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Sunday, October 16, 2005

HUMINT / INHUMINT 

Our venerated colleague the Heretik has put together an excellent collection of links dealing with the reorganization of our alphabetically-intensive spook hierarchy. At the top of the intelligence pyramid is the Director of National Intelligence, or DNI, John Negroponte. Answering to Negroponte in his new capacity as National HUMINT Manager will be CIA Director (DCIA) Porter Goss. Just below Goss will be the head of a brand-new outfit, the National Clandestine Service, which will oversee and coordinate all human espionage operations by the CIA, the FBI, and the DOD (or Pentagon).

The director of the new agency (D/NCS) will be "the current DDO--a seasoned veteran of the CIA's Directorate of Operations (DO)" known as . . . Jose. That's all we can tell you. Just . . . Jose.
"This is another positive step in building an intelligence community that is more unified, co-ordinated and effective," National Intelligence Director John Negroponte said . . . .

As part of reforms following the 11 September 2001 attacks, the CIA lost overall control of US intelligence to the newly created National Director of Intelligence.

Mr Goss said the new service represents "an expression of confidence in the CIA" from President George Bush and Mr Negroponte.
According to columnist John B. Roberts II of the Washington Times, however, it took a lot of backroom maneuvering to earn that "confidence":
CIA Director Porter Goss's rejection of his inspector general's recommendation to discipline three former senior officials — Director George Tenet, Deputy Director of Operations James L. Pavitt, and counter-terrorist center head J. Cofer Black — averts a potential crisis for the White House. It was also a necessary quid pro quo that saved the CIA's preeminence in human-intelligence operations.

Mr. Goss's dilemma began when CIA Inspector General John Helgerson recommended sanctions against the three for intelligence failures leading up to the attacks of September 11. In the contemporary CIA's highly-legalistic atmosphere, disciplinary action requires a quasi-judicial review. In anticipation, Mr. Tenet prepared a detailed rebuttal to the charges. His supporters also made it clear that if Mr. Tenet became the September 11 fall guy, he would embarrass the White House with a candid memoir.

This was the background for a stunning about-face by Mr. Goss that has preserved the CIA's viability in the newly-reformed intelligence community. As chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Mr. Goss had been the driving force pushing the CIA to investigate and disclosure September 11-related intelligence failures.

A fascinating series of backroom pressures and deals spared the White House further embarrassment over September 11, got Mr. Tenet off the hook and gave the CIA a new lease on life.
The basic deal: if Goss implements the IG's recommendations, Tenet tells what he knows, and an already beleaguered White House is nostril-deep in its own feces. With that in mind, high-ranking Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee threaten to embarrass Goss by stripping the agency of its HUMINT responsibilities. So what happens next?
Mr. Goss responded by resisting pressure to release the report publicly. Last week, he rejected the IG's call for sanctions, thereby assuring that Mr. Helgerson's report will stay buried until its declassification in some distant presidency. As soon as Mr. Goss rejected the IG's recommendations, Mr. Negroponte issued a rare public statement backing up Mr. Goss. With the report classified and accountability boards off the table, neither the specific intelligence lapses nor the officials who made them will be made public so long as there are no leaks.

Next, Mr. Negroponte let a decent interval of exactly one week pass before giving his imprimatur to Mr. Goss's proposal. The White House is expected to concur soon.
Meanwhile, Willam Arkin of Early Warning reminds us that human intelligence and technical intelligence are equally useless unless we have the ability to process them judiciously. Our recent spymasters have not shown much aptitude in that department; could machines do a better job?
In this week of the New York subway scare and an announcement that the CIA is being recast as the National Clandestine Service, we should ponder the risks associated with the post-9/11 love affair with "human" sources of intelligence.

An Iraqi informant, no doubt "handled" by some military gumshoe with James Bond delusions, provided not one but more than a dozen false reports of imminent terrorist attacks on the United States. Once the utterances were recorded, the homeland security apparatus spewed out colored warnings. I don't know which is scarier, the inability of the intelligence agencies to distinguish between good information and fantasy or the readiness of an administration under attack (and a Mayor running for re-election) to propel the public into a state of fear.

The mantra for the those who argue for more human intelligence -- besides that it's all Jimmy Carter's and Bill Clinton's fault that America is blind, deaf, and dumb -- is that the United States relies too much on "technical" intelligence . . . .

How much information is collected, how much is processed, and how much actually turns into useful intelligence is the BIG mystery. Some insight might be seen in a new military program called Wargoddess.

Last week, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) requested proposals for a new research effort to make sense out of the sea of information -- pun intended. The new PANDA project (for Predictive Analysis for Naval Deployment Activities) seeks to develop a warning system that will automatically evaluate the behavior of maritime vessels worldwide to detect possible terrorist (or criminal) activity . . . .

The sources are plentiful, some clandestine, some open. Ocean surveillance satellites send a constant "take" to processing centers in Denver for analysis. Radars on ships, submarines and aircraft, and increasingly in harbors and chokepoints report traffic. Acoustic intelligence monitors sounds. Signals intelligence (SIGINT), both local and national on land and aboard satellites and aircraft monitor everything from the Internet traffic to telephone calls . . . .

If the overall Wargoddess PANDA project is successful, DARPA has science fiction plans to monitor the behavior and intention of everything:
"In terms of traditional, state-based foreign military forces, the ability to conduct motion-based pattern analysis on a potential adversary’s peacetime, exercise, and wartime operations will allow us to automatically predict how that adversary would deploy its forces, detect changes in the adversary’s force posture, and recognize changes in the adversary’s Concept of Operations (CONOPS). These goals may be achieved by analyzing the motion-based activities of the adversary’s command vehicles, Special Forces, or support units. The same capability can be applied to monitor known or suspected insurgent leaders or terrorists and their modes of conveyance to learn their normal patterns of behavior, recognize when they are about to engage in threatening activities (vice going about their normal lives), and support interdiction."
(Thanks to Zemblan patriots G.V.G. and J.F. for the links.)

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