Wednesday, March 7, 2012

US Espionage? Immoral!

Heaven forbid we actually have such people!

We recently engaged in a discussion on Facebook relating to the state of US Intelligence today, and why we have so many failures -- including 9/11.  Although we spend tens of billions of dollars on technical and electronic intelligence, we neglect the most lucrative and effective INT of them all.

Spy vs Spy     (c) Peter Kuper

We'll provide a bit of insight, and, if there is an audience, we'll expand to go into some specifics.

We'll focus today on the very basic form of intelligence, which derives from espionage, which is dubbed the "Second Oldest Profession"  -- and perhaps the most profitable.

HUMINT (Human Intelligence (encompassing everything from clandestine and covert operations to diplomats, military officers, and foreign correspondents)] has always been regarded as the Ugly Stepchild in the Intel biz since it doesn't have the whiz-bang allure of hugely expensive satellite and intercept systems.  We speak from personal experience in most of these specialties.

It gets lots of bad press when the bad guys catch one of our spies and feeds the MSM to exploit the embarrassment.

It's sooo immoral!  

Jonathon Pollard - Israeli Spy
A well-placed penetration agent [aka: spy], expensed at less than $1 million, can provide reporting which can't be matched by billion dollar satellites or multi-billion dollar NSA monitoring. The cost of one satellite pass exceeds the annual HUMINT budget at DOD.

Jonathon Pollard, recruited by Israel to spy against the US, worked at Navy's HUMINT program and collected thousands of Top Secret intelligence documents, to include satellite codes, from the Navy, CIA, and DIA, turning them over to Israel, South Africa, Pakistan, and China.   He also provided information on the location and activities of US intelligence personnel, who were subsequently blown up in a "terrorist" incident.   [His trial defense was that his espionage was based on altruism and his love of Israel.]

The cost of this highly productive HUMINT recruitment?  $1,500 per month.

Robert Hanssen - FBI Agent [USSR Spy]

Robert Hannssen was recruited by and spied for the Soviets/Russians for 20+ years in a role which played out to be the "... worst intelligence disaster in US history."

Hanssen identified US operatives from all US agencies, counter-espionage operations, and identified double-agents in the USSR which the CIA had recruited -- resulting in their arrest and execution.

Since the FBI is the agency which coordinates and clears all domestic intelligence operations by the entire US Intelligence Community, he was able to pass to his handlers information about any foreign agent being managed in the United States.

The cost to the Soviets for this extraordinarily lucrative operation?  About $6,000 per month.

Although our enemies and allies have targeted and been very successful in conducting espionage against and within the US, our Congress finds such activities on the part of the US to be repulsive and "illegal."  Repeatedly, the US Intelligence Community has been targeted as "the enemy" by both Congress and Administration officials who seem absolutely determined to strip the US of this most useful form of intelligence.
The Democrats have traditionally been very effective in crippling HUMINT, often capitalizing on explosive publicity following rogue operations or abusive situations created by power hungry politicians and non-intelligence personnel.  

Holding up poison dart gun used to induce heart attacks
 -- similar to that allegedly used to kill Andrew Breitbart
Politicians love to express outrage over revelations that our operatives helped topple a foreign government which hampered US regional strategy.

The Church Committee stripped the CIA and DOD of clandestine assets world-wide, sending out  pink slips to the top tier of case officers.

The Committee was spawned following news that Intelligence operatives, including Military Intelligence, was spying  and keeping dossiers on Congress.

They were also outraged that operatives were not only spying on both enemies and allies, but also that there were covert operations designed to assassinate designated enemies as well as to overthrow governments judged to be inimical to US strategic interests.

I know Nothing!
Some of you may recall Nancy Pelosi going through this charade as she condemned US Intelligence operations and denied knowledge of, or having endorsed the very operations she condemned.

Even after being presented with documents she had signed acknowledging being briefed on the topic, she continued to deny all knowledge.

Of course, even before the Church Committee, Henry Kissinger was stripping the Intelligence Community of its capabilities, shutting down both covert and clandestine operations world-wide, and cutting his own covert agreements with the Chinese -- to sell out the US military in Viet Nam.

In response to the Church Committee findings, Jimmy Carter and Stansfield Turner gutted the top 50% of the Clandestine Services, leaving the program in the hands of junior and inexperienced officers.

Turner cleared the IC ranks of highly qualified senior intelligence analysts who understood every nuance of the character and thought processes of leaders in adversary countries.

He fired or demoted these senior specialists since they didn't fit the "supervisor" profile; in a matter of weeks, the US lost one of its unique intelligence resources -- through Turner's "cost-benefit" analysis.

["What if we never need this analyst's interpretation of a guy like Bin Laden?  What a waste of money!"]

Reagan brought in Bill Casey, an old [very old] OSS hand and Wall Street mogulto rebuild the HUMINT system.

A few of the old CIA hands had survived the Turner purges, and Casey re-energized the CIA.

Meanwhile, a military version of the CIA's Clandestine Services division was created to focus on the Third World rather than the USSR,

The indicators were there --
but no one to collect.

We had fought a lengthy battle to salvage military HUMINT and spent many years creating a highly productive program -- lauded by the JCS and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1990 for its effectiveness and productivity.

But, when Bill Clinton came into office, we were stunned when his political hacks gutted HUMINT again.  When he appointed George Tenet as DCI -- whose only experience in intelligence was as a Senate Committee administrator, it was clear DOD HUMINT was doomed.

We watched as  budget and personnel funding for DOD HUMINT -- crippling our view of the Third World and Terrorist nets, and leaving the US completely unprepared to deal with such threats.

To the astonishment of intelligence professionals, Bush retained Tenet as the DCI.

By the time George Bush assumed the Presidency in 2001, the US espionage capability had been dismantled, and agent nets in the Middle East and Far East had been dismantled, leaving the US without an early warning network.

Oddly enough, the Intelligence Community that Bush inherited had no clue -- in spite of mountains of specific evidence -- that 9/11 was in progress.

Today, we have an intelligence community that is run by technicians and poorly trained thugs who feel that torture and abuse outweigh organizational penetrations, sleight of hand, infiltration, and subterfuge.

The Chinese and Russians -- and the rest of the world -- continue to reap great information and influence rewards using HUMINT, and they have successfully penetrated the most sensitive levels of our government and political system.

The US, meanwhile, has switched to electronic monitoring, surveillance, and prosecution of its own citizens -- who seemingly have now become the enemy.