AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #06-10 dated 16 February 2010

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Coming Events

Current Calendar New and/or Next Two Months ONLY

  • Events at the Spy Museum in February with full details

  • True Lies/True Lives: Famous Spies of the 20th Century - Wednesdays in February and the first Wednesday in March; 10:15 am
    Location: International Spy Museum, Washington, DC
  • Wednesday, 17 February 2010; 10:15 am - Washington, DC - Oleg Penkovsky: The Heroic Spy
  • Thursday, 18 February 2010; 12 noon – 1 pm - Washington, DC - The Watchers: The Rise of America’s Surveillance State at the International Spy Museum
  • Wednesday, 24 February 2010; 10:15 am- Washington, DC - Robert Hanssen: The Anonymous Spy
  • Wednesday, 3 March 2010; 10:15 am - Washington, DC - Ana Montes: Cuba’s American Mole at the International Spy Museum

The Ted Shackley Miami-Dade Chapter of AFIO proudly announces:


MARCH 13, 2010

Hyatt Coral Gables, 20 Alhambra Circle - Coral Gables, Florida

10:00 am to 1:00 pm

"Geotransformational Changes That Impact The Future of Conflict"

Dr. John Alexander is a Senior Fellow of the Joint Special Operations University. For more than a decade, Dr. John Alexander has been a leading advocate for the development of non-lethal weapons. He entered the US Army as a private in 1956 and by the time he retired in 1988, he was a colonel of Infantry. Dr. Alexander organized and chaired five major conferences on non-lethal weapons, served as a US delegate to four NATO studies on the topic, and was a member of the first Council on Foreign Relations study that led to creation of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. Currently he is executive vice president of LEADS, Inc., and serves as a consultant to US Special Operations Command. He is the co-author, with Tom Clancy of FUTURE WAR: Non-Lethal Weapons in Twenty-First Century Warfare.

This important, critically acclaimed presentation and discussion will address the dramatic impact of:

*Geographic reconfiguration  *Economic redistribution 

*Amorphous threats ( organized crime, terrorism, narcotics, non-state actors, etc)

*Non-state security forces  *Transient international relationships 

*Environmental changes  *Transnational security factors 

Please RSVP to: to reserve your seat, by March 1, 2010. (please note your affiliation and contact information). Call 305 648-0940 for more information.

No charge for all AFIO Members, academics, students, military and law enforcement.

Members of the Public and guests are invited on a space available basis only. $35.00. Check payable to "AFIO Miami-Dade" mailed to Tom Spencer, 999 Ponce de Leon Blvd. Suite 510, Coral Gables, Florida 33134 by March 1, 2010. Space is limited.

Hold the date for three CIA co-hosted conferences

15-16 April 2010 - Austin, Texas - CIA/LBJ Library Co-Host Conference on The Czech Invasion. Reception follows event.

16 June 2010 - Independence, Missouri - CIA/Harry S. Truman Library/Woodrow Wilson Center Co-Host Conference "The Korean War, the Armistice, and the Search for Peace on the Korean Peninsula" Event falls on 60th Anniversary of The Korean War. Registration on AFIO website will open in mid-April. Announcement of CIA document release including special booklet/CD handouts to attendees, includes roundtable discussion – chaired by Clayton Laurie, with 3 other historians; Reception at Truman Library. CD-ROMs containing the newly released documents will be distributed at the press conference and the conference.

Late October 2010 - Fairfax, Virginia - CIA/George Mason University Co-Host a "Directors of Central Intelligence" Conference. Event will feature just released papers of the early DCIs, will include special panels, speakers, and special reception.

For all three events above, current AFIO members
will receive special invitations. Registration on AFIO website.
Details to follow.

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WIN CREDITS FOR THIS ISSUE: The WIN editors thank the following special contributors to this issue:  pjk, and fwr.  

They have contributed one or more stories used in this issue.

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Al-Qaeda Is A Wounded But Dangerous Enemy. In the past six weeks, Americans have witnessed two jarringly different - but completely accurate - views of al-Qaeda's terrorist network. One image was that of terrorist leaders being hunted down and killed by satellite-guided, pilotless aircraft. The other was of an agile foe slipping past U.S. defenses and increasingly intent on striking inside the United States.

New assessments of al-Qaeda by the top U.S. counterterrorism experts offer grounds for both optimism and concern a year after President Obama took office. Officials say al-Qaeda's ability to wage mass-casualty terrorism has been undercut by relentless U.S. attacks on the network's leadership, finances and training camps. But even in its weakened state, the group has shifted tactics to focus on small-scale operations that are far harder to detect and disrupt, analysts say.

The deadly November shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Tex., and the failed Christmas Day attempt to bomb an airliner - both examples of the low-tech approach - have raised the fear level in Washington and across the country. Some terrorism experts say the worst could be still to come as a wounded jihadist movement thrashes about in search of a victory.

"The noose is tightening, and al-Qaeda's leadership is accelerating efforts that were probably in place anyway," said Andy Johnson, former staff director of the Senate intelligence committee and now national security director for the Washington think tank Third Way.

In the past year, Johnson said, the "good guys have been scoring the points," killing key al-Qaeda leaders and disrupting multiple plots. But pressure on al-Qaeda in Iraq and Pakistan has forced terrorist operatives to flee to new havens, such as Yemen, and step up the search for weaknesses in Western defenses. While battered, "the enemy is unwavering and determined," he said.

The U.S. ability to strike al-Qaeda's nerve center was on display recently with news of the apparent death of the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, a close ally to al-Qaeda in the lawless frontier along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Hakimullah Mehsud, who suffered severe injuries in a missile strike in mid-January, was the second leader of the group to find himself in the path of a CIA Predator aircraft in the past six months. He also was closely linked to the Dec. 30 suicide bombing that killed seven CIA officers and contractors in Afghanistan's eastern Khost province.

U.S. drones have struck al-Qaeda and Taliban targets inside Pakistan 12 times this year, putting the Obama administration on a course to surpass 2009's record-setting 53 strikes, according to a tally by the Web site Long War Journal.

In testimony before two congressional panels last week, top U.S. intelligence officials said the campaign has shaken al-Qaeda's core leadership, the small band of hardened terrorists led by Osama bin Laden. The attacks, combined with a successful squeeze on al-Qaeda's cash supply, have impeded the group's ability to launch ambitious, complex terrorist operations on the scale of the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the officials said.

"Intelligence confirms that they are finding it difficult to be able to engage in the planning and the command-and-control operations to put together a large attack," CIA Director Leon Panetta said Tuesday in testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

But intelligence officials also warned lawmakers of worrisome new evidence of al-Qaeda's ability to adapt. In an annual "threat assessment" to Congress, spy agencies described the emerging threat as more geographically dispersed and also low-tech, favoring lone operatives and conventional explosives.

Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair, who presented the assessment to House and Senate panels, said the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 over Detroit is emblematic of an evolving threat that relies on "small numbers of terrorists, recently recruited and trained, and short-term plots." The new tactics are less spectacular but also much harder to detect and disrupt, he said.

The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is a Western-educated young man who was apparently recruited because he had a U.S. visa and no record of ties to terrorist groups. Officials say that he was trained and equipped by one of al-Qaeda's rising affiliates, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and that he had a bomb made of a common military explosive sewn into his underwear, deliberately designed to thwart the kinds of safeguards put in place after 9/11.

The foiled plot came on the heels of the Fort Hood shooting rampage. That attack, and the arrest of an Army major apparently inspired by al-Qaeda, crushed the widely held perception that Americans were immune from the kind of violent home-grown extremism seen in Muslim enclaves in Western Europe. Blair acknowledged that intelligence agencies are newly concerned that Americans may be traveling overseas for training and returning to the United States to carry out terrorist strikes.

"A handful of individuals and small, discrete cells will seek to mount attacks each year, with only a small portion of that activity materializing into violence against the homeland," he said.

Blair testified that he thought another attempted strike by terrorists was "certain" in the next six months. The assertion was a response to a question by the Senate intelligence panel's chairman, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), about the likelihood that al-Qaeda would try to launch a major attack on Americans in the near future. But Blair also suggested that the rash of news about terrorist plots in recent weeks has created a false impression that the threat is new.

"We have been warning since September 11 terrorists remain committed to striking the United States," he said. "What is different is that we have names and faces to go with that warning. We are therefore seeing the reality."

Terrorism experts and administration officials have described the Dec. 25 bombing attempt as a wake-up call that helped expose gaps in security that are now being addressed. But some analysts say the dramatic successes against al-Qaeda in Pakistan may have led U.S. officials to miss signs that the terrorist threat was morphing in new directions. Now the administration is scrambling to respond to both threats at once, said Bruce Hoffman, a Georgetown University terrorism expert and senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

"Until Northwest Airlines Flight 253, the prevailing assumption was that we could fight and win by drone attacks. But the threats are diverse and spreading," Hoffman said. "Both administrations - Bush and Obama - had a tendency to focus on one threat, one enemy, emanating from one place. The use of predators in Afghanistan and Pakistan is a very effective tactic. But it's a tactic, and it's not a substitute for a strategy." [Warrick&Finn/WashingtonPost/7February2010] 

Counterterror Chief Takes Critics to Task. White House Counterterrorism Chief John Brennan ripped into lawmakers for criticizing the administration's handling of Christmas Day bombing suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Republican lawmakers in recent weeks have attacked the Obama administration for prosecuting Mr. Abdulmutallab in a civilian court, rather than before a military commission, and for reading him his Miranda rights. Mr. Brennan said he had called senior Republican lawmakers on Christmas night to brief them on the investigation and suggested that they were fully informed about how the suspect would be treated.

"I explained to them that he was in FBI custody, that Mr. Abdulmatallab was in fact talking, that he was cooperating at that point," Mr. Brennan said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. "They knew that 'in FBI custody' means that there's a process then you follow as far as Mirandizing and presenting him in front of a magistrate."

"None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point," Mr. Brennan said. "They didn't say, 'Is he going into military custody? Is he going to be Mirandized?' They were very appreciative of the information. We told them we'd keep them informed, and that's what we did."

Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Kit Bond (R., Mo.), one of those briefed by Mr. Brennan, on Sunday disputed the idea that the lawmakers were aware that the suspect was read his Miranda rights.

"Brennan never told me any of plans to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber - if he had I would told him the Administration was making a mistake," Sen. Bond said in a statement. "The truth is that the administration did not even consult our intelligence chiefs, as DNI Blair [Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair] testified, so it's absurd to try to blame Congressional leaders for this dangerous decision that gave terrorists a five week head start to cover their tracks."

Mr. Brennan said Mr. Abdulmutallab "was treated as a terrorist" and "put into a process that has been the same process that we have used for every other terrorist who has been captured on our soil whether they be U.S. citizens or non-U.S. citizens." He said the guidelines used with Mr. Abdulmutallab were finalized in December 2008 during the Bush administration under former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

Mr. Brennan, who had also worked in the Bush administration after a career as a Central Intelligence Agency officer, said "I'm tiring of politicians using national security issues such as terrorism as a political football. They're going out there, they're unknowing of the facts, and they're making charges and allegations that are not anchored in reality."

He added that rather than "second-guessing what they're doing on the ground with a 500-mile screwdriver from Washington to Detroit, I think they have to have confidence in the knowledge and the experience of these counterterrorism professionals."

Besides Mr. Bond, Mr. Brennan said he had briefed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), House Minority Leader John Boehner (R., Ohio), and the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R., Mich.).

The other lawmakers said through aides on Sunday that they had received brief, non-secure courtesy calls from Mr. Brennan that imparted little substantive information. They also said Mr. Brennan was trying to deflect blame away from the administration.

Mr. Hoekstra's statement said Mr. Brennan "only informed him that Abdulmutallab had severe burns and was being treated. Contrary to what he attempts to imply, he at no time informed Hoekstra that Abdulmutallab had been Mirandized nor did he seek Hoekstra's consultation or provide any sort of meaningful briefing. The faulty decision to Mirandize Abdulmuttalab was the Obama administration's, and its decision alone."

Sen. McConnell's spokesman, Don Stewart, said Mr. Brennan "is clearly trying to shift the focus away from the fact that their bad decisions gave terrorists in Yemen a weeks-long head start."

"The bottom line is this: on Christmas day, a known terrorist, with the help of al Qaeda in Yemen , attempted to kill Americans by blowing up an airplane," Mr. Stewart said. "Rather than having highly trained terror investigators spend time with this terrorist, the administration decided to treat him as a common criminal who had a right to a government-funded lawyer and advised of his right to remain silent."

Kevin Smith, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner, echoed that sentiment, adding: "Instead of attempting to dodge responsibility, John Brennan and this administration should focus on fixing the near-catastrophic intelligence breakdown that failed to prevent this attack." [Reddy/WallStreetJournal/8February2010] 

U.K. Move Could Hinder U.S. Intelligence Sharing. A U.K. appeals court forced the British government to disclose U.S. intelligence related to the alleged torture of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, a move the U.K. had argued could jeopardize future intelligence sharing.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office released a seven-paragraph summary of U.S. intelligence given to British security services about former detainee Binyam Mohamed's treatment during U.S. interrogations in 2002.

The paragraphs detail how Mr. Mohamed was subjected to "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities" such as sleep deprivation, threats and shackling. The redacted paragraphs indicated that U.K. officials at the time would view such treatment, if administered on behalf of Britain, as a breach of the country's international treaty commitments banning torture.

On Wednesday, the White House said, "We appreciate that the U.K. Government stood by the principle of protecting foreign government intelligence in its court filings. We're deeply disappointed with the court's judgment today, because we shared this information in confidence and with certain expectations" and said it would cloud future intelligence relations with Britain.

Dennis Blair, U.S. director of national intelligence, on Wednesday condemned the release of the information.

"The protection of confidential information is essential to strong, effective security and intelligence cooperation among allies," he said. "The decision by a United Kingdom court to release classified information provided by the United States is not helpful, and we deeply regret it."

Mr. Blair said, however, that the U.S. and U.K. intelligence-security agencies would continue to work together.

"This court decision creates additional challenges, but our two countries will remain united in our efforts to fight against violent extremist groups," he said

The Court of Appeal upheld last year's High Court decision, challenged by the Foreign Office, that said releasing the redacted material was in the public interest and would pose no serious threat to U.K. national security. The case arose from Mr. Mohamed's effort to secure the release to his legal counsel any material held by the British government that might assist in the defense of his case before a U.S. military commission.

The Foreign Office said it wouldn't challenge the decision because despite the ruling, the courts had upheld the principle that "if a country shares intelligence with another, that country must agree before its intelligence is released" and because the information in the redacted paragraphs was "in substance" released in a separate U.S. court case in December.

Mr. Mohamed, an Ethiopian national who had lived in the U.K., was detained in Pakistan in 2002 and transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2004 before being released in February 2009.

The U.K. has said the U.S. has threatened to downgrade intelligence cooperation if the details are released.

The British concerns over denting U.S. cooperation are similar to those voiced by Central Intelligence Agency officials when the White House was debating the release of Justice Department memos on CIA interrogations.

CIA officials argued releasing such information would harm relations with foreign intelligence services, which share intelligence on the understanding that it won't be made public. [MacDonald&Gorman&Perez/WSJ/12February2010] 

Evolving US Strategy Widens Assault on Terrorists. In the early months of his presidency, President Barack Obama's national security team singled out one man from its list of most-wanted terrorists, Baitullah Mehsud, the ruthless leader of the Pakistani Taliban. He was to be eliminated.

Mehsud was Pakistan's public enemy No. 1 and its most feared militant, responsible for a string of bombings and assassination attempts. But while Mehsud carried out strikes against U.S. forces overseas and had a $5 million bounty on his head, he had never been the top priority for U.S. airstrikes, something that at times rankled Pakistan.

"The decision was made to find him, to get him and to kill him," a senior U.S. intelligence official said, recalling weeks and months of "very tedious, painstaking focus" before an unmanned CIA aircraft killed Mehsud in August at his father-in-law's house near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

It was not the first airstrike on Obama's watch, but it marked the first major victory in his war on terrorism, a campaign the administration believes can be waged even more aggressively than its predecessor's. Long before he went on the defensive in Washington for his handling of the failed Christmas Day airline bombing, Obama had widened the list of U.S. targets abroad and stepped up the pace of airstrikes.

Advances in spy plane technology have made that easier, as has an ever-improving spy network that helped locate Mehsud and other terrorists. These would have been available to any new president. But Obama's counterterrorism campaign also relies on two sharp reversals from his predecessor, both of which were political gambles at home.

Obama's national security team believed that the president's campaign promise to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq would have a side benefit: freeing up manpower and resources to hunt terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Intelligence officials, lawmakers and analysts say that approach is showing signs of success.

Obama also has sought to reach out to Islamic allies and tone down U.S. rhetoric, a language shift that critics have argued revealed a weakness, in an effort to win more cooperation from countries like Yemen and Pakistan.

For example, though Pakistan officially objects to U.S. airstrikes within its border, following the Mehsud strike, the U.S. has seen an increase in information sharing from Pakistani officials, which has helped lead to other strikes, according to the senior law enforcement official. He and other current and former officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters.

Pakistan's cooperation is key to U.S. counterterrorism efforts because much of the best intelligence still comes from Pakistan's intelligence agency. Ensuring that cooperation has been a struggle for years, in part because Pakistan wants greater control over the drone strikes and its own fleet of aircraft, two things the U.S. has not allowed.

"The efforts overseas are bearing fruit," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a strident critic of Obama's domestic counterterrorism policies who said Obama has at times shown himself even more aggressive than Bush in his use of force overseas. "I give them generally high marks for their efforts to capture and kill terrorists in Pakistan, and they're pushing the envelope in Yemen."

CIA drones, the remote-controlled spy planes that can hunt terrorists from miles overhead, are responsible for many of the deaths. Drone strikes began increasing in the final months of the Bush administration, thanks in part to expanded use of the Reaper, a newer generation aircraft with better targeting systems and greater, more accurate firepower.

Obama has increased their use even further. A month after Mehsud's death, drone strikes in Pakistan killed Najmiddin Jalolov, whose Islamic Jihad Union claimed responsibility for bombings in 2004 at U.S. and Israeli embassies in Uzbekistan. Senior al-Qaida operatives Saleh al-Somali and Abdallah Sa'id were killed in airstrikes in December. And Mehsud's successor at the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, died following an attack last month.

Intelligence officials and analysts say the drawdown of troops in an increasingly stable Iraq is part of the reason for the increase in drone strikes. The military once relied on drones for around-the-clock surveillance to flush out insurgents, support troops in battle and help avoid roadside bombs.

With fewer of those missions required, the U.S. has moved many of those planes to Afghanistan, roughly doubling the size of the military and CIA fleet that can patrol the lawless border with Pakistan, officials said.

"These tools were not Obama creations, but he's increased their use and he has shifted the U.S. attention full front to Afghanistan," said Thomas Sanderson, a defense analyst and national security fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Obama administration has also benefited from stepped-up cooperation with officials in Osama bin Laden's ancestral homeland of Yemen. Authorities there killed 30 suspected militants in airstrikes in December closely coordinated with U.S. intelligence agencies.

Yemen has had a sometimes rocky relationship with the U.S. and was perceived to have an on-again-off-again approach to fighting terrorism, but officials in Washington are cautiously optimistic about a newly strengthened relationship.

Abdullah al-Saidi, Yemen's ambassador to the United Nations, said his country has always been committed to fighting terrorism. But in a fragmented country beset by a growing al-Qaida presence, a rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south, it wasn't always easy for the government to openly align with the United States.

Washington is trying to make it easier with the promise of more money. But perhaps more important, al-Saidi said, were overtures such as Obama's June 2009 speech in Cairo, where he sought a "new beginning" with the Muslim world.

Obama has also abandoned terms like "radical Islam" and "Islamo-fascism," rhetoric that was seen as anti-Muslim by many in the Arab world and which al-Saidi said made it harder for governments to openly cooperate with Washington.

"Just the notion of not equating Islam with terrorism, there is a lot of good will toward him," al-Saidi said. "For the public, it's easier to say, 'Well, it's no longer a hostile power as it used to be.'"

Such international successes have largely been drowned out by the controversy that followed the failed bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas. When the FBI read suspected bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab his rights and charged him in federal court, Republicans accused Obama of not understanding the country is at war.

"They're trying to be tougher than Bush overseas but different from Bush at home," Graham said. "It doesn't make a lot of sense. They really got the right model for Pakistan and Yemen, but they're really tone deaf at home."

After Obama missed his own deadline to close the prison for terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and backtracked on a plan to prosecute 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York courthouse, Republicans saw the Detroit case as an opportunity to renew questions about Obama's national security credentials, Republican strategist Kevin Madden said.

Madden said that Obama's stepped-up strategy overseas doesn't resonate with voters, and Republicans gain little in an election year by acknowledging where they agree with the White House strategy.

"National security politics is driven by events more than it's driven by long-term trends," he said.

Or, as Graham put it: "What resonates with people is what happens in Detroit, more than what happens on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border."

The White House says it see no conflict between broadening the attacks overseas and sticking with the U.S. judicial system at home, where hundreds of people have been convicted on terrorism charges since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"The president believes that we need to use all elements of American power to defeat al-Qaida, including the strength of our military, intelligence, diplomacy and American justice," said Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser. "We only weaken ourselves when we fail to use our full arsenal." [WashingtonPost/12February2010] 

Spanish Ex-Spy Convicted of Stealing Secrets. A former Spanish intelligence officer was convicted on Thursday of trying to sell secrets to Russia and imprisoned for 12 years, in Spain's first treason conviction since returning to democracy in 1978 after decades of military dictatorship.

The Madrid Provincial Court said Roberto Florez Garcia, 44, took documents relating to spy recruitment and planned to sell their contents to the Russian Embassy in Madrid.

The verdict said Florez Garcia stole documents with identities of other agents and information on Spanish intelligence facilities.

The court said it did not have conclusive proof that Florez Garcia had actually succeeded in selling or handing over sensitive information.

Florez Garcia worked at Spain's intelligence headquarters from 1991 to 2004, when he quit. He was arrested on the Canary island of Tenerife in 2007 and went on trial in January. He denied any wrongdoing.

Police found the documents, which included two letters Florez Garcia wrote to Petr Yakovlevich Melnikov, who worked at Russia's Embassy between 2000 and 2003.

The court said Florez Garcia had deleted one of the letters from his computer but investigators were able to retrieve it using digital technology.

The newspaper El Pais said the CIA tipped off Spanish investigators about Florez Garcia's activities. Spain's Defense Ministry, which oversees intelligence operations, told The Associated Press it could not comment on the report.

The court said Florez Garcia had acknowledged possessing classified documents. During the trial he testified that he took them as part of an assignment to point out security gaps in Spanish intelligence.

The court said no one at the intelligence center had authorized such an exercise and that it would have been contrary to normal practice. [NYTimes/11February2010] 

Yemen Security Agency Prone to Inside Threats, Officials Say. As deputy director of Yemen's feared internal security agency a few years ago, Mohammed al-Surmi was in charge of monitoring al-Qaeda extremists. But he also allegedly lived a double life, feeding the terrorist network information to uncover informants within its ranks.

Surmi was removed from his job, but still wields influence: He is now deputy mayor of the capital, Sana'a, where some residents call him "His Excellency."

Surmi is a testament to the obstacles the Obama administration faces as it deepens its partnership with Yemen. U.S. and some Yemeni officials remain concerned that radical Islamists and corrupt officials who can be bought off by al-Qaeda still pervade the Political Security Organization, the country's largest security and intelligence agency, which is vital to America's counterterrorism initiatives here.

"Al-Qaeda has a very aggressive effort to get whatever information they can from those individuals," said a senior Obama Administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

In 2006, al-Qaeda militants broke out of a maximum-security prison. Today, senior Yemeni officials acknowledge that PSO officials with sympathies to al-Qaeda facilitated the jail break.

"It could not have happened without people deeply inside the PSO," said Abdul Karim al-Iriyani, a former prime minister and current political adviser to Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Among those who escaped were Nasir al-Wuhaysi and Qassim al-Raymi. They went to rebuild al-Qaeda's Yemen branch into al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which hatched the failed plot to bomb a Detroit-bound American airliner on Christmas.

A 2002 report in the Wall Street Journal linked Surmi, who spent more than a decade at the PSO, to an attempt to betray an Egyptian militant who was willing to help weaken al-Qaeda. Surmi's alleged involvement was detailed in a report found inside a computer owned by an al-Qaeda operative.

In a recent interview, Surmi denied the allegations, but declined to speak further because he said he was no longer authorized to discuss security matters. "I never read, never saw or heard what was written about me," he said.

Senior Yemeni officials said they do not believe that Surmi was an al-Qaeda infiltrator, but said he sought to abuse his position for financial again. Surmi, said Iriyani, was removed from his position partly because he ran a scheme in which, for $20,000 a person, he provided fake Yemeni passports and "shipped" non-Yemeni jihadists returning from Afghanistan to Europe or Latin America.

"He went to the highest bidder," added Iriyani. "He could easily have been hired by al-Qaeda."

Senior Yemeni officials publicly insist the PSO, which is responsible for day-to-day security in Yemen, is not infiltrated by Islamic extremists today.

"It's serving the country, and they are doing their job," said Mohammed al-Anisi, the nation's intelligence chief. "These stories are totally wrong."

U.S. officials, though, remain concerned. And Yemeni counterterrorism officials are not taking chances. On Dec. 17, Yemeni forces, backed by the United States, launched an airstrike on suspected al-Qaeda militants in Abyan province as well as two raids in and around Sana'a. According to two senior Yemeni government officials briefed on the operation, the PSO was not informed of the operation until it was over. [Raghavan/WashingtonPost/10February010] 

CSIS Blocking Release of Spying File on Tommy Douglas. Canada's spy agency is pulling out all the stops to block the release of decades-old intelligence on socialist icon Tommy Douglas.

In an affidavit filed in Federal Court, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service argues that full disclosure of the file on Douglas could endanger the lives of confidential informants and jeopardize the agency's ability to conduct secret surveillance.

Indeed, CSIS suggests its very raison d'etre would be imperiled by releasing the information compiled on the one-time Saskatchewan premier and federal NDP leader, widely revered as the father of medicare.

"Secrecy is intrinsic to security intelligence matters," Nicole Jalbert, the agency's access to information and privacy coordinator, says in the affidavit filed late last month.

"The requirement for secrecy with respect to past and current activities of a security intelligence agency is essential; the origin of information, its extent and the methods by which it was obtained must remain a secret."

In an apparent reference to the precedent CSIS fears might be set if the Douglas files were released, Ms. Jalbert adds: "The routine, full disclosure of security intelligence information would, in certain circumstances, prevent or severely hamper the service's ability to discharge its statutory mandate."

The lawyer for The Canadian Press reporter who initiated the battle over disclosure of the Douglas dossier said CSIS's argument would essentially mean all intelligence files must remain secret in perpetuity.

"The suggestion that anything that intelligence agencies do must be secret for all time I think is contrary to basic democratic principles," Paul Champ said in an interview.

He said it's ironic that former Soviet Bloc countries have opened up their old intelligence files to public scrutiny while "the security intelligence file on Tommy Douglas, one of Canada's most loved political icons, remains closed."

Mr. Champ last year filed affidavits from Wesley Wark, a renowned security intelligence expert, and historian Craig Heron, both of whom maintained it's absurd to keep the Douglas file secret so many years later.

The court last week rejected a federal government bid to strike those affidavits on the grounds that they contain "pure conjecture, speculation and legal opinion."

The battle over Mr. Douglas's intelligence file began in November, 2005, when reporter Jim Bronskill made an Access to Information Act request for the RCMP dossier on the fabled prairie preacher-turned-politician.

Some material in the file, now in the possession of Library and Archives Canada, was eventually released.

It showed that spies with the now defunct RCMP Security Service had shadowed Mr. Douglas for more than three decades, attending his speeches, analyzing his writings and eavesdropping on private conversations. His links to the peace movement and Communist Party members were of particular interest.

But the government refused to release big chunks of Mr. Douglas's file - some of it dating back to the 1930s - because of national security concerns. Its decision was upheld by the information commissioner of Canada.

Mr. Bronskill took the minister of Canadian Heritage, who oversees the archives, to court in a bid to force disclosure.

CSIS, which replaced the RCMP Security Service and was consulted on Mr. Bronskill's initial request for the Douglas dossier, maintains it's irrelevant that the file is decades-old and has long been closed.

"The passage of time and the age of information cannot be used to conclude that its release will not cause damage," Ms. Jalbert says in her affidavit.

"Sources may still be active, despite the passage of time. Subjects of investigation would learn much about the scope of the information available about them and about service methods of operation.

"Some subjects of investigation are entities that remain of interest for many decades. In addition, many investigative techniques that were used in the [1960s] are still relevant today."

Ms. Jalbert argues that release of the information could identify CSIS's employees, procedures and administrative methodologies, including how the agency manages investigations.

Moreover, she says it could reveal the identity of confidential informants, which "would send a clear message to current and future human sources that the service is not able to guarantee the anonymity upon which their safety depends."

Champ agreed CSIS has a duty to protect the identity of any informant who might still be alive. But beyond that, he said there's no reason to withhold information in the Douglas dossier.

In his earlier affidavit, Mr. Wark said the fact that the original RCMP file on Douglas was transferred uncensored to the national archives suggests the government recognized the information had "historical value" but "no ongoing operational utility."

"The notion that once sensitive security and intelligence records remain sensitive for eternity is a patent absurdity," Mr. Wark said.

"The threat environment changes, institutions change, policies change, security and intelligence methods change, legal standards change and so on."

Mr. Douglas's daughter, actress Shirley Douglas, has also filed an affidavit supporting full disclosure. [Bryden/TheGlobeandMail/11February2010]

Russian Tycoon Says Ex-Spy Murder Claim "Outrageous." Exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky said it was outrageous to claim he was responsible for the death of his friend Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent who was murdered in London in 2006.

Berezovsky was appearing at London's High Court where he is suing the Russian state-owned TV channel RTR Planeta over a claim he was behind the murder of Kremlin critic Litvinenko, who was poisoned with polonium-210, a rare radioactive isotope.

"I had absolutely nothing to do with his murder and I have co-operated fully with the police in the course of their investigations," he told the court.

Berezovsky told the court that Litvinenko, who he knew as Sasha, had twice saved his life and their shared history as exiles and opponents of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the FSB security service had cemented their friendship.

"We shared a dramatic and dangerous history. He had helped me and I him, and, fundamentally, we shared the same enemy," Berezovsky said.

He said he felt the April 2007 program, which included an interview with a silhouetted figure named Pyotr, was deliberate propaganda to threaten his reputation, asylum status and his security, the Press Association reported.

He said he was shown saying that if he disliked someone he would kill them, but told the court the remark, which he did not recall saying, was either an ironic or joking response to a question.

"That the words have been taken out of context and used to suggest I am a murderer is absolutely outrageous and deeply offensive," he said. Litvinenko's death led to one of the worst rows between Britain and Russia since the end of the Cold War.

Britain has called on Moscow to extradite former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoy to stand trial for the murder. Lugovoy, who was later elected to the Russian parliament giving him immunity from prosecution, denies any link to the death.

Berezovsky's lawyer has told the London court that the Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (RTR), which has never suggested that what it broadcast was true, had declined to take part in the proceedings.

Also being sued is Vladimir Terluk, who Berezovsky alleges is Pyotr. The hearing is expected to continue into next week. [Holden/Reuters/9February2010]

Did a Polish Cipher Officer Work for Russian Intelligence? A Russian weekly claims that Stefan Zielonka, a Polish cipher officer who mysteriously disappeared in April 2009, worked for the Russian secret service.

Polish military intelligence denies the news.

Argumenti Niedieli, a Russian weekly, links Zielonka's disappearance to suicide, accidental death, or high treason in favor of China.

An unnamed Polish intelligence officer said the weekly newspaper leaked the information in revenge for Poland exposing a Russian spy. In January, the Internal Security Agency (ABW) detained a member of Russian intelligence but Russia denied that the man was related to the secret service.

For many years Stefan Zielonka coded messages for Polish military intelligence. He had a unique knowledge of code names of Polish officers working abroad and access to secret sources of information. Zielonka also knew Nato codes. [TheNews/10February2010] 

India's Spy in the Sky by 2014. India's Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing the country's first full-fledged 'declared' spy satellite, which will be operational by 2014 to keep an eye on neighboring regions. The satellite is expected to significantly help in maintaining a close watch on terror camps close to Indian borders.

The satellite, called Communication-Centric Intelligence Satellite (CCI-Sat), will be launched by the Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) within the next four years.

The CCI-Sat will be capable of picking images and supporting communication (conversation between two satellite phones, for instance), besides surveillance. The project is currently in the initial stages of planning.

G Bhoopathy, director, Defence Electronic Research Laboratory, said the satellite would orbit Earth at an altitude of 500km, and would cover hostile regions in India's neighborhood by passing on the surveillance data to the intelligence. "The focus is now space; we have to equip ourselves for electronic warfare from space, too," he said.

The satellite will be equipped with a synthetic aperture radar to take high resolution images of the target regions. Pegged at Rs100 crore, the satellite design and development will be made by Isro while the payload will be built by DLRL.

"We are in discussions with Isro at the moment," Bhoopathy said.

Unofficially, India in October 2001 has already entered the league of nations having spy satellites - USA, Russia, Japan and Russia - with the launch of the Technology Experiment Satellite (TES). In fact, TES provided the first one-metre resolution images of Afghanistan's interior regions on US's request as intelligence inputs when US troops entered that country post-9/11.

Besides TES, Isro's Cartosat series of satellites and the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT)-2 can also be used for surveillance and espionage. However, CCI-Sat will be the first 100% spy satellite of India. "This satellite will be much better than Risat-2," Bhoopathy said.

Isro is also planning to launch the Gsat-7 satellite to boost communication system for the Indian Navy. This would be launched later this year. [Keror/DNAIndia/10February2010]

Court Keeps White House Spy Docs Secret. A federal appellate panel blocked a court order requiring disclosure of e-mail between the White House, Justice Department, National Security Agency and Office of the Director of National Intelligence - communications that paved the way for new spy legislation.

The 2008 messages were a precursor to legislation that year to kill litigation against the nation's carriers for funneling Americans' communications to the National Security Agency without warrants.

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a California judge who ordered disclosure of those e-mails and the names of telco company lobbyists who pushed for the legislation. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil rights group in San Francisco, sought the e-mail and lobbyist information under a Freedom of Information Act claim.

The EFF wanted the data, which could shed light on the behind-the-scenes machinations of how the legislation was passed that nullified its lawsuit. The suit accused the carriers of being complicit in providing Americans' electronic communications to the NSA.

The San Francisco-based appeals court, hearing the FOIA case at the request of the Obama administration, ruled U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White failed to determine whether the information should be kept secret for national security reasons.

The decision comes two weeks after President Barack Obama said during his first State of the Union address that "it's time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or Congress."

The Freedom of Information Act, however, exempts disclosure of materials deemed national security secrets. The circuit court's decision means Judge White must consider whether disclosure of the sought-after information would harm national security.

The legal saga began four years ago when the EFF sued AT&T, alleging that the NSA was siphoning all electronic communications from AT&T. The suit, bolstered by internal AT&T documents, accused the carrier of assisting in setting up the warrantless dragnet that the EFF and others claim continues unabated today.

That suit had grown to include all the nation's leading internet service providers.

The 2008 legislation was approved by Obama as an Illinois senator and signed by President George W. Bush. The legislation - which also bolstered the government's warrantless electronic eavesdropping powers - means the courts likely will never address the merit's of EFF's allegations. [Kravets/Wired/12February2010] 


A Well-Written War, Told in the First Person. Brian Turner was focused on staying alive, not poetry, when he served as an infantry team leader in Iraq. But he quickly saw that his experience - "a year of complete boredom punctuated by these very intense moments" - lent itself to the tautness of verse.

The result was a collection called "Here, Bullet," with a title poem inspired by Mr. Turner's realization during combat patrols that he was bait to lure the enemy.

If a body is what you want,

then here is bone and gristle and flesh,

... because here, Bullet,

here is where the world ends, every time.

"Poetry was the perfect vehicle," said Mr. Turner, who had a master's in fine arts from the University of Oregon before joining the Army. "The page was the place where I could think about what had happened."

Mr. Turner is a literal foot soldier in what might be called the well-written war: a recent outpouring of memoirs, fiction, poetry, blogs and even some readable military reports by combatants in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Soldier-writers have long produced American literature, from Ulysses S. Grant's memoirs about the Civil War to Norman Mailer's World War II novel, "The Naked and the Dead," to Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried," about Vietnam.

The current group is different. As part of a modern all-volunteer force, they explore the timeless theme of the futility of war - but wars that they for the most part support. The books, many written as rites of passage by members of a highly educated young officer corps, are filled with gore, inept commanders and anguish over men lost in combat, but not questions about the conflicts themselves. "They look at war as an aspect of glory, of finding honor," said Mr. O'Brien, who was drafted for Vietnam in 1968 out of Macalester College in St. Paul. "It's almost an old-fashioned, Victorian way of looking at war."

The writers say one goal is to explain the complexities of the wars - Afghan and Iraqi politics, technology, the counterinsurgency doctrine of protecting local populations rather than just killing bad guys - to a wider audience. Their efforts, embraced by top commanders, have even bled into military reports that stand out for their accessible prose.

"The importance of good official writing is so critical in reaching a broader audience to get people to understand what we're trying to do," said Capt. Matt Pottinger, a Marine and former reporter for The Wall Street Journal who is a co-author of the report "Fixing Intel," an indictment of American intelligence-gathering efforts in Afghanistan released last month. "Even formal military doctrine is well served by a colloquial style of writing."

The report, overseen by the top military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, is an anecdote-rich argument against intelligence officers who pursue secrets about insurgents but ignore data for winning the war right in front of them - local economics, village politics and tribal power brokers. The report compares the American war in Afghanistan to a political campaign, "albeit a violent one," and observes, "To paraphrase former Speaker of the House Thomas P. �Tip' O'Neill's famous quote, 'all counterinsurgency is local.' "

Another report, an unreleased Army history about the battle of Wanat in July 2008 - the "Black Hawk Down" of Afghanistan - unfolds in stiffer prose but builds a strong narrative. Written by Douglas R. Cubbison, a military historian at the Army's Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., the draft report lays bare the failures of an American unit to engage the local population in a village in eastern Afghanistan - "these people, they disgust me," one soldier is quoted as saying - and graphically tells the story of the firefight that killed nine Americans.

Most of the writing by combatants has been memoirs that bear witness to battles of their own. Craig M. Mullaney, a former Ranger and Army captain, writes in "The Unforgiving Minute" of a 2003 ambush on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that killed one of his men, Pfc. Evan W. O'Neill. "Small-caliber rounds dented the Humvees around me, but it was strangely silent, as if someone had pressed the mute button... All I could remember were those eyes, glacial-blue, like my brother's. There's no way O'Neill's dead. This wasn't a game or an exercise or a movie; these were real soldiers with real blood and real families waiting back home. What had I done wrong?"

Mr. Mullaney, who has left the Army and is now a Pentagon official handling policy for Central Asia, said he wrote his book in part as catharsis, and as a way of telling Private O'Neill's parents what had happened to their son. "I had a lot of ghosts I was still wrestling with," he said. "I thought by writing I could make some sense of this jumble of experiences and memories and doubts and fears."

Nathaniel C. Fick, a former Marine officer who wrote of taking heavy fire during the 2003 invasion of Iraq in "One Bullet Away," had his own troubles coming home. Mr. Fick, now the chief executive of the Center for a New American Security, a military research group in Washington, also appears in Evan Wright�s book (and the HBO miniseries) "Generation Kill," based on Mr. Wright's experience as a Rolling Stone reporter embedded with Mr. Fick's platoon.

Mr. Fick, a Dartmouth graduate who applied to graduate school after leaving the Marines, describes getting a call from an admissions officer.

" 'Mr. Fick, we read your application and liked it very much. But a member of our committee read Evan Wright's story about your platoon in Rolling Stone. You're quoted as saying, "The bad news is, we won't get much sleep tonight; the good news is, we get to kill people." ' She paused, as if waiting for me to disavow the quote. I was silent, and she went on...'Could you please explain your quote for me?'.....

" 'You mean, will I climb your clock tower and pick people off with a hunting rifle?'

"It was her turn to be silent.

" 'No, I will not. Do I feel compelled to explain myself to you? I don't.' "

Other books started as soldier blogs, at least before commanders shut them, among them "My War" by Colby Buzzell, a former machine gunner in Iraq. Another soldier's blog, shut by the Army in 2008 but to be published as a book in April, is "Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War," by Matt Gallagher, a former Army officer in Iraq.

There are far fewer books by women, but one of them, "Love My Rifle More than You" by Kayla Williams, an Arabic-speaking former sergeant in a military intelligence company, is particularly critical of the military. (Ms. Williams writes of how she was instructed to verbally humiliate a naked Iraqi prisoner in Mosul.)

So far there are relatively few novels, although "The Mullah's Storm" by Tom Young, a flight engineer in the Air National Guard, is to be published in the fall. The story is about a soldier shot down in Afghanistan.

Mr. O'Brien, whose own memoir, "If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home," was published in 1973, said that the dearth of novels did not surprise him. His first war novel, "Going After Cacciato," was not published until 1978. "The Things They Carried" was published in 1990. Soldiers need more time to explore "what happened inside," Mr. O'Brien said - suggesting that the flow of their war books will not stop anytime soon. [Bumiller/NewYorkTimes/8Febuary2010] 

Uncovered Documents Reveal Spy Who Fed Information on Hitler's Secrets. MI6 obtained vital secrets from a spy operating at the very heart of Hitler's high command during the most crucial years of the war, newly discovered intelligence documents have revealed.

The secret agent, code-named "Knopf", furnished the intelligence service with information on Hitler's plans in the Mediterranean and on the Eastern Front, the health of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and even the location of the "Wolf's Lair" - the F�hrer's headquarters in Eastern Prussia.

Historians have tended to play down the wartime role of MI6 - in comparison with the crucial importance of the messages decoded at Bletchley Park - but the discovery of Agent Knopf by the Cambridge historian Paul Winter shows that Britain obtained accurate and highly valuable intelligence from a network of agents in the upper ranks of the Third Reich.

The documents, uncovered in the Churchill Archives in Cambridge and the National Archives, show that Knopf and his sub-agents alerted British Intelligence to German plans for an invasion of Malta in 1942, relayed Rommel's intentions in North Africa and revealed Hitler's fatal obsession with capturing Stalingrad on the Eastern Front.

The F�hrer was "determined to capture Stalingrad at all costs," Knopf reported. Hitler's disastrous assault on the Russian city, which led to the destruction of the German 6th Army, is seen as a turning point in the war.

Agent Knopf was initially recruited and run by Polish Intelligence. In 1940, the Polish Government in exile in London agreed to hand over all its intelligence material to the Secret Intelligence Service [SIS], better known as MI6, providing Britain with a steady stream of top-grade intelligence for the rest of the war.

The archives of MI6 remain closed, and the real identity of Agent Knopf may never be known but the newly uncovered documents indicate that the star spy was a German with access to high-grade military information.

One British intelligence report noted: "The source, of whom the Poles think very highly, is not himself a Pole. He has not specified his informants, but states that they are highly placed and in touch with the German High Command."

Dr. Winter said: "The discovery of Agent Knopf and his fellow spies shows for the first time that Britain's SIS gained a unique entr�e into German operational and strategic thinking during the most critical phases of the war. We may never know their true identities or respective fates, but their audacity and courage are beyond doubt."

The officer in charge of liaising between Polish and British Intelligence was Commander Wilfred "Biffy" Dunderdale, the former MI6 station chief in Paris. A friend of Ian Fleming, who was then working in naval intelligence, Biffy Dunderdale was one of the models for the character of James Bond.

Dunderdale and MI6 were plainly delighted with the stream of accurate intelligence arriving in Whitehall via the Polish Secret Service.

In an appraisal of the spy, written in April 1943 for Alan Brooke, the Chief of Imperial General Staff, it was noted that: "Knopf forecast very closely the general outline of the German summer campaign in Russia. Many of his reports were clear and factual and showed an accuracy of detail which precludes the possibility that he was indulging in intelligence guessing."

Knopf's reports were certainly read by Winston Churchill, and the intelligence he provided would have underpinned the Prime Minister's overall war strategy.

Knopf apparently sent his reports by wireless, since the report on his work by MI14, the War Office's German section, refers to "errors in transmission" such as misspelled names.

MI6 was able to confirm Knopf's information, and ensure he was not a double agent feeding false information, by cross-checking his reports against the German messages decrypted by the code-breakers at Bletchley Park, known as "Most Secret Sources."

Between February 1942 and February 1943, Knopf supplied his handlers with at least ten separate reports on German strategy and operations on the Eastern Front, including the date of Hitler's main offensive against the Soviet Union and the "grouping of the armies."

The spy also identified the location of the Wolfsschanze, or Wolf's Lair, Hitler's fortified military headquarters on the Eastern Front. The lair was built in the woods of Eastern Prussia in the run-up to Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, and Hitler spent many months there between 1941 and November 1944. The British noted that Knopf's "accurate information on... the position of Hitler's HQ [is] confirmed from Most Secret Sources."

At the time Knopf was reporting, Churchill and Stalin were allies in the battle against Nazi Germany but it is not known whether the intelligence obtained by Britain relating to the Eastern Front was passed to Moscow.

While gratefully accepting Polish Intelligence, Britain was secretly spying on the Polish Government in exile by intercepting and decoding its messages. These intercepted messages provided additional evidence of Knopf's value and reliability as a spy.

One such interception referred to "secret service agents No.594", a network of Polish-run penetration agents closely connected to the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW), the High Command of the German Armed Forces. It is clear that "secret service agents No.594" and "Knopf" are one and the same.

For example, both "Knopf" (in material passed on by the Poles) and "594" (in material secretly intercepted by Britain) reported that Rommel, the German commander of Axis forces in North Africa, had been "temporarily recalled [to Germany] owing to dangerous symptoms of defective blood circulation caused by over-exhaustion and the African sun". The language in both reports is identical. These agents demonstrated their worth on June 19, 1941, when a report arrived at the Polish Government in London warning that a German invasion of the USSR was imminent. Operation Barbarossa was launched three days later.

The same sources later informed the Polish secret service when the German offensive in the East ground to a bloody halt. Hitler, they reported, was demanding that "further offensive operations should be undertaken in the region of Stalingrad until it capitulates, and as regards the capture of the city no account is to be taken of losses".

Britain's spymasters were understandably nervous that Knopf might be a double agent, but an internal appraisal reflects how much confidence MI6 had in the agent: "There can be no doubt that JX/Knopf [JX is shorthand for "Polish Source"] has very good contacts and that much of his information is sound... Knopf has very seldom been guilty of passing on rumors or plants." Historians have long assumed that human intelligence played only a minor part in the war, and that signals intelligence, the interception and decryption of wireless messages, was the determining factor. Dr. Winter's research proves not only that Britain had top-level agents within the German High Command, but that these provided crucial intelligence.

Inevitably, the discovery raises additional questions.

Who were Knopf and his informants? How much of the intelligence was passed to Britain's allies in Moscow and Washington, and how did it affect strategic planning? Above all, what happened to Knopf and his co-conspirators?

"Historians may never know the true identities of 'Knopf'/'secret agents No.594' nor why they risked their lives to spy for the Allies," writes Dr. Winter in his thesis. Unless MI6 chooses to declassify its wartime files, Agent Knopf, the unsung spy hero of the Second World War, will remain nameless. [TimesOnline/12February2010]

Gone Fishing: Secret hunt for a Sunken Soviet Sub. In 1974, far out in the Pacific, a U.S. ship pretending to be a deep-sea mining vessel fished a sunken Soviet nuclear-armed submarine out of the ocean depths, took what it could of the wreck and made off to Hawaii with its purloined prize.

Now, Washington is owning up to Project Azorian, a brazen mission from the days of high-stakes - and high-seas - Cold War rivalry.

After more than 30 years of refusing to confirm the barest facts of what the world already knew, the CIA has released an internal account of Project Azorian, though with juicy details taken out. The account surfaced February 11 at the hands of private researchers from the National Security Archive who used the Freedom of Information Act to achieve the declassification.

The document is a 50-page article quietly published in the fall 1985 edition of Studies in Intelligence, the CIA's in-house journal that outsiders rarely get to see.

In it, the CIA describes in chronological detail a mission of staggering expense and improbable engineering feats that culminated in August 1974 when the Hughes Glomar Explorer retrieved a portion of the submarine, K-129. The eccentric industrialist Howard Hughes lent his name to the project to give the ship cover as a commercial research vessel.

The Americans buried six lost Soviet mariners at sea, after retrieving their bodies in the salvage, and sailed off with a hard-won booty that turned out to be of questionable value.

Despite the declassified article, the greatest mysteries of Project Azorian remain buried three miles down and in CIA files: exactly what parts of the sub were retrieved, what intelligence was derived from them and whether the mission was a waste of time and money. Despite the veil over the project, its existence has been known for decades.

"It's a pretty meaty description of the operation from inception to death," said Matthew Aid, the researcher who had been seeking the article since 2007, when he learned of its publication thanks to a footnote he spotted in other documents. "But what's missing in the end is, what did we get for it? The answer is, we still don't know."

Much of the operation on the scene unfolded as Soviet vessels watched and sometimes buzzed the Glomar Explorer with helicopters. The Americans told the Soviets they were conducting deep-sea mining experiments.

Journalists broke the story in 1975, led by Seymour Hersh, then of The New York Times, and columnist Jack Anderson. The CIA maintained its silence except for declassifying a videotape of the burial of the Soviet seamen that was turned over to Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the early 1990s.

Now the CIA article, written by an unidentified participant in the operation, brings back to life a time of brinkmanship between two nuclear-armed superpowers as they raced to uncover each other's military secrets. That competition ranged from space, across continents, to the ocean depths.

For Washington, that meant sparing no expense to retrieve a mammoth vessel loaded with nuclear arms, codes and Soviet technology.

Yet the disclosed sections of the article hint that not much of value was found, just as long-ago reporting on the episode concluded.

It only claims "intangibly beneficial" results such as a boost in morale among intelligence officers and advances in heavy-lift technology at sea. The author argues the value in mounting the operation was in proving it could be done - an assertion that does not point to a trove of intelligence.

"Lifting a submarine weighing approximately 1,750 tons from a depth of 16,500 feet had never been attempted or accomplished anywhere before," the article says. "A government or organization too timid to undertake calculable risks in pursuit of a proper objective would not be true to itself or to the people it serves."

To researchers, that sounds like bureaucratic justification for a project thought to have cost over $1.5 billion in today's dollars.

Accounts vary about what was actually brought back. Years later, Russian officials concluded the CIA recovered at least two nuclear-armed torpedoes, not much of a bounty. In other tellings, most of the vessel broke up and fell back to the ocean floor, yielding little. The article does not settle such questions.

Nor does it say why the submarine is thought to have gone down.

The saga began in March 1968 when K-129, carrying three ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads as well as its torpedoes, sank 1,560 miles northwest of Hawaii with all hands lost. It took six years to ready the Glomar Explorer, create a winching system and sail to the wreck.

The CIA article carefully recounts the engineering hurdles of the operation, discloses the fears of the U.S. crew that Soviets would try to land on the Glomar Explorer and confirms that plutonium contamination was found in the salvage, apparently leaking from retrieved torpedoes.

But much else on the salvage is redacted and the CIA's story ends with the ship going to Hawaii, leaving out what was taken and its significance once investigated back on land. [Woodward/AP/13February2010] 

The Spycatcher Who Broke Our Enemies the Old British Way - With Charm, Country Walks and Custard Creams. MI5's 'gentleman interrogator' Jim Skardon kept his enemies close

He was, in many ways, the perfect spook.

Tall, thin, mustachioed and pipe-smoking, with a polite, unassuming demeanor, William 'Jim' Skardon was one of the crowd.

He blended in. You couldn't mistake him for anything but an old-school gent in a raincoat and a trilby hat.

And if he came calling, you'd be only too happy to let him in. He'd ask how you and your wife were, and how your runner beans were coming along.

He wouldn't say no to a cup of tea. And he'd just love to pet your dog while you put the kettle on. A visit from Jim Skardon was like having a warm wallow in benevolence.

He would not, of course, mention that the room in which you sat exchanging pleasantries was bugged. Nor that your mail was being examined for secret messages.

And he certainly wouldn't let slip that you were being followed everywhere you went while he prepared to put you behind bars.

For while post-war Britain was being besieged by deadly Soviet spies and traitors, Jim Skardon was MI5's gentleman interrogator, a secret agent with the soft touch.

And his results, in the late Forties and early Fifties against the so-called Cambridge Five and the Soviet nuclear spy Klaus Fuchs, were extraordinary - and completely painless.

How very different from what was revealed in the Court of Appeal this week when judges ruled that Skardon's MI5 successors today had colluded in the torture of terror suspects overseas, including Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.

The evidence, which the Government tried to suppress, has been described by MPs as a 'stain' on Britain's reputation.

Like Binyam Mohamed's interrogators, Skardon was operating in a world in which Britain was under threat around the clock.

But in stark contrast to them, he had never heard of extreme rendition, water-boarding or suspending someone from a light fitting. And if he had, he would have created merry hell.

Back then, the Security Service had emerged from the war proud of having maintained a code of decency in its dealings with the enemy. And it was this code that was behind everything Skardon, a genius when it came to extracting painless confessions, did.

Skardon, who was born into a humble background in 1904 - details of his childhood are sketchy at best - started his career in the Metropolitan Police, where he rose to the rank of inspector.

But he moved into counter-espionage at the end of the war, where he found early success as an interrogator, extracting confessions from two female MI5 workers who were suspected of feeding secrets to the Communist Party of Great Britain.

Skardon subsequently became head of A4 section - dubbed the Watchers - which was in the frontline in the secret war against traitors and Soviet spies within the UK.

Like him, many of the men in his team were working- or lower-middle-class former policemen, while the majority of the women were recruited from the upmarket Sloaney set.

This was, in fact, a canny piece of social engineering on the part of the MI5 bigwigs, who believed that teaming up men and women from different social classes would prevent them from becoming amorous during long, and often tedious, late-night surveillance jobs. And in class-obsessed post-war Britain, it seemed to work.

Either way, Skardon's operations soon uncovered two senior Australian diplomats whose Russian sympathies made them security risks. One was sent home; one fled to Czechoslovakia.

But despite facing some dangerous adversaries, Skardon always took the softly, softly approach.

I once asked him if he'd ever read the Aesop's fable in which the North Wind and the Sun compete to see which of them can make a traveler remove his cloak. The Wind blows his hardest, huffing and puffing, but he gets nowhere and the man merely wraps the cloak tighter around his shoulders.

The Sun, meanwhile, is far more successful. He merely shines on the man, bathing him in heat, and the cloak is off in a jiffy.

Skardon laughed knowingly. 'That would be telling,' he said.

In fact, his non-violent interrogation techniques were based on those of Dostoyevsky's Inspector Porfiry in Crime And Punishment who befriends the murderer before pouncing. It is the same hug-the-suspect approach that two American writers later used so when they created the much-loved TV detective Lieutenant Columbo.

But Skardon's greatest triumph was to get the treacherous nuclear physicist Klaus Fuchs into the dock at the Old Bailey.

During the late Forties, evidence mounted that someone at Harwell, Britain's nuclear research establishment, was supplying the Soviets with our atomic secrets. Suspicion fell on Fuchs, who'd also worked on the American atom bomb project, but the evidence was sketchy.

A massive surveillance and bugging operation was mounted, but the Watchers could not pin him down. Until Skardon stepped in and asked Fuchs directly.

The scientist, of course, fiercely denied he'd been doing any such thing. So Skardon took a novel approach - and became his best friend. He would take him for meals and long walks in the country. They got on like a house on fire. Or so Fuchs thought.

Skardon, for his part, was taking a huge risk with his own career. Not all his superiors appreciated this seemingly lackadaisical approach to a very serious matter. Many wanted him out.

But the gentleman interrogator prevailed. For finally, during a meeting at 17, Hillside, Harwell, Berkshire - the physicist's home - Fuchs's defenses crumbled under the persistent charm offensive. And he agreed it would be in his best interest to confess. It was January 1950.

Skardon, of course, hadn't been entirely straight with his new 'friend'. He had led Fuchs to believe that he would be allowed to remain at Harwell or be given a senior university post. What he actually got, after his trial in March 1950, was 14 years in prison.

In the event, Fuchs got off lightly - he'd handed to Russian contacts every American and British atom secret that had come his way since 1942 - but his trial made Skardon an MI5 poster boy. His legend was born.

But Skardon was no James Bond, living the life of a playboy surrounded by fast cars and loose women. He worked from a dreary third-floor office in MI5's old Mayfair headquarters, Leconfield House, and focused on what he did best - catching the men and women who wanted to bring down Britain.

His next high-profile target was Kim Philby, the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) officer who, it transpired, was actually a Soviet master spy. He'd been serving his Russian masters since the Thirties.

When he first came under suspicion, Philby was recalled to London from his post in Washington, where he was First Secretary to the British Embassy, in 1951. He was summoned to Leconfield House to face Patrick 'Buster' Milmo, A Secret Service interrogator who went on to become a High Court judge, to be questioned.

Milmo's bullying courtroom manner would have made Skardon wince. From the start, Milmo set the tone: 'This is a judicial inquiry,' he barked at Philby. 'You will not smoke.' Unsurprisingly, four hours later he still hadn't got a confession.

Next, Skardon had a go. He called on Philby at home - and we owe it to Professor Christopher Andrew's recently published official history of MI5 that we know of Philby's reaction.

He was 'scrupulously courteous,' Philby said later, 'his manner verging on the exquisite; nothing could have been more flattering than the cozy warmth of his interest in my views and actions'.

Unfortunately, Skardon's reputation now preceded him and his adversaries had wised up to his subtle tactics. Philby was a cunning opponent and had certainly followed closely the way Skardon had wormed his way into Fuchs's confidence. He was thus forewarned and refused to fall for his gentlemanly ruse.

But Skardon's visit spooked Philby, who was now convinced he would be exposed, and he later fled to the Soviet Union.

Skardon later played a part in exposing the traitors Anthony Blunt - the Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures - and Guy Burgess, who also fled to Russia.

But after his remarkable success with Fuchs, he could no longer rely on his unique softly-softly interrogation techniques.

Increasingly, he had to rely on others to crack his adversaries and was forced to contend with jealous seniors who seemed determined to prevent him from progressing further through the ranks. So in 1961, aged 57, Jim Skardon retired with an OBE and a secure pension. To his dying day in 1987, he was proud of his achievements and he settled contentedly in Torquay, where he joined the local bowling club.

In 1979, he and I agreed that I would approach the director-general of the security service for permission to write his biography. But despite all the other great war secrets that had been made public, I was turned down flat.

Skardon, as ever, took the rejection with good grace. 'Ah well,' he told me on the phone. 'I'm enjoying my pension. You must come down. We'll have a walk along the promenade and you can tell me all about your work. Most fascinating, I'm sure.'

It was a spooky moment. For a split-second, I understood how Fuchs must have felt when he'd had his run-in with the canny gentleman interrogator. [Davis/Dailymail/11February2010] 


Taliban vs. al-Qaida?, by Arnaud de Bourchgrave. When U.S. President Barack Obama endorsed the Afghan war as his own the reason he gave was "because that's where al-Qaida is."

In point of fact, al-Qaida skedaddled out of Afghanistan shortly after Oct. 7, 2001, when U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan. The bulk of the Afghan-based al-Qaida militants, led by Osama bin Laden and his family, pushed through the Tora Bora mountain range that straddles the Afghan-Pakistani border on their way to what they knew would be safe havens in Pakistan's tribal belt.

On Dec. 6, 2001, Ajmal Khattak, the head of the Khattak tribe, who commanded some 600,000 pairs of eyes and ears in the area, advised this reporter and his Pakistani associates to be on horseback at the exit of the Tirah valley ASAP.

We flew over from Washington and got ourselves into position on Dec. 11 only to learn from local villagers that bin Laden and some 50 people had come out of the valley Dec. 9 and immediately got into waiting vehicles and drove off in direction of Peshawar. Despite Pakistani assurances that troops would be deployed at likely Tora Bora exit points, we didn't see any.

Khattak, 83, was a close friend of my UPI associate for South Asia, Dr. Ammar Turabi. Khattak passed away earlier this month without ever meeting a U.S. intelligence officer. Yet he was a mine of information and contacts throughout the region who liked to make things happen.

A prolific poet in both Pashto and Urdu, former president of the Awami National Party, his poems and other writings celebrated the courage of revolutionaries. In his small native village, Akora Khattak, we frequently sipped tea with him in a dwelling that was more shack than house. He despised al-Qaida and was the first to tell us, before we journeyed to Kandahar in late May 2001, there were major differences between Taliban dictator Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. He also paved the way for our meeting with Omar June 4, 2001.

The second major erroneous assumption made by Obama is that if the Taliban get back to power in Afghanistan, "al-Qaida will be back in a heartbeat."

The Taliban's Mullah Mohammad Omar and Osama bin Laden are not Tweedledee and Tweedledum, nor twins who evolved a bizarre master-slave relationship, nor Jekyll and Hyde, an altruistically well-meaning doctor who becomes a monster bent on lust and destruction.

The ideological and personality differences between bin Laden and Omar have long been misunderstood. Taliban is an indigenous Afghan movement made up of mostly ethnic Pashtuns, midwifed by Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency to put an end to a civil war and fill a vacuum left by the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan. Mullah Omar consolidated his power with the title of Amir-ul-Mumineen (Supreme Commander of the Faithful) in the "Islamic Emirate" of Afghanistan, a medieval theocratic dictatorship and pitiless inquisition.

Bin Laden, expelled from Sudan in 1996 by combined U.S., European and Saudi pressure, opted to return to his old stomping grounds in Afghanistan while Omar was still consolidating his civil war victory.

Bin Laden's ambitious global braggadocio was not what Omar the recluse had in mind. It was a shotgun wedding. Omar resented the worldwide publicity bin Laden was getting from foreign journalists in 1996 through 1999 and warned bin Laden to cut it out.

Omar and officials in his immediate entourage made clear to both Turabi and this reporter they were unhappy with bin Laden's activities. Any fatwa issued by bin Laden declaring "jihad," or holy war, against the United States and ordering Muslims to kill Americans was "null and void," said Omar.

"He is not entitled to issue fatwas," he explained, "as he did not complete the mandatory 12 years of Koranic studies to qualify for the position of mufti."

The then 41-year-old (now 50) said the "Islamic Emirate had offered the United States and the United Nations to place international monitors to observe Osama bin Laden pending the resolution of the case, but so far we have received no reply."

Omar told UPI the Taliban regime would like to "resolve or dissolve" the bin Laden issue. In return he expected the United States to establish a dialogue to work out an acceptable solution that would lead to "an easing and then lifting of U.N. sanctions that are strangling and killing the people of the Emirate."

The one-eyed, 6-foot-6, five-times wounded veteran of the war against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s also said bin Laden was not allowed any further contact with the media or foreign government representatives. Bin Laden himself swore fealty to Omar in a statement published the previous April (2001).

The 1998 terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya triggered U.S. retaliatory cruise missile strikes against al-Qaida's Afghan training camps. Omar was rattled and feared his regime might be next. But bin Laden swore on the Koran, according to one of Omar's ranking deputies, he had nothing to do with those bombings.

Then came the 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Aden and bin Laden pleaded he was not responsible for what others did in his name. Omar pointed out the Koran forbids the taking of the lives of innocent women, children and old people in strife, conflict and war and that "the perpetrators are criminals and should be so judged."

Omar reminded us bin Laden is "a hero of the war against the Soviet occupation of our country" and "he does not operate against anyone from the soil of Afghanistan. We requested that of him. We have his verbal and written pledge that he will abide by it in order that the relations between the Islamic Emirate and other nations are not affected." The attacks on the World Trade Center's twin towers and the Pentagon took place three months later.

The late Ajmal Khattak told us about "deep fissures behind a patina of Islamic unity" between Taliban's Mullah Omar and al-Qaida's Osama Bin Laden. They've been there since bin Laden first arrived in 1996 but were never exploited. Omar was prepared to turn bin Laden over to a Shariah court in a neutral Muslim country. But the incoming Bush 43 team had other priorities. [deBorchgrave/UPI/15February2010]

Binyam Mohamed Case: Would an Inquiry Clear the Air?, by Michael White. After yesterday's High Court drama I'd be on the side of those calling a judicial inquiry into the allegations of MI5 and MI6 collusion in torture, the Binyam Mohamed case, if it wasn't for a nagging doubt.

Where an issue is as much about politics as it is about the law, would such an inquiry produce results that command respect and thereby do some long-term good rather than undermine confidence in due process and between allies such as Britain and the US?

Or would its findings be dismissed as a "whitewash" if they failed to support the political case against whichever public authority ended up in the metaphorical dock?

Respect? Yes, among the interested parties - lawyers and judges, civil liberty lobbies, newspaper columnists and potential victims - as well as providing reassurance to the wider public. Has the costly Saville inquiry into Bloody Sunday achieved much except for the lawyers? Has Butler, Hutton and now Chilcot's inquiries into Iraq?

Let's be frank. Most voters are not that interested in the finer points of fact or law as it affected Mohamed during his detention in Pakistan, later at Guant�namo Bay, albeit via torture in Morocco, according to his own (disputed) account.

Is he a British citizen? No, he's a UK resident from Ethiopia who had problems with his well-to-do family and stayed in London alone where he fell into doubtful company.

Was Mohamed arrested here? No, in Pakistan as he tried to fly out of Karachi on a fake passport. Was he tortured? Yes, it seems so, but quite how badly remains in dispute. How much did British security services know and what did they do to stop it?

That's the issue being fought out in court.

It hinges on a meeting he had with an MI5 officer known as Witness B who interviewed Mohamed (who'd claimed to be British) in Pakistani custody in May 2002, around the time kidnapped US reporter Daniel Pearl's mutilated body was found just outside Karachi. Bad times all round.

The security services dispute much of what Mohamed's brilliant legal team are saying, with which the master of the rolls, the equally brilliant Lord Neuberger, seems to have concurred in the draft judgment on today's Guardian front page.

A crucial paragraph was dropped after the government lawyer, Jonathan Sumption QC (he's pretty brilliant too, I am assured) protested that the facts did not warrant the judge's "culture of suppression" charge against the security chaps.

It's what lawyers do. Ian Cobain dissects Sumption's letter here.

The Guardian sets out the legal issues at admirable length in today's edition, it's coverage not matched by the Times or FT among the papers I take at home. Weighing on page one ("Torture: UK's Dirty Secret") is only by the Daily Mail, whose agenda is routinely driven by the need to discredit the current government.

To reinforce the left-right pincer, John Kampfner, ex-New Statesman editor, now chief executive of Index, writes a savage commentary in the Mail. Ex-Foreign Office minister, David Davis MP, now ex-shadow home secretary too, was also devastatingly articulate on Radio 4's Today.

Mind you, Davis was also typically over-confident in claiming to know things he can't, for instance that Canada's access to US intelligence flows remains undamaged despite court revelations such as yesterday's seven points published in London, which weren't new (crucial point) because they'd already been published in US. How do you know, David?

The principles here are important. Torture is morally wrong, politically self-defeating and practically usually unhelpful. Nice people don't do it. David Miliband (he's brilliant too) said all that in his interesting Commons statement yesterday, which you can read here.

Detention without rights in Guant�namo Bay? That was wrong too, we can all agree that, though Tony Blair was too slow to denounce it. I'm confident the US supreme court will eventually declare it to have been unconstitutional. The British government eventually got nine British citizens and seven residents released, Mohamed included. One detainee remains.

But, as with extra-territorial rendition of suspects by the US, Britain's role here was very marginal. Perhaps a rendition flight or two entered UK air space or landed at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

There was a single meeting between a sleep-deprived Mohamed and Witness B, whose case is now being investigated by the Met police.

Witness B could - could - end up in court. A lot of interesting things could come out there, not necessarily in the interests solely of one side. Ditto an independent inquiry. So great issues are at stake, but so is a sense of proportion. Would another government, here or elsewhere, have acted very differently from this one in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on a principal ally? Or is the difference that we air more of our dirty linen in public - for better and for worse? Would an inquiry clear the air. I'd like to think so, but... [White/Guardian/11February2010] 



John I. Church, CIA Officer. John I. Church, 90, who worked for the CIA's directorates of administration and operations and spent much of his career in the Far East, died Jan. 22 at the Greenspring Village retirement community in Springfield. He had cerebrovascular disease.

Mr. Church worked for the CIA from 1957 to 1972, after which he settled in the Washington area. He lived in McLean until moving to the retirement community about six years ago.

John Irwin Church was a native of Boise, Idaho, and a German graduate of DePauw University in Indiana. He received a master's degree in English literature from the University of Oregon and did graduate work in Chinese at the University of Washington.

He was an Army veteran of World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1972 at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He did refugee relief work for the State Department in Hong Kong before joining the CIA.

He wrote poetry and played accordion. He enjoyed adventure travel, including camel safaris in the Australian outback and rafting down the Amazon River. He went on scientific research expeditions led by the nonprofit Earthwatch organization to Israel, Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific and St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

His first wife, the former Bette Elliott, died in 1972.

Survivors include his wife of 35 years, Marguerite Eng Church of Springfield; two children from his first marriage, John R. Church of Davidsonville and Ann Venable of Christiansburg, Va.; three stepchildren; twin brothers; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandson. [WashingtonPost/5February2010] 

Charlie Wilson, Texas Congressman Linked to Foreign Intrigue, featured in recent movie, Dies at 76. Charlie Wilson, a 12-term Texas congressman who was best known for his playboy ways until he masterminded a covert effort to funnel billions of dollars in arms to Afghan rebels fighting the Soviets in the 1980s, died Wednesday in Lufkin, Tex. He was 76.

Jack Gorden Jr., the mayor of Lufkin, confirmed the death. Memorial Medical Center-Lufkin said the preliminary cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest. Mr. Wilson had a heart transplant in 2007.

Mr. Wilson's exploits to provide as much as $5 billion in arms to Afghan rebels were the subject of a book and the 2007 movie "Charlie Wilson's War," directed by Mike Nichols. Tom Hanks portrayed Mr. Wilson and Julia Roberts played Joanne Herring, the conservative Houston socialite who first interested Mr. Wilson, a Democrat, in aiding the Afghans.

A former president of Pakistan, Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, said it was hard to understate Mr. Wilson's role. "All I can say is, 'Charlie did it,' " he said on "60 Minutes" in 1988.

It was an unusual role for a congressman representing an unworldly East Texas district. From 1973 to 1996, Mr. Wilson kept his seat by balancing liberal views on many domestic issues with a hawkish stance on foreign policy and paying close attention to his constituents' needs.

Until his secret role in Afghanistan became the stuff of Hollywood, Mr. Wilson's fame was pretty much summed up by his nickname, "Good Time Charlie." An article in Texas Monthly in 2004 said he gave his girlfriends nicknames like Snowflake, Tornado and Firecracker.

Mr. Wilson was able to help the Afghans from his seat on the House Appropriations Committee and from another on its subcommittee on foreign operations.

The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan in 1979, invited by the pro-Communist government there in the face of an insurgency.

After he visited a refugee camp in Pakistan at the urging of Ms. Herring and saw wounded and maimed Afghan guerrilla fighters, Mr. Wilson vowed to help them and became a key figure in Congress for doing so, overtly pushing for humanitarian aid and covertly obtaining military help, a risky endeavor against a rival superpower. He often gathered his colleagues' support by voting for military contracts that would serve their districts.

From a few million dollars in the early 1980s, support for the resistance grew to $750 million a year by the end of the decade. The financing was funneled to Afghanistan in secret by Mr. Wilson and other lawmakers.

The help went beyond money. When the Soviets deliberately killed camels and mules to cripple the Afghan fighters' supply lines, he flew in Tennessee mules. When the Central Intelligence Agency refused to provide the guerrillas with field radios for fear that mujahedeen transmissions would be picked up by the Soviets, he sent an aide to Virginia to buy $12,000 worth of walkie-talkies from a Radio Shack outlet.

Particularly helpful were Stinger missiles from the United States, which were used to shoot down Russian helicopters and became what many consider a decisive factor in wearing down the Soviets. By February 1989, the Soviets had withdrawn and the United States ended its support.

In later years Mr. Wilson insisted that the United States had not made a mistake by supporting the Afghan rebels, among them Osama bin Laden and the Islamists who would form the Taliban regime. He said if the United States had helped rebuild Afghanistan, it would have remained stable and not become a safe haven for Al Qaeda.

Charles Nesbitt Wilson was born in Trinity, Tex., where his father was an accountant for a lumber company, on June 1, 1933. He told about his first political experience in the book from which the movie was made, "Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History" (2003) by George Crile.

Charlie was 13 when his dog strayed and a neighbor apparently fed it something that contained crushed glass. The boy first doused the man's garden with gasoline and set it on fire. He then realized that the neighbor was a City Council member and used his learner's permit to drive black voters to the polls to vote against him. The neighbor lost his seat by 16 votes.

Mr. Wilson attended the Naval Academy at Annapolis and graduated in 1956. He served four years in the Navy and went back to Texas, where he was elected to the State House of Representatives and then to the State Senate.

In 1972, he ran successfully for Congress, where he outmaneuvered a fellow Texan for a seat on the Appropriations Committee as well as a slot on its subcommittee on foreign operations.

Mr. Wilson is survived by his wife, the former Barbara Alberstadt, and his sister, Sharon Allison.

His rowdy behavior produced sensational headlines over the years. There were at least two midnight car crashes. He was investigated for cocaine use, and election-expenditure irregularities resulted in a $90,000 fine.

In an interview with Washingtonian magazine in 1996, Mr. Wilson said Texas voters put up with his antics in part because of the vicarious thrill they got in watching him. He added that he did not lie or whine when caught.

"I just say, 'Well, yeah, I guess I goofed again' and go about my business," he said. "Those good Christians, you know, believe in the redemption of sin."

When he announced his resignation in 1995, saying the job was not fun anymore, Mr. Wilson thanked his constituents for their tolerance.

"He was our favorite town character," Mayor Gorden said. "He was a rascal but our rascal." [Martin/NYtimes/11February2010] 

Michael Robert Spak, 62, of Leesburg, VA, died suddenly of a heart attack on January 25, 2010 while on vacation with his family in Vail, Colorado. Born on November 1, 1947 in Los Angeles, CA, Mr. Spak was the son of the late Peter Jay Spak and the late Betty Jo Lasnick Spak of Carson City, NV. Mr. Spak is survived by his beloved wife of 24 years, Kristin R. Spak of Leesburg. He is also survived by his three children, Jessica L. White of Ashburn, VA, Brian T. Spak and Nicholas M. Spak of Boulder, CO; two grandchildren, Kelsey L. White and Austin R. White, both of Ashburn, VA; a sister, Janis L. Bradley of Carson City, NV; a host of other relatives and friends. His brother, David A. Spak, predeceased him. Friends may call on the family on Thursday, February 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at the Loudoun Funeral Chapel, 158 Catoctin Cr. SE, Leesburg, VA. Funeral services will be held at Ashburn Presbyterian Church, 20962 Ashburn Road, Ashburn, Virginia on Friday, February 19 at 10:30 a.m. Interment will follow at 2 p.m. at Quantico National Cemetery with Marine Corps Honors. Please view and send condolences to the family at: [WashingtonPost/7February2010]

Charles "Chuck" Lord, 83. Loving husband of 58 years to Colette E. Lord died February 13, 2010 of complications related to recent surgery. Mr. Lord retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 1985 after serving a distinguished 35 year career as a senior operations officer with extensive overseas experience, including tours of duty in Pakistan, Indonesia, Laos and Hong Kong. He continued to work as a independent contractor upon his retirement in 1985. After his second retirement, he spent every summer with family and friends in the tranquil surroundings of Belgrade Lakes, ME. Mr. Lord was an active member of St. Mark Catholic Church, Vienna, VA and the Virginia Democratic Party. He was born in Waterbury, CT, graduated from high school in 1945 and was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in December 1946 after completing a tour of duty in Shanghai, China. He graduated with a BA degree from Colby College, Waterville, ME in 1950. Survivors include his wife, Colette E. Lord of Oakton, VA; seven children, Deborah Bloom of Woodbridge, VA, Andrew Lord of Frederick, MD, Stephen Lord of Oakton, VA, Sarah Redfield of Houston, TX, Carolyn Betz of Woodbridge, VA, Nancy Davis of Aldie, VA and Michelle Lord of Oakton, VA; 19 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A Funeral Mass and reception will be held 11 a.m., Saturday, February 20 at St. Mark Catholic Church, 9970 Vale Rd., Vienna, VA 22181. Please view and sign the guestbook at:  [WashingtonPost/16February2010]

George Peck, World War II hero from Fairfax County. George Peck, 92, an Air Force lieutenant colonel who became a sales representative for the security and alarms systems division of Honeywell International, died Jan. 12 at his home in Fairfax County. He died of sepsis after abdominal surgery.

After more than 20 years in the Air Force, Col. Peck joined Honeywell as a sales representative helping to design security systems solutions for businesses across the country.

George Stanley Peck enlisted in the Army shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, having graduated from Ripon College in his native Wisconsin. As an infantryman, Col. Peck fought through German forces from the tip of Italy all the way to the border of southern France.

Toward the end of the war, Col. Peck, a sergeant at the time, was on a patrol behind enemy lines in southern Germany with another member of his unit when they were captured by German soldiers. While in their custody, Col. Peck, who was born in Durand, Wis., and had studied German in high school, relayed to his captors that they were being surrounded by hundreds of Allied soldiers. Believing his tale, 101 German soldiers, including three officers, agreed to surrender. He then marched them all back behind Allied lines.

For his bravery throughout the war, he received a battlefield commission to 2nd lieutenant, two awards of the Silver Star, three awards of the Bronze Star Medal and three awards of the Purple Heart.

In 1948, he transferred to the newly formed U.S. Air Force. After serving in a number of intelligence positions, Col. Peck retired from the Air Force in 1968 as an officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency. His last post was at the Pentagon, writing and editing the morning report for members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He retired from Honeywell in 1982.

In retirement, Col. Peck spent many weeks at a cabin in Mount Jackson, Va., where he fished for bass and did bird-watching.

Survivors include his wife of 63 years, the former Victoria Golaske, of Fairfax County; two children, Jeffrey Peck of Mount Jackson, and Barbara Eyler of Staunton, Va.; and a sister. [WashingtonPost/10February2010]

Coming Events


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

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

20 February 2010, 2:00 p.m. - Kennebunk, ME - The AFIO Maine Chapter Hosts Duehring on U.S.-NATO-Afghan Relations." AFGHANISTAN UP CLOSE will be he subject of the February 20, 2010 meeting of the Maine Chapter of the Association for Intelligence Officers (AFIO/ME) with guest LTC (Ret) David M. Duehring.
LTC Duehring served as the Forward Tactical Operations Officer for the 240th Engineer Group in Afghanistan during a one-year deployment there in 2006-2007. The Group was assigned to an area near the Pakistan border currently the focus of operations against the Taliban and Al Qaida and was engaged in clearing mines and IEDs, and building roads and bridges under combat conditions.
LTC Duehring will speak about the relations between the Afghan people and the U.S. and other NATO forces. His personal experience and stories will help answer the question of why we are in Afghanistan.
Originally from Wisconsin, LTC Duehring came to Maine in 1970 after enlisting in the U.S. Navy with an assignment to the Brunswick Naval Air Station. After leaving the Navy to return to college, he enlisted in the Maine Army National Guard in 1980, attended Officer Candidate School, and obtained his commission as a Combat Engineer in 1981. LTC Duehring retired from the Maine Army National Guard in 2007 and currently serves as the Military One Source Consultant with the Joint Family Support Assistance Program for the State of Maine.
TIME / LOCATION: At 2:00 p.m. at the Kennebunk Free Library. 112 Main St., Kennebunk, and is open to the public. For further information contact 207-985-2392.

23 February 2010 - Arlington, VA - The Defense Intelligence Forum meets at the Alpine Restaurant, 4770 Lee Highway, Arlington, VA 22207. Jon Wiant will speak on Imaginative Writing - The World of Fabricating Intelligence. Dr. Wiant is Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at The George Washington University and lectures at the Intelligence and Security Academy. He has held the Department of State chair at the National Defense Intelligence College. He has served as Assistant Inspector General for Security and Intelligence Oversight, Chairman of the National HUMINT Requirements Tasking Center, Senior Advisor for Policy to ASD (C3I), Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and Director for Intelligence Policy on the National Security Council. This forum will follow a modified Chatham House Rule. You may use the information, but with the exception of the subject and speaker's name, you may make no attribution.

Make reservations for you and your guests by 16 February by email to Pay at the door with a check for $29 per person payable to DIAA, Inc. Registration starts at 1130, lunch at 1200. Give names, telephone numbers, email addresses, and choices of chicken, veal, or salmon. Pay with a check. The Forum Doesn't Take Cash.

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

10 March 2010 - Scottsdale, AZ - The Arizona Chapter of AFIO meets to hear Robert Parrish on "Private/Public Partnership Protecting the Homeland." Robert Parrish, Director of Corporate Security, the Arizona Public Service, will speak on "Private and Public Partnership in Protecting the Homeland."
Parrish is responsible for all APS physical security (except PaloVerde), all investigations including power diversions, site assessments,threat assessments response plans, security installations, security monitoring, and workplace violence. He is a retired Commander from the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Phoenix AZ. Dates of service: 1983 to 2005.
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.
Arthur Kerns, President of the AFIO AZ Chapter,

Wednesday, 10 March 2010, 6:30 p.m. - Washington, DC - A "Weapons of Mass Disruption Program from Cold War to Cyber War" featuring Gail Harris, Naval Intelligence Officer - at the International Spy Museum

WHAT: “I decided to be unorthodox."—Gail Harris
When Gail Harris was assigned by the U.S. Navy to a combat intelligence job in 1973, she became the first woman to hold such a position. By the time of her retirement, she was the highest ranking African American female in the Navy. Her 28-year career included hands-on leadership in the intelligence community during every major conflict from the Cold War to Desert Storm to Kosovo. Captain Harris was at the forefront of one of the newest challenges: cyber warfare, developing intelligence policy for the Computer Network Defense and Computer Network Attack for the Department of Defense. Harris, author of A Woman's War: The Professional and Personal Journey of the Navy's First African American Female Intelligence Officer, will share her unique experience providing intelligence support to military operations while also battling the status quo, office bullies, and politics. She’ll also offer her perspective on the way intelligence is used and sometimes misused.
WHERE: International Spy Museum, 800 F St NW, Washington, DC, Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail Station. TICKETS: $12.50. Advance Registration required. Tickets are non-refundable. To register: order online; or purchase tickets in person at the International Spy Museum.

11-12 March 2010 - Washington, DC - 5th International Conference on the Ethics of National Security Intelligence by International Intelligence Ethics Association International Intelligence Ethics Association (IIEA) and Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies co-host this event featuring these two keynote speakers: Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient 1997, and John Inglis. Deputy Director, National Security Agency
Topics for the conference will include: * Ethics of CyberWarfare and Security; * Intelligence support for counterinsurgency operations; * Military Anthropology and the Ethics of Espionage; * Intelligence and the War Against Terror: The Israeli Experience; * A Case Study: A Course of "Ethics and Intelligence" with a Multi-Discipline Approach; * The Ethics of Human Intelligence Collection: Ethical Problems and Issues Involved in the Recruitment and Use of Informants by Foreign Intelligence Services; * Torture and Intelligence
* Justum Speculatum: Evaluating the September 2008 Attorney General's Guidelines for Domestic FBI Operations through the Lenses of Just War, Just Peacemaking and Just Policing Theory; * A Case for Constraints: Deontic Moral Checks on the Unrestricted Right of Intelligence Gathering; * Human Rights and the CIA: The Case of the Assassination of Patrice
Lumumba; * The Ethics of Intelligence and The Just War Principle of Noncombatant Immunity; * Can We Ethically Communicate the Threat?; * Identifying and Managing Corruption and Other Misconduct Risks in Counter-Terrorism Policing: Case Study of New South Wales Police Counter Terrorist Coordination Command; * The Ethics of Intelligence Support to Military Operations; * Cultural Intelligence for Winning the Peace; * Challenges of The New Committee for the Oversight of The Kosovo Intelligence Agency; * Using Private Corporations to Conduct Intelligence Activities; * The Ethics Of Surveillance: Suspicious Activity Reporting and the Production; * of US Domestic Intelligence and * Privatized Information Gathering, Just War, and Morality.
-- Also available for preview/sale will be new publications on ethics, intelligence, and national security from several publishers.
-- Register for your hotel room at the Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center (on-line or by phone) and receive the Special Conference Rate.
Rate for event: $450.00 per person.
Event location: 3800 Reservoir Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
Conference and Hotel Registration:
Conference Questions :

Friday, 12 March 2010 – San Francisco, CA – The AFIO Jim Quesada Chapter hosts Michael Rinn, Vice President/Program Director for the Missile Defense Systems Division at The Boeing Company. He will be discussing the Airborne Laser Program. 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

13 March 2010, 10 am to 1 pm - Coral Gables, FL - AFIO Miami Chapter hosts talk on FUTURE WARS by Dr. John Alexander.
Please save the date. Dr. John Alexander, author of Future Wars, will be leading a presentation and discussion.
Event to be held at the Hyatt Coral Gables. For further information contact chapter president Tom Spencer at

17-18 March 2010 - Fairfax, VA - The National Military Intelligence Association hosts Spring 2010 Symposium at the SECRET/NOFORN Level. Topic: Transformation of Military Department Intelligence and Their Service Intelligence Centers 
The intelligence agencies of the Military Departments - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, including the Coast Guard are making dramatic and significant changes to their capabilities, missions, organizational structure and future vision. Along with these Service intelligence agencies, their Service Intelligence Centers - NGIC, NMIC, NASIC, and the NCMIA are playing an increasing role in supporting not only their own services but the national intelligence community. Hear as the senior officers of those organizations highlight new developments and changes to the organizations as they undergo transformation.
Further event details and registration can be found:
Location: Northrop Grumman Mission Systems.

18 March 2010, 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

20 March 2010, 2:00 p.m. - Kennebunk, Maine - The AFIO Maine Chapter hosts Dr. Terence Roehrig speaking on ASIA-PACIFIC CHALLENGES AND THE U.S. Dr. Roehrig, Associate Professor of National Security Studies at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, RI, will address economic, political, and security issues in the region and how they will affect the U.S.  He will discuss the direction of China's rise, and the roles played by India, Japan, and the two Koreas.  Dr. Roehrig travels frequently to the region doing research and will travel to Japan later this spring in connection with work on a new book.  The meeting will be held at the Kennebunk Free Library, 112 Main Street, Kennebunk.  The public is invited.  For information call 207-985-2392

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


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