AFIO Weekly Intelligence Notes #38-10 dated 12 October 2010

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Witnesses in Defense Department Report Suggest Cover-Up of 9/11 Findings. A document obtained and witnesses interviewed by Fox News raise new questions over whether there was an effort by the Defense Department to cover up a pre-9/11 military intelligence program known as "Able Danger."

At least five witnesses questioned by the Defense Department's Inspector General told Fox News that their statements were distorted by investigators in the final IG's report - or it left out key information, backing up assertions that lead hijacker Mohammed Atta was identified a year before 9/11.

Atta is believed to have been the ringleader of the Sept. 11 hijackers who piloted American Airlines Flight 11 into the World Trade Center. Claims about how early Atta first tripped the radar of the Department of Defense date back to 2005, but those claims never made it into the Inspector General's report. The report was completed in 2006 and, until now, has been available only in a version with the names of virtually all of the witnesses blacked out.

Fox News, as part of an ongoing investigation, exclusively obtained a clean copy of the report and spoke to several principal witnesses, including an intelligence and data collector who asked that she not be named.

The witness told Fox News she was interviewed twice by a Defense Department investigator. She said she told the investigator that it was highly likely a department database included the picture of Atta, whom she knew under an alias, Mohammed el-Sayed.

The Defense Intelligence Agency has blocked a book about the tipping point in Afghanistan and a controversial pre-9/11 data mining project called "Able Danger."

"When it came to the picture, (the investigator) he was fairly hostile," the witness told Fox News. She said it seemed the investigator just didn't want to hear it. "Meaning that he'd ask the same question over and over again, and, you know, you get to the point you go, well, you know... it's the same question, it's the same answer."

The IG report didn't accurately reflect her statements to investigators, she said, adding that she doesn't think the investigator simply misunderstood her.

Lt. Col Tony Shaffer, an operative involved with Able Danger, said he was interviewed three times by Defense investigators. He claims it was an effort to wear down the witnesses and intimidate them. Two other witnesses, one a military contractor and the other a retired military officer, said they had the same experience. The two witnesses spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity because they said they feared retaliation. A fifth witness told Fox that statements to investigators were ignored.

"My last interview was very, very hostile," Shaffer told Fox News last month before he was ordered by the department not to discuss portions of his book, "Operation Dark Heart," which included a chapter on the Able Danger data mining project.

When asked why the IG's report was so aggressive in its denials of his claims and those of other witnesses - that the data mining project had identified Atta as a threat to the U.S. before 9/11 - Shaffer said Defense Department was worried about taking some of the blame for 9/11.

However, It still isn't clear how - or whether - the information on Atta could have been used to the disrupt the Sept. 11 attacks.

"The big picture was not Atta, not so much the chart," Shaffer said. "The fact is this: That we had a pre-9/11 Department of Defense operation focused on taking action against Al Qaeda globally."

Specifically, the Defense Intelligence Agency or DIA wanted the removal of references to a meeting between Shaffer and the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, removed. Shaffer alleges that in that meeting, which took place in Afghanistan, the commission was told about Able Danger and the identification of Atta before the attacks. Shaffer, who was undercover at the time, said there was "stunned silence" at the meeting.

No mention of this was made in the final 9/11 Commission report.

"Dr. Philip Zelikow approached me in the corner of the room. 'What you said today is very important. I need you to get in touch with me as soon as you return from your deployment here in Afghanistan,'" Shaffer said.

Once back in the U.S., Shaffer says he contacted the commission, but without explanation, the commission was no longer interested.

Last month, the Defense Department took the highly unusual step of buying and destroying 9,500 copies of Shaffer's book "Operation Dark Heart" at a cost of $47,000 to U.S. taxpayers.

When asked whether Defense Department stood behind the IG report's findings, Col. Dave Lapan, the acting deputy assistant Secretary of Defense said in a statement to Fox News dated Oct. 6, "The investigation found that prior to September 11, 2001, Able Danger team members did not identify Mohammed Atta or any other 9/11 hijacker. While four witnesses claimed to have seen a chart depicting Mohammed Atta and possibly other hijackers or "cells" involved in 9/11, the investigation determined that their recollections were not accurate."

As for retaliation against Shaffer who said he lost his security clearance as a result of speaking out about Able Danger, Lapan said "The investigation found that DIA officials did not reprise against LTC Shaffer, in either his civilian or military capacity, for making disclosures regarding Able Danger or, in a separate matter, for his earlier disclosure to the DIA IG regarding alleged misconduct by DIA officials that was unrelated to Able Danger."

Separately, Fox News has obtained a letter that challenges the Defense Department's claim. In October 2006, then Rep. Christopher Shays, chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, wrote to Shaffer's supervisor, Maj. Gen. Elbert Perkins, about the revocation of his clearance.

"Based on investigation of security clearance retaliation, it appears the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) used the security clearance system in an improper manner against LTC Shaffer and did not follow DOD security clearance guidelines," Shays, R-Conn., wrote.

In this case, the letter stated that the allegations used by the DIA to justify pulling Shaffer's security clearance included "the alleged misuse of a government cell phone in the amount of $67.00 and the alleged misfiling of a travel voucher for $180.00...these were not uniformed code of military justice (UCMJ) issue - that there was no basis for punitive action and should be dealt with administratively...This decision cleared the way for LTC Shaffer's promotion, and his current 'good' standing in the Army Reserve.."

This investigation is part of an ongoing series, "Fox News Reporting." Earlier this year, the series special "The American Terrorist" uncovered new details about the American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is linked to the attempted Christmas Day bombing, and about efforts by the FBI to track and recruit him for intelligence purposes after 9/11.  [Herridge/FoxNews/4October2010] 

Jordanian Instructors Sent to Train Afghan Forces. A group of Jordanian military instructors was sent to Afghanistan on Sunday to help train the country's security forces, the official Petra news agency reported.

"Instructors from Jordan's armed forces and security service went on Sunday to Afghanistan where they will train Afghan forces in security methods, to help them do their duty in restoring law and order there," it said.

The agency did not report how many instructors were sent.

In March, Jordan said it had been asked by NATO to train Afghan police, and said it was studying the request.

In May, Information Minister Nabil Sharif told a news conference: "Jordan has trained 2,500 members of the Afghan special forces. This was in the past. The group has completed its training and there are no trainees now."

A Jordanian military source told AFP that training took place in 2007, but declined to elaborate.

Jordan's special forces chief Brigadier Ali Jaradat has said in published remarks that 1,500 servicemen, including anti-terror forces, from Afghanistan and Iraq have received training at the 200-million-dollar King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre, which was inaugurated in May last year.

The NATO alliance, facing waning public support for the war in Afghanistan, is anxious to begin a transition next year that would have Afghan army and police take over security from US-led troops in some parts of the country.

Jordan acknowledged it had a counterterrorism role in Afghanistan after the death in a January suicide bombing of a senior intelligence officer, who was also a member of the royal family.

His death along with seven US Central Intelligence Agency personnel spotlighted for the first time Jordan's role in the international coalition in the war-hit country. [AP/4October2010] 

Terrorism Alert Tips US Hand, But Just Barely. The U.S. warning to citizens of an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Europe also sent a clear message to militants: "We're on to you."

The repercussions could cut both ways, U.S. officials acknowledged on Monday.

"There is a significant impact on counterterrorism work when the enemy realizes you are on to their game," one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Known suspects could stop communicating, go underground, or try to weed out spies. A publicly acknowledged threat can also add to confusion for Western intelligence officials, deluging them with questionable tips, misinformation and false alarms.

But the alert could also disrupt plans and prompt militants to re-think an attack.

That makes decisions like Sunday's State Department broadcast of a threat to the general public more complicated.

The trigger for the travel alert was intelligence about a plot against European targets originating in Pakistan's tribal areas. Senior al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are likely involved, U.S. officials say.

The advisory itself was extraordinarily vague, blanketing all of Europe under a generic warning that essentially told U.S. citizens to be on alert. It said public transportation systems and other tourism-related facilities could be targets.

It did not warn citizens against going to Europe, but instead to take precautions if they did.

"As the general nature of the alert suggests, the precise timing and target of potential terrorist operations aren't known," a different U.S. official said.

Paul Pillar, a former CIA counterterrorism official now with Georgetown University, said that so little was revealed in the advisory that fallout was unlikely.

"When what is made public is as general and non-specific as is the case with this advisory about Europe, it's hard to imagine that any specific sources and methods are jeopardized," Pillar said.

At the same time, he added that would-be attackers read newspapers too and that media reports offering more details could tip off militants as well.

"There are opportunities as well as costs," Pillar said. [Stewart/Reuters/4October2010] 

Li Fengzhi, Ex-Chinese Spy, Granted Asylum. Finally, he can let out his breath.

Li Fengzhi, a former Chinese intelligence agent whose long quest to stay in the United States became entangled in spy wars and layers of secrecy, has been granted asylum.

An immigration judge in Denver on Monday granted Li's request, which began in 2004 when he first applied for asylum on the basis that he would be treated harshly for criticizing China if he were forced to go home. When it later emerged that he had been debriefed by the FBI and CIA, he faced a long prison term, even execution, if he were forced to return.

Complicating Li's situation was his initial failure to reveal that he had been sent to the United States by the Chinese Ministry of State Security, where he had worked since graduating from college in 1990.

The MSS, as it's known, had sent Li to the University of Denver to pursue a PhD in international politics and diplomatic philosophy.

Not long after, he quietly began voicing criticism of the Chinese Communist Party. Eventually, it became a roar.

Somewhere along the line he had begun cooperating with the CIA and FBI, but according to some sources, turned down their entreaties to become a double agent.

Later, neither agency stepped forward to help keep Li from being deported, he and others told SpyTalk in early September. Although individual FBI agents were supportive of him, one source said, the bureau officially played down his intelligence value.

"Just getting verification that he worked with them has been an enormous task," said a source who asked not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Neither agency offered comment when invited last month.

Li's lawyer Mark Robert Barr, of Lichter Associates in Denver, cautioned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement had reserved the right to appeal the decision over the next 30 days.

"Nevertheless, the outcome is highly encouraging, and is hopefully the first step in a process that will ultimately lead to the Li family becoming full-fledged U.S. citizens," Barr said in an e-mail. 

In his own message, Li thanked supporters for their "help, kindness and friendship."  [Stein/WashingtonPost/5October2010] 

British Embassy Worker in Iran Has Sentence Commuted. The Foreign Office said it had been a "horrible ordeal" for his family.

A former British embassy employee jailed last year in Iran for espionage has had his sentence commuted.

Hossein Rassam was originally jailed for four years.

But his lawyer Babak Farahi told AFP: "He was sentenced to one year in jail, suspended for five years, for propaganda against the establishment."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are relieved that Hossein Rassam's sentence has been commuted on appeal to a suspended sentence."

She added: "We very much hope that Hossein and his family can now continue with their lives after what has been a horrible and very worrying ordeal for them."

The original espionage charge was dropped but the court upheld a ruling which banned him from working for foreign embassies for five years.

Mr. Rassam, the embassy's chief political analyst, was arrested in June 2009 along with eight other employees and was accused of taking parts in disturbances which followed the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

They were later released on bail but were paraded on television during their trial in August 2009 and given four-year jail terms despite protests from Britain and the European Union.

Iran's highest authority, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has accused Britain and the United States and Britain of stirring up opposition against Mr. Ahmadinejad. [BBC/5October2010]

US Arrests Akamai Worker It Says Offered to Spy. Federal authorities in Massachusetts have arrested a man who allegedly offered to be a spy for a foreign country.

The U.S. Attorney's office said Wednesday that it arrested 42-year-old Elliot Doxer, an employee of Web content delivery company Akamai Technologies Inc., and charged him with one count of wire fraud. Doxer, who worked in Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai's finance department, is in custody and has a status conference on Thursday in a Boston court.

Authorities said Doxer sent an e-mail to the foreign country's consulate in June 2006, and offered to provide any information he had access to in order to help that country in exchange for $3,000.

Doxer allegedly said his main goal was "to help our homeland and our war against our enemies," the office said in a statement. It declined to say which country Doxer wanted to help.

A U.S. federal agent went undercover and posed as an agent of that country in September 2007, and exchanged information with Doxer via a "dead drop" location. From then until March 2009, Doxer visited the drop location at least 62 times and provided an extensive list of Akamai's customers and employees, including their full contact information, and contract details.

He also allegedly described the company's physical and computer security systems and said he could travel to the foreign country and support special operations in his local area if needed, it said.

Akamai said in a statement Wednesday that it has been cooperating with the FBI and will continue to do so. It noted that there is no evidence that Doxer actually gave information to a foreign government.

The U.S. Attorney did not accuse the foreign government of any wrongdoing.

If convicted, Doxer faces up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. [AP/7October2010] 

Ex-Detainee Sues the US, Saying Captors Tortured Him. A Syrian man released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay last year sued the U.S. military Wednesday, saying that he was the victim of a "Kafkaesque nightmare" in which he was tortured by al-Qaeda after being accused of being U.S. spy, liberated, then tortured by the Americans, who held him for seven more years by mistake.

Abdul Rahim Abdul Razak al-Janko, 32, who has been resettled outside the United States, filed suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, the court that ordered his release in June 2009. At the time, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon concluded that the U.S. government's case for holding Janko "defies common sense."

Janko was tortured by al-Qaeda and imprisoned by the Taliban for 18 months on suspicion of being a spy for the United States or Israel. Leon found no evidence that the Syrian was loyal to either group.

Janko "is the victim of a decade-long Kafkaesque nightmare from which he is just awakening," the suit says.

Janko says that he was urinated on by his American captors, slapped, threatened with loss of fingernails, and exposed to sleep deprivation, extreme cold and stress positions.

Twenty-six current and former top U.S. military officials are named in the suit, which seeks damages and alleges violations of Janko's rights under the Constitution, the Geneva Conventions and a U.S. law that allows non-Americans to sue for violations of the law of nations.

Spokesmen for the Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment late Wednesday on the case, which had not been entered into the court's electronic database. [Hsu/WashingtonPost/6October2010] 

CIA Gets a New Watchdog. Being inspector general at the CIA is no path to popularity.

The last permanent IG, John Helgerson, spent much of his tenure sparring with the agency over an array of politically charged subjects, including the CIA's now-shuttered interrogation program. Helgerson documented disturbing abuses, including the use of a power drill to frighten a blindfolded prisoner, as well as alarming statistics on how many times certain prisoners had been water-boarded.

The inquiries became so contentious that then-CIA Director Michael V. Hayden ordered up an inspection of the inspector general himself.

The job has been held by an interim candidate for more than a year. But the agency has finally announced that a new IG has been sworn in.

David B. Buckley served as minority staff director on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence from 2005 to 2007. He was previously an intelligence officer in the Air Force, and most recently worked as a Pentagon consultant.

Buckley steps into the job at a time when the CIA's largest covert action program - the use of drones to carry out targeted killings -- is expanding rapidly and being challenged in court.

During his confirmation hearing last week, Buckley, 52, pledged to review that program and others, saying, "yes, I think it's fair game." [Miller/WashingtonPost/7October2010]

Iran Acknowledges Espionage At Nuclear Facilities. Iran's nuclear chief says personnel at the country's nuclear facilities were lured by promises of better pay to pass secrets to the West, but that increased security and worker privileges has put a stop to the spying.

The stunning acknowledgment by Ali Akbar Salehi provided the clearest government confirmation that Iran has been fighting espionage at its nuclear facilities.

Salehi was quoted Saturday by the semiofficial Fars news agency as saying that access to information has been restricted within nuclear facilities as part of the increased security measures.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to use its civil nuclear sites as a cover for a secret program to develop atomic weapons - a charge Iran denies. [AP/7October2010] 

Obama Signs First Intelligence Authorization Bill in Five Years. President Obama has signed the fiscal 2010 intelligence authorization bill into law, the first time such a bill has been enacted in five years.

Although the bill technically applies to the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, lawmakers and intelligence officials say it includes many provisions that will have an impact for years to come.

For example, the bill includes a provision aimed at increasing the number of lawmakers who can be briefed about covert spy activities. To that end, it requires the administration to give all members of the Senate and House intelligence committees at least a general description of secret operations. 

It also creates an inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community and requires intelligence agency chiefs to certify annually that they have kept Congress fully and currently informed of significant intelligence activities.

"In the absence of authorization bills, Congress has been unable to change laws and alter important policies," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said Thursday.

"The enactment of [the bill] puts the intelligence committees back in the business of authorizing," Reyes added. "It represents substantial gains for congressional oversight of national security. More importantly, this law gives the [intelligence] community the tools it needs to keep America safe."

The bill also includes a provision that requires Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and the Government Accountability Office to come up with a directive that will allow government auditors to inspect intelligence operations.

Speaking at an intelligence conference Wednesday, Clapper acknowledged that GAO can be helpful, especially in the area of overhauling the process for giving security-clearances to intelligence personnel and contractors. But he said he is concerned about GAO getting into "the core essence" of intelligence, such as by evaluating sources and methods and critiquing national intelligence estimates.

Clapper said giving GAO auditors who have subject matter expertise access to certain activities would be appropriate.

But he also bemoaned that the congressional intelligence committees have become partisan. "I think it's fair to say that overtime the two intelligence committees have got caught up somewhat in the partisanship that prevails today," he said.

Clapper said he would do what he can to build a positive relationship with the committees. [Strohm/GovExec/10October2010]

CIA Drones Could be Grounded by Software Suit. A judge's December ruling in an intellectual property law suit between two software firms in Massachusetts could strip the CIA's Predator drones of their targeting software, the CEO of one of the companies says.

Intelligent Integration Systems (IISi) of Boston, Mass., developer of a sophisticated mapping software that guides CIA drones, has accused Netezza, its onetime partner in the deal, of stealing its technology after it refused to go along with an expedited production schedule allegedly demanded by the CIA. IISi maintains that its unique software was not ready for use in the Predator system and would cause missiles to miss their targets by up to 40 feet.

"My reaction was one of stun, amazement that they want to kill people with my software that doesn't work," IISi's chief technology officer said in a sworn statement last April.

In August IISi won a summary judgment against Netezza, which had accused it of breach of contract for not going along with the stepped-up production schedule.

IISi's counterclaim, that Netezza had wrongfully terminated the contract, was allowed to proceed by Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Margaret R. Hinkle.

The CIA's future use of IISi's technology, moreover, was thrown into jeopardy this week by the judge's approval of a stipulation that forbade Netezza from sharing any copies of IISi's Geospatial and Extended SQL Toolkit products with IBM, which has made a $1.7 billion bid for the company.

Now IISi has asked the court to for a preliminary injunction to halt the use of its software by Netezza or any other client. Judge Hinckle's decision is expected on Dec. 7.

A favorable ruling, said IISi's chief executive officer Paul Davis, would revoke the license of any company or agency using it, including the CIA, from Nov. 20, 2009 onward. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, a combat-support unit of the Defense Department, also uses the software.

"Any installations that took place after that date are unlicensed," Davis said in a phone interview. The company would not permit customers to use "hacked" versions of its software.

One the legal questions are settled, moreover, Davis said, IISi would have to go back to redevelop the product, which would include extensive testing and quality assurance drills.

That would take "certainly multiple months, at least," he said.

It is not known whether the CIA has a back-up plan in the event it cannot use any version of IISi's products.

CIA spokesman George Little said the agency would have no comment on litigation to which it is not a party.

Netzeeza said it will "vigorously" fight the injunction.

"The parties have not conducted full discovery with respect to IISi's counterclaims and damages for our termination of the agreement have not been determined," the company said in its latest quarterly report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), filed Sept. 9. "We deny that we used trade secrets or proprietary information of IISi and intend to vigorously contest ISSi's motion for preliminary injunction and to vigorously defend ourselves against IISi's remaining counterclaims, to which we continue to believe we have meritorious defenses." [Stein/WashingtonPost/11October2010]

MI5 Officers to Give Evidence to 7/7 Inquiry. More than five years after the attacks, bereaved families will have the chance to ask questions from the police and emergency services about whether their loved ones could have been saved.

Lady Justice Hallett has ruled that the scope of the inquests should also include the sensitive issue of whether the attacks could have been prevented, which could involve calling officers from MI5 to explain their decisions.

However, lawyers for the Security Service have argued that any public cross-examination of officers would risk the disclosure of sensitive information and the issue remains unresolved as the five-month inquest begins.

Some victims' families say that MI5 should have prioritised an investigation into ring-leaders Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer after they appeared in a surveillance operation as part of another investigation 17 months earlier.

Graham Foulkes, whose 22-year-old son David was killed in the Edgware Road bombing, said MI5's attempts to keep details of its investigations secret were "really distressing" to the families.

Mr. Foulkes said: "By every kind of moral standard that you're brought up with, that's wrong. You're told, if you make a mistake, you hold up your hands."

Lady Hallett, an appeal court judge who has been appointed assistant deputy coroner for the purposes of the inquest, has decided to sit without a jury in order to give her the scope to consider sensitive intelligence material in private.

She told a preliminary hearing it was "important to bear very much in mind fairness to the MI5 and police officers involved" and warned: "I should emphasise that I will not allow assertions of gross negligence, dishonesty or malpractice to be put to any individual, unless there is some basis for making them."

For other bereaved families the response of the emergency services will be a key part of the hearing, after recently discovering that some victims survived for up to 40 minutes before help arrived.

The inquests will also be important for more than 700 people injured in the blasts, although the coroner has ruled that they cannot be legally represented or ask witnesses questions.

The hearing will re-open with two days of opening statements, followed by evidence on the bombers' journeys to London.

The inquest will then take evidence on each of the bomb sites at Aldgate, Edgware Road, King's Cross and Tavistock Square.

The emergency response will also be examined and the subject of preventability will be the last issue before the inquest is expected to conclude in March next year.

The hearings were delayed by the trials of three men accused of conducting a reconnaissance mission for the bombers which ended in their acquittal in April last year.

Successive Home Secretaries have turned down calls for a public inquiry into the bombings but there has been an inquiry by the London Assembly into the emergency response and two inquiries by the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee held in private into whether the attacks could have been prevented.  [Gardham/Telegraph/10October2010] 


U.S. Counter Terrorism Agents Still Hamstrung by Data-Sharing Failures. Counter-terrorism analysts still lack the data-search tools that might have kept a bomb-wearing Al Qaeda operative from boarding a Detroit-bound airliner nine months ago, and probably won't have them any time soon, U.S. officials acknowledge.

At the same time, officials say the terrorist threat against the U.S. is becoming more complex, with a greater risk from home-grown militants whose low profiles make sophisticated intelligence analysis more important than ever.

"It frustrates me," said former Republican New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean, who co-chaired the Sept. 11 commission, which urged U.S. intelligence agencies to vastly improve information sharing. "The president's got to make this a top priority," and right now it doesn't seem to be, Kean said.

Analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center, created after the Sept. 11 attacks to integrate intelligence gathered by dozens of spy agencies, still sit in front of multiple computers searching databases maintained by the different government departments. The director, Michael E. Leiter, has three computer monitors and nine hard drives in his office.

Lawmakers have been pushing for a capability to search across the government's vast library of terrorism information, but intelligence officials say there are serious technical and policy hurdles. The databases are written in myriad computer languages; different legal standards are employed on how collected information can be used; and there is reluctance within some agencies to share data.

That makes it harder to connect disparate pieces of threat information, which is exactly what went wrong in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian who on Christmas Day last year tried to blow up an airplane using explosives sewn into his underwear. The bomb failed to detonate, and a passenger jumped on him.

Abdulmutallab, whose father had contacted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to express concern about his son's extremist views, was not placed on a watch list barring him from flying to the U.S. because analysts didn't connect all the information the intelligence community had about him, a White House review in January found.

Officers at the CIA and the National Counterterrorism Center "did not search all available databases to uncover additional derogatory information that could have been correlated with Mr. Abdulmutallab," the White House review found, and their software didn't allow them to correlate data that would have made the threat more clear.

The counter-terrorism center has since formed "pursuit teams" to dig into data, and the CIA has committed to disseminating information on suspected extremists and terrorists within 48 hours. But the agencies still lack the capability to search across all of the hundreds of databases containing potentially relevant information, officials concede.

Sen. Susan Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said last month that she found it disturbing that the problem had persisted.

When asked by Collins at a Sept. 22 hearing why the data-search problem had not been solved, Leiter answered, "There are a multitude of challenges."

Congress has since addressed one of those challenges. An intelligence bill that passed Thursday made clear that information from "operational files" of the CIA intelligence agencies passed on to the counter-terrorism center was not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The CIA had been reluctant to share certain information out of fear that it could somehow become public, according to a U.S. official who did not want to speak on the record about sensitive intelligence matters.

Other hurdles remain - some technical, some legal, some bureaucratic, Leiter said. For example, information about U.S. citizens or residents must be handled differently than information on foreigners. And data gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - targeting foreigners but potentially including information on Americans - carry restrictions on their use, Leiter said.

There are no easy legislative or technical fixes, said Russell E. Travers, information sharing chief at the National Counterterrorism Center. The agency is pursuing solutions that will allow automated connection of related information across databases, but "my guess is that this will be a challenge into perpetuity, because we get more and more information every day," he said. One intelligence agency alone gets 8,000 terrorism messages each day with 11,000 to 15,000 names, he said.

Not everyone thinks information sharing between agencies is warranted.

"The idea of creating a single, U.S. government-wide repository of information on all things related to terrorism isn't feasible - at least in the near term - and probably isn't desirable," said one U.S. counter-terrorism official not authorized to speak publicly. "Even as we've greatly expanded information sharing since 9/11, you still have to think about security and the sensitivity of certain data."

That view infuriates Fran Townsend, an assistant to the president for homeland security and counter-terrorism in the George W. Bush administration.

"This is one that makes me angry," she said at a public event in April. "This is not a technology problem. It's a failure of policy and a failure of leadership. I venture to say that if the president of the United States calls in his Cabinet and says a Cabinet member will be fired if his agency fails to share information, you betcha that information is going to get shared - and we haven't seen that."

Travers argued that there were indeed technical problems, as well as tough policy ones. The Herculean task of separating relevant information from background noise makes terrorism analysis an extraordinarily difficult art, he said, and there is no button to push to identify non-obvious relationships.

"What I think we can do," he said, "is shrink the haystack and make it somewhat easier for the analysts." [Dilanian/LATimes/4October2010] 

Hitler's Nuremberg Laws End Convoluted Journey at National Archives. Martin Dannenberg, an Army intelligence officer, was sitting in a German beer hall in April 1945 when a local man approached him, asking for help getting out of the war-torn country. In exchange, he promised him something that would be highly valuable to the Americans.

Intrigued, Dannenberg followed the man he called Uncle Hans to a bank vault in the town of Eichstatt, where he found a swastika-embossed envelope containing four of the most symbolic records from the war: original copies of the Nuremberg Laws.

The laws, which were signed by Adolf Hitler 75 years ago last month, outlawed marriages and sex between Jews and citizens of "German blood;" stripped Jews of their German citizenship; and established the swastika as the official flag of the Third Reich.

They established the legal underpinnings for marginalization of Jews and ultimately set into motion the Holocaust, historians say.

Dannenberg, under orders from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower to gather Nazi records and submit them for use in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, photographed the documents with his Minox spy camera and gave them to his superior, Gen. George S. Patton.

But then the documents - the only surviving original copies - went missing and never made it into prosecutors' hands for use during the trials or into the collection of Nazi records now held in the U.S. National Archives. For Dannenberg, the discovery became little more than a personal memory which he didn't have the evidence to prove.

The Nuremberg Laws surfaced 54 years later at a small museum in San Marino, California, where Patton had deposited them for his personal safekeeping. And they were finally transferred this summer to the U.S. National Archives in Washington. Today, they were put on display for the first time.

While Dannenberg didn't survive to see the transfer of the records he first found - he died in August at age 94 - his family, who had been regaled for decades with his tale of the discovery, said he would be thrilled.

"We never saw the documents but we believed him," said Dannenberg's son, Richard, of his father's war story. "I'm sure he knows that they're here now. He would be proud."

Martin Dannenberg told the Baltimore Sun in a 1999 interview that he saw the discovery as incredibly ironic. "I had the most peculiar feeling when I had this in my hand, that I should be the one who should uncover this," he said. "Because here is this thing that begins the persecution of the Jews, and a Jewish person has found it."

Patton whisked the documents out of Europe and deposited them with the Huntington Museum near his family property in California. The General later died in a car accident, and the museum, lacking instructions from Patton, secretly kept the documents in a vault for decades.

The laws appeared publicly for the first time in 1999 when the Huntington loaned them to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. But Dannenberg didn't immediately receive the credit.

"There was a comment that said General Patton found these documents and went in, guns blazing, to get them," said Richard Dannenberg. "When my father saw that, he said, 'wait a minute, that's not right. I'm the one who found the documents!'"

Dannenberg's story was later corroborated by government archivists and historians and the museum has since corrected its records.

"Had Patton not taken them back to California... these would have been used at the [Nuremberg War Crimes] trial, and when the trail was over, these records would have come to us in 1947," said National Archives senior archivist Greg Bradsher.

"What was significant about the find of the original Nuremberg Laws was... the symbolic nature of the documents themselves... what they intended to do and what they helped create," he said. "These were the first laws to marginalize a whole group of people before they came up with a definition of what a Jew was."

The documents will remain a permanent part of the U.S. Government collection of records from the Nuremberg War Crimes. [Dwyer/ABCNews/7October2010] 

US Weighed Atomic Option on North Korea. American bombers flew nuclear rehearsal runs over Pyongyang during the Korean War in the 1950's, newly declassified and other US government documents reveal.

Sixty years after the start of the Korean War, the newly released Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents and declassified information obtained by Washington's private National Security Archive have helped fill in the history of US nuclear threats against North Korea over the decades, AP reported Sunday.

According to the documents at the US National Archives and provided to the AP by intelligence historian Matthew Aid, the US military services vied for the lead role in any "atomic delivery" over the North.

In the late 1960s, nuclear-armed US warplanes stood by in South Korea on 15-minute alert to strike the North.

Last April, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said because the North was not in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, "all options are on the table" to deal with Pyongyang.

Pyongyang has been in deadlock with Seoul and Washington over its nuclear program. The United States and its Western allies want the North to disarm its atomic arsenal.

North Korea has resisted calls for its disarmament based on what it calls "the increasing nuclear threat of the United States."

"This is the lesson we have drawn," North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil Yon told the UN General Assembly in New York on September 29 about developing an atomic program as a deterrent. [PressTV/9October2010] 

Former Stasi Cryptographers Now Develop Technology for NATO. Every morning, while going to his office in Berlin's Adlershof district, Ralph W. passes a reminder of his own past, a small museum that occupies a room on the ground floor of the building. The museum could easily double as a command center run by the class enemy in an old James Bond film. A display of coding devices from various decades includes the T-310, a green metal machine roughly the size of a huge refrigerator, which East German officials used to encode their telex messages.

The device was the pride of the Stasi, the feared East German secret police, which was W.'s former employer. Today he works as a cryptologist with Rohde & Schwarz SIT GmbH (SIT), a subsidiary of Rohde & Schwarz, a Munich-based company specializing in testing equipment, broadcasting and secure communications. W. and his colleagues encode sensitive information to ensure that it can only be read or heard by authorized individuals. Their most important customers are NATO and the German government.

Rohde & Schwarz is something of an unofficial supplier of choice to the German government. Among other things, the company develops bugproof mobile phones for official use. Since 2004, its Berlin-based subsidiary SIT, which specializes in encryption solutions, has been classified as a "security partner" to the German Interior Ministry, which recently ordered a few thousand encoding devices for mobile phones, at about �1,250 ($1,675) apiece. Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel has used phones equipped with SIT's encryption technology. In other words, the Stasi's former cryptographers are now Merkel's cryptographers.

The transfer of Ralph W. and other cryptologists from the East German Ministry for State Security, as the Stasi was officially known, to West Germany was handled both seamlessly and discreetly. West German officials were determined to make sure that no one would find out about the integration of East Germany's top cryptologists into the west. The operation was so secret, in fact, that it has remained unknown to this day.

Only a handful of officials were involved in the operation, which was planned at the West German Interior Ministry in Bonn. In January 1991, Rohde & Schwarz SIT GmbH was founded. The company was established primarily to provide employment for particularly talented Stasi cryptologists that the Bonn government wanted to keep in key positions.

Ralph W. is one of those specialists. W., who holds a doctorate in mathematics, signed a declaration of commitment to the Stasi on Sept. 1, 1982. By the end of his time with the Stasi, he was making 22,550 East German marks a year - an excellent salary by East German standards. And when he was promoted to the rank of captain in June 1987, his superior characterized W. as one of the "most capable comrades in the collective." While with the Stasi, W. worked in Department XI, which also boasted the name "Central Cryptology Agency" (ZCO).

The story begins during the heady days of the East German revolution in 1990. Officially, the East German government, under its last communist premier, Hans Modrow, had established a government committee to dissolve the Ministry for State Security which reported to the new East German interior minister, Peter-Michael Diestel. In reality, the West German government was already playing a key role in particularly sensitive matters. Then-West German Interior Minister Wolfgang Sch�uble (who is the current German finance minister) had instructed two senior Interior Ministry officials, Hans Neusel and Eckart Werthebach, to take care of the most politically sensitive remnants of the 40-year intelligence war between the two Germanys.

The government of then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl was interested in more than just the politically explosive material contained in some of the Stasi's files. It also had its eye on the top performers in the former East German spy agency. The cryptologists were of particular interest to the Kohl government, which recognized that experts capable of developing good codes would also be adept at breaking them. The Stasi cryptologists were proven experts in both fields.

Documents from the Stasi records department indicate that the one of the Stasi cryptologists' achievements was to break Vericrypt and Cryptophon standards that had been used until the 1980s. This meant that they were capable of decoding encrypted radio transmissions by the two main West German intelligence agencies - the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) - and the West German border police. The East Germans even managed to decode the BND's orders to members of the clandestine "Gladio" group, which was intended to continue anti-communist operations in the event of a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe.

The West German government was determined to prevent these highly trained East German experts from entering the free market. The idea that specialists who had spent decades working with West German encryption methods and had successfully cracked West German intelligence's codes could defect to Middle Eastern countries like Syria was a nightmare. Until then, the BND had had no difficulties listening in on intelligence communications in the Middle East, an ability the potential defection of Stasi experts would likely have compromised. Bonn also hoped to use their skills to break into regions where its own agents were making no headway. All of this meant that the Stasi experts had to be brought on board in the West - even if it involved unconventional methods.

The government officials in Bonn turned to an expert for advice: Otto Leiberich, a cryptologist and mathematician who had headed the Central Office for Cryptology, the equivalent of the Stasi's ZCO at the West German BND, until the mid-1970s. Leiberich's task, after he was brought in as a member of the secret operation, was to evaluate the professional abilities of the Stasi experts.

Leiberich still has vivid memories of his first official trip to the town of Hoppegarten, next to Berlin. One of the East German cryptologists at the meeting greeted the members of the West German delegation as "comrades," Leiberich recalls. He was impressed by the East Germans' expertise, says Leiberich. "They were excellent mathematicians who were not personally guilty of any misconduct."

Leiberich says he would have liked to hire them, particularly the Stasi's then "chief decoder," the ZCO department head, Horst M. A gaunt chain-smoker who wore horn-rimmed glasses, M. was born in 1937 and had earned a degree in mathematics at East Berlin's Humboldt University. But the West was also interested in younger people, in the expectation that they would be of greater value in the nascent computer age.

Leiberich could have used the extra manpower, especially after 1990, when the West German Central Office for Cryptology was spun off from the BND and a law was enacted to form the new Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). Leiberich, who was named the BSI's first president, headed a team consisting mainly of former intelligence colleagues.

But Neusel, the senior official from the West German Interior Ministry, dismissed the idea as too precarious. Firstly, the government had decided not to integrate former Stasi officials, because of their past activities, into the bureaucracy of a unified Germany. Additionally, as one person involved in the operation recalls, concerns about potential traitors gave rise to a "sacred principle," namely that "no one from the Stasi was to be transferred to the West German intelligence agencies."

It also didn't help that the Stasi's Central Cryptology Agency had been hastily spun off into the East German Interior Ministry, because the West German cabinet had decided not to allow any members of the East German Interior Ministry to work in federal agencies.

But the free market was not restricted by any government resolutions. A creative solution was needed, and no one was better suited for coming up with the necessary fix than Hermann Schwarz, one of the two founders of Rohde & Schwarz.

Founded in 1933, the company, a provider of radio, measuring and security technology, was dependent on government contracts and was a reliable supplier to the West German intelligence agencies. Besides, Schwarz had a soft spot for the East. He had earned his doctorate in 1931 in the eastern city of Jena, where he had also met his eventual business partner, Lothar Rohde.

But to Schwarz, who was already elderly at the time and has since died, allowing his company's name to be used as a cover for a Stasi connection seemed too risky. According to someone familiar with the operation, the West Germans must have applied a bit of soft pressure on Schwarz, who was "extremely worried that it would be made public one day."

But the officials eventually did manage to convince Schwarz to play along. His change of heart was probably due in part to the prospect of additional research and federal contracts, which were in fact showered on his company.

In the end, BSI head Leiberich and a senior Interior Ministry official decided which former Stasi experts were to be transferred to the front company. Former Stasi department head Horst M. was seamlessly integrated into the market economy at SIT, where his wife also began working as a secretary. Ralph W., who was in his 30s at the time and had been with the Stasi for eight years, also fitted the desired profile, as did his colleagues Wolfgang K. and Volker S. In total, about a dozen former Stasi employees, most of them mathematicians, were given the chance to embark on a second cryptology career in post-reunification Germany.

The federal government provided whatever assistance it could, but only with the utmost discretion. SIT was initially headquartered in the town of Gr�nheide in the eastern state of Brandenburg, in a former Stasi children's home.

An episode from the 1990s shows how conspiratorially the operation was handled, even within the West German intelligence community. When the BND needed a "D-channel filter" - a precursor to today's firewalls - to protect communications networks, it contacted the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI). But BND officials pricked up their ears when they discovered that the work was being done by SIT. A private company protecting the computers of Germany's foreign intelligence agency? Nevertheless, the BND officials were told that it was "totally OK," and that the BSI would take responsibility for SIT.

For the parent company Rohde & Schwarz, the former problem child in Brandenburg soon became a success story. SIT took over the cryptology division of German engineering giant Siemens, and the company now employs about 150 mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists at its three locations. SIT, which proudly refers to itself as the "preferred supplier of high-security cryptography" for NATO, even includes in its product line devices classified as "Cosmic Top Secret," NATO's highest secrecy level. SIT's Elcrodat solution, standard equipment on NATO submarines, frigates and military helicopters, has provided the company with orders worth millions for years.

When approached by SPIEGEL, Rohde & Schwarz declined to comment on this previously unknown part of its company history.

To show its gratitude for the company's efforts, the federal government did more than just provide it with lucrative contracts. Eckart Werthebach, the Interior Ministry official, awarded the former managing director of SIT, a senior Rohde & Schwarz executive originally from West Germany, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his services. The executive received the decoration in a formal ceremony at Villa Hammerschmidt in Bonn, the former official residence of the German president. [Rosenbach&Stark/Infowars/28September2010]


IBD: Did We Know About Mohamed Atta? Why would the Pentagon buy and destroy copies of a book by a former Army intelligence officer? Could it be perhaps because it contained information on how the 9/11 attacks might have been prevented?

The impulse to dismiss this as just another conspiracy theory is overwhelming. Yet the fact is that the Pentagon bought and destroyed 10,000 copies of a book, "Operation Dark Heart," written by Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a Bronze Star recipient and career Army intelligence officer, that contained a chapter on a pre-9/11 intelligence operation, Able Danger.

In a statement, the Pentagon said it "decided to purchase copies of the first printing because they contained information which could cause damage to national security." The books were destroyed on Sept. 20.

The book, critical of operations in Afghanistan, had been cleared by Shaffer's superiors at U.S. Army Reserve Command, but was seized after objections by Pentagon intelligence officials. It also comments on the departure of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whose resignation was prompted by statements he made in a Rolling Stone interview.

Granted, Pentagon and administration sensitivity to criticism is high after that episode and after publication of Bob Woodward's latest book, "Obama's Wars."

But book burning? Lt. Col. Shaffer has since agreed to a redacted version of the book, but where are the champions of the public's right to know?

Shaffer went public in August 2005 with details about a secret military intelligence unit called Able Danger in which he was involved. The unit, using a technique known as data mining, determined a year before 9/11 that four of the future hijackers were al-Qaida operatives, including 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta.

After his revelation, Shaffer was stripped of his security clearance and cast into military limbo. In October 2006, Rep. Christopher Shays, who was chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emergency Threats and International Relations, wrote to Shaffer's superior, Maj. Gen. Elbert Perkins, about the reasons for the clearance revocation and whether it was a retaliatory move.

Shays wrote that an "investigation of security clearance retaliation" showed that "the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) used the security clearance system in an improper manner against LTC Shaffer" and that Shaffer's alleged misuse of a government cell phone and travel voucher was a matter of administrative, not punitive, action under the uniformed code of military justice.

Was this an attempt to silence Shaffer and discredit and bury information about Able Danger? A 2006 Defense Department inspector general's report on the whole matter was kept under wraps until an unredacted copy was recently obtained by Fox News.

Curiously, it omits any reference to possible identification of Atta and his cohorts before 9/11.

According to Fox News, which talked to five witnesses named in the report, all five said their statements to investigators were distorted or key information was left out backing up assertions that lead hijacker Atta had been identified as an al-Qaida operative before 9/11.

One of the redactions DIA sought in "Operation Dark Heart" was the removal of references to a meeting between Shaffer and the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow.

Shaffer alleges that in that meeting, which took place in Afghanistan, Zelikow was informed about the existence of Able Danger and its identification of Atta before 9/11. The reaction, Shaffer said, was "stunned silence."

Shaffer says that Zelikow told him to get in touch when he returned from Afghanistan. When Shaffer tried to contact the 9/11 Commission upon his return, he was told it was no longer interested.

No mention of this meeting was made in the 9/11 Commission report.

If Shaffer's story is bogus, it should be publicly debated and exposed. It certainly isn't a danger to national security in that case. If it is true, it is unclear if the information could have prevented 9/11, but it might have.

All we know for sure is that sunlight is the best disinfectant and part of the answer may be in the pages of a book the Pentagon felt it was necessary to burn. [InvestorsBusinessDaily/5October2010] 

Embassy-Bombing Trial in Jeopardy, by Andrew C. McCarthy. Ahmed Ghailani has confessed to bombing the U.S. embassy in Tanzania twelve years ago. As he explained to the FBI in a series of 2007 interviews, he bought the TNT used in the explosion. He even identified the man from whom he purchased it - a man who was subsequently located, who corroborated Ghailani's confession, and who has been cooperating with American and Tanzanian authorities ever since. Ghailani also helped buy the truck and other components used to carry out the suicide attack.

The two simultaneous embassy bombings - Ghailani's in Dar es Salaam and a second, more devastating one at the American embassy in Nairobi, Kenya - killed at least 224 people. The bombings made Ghailani, then in his early 20s, an icon of the jihad. He strode al-Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan and bonded with fellow terrorists, including some who would later conduct the 9/11 attacks. In fact, Ghailani was so highly regarded that he was chosen to serve as a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden himself.

All of that should make Ghailani's trial, which is slated to begin in Manhattan federal court this week, a slam dunk. It is, however, anything but. Once again, politics has trumped national security and common sense.

The Obama administration has made Ghailani its test case to prove that the civilian criminal-justice system works perfectly well in wartime against enemy combatants - to show that we don't need military commissions or other alternatives specially tailored to address the peculiarities of terrorism cases. The administration figured Ghailani was a safe bet. After all, the embassy-bombing case had already been successfully prosecuted once: In 2001, prior to 9/11, four jihadists were tried, convicted, and sentenced to life imprisonment (although the jury voted to spare the two death-penalty defendants).

Yet, to prove its political point that there is no downside in vesting Ghailani - a Tanzanian national whose only connection to the United States is his decision to make war on it - with all the constitutional rights of an American citizen, the Justice Department has had to slash its case. DOJ is also finding that even more critical evidence may be suppressed by the trial judge. In short, the slam dunk has become a horse race, one the government could actually lose.

The jury won't be hearing about Ghailani's confession. It has been reported that, because he was a highly sought and highly placed al-Qaeda operative, Ghailani was subjected to harsh interrogation tactics by the CIA after being captured in Pakistan in 2004. To be sure, no jury should be permitted to hear a coerced confession. That is not because an alien terrorist held outside the U.S. in wartime has Fifth Amendment rights; it is because a proceeding in which a person is forced to be a witness against himself does not meet rudimentary standards of justice. Nevertheless, we are not referring here to what Ghailani may have told the CIA under duress; we are talking about the confession he gave the FBI three years later. The FBI does not use the CIA's controversial tactics.

There was nothing unlawful about holding Ghailani as an enemy combatant in wartime. Indeed, the trial judge, Lewis Kaplan, has already rejected the terrorist's claim that this detention violated his (purported) right to a speedy trial. Furthermore, CIA coercion would not undermine the validity of subsequent lawful treatment of Ghailani by other government actors. Judge Kaplan has also turned aside the terrorist's claim that the prosecution must be dropped because he was "tortured." Similarly, the CIA's tactics do not render the FBI's subsequent questioning unlawful.

Clearly, however, the prosecutors in New York do not want the trial to devolve into theater over the CIA interrogation methods. Were the government to try to prove Ghailani's statements to the FBI, defense lawyers would have latitude to summon the CIA interrogators. They would argue that the CIA's earlier, rough tactics tainted Ghailani's subsequent, seemingly voluntary confession. The Justice Department is determined to steer clear of that controversy, and of any criticism that it exploited Bush-era tactics, even indirectly. But there's a trade-off: The jury won't learn that Ghailani admitted to planning the bombing, buying the TNT, and being celebrated afterward as an al-Qaeda hero.

The Justice Department figured it could roll those dice because it has a witness, Hussein Abebe, who is prepared to testify that he sold Ghailani the TNT. Not so fast, say Ghailani's lawyers. They argue that the government learned about Abebe only because of Ghailani's confession. By their lights, having agreed not to use it, the government implicitly concedes that the confession is toxic; therefore, the argument goes, it is no more proper for prosecutors to call a witness discovered because of the confession than it would be to use the confession itself.

Prosecutors reply that there is a big difference between using admissions pried from a defendant under coercion and merely calling a witness. The government may inevitably have found the witness anyway. Moreover, even if the confession tipped the government off to Abebe's existence, he is a volunteer, providing testimony of his own free will.

Surprisingly, Judge Kaplan appears to be siding with the defense in this dispute. In a heavily redacted 37-page ruling issued in August, Kaplan concluded that the government had failed to meet the exacting burden required to show that it would inevitably have learned about Abebe without Ghailani's confession. More dismayingly, the judge was unmoved by the government's contention that the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine was inapposite.

Prosecutors argued that this doctrine - a Fourth Amendment suppression-of-evidence remedy invented by judges - was designed to discourage bad behavior by police (specifically, unlawful searches). To the contrary, the FBI's questioning of Ghailani had been legal and in the national-security interest of a country at war with a ruthless terror network about which Ghailani has intimate knowledge.

Kaplan, however, accepted the theory pushed by the defense: that Ghailani has full-fledged Fifth Amendment rights, and that any coercion from the CIA interrogation infected all later government questioning of him. Thus, according to the judge, even if the FBI's interrogation was proper, Abebe's testimony could still be barred because a Fifth Amendment violation occurs, not when information is coerced, but when the coerced information is used against the accused.

Kaplan is more amenable to the government's argument that Abebe is willing to testify of his own free will - in other words, that the witness's voluntary act would be an independent development, one not directly caused by the coercion of Ghailani. Even here, though, the judge remains unconvinced. True, the government has represented that Abebe is voluntarily cooperating; but it has not proven that he is doing so. According to Judge Kaplan's opinion, there has been no affidavit from the witness himself, nor any testimony from CIA, FBI, or Tanzanian officials about the circumstances of Abebe's apprehension and eventual cooperation. The judge has not slammed the door on prosecutors, but he has indicated that the testimony will be barred absent a compelling demonstration that this witness - fully aware that he is under no obligation to provide evidence against a terrorist mass murderer - actually wants to come to New York and testify, and is not acting under any duress from U.S. or Tanzanian authorities.

If Abebe's testimony were stricken, the Justice Department's case would be deeply - and perhaps fatally - wounded. As one prosecutor told the court, "This is a giant witness for the government. There's nothing bigger than him." Without Abebe, prosecutors could not establish that Ghailani obtained the TNT. He'd be able to argue that his having helped a friend buy a truck does not mean he knew people were planning to use the truck in a bombing, much less to strike an American embassy. Even proving the truck purchase could be problematic. As Ben Weiser of the New York Times relates, it's been nine years since the last embassy-bombing trial, and the owner of the truck - a witness in that case who helped establish that Ghailani participated in the truck's purchase - has since died.

Ghailani's trial was supposed to start Monday. It has been postponed until today to allow the court to resolve the witness issue. If Abebe's testimony is disallowed, the government will almost certainly appeal, potentially delaying the trial for weeks, if not longer.

Playing with fire like this is no way to prove a point. Maybe the Justice Department will convince the courts to permit the testimony of their crucial witness. Maybe the very talented prosecutors in Manhattan will even figure out a way to convict Ghailani without Abebe's testimony. But we are intentionally tying our hands behind our backs and running an unnecessarily high risk of acquittal in a case involving a war criminal.

Civilian trials have a vital place in our counterterrorism strategy - particularly in the terrorism-financing cases that the Obama administration shuns because they involve ostensible Islamic charities. Still, it is no denigration of civilian prosecutions to point out that in a military commission - the procedure Congress has designed and reaffirmed for war-crimes trials of enemy combatants - there would be fewer hurdles to placing the most important evidence before the tribunal.

Military commissions need not assume that a defendant is endowed with all the rights of American citizens. They need only be fair. Of course, coerced confessions would be suppressed. Voluntary confessions, however, would be admissible. Available witnesses would be permitted to testify. Prior testimony from unavailable sources might well be considered as long as it appeared reliable - such as the sworn testimony of a now-deceased witness who was subject to cross-examination. Nor would military commissions elbow the Justice Department out of the mix: Experienced federal prosecutors would be able to try the cases along with their military counterparts, just as civilian defense attorneys join military lawyers in the representation of defendants.

This shouldn't be about scoring points. It should be about maximizing the chance of convicting a terrorist with American blood on his hands. [McCarthy/NationalReview/6October2010]

Countries Sharing Intel Key to Terrorism Arrests, by Marc Ambinder. Within the past several weeks, scores of suspected terrorists have been arrested or killed in Pakistan, France, and North Africa. Counterterrorism officials in the United States are focusing on the immediate threat, which appears to be a plan to attack European cities simultaneously with explosives and gunmen. But the events themselves provide a snapshot of how countries are cooperating to counter al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the nine years since September 11, the four years since London was attacked, and the two years since terrorists struck Mumbai.

"Robust information-sharing that's occurring back-and-forth across the Pond has contributed to what we know thus far, but there's more to learn," a U.S. official said. "Everyone knows the stakes are high."

The UK has developed what U.S. officials say is a new vein of human intelligence over the past several months and has shared the product with several other countries, including France and Germany. The country's signals intelligence agency, GCHQ, provided the Central Intelligence Agency with data to target Europeans believed to be part of a German-based cell that was plotting the most recent wave of attacks. The CIA, using Hellfire missiles on MQ-9 Reapers, has targeted suspected terrorists congregating in North Waziristan, Pakistan based on the new intelligence. These terrorist suspects include a Nuristani known to the U.S., a Yemeni man who helped facilitate the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 1998, several German nationals believed to be part of the current plots, and various Pakistanis and Chechens, according to officials.

The CIA, in turn, is sharing information about terrorist training camps and the movement of suspected jihadists into North Africa, where al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb rules the Sahel desert. Or they did: France has killed at least two dozen suspected militants in the past two weeks, according to U.S. officials. One official said that the United States has not played a direct role in any of the assaults, but acknowledged that a U.S. J-STARS aircraft (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) is helping French commandos and intelligence operatives pinpoint targets.

U.S. Special Operations forces are not involved in this wave of counterterrorist operations. News reports suggest that European officials don't have a high level of granularity about the nature of what terrorists might have been plotting. One military official said that the all-at-once migration of German-born Muslims to Pakistan, tracked carefully by foreign intelligence sources, was a clear sign that something was being planned. Not yet clear is whether the plan was operational.

By killing the German nationals, NATO intelligence agencies risk providing terrorists with information about how well the movement of NATO citizens going to and from Pakistan can be tracked. On the other hand, if this plot was indeed nipped well before the date of execution, it could discourage others who want to plan major attacks. And it's another sign that al-Qaeda, in whatever form it exists, has difficulty putting together attacks that pose existential threats.

Are the terrorist warnings warranted? That's the debate in France and Germany right now, as Europeans have been sensitized to the idea that governments might hype terrorist threats for reasons having little to do with terrorism.

This weekend, when new White House Chief of Staff Peter Rouse convened a meeting of senior intelligence and counter-intelligence officials, two questions were debated: How real is the threat to Europe? And, if real, does the U.S. government have the responsibility to formally warn its citizens who travel there? The National Security Staff answered both questions in the affirmative, but the warning, which was relatively light, reflects the intelligence gathered about the plot. [Ambinder/TheAtlantic/5October2010]

How Europe puts America At Risk, by Stewart Baker. During the presidential campaign, it sometimes seemed that Barack Obama was even more popular in Europe than in the United States. If anyone could span transatlantic differences on fighting terrorism, you might have thought it would be Obama.

But since he took office, Europe has consistently opposed the Obama administration's counterterrorism initiatives. The latest rebuff may be the most serious - and a last straw for the administration. That's because it strikes at the heart of Obama's effort to construct a less controversial strategy for stopping terrorists. Everyone knows about his expanded use of Predator drones. Less dramatically, the administration has also begun to rely heavily on travel and reservation data at the border to spot suspicious travelers.

The technique has proved its worth in almost every domestic plot the president has faced. Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was pulled from his international flight because alert officials at the Department of Homeland Security were scanning airline data in real time. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the would-be Christmas Day bomber of Northwest Airlines Flight 253, had already been flagged for border questioning by DHS officials with access to travel data - but was given no special treatment by officials who did not have that data.

So it's no wonder that, as reported in Bob Woodward's new book, "Obama's Wars," one of the administration's top negotiating priorities with Pakistan has been access to airline passenger data. Access grows only more vital as reports filter back of European passport holders training in Pakistan for terrorist assaults in the West. Understandably, the administration wants to know which Europeans and Americans have spent months in Pakistan without family connections or visible means of support.

Obama is right to see this kind of scrutiny at the border as lawful, effective and far less controversial than many of the counterterrorism measures that he has reluctantly kept in place.

That doesn't mean it's going to be easy to accomplish, however. Pakistan and other countries in a position to share useful travel data have been slow to share the information.

But the real roadblock is in Brussels, where the European Parliament has unilaterally demanded that the administration renegotiate the E.U.-U.S. agreement on travel reservation data - launching the fourth set of talks on this topic in seven years. More recently, the European Commission announced plans to insist that other countries join what amounts to a data boycott of the United States. Under the commission's proposal, Pakistan and other countries would be prohibited from sharing travel data about Europeans with the United States except on a "case-by-case basis."

That would leave U.S. border officials in the dark at the most crucial stage - when they're trying to decide which travelers will be questioned carefully at the border and which will be waved through.

Perhaps most remarkably, the new European position violates a solemn written promise that the E.U. would never do such a thing again.

In 2007, the United States promised to help several Caribbean countries keep track of dangerous travelers attending the Cricket World Cup. Both sides benefited. The Caribbean nations could order airlines to hand over the data, but they couldn't process it quickly. The United States could, and it had at least as strong an interest in identifying risky travelers before they arrived in a region that is sometimes called the United States' "third border."

Sharing the data seemed to make all the sense in the world - but an E.U. official barged in, threatening trade sanctions against Caribbean countries if the sharing did not get European approval.

I was the lead U.S. negotiator at the time, and I hit the roof. With the talks hanging in the balance, the E.U. backed down. To make sure it didn't happen again, we insisted that the E.U. add a promise in the 2007 agreement about travel data - that the E.U. "will take all necessary steps to discourage" third countries from interfering with U.S. travel data programs.

But the Europeans have evidently concluded that promises made to an earlier administration can be ignored.

The timing is atrocious. Intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic are warning of European terrorists trained in Pakistan - precisely the kind of threat that travel data could help to stop.

As so often is the case in foreign affairs, this is not a challenge the president wanted, or one that he could have foreseen two years ago. But how he handles it will tell Europeans - and Americans - a lot about his determination to protect the United States from another terrorist attack.

[Stewart Baker is a Washington lawyer and a former official of the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. He is the author of "Skating on Stilts," a memoir about terrorism and technology.] [Baker/WashingtonPost/7October2010] 

Top US Goal in Afghanistan ought to be Capturing bin Laden, by Jack Devine. There is no doubt that Osama bin Laden is foremost on the minds of the courageous CIA and Special Forces officers in Afghanistan who are looking for him. Where he hasn't appeared lately is in the debates about what the United States is trying to achieve in Afghanistan and whether our emphasis should be on counterinsurgency and nation-building or on counterterrorism.

It has been nine long years since bin Laden and his disciples attacked the United States, bringing about the catastrophic loss of American lives on Sept. 11, 2001, and more in the military battles that followed.

The debate about where we are headed in Afghanistan must include finding bin Laden. This should be our top priority as we wind down our presence there. We have entered into two problematic wars and have expended a great deal of blood and treasure since Sept. 11. What was it all about, if not capturing bin Laden?

It is amazing that bin Laden has disappeared not only physically but also from our Afghanistan lexicon. It is troubling to listen to media personalities and government officials talk about the war in Afghanistan without mentioning bin Laden. I can't remember the last time I heard him discussed as a centerpiece or even a component of our Afghanistan strategy. It is almost as though there is a conspiracy to play down his importance, even in the context of the latest terrorist threat in Europe.

The cognoscenti in the intelligence world have for some time felt that bin Laden isn't important because he is only a symbol for al-Qaeda. Moreover, they believe that the real threat is elsewhere and that bin Laden has only indirect influence over the groups his message spawned. Only history will tell conclusively if he really is this benign. I don't believe it, and I would not like to be the one who has to explain this judgment if bin Laden or his close allies were able to engineer another major attack.

Even if one accepts that bin Laden is less relevant today and only a figurehead without organizational muscle, this judgment greatly underestimates the impact of removing him from the center of the radical terrorist movement. On the run, he is a symbol that terrorism can prevail and that its leader can survive despite our massive military power. If we end this myth, we stand a good chance of triggering a trend away from radical Islamic terrorism.

The fall of a charismatic leader traditionally deflates a movement's followers, and these leaders are seldom replaced with individuals of even remotely similar presence and charisma. In the 1960s and '70s, for example, when terrorism and insurgency were rampant in Latin America, the Cuban-inspired ideological movement rippling through South America lost much of its luster with Che Guevara's demise in the mountains of Bolivia in 1967.

No one questions that the Afghan terrain is challenging and that many tribal considerations need to be confronted in traversing the region. But the United States and its allies have a 100,000-strong army there, and we are spending about $100 billion a year on the war effort. We certainly have in place the resources needed to complete the task.

Equally challenging is working around Pakistan's national security politics. A few years ago, in a discussion with a senior leader of the U.S. intelligence community, I asked why we hadn't captured bin Laden. The response boiled down to "it's complicated." The implication was that elements within the Pakistani government were an impediment to his capture. If that is still the case, we should forget about nation-building in Afghanistan and, like Sherman marching across Georgia during the Civil War, march our army across eastern Afghanistan, pressing forward even into Pakistan's Northwest Frontier, and continue the march until we capture him.

We should advise the Pakistani government of our intention in no uncertain terms. While Pakistani officials would surely fuss, as they have done over a recent uptick in Predator drone attacks, it's a pretty good bet that we would have bin Laden's head on a platter before we got anywhere near the Pakistani border. This is not traditionally how we deal with important allies, and it is not a formula for routine diplomatic discourse. But in certain exceptional circumstances, hardball is called for. I also suspect the fallout would be far less damaging and more ephemeral than many might suggest.

It is hard to imagine an acceptable exit from Afghanistan without bin Laden's demise. Putting him to rest would provide a truly meaningful rationale for leaving. The most recent publicly available intelligence reports show that there are few al-Qaeda terrorists remaining in the region; many have moved elsewhere, including to Yemen.

We need to move bin Laden back to center stage in our Afghanistan strategy. However the administration's coming policy review turns out, let's hope we won't still be looking for Osama bin Laden on Sept. 11, 2011.

[The writer, a former CIA deputy director of operations and chief of the CIA Afghan Task Force from 1986 to 1987, is president of the Arkin Group, a private intelligence company based in New York.]  [Devine/WashingtonPost/8October2010] 

Changing the Status Quo: Congressional Oversight of the CIA, by Elizabeth Finan. With the recent passage of the first intelligence authorization bill in six years, congressional oversight of covert action will expand to unprecedented levels.

According to the Washington Post, in most instances the entire membership of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) will be permitted to attend briefings detailing the CIA's covert action programs. In the past, these types of briefings were limited to the so-called "Gang of Eight", a group that was limited to the party leadership in both the House and the Senate, as well as the chairs and ranking minority members of the HPSCI and SSCI. In extremely sensitive operations, the bill grants the White House authority to restrict the briefings to the Gang of Eight; even then the full committees will still receive a "general description" of the contents of the presidential finding that was required to launch the covert action program.

Despite the best intentions of the bill's authors, it is unlikely that this additional oversight will reduce the number of legally (and morally) questionable activities the CIA undertakes. In fact, since the reforms resulting from the 1970s-era Church Committee, Congress has had more briefings and more access to classified material than ever before, yet programs such as Iran-Contra, warrantless wiretapping, and enhanced interrogation were still were carried out.

This is not necessarily because congressmen are shirking their responsibilities. As former congressman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission Lee Hamilton pointed out in a 2005 USA Today article, "The system relies on trust that the White House will accurately describe its programs and that lawmakers will keep secrets."

While the intelligence committees have, for the most part earned the intelligence community's trust in terms of not leaking sensitive programs, the executive branch has not always held up its end of the bargain. For example, in 2009, it was revealed that the CIA, under orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, had neglected to inform Congress about a secret counterterrorism program. Although the program never became operational, it solidified what many congressmen have long believed: the CIA is not forthcoming with information in their briefings with Congress. It is difficult to oversee an operation effectively if basic information is not provided.

Another problem with oversight of covert action, especially during the Bush administration, was the numerous rules that frustrated Congress's ability from performing its oversight functions. Staffers could not attend the briefings on operations such as the warrantless wiretapping program and legislators were not permitted to take notes or discuss the briefings with anyone not present. Considering that committee staffers are the true experts in intelligence topics, at least compared to the congressmen themselves (who generally lack a deep understanding of intelligence issues), the fact that they cannot be consulted is an obstacle to effective oversight.

The executive branch is not the only one at fault, however. The highly partisan environment in the legislature also contributes to an oversight process that is deeply flawed. How can Congress ensure that covert action is respectful of the law if political considerations take precedent? Support for some of the most controversial covert action programs during the Bush administration was divided almost exactly down party lines. Were Republicans in favor of the program because of their political alignment with the White House? Were Democrats objecting to the programs based on principle, or simply for reason of partisanship? The oversight process lacks objectivity, which has resulted in some questionable covert action programs throughout the past decade.

Few people would argue with the fact that oversight of the intelligence community is a positive development. Not only is it a check on the powers of the executive branch, it also makes American citizens feel a little better about their transparent, democratic government engaging in nefarious plots overseas.

And therein lies the problem: Americans would like to have it both ways. They would like to be an open society, while at the same time permitting great latitude to the conduct of clandestine operations. The messy, ineffective oversight process is a result of these conflicting priorities.

It is time for a new approach. Rather than the HPSCI and the SSCI, the Government Accountability Office should assume oversight responsibilities of covert action programs. In addition to its expertise in program evaluation, the GAO, as a non-partisan investigative agency, would take the partisanship out of oversight, which might encourage intelligence officials to provide more information about their programs. Of course, this new arrangement might not sit well with legislators who do not like to see their powers reduced. But if the United States is to engage in covert action overseas while staying true to U.S. values, the status quo must change. [Finan/IAR/11October2010]

Don't Try Terrorists, Lock Them Up, by Jack Goldsmith. The Obama administration wants to show that federal courts can handle trials of Guant�namo Bay detainees, and had therefore placed high hopes in the prosecution of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, accused in the 1998 bombings of American embassies in East Africa. On Wednesday a federal judge, Lewis Kaplan of the United States District Court in Manhattan, made the government's case much harder when he excluded the testimony of the government's central witness because the government learned about the witness through interrogating Mr. Ghailani at a secret overseas prison run by the C.I.A.

Some, mostly liberals and civil libertarians, applauded the ruling, saying it showed that the rule of law is being restored. But many conservatives denounced it as proof that high-level terrorists cannot reliably be prosecuted in civilian courts and should instead be tried by military commissions.

The real lesson of the ruling, however, is that prosecution in either criminal court or a tribunal is the wrong approach. The administration should instead embrace what has been the main mechanism for terrorist incapacitation since 9/11: military detention without charge or trial.

Military detention was once legally controversial but now is not. District and appellate judges have repeatedly ruled - most recently on Thursday - that Congress, in its September 2001 authorization of force, empowered the president to detain members of Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces until the end of the military conflict.

Because the enemy in this indefinite war wears no uniform, courts have rightly insisted on high legal and evidentiary standards - much higher than what the Geneva Conventions require - to justify detention. And many detainees in cases that did not meet these standards have been released.

Still, while it is more difficult than ever to keep someone like Mr. Ghailani in military detention, it is far easier to detain him than to convict him in a civilian trial or a military commission. Military detention proceedings have relatively forgiving evidence rules and aren't constrained by constitutional trial rules like the right to a jury and to confront witnesses. There is little doubt that Mr. Ghailani could be held in military detention until the conflict with Al Qaeda ends.

Why, then, does the Obama administration seek to prosecute him in federal court? One answer might be that trials permit punishment, including the death penalty. But the Justice Department is not seeking the death penalty against Mr. Ghailani. Another answer is that trials "give vent to the outrage" over attacks on civilians, as Judge Kaplan has put it. This justification for the trial is diminished, however, by the passage of 12 years since the crimes were committed.

The final answer, and the one that largely motivates the Obama administration, is that trials are perceived to be more legitimate than detention, especially among civil libertarians and foreign allies.

Military commissions have secured frustratingly few convictions. The only high-profile commission trial now underway - that of Omar Khadr, a Canadian who was 15 at the time he was detained - has been delayed for months. Commissions do not work because they raise scores of unresolved legal issues like the proper rules of evidence and whether material support and conspiracy, usually the main charges, can be brought in a tribunal since they may not be law-of-war violations.

Civilian trials in federal court, by contrast, often do work. Hundreds of terrorism-related cases in federal court have resulted in convictions since 9/11; this week, the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was sentenced to life in prison after a guilty plea.

But Mr. Ghailani and his fellow detainees at Guant�namo Bay are a different matter. The Ghailani case shows why the administration has been so hesitant to pursue criminal trials for them: the demanding standards of civilian justice make it very hard to convict when the defendant contests the charges and the government must rely on classified information and evidence produced by aggressive interrogations.

A further problem with high-stakes terrorism trials is that the government cannot afford to let the defendant go. Attorney General Eric Holder has made clear that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the 9/11 plotter, would be held indefinitely in military detention even if acquitted at trial. Judge Kaplan said more or less the same about Mr. Ghailani this week. A conviction in a trial publicly guaranteed not to result in the defendant's release will not be seen as a beacon of legitimacy.

The government's reliance on detention as a backstop to trials shows that it is the foundation for incapacitating high-level terrorists in this war. The administration would save money and time, avoid political headaches and better preserve intelligence sources and methods if it simply dropped its attempts to prosecute high-level terrorists and relied exclusively on military detention instead.

[Jack Goldsmith, a former assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, is a professor at Harvard Law School and a member of the Hoover Institution's Task Force on National Security and Law.]  [Goldsmith/NYTimes/9October2010] 



Writer, Lover, Soldier, Spy: The Strange and Secretive Life of Alexander Wilson. As the author of Chronicles of the Secret Service, Microbes of Power and The Death of Dr Whitelaw, Alexander Wilson earned critical plaudits and enjoyed excellent sales. His spy thrillers were full of espionage and derring-do, so realistic that those in the secret service recognized pen portraits of themselves - and their superiors. So why today does no one remember him, while contemporaries like John Buchan and Compton Mackenzie survive in print? And why did he die in obscurity in 1963, an undischarged bankrupt with a criminal record?

The answers, according to a new book, may stem from the fact that part of his life was orchestrated on behalf of the British Secret Intelligence Services who, for reasons unexplained, then expunged him from official records. Was he, as some of his family believe, a spy who became addicted to deception, a compulsive storyteller who lost all sense of fact and fiction?

The deceit was so extensive that it was not until two years ago that, during the writing of The Secret Lives of A Secret Agent: The Mysterious Life and Times of Alexander Wilson, the journalist and author Tim Crook was able to make some of Wilson's children aware of each other's existence - for not only was Wilson adept at crafting characters who lived daring double lives, he lived one of his own, with one legal and three bigamous marriages to his name.

Crook's book tells the remarkable story of a man remembered by his oldest surviving son, Dennis Wilson, now 89, as "charming and charismatic... when we saw him." He adds: "My father had a very complicated life."

It was a very rich one. Born in Dover, Kent, to an Irish mother and an English army officer father, Alexander Wilson spent his childhood following his father to Mauritius, Singapore, Hong Kong and Ceylon. By 1925, Wilson was 32, a much-travelled former First World War officer who had become the actor-manager of a touring repertory company. It was then that he unexpectedly left his wife Gladys and three young children in England to become Professor of English Literature at the University of Punjab in Lahore, then part of the British Raj.

Crook believes Wilson was recruited into the secret world: "The academic who appointed him had known connections with the intelligence world." But why almost a decade after he last saw service on behalf of his country, and why a man with little academic achievement, apart from speaking Cantonese and French, which is hardly useful locally?

"I suspect some Army connection, possibly through his family, that led him to being either recruited or activated at this point. The British needed to combat the threat of Communist-backed insurgents in the North-West Frontier."

With academic cover, Wilson travelled around the North-West Frontier, became an honorary Major in the Indian Army Reserve and learnt Urdu and Persian. In the early 1930s, he also spent time in Ceylon, Arabia and Palestine, on likely intelligence missions.

In India, Wilson's career took another unexpected twist. After writing a book of English for Indian students, which may have been part of his cover, he wrote two spy thrillers, The Mystery of Tunnel 51 which, for the first time featured his secret-service hero, Sir Leonard Wallace, shortly followed by The Devil's Cocktail - "A thrill on every page," said The Times Literary Supplement (TLS) - both published in 1928.

Crook says: "What was remarkable about these books was their uncanny portrayal of the original 'C' - Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the first head of MI6, fictionalised as Sir Leonard. Only someone who knew Smith-Cumming could have written those books." The fictional Wallace, for instance, shared with the real "C" a false wooden limb, grey eyes and a wife whose forename began with "M".

Wilson returned to England in 1933, an established author. His fifth book, The Crimson Dacoit, a thriller about terrorist infiltration into Indian intelligence, was reviewed by TLS: "He evidently devotes time and thought to the working out of details... a thriller which is very good."

The reviews got better. In September 1933, TLS said Wallace of the Secret Service was "sensational... a genuine piece of forceful story-telling."

While his writing career took off, his personal circumstances were complicated. In India, he met and married Dorothy Wick, a touring actress. But when they returned to Britain, Dorothy was left in London, with baby son Michael, while Wilson resumed life with his first family in Southampton.

Dennis remembers: "My father had been this rather glamorous figure who would turn up on leave, driving a flash hired car and bringing us loads of presents before leaving again. The 18 months he lived with us after he returned from India were the only time we were a family."

After a row with a relative in 1935, Wilson went back to London, telling his wife and children he would find somewhere for them all to live. His son says: "I imagined him arriving at Waterloo with his luggage and looking for lodgings. But now I know that all he did was return to Dorothy. And we never got to live in London."

In 1940, Chronicles of the Secret Service, his 18th and final novel, the 10th to feature Sir Leonard Wallace, was published, its jacket blurb strongly implying inside knowledge: "Major Alexander Wilson probably knows as much about the Secret Service as any living novelist." Crook argues that Wilson's writing was so precise in its knowledge of intelligence life that it is almost inconceivable he did not have first-hand experience, and that he was encouraged by the services to write his books as a way of perpetuating a myth of their all-powerful nature.

Whatever the extent of his secret life up to that point, there is no doubt that in 1940 he joined MI6, eavesdropping on overseas embassies' telephones to gather what was known in the intelligence world as "special material". By now estranged from Dorothy, he met his third wife, Alison McKelvie, an MI6 secretary.

But then life took a turn for the worst. In late 1942, shortly after the birth of their first son, Gordon, he was dismissed from the Secret Intelligence Service. Wilson maintained to Alison this was for "operational reasons" and that he was now an agent in the field. He stuck to this explanation during years in poverty - he was declared bankrupt in 1944 (the year their second son Nigel was born), they were forced to repeatedly move house, four further books went unpublished and he was twice jailed for petty crimes.

Alison grew suspicious of "a vast fabrication" barely able to believe it was all just "cover". In fact, as Crook points out, a similar "fall from grace" scenario was central to The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, by John le Carr�, himself a former intelligence officer. Crook believes the prison sentences could have been designed to place him under cover with imprisoned agents and subversives in prison.

However, it was probably not cover that caused him to marry again, to Elizabeth Hill, a nurse he met while working as a hospital porter in the mid-Fifties. For two years he carried on a double life between two proximate homes. He and Elizabeth had a son, Douglas.

Alison later wrote: "I realized there was not a single thing [he] had ever told me that I could put my finger on and now say 'that is true'. Just one thing I knew - he had written intelligence stories. This indeed was the supreme irony: the only reality in a mountain of fiction was fiction itself." Crook takes the opposite view: "All of the mysteries, ambiguities and contradictions are consistent with intelligence tradecraft. What Alison perceived as fantasy and lying could also be read as the tactics and rituals of cover."

Wilson died of a heart attack in 1963, his 70th year. It was only when Alison called the Southampton house, with whom he remained on good terms, with news of his death that they learned of her existence. "We thought she was his landlady," says Dennis. Alison also discovered her late husband was not divorced from Gladys.

Four decades later, Crook began investigating Wilson at the behest of his friend Michael, who was staggered to learn that his father had not, as he was told by a bitter Dorothy, died at El Alamein in 1942, but had lived for another 22 years. The six surviving half-siblings - Adrian, his other son by Dorothy died in 1998 - subsequently learned fully of each other's existence, becoming one large, mutually accepting, extended family. Dennis says: "It is absolutely marvelous, like we have known each other all our lives."

And they have all been interesting, fulfilling ones: Dennis, an Army officer, was wounded at Normandy before becoming a businessman, while Nigel was a City investment manager and Gordon a Navy captain; Douglas works for the Scottish government and Michael had a long career as an actor, having changed his surname to Shannon. One grandchild, Nigel's daughter, Ruth Wilson, is an actress, starring in the 2006 BBC version of Jane Eyre.

Wilson's other legacy to the nation is more opaque. Crook can only speculate why so little of his work survived beyond the war, why the records of his literary agents and publishers were missing, why many traces of Wilson seemed to have been eradicated. "It may have been an operation to sanitize the public records."

Crook was not allowed to see MI6 files. He did, however, have access to "confidential sources", unable to either confirm or deny anything. "I always stressed the negative - that Wilson was a fantasist, his books luckily perceptive rather than the work of an insider and his post-war decline his own fault," says Crook. "But when I spoke to my sources, the positive was strongly pointed out - that Wilson might well have being doing a great job for his country, an unsung hero in contrast to others from the era, like Anthony Blunt or Guy Burgess.''

For Crook, that is at least partial confirmation of the secret life of Alexander Wilson. Of course, within the wilderness of mirrors in the secret world, it might be simply expedient to let some fiction masquerade as fact. And vice versa. [Kirby/Independent/8October2010]


Retired Colonel Harry B. Plowman. Retired Colonel Harry B. Plowman, 89, of Quincy Village, Quincy, Pa., entered into eternal rest at 12:58 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, 2010, in the nursing home.

He was born on March 16, 1921, in Fairmont, W.Va.; he was the son of the late Harry B. and Etta See (South) Plowman.

Col. Plowman graduated from Fairmont High School in Fairmont, W.Va., with the Class of 1939. He then attended West Virginia University and graduated from Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and Defense Intelligence College in Washington D.C., both while serving in the military.

After graduating from Engineer OCS at Fort Belvoir, Va., he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army on Aug. 5, 1942. During World War II, he was an OSS operative in Yugoslavia and also served in Puerto Rico, Egypt and Korea. He retired from the military on Aug. 31, 1969. At the time of his retirement he was the Intelligence Officer (G2) of the Army Southern Command in Panama. Subsequent to his military retirement, he worked for 11 years at Grove Manufacturing Company in Shady Grove, Pa.

He and his late wife, Mrs. Betty J. (Lambiotte) Plowman, were married Sept. 18, 1942, in Washington D.C. From 1969 through 1984 they lived Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., and then from 1984 through 1996 they resided in Delaware for the summer months and Florida for the winter months. They moved to Quincy Village in 1996. Mrs. Plowman died Nov. 30, 2007.

Among his many awards, he was the recipient of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and the Republic of Korea Ulchi Distinguished Service Medal presented to him personally by President Syngman Rhee of Korea on Aug. 16, 1955.

Col. Plowman was a life member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers, the Office of Strategic Service Society, the Retired Officer Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the National Association of Uniformed Services.

Col. Plowman is survived by two daughters, Lisabeth K. Rodgers of Blue Ridge Summit and Katherine S. Winkler of Rouzerville; three sons, Jonathan K. Plowman of Rehoboth Beach, Del., Christopher M. Plowman of Maumee, Ohio, and Alexander S. Plowman of Blue Ridge Summit; eight grandchildren, Marie Boshoff, Karen Walter, Christina Walter, Nicholas Rodgers, James Brunner, Ericka Chavez, Benjamin Plowman and Lydia Plowman; three great-grandchildren; and two foster daughters, Chris Allen of Chanute, Kan., and Joyce Craig of Rainsville, Ala.

In addition to his parents and wife, he was preceded in death by two daughters, Rebekah A. Plowman and Valerie L. Walter, and a grandson, Michael S. Plowman. [TheRecordHerald/8October2010]


[IMPORTANT: AFIO does not "vet" nor endorse these research inquiries or job offers. Reasonable-sounding inquiries are published as a service to members. Exercise your usual caution and good judgment when responding or supplying any information or making referrals to colleagues. Members should obtain prior approval from their agencies before answering questions that would impact ongoing military or intelligence operations - even if unclassified. Never assume public inquiries about classified projects means they've been declassified. Be attuned to false-flagging.]

AFIO Member Recruiting Active / Retired Intelligence and Law Enforcement Officers for Part-Time / Full-Time Consulting. Dr. Robert Girod and Robert J. Girod Consulting, LLC are looking for active and retired intelligence and law enforcement officers (including military reservists) for part-time and full-time consulting positions:

- 4 Computer Forensics - CIA, NSA, FBI, US Secret Service, OSI, NCIS, USACIDC, INSCOM, other federal intelligence or local law enforcement or university professors.

- 4 Forensic Accounting and Auditing - FBI, US Secret Service, IRS CID, US Postal Inspectors, SEC, other federal intelligence or local law enforcement or university professors.

- 4 Accident Reconstruction - NTSB, FAA, US Coast Guard, other federal intelligence or local law enforcement or university professors.

- Language Skills (interviewers/interpreters/translators) any federal intelligence or local law enforcement or university professors with skills in Arabic, Assyrian, Farsi (Persian), Russian, Chinese, Korean, or other languages of interest.

Anyone interest or knowing someone who may be, please contact Robert J. Girod Consulting, LLC at or visit our website at

Coming Educational Events


MANY Spy Museum Events in October and November with full details are listed on the AFIO Website at The titles for some of these are in detail below and online.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010 - Albuquerque, NM - AFIO's Tom Smith New Mexico Chapter meets at Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort

Contact Pete Bostwick at to register for this luncheon meeting of the chapter. Takes place at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, Santa Ana Reservation. 11:00 AM: Buffet Lunch Served 11:30 AM.
$20.00 per person, including tax and gratuity. Since their staff must plan in advance for the right number of attendees, we will need an advance commitment from those planning to attend. We request that as soon as you decide (but NLT 7 Oct), please place your reservation with: 505-898-2649

13 October 2010 - Scottsdale, AZ - "The FBI's Evolving Domestic Intelligence Mission" is theme of AFIO Arizona Chapter Meeting by two FBI Professionals.

Mr. Steve Hooper and Mr. Mark Gygi will discuss the "FBI's Evolving Domestic Intelligence Mission." Hooper and Mr. Mark Gygi, who co-manage the Phoenix FBI's overall Intelligence Program, will be speaking on the FBI's Evolving Domestic Intelligence Mission, with an emphasis on how this intelligence mission impacts locally on things like the South-West border. Hooper has been an FBI Special Agent for more than 25 years. He has served in Portland, Baltimore, Annapolis, and FBI Hqs. He was detailed to CIA's Counterterrorism Center for a period after 9/11. He has been in the Phoenix office for 3 years, where he serves as Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge (ASAC) of the intelligence program. Gygi has been involved in the U.S. intelligence community for more than 25 years, having lived and served abroad for 13 plus years. His overseas assignments took him to Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and East Asia. As a senior officer he is currently detailed to the Phoenix FBI to co-manage the intelligence program for that Bureau office. He has been in Phoenix for 2 and 1/2 years. Event is being held at: McCormick RANCH GOLF COURSE (7505 McCormick Parkway, Scottsdale AZ 85258 ~ Phone 480.948.0260). Our meeting fees are as follows: $20.00 for AFIO members, $22.00 for guests. For reservations or questions, please email Simone or or call and leave a message on 602.570.6016. Art Kerns,

Thursday 14 October 2010, noon - 2 pm - Washington, DC - The Returned & Services League of Australia features speaker Tom Sileo on CIA Humor.

Tom Sileo will share some incidents from his book "CIA Humor - A few True Stories from a 31-year CIA Career. Event takes place at the Amenities room, Embassy of Australia, 1601 Massachusetts, Ave., Washington, DC 20036
Charge - $15.00, including buffet lunch and sodas. Alcoholic beverages, $2.00 each.
RSVP by noon Wednesday October 13, to David Ward on 202-352-8550 or via e-mail at
Parking: There is no parking at the Embassy. There is public parking behind and under the Airline Pilots Association at a cost of $15.00 for two hours.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010, noon – 1 pm – Stealing Atomic Secrets: The Invisible Harry Gold - a program at the International Spy Museum.

Harry Gold was literally the man who handed the Soviets the plans for America's nuclear bomb. A Russian-Jewish immigrant from Switzerland, he became a spy for the Soviets while studying chemistry in the United States during the depths of the Great Depression. His KGB code names, such as "Goose" and "Mad," belied his importance as a liaison to important spies within the scientific and engineering communities. During World War II, he was entrusted to be the KGB's handler for physicist Klaus Fuchs, who had burrowed deep into the Manhattan Project, America's super-secret program to build an atom bomb. After Gold's arrest in 1950, his testimony helped send Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair. Journalist and historian Allen Hornblum will help us understand how a decent and well-intentioned man helped commit the greatest scientific theft of the twentieth century.
Free! No registration required! Join the author for an informal chat and book signing. More information at

22 October 2010, Noon-1:15 p.m. - Washington, DC - Richard Clarke on "The Three Challenges of Cybersecurity" at ABA Luncheon

Richard Clarke, Partner, Good Harbor Consulting LLC, is an internationally recognized expert on security, including homeland security, counterterrorism, and cyber security. He is also a former presidential advisor and counter-terrorism expert, Mr. Clarke is the co-author of "Cyber War."
FEE: luncheon is $25.00. Reservations must be made in advance by checks payable to "ABA" and mailed to ABA Standing Committee on Law and National Security, 740 15th St NW, Washington, DC 2005 by by October 19. If you are bringing guests, note their names. In the event you need to cancel your reservation, a refund will be made provided notice of cancellation is received in ABA by October 19. Location: Army Navy Club, 901 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC. To register contact Holly McMahon, Staff Director, at 202-662-1035 or at More information at

Saturday, 23 October 2010, 10 am - Coral Gables, FL - "How We Know That You Are Lying: Explorations in the Science of Polygraphy" with John Palmatier, PhD -- at the AFIO Miami Chapter

Dr. John J. Palmatier of Slattery Associates/Dawn Associates [] speaks at this Saturday morning event hosted by the AFIO Ted Shackley Miami Chapter. The fee is $10 for AFIO member; $25 for guests. No charge for U.S. Government employees, military, students, faculty or law enforcement.
RSVP with check to Tom Spencer, 999 Ponce de Leon Blvd Ste 520, Coral Gables, FL 33134. Questions to 305 648-0940 or email

28 October 2010, 0930- 1715 - Newport News, VA - AFIO Hampton Roads Chapter hosts 2nd Annual Workshop on National Security and Intelligence

Location: Christopher Newport University, Newport News. Theme: Maritime and Port Security
We seek sponsorship at all levels to help cover costs. Please advise if you know of a company or organization that might like to sponsor the event.
Sponsorships start at $250. RSVP: Melissa Saunders

29 October 2010, 11 a.m. - Tysons Corner, VA - Naval Intelligence Professionals (NIP) Fall Luncheon. To be held at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tyson's Corner, VA Event ends at 2 p.m. Keynote speaker TBD.

29-31 October 2010 - Middletown, RI - The New England Chapter of the Naval Cryptologic Veterans Association (NCVA-NE) will hold a Fall Mini-Reunion. Event takes place at the Newport Beach Hotel and Suites. The registration cut-off date is September 29, 2010. For additional information, call (518) 664-8032 or visit

Tuesday, 2 November 2010, 6:30 pm - Washington, DC - Attack on Mumbai: A New Paradigm for Terrorism? - a program at the International Spy Museum.

"One of the gunmen seemed to be talking on a mobile phone even as he used his other hand to fire off rounds." — Nisar Suttar, eyewitness, November 2008
On 26 November 2008, ten highly trained and disciplined men used covert intelligence and off-the-shelf technology to terrorize and immobilize the city of Mumbai, killing 166 people and wounding over 300. The attackers were able to effectively overwhelm the Mumbai police and Indian security forces utilizing integrated tactics, superior weaponry, and sophisticated covert communications that provided their Pakistani handlers with "real time" command and control as events unfolded. This change in tactics has presented a challenge for the West: how can we find ways to defend against similar attacks in the future? H. Keith Melton, renowned intelligence historian, technical advisor to American intelligence agencies, author of Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs, from Communism to Al-Qaeda, and International Spy Museum board member, has thoroughly researched the planning and technology behind the attack. Using videotape of the surviving attacker's confession and intercepts of terrorist voice communications during the assault, he will offer a strategic overview of the attacks and explore the tactical phases, and the use by the terrorists of "commercial off-the-shelf" (COTS) technologies and the Internet. Tickets: $12.50 per person. Seating is limited. Register at

Wednesday, 10 November 2010, 5 pm - by voice conference - The Miami-Dade Chapter of AFIO hosts their Annual Meeting and Elections by telephone conference. These Elections will be for Officers and Directors. The Elective Officers are President, President-Elect, Secretary and Treasurer. All officers and directors must be members of the National organization and be current in dues. All officers must also be directors. There will be no less than 9 directors. We are giving this notice in advance for the 2011 year ( starting January 1, 2011), so that you can be thinking about your role in the leadership for next year. Current President Tom Spencer will not be standing for election either as an officer or a director, since it is time for a change. Please consider becoming an active member of the chapter for a few years, starting 2011. To participate, contact Tom Spencer at or at 305-790-4715 for details.

Saturday, 13 November 2010, 11am - 3pm - Orange Park, FL - North Florida Chapter meets to discuss Iran and Nuclear Power in the late 1970s. Mr. Roger C. Nichols, discusses his observations of Iran during its turbulent time in the late 1970s where he served on behalf of Westinghouse Atomic Power Division. In 1978 he was in Iran as the country manager for
Power Systems to implement sales and construction of nuclear power plants for the Government of Iran. However, the program was terminated in late 1988 due to the departure of the Shah and the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran and to power.
Chapter Event takes place at the Country Club at Orange Park, Florida.
RSVP to Quiel at or call 904-545-9549. before the 1st of November

13 - 20 November 2010 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - SPYCRUISE to Grand Turks, Turks & Caicos; San Juan, PR; St. Thomas, USVI; and Half Moon Cay, Bahamas - with National Security Speakers Discussing "Current & Future Threats: Policies, Problems and Prescriptions."

SPYCRUISE�: A National Security Educational Lecture/Seminar Series. The CI Centre and Henley-Putnam University are sponsoring a new SpyCruise�, November 13-20, 2010. Join them on the Holland American MS Eurodam as they set sail from Ft. Lauderdale, FL to the Grand Turks, San Juan, St. Thomas and Half Moon Cay in the Caribbean. Speakers include former DCI’s Porter Goss and Gen. Michael Hayden plus many others. AFIO member and retired CIA operations officer Bart Bechtel continues his role as the “SpySkipper.” For more information about this year’s SpyCruise�, go to: RESERVATIONS: or call 1-888-670-0008.
Fees for an eight day cruise: $1,199 inside cabin; $1269 Ocean View Cabin; $1449 Verandahs; $1979 Suites. Price includes program, taxes, port charges and gratuities. Colorful brochure here.

Thursday, 18 November 2010, 11:30 am Colorado Springs, CO - The Rocky Mountain Chapter presents Vice President William D. Kappel, Applied Weather Associates, Monument, CO who will speak on Global Warming. Both science and intelligence have to work with incomplete and sometimes contradicting data. How can a valid conclusion be reached with reasonable confidence? The sample topic we will examine is global warming, specifically if it is human induced. A topic, that is controversial, has lots of scientific data and opinion, is either very important for future world stability and security if true but not perceived as true now, or for unnecessary large economic disruption if not true but perceived as true now. To be held at the new location AFA... Eisenhower Golf Course Club House. Please RSVP to Tom VanWormer at

Thursday, 18 November 2010, 6:30 pm - "Uneasy Alliance: The CIA and ISI in Pakistan" at the International Spy Museum

"CIA and ISI operatives depend on each other for their lives…" - so says an anonymous senior ISI official, December 2009
As the U.S. hunts down Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, the CIA appears to be working closely with the Pakistan Intelligence Service (ISI). But the two services have a long and rocky history with frequent betrayal by ISI members saying one thing, and aiding the Taliban behind-the-scenes. While the ISI has helped with the capture of Afghan Taliban leaders, some they have released Taliban figures they caught on their own. What is the future of this relationship? Are the CIA and ISI endgames compatible? Join this panel of experts as they explore what's opinions of what's happening on the ground in Pakistan and a few predictions for the future: Farhana Ali, senior lecturer, AFPAK Team, Booz, Allen & Hamilton; Seth Jones, RAND analyst and author of Counterinsurgency in Pakistan; and Shuja Nawaz, director, South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council of the United States.
Fee: Tickets: $12.50 To register, visit

20 November 2010, 2 pm - Kennebunk, ME - The Maine Chapter of AFIO hosts Dr. Ali Ahmida of the Political Science Department, University of New England, speaking on what it means -- to him --to be a practicing Muslim, the significance of the Quran and the practice of Shari'a law. Dr. Ahmida was born in Waddan, Libya. He received a B. A. from Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt and an M. A. and Ph. D. in political science from the University of Seattle, in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Ahmida is an internationally recognized scholar of North African history and politics with a specialty in political theory, comparative politics, and historical sociology. He has authored a number of books as well as many articles and book reviews and has lectured in various U.S., Canadian, European, Middle Eastern and African colleges and universities. Dr. Ahmida lives in Saco, Maine, with his wife and two children. The meeting is open to the public and will be held on November 20, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. at the Community Center, 9 Temple Street, Kennebunkport, ME. For information call 207-967-4298.

2 December 2010 - San Francisco, CA - The AFIO Jim Quesada Chapter hosts W. Michael Susong, on Global Electronic Crime.
Michael Susong is Director of Information Security Intelligence at Pacific Gas & Electric Company and former CIA Operations officer on the State of the Art of Electronic Crime and Cyber Warfare. The presentation will give a non-technical overview of the global electronic crime players, their tools, techniques and tactics. RSVP and pre-payment required. The meeting will be held at UICC, 2700 45th Avenue, San Francisco (between Sloat/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 pot roast or fish): and mail check made out to "AFIO" to: Mariko Kawaguchi, P.O. Box 117578 Burlingame, CA 94011

Monday 13 December 2010, 5:30 pm - New York, NY - "Status of US Intelligence Capabilities" by former CIA Officer Aris Pappas, is theme of NY Metro Chapter Meeting
Speaker: Aris Pappas, CIA 32 years - Over this period he was an Analyst, Managed Operations, and held other Senior Positions. Now a Senior Director with Microsoft Corporation. Topic: "Status of Our Intelligence Capabilities"
Registration 5:30 PM Meeting 6:00 PM.
Cost $40. Includes three course buffet dinner, cash bar.
Location: Manhattan "3 West Club" 3 West 51st Street
Advance Reservations Required: Email or telephone Jerry Goodwin 347-334-1503.

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


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