AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #45-09 dated 15 December 2009







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Iran Says UN Observatory Near Border is Spy Station. Iran claimed that a newly built U.N. station to detect nuclear explosions was built near its border to give the West a post to spy on the country.

The construction of the seismic monitoring station was completed last week in neighboring Turkmenistan, a few miles from the Iranian border. It's one of roughly 275 such stations that are operational worldwide and that can detect seismic activity set off by weak nuclear blasts and even shock waves from nuclear experiments.

Abolfazl Zohrehvand, an adviser to Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, said the international treaty that allows for setting up such observatories is an "espionage treaty."

"With the disclosure of the identity of such stations, it is clear the activity of one of them (in Turkmenistan) is to monitor Iran," Zohrehvand told state IRNA news agency.

Zohrehvand said the U.N. planned to set up more than one such station around Iran.

The U.S. and some of its allies suspect Iran's nuclear program is a cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied the charges, saying the program is geared toward generating electricity.

A U.N. commission that seeks to ban all nuclear tests announced last week on its Web site that the new nuclear warning station has been set up between Turkmenistan's Karakum Desert and the Kopet mountain range.

The Vienna-based Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, or CTBTO, said the station has now been fully constructed and is currently undergoing testing.

Zohrehvand said the CTBTO is a "security and espionage treaty, even more dangerous" than the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's additional protocol, which allows intrusive inspections of nuclear facilities in member states. Iran is a member of both the CTBTO and the NPT.

In Vienna, a spokeswoman for the CTBTO said the worldwide network of sensors was established to monitor nuclear explosions worldwide - not in specific countries - and that three monitoring stations already exist in Iran itself, with two more planned inside the country.

The CTBTO Web site said the three stations in Iran are located in Tehran and the southern towns of Shushtar and Kerman.

The decision to build the seismic station in Turkmenistan was made between 1994 and 1996, with Iranian involvement, said Annika Thunborg, the CTBTO spokeswoman. At that time, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a relative pragmatist, was president of Iran.

"The building of the station has nothing to do with recent reports about Iran," Thunborg said.

"Iran is a member state of the CTBTO, together with 181 other countries, and is party to the decisions made by the CTBTO," Thunborg said. The organization plans a total of 337 stations world over.

The United Nations has demanded Iran freeze uranium enrichment. Tehran insists it has a right to enrich uranium to produce fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as nuclear fuel but enriched to higher levels, and can be used as material for a nuclear bomb.

Iran and the West are deadlocked over a U.N. proposal for Iran to send much of its enriched uranium abroad. The plan is aimed at drastically reducing Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium in hopes of thwarting the country's ability to potentially make a nuclear weapon. So far, Iran has balked at the offer.

Recently, Tehran announced it intends to build the 10 new sites - a statement that followed a strong rebuke from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency. [Dareini/AP/10December2009] 

FBI Appoints Webster To Conduct Fort Hood Inquiry. The FBI today tapped former FBI and CIA director William H. Webster to lead an independent review of the bureau's "policies, practices and actions" before last month's shooting rampage at Fort Hood.

The decision was made by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who said Webster, who was also a federal judge, "is uniquely qualified to undertake this task and look at the procedures and actions involved in this matter.'' Mueller said "It is essential to determine whether there are improvements to our current practices or other authorities that could make us all safer in the future."

The FBI has already conducted its own internal investigation into the Nov. 5 shootings, which killed 13 and injured dozens more, and recently sent those findings to the White House, several FBI officials confirmed. Bureau officials, congressional lawmakers and other sources familiar with the probe said that it uncovered gaps in the way the bureau investigates potential terrorist threats and shares that information with other agencies.

The FBI internal review has also raised questions about whether Justice Department guidelines in place at the time required too much evidence of suspected wrongdoing before agents could launch a criminal investigation; those guidelines were loosened late last year.

Two FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Forces, in San Diego and Washington, investigated the accused gunman, an Army psychiatrist who was on his way to Afghanistan, Major Nidal Hasan.

At least one of the multi-agency JTTFs discovered that Hasan exchanged more than a dozen emails with a Yemen-based Islamist militant with well-known ties to Al Qaeda named Anwar al-Awlaki over the past year. But they determined that the correspondence was not threatening and was in keeping with Hasan's academic research and declined to open a formal criminal investigation, senior bureau officials said in a briefing last month.

Since that briefing, however, more information has trickled out about Hasan's communications with several radical websites, including one run by Awlaki, an American-born radical cleric who in 2001 preached at a Virginia mosque attended by Hasan and at least two of the Sept. 11 hijackers. Awlaki also has incited militants here and overseas to plot or launch terrorist attacks.

The decision to conduct an outside review is "not based on any findings or hot potato we're handing off to [Webster]. It really isn't,'' said one senior FBI official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he has not been authorized to discuss the findings. "It is a logical step in the sequence. The director felt it was important to have someone who is independent take a look both at our review and anything else he wants to look at.''

That official described Webster as being well suited to look not only at the Fort Hood case, but "how we go forward'' and balance civil liberties and privacy issues with the need to intensively investigate potential threats. Webster also will be in a better position to make recommendations that go beyond internal FBI practices and policies and into the realm of more significant changes to laws and broader inter-agency guidelines on information sharing and thresholds for opening investigations into U.S. citizens, according to several FBI officials.

Webster, 85, has led various other independent reviews of FBI systems and broader policies, including why the bureau didn't catch Russian double agent Robert Hanssen until 2001.

Webster and his staff will coordinate their review with similar reviews underway by the Pentagon, Mueller said, adding that the retired judge's review "will be careful not to interfere'' with the ongoing, Army-led shooting inquiry and military legal proceedings. Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder. [Meyer/BaltimoreSun/11December2009] 

CIA Anticipated N. Korean Assault After 1979 Coup. A recently released report indicates that the U.S. government prepared to declare a state of emergency and was ready to repel a North Korean assault following the South Korean military's coup d'�tat on Dec. 12, 1979.

Titled "North Korean Reaction to Instability in the South," the report was written by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) about a week after the December coup. It projected a 50:50 chance of large-scale military action by the communist North and added that the main deterrent preventing Pyongyang from taking action was the presence of U.S. forces in the South.

Other intelligence organizations including the U.S. State Department, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency also contributed to the report.  [ChoSun/10December2009] 

Court Reduces Cuban Spies' Sentences. Two former Cuban intelligence officers convicted of spying in the United States were given reduced prison sentences after an appeals court ruled that their original terms were too severe. Judge Joan A. Lenard of Federal District Court accepted an agreement reducing the term of one man, Ram�n Laba�ino, from life in prison to 30 years behind bars. At a separate hearing hours later, Judge Lenard shaved a little more than a year off Fernando Gonz�lez' 19-year sentence. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in Atlanta, had vacated sentences for the men, both 46, who were part of the so-called "Cuban Five" spy ring. A third member of the ring had his life sentence replaced earlier this year with a far shorter prison term. [NYTimes/9December2009] 

US Men Held in Pakistan "Had Contacted Al-Qaeda." Five US men arrested in Pakistan on suspicion of plotting "big" terror attacks had contacted someone linked to Al-Qaeda and were arrested before a scheduled meeting, according to police.

The men have been questioned by the FBI and Pakistani officials, accused of seeking to engage in militant activities and trying travel to the northwest Taliban heartland, officials said.

The men are US citizens with origins in other countries, including two Pakistani-Americans.

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the men would not be deported back to the United States unless they are cleared of any crimes by Pakistani police first.

Meanwhile, police shifted the detained men to the eastern city of Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, and formed a joint investigation team to probe them.

A provincial government official told AFP that the joint investigation team comprised eight different departments and agencies who were quizzing the five men about their links with militants in Pakistan.

Meanwhile US ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson held talks with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at the presidential palace, an official statement said.

It was not clear if the men would be investigated and tried in Pakistan, or would be deported to the United States.

ABC News cited a Pakistani police report, saying that the group used YouTube to praise and discuss strikes on US troops. 

The 10-page interrogation report, obtained by ABC News and posted on its website, said one of the five men would regularly visit the video-sharing site to view footage of attacks on the US military.

Ahmed Abdullah Minni, 20, was registered on YouTube and regularly left comments on the videos praising their content, the report said.

He was contacted by "Saifullah" who the police report said initially communicated with Minni only through YouTube, it said. [Sahi/AP/12December2009] 

Somali Spy Network Exposed. An official from AMISOM (African Union Mission for Somalia) and UNSOA (United Nations Support Office for AMISOM) are reportedly under investigation for passing on sensitive information to a Western intelligence agency and South African intelligence.

According to intelligence sources inside the African Union, the two individuals, an intelligence analyst from an East African country in AMISOM, and a Mr. Abdi Hassan, a Somali-Tanzanian who works for UNSOA as a Public Information Officer in Nairobi, have reportedly been recruited separately to spy both on AMISOM and Somalis with view of undermining the Djibouti Process and assisting the West in the War on Terror in East Africa.

A source close to the investigation said that a routine counter intelligence operation revealed that a plethora of sensitive information on AMISOM operations and its staff had constantly been passed to the two agencies concerned, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and South Africa Secret Services (SASS).

The individuals involved in the spy network reportedly were promised foreign citizenship, money and a long-term UN contract by the Western agency. [WorldSentinel/12December2009]

Speak Persian? Israel's Secret Service Wants You. The Shin Bet security service published an unusual want ad in the newspapers this week, seeking "Persian-speaking field coordinators." Training for the position, the ad said, was open to both men and women, and would begin in April.

The Shin Bet apparently aims to find candidates to serve as field agents to thwart infiltration attempts by Iranian intelligence agents in Israel.

The Shin Bet used to couch its want ads in the most general terms, usually saying it was seeking candidates for "interesting security jobs." Usually the ads were either signed by the Prime Minister's Office or were unsigned, with an anonymous post-office box supplied where candidates could send inquiries.

But about five years ago, the intelligence community changed its hiring practices. Both the Shin Bet and the Mossad launched Web sites that detailed the history of the organizations. People interested in working for the agencies could use the sites to send in their resumes.

The details of the ad policy also changed: The full name of the relevant security service appeared, along with details about the post to be filled.

Still, the want ad for Persian speakers contains a series of new elements that makes it stand out. Both the Shin Bet and Military Intelligence are responsible for intelligence gathering in Iran; the Shin Bet's responsibility is to prevent subversion, espionage and sabotage.

The focus of such work, it may be assumed, is to stymie Iran's efforts to enlist spies among Palestinians or Israeli Arabs. Such contacts are usually made through Hezbollah.

But why does the Shin Bet need Persian-speakers when it may be assumed that any Arab agents whom Iran would field in the territories or Israel proper speak Arabic, not Persian?

One possible explanation is that the Shin Bet seeks to hire new immigrants from Iran in Israel.

There is a large Persian-Israeli community in the country, with people continuing to arrive during the 30 years since the followers of ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini took power.

Most of these people still have relatives in Iran. In recent years the Shin Bet twice reported that it thwarted an Iranian attempt to enlist new Iranian immigrants in Israel as spies.

The Shin Bet has also warned that the Iranians have enticed Israelis of Iranian origin back to Iran through the Iranian consulate in Turkey, or have blackmailed them into spying for Iran in Israel.

Iran and Israel have been conducting an intelligence war for more than a decade now, involving not only Iran's nuclear program, but also the massive assistance the Islamic Republic gives to terror groups, particularly Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Shin Bet operated similarly with regard to Soviet attempts in the 1970s to draft spies from among immigrants from the Soviet Union.

The unusually detailed want ad seems to show that the service has not been very successful finding enough suitable candidates to become Persian-speaking field coordinators. [Harel/Haaretz/11December2009] 

Missing Iranian Scientist Revealed Nuclear Secrets. An Iranian scientist who vanished six months ago has revealed secrets of his country's nuclear program with international weapons inspectors.

Shahram Amiri briefed United Nations nuclear monitors in a clandestine meeting at Frankfurt airport just hours before they flew to Iran to inspect a hidden uranium enrichment plant, according to French intelligence sources.

An award-winning atomic physicist, Mr. Amiri had worked at the heavily-guarded underground site at Qom. He was attached to a Tehran university named by the EU last year as part of the regime's nuclear-proliferation operations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was told of the existence of the Qom facility by the US and its European allies in September. But the meeting with Mr. Amiri in October would have provided inspectors with key insider knowledge before they made the sensitive trip.

The scientist is the focus of an extraordinary international row stretching from the Gulf to Washington after Iran last week accused Saudi Arabia and the US of "terrorist behavior" for allegedly colluding in his abduction.

The nuclear scientist, who is in his 30s, disappeared after arriving in Saudi Arabia for a pilgrimage in late May, leaving behind his wife and extended family. The Saudi authorities say they do not know where he is.

But contrary to Iranian claims, Mr. Amiri actually defected after an elaborate international cloak-and-dagger co-ordinated by the CIA, according to a well-connected French intelligence analysis website.

"The agency made contact with the scientist last year when Amiri visited Frankfurt in connection with his research work," Intelligence Online reported. "A German businessman acted as go-between. A final contact was made in Vienna when Amiri travelled to Austria to assist the Iranian representative at the IAEA. Shortly afterwards, the scientist went on pilgrimage to Mecca and hasn't been seen since."

The vanishing act was reminiscent of Cold War days between the Soviet Union and the West when spies - often scientists and diplomats - were spirited away in plots just as outlandish as any John le Carr� thriller.

Heads have rolled at Iran's nuclear counter-espionage agency since his loss, and the foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, raised his case in a private meeting with the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon.

The Islamic republic has now linked the fate of three American hikers detained in Iran since July with a list of Iranian citizens, including Mr. Amiri, who Tehran alleges are being held by the US. It appears to be proposing some form of trade in talks with Swiss intermediaries.

Officially, the US says it has no information on Mr. Amiri's whereabouts, but the scientist is now believed to be in Europe, protected by a Western intelligence agency, in a CIA-led operation. He will be debriefed intensively by experts - who will also want to ensure that he is not an Iranian plant.

Four months after Mr. Amiri disappeared, President Barack Obama, flanked by Gordon Brown and the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, disclosed that Iran had built the buried uranium enrichment plant near the holy city of Qom.

Western intelligence had developed information about the site over three years.

But Mr. Amiri's intelligence about its inner workings - and especially security procedures - proved "extremely useful", a source close to France's overseas secret service, the DGSE (Direction G�n�rale de la S�curit� Ext�rieure), told The Sunday Telegraph.

French agents party to details of the Frankfurt meeting paint a picture of Amiri as one of the brightest young nuclear physicists of his generation, westernised and a good English-speaker.

The CIA launched a secret program, dubbed "the Brain Drain", in 2005 designed to undermine Iran's nuclear program by persuading key officials to defect. In the biggest previous coup, Revolutionary Guards general Ali Reza Asgari, the deputy defense minister, vanished on a trip to Turkey in 2007. [Sherwell/Telegraph/12December2009] 

Cambodian King Pardons Thai National Convicted of Spying. Cambodian king Norodom Sihamoni on Friday pardoned a Thai engineer sentenced seven years in Cambodian jail for espionage charge, government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said on Friday.

Mr. Khieu told international media that Prime Minister Hun Sen had requested the royal pardon for the Thai national on Thursday and King Sihamoni signed it Friday morning.

He said Mr. Siwarak Chutipong will be released from the Cambodian jail on Monday.

A Cambodian court sentenced Mr. Siwarak, an employee of Cambodia Air Traffic Service, to seven years prison and fined him 100,000 baht (US$3,000) for releasing flight details of Thailand's fugitive ousted premier Thaksin Shinawatra when he visited Phnom Penh last month on his first trip there after being appointed economic adviser to the Cambodian government.   [Enews/12December2009] 

Iran Says Three Americans to Face Trial. As tensions build between Washington and Tehran, the Iranian foreign minister said three Americans arrested in July after crossing the border from northern Iraq would be tried but did not specify the charges, according to news reports.

The minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, told a news conference in Tehran that the three had "entered Iran with suspicious aims. The judiciary will try them."

Reuters quoted him as saying "relevant sentences" would be handed down.

His remarks offered the clearest official indication that the three Americans would face trial after an Iranian state news agency reported last month that they have been accused of espionage - a charge that can carry the death sentence in Iran.

A trial would add one more layer of complexity and mistrust to the relationship between the United States and Iran, already deeply strained over Iran's nuclear program.

In late November, the Tehran prosecutor told Iran's official IRNA news agency that authorities were pursuing espionage charges against the Americans - Shane M. Bauer, 27, of Emeryville, Calif.; Joshua F. Fattal, 27, of Cottage Grove, Ore.; and Sarah E. Shourd, 31, of Oakland, Calif.

Washington has repeatedly urged Iran to release them, saying they are innocent hikers who trekked off course and strayed into Iran from Iraq's northern Kurdish-speaking region.

In November, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: "We believe strongly that there is no evidence to support any charge whatsoever. And we would renew our request on behalf of these three young people and their families that the Iranian government exercise compassion and release them so they can return home."

The White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, also said at the time that the three were innocent.

Statements from family members and Kurdish authorities have said that the hikers, all graduates of the University of California, Berkeley, had crossed from Turkey into Kurdistan, where they stayed at a hostel and camped as they headed toward Ahmed Awa, a resort area.

Family members have said that, after their arrest, the three were taken to Iran's infamous Evin prison, where they have been visited by Swiss diplomats and were reported to be in good physical shape.

Their case contrasts sharply with that of five British sailors who were detained by Iran's Revolutionary Guards when their yacht strayed off course in the Persian Gulf and were released last month after only a few days. [Cowell/NYTimes/15December2009] 

India Declines Bail in Indo-US Nuclear Espionage Case. The Supreme Court declined bail to a security specialist of the National Security Council who allegedly passed on the country's vital secrets including those on an Indo-US nuclear deal to an American woman diplomat.

The special cell of the Delhi police, which had earlier arrested the accused Mukesh Saini along with system analyst Shib Shankar Paul, alleged the latter had developed an "intimate" and "close relationship" with the American diplomat Rosana Minschew to whom the secrets were passed on.

It was further alleged Saini had in return prevailed upon the American diplomat to get him a job in the US Microsoft company after obtaining voluntary retirement from the highly sensitive secretariat of the National Security Council. [PTINews/13December2009] 

Director General Outlines Pressing Concerns for MI5. Speaking at the 14th annual Policy and Politics Lecture hosted by the University of Bristol, MI5 director general Jonathan Evans has addressed some of the most important issues facing the Security Service today.

At present, the efforts of the Security Service are focused principally on Al Qaida-related terrorism which has, of course, emerged as a major threat in the last ten years.

"Globalisation has operated in this area as in many others," said Evans, "so that our domestic security is now dependent as much on events in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia as it is on those occurring in London, Manchester or, indeed, Bristol."

Continuing the counter-terror theme, Evans added: "We are investigating the activities of foreign intelligence services in so far as they continue to attack UK interests, an activity that now happens increasingly via the Internet. We also have a continuing role in countering terrorism related to the affairs of Northern Ireland and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

In the speech written to mark the University of Bristol's centenary, and entitled 'Defending The Realm', Evans spoke of "close links with the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure" (which advises those responsible for the protection of our Critical National Infrastructure about the threat to their assets and how best they can be protected).

Operating the MI5 Security Service within a liberal democracy does, of course, pose problems and occasionally dilemmas, as Evans was quick to point out.

"A 'purist' liberal might argue that there should be no domestic intelligence service separate from law enforcement: within the law the State should not restrict the activities of its citizens," opined Evans. "Such a doctrine is comforting in its purity, but does not stand up well to the test of reality."

The MI5's leader continued: "Any country has legitimate security needs, and the people of this country expect to be able to go about their lives in security, confidence and prosperity. We should all be able to shop with our families, attend sporting events or use public transport without fear."

There are those in our midst intent on stopping us from doing so. "It's a responsibility of Government to ensure that those who threaten us cannot succeed in their plans," explained Evans, in no uncertain terms. "Since those plans are by their very nature a secret, we need a security intelligence service to identify and investigate them. We cannot merely wait until our enemies have acted and then seek to bring them to justice."

Important as that process is, it does not prevent the actual harm that our enemies and opponents would seek to perpetrate. It's a truism that some activity threatening to our security, including an element of State espionage activity against us, is not amenable to the criminal law.

"�An additional complication," stated Evans, "is that an intelligence service cannot operate effectively if its actions are visible to all. We need to keep secret from the people we are investigating that we know who they are, and that we are investigating them. If not, they will take measures to avoid our scrutiny. Therefore, full disclosure of the Security Service's activities to the public gaze would negate the purpose of having a Security Service in the first place."

Accordingly, all arrangements in place for the oversight of the Security Service (which are very similar to those for the Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ) depend upon those bodies that provide the oversight operating within the so-called 'Ring of Secrecy', so that they can require the Service to account for its actions in some detail without that information becoming available within the public domain.

According to Evans, these 'oversight' arrangements comprise five elements.

First, the Security Service works under the authority of the Home Secretary. "Our plans and performance are scrutinised by him, and I speak with the Home Secretary on a regular basis," said Evans. "Authorisations for the use of intrusive techniques such as telephone interception are required, by statute, to be signed by the Home Secretary. They are not in the Security Service's gift."

This statutory framework ensures that the Security Service may only intrude on the privacy of citizens in accordance with law, a principle enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and reflected in the Human Rights Act itself.

Second, the Service's use of the intrusive powers authorised under the law is reviewed by two Commissioners, both of whom are retired senior judges appointed, of course, under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

"They have access to our most sensitive operational activities, and ensure that we are applying the law and that the use of the powers is justified," explained Evans. "If you're interested, the reports of the Commissioners are published so you can check that we are sticking to the rules! We certainly put a great deal of effort into doing so."

Third, the Security Service is accountable to the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliamentarians, the members of which operate in rather the same way that a Select Committee oversees the work of a Department of State.

Evans suggests that anyone who doubts the Committee is afforded detailed access to the Service's activities should spend a couple of hours reading the published version of the Committee's report entitled: 'Could 7/7 have been prevented?'

"The operational detail included in the report about the Security Service's actions in connection with the 7/7 bombings in London is unprecedented. I only wish it had received more coverage."

Fourth, there's the Investigatory Powers Tribunal available to members of the public who wish to complain about the Agencies. The Tribunal is independent of Government, and made up of senior members of the legal profession and judiciary.

Finally, the finances of the Security Service are subject to scrutiny by both the Treasury and the National Audit Office.

"There is a balance to be struck between two extremes," suggested Evans. "It would be self-defeating to have such onerous and detailed scrutiny that the operational effectiveness and responsiveness of the Security Service were seriously impaired. Equally, accountability must be sufficiently robust to ensure that any inappropriate action on the part of the Service comes to light."

In Evans' opinion, the current balance is "about right". He added: "We are an operationally-focused organisation and need to be able to react with speed, for example when terrorists are plotting an attack. The members of the Service, as much as those outside, support the need for appropriate oversight. We are, after all, ourselves citizens of this country, and the reason that most people join the Service is because they want to do something useful and valuable for our society."

Evans praised his co-workers. "Members of the Service are conscientious people who think about what they are doing and, as a Service, we encourage discussion and debate of ethical issues as an important part of keeping the culture of the Service healthy."

As far as Evans is concerned, the long-term effectiveness of the Security Service operating in a democracy depends upon it operating within the ethical values and norms of the society which it serves.

Next, Evans turned to recent media reporting of allegations made by a variety of people that the Security Service has solicited and colluded in the mistreatment of detainees held by other Governments.

"Some have even alleged that we have taken part in or been present during mistreatment," explained Evans. "Regrettably, I'm not able to comment on these allegations in detail because most of the complainants are taking action against the Service and other Government departments in the civil courts. This precludes full public discussion of the allegations. That said, I would like to make some general points."

Evans looked at context. "After 9/11, the UK and other western world countries were faced with the fact that the terrorist threat posed by Al Qaida was indiscriminate, global and massive. Now, eight years on, we have a better understanding of the nature and scope of Al Qaida's capabilities, but we did not have that understanding in the period immediately after 9/11."

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the United States, 67 of them British. "We were aware that 9/11 was not the summit of Al Qaida's ambitions, and that there was a real possibility similar attacks were being planned, potentially on an imminent basis. Our intelligence resources were not adequate to the situation we faced, and the root of the terrorist problem was in parts of the world where the standards and practices of the local security apparatus were very far removed from our own."

In Evans' own words, this posed a real dilemma. "Given the pressing need to understand and uncover Al Qaida's plans, were we to deal, however circumspectly, with those Security Services who had experience of working against At Qaida on their own territory, or were we to refuse to deal with them, accepting that in so doing we would be cutting off a potentially vital source of information that would prevent attacks in the West?"

According to Evans, the Security Service "would have been derelict" in its duty if it had not worked, circumspectly, with overseas liaisons who were in a position to provide intelligence that could safeguard this country from attack.

"I have every confidence in the behavior of my officers in what were difficult and, at times, dangerous circumstances," asserted Evans. "This was not just a theoretical issue. Al Qaida had indeed made plans for further attacks after 9/11. Details of some of these plans came to light through the interrogation of detainees by other countries, including the US, in the period after 9/11. Subsequent investigation on the ground, including in the UK, substantiated these claims. Such intelligence was of the utmost importance to the safety and security of the UK. It has saved British lives."

Evans does not defend the abuses that have recently come to light within the US system since 9/11. "Nor would I dispute the judgment of the Intelligence and Security Committee, in its 2005 report on the handling of detainees and its 2007 report about rendition, that the Service, among others, was slow to detect the emerging pattern of US practice in the period after 9/11."

He went on to state: "It's important to recognize that we do not control what other countries do, that operational decisions have to be taken with the knowledge available, even if it is incomplete, and that when the emerging pattern of US policy was detected necessary improvements were made."

Evans pointed out that: "We should recall that, notwithstanding these serious issues, the UK has gained huge intelligence benefits from our co-operation with the US agencies in recent years, and the US agencies have been generous in sharing intelligence with us."

Writing earlier this year, Home Secretary Alan Johnson and his Cabinet colleague David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said: "Intelligence from overseas is critical to our success in stopping terrorism. All the most serious plots and attacks in the UK in this decade have had significant links abroad. Our agencies must work with their equivalents overseas... We have to work hard to ensure that we do not collude in torture or mistreatment. Enormous effort goes into assessing the risks in each case, but it's not possible to eradicate all risk. Judgments need to be made."

Evans stressed that this is very much the reality of the situation.

The two principles articulated in the Security Service's ethical approach are, first, 'diligent judgement' - of the sort outlined in the article by the Home and Foreign Secretaries, recognising that MI5 operates in a complex environment where easy answers are not available to it.

Second, there is a need for 'due accountability'. "We are an accountable public organisation," opined Evans. "We seek to record decisions made and the actions we have taken, and we provide information as required to oversight bodies such as the Commissioners, the Intelligence and Security Committee and, in particular, to the Courts."

Disclosure for the Court process can be a very "resource-intensive exercise", according to Evans, "complicated by the question of how much of the relevant material can safely come into the public sphere through the Courts. These problems can take time to resolve, not because we are seeking to cover anything up but, on the contrary, because the quantity and variety of records and the scale of disclosure exercises, particularly when faced with allegations ranging over a period of years involving dozens of cases and the actions of hundreds of officers, is so enormous." [Sims/Info4Security/14December2009] 


Archive Exhibit Exposes Espionage: Prague Through The Lens Of the Secret Police. Imagine that every move in your ordinary, everyday life, was secretly photographed. Your seemingly innocuous activities, strolling through a park, munching on an apple, waiting for the subway, were considered so dangerous they were captured forever by the secret police. Sounds far fetched, doesn't it? But a traveling exhibit from the newly created Security Services Archive in the Czech Republic capital of Prague reveals that from 1968 to 1989 this was exactly what citizens in that city endured.

The exhibit, Prague Through The Lens Of The Secret Police, is on view at the Harvard University Center for Government and International Studies through December 21, 2009. It consists mainly of banner sized enlargements of the black and white photos snapped for over twenty years by citizen spies employed by the Cold War communist government.

The methods employed to obtain the photographs might seem almost comic if they weren't so oppressive. According to an article in The Harvard Gazette, the homegrown spies who worked as secret police agents concealed their cameras in "tobacco pouches, purses, briefcases, transistor radios, lighters, and on engine blocks (for mobile surveillance)." Film, and later, video cameras were hidden in parked cars, and even in baby carriages pushed by spies posing as proud parents.

The resulting photos document a drab, gray, depressing Prague devoid of the most basic freedoms. A city strangled by a totalitarian regime, under which citizens were denied the freedom to think, speak, read, or assemble freely. Contrasting these photos with the city's now vibrant cultural and artistic scene, leads to the conclusion that the spies inadvertently documented the soul-crushing effect of their employer's tyranny.

The exhibit marks a new era in studies of the Cold War. Virtually all former Eastern Bloc countries are in the process of organizing and digitizing what were once highly classified documents hidden in secret, secure government files. The Prague Institute For The Study Of Totalitarian Regimes, which administers the Security Services Archive, is, by government mandate, free and open to all scholars, researchers, and curious citizens.

One attendee at the opening of the exhibit at Harvard knew first hand of the of all-seeing eye, and all-hearing ear, of the Czech Cold War government. Haviland Smith, the United States CIA station chief in Prague in 1958, recalled that when he and his wife were alone, settling into a Prague hotel room, Mrs. Smith complained to her husband that there was only one towel in the bathroom. "Within two minutes," said Smith, "there was a knock at the door, and a maid stood there with an armful of towels." Smith called such relentless, ubiquitous surveillance "an expression of the regime's desire to stay in power - nothing more, nothing less."

At the opening reception for the exhibit, Jiri Ellinger, first secretary and head of the political section at the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Washington, D.C., spoke to a crowd of about 150. He remarked that those documented in the photos were considered enemies of the state for a variety of reasons. One subject of surveillance, code named "Doctor A", was actually Zdenek Pinc, a professor of ancient philosophy at Prague's Charles University. "He was dangerous to the regime because he wanted to study and think freely." To a government bent on controlling the minds and souls of its citizens, even study of ideas expressed for thousands of years can seem perversely revolutionary.

The photographs in the exhibit have been collected in a 2009 coffee table book published by The Prague Institute For The Study Of Totalitarian Regimes. [SeattlePI/12December2009] 

Pentagon, CIA Eye New Threat: Climate Change. Global warming is now officially considered a threat to U.S. national security.

For the first time, Pentagon planners in 2010 will include climate change among the security threats identified in the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Congress-mandated report that updates Pentagon priorities every four years.

The reference to climate change follows the establishment in October of a new Center for the Study of Climate Change at the Central Intelligence Agency.

The projections lead us to believe that severe weather events will increase in intensity in the future, perhaps in frequency as well.

But the new attention to climate concerns among U.S. security officials does not mean the Pentagon and the CIA have taken sides in the debate over the validity of data on global warming. As with nuclear terrorism, deadly pandemics or biological warfare, it only means they want to be prepared.

"I always look at the worst case," says one senior intelligence official who follows climate issues. "Whether it's global warming or the chance of Country A invading Country B, I just assume the most likely outcome is the worst one."

Military officials, accustomed to drawing up detailed plans for a wide variety of contingencies, have a similar view.

"The American people expect the military to plan for the worst," says retired Vice Adm. Lee Gunn, a 35-year Navy veteran now serving as president of the American Security Project. "It's that sort of mindset, I think, that has convinced, in my view, the vast majority of military leaders that climate change is a real threat and that the military plays an important role in confronting it."

Among the scenarios that concern security planners is the melting of the massive Himalayan ice mass. In theory, the rivers fed by the Himalayan glaciers would flood at first, then dry up once the glaciers retreat. That would endanger tens of millions of people in lowland Bangladesh.

Retired Air Marshal A.K. Singh, a former commander in India's air force, foresees mass migrations across national borders, with militaries soon becoming involved.

"It will initially be people fighting for food and shelter," Singh says. "When the migration starts, every state would want to stop the migrations from happening. Eventually, it would have to become a military conflict. Which other means do you have to resolve your border issues?"

The drafters of the Quadrennial Defense Review were instructed by Congress to accept the assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the international body established by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization to gather and report world climate data.

Neither the Pentagon nor U.S. intelligence agencies make an independent effort to assess the planet's climate, and U.S. security officials have generally tried to distance themselves from any debate over the validity of the IPCC data. Instead, they focus on the security repercussions.

"The [IPCC] projections lead us to believe that severe weather events will increase in intensity in the future, perhaps in frequency as well," says Amanda Dory, the deputy assistant secretary of defense overseeing the review process. "This is a mission area where the Department [of Defense] already responds on a regular basis in support of civil authorities, whether for floods, wildfires [or] hurricanes. We believe there's a possibility those types of requests will increase in the future."

Climate change could also have implications for ship and aircraft designers.

"When you talk about building ships that are going to last from 30 to 50 years or programming for aircraft that are not going to be put in the air for 20 years, you have to be thinking about the kinds of changed conditions into which you're going to throw them in the future," Gunn says.

Still, there is only so much military planners can do to prepare for the consequences of climate change. The 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, due to be delivered in February, is required to identity what global warming may mean for the Defense Department's "roles, missions and installations."

But Dory of the Pentagon says there won't be much change in that area.

"We don't anticipate that there are new mission areas as a result of climate change," Dory says. "Similarly, there may be changes in technical specifications for platforms, but not the need for new types of platforms that we don't already possess." (In Pentagon jargon, "platforms" are the things on which weapons are carried, like ships or aircraft.)

In the short term, climate change may be a more important subject for intelligence officials than for military planners.

Analysts at the National Intelligence Council are trying to develop a set of early warning signs that could suggest where the next famine might arise or which countries are in most danger of being destabilized as a result of dramatic climate changes. Intelligence officials put those countries on a "stability watch list."

But how far to go with such climate and security projections is a matter of dispute.

"We suck at predicting wars, and we're not very good at predicting peace," says James Carafano, a retired Army officer and former West Point instructor who now directs foreign policy and national security studies at the Heritage Foundation. "These are huge, giant, complex systems, and people who take a linear approach to these things and say, 'Oh, well, if this happens, then we'll have to worry about that' - that's not how reality works out."

Perhaps not, but it's the job of national security officials at least to imagine future climate and security scenarios, whether they can do something about them or not. [Gjelten/NPR/13December2009] 


Al Qaida's Mistrust Of U.S. Jihadi Wannabes is Both Good And Bad News, by Frank James. Among the interesting details emerging from the detention of the five Washington, D.C.-area men in Pakistan is this: they were unable to make their hoped-for connection with al Qaida because leaders in the terrorist group suspected the men might be Central Intelligence Agency spies.

As the Washington Post reported over the weekend:

But the men, all Muslims from the Alexandria area, failed to reach the remote tribal zone that is al-Qaeda's home because the terrorist network's commanders thought they were sent by the CIA to infiltrate al-Qaeda - and Saifullah could not convince them otherwise, a Pakistani intelligence official said Saturday.

"They were regarded as a sting operation. That's why they were rejected," said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. The five men disappeared just after Thanksgiving and were arrested near Lahore on Tuesday. They have not been charged with any crime.

This strikes me as good and bad news.

It's a welcome development because it shows just how much justified paranoia there is within the terrorist network which is constantly reminded that the U.S. and other governments are out to destroy it.

That lack of trust within jihadi circles could prove an important ally to Western counterterrorism efforts since it could keep terrorist groups from fully exploiting the possibilities presented them by young and willing men seeking to join, as may have happened in this case.

It means terrorists are looking over their shoulders and never quite sure if a willing recruit who says "I'm from America and I'm here to help you" is a sincere aspiring martyr or a double-agent. Any such doubt that be sown in terrorist organizations can only make them less efficient in their deadly intentions.

A related point is that this lack of trust, especially of terrorist wannabes from the U.S., means it will be that much harder for al Qaida and other terrorist groups to plant sleeper cells in the U.S. That is certainly positive news.

The downside, however, is that if what Pakistani authorities say is true about al Qaida's resistance to having the young men become part of its network, it points to the difficulties U.S. intelligence agencies will have in placing spies in such terrorist organizations, especially Americans.

Obtaining good, actionable intelligence about al Qaida has been a particularly difficult task for Western intelligence agencies. The terrorist group's unwillingness to trust that the young Americans were sincerely hell-bent for jihad suggests that problem remains a significant one. [James/NPR/14December2009] 

Blackwater and Security Contracting: The Economics of War, by Tim Hsia. The news that Blackwater Worldwide (or its new name, Xe Services) collaborated with the Central Intelligence Agency was one news event that did not surprise me. I think the spate of recent news is just the tip of the iceberg.

It has been argued that our servicemen overseas do not receive enough attention in the news media about all that they do. But if that is the case, then it is doubly true for contractors, as their actions have been even more underrepresented in the news then the military's.

When President Obama announced a troop surge in Afghanistan, many people focused strictly on the number of troops and the time line he presented. What was missing was a discussion of how many contractors would be needed to support the increase. Currently the ratio of United States servicemen to contractors is roughly one to one. Thus, the actual number of additional personnel members who will be added to the American footprint in Afghanistan could be closer to 60,000 - 30,000 additional military personnel members plus 30,000 contractors.

Security contracting is a business that will probably be a fixture in security operations for years to come. It is partly an outgrowth of a capitalist drive to reduce everything, even war, into purely fiscal terms. Contractors, be it those with weapons or those with cooking tools, are at first glance cheaper than deploying and sustaining an equivalent number of an all-volunteer military service members.

Contracts are close-ended, and hence there are no enduring requirements like providing these contractors with aid in expediting United States citizenship. Nor do they require open-ended benefits such as a G.I Bill, veteran benefits, disability payments or a retirement pension.

But their involvement has shown that war is not simply a sacrifice for those who fight it. It can also be a lucrative economic enterprise. Their deaths are also easier to accept because they are not even reported. No obligatory half-staff flags. This, in turn, reduces the overall cost of the human effort needed to sustain America's war overseas as contractor casualties and deaths do not add to the tally of combat casualties that news organizations report.

Not only are security contractors cost efficient, but also they have a large pool of able-bodied applicants. Military personnel who are in the combat arms branch often do not have the skills necessary to successfully transition into the civilian world. If they enter the military straight out of high school or if they lack a high school degree, then when they leave the military they simply lack the advanced degrees to compete with their civilian counterparts, especially during a highly competitive recession. The military does not teach derivatives, stock options and year-end budgets.

But what skills these soldiers possess that their civilian counterparts do not are: military tactics, operating under pressure and operating military equipment, an education forged on the streets of Afghanistan or Iraq as opposed to a classroom environment. These skills are especially valuable to only one small segment of the business world, namely defense contractors.

Some young enlisted servicemen who are about to leave the military often tell me they are seriously considering joining a security company. They are drawn to these companies because the short-term pay is higher, they no longer have to heed a whole host of military protocols, they will not be disciplined as harshly, and deployments are shorter. How does one counsel a soldier opting for this lifestyle? Is it better to have a homeless veteran or a veteran working for these security contractors?

Some writers were aghast to learn that the State Department was guarded by security contractors. What would they think if they knew that the United States military was also guarded by security contractors? Many United States military bases overseas are guarded by security contractors, who provide outer-cordon security. They are cheaper to employ then former American service members. They are grateful for their jobs, and they can be fired on a whim.

On paper it is cheap to hire them. But these costs do not factor in the time and manpower that the military devotes to transporting these personnel, feeding them and equipping them. Moreover, can we be assured that they will follow the same rules of engagement that United States military forces are required to?

Prior to my second deployment, my unit had several briefings to educate and prepare us for operational aspects of our deployment. These briefs spanned cultural awareness, health concerns, and cursory coverage of basic Arabic words.

Just as we assumed our classes were done, in strode a man with a military haircut and physique. He looked no different from us, except that he carried a briefcase and wore a business suit. It turned out that this man was an ex-military. He was there to give us our last class of the day, a class on how defense contractors operate and how to work with them. He was also a representative of ArmorGroup, the same company the State Department hired for its office in Kabul, Afghanistan, and whose contractors' lewd behavior and sexual misconduct has been captured pictorially.

In the aftermath of the Blackwater killing of Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, many Americans were probably placated by the thought that security contracts would be more limited or entirely revoked. But that did not happen, according to an employee of one firm who sat next to me during a meal in Iraq. He told me the State Department simply replaced Blackwater with two companies: his company and another. Blackwater is now yesterday's news and ArmorGroup is today's news. [Hsia/NYTimes/14December2009] 



Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam, by Geordon M. Goldstein, Reviewed by John M. Taylor. Pity our recent secretaries of state. While they fly around the world for photo-ops with minor potentates, real policy is being made in the White House, by the president, most often in consultation with his national security adviser.

The adviser has some obvious advantages. First, he is physically located near the Oval Office and thus has immediate access to the president. Second, he is not subject to Senate confirmation and can be anyone the president chooses.

The decline of the secretary of state relative to the national security adviser can be said to have begun with McGeorge Bundy, who was appointed by President Kennedy, retained by Lyndon B. Johnson, and who played a key role on the Vietnam issue for both presidents.

Here, Bundy is the subject of an incisive study - part biography, part autobiography - by a long-time associate, Gordon M. Goldstein. By the spring of 1995, Bundy was a repentant hawk, eager to find out what had gone wrong, and he invited Mr. Goldstein to collaborate on a retrospective on the Vietnam War.

The two worked in tandem for more than a year before Bundy's death in September 1996. Mr. Goldstein took the project from there, drawing heavily on Bundy's often-fragmentary writings.

Born and reared in Boston, Bundy came from a patrician family long associated with Republican politics. He attended Groton School and Yale University, where he graduated first in his class. After serving in Army Signals in World War II, Bundy returned to Boston, where he joined the Harvard University faculty and helped write the memoir of former Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, a family friend.

In 1953, at age 34, Bundy was appointed dean of faculty at Harvard, the youngest person to occupy that post. His meteoric rise inspired a limerick:

A proper young prig, McGeorge Bundy,
Graduated from Yale on a Monday
But he was shortly seen
As Establishment Dean
Up at Harvard the following Sunday.

Bundy's ambitions for government service were briefly derailed when Harry S. Truman defeated Thomas Dewey in 1948. In Boston, however, Bundy became friendly with Kennedy, who admired his work at Harvard. After Kennedy was elected president, he chose Bundy to be his national security adviser.

One magazine wrote of Bundy, "With his pink cheeks, sandy hair, springy step, and quaintly quizzical expression behind plain glasses, Bundy could easily pass for a ... junior civil servant." But he was perhaps the most influential of Kennedy's advisers next to his brother Bob. In the Cuban missile crisis, Bundy initially favored bombing the Soviet missile sites, but eventually endorsed Kennedy's proposed quarantine.

It was Vietnam that proved to be Bundy's Waterloo. From the outset of the Kennedy administration, Bundy was a prominent hawk. Confident of his country's ability to "win" in Vietnam, and conscious of the global implications of a defeat, he disdained all programs aimed at "neutralizing" Vietnam. It was Dwight D. Eisenhower who had outlined the "domino theory" - that a communist takeover in Vietnam would lead to the loss of Laos, Thailand and Malaysia - but Bundy endorsed it fully.

Bundy's relations with his president changed with the accession of Johnson after Kennedy's assassination. His dealings with Kennedy had been easy and informal; Johnson, in contrast, numbered Bundy among the academic pointy-heads whom he tolerated but with whom he was never completely at ease.

After a visit to Vietnam in February 1966, Bundy had a pessimistic report for Johnson. "The situation in Vietnam is deteriorating," he warned, "and without new U.S. action defeat appears inevitable. ... Any negotiated U.S. withdrawal today would mean surrender on the installment plan."

Whereas some Vietnam hawks resisted "Americanization" of the war, Bundy endorsed Gen. William Westmoreland's demands for increased U.S. ground forces as well as the initiation of air attacks on North Vietnam. In Mr. Goldstein's words, since Bundy was "unwilling to question the primacy of the domino theory, and repelled by the premise of ... a diplomatic extrication through neutralization, the only option left was military escalation."

In September 1966, Bundy left the White House to become president of the Ford Foundation. His departure was notably lacking in drama. Motivated by an old-fashioned concept of public service, Bundy had no criticism for the president or his policies. Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., a friend, would call Bundy "the last hurrah of the Northeastern Establishment ... patricians who, combining commitment to international responsibility with instinct for command and relish in power, served the republic pretty well."

Through the years, however, Bundy became a repentant hawk and sought to consider what had gone wrong in Vietnam. High on the list of errors, in his view, was that the Johnson administration - preoccupied with numbers - never asked the right questions. "No one [asked] ahead of time what kind of war it will be and what kind of losses must be expected."

With a long-term American commitment in Afghanistan looming, Mr. Goldstein's book is said to be a must-read in the Obama White House. And so it should be, although there are important differences as well as similarities between Vietnam and Afghanistan.

As for "Mac" Bundy's legacy, one can only recall the British politician who observed, "What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass." [Taylor/WashingtonTimes/19November2009] 

THE REAL SPY'S GUIDE TO BECOMING A SPY - by Peter Earnest with Susan Harper, The International Spy Museum.
Gifts for Young Readers
Welcome to my third annual attempt to answer the burning question: "How do I buy a book for a gift for a kid I don't know very well?" At a recent gathering of school librarians, James Patterson, the perennially bestselling author and sponsor of the site, said every holiday should be a reason to give a kid a book. I know that if someone gave me a book on Arbor Day would have taken me by surprise --  but in general, we are on the same page.

A hot topic for tweens these day's is espionage. So wow them with The Real Spy's Guide to Becoming a Spy by Peter Earnest with Susan Harper in association with The International Spy Museum. The acknowledgements page teasingly states that the information contained within this volume "does not reflect the views of any government agency" but tells us that the contents have been reviewed by the CIA to prevent "disclosure of classified information." Whoa! This informal yet serious exposition of espionage asks the questions, why do we need spies? What do spies do? And who can become one? The discussions of spy terminology are particularly addictive: pocket litter, for example, is what a person carries in their pockets, handbags and briefcases; identification cards, credit cards, photographs, small objects, and receipts. A spy will create fake pocket litter to go with their cover (fake identity). The authors suggest prospective spies practice gathering information by reading newspapers, magazines and surreptitiously interviewing great-aunt Martha. (Spies need to have social skills as well as smarts.) The authors give tips on how to talk to anyone --  and get other people to talk to you.

Teens really can read anything. Why give a teen a young adult novel? Librarians would say because books that are published for young adults specifically speak to their concerns and point-of-view.  Of course the secret life of teens is not one their Moms and Dads really want to talk about but publishers are experiencing a cross-over of young adult to an adult audience. Note the Twilight phenomenon. So if you know any teens or cousins even in their thirties don't let artificial labels stop you from sharing.   

Thank you so much for this very useful list of books for kids.  I have four kids (ages 5 to 13) and it's always so difficult to know what books they've read and which ones will they like.  This list seems exceptional, a little bit off of the bestseller list and galvanizing stories, and I will check out many of them.  You've made this year's Christmas shopping a lot easier. By Lisa Von Drasek
The book is available from, Barnes & Noble and many other stores.

The Caliphate - a novel by André Le Gallo. Introduction by Porter Goss, former Director of CIA. 336 pages, Leisure Books (January 26, 2010) PB. A radical Muslim group has dedicated itself to the restoration of the Caliphate, a borderless Muslim empire, and will stop at nothing, including assassination and terrorism, to reach its goal. Steve Church, a young American businessman, is mistakenly identified as a threat and only barely survives two assassination attempts, which catch the CIA’s attention. With his life on the line, and with the help of a beautiful woman, he becomes the only hope to stop the extremists in a whirlwind adventure. At stake are the lives of thousands and control of the Middle East and of its oil.
Le Gallo, a long time member of AFIO and former Chapter President, immigrated from France, graduated from Lehigh University, obtained a commission in the Army (Fort Benning /Infantry) and served as an operations officer in the CIA on several continents..The Caliphate is his first novel. Satan’s Spy, a sequel, will follow soon. He lives in California with his wife Cathy.
He studied Arabic and Islam at John Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Study, attended the National War College, and has years of on-the-ground experience on both sides of the Arab Israeli issue. He was the National Intelligence Officer for Counterterrorism, has spoken at Harvard, Rice, Berkeley, Stanford, the National Labs, testified to Congress, and was a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution. Two of his articles, on Covert Action and Somalia, have been published. A third, “Islam and the West”, will be published later this year. The book is available from, Barnes & Noble and many other stores.

Call for Papers

U.S. Department of State Announces a Conference on the American Experience in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975 The Office of the Historian, Department of State, will hold a conference on September 29-30, 2010, on American policy and war in Southeast Asia, 1946-1975. The conference will take place in the George C. Marshall Conference Center at the Department of State in Washington, D.C. and will serve three purposes. It will showcase and commemorate the work of the Historian’s Office in documenting United States policy in Southeast Asia in the Foreign
Relations of the United States (FRUS) series in over 24,000 pages of documents; and it will provide--through participants’ papers, presentations, and panels--a full-scale examination/reexamination
of United States policy, beginning with the Indochina War (1946-1954), continuing through the American periods of advice and support (1955-1964) and intervention (1965-1973), and ending with the Fall of Saigon (1975). Finally, the conference will explore the relationship between force and diplomacy in both the prosecution of the war and the peace negotiations. Proposals on the post-1975 era leading to “normalization” will be considered but the conference will focus on the period of greatest American involvement. The first day’s program will include the following: a keynote address by a senior official of the Department of State; a roundtable discussion by Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon-Ford Administration policy advisors on Vietnam; presentations by scholars from the Socialist
Republic of Vietnam; and a panel of presentations by senior scholars of the War. The second day’s program will consist of a series of panels where academic and independent scholars will
present papers on topics/themes related directly or indirectly to American policy in Indochina from 1946 to 1975. Those interested in submitting proposals should keep in mind that the Program
Committee will be more likely to form panels by historical period than by theme, but the latter will be considered.
To achieve the above objectives, the Program Committee welcomes proposals for original papers/panels dealing with, but not limited to, the following topics:
● The Cold War and United States policy in/for Southeast Asia
● Early United States involvement in Southeast Asia: Truman to Kennedy
● The Americanization of the Vietnam War—policy, strategy, and operations
● United States relationships with and/or involvement in South Vietnamese governments
● The role of force and diplomacy in the implementation of policy


Saad Kheir, Jordan's Ace of Spies, by David Ignatius. When the spy movie ends, the suave intelligence chief - having outsmarted his enemies - dusts off the lapels of his perfectly tailored suit and disappears into his world of illusion and control.

That's not how it ended in real life, alas, for Gen. Saad Kheir, the brilliant but emotionally wounded spymaster who headed Jordan's General Intelligence Department (GID) from 2000 to 2005. He died in a hotel room in Vienna on 9 December of a heart attack, the official Jordanian news agency reported. He was just 56.

Kheir at his best was among the greatest Arab intelligence officers of his generation. He ran a series of masterful penetration operations against Palestinian extremist groups and, later, al-Qaeda. "He set the standard for how we do it," said one former CIA officer who worked closely with him.

I got to know Kheir five years ago when I was researching a novel about the Middle East called "Body of Lies," which was later made into a movie that starred Leonardo DiCaprio. Kheir was the model for my fictional Jordanian intelligence chief, "Hani Salaam." Like all GID chiefs, Kheir was addressed by the Ottoman honorific of "pasha," so I gave the sobriquet of "Hani Pasha" to my fictional version.

Hani Pasha (played in the movie by British actor Mark Strong) stole the show, and for a simple reason - he was based on a true master of the game. My character's tradecraft, manners, even his wardrobe were all modeled on those of the real pasha.

It was George Tenet, then director of the CIA, who first described to me Kheir's brilliance as an operator. I asked Tenet in 2003 if any foreign intelligence services had been especially helpful against al-Qaeda, and he answered instantly, "The Jordanians," and continued with Tenetian enthusiasm, "Their guy Saad Kheir is a superstar!"

So the next time I was in Amman, I asked the royal palace if I could meet the legendary intelligence chief, and it was duly arranged. I was driven to the GID's fearsome headquarters, past its black flag bearing the ominous warning in Arabic "Justice Has Come" and escorted upstairs to the pasha's office.

Kheir had a rough, boozy charm - somewhere between Humphrey Bogart and Omar Sharif. He was dressed elegantly, as always - in this case, a cashmere blazer, a knit tie and a pair of what looked to be handmade English shoes.

The pasha told me a few stories, and others filled in the details: He made his name penetrating Palestinian extremist groups, such as the Abu Nidal organization. Once he had burrowed into the terrorists' lair, he was able to plant rumors and disinformation that set the group's members fighting among themselves. Before long, Abu Nidal's fraternity of killers had imploded in a frenzy of suspicion and self-destruction. I stole that idea for "Body of Lies."

Kheir researched his targets so thoroughly that he got inside their lives. A former CIA officer told me about one sublime pitch: Kheir tracked a jihadist to an apartment in Eastern Europe and handed him a cellphone, saying: "Talk to your mother." The man's mom was actually on the line, telling him he was a wonderful son for buying her a new TV and a couch and sending her money. "The spoken message was, 'We can do good things for you.' The unspoken message was, 'We can hurt you,' " explained the CIA officer. I took that scene, too, verbatim.

Like many Arab intelligence services, the GID has a reputation for using brutal interrogation methods, and I'm sure that it didn't get the nickname "the fingernail factory" for nothing. But Kheir's successes in interrogation often came from a different kind of intimidation. Colleagues recall him standing behind a suspect, his voice deep with menace, as he talked of the suspect's family, friends and contacts. That was much scarier than physical violence would have been. He waited for them to break themselves, and it usually worked.

Kheir ran afoul of his boss, King Abdullah, when he began pushing into politics and business. It was the classic overreach of intelligence chiefs in the Middle East, and he was sacked in 2005. His dismissal took a cruel toll: Kheir could be seen carousing late at night at his favorite restaurant in Amman, no longer a master of the universe or even, fully, master of himself. But in his prime, he was a genius, and it's hard to think of a foreigner who helped save more American lives than Saad Pasha. [Ignatius/WashingtonPost/11December2009] 


Thaxter Swan. Thaxter Swan, 86, an intelligence officer with the Central Intelligence Agency for 32 years, died Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009, at Friends Nursing Home in Sandy Spring, after a six-year battle with a rare cancer.

Mr. Swan was born in 1922 in Boston, and grew up in nearby Hingham, Mass. He served three years with the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II, first with the 1262nd Combat Engineers and then in military government in the U.S. sector of Germany. He graduated with an AB from Harvard University in 1947.

Mr. Swan was a descendent of the Sherburnes and Penhallows of Portsmouth, and also was a distant cousin of Celia Thaxter, after whom he was named.

His wife of 58 years, Ruth, died in 2006. Survivors include his children, Lucy Swan of Olney, David Swan of Purcellville, Va., Thomas Swan of Pittsburgh, Pa., and Robert Swan of Portsmouth, N.H.; and 12 devoted grandchildren.

He joined the CIA in 1947, just one month after it was created, and moved to the Washington area with his fiancee, Ruth Baldwin Snyder, who he married early the next year. Mr. Swan began his career in the operations side of the agency before moving to the analysis side after three years. Mr. Swan, who was fluent in German, was stationed in West Germany with his family on two separate, three-year tours of duty; in Bonn beginning in 1953, and in Munich beginning in 1961. Upon his return to the United States, Mr. Swan worked first in the Office of Current Intelligence, where his job focused on producing daily intelligence reports for executive decision-makers, and later in Foreign Liaison, working closely with allied intelligence organizations.

He and his family lived in the Springfield area of Bethesda for 37 years, where they were members of the Kenwood Country Club and the River Road Unitarian Church.

After retiring in 1979, Mr. Swan and his wife traveled extensively throughout the world, spent time at their farm in the Shenandoah Valley near Stanley, Va., and helped raise their grandchildren.

In 1994, he and his wife moved to the Leisure World retirement community in Silver Spring, where he remained active in the civic affairs of their "mutual" at Leisure World, in the C&O Canal Association, and in the Association of Foreign Intelligence Officers.

Mr. Swan spent years researching his family's history and genealogy, which he used to write, over a 15-year period, a three-volume, 600-page book highlighting some of the most interesting vignettes of his life, and those of his family and ancestors.

This year, as he was battling the effects of his chemotherapy, he published the book, titled "Just the Facts" for about 80 family members and friends.

Mr. Swan's immediate family, the Penhallows, owned the Warner House, one of the finest historic homes in Portsmouth, N.H., until they sold it in the 1930s.

Mr. Swan was a board member of the Warner House for many years and member of the Portsmouth Athenaeum. He was very involved in bringing back antiques to the house, including donating a very rare and valuable high chest that dated back to the 1730s.

Mr. Swan loved visiting Portsmouth to do family research while spending time with his youngest son, Bob, and their family, who have lived in Portsmouth since 1985.  [SeacoastOnline/31October2009]

Coming Events


19 December 2009, 9:30am - noon - Seattle, WA - AFIO Pacific Northwest Chapter meeting on B-29 Bomber and WWII.
Guest Speaker: Mike Lavelle,
Director of Development, The Museum of Flight
Topic: History of the B-29 bomber and the B-17 and its effect of winning World War 2.
Where: The Museum of Flight, South View Lounge
Cost: $15.00
Make checks payable to AFIO and mail to:
Fran Dyer, 4603 NE University Village Suite 495, Seattle, WA 98105
Inquiries to Judd Sloan at

13 January 2010, 11:30 a.m. - Scottsdale, AZ – The AFIO Arizona Chapter hosts Victor Oppleman who will speak on "National Security Vulnerabilities to Cyber Attacks."

Victor Oppleman is an accomplished author, speaker, and patent-holder in the field of network security and a specialized consultant to some of the world’s best known companies. His open source software is used by thousands of engineers worldwide. He is coauthor of Extreme Exploits: Advanced Defenses Against Hardcore Hacks (McGraw Hill 2005) and author of The Secrets to Carrier Class Network Security (Auerbach, 2009). This event is being held at: McCormick Ranch Golf Club (7505 McCormick Parkway, Scottsdale AZ 85258 ~ Phone 480.948.0260) 
Our meeting fees will be as follows: • $20.00 for AFIO members• $22.00 for guests. 
For reservations or questions, please email Simone or or call and leave a message on 602.570.6016. Contact Arthur Kerns, President of the AFIO AZ Chapter,

14 January 2010 - San Francisco, CA - The AFIO Jim Quesada Chapter hosts Farhad Mansourian, former anti-terrorist officer in the Iranian Imperial Army at the time when Islamic Fundamentalists were attempting to overthrow the 2,500 years old Monarchy in Iran. Mr. Mansourian will be discussing Iranian government intelligence and terror network. RSVP required. 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. E-mail RSVP to Mariko Kawaguchi (please indicate chicken or fish): and mail check made out to "AFIO" to: Mariko Kawaguchi, P.O. Box 117578 Burlingame, CA 94011

MANY Spy Museum Events in January and February with full details are listed on the AFIO Website at The titles for some of these are as follows:

21 January 2010, 12 - 2 pm - The Los Angeles AFIO Chapter hosts business meeting.
Place: the LMU campus in room 302. The January business meeting will not host a speaker nor will lunch be provided, the focus of the meeting will be to tabulate the results of the chapter elections for the officers and focus on establishing chapter goals for the upcomming year 2010. The January meeting is open to chapter members only, no guests. Replies to Vincent Autiero

24 February 2010, 9 am - 5 pm - Ft Lauderdale, FL - The FBI/INFRAGARD has invited AFIO Members to the FEBRUARY 24, 2010 Conference on Counterterrorism measures at Nova Southeastern University.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP to AFIO Miami Chapter President, Tom Spencer, at Provide your AFIO National member number, address, phone number. Your information will be provided to the FBI for assessment. Their decision of which members can attend is final. AFIO bears no responsibility for costs or arrangements made in anticipation of attending this Infragard/FBI event based on the decisions of their security personnel. If available, bring your government issued ID. Infragard is the public/private partnership of the FBI. You can get more information on Infragard at
Please respond to Tom Spencer no later than February 10, 2010 via email.
Location: NOVA Southeastern University , Knight Lecture Hall, Room # 1124
3301 College Ave, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl 33314
Abbreviated AGENDA
09:00 - 09:30 AM - Registration and coffee
09:30 - 10:00 AM Welcoming Remarks - Carlos "Freddy" Kasprzykowski, InfraGard South Florida Chapter President; Eric S. Ackerman, Ph.D., NSU Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Programs; SA Nelson J. Barbosa, InfraGard Coordinator/FBI Miami
10:00 - 11:00 AM - Stephanie M. Viegas, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Coordinator, Miami FBI Field Division Will give an overview on how the FBI responds and coordinates WMD threats and related cases.
11:00 - 11:15 AM - Break
11:15 -11:30 AM - FBI employment needs - SA Kathleen J. Cymbaluk, Miami FBI Recruiter. This presentation will discuss current hiring needs of the FBI and
requirements on how to qualify and apply.
11:30 - 12:30 PM - Christopher L. Eddy, Supervisory Intelligence Analyst. The use of Intelligence Information in the FBI. This presentation will discuss how intelligence is collected, analyzed, and pushed to the right people at the right time and place and how vitally important it is to the security of our nation and its interests.
12:30 - 01:45 PM - LUNCH (Food court available on campus)
01:45 - 02:45 PM - Gun Running from Broward and Palm Beaches Counties
SSA Mark A. Hastbacka; This presentation will touch on IRA gun running operation in the above counties from a Counter terrorism investigation point-of-view.
02:15 - 03:15 PM - FBI Extraterritorial Responsibilities: Focus Iraq ASAC Scott A. Gilbert, FBI Miami. This presentation will focus on FBI activities in the International
Terrorism Organizations (ITO) and in the Middle East in general, with specific focus on IT and kidnapping investigations.
03:15 - 03:30 PM - BREAK
03:30 - 04:30 PM - Overview of Current Terrorism Trends: South Florida
SIA Vincent J. Rowe. This presentation will focus on terrorism trends in the South Florida
04:30 - 05:00 PM - Conclusion

26 January 2010 - Arlington, VA - The Defense Intelligence Forum meets at the Alpine Restaurant, 4770 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22207. This event is open to members of all IC associations. The speaker will be John Moore, who will speak on the Middle East after One Year with President Obama. He will cover the peace process, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, and the on-going battle with Islamic terrorists. Mr. Moore was the Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia, and Terrorism, DIA's senior expert for the region. He was twice awarded the Director of Central Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. He has been a witness at the International Court of Justice in the Hague. To encourage candor at this forum, there may be no media, notes, recordings, or attribution. Pay at the door with a check for $29 per person payable to DIAA, Inc. Social hour starts at 1130, lunch at 1200. Make reservations by 15 January by email to Give names, telephone numbers, email addresses, and choices of chicken, veal, or salmon. Pay with a check. THE FORUM DOESN'T TAKE CASH.

15 - 17 February 2010 - Heidelberg, Germany - The United States European Command Director for Intelligence is using this convention outfit to arrange an Intelligence Summit.
The website for this event managers is

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


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