AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #08-10 dated 2 March 2010
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Section I - INTELLIGENCE HIGHLIGHTS
Gates Picks Intelligence Official for New Post. Letitia Long, deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, will serve as the next director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced.
Long will assume the NGA leadership later this year, replacing Navy Vice Adm. Robert Murrett who is serving his fourth year at the agency.
Gates cited Long's unique qualifications for the new post, including more than 30 years of engineering and intelligence experience. She served as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence, deputy director of naval intelligence, and as coordinator of intelligence community activities for the director of central intelligence, he noted.
Long will become the first woman to lead a major intelligence agency, Gates noted.
Murrett will remain at the NGA helm for several months to ensure a smooth transition, particularly in light of the agency's vital wartime mission and its planned move to Fort Belvoir, Va.
Gates praised Murrett's outstanding performance, service and achievements at the agency, nothing that he had extended him to serve an additional year at NGA.
The secretary recognized his affinity for NGA, an agency he had a role in creating when he was director of central intelligence. Decisions he made led to the creation of the national Imagery and Mapping Agency in 1996, which later became the NGA.
The NGA structure combined CIA and Defense Department elements to provide "a more centralized focus on this critical intelligence discipline," Gates said. NGA develops imagery and map-based intelligence solutions for U.S. national defense, homeland security and safety of navigation.
With headquarters in Bethesda, Md., NGA has major facilities in the Washington, Northern Virginia and St. Louis areas. It also provides global support to its intelligence community partners through NGA representatives stationed around the world. [Miles/Defense/23February2010]
Extensive Reassignments of Intelligence Officers in Iraq. In recent days, there have been extensive reassignments and transfer of dozens of senior commanders of the Iraqi national intelligence service [al-mukhabarat] orchestrated by the office of the prime minister.
Many of these officers have been assigned to civilian positions in various ministries not related to their areas of expertise. Some of these officers have refused to take up their new posts for fear they might be targeted by armed groups.
Iraqi government spokesman Ali Al-Dabbagh characterized the moves as routine, saying they had nothing to do with the elections. However, critics of al-mukhabarat have argued that many of the current senior intelligence officers served under the Saddam regime and that their loyalty to the current government is questionable.
On the other hand, a spokesman for the Iraqi former prime minister Ayad Allawi questioned the transfers, and attributed them to an attempt by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's Da'wa Party to install their officers in the intelligence services. [TheMemriblog/22February2010]
Dennis Blair Speaks on Secrets, Savings Lives. Students, soldiers and patrons of the Landon Lecture series wait outside the University of Kansas Forum Hall for the Landon Lecture featuring Dennis Blair Director of National Intelligence. The lecture was moved prior to the speech because of a bomb threat to McCain Auditorium.
Blair delivered his speech with humor, covering topics like the changing profile of the Intelligence Community as government agencies work together and the new landscape the agencies continue to adapt to post-Cold War.
Quoting Governor Alf Landon, Blair said, "We must face the challenges of new realities of international life today.
He spoke about three major shifts, or hinge points, that have affected all national security organizations, have been especially important to the Intelligence Community and have created the current reality of international life.
First, the end of the Cold War changed everything, said Blair. For example, in Latin America the focus was previously on what the Soviets were doing there. Now the Intelligence Community must focus on each country in Latin America individually. Colombia, being the primary source for cocaine in the United States, is a focus for the Intelligence Community as they investigate and analyze drug organizations, the government, armed forces in the country and Columbia's relations with its neighboring countries.
The second hinge point, Blair said, was the information revolution. Internet, e-mail, audio and video, all of it became readily available for use and changed the way the intelligence community operates.
"We can leverage virtual teams of intelligence officers linked together around the world," said Blair. "The term 'connect the dots' is overused, often misused, but it has a large grain of truth."
The Intelligence Community draws its information from a vast array of sources, from databases maintained by national security organizations, to research papers written in the public domain about societies in foreign countries.
During the intelligence gathering process, Blair said, interrogation occurs, but not torture. New interrogation methods are always being sought which are consistent with national values.
The last hinge was 9/11. That attack, Blair said, caused a major reorganization of the Intelligence Community, as it continues to adapt to America's enemies. Blair said he could not promise that the Intelligence Community would be right all the time. A life lost to foreign enemies was a tragedy, but there is reason to keep faith.
"Success or failure shouldn't only be measured in lives lost," Blair said. "It should also be measured in lives saved." [Riggs/KStateCollegian/22February2010]
Hurdles Hinder Counterterrorism Center. The nation's main counterterrorism center, created in response to the intelligence failures in the years before Sept. 11, is struggling because of flawed staffing and internal cultural clashes, according to a new study financed by Congress.
The result, the study concludes, is a lack of coordination and communication among the agencies that are supposed to take the lead in planning the fight against terrorism, including the C.I.A. and the State Department. The findings come just weeks after the National Counterterrorism Center was criticized for missing clear warning signs that a 23-year-old Nigerian man was said to be plotting to blow up a Detroit-bound commercial airliner on Dec. 25.
The counterterrorism center's mission is to gather information from across the government, pull it all together and assess terrorist threats facing the United States, then develop a plan for the government to combat them. But the new report found that the center's planning arm did not have enough authority to do its main job of coordinating the White House's counterterrorism priorities.
The center's planning operation is supposed to be staffed by representatives of various agencies, but not all of them send their best and brightest, the report said. It also cited examples in which the C.I.A. and the State Department did not even participate in some plans developed by the center that were later criticized for lacking important insights those agencies could offer.
As a result, the center's planning arm "has been forced to develop national plans without the expertise of some of the most important players," the report determined.
The counterterrorism center was part of the overhaul of the government after Sept. 11, including the creation of the director of national intelligence. Now, years after the attacks, the entire reorganization is coming under scrutiny, raising fundamental questions about who is in charge of the nation's counterterrorism policy and its execution.
"The fluid nature of modern terrorism necessitates an agile and integrated response," the report concluded. "Yet our national security system is organized along functional lines (diplomatic, military, intelligence, law enforcement, etc.) with weak and cumbersome integrating mechanisms across these functions."
The 196-page report is the result of an eight-month study by the Project on National Security Reform, a nonpartisan research and policy organization in Washington. It was financed by Congress and draws on more than 60 interviews with current and former government and Congressional officials, including nearly a dozen officials at the counterterrorism center. The study is scheduled to be made public this week. The authors provided a copy to The New York Times.
The center noted in a statement that the study found the center had "made progress" in linking national policy with operations, adding that the report's recommendations "provide an extremely thoughtful and useful critique of how counterterrorism actions are or are not fully synchronized across the U.S. government."
The report found that the center's planning arm struggled with "systemic impediments" like overlapping statutes, culture clashes with different agencies and tensions with two formidable players: the State Department's counterterrorism office and the C.I.A.
Under President Obama, the report determined, counterterrorism issues have become more decentralized within the National Security Council's different directorates, leaving the counterterrorism center's planning arm to collect and catalog policies and operations going on at the C.I.A., the Pentagon and the Departments of State and Homeland Security, rather than help shape overall government strategy.
The planning arm has not yet figured out good ways to measure the effectiveness of the steps the government is taking against extremists. "The basic but fundamental question remains unanswered: How is the United States doing in its attempt to counter terrorism?" the report concluded. And the study is critical of Congress for failing to create committees that cut across national security issues. The planning arm "lacks a champion in either chamber of Congress," the report found.
Since the counterterrorism center was created in 2004, its planning arm has been largely focused on a comprehensive review to assign counterterrorism roles and responsibilities to each federal agency, producing then revising a document called the National Implementation Plan. But pointedly, the counterterrorism center does not direct any specific operations.
Since the completion of that longer-term project, the study's authors found that the center's 100-person planning arm had become more involved in immediate counterterrorism issues: working on various classified projects involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and threats to the United States at home.
The study called on Mr. Obama to issue an executive order to define the nation's counterterrorism architecture in order to address some of the problems and improve coordination. It also recommended giving the center's director, currently Michael E. Leiter, a say in the choice of counterterrorism officials at other federal agencies, a step the 9/11 Commission had recommended but was not adopted.
The report was directed by Robert S. Kravinsky, a Pentagon planner on assignment to the group, and James R. Locher III, a former Pentagon official and senior Congressional aide who is the group's president.
Until they joined the administration, Gen. James L. Jones, Mr. Obama's national security adviser, and Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, were members of the group's board of advisers, which now includes Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, and Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush. [Schmitt&Shanker/NYTimes/23February2010]
Moving Beyond "A Declassification System That Does Not Work." Executive branch agencies have spent more than a billion dollars on declassification of government records in recent years, but the results have been unsatisfactory, requiring a change in declassification policy and procedure.
"Between 1997 and 2007 the Federal Government acknowledges spending $1.343 billion on declassification," reported Michael J. Kurtz, Assistant Archivist at the National Archives, in a newly disclosed briefing. "This does not include the monies spent by the Intelligence Community on declassification," an amount that is considered classified.
Despite the enormous expenditure of money, there is a large and growing backlog of records awaiting declassification.
"The Federal government has 408 million pages of historical records that are 25 years old and older at the National Archives and Records Administration that are still classified and an estimated 1.24 billion pages of historical records in agency custody which need to be reviewed and declassified over the next 25 years," Mr. Kurtz said.
"Without reform in policy and process," he said, "billions of dollars will be spent perpetuating a declassification system that does not work, while the backlog of records awaiting processing for the open shelves will continue to grow."
Mr. Kurtz spoke at a November 2009 government conference on records management. Slides from his presentation were released earlier this month.
Having characterized the problem, Mr. Kurtz went on to describe NARA's conception of the solution - a National Declassification Center. The Center, he said, will "enable efficient and effective agency review" while improving quality control and productivity. The Center was in fact established by President Obama's executive order 13526 on December 29, 2009 and was announced by the National Archivist on December 30, 2009. It began initial operations last month.
From an outside perspective, the declassification challenge goes at least one level deeper than what Mr. Kurtz described in his briefing. The problem is not simply one of inefficiency or a lack of interagency coordination. It is that agencies are adhering to erroneous classification policies that obstruct and defeat the declassification process.
One convenient example of such a classification error is the secrecy of Intelligence Community declassification costs, as noted by Mr. Kurtz. Any government employee who seriously believes that the disclosure of declassification spending by intelligence agencies could cause "damage to the national security" needs to be reassigned to a non-national security function. No more public money should be wasted to enforce such obvious misunderstandings.
The Fundamental Classification Guidance Review prescribed in executive order 13526 (sec. 1.9), which requires a top to bottom "scrub" of all agency classification policies over the next two years, may help to streamline the declassification process by eliminating these kinds of errors in classification judgment. [Aftergood/SecrecyNews/22February2010]
C.I.A. and Pakistan Work Together, Warily. Inside a secret detention center in an industrial pocket of the Pakistani capital called I/9, teams of Pakistani and American spies have kept a watchful eye on a senior Taliban leader captured last month. With the other eye, they watch each other.
The C.I.A. and its Pakistani counterpart, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, have a long and often tormented relationship. And even now, they are moving warily toward conflicting goals, with each maneuvering to protect its influence after the shooting stops in Afghanistan.
Yet interviews in recent days show how they are working together on tactical operations, and how far the C.I.A. has extended its extraordinary secret war beyond the mountainous tribal belt and deep into Pakistan's sprawling cities.
Beyond the capture of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, C.I.A. operatives working with the ISI have carried out dozens of raids throughout Pakistan over the past year, working from bases in the cities of Quetta, Peshawar and elsewhere, according to Pakistani security officials.
The raids often come after electronic intercepts by American spy satellites, or tips from Pakistani informants - and the spies from the two countries then sometimes drive in the same car to pick up their quarry. Sometimes the teams go on lengthy reconnaissance missions, with the ISI operatives packing sunscreen and neon glow sticks that allow them to identify their positions at night.
Successful missions sometimes end with American and Pakistani spies toasting one another with Johnnie Walker Blue Label whisky, a gift from the C.I.A.
The C.I.A.'s drone campaign in Pakistan is well known, which is striking given that this is a covert war. But these on-the-ground activities have been shrouded in secrecy because the Pakistani government has feared the public backlash against the close relationship with the Americans.
In strengthening ties to the ISI, the C.I.A. is aligning itself with a shadowy institution that meddles in domestic politics and has a history of ties to violent militant groups in the region. A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment for this article.
Officials in Washington and Islamabad agree that the relationship between the two spy services has steadily improved since the low point of the summer of 2008, when the C.I.A.'s deputy director traveled to Pakistan to confront ISI officials with communications intercepts indicating that the ISI was complicit in the bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The spy agencies have built trust in part through age-old tactics of espionage: killing or capturing each other's enemies. A turning point came last August, when a C.I.A. missile killed the militant leader Baitullah Mehsud as he lay on the roof of his compound in South Waziristan, his wife beside him massaging his back.
Mr. Mehsud for more than a year had been responsible for a wave of terror attacks in Pakistani cities, and many inside the ISI were puzzled as to why the United States had not sought to kill him. Some even suspected he was an American, or Indian, agent.
The drone attack on Mr. Mehsud is part of a joint war against militants in Pakistan's tribal areas, where C.I.A. drones pound militants from the air as Pakistani troops fight them on the ground.
And yet for two spy agencies with a long history of mistrust, the accommodation extends only so far. For instance, when it comes to the endgame in Afghanistan, where Pakistan hopes to play a significant role as a power broker, interviews with Pakistani and American intelligence officials in Islamabad and Washington reveal that the interests of the two sides remain far apart.
Even as the ISI breaks up a number of Taliban cells, officials in Islamabad, Washington and Kabul hint that the ISI's goal seems to be to weaken the Taliban just enough to bring them to the negotiating table, but leaving them strong enough to represent Pakistani interests in a future Afghan government.
This contrasts sharply with the American goal of battering the Taliban and strengthening Kabul's central government and security forces, even if American officials also recognize that political reconciliation with elements of the Taliban is likely to be part of any ultimate settlement.
Tensions in the relationship surfaced in the days immediately after Mullah Baradar's arrest, when the ISI refused to allow C.I.A. officers to interrogate the Taliban leader. Americans have since been given access to the detention center. On Wednesday, Pakistani and Afghan officials meeting in Islamabad said that a deal was being worked out to transfer Mullah Baradar to Afghan custody, which could allow the Americans unrestrained access to him.
Besides Mullah Baradar, several Taliban shadow governors and other senior leaders have been arrested inside Pakistan in recent weeks.
A top American military officer in Afghanistan on Wednesday suggested that with the arrests, the ISI could be trying to accelerate the timetable for a negotiated settlement between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
"I don't know if they're pushing anyone to the table, but they are certainly preparing the meal," the officer said. In the three decades since the C.I.A. and the ISI teamed up to funnel weapons to Afghan militias fighting the Soviets, the two spy services have soldiered though a co-dependent, yet suspicious relationship. C.I.A. officers in Islamabad rely on the Pakistani spy service for its network of informants. But they are wary of the ISI's longstanding ties to militants like the Taliban, which Pakistani spies have seen as a necessary ally to blunt archrival India's influence in Afghanistan.
The ISI gets millions of dollars in United States aid from its American counterpart (which allowed the Pakistan spy service to develop a counterterrorism division), yet is suspicious that the Americans and the Indians might be playing their own "double game" against Pakistan.
In Islamabad, officials are nervous about the intensification of the C.I.A.'s drone campaign in North Waziristan against the network run by Sirajuddin Haqqani, whom the ISI for years has used as a force to carry out missions in Afghanistan that serve Pakistani interests.
C.I.A. officials believe that Mr. Haqqani's group played a role in the killing of seven Americans in Khost, Afghanistan, in late December, and since then have carried out more than a dozen drone strikes in the Haqqani network's enclave in North Waziristan.
The ISI, an institution feared by most Pakistanis, is used to getting its way. It meddles in domestic politics and in recent months has been suspected by Western embassies in Islamabad of planting anti-American stories in Pakistani newspapers.
It has also been criticized in reports by international human rights organizations of using brutal interrogation tactics against its prisoners, though the same could certainly be said of the C.I.A. in the period of 2002 to 2004. The annual human rights report of the State Department in 2007 said "there were persistent reports that security forces, including intelligence services, tortured and abused persons."
The head of the Pakistani military, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, said in a recent briefing that it was doubtful that a centralized government would work in post-conflict Afghanistan, making it more important for Pakistan to continue to influence the Taliban in the years to come.
As a result there remains a belief among American intelligence officials that Pakistan will never completely abandon the Taliban, and officials both in Washington and Kabul admit that they are almost completely in the dark about Pakistan's long-term strategy regarding the Taliban.
"We have a better level of cooperation," said one top American official who met recently in Islamabad with General Kayani. "How far that goes, I can't tell yet. We'll know soon whether this is cooperation, or a stonewall and kind of rope a dope." [Mazzetti&Perlez/NewYorkTimes/25February2010]
Judge: UK Spies Had "Dubious Record" Over Torture. A senior British judge accused domestic spy agency MI5 of colluding in the alleged torture of detainees in U.S. custody, issuing a stern criticism despite a government attempt to suppress the details.
Master of the Rolls David Neuberger, one of Britain's most senior judges, said MI5's insistence that it was unaware of the harsh treatment of detainees held overseas in CIA custody was unreliable. He also suggested the agency may have misled Parliament and judges over how much it knew about the mistreatment of terrorism suspects.
Neuberger's criticisms were originally contained in a draft of a Feb. 10 ruling ordering the release of a summary of CIA documents detailing ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed's mistreatment in Pakistan in 2002.
But the judge removed his rebuke to MI5 before releasing the ruling after government lawyer Jonathan Sumption, having seen a draft circulated to lawyers in the case, sent a letter complaining that the criticisms were unsubstantiated.
Both the original draft and a final revised version of his criticisms were released by Britain's Court of Appeal following a legal challenge by Mohamed's lawyers.
Lawyers for Mohamed had accused the court of bowing to political pressure in deciding to remove the criticism from the original Feb. 10 ruling.
Neuberger accused MI5 of seeking to disguise their role in Mohamed's alleged torture by withholding details from ministers and their oversight body - Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee. "The security services have an interest in the suppression of such information," he wrote in the finalized ruling.
In his original draft, Neuberger said Mohamed's case illustrated wider problems within MI5 ranks over a supposed lax attitude toward the mistreatment of detainees - but his final ruling focused only on the agency's actions over Mohamed.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he had spoken with MI5 director Jonathan Evans following the ruling.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the government rejects "any suggestion that the security services have a systemic problem in respecting human rights," or in suppressing information.
In a rare public statement in response this month, Evans insisted his agency does not "collude in torture or encourage others to torture on our behalf." Evans denied there had been any attempt to cover up British complicity in torture, and said MI5 is cooperating with inquiries into officers' conduct.
Police are investigating whether one MI5 officer - known as Witness B - is guilty of criminal wrongdoing in relation to the alleged torture of Mohamed. Neuberger suggested other MI5 officials may have acted inappropriately.
"I have in mind in this case Witness B, but the evidence in this case suggests that it is likely that there were others," his final ruling said.
Neuberger's original draft had also suggested U.S. officials had directly mistreated Mohamed, but his final version instead criticized the detainee's treatment while held "at the behest of U.S. officials."
Britain's Lord Chief Justice Igor Judge said the decision to release Neuberger's draft ruling was highly unusual, but necessary to dispel fears that the judiciary's independence had been compromised.
"A damaging myth may develop to the effect that in this case a minister of the Crown ... was somehow permitted to interfere with the judicial process. This did not happen," Judge said.
Ethiopia-born Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 and says he was tortured there and in Morocco before being flown to Guantanamo Bay. He was released in February 2009, never having faced a trial.
Britain's government faces 12 legal cases mounted by former detainees who claim the U.K. was complicit in their alleged torture.
Opposition Conservative Party lawmaker David Davis and other human rights advocates said Neuberger's comments strengthened calls for a judge-led inquiry into Britain's handling of terrorism suspects.
"This has been a shameful business," said Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty. "Complicity in torture is bad enough without repeat and strenuous attempts to cover it up." [Stringer/WashingtonPost/26February2010]
US House Approves Sharing Spy Files on Argentina. Argentina praised the U.S. House for passing a measure that would force American intelligence agencies to share their files on dictatorship-era human rights violations in this country.
If approved by the U.S. Senate and President Barack Obama, the measure could provide key evidence for human rights trials under way in Argentina and possibly help some 400 families find children who were stolen at birth from women who were kidnapped and killed by the dictatorship, according to Argentina's ambassador to the U.S., Hector Timerman.
"The affirmative vote of the (House of) Representatives is an important gesture of solidarity with all victims of the dictatorship in Argentina and also a strong demonstration of a commitment to defend human rights by the American people and the institutions that represent them," Timerman said in a statement.
The measure was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, whose similar effort involving U.S. files on Chile eventually revealed a trove of information that showed how deeply involved the Central Intelligence Agency was in destabilizing the government of socialist President Salvador Allende there before the 1973 coup.
The measure is supported by the National Security Archive, a nonprofit group in Washington seeking to sue the Freedom of Information Act to reveal government secrets. The archive has filed some 200 FOIA requests to intelligence agencies for information on Argentina, with less than a dozen positive responses, said Carlos Osorio, a researcher with the group.
"It was the duty of the CIA to keep on top of what this dictatorship was doing in the 1970s and 1980s," Osorio said. "All this is relevant information, and it's exactly what the Argentine judges want." [Warren/SeattlePI/26February2020]
Coming Soon: A New Iran NIE? Multiple congressional sources, diplomats, and former officials say that the Obama administration is getting ready to finalize a new National Intelligence Estimate that is expected to walk back the conclusions of the 2007 report on Iran's nuclear program.
The new NIE has been expected for a while, but now seems to be close to release, perhaps within two weeks or so, according to the pervasive chatter in national-security circles this week. In addition to the expectation that the new estimate will declare that Iran is on a path toward weaponization of nuclear material, multiple sources said they are being told there will be no declassified version and only those cleared to read the full 2007 NIE will be able to see the new version.
The Obama administration finds itself in tough situation as it pursues new sanctions against Iran both at the United Nations and using domestic levers. Many feel the administration needs to correct the record by somehow disavowing the intelligence community's controversial 2007 conclusion: "We judge with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program."
The new estimate might not directly contradict that judgment, but could say that while the intelligence community has not determined that Iran has made the strategic decision to build a nuclear weapon, it is seen to be working on the components of a device - a parsing that some would see as too clever by half.
"It's like saying that you're not building a car, but you are building the engine, the chassis, the upholstery," said one Middle East hand who had no direct knowledge about the estimate's contents. "It's a distinction without a difference."
Multiple Hill aides said they expect only a classified version with no public document; the 2007 estimate included an unclassified version. They see that move as an effort by the Obama administration not to have the new estimate unnecessarily complicate the ongoing negotiations to seek new sanctions against Iran at the U.N.
David Albright, a nuclear-weapons expert and president of the Institute of Science and International Security, said that the administration might want to avoid a lengthy and complicated public debate about the new estimate's conclusions, seeking to prevent the fractious debate that followed the release of the older estimate.
He said the nature of the estimate, which seeks to find consensus between all of the various intelligence agencies, makes it tough to give out enough information to make it bulletproof. Regardless, he lamented that the administration might not provide some of the information in a public way.
"They owe it to us to provide clarification of their position publicly," he said. "Speaking just as a citizen, I want my government to be transparent about something that could potentially involve military strikes."
Any clarification would bring the U.S. position more in line with that of with key allies like France and Germany, who have been long arguing for a stronger public position on Iran's nuclear program, according to Albright. A clarification would also help square the U.S. conclusions with the recent IAEA report on Iran that went further than previous reports in expressing concerns about weaponization, he added.
"The 2007 NIE really hurt things politically for getting sanctions and building momentum and they had to relook at this," Albright said. "Who knows if was really a mistake? It may be what they honestly believed at the time."
Any walking back of the 2007 estimate is likely to give Republicans comfort that their longstanding criticism of that report was justified.
A spokesperson for Senate Intelligence Committee ranking Republican Kit Bond, R-MO, told The Cable Bond has long argued the 2007 NIE went too far in suggesting that Iran did not intend to develop weapons.
"They may intend to, they may not, but the bottom line is that we just don't know," the spokesperson said. "Unfortunately, the NIE gave people a false security by making them think the Intelligence Community assessed there was no intent."
The NIE is compiled by the National Intelligence Council, but rollout and classification decisions are ultimately made by Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence. Blair's office declined to comment. [Rogin/TheCable/26February2010]
New Codes May Come for Intelligence Officers. The Air Force is considering additional Air Force Specialty Codes for intelligence officers that would let the airmen focus on specific skills and make it easier for the service to identify who has the skills for selected missions.
Specific skills would be related to technical and geographic areas, Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Angie Blair said about the possible AFSC restructuring, prompted by the growing focus on cyberspace.
A technical requirement, for instance, would be signals intelligence, typically picking up communications such as satellite signals; southwest Asia and Africa would be examples of geographic areas.
Air Force officials undertook the career field review on the recommendation of Rand Corp., a California-based think tank, which last year looked at all officer job categories.
The intelligence AFSC was the only one that Rand suggested should be broadened. Enlisted airmen are divided into 15 intelligence AFSCs.
Rand pointed out that all 3,087 Air Force intelligence officers come under the same AFSC - 14N. The Air Force uses "special experience identifiers," or subcategories, to 14N but those descriptions are too generic, according to the report.
"Given the diversity of jobs, having such a catch-all categorization could easily lead to under-preparation or over-preparation of Air Force intelligence officers," according to the report.
Now, an intelligence officer who specializes in analyzing intercepted communications has the same AFSC as an intelligence officer who works for a fighter wing briefing pilots about missile threats or for a joint command.
Of the service's 3,087 intelligence officers, 1,917, or 62 percent, work at Air Force wings and squadrons; 459, or 15 percent, work for other Air Force organizations; and 711, or 23 percent, work for joint commands or Defense Department agencies such as the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The other services all have multiple career field categories for their intelligence officers, according to Rand. The Army and the Marine Corps both have six categories for 4,240 and 1,380 officers, respectively; the Navy has eight specialties for its 2,140 officers. [Rolfsen/AirForceTimes/27February2010]
Caught on Tape: Selling America's Secrets. "60 Minutes" has obtained an FBI videotape showing a Defense Department employee selling secrets to a Chinese spy for cash. The video, which has never been made public before, offers a rare glimpse into the secretive world of espionage and illustrates how China's spying may now pose the biggest espionage threat to the U.S.
China may be the number-one espionage threat now. "The Chinese are the biggest problem we have with respect to the level of effort that they're devoting against us, versus the level of attention we are giving to them," says Michelle Van Cleave, once America's top counter-intelligence officer who coordinated the hunt for foreign spies from 2003 to 2006.
"Definitely, without a doubt," the Chinese focus most of their espionage on the U.S., says Fengzhi Li, who once recruited spies for China's Ministry of State Security and is now in the U.S. seeking asylum.
The Chinese, says Van Cleave, have had the designs to all of the nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal for years and they have been after a lot more lately. "Virtually every technology that is on the U.S. control technology list has been targeted at one time or another by the Chinese," she tells Pelley. "Sensors and optics - biological and chemical processes - all the things we have identified as having inherent military application," says Van Cleave. "I think we are a real candy store for the Chinese and for others."
In the videotape obtained by "60 Minutes", Gregg Bergersen, a civilian Pentagon worker with a high-security clearance, is shown taking money, about $2,000, from the Chinese spy, Tai Shen Kuo. Bergersen then discusses how he will let Kuo look at secret documents. The documents included the types of weapons the U.S. was selling to its ally Taiwan as well as plans for a classified command and control system that was going to be used by Taiwan.
Bergersen clearly implicates himself on the videotape. "I'm very , very, very reticent to let you have it because it's all classified, but I will let you see it," he tells Kuo. "You know you can take all the notes you want.... it's just I can never let anyone know....I'd get fired for sure on that," says Bergersen. "Well, not even get fired, I'd go to *** jail!"
That's where Bergersen is now, serving almost five years in federal prison for communicating national defense information. Kuo, a naturalized American citizen, was given 15 years for espionage. Both men pleaded guilty after being shown the tape and other evidence against them. [CBSNews/25February2010]
Pelosi Applauds House Passage of the Intelligence Authorization Act. Speaker Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today on the House passage of the Intelligence Authorization Act, which would strengthen and improve America's intelligence capabilities by increasing funding for human intelligence collection and counterintelligence activities. The bill passed in the House by a vote of 235 to 168.
"The first responsibility of Members of Congress is to protect, defend, and preserve the security of the American people - whether through the might of our military, the power of our diplomacy, or the strength of our values. Central to upholding that duty is our nation's ability to collect, analyze, and disseminate accurate and actionable intelligence in a timely manner.
"The Intelligence Authorization Act strengthens and enhances America's intelligence capabilities, and improves congressional oversight of our intelligence agencies. It provides our intelligence community with the tools and resources to train more officers, expand language skills, strengthen cybersecurity efforts, and more effectively prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In an age of terrorism and gathering threats across the globe, few actions could be more important than reinforcing the capacity of our intelligence personnel.
"With this legislation, Congress is ensuring we remain focused on our security without compromising our values. We are standing with the men and women of our intelligence community who put their lives on the line to keep America safe." [PRNewswire/26February2010]
Ex-Staffer Held in Theft of CIA Electronics. A CIA technical-support official has been arrested on charges of selling more than $60,000 worth of pilfered agency electronic gear.
Todd Brandon Fehrmann, a communications-technology specialist with the agency, was arrested Friday morning at his office in Virginia and charged in a criminal complaint with stealing government equipment and selling it to a Massachusetts-based electronics equipment broker.
The FBI complaint unsealed Friday stated that Mr. Fehrmann worked for an unidentified U.S. government agency. However, U.S. officials and Mr. Fehrmann confirmed he was a CIA employee.
"This agency takes very seriously any allegation of misconduct, period," CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said, who added that he was not discussing any particular case. He declined further comment.
Reached by phone at his home in Reston, Va., Mr. Fehrmann declined to comment on the arrest, but said he is no longer employed with the CIA. Mr. Fehrmann's attorney, Paul Kemp, also declined to comment.
According to the affidavit, Mr. Fehrmann arranged the sale of several handheld spectrum analyzers - high-technology devices with military applications that can measure and check cell-phone signals and equipment - to a company called Bizi International Inc.
The buyer became suspicious after noticing that two analyzers were new and contacted the manufacturer, Anritsu, and learned they were sold recently to the CIA. The discovery triggered a CIA inspector general investigation of Mr. Fehrmann last month, which led to an FBI probe.
"This appears to have been detected internally rather quickly - just as it should have been - and the cooperation with law enforcement was good," said a U.S. official familiar with the case.
The CIA equipment seized by the FBI in the case included 10 Anritsu analyzers, one Rhode & Schwartz analyzer and a Fluke electronic testing device. The affidavit stated that the value of half the equipment is $60,000 and that the investigation was continuing.
Mr. Fehrmann is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on Thursday.
According to the affidavit, Mr. Fehrmann, who analyzed and bought communications gear, identified himself to the purchaser in a telephone conversation as a self-employed independent government contractor who in the past worked on "rebuilding telecommunication infrastructure in Iraq." According to the affidavit, he said he was not going back to Iraq and needed to sell surplus equipment.
Mr. Fehrmann told The Times it was "not correct" that he was involved in telecommunications projects in Iraq. He said he did not work in Iraq.
Communications experts say spectrum analyzers have a variety of security uses. They can be used for checking the security of intelligence communications or for countering or tracking those who plant and trigger improvised explosive devices, which commonly use cell phones as part of the triggering device.
Anritsu, manufacturer of two types of analyzers taken from the CIA, stated on its Web page that the analyzers have several uses, including measuring cell phone base-station signals, mapping signal strength to determine where to place antennas, base stations and signal repeaters. [Gertz/WashingtonTimes/2March2010]
Section II - CONTEXT & PRECEDENCE
Spy Agencies On The Web. U.S. intelligence agencies face a different world than they did a generation ago. It's one characterized by rapidly moving and often highly technical threats, data that comes in faster and in greater volume than ever before, and a public that expects information at its fingertips. These trends are forcing the intelligence community to work in new ways, including how they engage the public and share information on the Web.
The Obama administration is pushing for increased transparency and openness among government agencies, not something that spy agencies are known for. Indeed, the requirements of the recently introduced Open Government Directive don't apply to agencies like the CIA or the FBI. Nevertheless, intelligence agencies are opening up in other ways, and they're doing it in part through the Web.
For example, the National Security Agency's Web site, re-launched a year ago, includes sections on the agency's educational outreach, on doing business with the NSA, and on how to get a job there, as well as links to declassified information and even a section for kids.
Other agencies continue to be more discreet on the Web, offering only basic descriptions of what they do. Their text-heavy sites set a more buttoned-up tone. Our review of intelligence agency Web sites found several in need of updating, both in their overall look and feel and in their use of feeds, mobile access, and social media tools for public outreach.
There are 17 intelligence agencies in the U.S. Intelligence Community, which is a coalition of organizations that work independently and collaboratively to collect, generate, analyze, and share information related to national defense, homeland security, and other national interests. Our survey of Web sites draws largely from that group of agencies, though we also look at the sites of the National Counterterrorism Center and the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency. [Hoover/InformationWeek/28February2010]
Military Intelligence at the Front, 1914-18. Military intelligence at the front advanced remarkably during the Great War, adopting methods and technologies that would remain in place through the 20th century. Before the modern era, national and strategic intelligence (renseignement and Nachricht, French and German, respectively) came mainly from espionage. With the introduction of aerial reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines, the tools of a modern era would contribute to shaping strategy and assessing enemy intentions.
On the World War I battlefield, as traditional sources - including the military commander's favorite force arm for intelligence, mobile cavalry - were rendered impotent, armies became entrenched along hundreds of miles of front. With each passing day of 1914, as opposing forces commenced a strategy of positional war, demand mounted for a constant stream of accurate and timely information to target field artillery, the most important weapon in the contemporary arsenal. This demand created new sources of intelligence derived from technologies that were familiar to Europeans of the day but which had not yet been effectively employed in warfare.
At the front, the conservative military culture was forced to grapple with its tradition and make sense of combat in the new stationary environment. In the face of catastrophic casualties, military leaders soon learned that approaching battle through in-depth study and analysis would prove far more effective than reliance on the �lan that spurred the first waves of soldiers to rush forward into walls of lead from machine guns.
They learned that access to accurate and timely information was essential to gain advantage in battle. Their command and control came to depend on constantly collected intelligence from a rapidly expanding list of sources to support decisions from the planning stages to their execution. Leading exponents of military intelligence reinforced this thinking. Within the first year, a French intelligence visionary portrayed intelligence information's contribution in simple terms - to follow the destructive work of our artillery and to register the victorious advance of our infantry.
By late 1915, intelligence information, especially that acquired from airplanes, had demonstrated that it was credible and contributed effectively to the conduct of battle. Traditionalists, who had been skeptical of new intelligence sources at the beginning of the conflict, became firm disciples for the remainder of the war. [The entire article is available at https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/vol53no4/pdf/U-%20Finnegan-WW%20I%20Intel.pdf] [Finnegan/CIA.gov/January2010]
Section III - COMMENTARY
Editorial: DOJ: Department Of Jihad? The Justice Department employs nine lawyers previously involved in the defense of terrorist detainees. This is a colossal conflict of interest. Just whose side are they on?
From the dropping of a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party to the decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Muhammed in a civilian court within blocks of where the World Trade Center once stood, the actions and attitudes of the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder toward the thugs and terrorists who threaten us has grown curiouser and curiouser.
We may now have a clue as to why. Last November, Sen. Charles Grassley, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, asked the Justice Department how many of its lawyers had defended terrorist detainees over whom the department holds sway.
Grassley knew from earlier press reports of two such lawyers who worked on behalf of detainees at the liberal organization Human Rights Watch. He wanted to know how many more there were. Last Friday, Holder answered nine.
"To the best of our knowledge, during their employment prior to joining the government, only five of the lawyers who serve as political appointees in those components represented detainees," Holder said in a letter dated Feb. 18. "Four others contributed to amicus briefs in detainee-related cases involved in advocacy on behalf of detainees."
So the decision to Mirandize the Christmas bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab, and to quickly get him lawyered up was made by a department populated by leftist lawyers who believe terror is a law enforcement matter and who have tried to get off those actively trying to kill us.
We still have no official answer to what the Justice Department would do if Osama bin Laden were captured.
"It's like they're bringing al-Qaida lawyers inside the Department of Justice," said Debra Burlingame, whose brother was the pilot of the plane driven by terrorists into the Pentagon, following KSM's plan.
We still have not been told all the lawyers' names. Like the detainees they represented, presumably they have the right to remain silent. So much for transparency.
Lawyers in private practice are free to choose their clients and their reasons for defending them. But these lawyers are in the employ of the American people and have the task of prosecuting those who try to kill them. Some chose to defend enemies who are making war on America. We have a right to know who they are, who their clients were and why they defended them. As Michelle Malkin reports, Holder is a former partner at Covington & Burling, a law firm that contributed more than 3,000 hours to detainee litigation in 2007 alone. The firm has worked on behalf of a dozen Yemenite detainees who are seeking civilian trials on American soil.
Holder played a central role in the granting of clemency to 16 FALN terrorists in 1999, when he worked for the Clinton Justice Department. The terrorists claimed responsibility for more than 130 bombings and incendiary attacks in the U.S. and Puerto Rico from 1974 to 1983, killing six and wounding scores.
As deputy attorney general, Holder was responsible for signing off on all clemency matters forwarded to the president. In this case, he recommended that clemency be granted despite vehement opposition from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Prisons and his own Justice Department.
We are reminded of the case of Lynne Stewart, attorney for Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "blind sheikh" who was the architect of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. She was later found guilty of charges she had illegally "facilitated and concealed communications" between Rahman and his fellow terrorists.
We wonder if she could have found a job in the Holder Justice Department. [InvestorsBusinessDaily/28February2010]
A Perfectly Framed Assassination, by Robert Baer. It was a little after 9 p.m. when a Palestine Liberation Organization official stepped out of the elevator into the lobby of Paris's Le Meridien Montparnasse, a modern luxury hotel that caters to businessmen and well-heeled tourists. The PLO official was going to dinner with a friend, who was waiting by the front desk. As they pushed out the Meridien's front door, they both noticed a man on a divan looking intently at them. It was odd enough that at dinner they called a contact in the French police. The policeman advised the PLO official to go directly back to the hotel after dinner and stay put. The police would look into it in the morning.
When the PLO official and his friend came back from dinner, the man on the divan was gone, and the Meridien's lobby was full of Japanese tourists having coffee after a night on the town. From here the accounts differ; in one version, a taxi blocked off traffic at the end of the street that runs in front of the Meridien, apparently to hold up any police car on routine patrol. In another, the traffic on the street was light.
What is certain is that as soon as the PLO official stepped out of the passenger side of the car, two athletic men in track suits came walking down the street, fast. One of them had what looked like a gym bag. When the friend of the PLO official got out of the car to say goodbye, he noticed the two but didn't think much of it. They looked French, but other than that it was too dark to see more.
One of the men abruptly lunged at the PLO official, pinning him down on the hood of the car. According to the PLO official's friend, one of the men put his gym bag against the head of the PLO official and fired two quick rounds into the base of his neck, killing him instantly. There was a silencer on the weapon. The two fled down the street and disappeared into an underground garage, never to be seen again.
That was 1992. And the world of assassins has changed a lot in the intervening years.
I knew the PLO official, and his assassins have yet to be found. Israel's Mossad security agency was quickly assumed to be behind the killing. Israel had accused the PLO official of having been a member of Black September, and his assassination seemed to be the last in an Israeli campaign to hunt down the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Olympic attack. So far so good, but unable to identify even the nationality of the assassins, the French could do nothing but grumble. With no casings from the pistol found, no closed-circuit TV coverage in front of the Meridien, and no good description of the assassins, the French could not even send a strong diplomatic protest to the Israelis. If Israel indeed assassinated the PLO official, it got away with it cleanly.
Fast forward 18 years to the assassination of Hamas military leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh on Jan. 20, and it is a graphic reminder of just how much the world has changed. Nearly the entire hit was recorded on closed-circuit TV cameras, from the time the team arrived at Dubai's airport to the time the assassins entered Mr. Mabhouh's room. The cameras even caught team members before and after they donned their disguises. The only thing the Dubai authorities have been unable to discover is the true names of the team. But having identified the assassins, or at least the borrowed identities they traveled on, Dubai felt confident enough to point a finger at Israel. (Oddly enough several of the identities were stolen from people living in Israel.)
Dubai had on its side motivation - Mr. Mabhouh had plotted the kidnapping and murder of two Israeli soldiers and reportedly played a role in the smuggling of Iranian arms into Gaza. And none of this is to mention that the Mabhouh assassination had all the hallmarks of an Israeli hit: a large team, composed of men and women, and an almost flawless execution. If it had been a Russian hit, for instance, they would have used a pistol or a car bomb, indifferent to the chaos left behind.
After Dubai released the tapes, the narrative quickly became that the assassination was an embarrassing blunder for Tel Aviv. Mossad failed spectacularly to assassinate a Hamas official in Amman in 1997 - the poison that was used acted too slowly and the man survived - and it looks like the agency is not much better today. Why were so many people involved? (The latest report is that there were 26 members of the team.) Why were identities stolen from people living in Israel? Why didn't they just kill Mr. Mabhouh in a dark alley, one assassin with a pistol with a silencer? Or why at least didn't they all cover their faces with baseball caps so that the closed-circuit TV cameras did not have a clean view?
The truth is that Mr. Mabhouh's assassination was conducted according to the book - a military operation in which the environment is completely controlled by the assassins. At least 25 people are needed to carry off something like this. You need "eyes on" the target 24 hours a day to ensure that when the time comes he is alone. You need coverage of the police - assassinations go very wrong when the police stumble into the middle of one. You need coverage of the hotel security staff, the maids, the outside of the hotel. You even need people in back-up accommodations in the event the team needs a place to hide.
I can only speculate about where exactly the hit went wrong. But I would guess the assassins failed to account for the marked advance in technology. Not only were there closed-circuit TV cameras in the hotel where Mr. Mabhouh was assassinated and at the airport, but Dubai has at its fingertips the best security consultants in the world. The consultants merely had to run advanced software through all of Dubai's digital data before, during and after the assassination to connect the assassins in time and place. For instance, a search of all cellular phone calls made in and around the hotel where Mr. Mabhouh was assassinated would show who had called the same number - reportedly a command post in Vienna. It would only be a matter then of tracking when and where calls were made from these phones, tying them to hotels where the team was operating or staying.
Not completely understanding advances in technology may be one explanation for the assassins nonchalantly exposing their faces to the closed-circuit TV cameras, one female assassin even smiling at one. They mistook Dubai 2010 for Paris 1992, and never thought it would all be tied together in a neat bow. But there is no good explanation why Israel, if indeed it was behind the assassination, underestimated the technology. The other explanation - the assassins didn't care whether their faces were identified - doesn't seem plausible at all.
When I first came into the CIA as a young field operative, there was an endless debate about whether assassinations were worthwhile. The CIA was humiliated by its failed attempts to kill Fidel Castro in the early 1960s, and embarrassed by the accusation that it was complicit in the murder of Chile's President Salavador Allende in 1973.
In the mid-1970s the Church-Pike committees investigating the CIA put an end to CIA assassinations. Since then every CIA officer has been obligated to sign Executive Order 12,333, a law outlawing CIA assassinations. It had - at least until 9/11 - a chilling effect on everything CIA operatives did, from the informants they ran to the governments they dealt with. I myself ran afoul of E.O. 12,333.
In March 1995 I was brought back from northern Iraq, accused of having tried to assassinate Saddam Hussein. It was true there had been a running fight between the Kurds and Saddam's army in the north, but if there had been a real attempt on Saddam's life I wasn't aware of it. And neither was the FBI, which was ordered by the White House to investigate the CIA for an illegal assassination attempt. The lesson I walked away with was that the word assassination terrified the White House, more than even Saddam. And as far as I can tell, it still does to a degree.
Post-9/11 the CIA got back into the assassination business, but in a form that looks more like classic war than the Hollywood version of assassination. The CIA has fired an untold number of Hellfire missiles at al Qaeda and Taliban operatives in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. One of its most spectacular assassinations was that of Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of Pakistan's Taliban, last year. In addition to the intended targets, thousands of other people have been killed. What strikes me, and what makes it so different from the assassination of the PLO official in Paris and Mr. Mabhouh in Dubai, is that the assassinations are obscured by the fog of war. Western TV cameras are not allowed in to film the collateral damage, and that's not to mention we're all but at war with Pakistan's Pashtun who live in these mountains.
Israel's conflict in the West Bank and Gaza is less than clear cut in the sense that Israel is not at war with the Palestinians, or even really with Hamas. It is at war with Hamas militants, people who have shed Israeli blood. The Israelis know who they are, and as a matter of course send hit squads into Gaza and the West Bank to kill them. The Israelis call it "targeted killings" - assassination by any other name.
A couple of years ago I visited the house where the Israeli military assassinated a Palestinian militant in the West Bank. It was in a makeshift refugee camp, where you could touch houses on both sides of the path only by raising your arms. The place was teeming with people. How the Israeli team got in, assassinated the militant and got out without any casualties, I will never know. The point is that the Israelis have become very good at it.
If in fact Mossad assassinated Mr. Mabhouh in Dubai, it no doubt modeled its planning on targeted killings in Palestinian areas - with the use of overwhelming force, speed and control of the environment. The problem with Dubai, which should be painfully obvious to Tel Aviv, is that it is not the West Bank. Nor is Paris now with its web of closed-circuit TV cameras and the ability of the French to track prepaid telephones. The art of assassination, the kind we have seen over and over again in Hollywood movies, may be as pass� as killing people by arsenic or with a garrote. You just can't get away with it anymore.
In America's war on terror, there has been a conspicuous absence of classical assassination. The closest thing to it was when the CIA kidnapped an Egyptian cleric in Milan and rendered him to Egypt in 2003. Most of the CIA agents behind the rendition were identified because, like the assassins in Dubai, the agents apparently did not understand that you can't put a large team on the ground in a modern country and not leave a digital footprint. It took a matter of days for the Italian prosecutors to trace their supposedly sterile phone to their hotels, and from there to their true-name email accounts and telephone calls to family. We might as well have let Delta Force do it with helicopters with American insignia on the side.
Israel has yet to feel the real cost of the hit in Dubai. But the longer it is covered in the press, the higher the cost.
And was Mr. Mabhouh worth it? Other than taking revenge for killing the two Israeli soldiers, he will be quickly replaced. Arms dealing is not a professional skill, and as long as Hamas's militants are at war with Israel they will find people to buy arms and smuggle them into Gaza. In short, it's looking more and more like Mr. Mabhouh's assassination was a serious policy failure.
In cold prose, it sounds inhuman, but there should be a cost-benefit calculation in deciding whether to assassinate an enemy. With all of the new technology available to any government who can afford it, that cost has gone up astronomically. Plausible deniability is out the window. Obviously, if we had known with any specificity 9/11 was coming, we would have ignored the high cost and tried to assassinate Osama bin Laden. And there's certainly an argument to be made that we should have assassinated Saddam Hussein rather than invade Iraq. The bottom line, it seems to me, is that assassination is justified if it keeps us out of a war. But short of that, it's not. The Mabhouhs of the world are best pursued by relentless diplomatic pressure and the rule of law. [Baer/WSJ/27February2010]
Section IV - BOOKS, OBITUARIES JOBS AND COMING EVENTS
The People We Pay to Look Over Our Shoulders, by Eric
Lichtblau. At this very moment analysts at the National Security Agency some 30 miles north of the White House are monitoring countless flashpoints of data - cellphone calls to "hot" numbers, an e-mail message on a suspicious server, an oddly worded tweet - as they carom around the globe like pinballs in cyberspace.
The snippets of information could conceivably lead them to Anwar al-Awlaki, a fugitive cleric in Yemen whose fiery sermons have inspired violent jihadists. Or to the next would-be underwear bomber. Or, much more likely in the needle-in-a-haystack world of cyber detection, it might lead to nothing at all - at least nothing of any consequence in determining Al Qaeda's next target.
This is the world of modern eavesdropping, or signals intelligence, as its adherents call it, and for many years it operated in the shadows. "The Puzzle Palace," the 1983 best seller by James Bamford that remains the benchmark study of the N.S.A., first pulled back the curtain to provide a glint of unwanted sunlight on the place. And the years after the Sept. 11 attacks - a period in which the surveillance agencies' muscular new role would lead to secret wiretapping programs inside the United States, expansive data-mining operations and more - gave rise to public scrutiny that made the place a veritable greenhouse of exposure.
As each operation has come to light, an anxious public has wanted to know whether this powerful new surveillance model was undermining traditional notions of privacy and civil liberties. Just whom is the government watching? And who is watching the watchers? Nominally, the answer is all three branches of government: a secret court that approves surveillance warrants, Congressional oversight committees and the intelligence agencies themselves are supposed to be policing the spy-catchers to guard against abuses.
But this rarely amounted to what lawmakers like to call "vigorous oversight"; in the Bush administration, in fact, the surveillance court and the oversight committees were intentionally bypassed on the most sensitive programs. More often, it has been left to outsiders - journalists, authors, civil rights advocates and privacy groups - to keep tabs on the watchers and to bring public scrutiny to once-secret programs. Indeed, it was outside scrutiny that brought attention to many of those at the heart of the debate, from Total Information Awareness, created after 9/11 to President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping.
For the spymasters, this spotlight was decidedly unwelcome. "The fact that we're doing it this way," Mike McConnell, a director of intelligence in the Bush administration, said a few years ago in the midst of the fierce public debate over government surveillance powers, "means that some Americans are going to die." Mr. McConnell is one of the recurring characters in "The Watchers: The Rise of America's Surveillance State" by Shane Harris, but this is not a book that Mr. McConnell is likely to rush out to buy. Mr. Harris, with some success, does what Mr. McConnell and others in the intelligence world have found so objectionable: he watches the watchers.
While Mr. Harris's examination covers a fair amount of ground that has already been well plowed, it uses smart technical analysis and crisp writing to put the reader inside the room with the watchers and to help better understand the mind-set that gave rise to the modern surveillance state. "We have never lived in a time," Mr. Harris writes, "when the government has had such remarkable technological ability to watch its own citizens."
The unlikely tour guide for this journey into the netherworld of surveillance operations is John M. Poindexter, the retired Navy admiral and former national security adviser who was the driving force behind the Total Information Awareness program, which would become a potent symbol of government overreach soon after 9/11. Mr. Harris, who writes about surveillance issues for National Journal, interviewed Admiral Poindexter 14 times in researching his book, and the insight into the intellectual framework that guided him provides one of the strengths of the book.
Following "15 years in the wilderness," after Admiral Poindexter's involvement in the Iran-contra affair during the Reagan administration, Mr. Harris writes, he returned to government in 2002 as the point man in the effort to develop a data-mining program at the Pentagon that could put together all the disparate pieces of intelligence data - communications, travel, finances and more - to "connect the dots" and prevent another calamitous attack after 9/11. But soon enough a public outcry over the research program led Congress to cut off funding.
But the approach has outlived the controversy. As Mr. Harris first described in detail in National Journal in 2006, the remnants of that effort were simply repackaged and parceled out to other agencies, principally the N.S.A.
At its best "The Watchers" provides an insightful glimpse into how Washington works and how ideas are marketed and sold in the back rooms of power, whether the product being peddled is widgets or a radical model for intelligence gathering. Mr. Harris takes the reader along in 2002 as Admiral Poindexter goes from office to office at the Pentagon and the White House, seeking allies for his fledgling intelligence project, putting on PowerPoint presentations, finding agencies willing to link their data to Total Information Awareness, navigating potential legal pitfalls and hearing cautionary tales about previous ventures into data mining, like the F.B.I.'s Carnivore e-mail program a few years earlier.
"Learn from their example," Fran Townsend, a senior intelligence official, tells Admiral Poindexter of the Carnivore debacle. "Don't make the same mistakes."
Unfortunately, the book suffers at times from the same Achilles' heel that plagued Admiral Poindexter: in picking his targets, Mr. Harris - like the watchers themselves - sometimes veers off the mark in determining where to look and in separating the important from the trivial. He spends too much time and ink going down rabbit holes, examining in great detail operations like Able Danger, a data-mining program at the Pentagon that became briefly notorious because of the erroneous claim by a few military officials who worked on it that it had been able to identify Mohammed Atta, the 9/11 hijacker, as a possible threat before the attacks.
Even the examination of the Total Information Awareness program, as richly detailed as it is, proves a bit of a red herring. Mr. Harris acknowledges that Admiral Poindexter was seeking to do the type of data mining that the N.S.A. had already been doing, and would continue to do, on a much broader scale. Yet information about how the N.S.A. has been using is new data-mining tools - a difficult target, to be sure - is in short supply.
Meanwhile, largely unanswered is a core question surrounding the new surveillance model and the fancy data-mining algorithms that come with it. Does this stuff really work? Can data-mining tools originally developed to find Las Vegas card counters and cheats actually identify would-be terrorists? When the question is addressed, the results are discouraging. Mr. Harris recounts one test run by the N.S.A. of the tools that Admiral Poindexter had developed: "The T.I.A. tools crashed. They were simply incapable of processing so much information in real time. Like balloons affixed to a fire hydrant, they burst."
The watchers, it seems, have plenty to watch. The problem is that much of the time, they may not know what they're looking at. [Lichtblau/NewYorkTimes/23February2010]
The Slippery Nature of Secrets. When we hear the sound of hoofbeats, should we think horses or zebras? The question is a classic problem of intelligence analysis. Too often in recent years the CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security have got it wrong - most recently with the Christmas Day underwear bomber, who was able to board a U.S.-bound flight despite plenty of early warning signs. Political scientist Robert Jervis wants to know the reason for such error.
In "Why Intelligence Fails," Mr. Jervis examines two important U.S. intelligence lapses and tries to account for what went awry. After both, the CIA hired Mr. Jervis - a longtime student of international affairs - to help the agency sort out its mistakes. He thus brings an invaluable perspective as a smart outsider with sufficient inside access to appraise the agency's blind spots.
The first of his two cases is the CIA's failure to grasp the weakness of the Iranian monarchy on the cusp of the Iranian revolution in 1979. "An island of stability" is what President Jimmy Carter called Iran just before the Islamic volcano erupted. No doubt the CIA estimates that Mr. Carter saw were not quite so ludicrously sanguine, but they were still dangerously inaccurate.
Mr. Jervis draws a striking portrait of an intelligence agency in disarray. He is particularly surprised by the "paucity of resources" dedicated to Iran in the late 1970s. The CIA had assigned just two analysts to assess Iranian politics and two more to study its economy, supplemented by a small, unproductive station in Tehran.
Making matters worse, the members of this tiny group were caught in a loop of circular reasoning. They were convinced that Iran's burgeoning opposition was not a threat to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's government because he had not cracked down on it. But as Mr. Jervis notes, the analysts' key indicator of trouble - a crackdown - would occur only "if the crisis became very severe." In the event, the crisis did become very severe - and the shah still did not crack down. The analysts relied on what turned out to be a worthless metric.
Even if the CIA's analysts had not fallen into a logic-trap of their own devising, the agency would have faced a larger challenge. "Predicting revolutions is very hard," Mr. Jervis aptly notes. Neither revolutionaries nor those in power know where their struggle is going. Why should outsiders have a better sense of what lies ahead? Foreign intelligence services are at a particular disadvantage: The "CIA and its counterparts are in the business of stealing secrets, but secrets are rarely at the heart of revolutions."
Secrets did lie at the heart of Mr. Jervis's second case: the intelligence community's erroneous National Intelligence Estimate in October 2002 declaring that Iraq was accumulating weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Jervis examines the explanations offered for the mistake - perhaps the most closely studied intelligence lapse since Pearl Harbor - and finds them wanting.
Mr. Jervis rejects the contention that the CIA's reporting was politicized, produced to align with whatever the Bush administration wanted to hear. "This narrative," he writes, "conforms to common sense" but was refuted by several nonpartisan investigations and, implicitly, by the "uniform surprise - indeed disbelief" of the entire intelligence community when weapons of mass destruction were not found after the war. If anything, the charge of politicization "has been a barrier to more careful thought." A host of other problems, Mr. Jervis says, explain the fiasco.
One was George Tenet's mismanagement as director of the CIA. In the run-up to the war, a ferocious interagency battle raged about the significance of aluminum tubes that Iraq had been importing. The CIA believed they were intended for centrifuges to enrich uranium, hence part of Iraq's supposed WMD effort. Other government entities, including the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, insisted that the tubes were not well-suited to this purpose - which turned out to be the case. Although Mr. Tenet was responsible for coordinating the work of all 15 agencies of the U.S. intelligence community, he was, Mr. Jervis remarks, "physically, politically, and psychologically" distant from analysts outside the CIA. He thus did not even know about the long-running dispute until the intelligence estimate was actually being drafted, just months before the U.S. went to war.
Mr. Jervis calls Mr. Tenet's inattention a "stunning failure." But he concludes, surprisingly, that the aluminum-tube assessment and other theoretically "correctable errors - "like the CIA's reliance on the worthless information funneled to it by the Iraqi defector known as "Curveball" - were not at the root of the problem. We might like to think that "bad outcomes are explained by bad processes and that fixing the intelligence machinery will solve the problems," writes Mr. Jervis, but that is not always true.
In the case of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, the real failure lay not in the content of the National Intelligence Estimate but in the certainty - "slam dunk" was Mr. Tenet's phrase - with which it was put forward. Such confidence gave policy makers little reason to pause. But even if they had paused - and posed hard questions - Mr. Jervis doubts that the intelligence community would have substantially revised its analysis. His conclusion is that the debacle was almost preordained by one overriding factor: The intelligence community's interpretation of Saddam Hussein's motives and behavior, however wrong it turned out to be, was "very plausible, much more so than the alternatives."
In short, there are limits to the ability of intelligence agencies to understand the world and keep us safe. Those pounding hoofbeats might be horses or zebras - or zebras painted to look like horses. [Mr. Schoenfeld, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, is the author of "Necessary Secrets: National Security, the Media, and the Rule of Law," due out in May.] [Schoenfeld/WallStreetJournal/24February2010]
Pilot Who Dismissed Early Pearl Harbor Warnings Dies. Hawaii-based pilot Kermit Tyler thought the big blip on the radar screen Dec. 7, 1941, was a fleet of U.S. B-17 bombers due in from the mainland, so he replied "don't worry about it" when told of the approaching mass that turned out to be the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Tyler, who was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing, has died at age 96, content he did all he could that morning.
He was the Army Air Forces' first lieutenant on temporary duty at Fort Shafter's radar information center in Hawaii when two privates reporting seeing an unusually sizable blip on their radar screen, indicating a large number of aircraft about 132 miles away and fast approaching.
The aircraft were the first wave of more than 180 Japanese fighters, torpedo bombers, dive bombers and horizontal bombers whose surprise attack on Pearl Harbor shortly before 8 a.m. plunged the United States into World War II.
Many questioned his decision for years, and the 1970 movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" portrayed him in an unflattering light. Audiences watching a documentary at the Pearl Harbor Visitors Center theater still groan when they hear Tyler's response to the radar report.
But Daniel Martinez, Pearl Harbor historian for the National Park Service, said Tyler's role was misunderstood, and that congressional committees and military inquiries that looked into what happened at Pearl Harbor did not find him at fault. He said a flight of B-17s flying in from Hamilton Field, north of San Francisco, was indeed due to land at Hickam Field.
"Kermit Tyler took the brunt of the criticism, but that was practically his first night on the job, and he was told that if music was playing on the radio all night, it meant the B-17s were coming in," Martinez said.
The music played all night so the B-17 pilots could home in on the signal, and when he heard the music as he was driving to work, Tyler figured the aircraft would be coming in soon.
"I wake up at nights sometimes and think about it," Tyler said in a 2007 interview with The Star-Ledger of Newark, N.J. "But I don't feel guilty. I did all I could that morning."
Tyler, who suffered two strokes within the last two years, died Jan. 23 at his home in San Diego, according to his daughter, Julie Jones.
After Pearl Harbor, Tyler flew combat missions in the Pacific. He retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 1961, launched a career in real estate and was a landlord.
Tyler is survived by three children. He was preceded in death by his wife, Marian, and a son. [AirForceTimes/28February2010]
Jobs and Research Requests
International Spy Museum: Curator/Historian. The International Spy Museum, the only public museum in the U.S. solely dedicated to the tradecraft, history, and contemporary role of espionage, seeks a dynamic and creative individual to serve as member of the Exhibitions and Programs team. As the Museum's main content specialist, the Curator/Historian conducts research on wide ranging topics to support educational programs, exhibitions, publications, and media outreach, and develops, organizes and/or conducts programs for the general public, educators, scholars, and professionals in the intelligence community. Responsibilities include: writing (including educator resources, exhibit labels, blogs, and professional articles); exhibit development; representing the Museum to the public, VIPs, and media; identifying and coordinating with experts in the intelligence community to present programs addressing current issues and scholarship; research, study, and interpretation of the collection and assisting with acquisitions; and, building and expanding the Museum's local, national, and international reputation.
This position requires excellent written and verbal communication skills. Individual must enjoy working with the public and public speaking. Requires demonstrated ability to plan and bring to fruition creative, innovative, and thought provoking programs. Ability to work in a team setting a must. Interest or background in material culture studies a plus, teaching, museum, or other pertinent experience highly desirable. Flexible schedule with occasional morning/evening/weekend hours is also required.
Advanced degree in Modern History/Public History: Specialty in Intelligence, Political Science, and/or International Relations or related. Global political and/or historical perspectives are especially encouraged. Material culture studies a plus.
Send email with cover letter, CV/resume, writing sample, and salary requirements. List Curator/Historian in the subject line and send to email@example.com. Or fax to 202.393.7797. For information about the for-profit International Spy Museum, please visit: www.spymuseum.org. EOE M/F
Deputy Assistant Commandant for Intelligence and Criminal Investigations; Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Coast Guard.
Open Period: 2/2/10- 3/18/10
Salary Range: $119,554 - $179,700 USD
Position Location: Washington, DC
The Deputy Assistant Commandant for Intelligence and Criminal Investigations, in conjunction with the Assistant Commandant, manages the Coast Guard's intelligence and criminal investigations programs. The Deputy implements the process to source and screen proposed enterprise solutions, internal and external, including new systems, technologies, and strategies for improving intelligence efforts and their effectiveness; assures their consistent and equitable application throughout the service and interoperability within the Department of Homeland Security and the Intelligence Community. Serves as the strategic planning coordinator to decide, prioritize and direct the Directorate's capabilities to align with actual and anticipated USCG, Agency, Intelligence Community, executive branch, and other federal agency requirements. Directs and leads staff in the design and implementation of policies, regulations, and procedures; represents the USCG in national and international programs; and advocates USCG positions on policy negotiations and decision-making.
TOP SECRET/SCI security clearance
Public Financial Disclosure Report (SF-278)
Subject to drug testing
To review basic job requirements and to apply to this vacancy please visit:
http://usajobs.opm.gov/ and enter CG-SES-10-01 in the keyword search.
EVENTS IN COMING TWO MONTHS....
MANY Spy Museum Events in March with full details are listed on the AFIO Website at www.afio.com. The titles for some of these are as follows:
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or call and leave a message on 602.570.6016.
Arthur Kerns, President of the AFIO AZ Chapter, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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. AFIO members will receive $100 discount if they use discount code "eiic2010org" which brings price to $350.
Event location: 3800 Reservoir Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
Conference and Hotel Registration: http://scs.georgetown.edu/ethics
Conference Questions : email@example.com
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): firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com
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: https://www.123signup.com/event?id=mqxhn
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, 18 March 2010, 12 noon – 1 pm - Washington, DC - Author John Kiriakou speaks on his new book: The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror
The CIA has come under sharp criticism for its handling of 9/11 and the enhanced interrogation techniques used in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. Former CIA operative John Kiriakou, who was involved in the capture of one of Osama Bin Laden’s closest aides, Abu Zubaydah, wrote The Reluctant Spy to set the record straight. Hear his often brutally honest account of firsthand experience with the controversy over waterboarding, the pressures from both inside and outside the agency, and the planning for the Iraq War. Now a senior investigator on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations focusing on the Middle East, South Asia, and international terrorism, Kiriakou will share his insider’s view of the weaknesses and the unsung strengths of the CIA. Free! No registration required! Join the author for an informal chat and book signing at the Spy Museum. Further information at www.spymuseum.org.
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
THURSDAY, 1 April 2010 - Tysons Corner, VA - National AFIO Luncheon featuring Seymour Hersh and Marc Thiessen. Full details are here.
For Additional Events two+ months or greater....view our online Calendar of Events
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