Saturday, November 29, 2014

#CIA - Self-Destructing

I don't have a clue how Intelligence works; I just do what Valerie tells me to do!

Click here for related article []

We were rather appalled to see that John Brennan is planning to disrupt the tried and true organizational structure of CIA to create hybrid units "... focused on individual regions and threats to US security...".  This reorganization would replicate the CIA CounterTerrorism Center and other similar entities in the agency which began as ad hoc coordination points but morphed into bureaucracies of their own – each competing with the next to demonstrate their incompetence.

Oddly, this reorganization concept grows out of Brennan's own obscure role as a neophyte counter-terrorism analyst way back when he was buried in a dark, corner cubicle at CIA, the object of derision and ridicule by his fellow analysts and operators as well for his absence of intellect and lack of a definable personality.  

That was how we came to know him some years before 9/11 when the Counter-Terrorism desk in each Intelligence agency was the designated repository for worthless and incompetent analysts on whom supervisors were unwilling to spend the bureaucratic energy on to fire.  We all assumed that they could do no harm in such slots since the threat was negligible and all known terrorists and their organizations were well-documented and monitored by other than “terrorism specialtists”.

With 9/11, Brennan, who had never predicted any event with any more accuracy than his morning scheduled bowel movement, suddenly was swept into a role of visibility and importance -- in spite of having missed all the obvious indicators of the coming 9/11 event, and after which he demonstrated that he had no clue as to the origin or nature of the attack, nor of all the dots leading up to the attack.

However, he was the perfect stooge for both the Bush and Obama Administrations to trot out to the public to mouth vacuous rhetoric relating to "terrorism" even though he could barely spell the term, much less come up with a strategy to deal with the new "designated enemy" for the US Defense contractors to invoice the government for services and goods.

As background to Brennan's idiotic reorganization, let's outline the CIA organization as it is currently structured [having been morphed by bastardized reorganizations in past Administrations].

1)  NCS [National Clandestine Service], formerly the Directorate of Operations which manages US and international espionage and covert operations.
2)  Directorate of Intelligence, which expanded from several hundred analysts to several thousand today -- resulting in a consequent regression in effectiveness due to stove-piping, internal politics, and creation of inaccurate intelligence based on duplicative reports which “confirm” earlier inaccurate reporting.
3)  The Science and Technology Directorate which tracks and decides which new foreign technology to monitor and/or steal through such entities as In-Q-Tel, a faux venture capital fund for innovative products to be used by the CIA and NSA – without compensating the inventors.
4)  The Support Directorate, which creates facilities and logistical elements both in the US and internationally, launders money, creates cover identities with local governments, and coordinates with the private sector to provide support as needed. 
[That may or may not still be intact, but is likely degraded for lack of private sector interface other than Defense contractors composed of ex-military and former Intelligence executives.]

The key to these separate entities is that each one functions separately from the others, and information on operations and operational identities is available solely on a "need to know" basis.  That's the way it's been since the OSS was formed in World War II, and has remained ever since.

There are other minor and obscure -- but very important operational elements, but, the four main entities give you an idea of what the CIA looks like now.  
[We'll discuss in another post how it used to be, and how it has morphed into the bloated, ineffective organization that it is today.]

So, what is it that Mr Brennan proposes.

Essentially, Mr Brennan sees no need for compartmentation and has proposed to take personnel from each of the separate directorates to form permanent '"fusion cells" or "centers" which combine analysts, operators, scientists, and support staff, all in one big cubicle.   

Such cells made sense in the past to coordinate short-term operations on high priority, time-sensitive targets, but were disbanded once the mission was accomplished -- otherwise, all those resources would be wasted.  It would be like creating the pit crew or talented mechanics and technicians for a race car in the Indianapolis 500, and then keeping the full crew idled on salary year-round with nothing to do but wait for next year's race.

Mr Brennan, having no managerial experience in either the public or the private sector, has no concept whatever of organizational efficiency, and having no operational experience whatever, has no concept of the need for compartmentation or internal security.

Traditionally, an analyst or other employee would leave the CIA and have only a limited knowledge of the other elements, the resources, or other employees.  At best, a departed employee could disclose either voluntarily or under duress only a limited amount of sensitive information. 

In Mr Brennan's bizarre reorganization, the knowledgeability aspect of the most sensitive operations would be revealed to an exponential number of personnel who would then be tied to multiple directorates with both direct and indirect access.

Ian Fleming - Case Officer [Flickr]
In essence, Case Officers [C/O] who have spent years building cover identities and operational contacts would be the core of the new “fusion cell” along with the Regional [operations] desk officer. 

They traditionally worked hand in glove, with the desk officer interfacing with the other directorates to provide analytical support for tasking and refining of collection requirements; with the other directorates developing logistical support [think of James Bonds “Q” (for Quartermaster)] for cover identities, tech gizmos, and extended support in the form of safe-houses, etc.; and finally, there was a liaison branch to coordinate collection and confirmation with other agencies such as NSA and the NRO [National Reconnaissance Office].

For those security agents grinding their teeth now fearing that we’ve disclosed sensitive methods, this is, and has been the process for all national intelligence organizations for centuries.  So, there’s nothing new here, and you can put away your badges and credentials and Miranda Warnings.

But, we digress.

Mr Brennan’s concept is to fully identify the C/O to all the supporting element – all the time so they can all work hand-in-glove and have Kumbaya moments, year-round. 

So, what’s the downside of these Fusion Centers?
Now, instead of the Clandestine Case Officers remaining anonymous, tasked and supported only through their “handlers”, the Regional Desk Officers and the Station Chiefs, no fewer than five new personnel would be privy to the most intimate details of the C/O’s operations and full identities of recruited assets and their families and networks, but they would also be privy to the Station’s extended network of support assets, safe houses, communications technology, cover stories, liaison networks. 

That, of course, would be a major breach, but the full extent of this exposure would come with the insertion of an enemy agent into the process.

Impossible you say?

DIA Analyst Montes
Let’s take, for example, Ana Belen Montes who was recruited by Cuban Intelligence [CuIS] in 1985 through the auspices of CuIS agent Marta Rita Velazquez – a graduate of Georgetown University Law School and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and employed with the US State Department.  Velazquez recruited Montes [and allegedly a number of other Cubans] and facilitated her hiring as an Intelligence Analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA] – successfully passing a polygraph examination.  Notably, Montes came to DIA from the Department of Justice; her brother and sister were FBI officers, and her former boyfriend, Roger Corneretto, was an Intelligence officer at the Pentagon specializing in Cuba.  As a DIA analyst, she visited Special Forces covert facilities, one of which was attacked shortly after her visit in 1987. 

State Dept Officer Velazquez [El Doario]
Velazquez reportedly escorted Montes to Cuba for spy-craft training to exploit her exposure to the sources and methods employed at the newly formed DCS [Defense Clandestine Service], as well as those for US Military Intelligence organizations.

We met Montes when she was introduced to us by the DIA Latin America Division Chief as a potential DCS Latin America Desk Officer.  We dismissed her as unqualified and recommended that her background investigation be reopened since the questions she raised in the interview process seemed far too precise for a new analyst.  Nonetheless, she was retained by DIA’s analytic division and became a rising star, privy to all clandestine operations through raw reporting – and her role as collection management and tasking.

A well-placed penetration agent we had recruited, whose access was unique, became the subject of tasking by Montes’ desk, and within a remarkably short time, the asset was identified and murdered - apparently identified by means of his disclosed access.  Subsequently, we increased the restrictions on the identity and placement of recruited assets assuming there was a leak in the system – most likely in the Analyst Division -- although we did not rule out a penetration of the CIA.

Nonetheless, countless other operations in the Caribbean and in Latin America were compromised before she was arrested in 2001.  During her 16 years tenure in DIA, she had extensive access to sensitive information identifying recruited assets in Latin America, Case Officers and CIA chiefs of station, support networks, logistics, and sensitive communications systems.  
The security element had completely failed.]
But, to return to our commentary, Montes was the spy that was “caught”.  Meanwhile, we have to assume countless others who have passed polygraph exams are still fully operational throughout the intelligence community which now is home to thousands of analysts and support personnel – few of whom have been appropriately vetted.  Add to these vulnerabilities the growing number of Intelligence and Defense Contractors now populating the Intelligence Community.

Any confidence in the security of the Clandestine Service [Defense or CIA] at this point has withered; exacerbating these vulnerabilities with Brennan’s Fusion Cells further exposes sources and methods on an exponential basis.

It's bad enough to have our intelligence operations broadcast from the Oval Office, 
but let’s not make our national security sieve into a security sluice.

[DISCLAIMERWe retired from the Service in 1990, 11 years before Montes was identified and arrested; our requests for increased monitoring of Montes went ignored and unfulfilled.]

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

James Bond - Disavowed

Taking a bullet for your country isn't all it's cracked up to be - when your country abandons you.

What happens when one of our covert special operations types is injured on the job -- and disavowed by the US Government?

We've reviewed the cases of several folks who operated at arms-length from the USG and were severely injured during covert or clandestine operations.  The results have not been encouraging to our HUMINT operatives who are/will be tasked with taking on dangerous assignments at arms length and officially "... disavowed by the Secretary" as the saying goes in Mission Impossible.

In past Administrations, the Director of Central Intelligence [and the earlier Directors of National Intelligence - before Clapper] were privy to the functions and missions of special operatives who provided intelligence support and assistance to foreign governments while our own government proclaimed either neutrality or hostility.  The value of such operations lay in the concept that in the process of "regime change", the USG would have linkage to the new rulers.

Chiang: Not adored by China
For example, in World War II, Operation Dixie Cup tasked two OSS officers to work closely with China's adversarial leaders -- Mao Tse Tung and Chiang Kai-Shek, presuming who ever won out, the US would have linkage.

That worked, sort-of, since we had excellent relations with Chiang, whom the common folk of China despised, and who ended up running Taiwan which manufactured IT components, and whose Kuomintang [KMT] managed the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia shipping illicit drugs abroad to bolster Taiwan's economy.

Chairman Mao
On the other hand, the OSS officer who worked with Mao ended up targeted by the Democrat-dominated House Un-American Activities Committee [HUAC] as a "Commie", stripped of his Military benefits, and watched helplessly as his personal US assets were seized by Congressional dictate.  He subsequently moved and remained overseas for the remainder of his life - still a patriot working with Military Intelligence, but damning the CIA which had functioned as an extension of the HUAC to continue harassing him.

Since then, and perhaps because of that egregious episode, an arm of US Intelligence known as The Company [often mistaken as an alias for the CIA] operated as a non-official organization to provide support to US clandestine and covert operatives, and often performed these functions with their own personnel and funds -- generally without the knowledge of CIA Station Chiefs or US diplomatic personnel.

That process worked well and efficiently before our current Administration, since earlier, there was a built-in "black" mechanism to assist our "special" operatives whose covers demanded no linkage to the USG.

Under our current DNI, HUMINT has been trashed and all fail-safe measures deleted.

The "black" mechanism process was discarded in recent years as this Administration populated the actionable Intelligence Community with unskilled and inexperienced senior executives incapable of maintaining secrets, but who, instead, revealed Sources and Methods to the US and international Media; in the process, they Outed intelligence operatives and in several cases, cost these officers their lives.

Equally egregious, these bumbling incompetents or malicious bureaucrats abandoned operators who have been injured to such an extent they are no longer employable -- and worse, they need, but cannot obtain government assistance.

They are expected to fend for themselves -- with life-threatening injuries, maladies, and diseases; at best, some of these operatives have been provided some medical care at Military facilities, but their medical files are classified and not releasable to private sector -- and perhaps more-adept physicians capable of providing more effective and curative care.  Ultimately, such cases exclude any financial support, leaving these officers destitute and totally dependent on their families and friends -- who are barred from discussing these situations with anyone, on threat of National Security prosecution.

We think it's worthwhile chatting with our Representatives on the HPSCI [House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence] and Senators on the SSCI [Senate Select Committee on Intelligence] and the Armed Services Committees to address this issue.

Our Solution:

Given the disturbing proclivity of this Administration to Out" our operatives who have quietly served their country -- and then abandoning them [and their families] with no support mechanism, we recommend such officers receive status as Military Veterans with cover documentation in the form of a special DD-214 so they can obtain medical treatment and VA benefits for training, housing, and schooling.

These officers have operated in covert or clandestine status, following the exclusionary dictum
"... the Secretary will disavow all knowledge....",
but they rightfully expect their government to "have their back".

If our government can provide support to deserters such as Bowe Berghahl, they can certainly support our true patriots.