Friday, June 1, 2012

Open Secrets

Coming Soon  -- No Secret Left Undisclosed!    (c) Voltage Pictures

Click here for referenced story (WashPost)

Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Three GOP senators who sit on the Senate Intelligence Committee [SSCI] have now taken a public stand on White House leaks -- or rather public disclosures --       which have not only exposed sensitive sources, but also, sensitive methods of intelligence collection.  
I won't be available to spy for 33 years   (c) Telegraph

Most recently, the President, in order to claim glory and get more attention for the Executive Action [assassination of a national leader] against Osama bin Laden, announced to the world the name of the Pakistani doctor whom US Intelligence had worked with to track bin Laden to his lair.        

Oddly enough, the doctor was immediately rolled up and thrown into a Pakistani prison, likely to keep him from being snagged by bin Laden followers who would have found new and unique ways to have tortured him before killing him. 

The White House also disclosed to the world the means by which US Intelligence infiltrated an al Qaida cell which was planning to blow up a civilian airliner. 

The recruited asset was thus sacrificed, as was the long-term intelligence he could have continued to gather had he not been identified.


This folks, is Human Intelligence [HUMINT], the most valuable and least expensive [in terms of money] of all the -INTs.   We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on Imagery and Electronic Intelligence [IMINT and ELINT], but probably no more than $100 million on HUMINT.

The HUMINT cost is in time and human life.

Case Officers take a long time to train, to include the basics of Spook stuff, then language studies, then area studies and area familiarization, then building cover status in multiple covers, and finally, but hardly the least, recruiting actual field operatives or agents.  At that point, the Case Officer becomes an "agent handler" and his life revolves around training his recruited asset to infiltrate and communicate.

Sound complex?  It is!

   It takes 5 - 10 years to train a Case Offier   (c) PopFi
It takes years to train, position, and acclimate a Case Officer/Agent Handler so he can live a "cover for status" and become proficient in his cover-for-action. 

"Status" puts him in position to function in a clandestine or covert role [the terms describe different operations], while "Action" makes his contact with his operative invisible.

The process to recruit an agent/spy can take days, weeks, months or years, depending on the operation.  The recruited asset may already be inside the target organization, or may have to be trained to get inside.  In either case, all contact with the agent is extremely sensitive, and great measures are taken to guard the identity of that asset. 

Usually, no more than three people know the identity of the individual.

That is, until Mr Obama came into office.

I'm still running for President
As the operations above depict, Obama is so eager for publicity and credit for intelligence successes that he makes conference calls disclosing both source identities, locations, access, and operational objectives, thus destroying years worth of work and endangering the lives of all the support operatives in these situations. 

For every agent handler and recruited agent, dozens of support personnel spend months in preparation and analysis, running photographic and audio surveillance, providing cover documents, laundering money, reviewing security, monitoring local police and intelligence services, processing and analyzing collected information, and a host of other measures.

For every operative like the Pakistani doctor, roughly 100 US and foreign intelligence personnel are involved in support roles in a variety of agencies.  But, only three actually know who the recruited agent is.

So, you can understand why it is essential to guard the source's identity.

That is, unless you are Obama and you want a quick campaign ratings boost by exposing the details of a successful intelligence operation -- sacrificing the agent, the case officer, and spilling the operational details to not only the world press and foreign intelligence agencies, but now providing detailed information to all 100 of the support personnel - endangering them. 

One part of the operational support team    DHS
Operational details are compartmented to maximize the effectiveness of support personnel; they are provided just enough information to perform their function independent of the operation, but in full support of the operation.  For example, one support person's role may simply be to move sterile cell phones from Point A to Point B, to then be passed to the Agent.  Once the cell phone mover understands his/her role, the purpose of the moves, locations, etc. become meaningful, and the individual henceforth becomes self-conscious and a dead give-away to hostile intelligence services [HOIS].

So, when details of a HUMINT operation are disclosed to the press, the entire support staff for that type of operation has to be replaced at a cost of personnel years, and tens of millions of dollars in set up and operational infrastructure.

Imagery or Electronic satellites and systems can be replaced.  Agents with unique access cannot.

I'll tell all your secrets to get reelected.
Mr Obama was denied a security clearance as a US Senator because the FBI investigators conducting his background investigation were unable to verify much of the information he provided on his Personal History Statement [PHS], to include an accurate recording of his US birth. 

Given his current conduct, his  security clearance as President should be revoked.

Presidents come and go; the Intelligence process has to continue and function effectively no matter who is in office.