearl Harbor on their watch, and the reports of the Sept. 11 commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee agree that it resulted, "inter alia," from an intelligence failure.

As we reform and reshuffle and rethink, we should reflect that this is not the first time this has happened. We did not know that the Sioux and the Cheyenne were going to massacre the 7th Cavalry or that a German submarine was going to sink the Lusitania or that the Chinese would intervene in Korea (or would not intervene in Vietnam).

In one of my novels, a fictitious spy defines genius as the ability to see the obvious. As we all know now, five or six small facts that might have forewarned the country of the Sept. 11 attacks were gathered but never put together until it was too late. A genius might nevertheless have saved the day; the apparatus did not.

The question is, will making the apparatus bigger and more bureaucratic make it better? Is it possible that the problem is that we gather too much information, so that sorting it out becomes a matter of chance rather than method? Is it possible, even, that our spies are doing better than we think or they think despite this disaster that shook the nation?

Soon after the Berlin Wall fell, I attended the funeral of a former colleague. Afterward, over drinks, the old boys present talked about coronary bypass surgery and hip transplants and other preoccupations of the elderly. Then one of them lifted his glass and said, "Here's to us!"

"What for?" asked the others. "We won," he replied.

"Won what?"

"The Cold War."

Faces brightened as it dawned on those grayheads that, by golly, they had done just that. Fifty years ago, hardly anybody expected an American victory to be the outcome. It might be good to remember that as we reflect on the present and its own imponderable dangers. 

[Charles McCarry is a former CIA operative. His 10th novel, "Old Boys," was published in June by Overlook Press.] [McCarry/SunJournal/8August2009] 




Friday, 14 August 2009 - Tysons Corner, VA - AFIO National SUMMER Luncheon...AFIO SUMMER LUNCHEON, Friday, 14 August 2009,

REGISTER HERE - only a few seats remain

10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, USAF (Ret), NSA - CIA - AIR FORCE
Afternoon Speaker
Former Director of
Central Intelligence Agency
and the
National Security Agency

PLEASE NOTE: General Hayden's remarks at this event
are presented on a
"For Background Use, Only - Not for Attribution" basis.

Current policies and the U.S. Intelligence Community

Ronald Kessler- Morning Speaker

Best-selling Intelligence Author, Journalist
on his impressive upcoming book
[to be available at event]:

IN THE PRESIDENT'S SECRET SERVICE: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect

EVENT LOCATION: The Crowne Plaza
1960 Chain Bridge Road • McLean, Virginia 22102
Driving directions here or
use this link:

REGISTER HERE - only a few seats remain

Thursday, 20 August 2009, Noon - 1 p.m. - Washington, DC - The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America [at the Spy Museum] In 1993, former KGB officer Alexander Vassiliev was permitted unique access to Stalin-era records of Soviet intelligence operations against the United States. The notes Vassiliev took and subsequently made available to Library of Congress historian John Earl Haynes and professor Harvey Klehr, offer unprecedented insight into Soviet espionage in America. Based on this unique historical source, Harvey and Klehr have constructed a shocking, new account of Moscow’s espionage in America. The authors will expose Soviet spy tactics and techniques and shed new light on a number of controversial issues, including Alger Hiss’s cooperation with Soviet intelligence, journalist I.F. Stone’s recruitment and work for the KGB, and Ernest Hemingway’s meeting with KGB agents. Join the author for an informal chat and book signing.
Where: International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW, Washington, DC, Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail Station TICKETS: FREE. No registration required.

29 August 2009 10:30 a.m. - Seattle, WA - AFIO Pacific Northwest hosts meeting at The Museum of Flight with presentation on "China, 21st Century Challenge" by Ltc Roger Dong, USAF. Roger S. Dong, Lt Col USAF Ret) will be making presentation on economic political and military developments in China and will discuss the ramifications of the growing power of China and what the U.S. might do to respond to this 21st century challenge. Co. Dong was a China specialist for the Air Force and DoD for 32 years and served as a Defense attaché in Taiwan and an Asst Air attaché (Air Liaison Officer) in Hong Kong. He has lectured at the World Affairs Council, Economic Round Table and many community service organizations on the subject: China, our 21st Century Challenge.
To Register: $25 pp, payable in advance, by check to AFIO, and sent to AFIO PNW, 4616 25th Ave NE Ste 495, Seattle WA 98105.
Questions: RSVP to Fran Dyer at

1 September 2009 - New York, NY - MEETING CANCELED - The AFIO New York Metropolitan Chapter 9/01/09 meeting with Air Force Lt. General David Deptula has been canceled as a result of military considerations.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009, 6:00 p.m. - Las Vegas, NV - The AFIO Las Vegas Chapter meets to hear John B. Alexander, Ph.D. on "Africa: Irregular Warfare on the Dark Continent"
The event takes place at the Nellis Air Force Base Officers' Club. Join them at 5 p.m. in the "Check Six" bar area for Liaison, beverages and snacks/dinner.
Dr. Alexander's presentation is based on a Joint Special Operations University (JSOU) monograph of that title and on a Harvard-JSOU symposium conducted last fall in Washington. He will discuss critical issues prevalent in Africa today: tribes and tribalism, poverty, the impact of population growth, disease, public tolerance (both globally and continentally) for extraordinary levels of casualties, epidemic corruption (and kleptocracies) as well as the unique, widely-diverse geography of the continent. Alexander has been a leading advocate for the development of non-lethal weapons.
To register or for further information call Christine Eppley at 702-295-0073 or email her at

17 September 2009 – San Francisco, CA – The AFIO Jim Quesada Chapter hosts R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence and member of AFIO's Honorary Board. R. James Woolsey speaks on: Spies, Energy and the New World of the 21st Century: The relatively comfortable world of having a stolid bureaucratic energy and a secure national infrastructure has been replaced by something far more difficult to deal with. As we make decisions about what direction our society should take regarding energy, keeping in mind that we need for it to be increasingly clean, secure, and affordable, what threats and problems should be at the center of our concerns, and what are some of the approaches that can help us deal with all three needs? United Irish Cultural Center 2700 45th Avenue, SF. 11:30 AM no host cocktails; noon - luncheon. $25 member rate with advance reservation and payment; $35 non-member rate. RSVP/pre-payment is required. E-m ail RSVP to Mariko Kawaguchi (please indicate meat or fish) and mail check made out to "AFIO" to: Mariko Kawaguchi, P.O. Box 117578 Burlingame, CA 94011.

17 September 2009, 11:30 am - Colorado Springs, CO - AFIO Rocky Mountain Chapter hears Bryan Cunningham on "National At Risk."Talk to occur at the Air Force Academy, Falcon Club. Markle Foundation's Bryan Cunningham speaks on "Nation at Risk." Cunningham is with the Markle Foundation Task Force on National Security in the Information Age. RSVP to Tom Van Wormer at

Tuesday, 22 September 2009; 6:30 pm – Washington, DC - Terror Media: Free Speech or Dangerous Weapon? at the Spy Museum
With the communications explosion, terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, the PKK, and others have used their own media outlets to glorify suicide bombings, incite violence, recruit terrorists, and fund-raise online. Should governments shut down these media outlets to protect their citizens from harm? Should terror media be shielded as “protected free speech”? To what extent does one keep defending free speech....up to the point it kills you or your loved ones? Or ignore it if it kills others who you care little about? Where does one draw the line, if any? And how can new media be used against violent extremists? The panel exploring these issues includes: Juan Zarate, former deputy national security advisor for combating terrorism and former assistant secretary of the Treasury for terrorist financing and financial crimes; Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who has helped shut down Hezbollah and other terrorist owned-media around the world; Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who has spoken out in support of free speech regardless of viewpoint or consequences including deaths; and Todd Stein, legislative director for Senator Lieberman, and formerly a lawyer on the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, who wrote the seminal document for the U.S. Congress exposing how terrorist organizations use online media to disseminate their message. Tickets: $15 per person. Where: International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW, Washington, DC, Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail Station To register:

Thursday, 24 September 2009; 12 noon – 1 pm – Washington, DC - Author talk by Jennet Conant on: The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington - at Spy Museum. In 1940, with the threat of German invasion, the British government mounted a massive, secret campaign of propaganda and political subversion to weaken isolationist sentiment in America and manipulate Washington into entering the war against Germany. For this purpose, Winston Churchill created the British Security Coordination (BSC) under William Stephenson, “Intrepid,” whose agents called themselves the “Baker Street Irregulars.” Jennet Conant, author of The Irregulars, will discuss the exploits of one of Stephenson’s key agents: Roald Dahl. Beloved now for his books Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach, in WWII Dahl used his dazzling imagination for espionage purposes. His dashing good looks and easy charm won him access to the ballrooms and bedrooms of America’s rich and powerful, and to the most important prize of all—intelligence. Free! No registration required! Join the author for an informal chat and book signing. Where: International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW, Washington, DC, Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail Station

Wednesday, 30 September 2009; 6:30 pm – Washington, DC - Rediscovering U.S. Counterintelligence: The Inside View - at the Spy Museum. “Significant strategic victories often turn on intelligence coups, and with almost every intelligence success, counterintelligence rides shotgun.”—Jennifer E. Sims, former deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence coordination
Research, analysis, agile collection, and the timely use of guile and theft are the handmaidens of intelligence. The practice of defeating these tactics —counterintelligence—is an art unto itself. Burton Gerber, a veteran CIA case officer who served 39 years as an operations officer, was chief of station in three Communist countries, and now teaches at Georgetown University, and Jennifer E. Sims, professor in residence, director of intelligence studies, Georgetown University, and former deputy assistant secretary of state for intelligence coordination, have recently co-edited Vaults, Mirrors, & Masks: Rediscovering U.S. Counterintelligence. In this fresh look at counterintelligence, the co-editors will explain its importance and explore the causes of—and practical solutions for—U.S. counterintelligence weaknesses. Audience participation in this probing conversation—from the protection of civil liberties to challenges posted by technological change—will be strongly encouraged. Tickets: $15 per person Where: International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW, Washington, DC, Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail Station To register:

Wednesday, 7 October 2009 - Saturday, 10 October 2009 – Washington, DC - ThrillSpy International Film Festival. ThrillSpy International Film Festival, sponsored by the National Museum of Crime and Punishment and the International Spy Museum, provides a showcase and celebration of the exciting thriller and spy genre of films and novels, will hold its inaugural event in Washington this October. ThrillSpy brings together new independent filmmakers with fans and content distributors who appreciate their creativity. The festival is a four-day event which includes film screenings in Washington’s Penn Quarter, educational lectures, socials, book signings, a tour of the International Spy Museum, and concludes with a ThrillSpy Awards Masquerade Gala. Films this year include special selections from the Cannes and Sundance film festivals. The opening night film is the D.C. premier of The Champagne Spy by Nadav Schirman, an international award-winning documentary about a true “Bond-like” Cold War spy. The festival will also showcase Maryland director Brian Davis’ Academy Award–winning documentary If A Body Meet A Body, which highlights the lives of three employees at the world’s busiest coroner’s office. Street Boss will also make its U.S. debut at ThrillSpy. This crime thriller explores how the FBI brought down one of Detroit’s most infamous mobsters.
For more information please contact or visit

13-16 October 2009 - Las Vegas, NV - AFIO National Symposium - Nellis AFB, Creech AFB.

Register Here


AFIO 2009 Fall Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada
13 October to 16 October, 2009
Co-hosted with the AFIO Las Vegas Chapter

Cold Warriors in the Desert: From Atomic Blasts to Sonic Booms

Symposium will feature presentations on the testing of atomic weapons, airborne reconnaissance platforms, and more. Onsite visits to Nellis Air Force Base - Home of the Fighter Pilot, the U.S. Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site - the former on-continent nuclear weapons proving ground, and Creech Air Force Base - the home of the Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (currently deployed for combat missions in the Middle East, yet piloted from Creech).

Secure Online Registration is accepted here

Updated agenda for planning your hotel and travel arrangements

Please note: buses will be departing very early on Wednesday morning from hotel, so attendees are encouraged to reserve sleeping rooms at hotel starting Tuesday evening, 12 October.

Harrah's Hotel Registration is available now at: Telephone reservations may be made at 800-901-5188. Refer to Group Code SHAIO9 to get the special AFIO rate. To make hotel reservations online, go to:
Special AFIO October Symposium Las Vegas rates are available up to Friday, September 11, 2009

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


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