The American Kafir

2012/05/09

Wily bomb maker fast in race with technology; informant ID’d device

Wily bomb maker fast in race with technology; informant ID’d device

By Shaun Waterman

Al-Asiri

Al Qaeda’s top bomb maker in Yemen is so ruthless that he recruited and equipped his own brother for an underwear-bomb suicide attack against a top Saudi royal in 2009.

“Even for al Qaeda, that’s cold,” said author Peter Bergen, who has studied the group since the late 1990s.

Now Ibrahim al-Asiri, 30, is suspected of making a new underwear bomb designed for use against a U.S.-bound airliner in a plot uncovered last month by U.S. and Saudi intelligence and thwarted within the past few days.

The supposed would-be bomber was an informant working for the CIA and Saudi Arabian intelligence, U.S. and Yemeni officials said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. The informant, who delivered the bomb to authorities, is safely out of Yemen.

The revelation, first reported by the Los Angeles Times, shows how the CIA was able to get its hands on a sophisticated underwear bomb well before an attack was set into motion, the AP reported.

Underwear bombs and other explosive devices, such as the converted printer cartridges used in the foiled October 2010 air-cargo bomb plot, are al-Asiri’s trademark, President Obama’s senior counterterrorism adviser said.

Al-Asiri “has demonstrated real proficiency as far as concealment methods as well as the materials that are used in these” bombs, John Brennan said Tuesday in an interview on NBC-TV.

A Saudi national who has served time in the kingdom’s prisons, al-Asiri is the son of a pious retired military man, according to the Saudi Gazette newspaper. The U.S. designated him a terrorist kingpin last year, and he is wanted by the Saudis and by Interpol.

He is believed to be one of the top targets of the recently stepped-up U.S. campaign of lethal drone attacks in Yemen.

The FBI, which is examining the underwear bomb, said it is “very similar” to devices used in plots by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the terrorist network’s affiliate in Yemen, “including against aircraft and for targeted assassinations.”

That clearly is a reference to the August 2009 attempt to kill Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammad bin Nayef, who was injured slightly when al-Asiri’s brother Abdullah blew himself up at a meeting he had requested to turn himself in to authorities.

Initial reports suggested that the bomber had concealed the bomb in his rectum, but Saudi investigators concluded that the device was an underwear bomb, said Mr. Bergen, who was briefed by Saudi officials at the time.

They discovered that the device, made of a plastic explosive called PETN, used a chemical detonator, had no metallic components and could not be detected by conventional metal-detector screening.

On Christmas Day 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate a similar underwear bomb aboard a Detroit-bound U.S. airliner. The detonator failed, probably because Abdulmutallab had sweated through his underwear and dampened the detonator, officials told The Washington Times last year.

The latest version of the underwear bomb has an improved detonator, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

The bomb “was a threat from the standpoint of the design,” Mr. Brennan told ABC News. “And so now we’re trying to make sure that we take the measures that we need to prevent any other … similarly constructed [bomb] from getting through security procedures.”

Abdulmutallab’s underwear bomb was not spotted by metal detectors at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport.

After the failed attack, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sped up its deployment of advanced imaging technology screening devices, which have become notorious as the “naked X-ray” machines.

Analysts generally agree that the imaging machines should be able to spot the new underwear bomb, said Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.

But in an interview with CNN, he cautioned that this was just a “preliminary conclusion. … We don’t know all of the facts yet.”

The key to imaging detection of underwear bombs is generally the detonator because it has to emerge from the clothing in which the explosives are concealed, said Erroll G. Southers, a homeland security scholar at the University of Southern California.

The TSA has deployed about 700 imaging machines at more than 180 U.S. airports, according to agency figures. The machines cost between $130,000 and $170,000 each, and the agency has spent nearly $167 million so far to buy, test, deliver and install them.

TSA has faced keen scrutiny of its efforts to roll out the machines and questions about the effectiveness of deploying them in the United States because all previous al Qaeda attacks against U.S. aviation have originated overseas.

“That is a huge gaping hole,” Mr. Southers said.

Inconsistencies in technology and policy from country to country undermine public confidence, he said, noting reports that the European Union this year will relax the no-liquids rule for air passengers’ hand luggage, which would put the European Union out of step with the U.S. The ban is designed to defeat another kind of nonmetallic explosive.

Investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will report at a congressional hearing Wednesday that TSA deployed the imaging technology at airports without evaluating it properly.

“Additionally, various reports, studies and independent testimony all suggest that TSA is ineffectively deploying security technology and equipment at commercial airports,” reads a staff memo for the hearing.

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2012/04/12

Vetting Obama – Live Birth Abortion Survivor Law – Erosion of Individual Rights

Vetting Obama – Live Birth Abortion Survivor Law – Erosion of Individual Rights

By Walt Long

This year voting for a President of the United States, it is vital we know more about  Barack Hussein Obama. One of the issues that struck me was the attitude of the President concerning a law that would protect an infant that is born after it was aborted from the Mother. Obama refused to sign a law protecting a human life. All the pertinent articles and law are posted below. This should not be a Republican vs Democrat issue, we are talking about a human life,an innocent victim left on a cold slab to die. Obama gave orders to the Doctors and Nurses that they were not to administer to the life of this child…the baby would be left to die;Obama being the dictator of life or death.

We ,the American Citizen, have come to expect losing our individual rights at the hands of Obama and this administration. Our government, such as National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 which gives the U.S. government authority to arrest and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charge or trial. If it has been suggested Conservatives are blowing this out of proportion I suggest reading… NDAA a Dangerous Precedent, Even With the Signing Statement.

Another individual right being taken away is the assassination of a United States Citizen without due process of the law, the only hearing allowed is not the Court of Law …but the court of Barack Hussein Obama’s law, with  Attorney General Eric Holder defending the decision.  I am talking about the assassination of, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both United States citizens,  by a CIA drone attack in Yemen on September 30 2011, authorized by Eric Holder,,Barack Hussein Obama, and a secretive government committee. Anwar al-Awlaki’s used Islam for terrorist incitements, yes he was a very evil man, however,  by being a United States citizen he should have been allowed his Constitutional rights by a trial before the Court of Law and his peers. If our government can kill two citizens then what would stop them from killing more? It is a very  dangerous precedence allowing the assassination of a United States Citizen by any secretive panel of senior government officials,



Documents show Obama cover-up on born-alive survivors bill

Source JillStanek

UPDATE, 4:30p: Ben Smith of The Politico has linked to this post.

UPDATE, 4p: Concerned Women for America has audio of an interview with me on this here.

UPDATE, 10:22a:Michelle Malkin has linked to this post.

UPDATE, 9:50a: Kathryn Lopez of National Review Online is covering the story.

Last week Doug Johnson of the National Right to Life Committee drew my attention to a previously unnoticed January 2008 article by Terence Jeffrey stating Barack Obama actually did vote against a version of the IL Born Alive Infants Protection Act that was identical to the federal version, contrary to multiple public statements Obama or his surrogates have made to rationalize his opposition to the IL bill for the past 4 years.

Since then we have found 2 separate documents proving Barack Obama has been misrepresenting facts.

In fact, Barack Obama is more liberal than any U.S. senator, voting against identical language of a bill that body passed unanimously, 98-0. In fact, Barack Obama condones infanticide if it would otherwise interfere with abortion.

Here is the statement with documentation released by NRLC this morning…

New documents just obtained by NRLC, and linked below, prove that Senator [Barack] Obama has for the past four years blatantly misrepresented his actions on the IL Born-Alive Infants Protection bill.

Summary and comment by NRLC spokesman Douglas Johnson:

Newly obtained documents prove that in 2003, Barack Obama, as chairman of an IL state Senate committee, voted down a bill to protect live-born survivors of abortion – even after the panel had amended the bill to contain verbatim language, copied from a federal bill passed by Congress without objection in 2002, explicitly foreclosing any impact on abortion. Obama’s legislative actions in 2003 – denying effective protection even to babies born alive during abortions – were contrary to the position taken on the same language by even the most liberal members of Congress. The bill Obama killed was virtually identical to the federal bill that even NARAL ultimately did not oppose.

In 2000, the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act was first introduced in Congress. This was a two-paragraph bill intended to clarify that any baby who is entirely expelled from his or her mother, and who shows any signs of life, is to be regarded as a legal “person” for all federal law purposes, whether or not the baby was born during an attempted abortion. (To view the original 2000 BAIPA, click here.)

In 2002, the bill was enacted, after a “neutrality clause” was added to explicitly state that the bill expressed no judgment, in either direction, about the legal status of a human prior to live birth.

(The “neutrality” clause read, “Nothing in this section shall be construed to affirm, deny, expand, or contract any legal status or legal right applicable to any member of the species homo sapiens at any point prior to being ‘born alive’ as defined in this section.”)

The bill passed without a dissenting vote in either house of Congress. (To view the final federal BAIPA as enacted, click here. To view a chronology of events pertaining to the federal BAIPA, click here.)

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2011/11/03

Iran’s growing presence in region (Latin America) a menace

Source Article Link: Miami Herald

Iran’s growing presence in region a menace

BY MATTHEW LEVITT

www.washingtoninstitute.org

Quirky though it was, U.S. officials are convinced that the recently exposed plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador to Washington was the work of the vaunted Quds Force, the special operations branch of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC). As policymakers consider how best to respond to Iran’s increasingly dangerous behavior they should look first to our own back yard south of the border.

To be sure, this plot demands a response. Pointing to the 1983 and 1984 Beirut bombings, the CIA reported in 1987 that “many Iranian leaders use this precedent as proof that terrorism can break U.S. resolve” and view “sabotage and terrorism as an important option in its confrontation with the United States in the Persian Gulf.” It is critical that the United States and the international community take concrete steps in response to the planned assassination of a foreign ambassador in the U.S. capitol to signal the international community’s resolve to confront Iranian state sponsorship of terrorism.

One step the United States and its allies could pursue would send a strong message to Tehran and at the same time have a tangible impact on U.S. security: Press allies to restrict the size of Iranian missions to the minimum needed to conduct official business. Over the past few years, Iran has vastly expanded its presence in South and Central America, opening new missions and populating them with far more people than required for normal diplomatic duties.

Consider the finding of Argentine officials investigating the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires by Hezbollah operatives working in tandem with Iranian intelligence agents. Argentine intelligence discovered that prior to his posting in Buenos Aires, Iranian Ambassador Hadi Soleimanpour served as chargé d’affaires and then Ambassador in Spain from 1985 to 1989. “During this period,” investigators determined, “Soleimanpour was instructed by the Iranian government to take charge of the collaboration of a group of five residents of Spain with a view to providing Pasdaran (IRGC) with support in the event a reprisal action was carried out against the U.S. and Israel.” He engaged in similar activities in Argentina, according to prosecutors.

A few weeks after the 1994 AMIA bombing, the State Department’s coordinator for counterterrorism expressed concern that Iranian embassies in the region were stacked with larger than necessary numbers of diplomats, some of whom were believed to be intelligence agents and terrorist operatives: “We are sharing information in our possession with other States about Iranian diplomats, Iranian terrorist leaders who are posing as diplomats, so that nations will refuse to give them accreditation, or if they are already accredited, to expel them. We have had some success in that respect, but we have not always succeeded.”

Amazingly, Iran’s intelligence penetration of South America has expanded significantly since the AMIA bombing.

Five years later, the commander of U.S. Southern Command indicated the Iranian presence in the region had grown still larger by expanding the number of embassies in the region from just a handful to 12 missions by 2010. Taken together with other developments, such as the now regular flights between Tehran and Caracas, Venezuela, which law enforcement officials have taken to calling “Aero Terror,” Iran’s increased presence in the southern half of the Western Hemisphere presents a clear and present danger to U.S. security.

According to press reports, the Quds Force plot to murder the Saudi ambassador may have also included plans to target Saudi or Israeli diplomats in Argentina. To execute the attack in Washington, the Quds Force apparently approved a plan to subcontract the attack to someone tied to a Mexican drug cartel.

Now is the time for the United States to galvanize allies and collectively press our friends south of the border to severely restrict the size of Iran’s diplomatic missions to the minimum needed to conduct official business. Such action is not only an appropriate response to Iran’s clear disregard for the Vienna Convention and its protections for international diplomats, it would also have an immediate impact on U.S. and regional security.

Matthew Levitt, former Treasury deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis, directs the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

2011/10/06

Counter-Terrorism, Common Sense and Words of Wisdom

Filed under: CIA, Hezbollah, Jihad, National Security, Obama, Shari'a Law, Terrorism — - @ 7:22 am

Source Article Link: Family Security Matters

Counter-Terrorism, Common Sense and Words of Wisdom

By John Miller

Jihadists of AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), depicted in Issue 6 of “Inspire” magazine, p.23, posing with a vehicle they had captured.

The very nature of all intelligence work is its fluidity and unpredictability.  What can be taken as stone cold fact and held to be true at the time, in retrospect and in future projections does not work in several areas of intelligence endeavor.  By its very nature, terrorism and counterterrorism work if is something of an elusive beast and an elementary Google search will produce many differing definitions and hairsplitting differences.  I could waste a great deal of time and effort in pointing out some examples but one will suffice. There are many different takes on the role of suicide bombers.  There is an influential group emanating from the University of Chicago which maintains that religion plays no part in the motivation for suicide bombing, a view which I do not share and I think is borne out by experience.  Only this past week, a former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was apparently prominent in drawing up a framework for discussions between the Taliban and the US and allies about a drawdown of military forces was killed by a suicide bomber who had slipped through the security cordon with explosives secreted in a turban.  I fancy this will not be popular with Sikhs.

Since the death of Osama bin Laden there has been the systematic elimination of senior members of Al Qaeda, including Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) who was credited with a keen insight into the US psyche. While hailing this action the Obama administration has warned US nationals travelling to Yemen about reprisals.  The BBC in reporting his death on September 30, noted that this was another significant blow against Al Qaeda and especially against its global media campaign.  He was, according to a report filed by Seth Jones of the Rand Corp., the quintessential modern day terrorist, mixing adroit use of social media as propaganda, with operational support for violence against the West.  He was credited with knowledge and appreciation of the use of the Internet and social networking and for being an advocate of suicide bombing.  It is a significant blow against Al Qaeda to have him removed by a Predator drone at a time when that body has suffered losses and is redeploying in different ways.  I will admit to being something of a dystopian when it comes to counterterrorism because the ideology that drives fundamentalist Islamic terrorism is difficult to counter and break down, especially because of its deep cultural roots.  I have said many times that not all Muslims are terrorists but most terrorists are Muslims and it is my current view that decapitation of the leadership of Al Qaeda has been beneficial in terms of raising Western morale but it has compounded the counter terrorist problem by forcing Al Qaeda and affiliated groups to adopt a far more decentralized structure, based on cells and correspondingly harder to detect and counter.

I view a great deal of the study of terrorist groups with a measure of skepticism because those that speak the loudest and appear to have the most influence are to be found in universities and very few of those who lecture students in the theory and practice of terrorism have any first-hand knowledge.  Universities are not known for hiring recently retired intelligence officers as specialist lecturers or experts, at least in this part of the world.  The mainstream media has captured quite a number of retired CIA and FBI counterterrorist specialists but the press, being part of the political scene, has to tread very carefully in reporting or offering expert knowledge. Even think tanks with qualified staff cannot guarantee success in gazing into the crystal ball.  In the short term, some have been quite accurate, while others have missed critical incidents but I am not disposed to point out examples.  After years of writing about terrorism, I would like to go to meet my Maker without any of my predictions coming to pass.  In short, I would be please to be proven wrong.  However, for the moment, we must struggle on militarily and in maximizing intelligence sources until the price of terrorism becomes too high for its disciples to undertake but we are dealing with religious fanatics who care little for human life: where we are soft(er) they are uncompromisingly hard and have no qualms about using women and small children as suicide bombers..

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was very pleased to see that the Heritage Foundation had produced a special report as a precursor to the commemoration of 9/11 entitled: “A Counterterrorism Strategy for ‘The Next Wave’.” (SR 98, August 24, 2011) which this had been largely reproduced in Right Side News and deserves to be read carefully.  I regard this publication as being well-written and entirely appropriate for the times and for many reasons.  I am not acquainted with any of the writers, although some are known by name and I think they deserve congratulations for a job well done.  It has long been my contention that think tanks work best when they manage to draw all the material together and as a friend of mine observed, “sort out the flies from the horse puckey.”  For anyone baffled by this statement, basically it means analyzing all the data available, extracting facts from wishful thinking and providing a framework congruent with political policies and military reality.

If I have one criticism of commentators in the media in general with respect to the so-called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, it is that most appear to have very little understanding of the cultures involved.  To read such esteemed journals as the New York Times leaves the average reader with the impression that the uprisings against tyrannical rule  have been and are in favor of freedom and democracy, and greatly facilitated by twitter and Facebook.  Unfortunately this is an extremely superficial view as events are already proving.  While it is true that many who put their lives on the line to remove tyrants espoused freedom, their principal objectives concerned a higher standard of living, more work, better pay and conditions, including access to consumer goods; more of a say in how they are to be governed but by no means does this translate into a longing for Western-style democracy.

The new regime in Egypt and the recently recognized government of Libya have both stated that sharia (Shar’ia) law will apply in the future governing of their countries.  It is not possible to determine exactly how rigorously sharia will be implemented but Islam will remain the dominant religious force and very little has been said about tolerance of other religions.  It would appear that freedom of religion does not enter the equation at present and the change in the balance of forces in the Middle East is still ongoing and there are few certainties in sight.  It could well be that Syria, which so far has held out against domestic unrest will fall and there are intriguing signs of a rift between Damascus and its principal supporter in Tehran. If any certainty can exist, it will be that scores will be settled and the different strains of Islam will continue to fight one another as well as the common enemy, which happens to be the US and its allies, especially Israel, and there has been some disconcerting speculation in the media about war between Israel and Iran before the latter obtains too many nuclear weapons and more than a little doubt about US support for Israel.  The call for the recognition of Palestine as an independent state is currently before the UN and while the US might use its veto, it would appear that the leaders of Palestinian organizations (Hamas and Hizbollah) and Israeli PM Netanyahu are on a collision course. [1]

With a great deal of American attention focused on domestic issues, especially the presidential election next year, it is hard to raise the sights and many will be basing their future activities on the US administration being diverted from foreign policy issues especially the Middle East, and more particularly within the past few days, the relationship with Pakistan.  Not that it is often described as such but working in intelligence sometimes engenders a feeling that too many pieces are missing from a puzzle or alternatively there is an elephant in the room.  In the struggle against terrorism, the politically correct in the West have captured the language and I need hardly repeat the weasel words of senior administration officials about the nature of various terrorist plots and activities over the past few years. If common sense is to prevail, talk of “deranged individuals” and the like needs to be strictly contextualized. It says a great deal for the Heritage Foundation that part of the report mentioned earlier contains a section entitled: “The U.S. Must Name the Enemy.”  It’s extremely easy for commentators with a low profile and not very well-known such as myself to speak those highly charged and politically incorrect words “fundamentalist Islamic terrorism” without any qualification and it is very refreshing to find that an organization with a good reputation is prepared to break the dominant paradigm.  Perhaps the most important paragraph in the Heritage Foundation report states: “Radical groups employing terrorism against governments and civilians have an agenda, and that is to destroy certain governments, challenge Western values of civilization, and erect in their place is if their own governments and notions of culture and religion.  Extremist ideology alone is not the problem.  Rather, the issue is that Islamist extremists are using terror as a weapon, employing their ideology as justification to kill in the name of Islam in order to further their radical agenda.”  And the writers of the report ask quite legitimately whether there is something wrong with the US government’s stated policy if you cannot articulate an obvious fact about the strategic aims and further, show reluctance and blur the identity of the enemy and what is at stake.  (Page 8)  (Heritage Report)

If, as we are repeatedly told, the West is not at war with Islam then there needs to be a corresponding gesture from Muslim communities in the West and a change in the activities of Muslim governments around the world.  Only when Muslim community spokesmen condemn terrorism and become as outraged as non-Muslims when terrorists kill in the name of their religion will there be any progress made.  Even then, to quote a former US President we must use the maxim of: “Trust but verify,” because the techniques of taqiyya and kitman [2] are widely used by Muslims and involve complex disinformation and decomposition operations against political opposition.  The honeyed words of an Islamic spokesman following any given atrocity cannot be taken on trust, especially when communities rejoice at the death of US and allied soldiers or civilians.  Many US electronic journals have pointed to organizations which specialize in trying to disarm the population by a mixture of professed indignation and words of peace and concord, usually uttered in the most sincere fashion but designed to deceive.  It is regrettable that many senior Christian clergy have entered into dialogue with so-called Islamic clerics and the public has been fed the illusion that Muslims are peace loving “people of the book” on the same basis as Christians and Jews.  At present, any dialogue with Muslims domestically or with foreign governments must be viewed with the gravest suspicion.  The simple reason is that until change is made manifest and accompanied by action, the only things radical Muslims wish to discuss are the terms of our surrender.

We should be very much aware of this problem in any dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan especially since the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen boldly spoke what many know to be the truth in relation to the situation in Pakistan and the links between the Pakistani ISI and the Haqqani group.  This is a far lesser known outfit than the Taliban or Al Qaeda but equally lethal, being described by US military sources as one of the most resilient networks if.  Its inception apparently dates from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and members fought alongside the mujahedin, despite being predominantly Pakistani and hailing from the troublesome Northwest frontier provinces, more frequently known as the federally administered tribal areas (NWFTA).  Given the fluid nature of the borders between Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, tribal groups pass fairly easily through the notional borders left after the British withdrawal from the subcontinent following World War II.  According to US press sources, the Haqqani Group makes extensive use of suicide bombers in Afghanistan and appears able to recruit foreigners to the cause.  Like the Taliban, the Group shares the same ideology as Al Qaeda – fundamentalist Islam and according to some commentators is too difficult to target for the Pakistani government to eradicate, provided it decided to take this course of action. The group finds sanctuary in North Waziristan, one of the virtually ungovernable NWFTAs.

Unlike some US officials, Adm. Mullen spoke up boldly and truthfully when describing links between the Pakistani ISI and the Haqqani group although it should be noted that Pakistani intelligence has always had operational links with the groups that fought against the Soviets and were collectively known as the mujahedin.  Indeed, a former director of the ISI, Lieut. Gen. Hamid Gul, who was heavily involved in organizing resistance against the Soviets later became more open about his support for the Taliban and opposition to the US and its allies.  As the saying goes: “With friends like those, who needs enemies?” Although the US administration treads very carefully when talking about Pakistan, the stark fact remains that it is close to being a failed state, albeit with nuclear weapons and the distinct cooling in relations between Washington and Islamabad especially since the stepped-up use of predator drones has prompted the Pakistani government to reach out to China.  While there have been detailed negotiations between the two governments, there have been suggestions that the Chinese might not be too keen to get closer to Pakistan, which was a US ally during the Cold War, especially as they have their own problem with fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups especially the Uighurs.

While I very much admire the outspokenness of Adm. Mullen, it comes at the end of his tenure and the impact of his statement has been judiciously hosed down by the White House and State Department officials, although President Obama was forthright in dumping the mess squarely into the lap of the Pakistani government and surprisingly perhaps, Haji Mali Khan, the senior Haqqani commander in Afghanistan was captured in late September, although the news only broke over the weekend.  However, as recently as October 1, there were reports from Europe that the Afghan government had gone cold on negotiations with the Taliban and some might be wondering whether it is in their interest to have the US and allied forces withdrawn.  I have changed my mind on the subject within the last year because I have always recognised that it is impossible to graft Western-style democracy on feudal and tribal societies and the degree of difficulty is increased by the religious element.  I felt that the Heritage group could have gone further in talking about Western diplomacy and relations with Islamic countries.   Diplomats in the West engaging with other Western and European countries have evolved a style of diplomacy which stresses personal relationships between leaders, which are not always reflected in official communiqués as Wikileaks has shown.  Nevertheless, there are certain modes of behavior that are understood on both sides.  Even during the Cold War, there were a number of back channels between the Soviet Union and the US and a certain amount of posturing was just that.  “Diplomacy” with Muslim leaders is a deep and murky process and Westerners need to know who and what they are dealing with in negotiations.

Ali Saleh, a jihadist in Yemen, whose “martyrdom” from a U.S. drone attack was celebrated in Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine # 6 (Summer edition, August 2011, page 26).

Now more than ever, State Department officials are at risk serving abroad even in non-Muslim countries as we have seen in Africa.  European security and intelligence is usually tied in to the overall Western effort and American embassies tend to be well guarded.  One of the dreadful ironies of the Middle East is that the US has close ties with Saudi Arabia.  This is an absolutist monarchy, with a theocratic government; where the King has graciously permitted women to vote – in 2015.  The rights of women in Saudi Arabia are severely circumscribed.  They are not permitted to drive nor are they usually allowed to travel unaccompanied.  Nevertheless there are a considerable number of very well educated Saudi women especially in science and computer technology. But the iron rule from the Islamic clergy ensures that they remain second-class citizens.

An Australian academic of my acquaintance has written a great deal about funding from Saudi Arabia of schools and universities in the West and the great number of young Saudi Arabian men travel to the West to study. [3] Western governments allow this funding which comes with some conditions such as the right to build schools and mosques.  By contrast, no Christian church has been able to establish itself in Saudi Arabia because it is illegal. The only moderation in recent years has been to conduct executions behind closed doors.  At one stage, football stadiums were execution grounds where those found guilty of capital crimes were ritually beheaded.  Their compassion extends to minor infringements such as amputating limbs under anesthetic and providing follow-up treatment.  This is what we are dealing with – an unreconstructed oil rich feudal kingdom held together by a royal family, which is split into various groups.  It hardly needs to be mentioned that Osama bin Laden originally hailed from Saudi Arabia and although the Saudi government took action against his followers it and holdings, we simply do not know whether tacit approval for terrorism exists.  What we do know is that the export of fundamentalist Islamic ideology is active and widespread.  The long-term danger is the build up of Islamic communities, which can and do provide support for terrorists.  Needless to say, the Saudi government plays a very deep and long game in its diplomacy with the West and we should not forget their role in the first oil crisis of 1973.  Whether the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East hits Saudi Arabia and makes an impact remains to be seen but strategically, the importance of this nation to the US and the security of Israel remains vital, even while Saudi clerics and diplomats routinely speak in vituperative terms about Israel.  Once more there is more than a little hypocrisy because some of the Wikileaks demonstrated quite clearly that more than a few governments in the region would be happy to see Israel take-out Iran.

If the recent setbacks for the jihadist cause provides a modicum of quiet pleasure in Western capitals, it should not be taken for an occasion to break out expensive champagne. I tend to categorise it as taking out the trash – a routine affair.  We cannot forget that the conflict in Afghanistan is by far the longest that the US and certain allies have been at war and the effects on the budget, weapons and matériel and troops is cumulative.  It would be tempting at times to agree with certain US commentators that the US should pull out unilaterally, especially as the war is not popular domestically.  However, the nature of the struggle with fundamentalist Islam will remain.  Like the Chinese, the Muslim nations are patient and believe they have time on their side.  Even as I was preparing this piece, it was driven home to me that there had been over 40 foiled terrorist plots in the US alone and last week a neat sting operation prevented yet another attack on US soil and the arrest was announced of a senior member of the Haqqani group in Pakistan.  The basic problem is that while we continue to accept Islamic migration in the West, there is correspondingly a higher degree of understanding of the ways of our society being known and the mere fact that Al Qaeda and affiliates have become technologically savvy and use the Internet, Facebook, twitter and just about every other form of communication familiar to us portends a greater threat.  Where our religions have become diluted, fragmented and largely meaningless to so many, the reverse is true in the Muslim world.  There is no sign of any reformation such as that experienced by the Christian church and while there are various factions in Islam, straying too far from the path constitutes apostasy with the appropriate punishment.  Even as Westerners have sat in their armchairs and cheered the events of the Arab Spring, the fact that during battle, prayers are observed promptly give cause for considerable thought.  Modern 21st century Western man may well enjoy a reasonable lifestyle, even with the current economic difficulties, but we have no grand plan for countering the greatest threat to our way of life. Burying heads in the sand is not a substitute for a clearly articulated policy.

Notes 

1. In short, there is an analogy with the Cold War and the split between the USSR and China: this we used to say, neither side had any doubts about the burial of capitalism, only the time of the funeral.  For those hoping that internecine fighting between strains of Islam will alter the ultimate objective, they are doomed to great disappointment.

2. I am pleased to be able to cite the work of a former Australian intelligence analyst who conducted groundbreaking studies into Taqiya and Kitman without a great deal of recognition. Originally published in the National Observer (Aust) in 2005, it is available from Amazon and entitled Taqiyya: how Islamic extremists deceive the West. A companion paper Taqiyya and the Global War on Terrorism can be obtained online National Observer (Council for the National Interest, Melbourne),  No. 66, Spring 2005, pages 26-36.

3. Mervyn F. Bendle (Dr) “Secret Saudi funding of radical Islamic groups in Australia”, National Observer No.72, Autumn 2007, pp.7-18. (Part One)

Mervyn F. Bendle (Dr) “How to be a useful idiot: Saudi funding in Australia” — Part II National Observer, No.77 Winter 2008, pp. 8-24.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor John W. Miller is a former senior intelligence officer with NATO and allied forces, with considerable experience in Russian (Soviet) affairs and counterterrorism.A version of this article first appeared at Right Side News.

2011/04/03

CIA documents, the FBI and PF show how the acts of Islamic terror network in Brazil

Source Link: Veja

The Federal Police has evidence that al Qaeda and other extremist organizations use the four country to spread propaganda and plan attacks, finance operations and attract militants

The terrorist Osama bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda (Disclosure / AFP)

Khaled Hussein Ali was born in 1970 in eastern Lebanon. Follower of the Sunni stream of Islam, military service. Then disappeared. In early 1990, reappeared in Sao Paulo. He married and had a daughter. Thanks to her, obtained in 1998 the right to live in Brazil. Lives in Itaquera, East Zone of São Paulo, and supports his family with the profits from an Internet cafe. Ali leads a double life. It is one of the chief propaganda arm of Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization headed by Osama bin Laden. São Paulo, the Lebanese extremist coordinates in seventeen countries. The text or video of Bin Laden’s disciples are not made available by its approval. More: it is for the Lebanese to give logistical support to al-Qaida operations. He is part of a terrorist network that extends its tentacles in Brazil.

Treated as “Prince” by his henchmen, Ali was followed by four months by the Federal Police until his arrest in March 2009. Besides the evidence of terrorism on the Internet, Federal Police found the computer of spam sent Ali to the U.S. to incite hatred of Jews and blacks. Approached by Veja, Ali denied his identity. This material, however, allowed the Federal Police to indict the racism, incitement to crime and gang formation. Saved himself from charges of terrorism because the Brazilian Penal Code does not provide for this crime. The Lebanese stayed 21 days in prison. He was released because the prosecutor did not report to the Federal Justice. Cases like Ali feeds the divergences of the U.S. government with Brazil.

Two months ago, SEE had access to reports of PF on the terror network in Brazil. Besides Ali, twenty militants of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups use or have used Brazil as a hideout, logistics center, a source of raising money and planning attacks. The magazine report also obtained reports sent to Brazil by the U.S. government. These documents allow you to see pinpoints Ali and four other extremists. They live in Brazil as if they were ordinary citizens. Although the author of the research, PF takes an ambiguous behavior to comment on the findings of its staff. The institution dodges, saying it “does not label people or groups who could otherwise act with inspiration terrorist.” This discourse dubious and inconsistent not only facilitates the entrenchment of extremist organizations in Brazil and creates great risks for the immediate future.

2011/03/31

Indonesia: Terror Suspect Wounded During Arrest

Filed under: CIA, Indonesia, Pakistan — Tags: , — - @ 10:02 am

Source Stratfor

The leading Indonesian suspect in the 2002 Bali bombings was wounded in a firefight with security forces during his Jan. 25 arrest in Pakistan, an Indonesian official said March 31, AP reported. The deputy commander of Jemaah Islamiyah, Umar Patek was captured based on a CIA tip, according to Pakistani and Indonesian security officials. One officer was also wounded in the gunfight, the head of Indonesia’s intelligence agency said. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said Indonesian consular officials would be given access to Patek in order to confirm his identity, and Pakistani security officials said that after Patek’s questioning he would be handed over to Indonesia.

CIA In Libya Aiding Rebels

Filed under: CIA, Laws, Libya, Lies and more Lies, National Security, Obama — - @ 8:54 am

Source Stratfor

Small groups of CIA operatives have been aiding rebels in Libya for the past several weeks, The New York Times reported March 30, citing unnamed U.S. officials. The CIA operatives include an undisclosed number who had been working at the CIA station in Tripoli as well as those that have recently arrived, the officials said. Dozens of British special forces and MI6 operatives are working inside Libya, the officials said, adding that the British operatives have been directing airstrikes from British Tornado jets and gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of Libyan government tanks, artillery pieces and missile installations.

2011/03/23

Libyan Diplomatic Missions as Terror Hubs

Filed under: CIA, Jihad, Libya, National Security, Obama, Protests, Radical Islam, Terrorism — - @ 11:25 am

Source Link: Stratfor

Click on image below to watch video:

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton discusses the diplomatic targets that intelligence agencies are watching in their efforts to disrupt terrorist plots.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

While the world is focused on the war in Libya, intelligence agencies like the CIA and MI6 are focused on Libyan diplomatic missions around the globe in an effort to disrupt terror plots.

Libya has a long history of using their diplomatic missions as a hub for terrorist-related activity. Intelligence agencies around the globe will be focusing on three specific targets for the surveillance teams. The first is missions or the diplomatic facility. The second would be known or suspected intelligence officers. And the third would be diplomatic pouches.

The first target for the surveillance team would be the official diplomatic mission, embassy, consulate or front company where some sort of clandestine action could be taking place. The focus of the surveillance team would be the individuals that are suspected intelligence officers of the Libyan government as well as people that may be walking into the embassy or front company. The surveillance team would maintain a log with photographs or video of the individuals, and an effort will be made to identify who these individuals are through in-country investigations.

The second target set would be the Libyan diplomatic officers, with a laser focus on the suspected intelligence officers or known intelligence officers. You’re going to have surveillance of individuals that are meeting with these individuals that spin off into various webs of activity, and there is going to be an ongoing effort to identify who those people are that are meeting with the Libyan intelligence officers. The purpose of this surveillance activity is to create an umbrella, a quick read of activity to indicate whether or not there is some sort of terror plot in the works.

The third target set for the surveillance team would be Libyan diplomatic pouches. This is something that we learn through investigation of other terror plots: that the Libyans would utilize the diplomatic pouch to facilitate the transport of weapons, explosives, identity documents to third countries in an effort to carry out any kind of an attack. The interesting aspect of diplomatic pouches are that nations cannot search them, they don’t get x-rayed, they’re not opened, so you literally have no idea what’s in the diplomatic pouch. These items are escorted by diplomatic couriers that also have immunity.

Evidence has shown based on past specific acts of terrorism that I’ve personally investigated that Gadhafi uses his diplomatic missions as a center of gravity for terrorism activity, and it’s also going to be a concern for what other surrogate groups he could be reaching out to to facilitate acts of terrorism all around the world.

2011/02/24

Pakistan: ISI Cuts Off Contact With CIA

Filed under: CIA, National Security, Obama, Pakistan — - @ 9:58 am

Source Link: Stratfor

February 23, 2011

Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency’s relationship with the CIA has been put into question after the shooting death of two Pakistanis by Raymond Davis, a contracted agent of the United States, AP reported Feb. 23, citing an obtained unreleased ISI statement. An unnamed ISI official told AP that the ISI had no idea who Davis was when he was arrested and that the ISI fears that there are hundreds of CIA-contracted agents operating in Pakistan without the knowledge of either the Pakistani government or the ISI. The ISI knows and works with senior CIA officials in Pakistan, the official said, adding that it is upsetting that the CIA would secretly send other agents to Pakistan. The official said that the ISI is currently not talking to the CIA at any level, even the most senior level, and that in order to regain support and assistance from the ISI, the CIA must start showing more respect.

2011/02/16

The Threat of Civil Unrest in Pakistan and the Davis Case

By Scott Stewart

On Feb. 13, the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issued a statement demanding that the government of Pakistan execute U.S. government contractor Raymond Davis or turn him over to the TTP for judgment. Davis, a contract security officer for the CIA, has been in Pakistani custody since a Jan. 27 incident in which he shot two men who reportedly pointed a pistol at him in an apparent robbery attempt.

Pakistani officials have corroborated Davis’ version of events and, according to their preliminary report, Davis appears to have acted in self-defense. From a tactical perspective, the incident appears to have been (in tactical security parlance) a “good shoot,” but the matter has been taken out of the tactical realm and has become mired in transnational politics and Pakistani public sentiment. Whether the shooting was justified or not, Davis has now become a pawn in a larger game being played out between the United States and Pakistan.

When one considers the way similar periods of tension between the Pakistanis and Americans have unfolded in the past, it is not unreasonable to conclude that as this current period plays out, it could have larger consequences for Davis and for American diplomatic facilities and commercial interests in Pakistan. Unless the Pakistani government is willing and able to defuse the situation, the case could indeed provoke violent protests against the United States, and U.S. citizens and businesses in Pakistan should be prepared for this backlash.

Details of the Case

One of the reasons that the Pakistanis have been able to retain Davis in custody is that while he may have been traveling on a “black” diplomatic U.S. passport, not everyone who holds a diplomatic passport is afforded full diplomatic immunity. The only people afforded full diplomatic immunity are those who are on a list of diplomats officially accredited as diplomatic agents by the receiving country. The rest of the foreign employees at an embassy or a consulate in the receiving country who are not on the diplomatic list and who are not accredited as diplomatic agents under the Vienna Convention are only protected by functional immunity. This means they are only protected from prosecution related to their official duties.

As a contract employee assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, Davis was likely not on the diplomatic list and probably did not enjoy full diplomatic immunity. He was probably considered a member of the administrative or technical staff. Protecting himself during a robbery attempt would not be considered part of his official function in the country, and therefore his actions that day would not be covered under functional immunity. So determining exactly what level of immunity Davis was provided will be critical in this case, and the information provided by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry will have a big impact on the Pakistani judge hearing the arguments.

In all likelihood, Davis was briefed regarding his legal status by his company and by the CIA prior to being assigned to post. He also would have been told that, while he had limited immunity, the U.S. government would do its best to take care of him if some incident occurred. However, it would have been made clear to him that in working as a protective contractor he was running a risk and that if there was an incident on or off duty, he could wind up in trouble. All security contractors working overseas know this and accept the risk as part of the job.

At the time of the shooting, of course, Davis would not have had time to leisurely ponder this potential legal quagmire. He saw a threat and reacted to it. Undoubtedly, the U.S. government will do all it can to help Davis out — especially since the case appears to be a good-shoot scenario and not a case of negligence or bad judgment. Indeed, on Feb. 15, U.S. Sen. John Kerry flew to Islamabad in a bid to seek Davis’ release. However, in spite of American efforts and international convention, Davis’ case is complicated greatly by the fact that he was working in Pakistan and by the current state of U.S.-Pakistani relations.

Tensions

Over the past few years, relations between the United States and Pakistan have been very strained. This tension has been evidenced not only by public opinion but also by concrete examples. For example, in mid-December, the CIA station chief in Islamabad was forced to leave the country after his name was disclosed in a class-action lawsuit brought by relatives of civilians killed by unmanned aerial vehicle strikes in the Pakistani tribal badlands.

It was no coincidence that the Pakistani lawsuit against the CIA station chief occurred shortly after the head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, was accused in a civil lawsuit of being involved in the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. The suit was brought in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn by family members of the American rabbi killed alongside his wife in Mumbai by Pakistan-based Islamist militants.

Like Iraq, Pakistan is a country that has seen considerable controversy over American security contractors over the past several years. The government of Pakistan has gone after security contractor companies like DynCorp and its Pakistani affiliate InterRisk and Xe (formerly known as Blackwater), which has become the Pakistani version of the bogeyman. In addition to the clandestine security and intelligence work the company was conducting in Pakistan, in 2009 the Taliban even began to blame Xe for suicide bombing attacks that killed civilians. The end result is that American security contractors have become extremely unpopular in Pakistan. They are viewed not only as an affront to Pakistani sovereignty but also as trigger-happy killers.

ASIF HASSAN/AFP/Getty ImagesActivists from the Pakistani Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami during a protest rally in Karachi on Feb. 11

And this is the environment in which the Davis shooting occurred. Even though some Pakistani civilians apparently came forward and reported that they had been robbed at gunpoint by the men Davis shot, other Pakistani groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) — the successor to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was presumably banned by the Pakistani government — have demanded that Davis be hanged. The Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI), an Islamist political party, has also demanded that Davis be hanged and has called for large protests if he is released without a court order. As noted above, TTP spokesman Azam Tarik made a statement demanding that the Pakistani government either hang Davis or hand him over to them. Interest in this issue is not just confined to Islamist groups. There are some right-wing conservative nationalists and even some secular liberals who are asking: “If the United States can give CIA shooter Mir Amal Kansi the death penalty, why can’t Pakistan do the same thing to Davis?”

The result is that the Davis case has aroused much controversy and passion in Pakistan. This not only complicates the position of the Pakistani government but also raises the distinct possibility that there will be civil unrest if Davis is released.

Civil Unrest in Pakistan

Like many parts of the developing world, civil unrest in Pakistan can quickly turn to extreme violence. One example that must certainly be on the minds of the security personnel at the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. consulates in Pakistan is the November 1979 incident in which an enraged mob seized and destroyed the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad. While there were only two Americans killed in that incident — a Marine security guard shot as he stood on the roof of the embassy and an Army warrant officer who died when an apartment building on the embassy compound was torched — the fire that the mob set inside the building very nearly killed all the employees who had sought shelter in the embassy’s inner safe-haven area. Two local Pakistani staff members were also killed in the fire.

The 1979 attack was said to have been sparked by reports that the U.S. government was behind an assault on the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Saudi militants the day before. In reality, the mob that stormed and torched the U.S. Embassy was at least tolerated, if not orchestrated, by the Pakistani government, which was angry that the United States cut off financial aid to the country in April 1979. Not only did the Pakistani government facilitate the busing of large numbers of protesters to the U.S. Embassy, its security forces also stood aside and refused to protect the embassy from the onslaught of the angry mob. The embassy assault was Pakistan’s not-so-subtle way of sending a message to the U.S. government.

But U.S. diplomatic facilities have not been the only targets of civil unrest in Pakistan. Following the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, angry mobs attacked not only security forces but also foreign businesses, banks, shops and gasoline stations in the cities of Karachi, Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Quetta and throughout the province of Sindh, Bhutto’s home province.

Similarly, in February 2006 during the unrest generated by the Mohammed cartoon fiasco, mobs in Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore attacked a wide range of Western business targets. The worst of this violence occurred in Lahore, where a rampaging mob burned down four buildings housing the four-star Ambassador Hotel, two banks, a KFC restaurant franchise and the regional office of Telenor, a Norwegian cell phone company. The protesters also damaged about 200 cars and several storefronts and threw stones through the windows of a McDonald’s restaurant, a Pizza Hut and a Holiday Inn. Lahore, incidentally, is where the Davis shooting occurred.

Forecast

Based on this history, the current tension between the United States and Pakistan, public sentiment in Pakistan regarding U.S. security contractors and the possibility of groups like JuD and JeI attempting to take advantage of the situation, there is a very real possibility that Davis’ release could spark mob violence in Pakistan (and specifically Lahore). Even if the Pakistani government does try to defuse the situation, there are other parties who will attempt to stir up violence.

Due to the widespread discontent over the issue of U.S. security contractors in Pakistan, if protests do follow the release of Davis, they can be expected to be similar to the protests that followed the Mohammed cartoon case, i.e., they will cut across ethnic and sectarian lines and present a widespread threat.

Physical security measures such as concrete barriers, standoff distances and security cameras can add to a facility’s defenses against a terrorist attack, but they really do not pose much of an obstacle to an angry mob intent on overrunning a property — especially if local and indigenous security forces are unwilling or unable to intervene in a timely fashion and the mob has the time and latitude to assault the facility for a prolonged period. The protesters can scale barriers and their overwhelming numbers can render most security measures useless. Barriers such as hard-line doors can provide some delay, but they can be breached by assailants who possess tools and time.

Additionally, if protesters are able to set fire to the building, as happened at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad in 1979, a safe-haven can become a death trap, especially if the mob can take control of the secondary escape hatch as it did in that incident, trapping the Americans inside the safe-haven.

Commercial facilities are, by their very nature, far more accessible — and far more vulnerable — to mob violence than diplomatic facilities. A commercial facility can present a tempting soft target to those who wish to attack a symbol of America without tackling a hard target like a U.S. diplomatic facility, which is designed and built to comply with stringent security standards. If a mob storms a hotel, the local staff will be unable to protect the guests, and conceivably could leave the guests to fend for themselves in the confusion and chaos of a riot. Even worse, they could even facilitate attacks against Americans by pointing them out or providing their room numbers.

Any person identified as an American by such an angry mob could quickly find himself or herself in dire danger. While Americans working for the U.S. government can expect to have some security assistance in getting back to the embassy or to another secure location, non-officials may be left to fend for themselves, especially if they are not registered with the embassy. Non-officials are also not required to abide by the same security rules as officials. While many non-officials consider the U.S. State Department’s security rules to be onerous at times, during troubled periods these conservative security rules often serve to keep diplomats out of harm’s way.

Once a mob attacks, there often is little that can be done — especially if the host government either cannot or will not take action to protect the facility being attacked. At that point, the focus should be on preventing injuries and saving lives — without regard to the physical property. In most cases, when a mob attacks a multinational corporation, it is attacking a symbolic target. KFC restaurants, for example, have been frequent targets of attacks in Pakistan because of the company’s association with the United States. In many cases, multinational franchises such as KFC and even some hotels are owned by locals and not Americans, but that does not matter to the mobs, which see nothing but a U.S. symbol.

When an issue such as the Mohammed cartoons, the Bhutto assassination or the release of Raymond Davis spirals into violent protests, the only real precaution that many companies can take is to escape the area and avoid loss of life. The best defense is to use good intelligence in order to learn about the protests in advance, to track them when they occur and then to evacuate personnel before they can be affected by the violence.

U.S. diplomatic facilities and business interests in Pakistan are almost certainly reviewing their contingency plans right now and planning for the worst-case scenario. During such times, vigilance and preparation are vital, as is a constant flow of updated intelligence pertaining to potential demonstrations. Such intelligence can provide time for an evacuation or allow other proactive security measures to be taken. With the current tension between Pakistan and the United States, there might not be much help coming when the next wave of unrest erupts, so keeping ahead of potential protests is critically important.

Read more: The Threat of Civil Unrest in Pakistan and the Davis Case | STRATFOR

2010/07/17

The Shifting Landscape of Passport Fraud

Filed under: CIA, Laws, National Security — Tags: , — - @ 5:17 pm

By Scott Stewart

The recent case involving the arrest and deportation of the Russian intelligence network in the United States has once again raised the subject of document fraud in general and passport fraud in particular. The FBI’s investigation into the group of Russian operatives discovered that several of the suspects had assumed fraudulent identities and had obtained genuine passports (and other identity documents) in their assumed names. One of the suspects assumed the identity of a Canadian by the name of Christopher Robert Mestos, who died in childhood. The suspect was arrested in Cyprus but fled after posting bail; his true identity remains unknown. Three other members of the group also assumed Canadian identities, with Andrey Bezrukov posing as Donald Heathfield, Elena Vavilova as Tracey Foley and Natalia Pereverzeva as Patricia Mills.

Passport fraud is a topic that surfaces with some frequency in relation to espionage cases. (The Israelis used passport fraud during the January 2010 operation to assassinate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a senior Hamas militant commander.) Passport fraud is also frequently committed by individuals involved in crimes such as narcotics smuggling and arms trafficking, as well as by militants involved in terrorist plots. Because of the frequency with which passport fraud is used in these types of activities — and due to the importance that curtailing passport fraud can have in combating espionage, terrorism and crime — we thought it a topic worth discussing this week in greater detail.

Passports and Investigations

While the use of passports goes back centuries, the idea of a travel document that can be used to absolutely verify the identity of a traveler is a relatively new concept. Passports containing the photos of the bearer have only been widely used and mandated for international travel for about a century now, and in the United States, it was not until 1918 that Congress enacted laws mandating the use of U.S. passports for Americans returning from overseas and home country passports with visas for foreigners wishing to visit the United States. Passport fraud followed closely on the heels of these regulations. Following the American entry into World War I, special agents from the State Department’s Bureau of Secret Intelligence became very involved in hunting down German and Austrian intelligence officers who were then using forged documents to operate inside the United States.

In the decades after World War I, the Bureau of Secret Intelligence’s successor organization, the Office of the Chief Special Agent, became very involved in investigating Nazi and Communist agents who committed passport fraud to operate inside the United States. As the Office of the Chief Special Agent evolved into the State Department’s Office of Security and then finally the Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS), special agents from the organization continued to investigate passport and visa fraud. In addition to foreign intelligence officers, they have also investigated terrorists, fugitives and other criminals who have committed passport fraud. Since the State Department is the agency that issues U.S. passports and visas, it is also the primary agency charged with ensuring the integrity of those documents. Therefore, in much the same manner that U.S. Secret Service agents are charged with investigating counterfeit currency (and ensuring the integrity of currency for the Treasury Department), DS agents are charged with investigating passport fraud.

DS agents are not the only ones who investigate passport fraud, however. As the FBI matured organizationally and became the primary domestic counterintelligence agency, the bureau also began to work passport fraud investigations involving foreign intelligence officers. Soviet and other Communist “illegals” — intelligence officers operating without official cover — frequently assumed the identities of deceased infants, and because of this, the FBI developed a particular interest in passport fraud investigations involving infant death identity (IDI) cases. However, passport fraud is only one of the many criminal violations that the FBI investigates, and most FBI agents will not investigate a passport fraud case during their career.

As the agency primarily responsible for border and immigration enforcement, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) also investigates identity-document fraud, including passport fraud, although many of the cases ICE agents work involve foreign passports. ICE also has a forensic document laboratory that is the best in the world when it comes to the technical investigation of fraudulent identity documents.

Another U.S. government agency that watches passport fraud with a great deal of interest is the CIA. Not only does it have an operational interest in the topic — the agency wants to be able to use fraud for its own purposes — but it is also very interested in being able to verify the true identities of walk-ins and other potential sources. Because of this, the CIA needs to have the ability to spot fraudulent documents. During the 1980s, the CIA produced an excellent series of unclassified guides on the terrorist use of passport and visa fraud called the “Redbook.” The Redbook was discontinued in 1992, just as the jihadist threat to the United States was beginning to emerge.

As in any area where there are overlapping jurisdictions and investigations, there is sometimes tension and bureaucratic jealously between the various agencies involved in investigating passport fraud. The level of tension is frequently lower in scenarios where the agencies work together (as on joint terrorism task forces) and where the agents and agencies have become accustomed to working together. In the forensic realm, the ICE laboratory generally has an excellent relationship with the State Department, the FBI (and the document section of the FBI laboratory) and the CIA’s document laboratory.

Types of Passport Fraud

There are several different types of passport fraud. The first is the intentional issuing of a genuine passport in a false identity by a government. Real passports are often issued in false identities to provide cover for intelligence officers, but this can also be done for other reasons. For example, in late 1990, during Operation Desert Shield, the Iraqi government provided a large group of Iraqi intelligence officers with Iraqi passports in false identities so that these officials could travel abroad and conduct terrorist attacks against U.S. interests. These Iraqi teams were dispatched all over the world and were provided direction (as well as weapons and IED components) by Iraqi intelligence officers stationed in embassies abroad. The explosives and firearms were sent around the world via diplomatic pouches (which are exempt from search). Following failed terrorist attacks in Manila and Jakarta in January 1991, DS agents investigating the case discovered that the Iraqi operatives were traveling on sequentially numbered Iraqi passports. This discovery allowed a worldwide alert to go out and governments in several different regions of the world were able to arrest or deport scores of Iraqi agents.

A second type of fraud involving genuine passports is where the government is not knowingly involved in the issuance of the passport for the fraudulent identity. In such cases, an applicant uses fraudulent identification documents to apply for a passport. The group of documents needed to obtain a passport — called “breeder” documents — normally includes a birth certificate, a Social Security card and a driver’s license. A set of fraudulent breeder documents can be counterfeit, genuine but altered (this can be done by changing the name or date of birth) or genuine documents obtained by fraud.

This is where the IDI cases come in. In these cases, someone applies for a replacement birth certificate of a deceased infant or child of their approximate age and then uses the birth certificate to obtain a Social Security card and driver’s license. The person applying for the replacement birth certificate usually claims their original birth certificate was lost or stolen.

Due to changes in procedure and technology, however, it has become more difficult in recent years to obtain a copy of the birth certificate of an infant or child who died in the United States. Birth-certificate registries are now tied electronically to death registries in every state, and if someone attempts to get the birth certificate of a dead person, it is quickly noticed and an investigation launched. Also, Social Security numbers are now issued at birth, so it is very difficult for a 25- or 30-year-old person to apply for a new Social Security number. Because of these factors, IDI cases have declined significantly in the United States.

Breeder documents are generally easier to counterfeit or obtain by fraud than a passport. However, as identity documents become more cross-referenced in databases, it is becoming more difficult to obtain a passport using a counterfeit birth certificate and Social Security number. Because of this, it has become more common for a person to buy a set of genuine breeder documents from a drug user or criminal looking for some quick cash. It is also possible to buy a genuine birth certificate and Social Security card from a corrupt official. While such documents are genuine, and can carry the applicant’s true or chosen name, such genuine documents are much more expensive than the other options. Of course, passport office employees can also be bribed to issue a genuine passport with fraudulent breeder documents, though there is a remote risk that such fraud will be caught in an audit.

At the present time, it is far easier and cheaper to obtain a genuine foreign passport by fraud than it is a U.S. passport, but corruption and plain old mistakes still allow a small number of fraudulent U.S. passports to get into the system. There are still some countries where a genuine passport in any identity can be obtained for just a few hundred dollars. Generally, it is more difficult to get passports from more developed nations (such as those that participate in the U.S. visa waiver program) than it is from less developed nations, where corruption is more prevalent. Still, corruption is a worldwide problem when it comes to passports and other identity documents.

Stolen blank passports have also been used over the years. For example, after Operation Desert Storm, an Iraqi passport office in Basra was sacked and thousands of blank Iraqi passports were stolen and then sold on the black market. One of those blanks was bought by a Pakistani jihadist operative named Abdul Basit, who had the blank passport filled out with his photograph and the name of a fictitious Iraqi citizen named Ramzi Yousef. After he entered the United States, Basit organized the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The problem with stolen blanks is that they are usually reported fairly quickly and their numbers are entered into international databases. Furthermore, like a counterfeit passport, a stolen blank passport will not correspond to information entered into passport databases, and it is therefore difficult to travel using one. In the case of Basit, he used a British passport altered to include his photo to leave Pakistan but then used the Iraqi passport to make an asylum claim once he arrived in the United States.

This highlights another category of genuine passports used in passport fraud, those that are real but have been altered, usually by replacing the photo appearing on the passport. Passport fraud investigators refer to this as a photo-subbed passport. In the 1970s, it was fairly easy to photo-sub passports from most countries, but in the past couple of decades, many countries have taken great efforts to make this process more difficult. The use of high-tech laminates and now, in current U.S. passports, RFID chips that contain a photo that must match the one appearing on the passport make it far harder to photo-sub passports today. Of course, efforts to increase passport security haven’t always worked as planned. In 1993, the State Department began issuing a new high-tech passport with a green cover that was supposed to be impossible to photo-sub. Within a few months of the first issuance of the passports, document vendors discovered that the laminate on the green passports could be easily removed by placing a block of dry ice on the passport, changing the photo and then pressing the laminate back down with an iron. Due to the ease of photo-subbing these passports, their value on the black market skyrocketed, and the “fraud proof” green passports had to be taken out of circulation after less than a year.

Finally, we have counterfeit passports, which are passports created from scratch by a document vendor. Like counterfeit currency, there is a vast range of quality when it comes to counterfeit passports, and as a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for. On the streets of places like Bangkok, Hong Kong or New York, one can buy counterfeit passports from a wide array of countries. There is, however, a vast difference between the passport one can purchase for $100 and the one that can be purchased for $10,000. Also, like currency, some passport counterfeiters will even attempt to use elements of genuine passports, like the optically “dead” paper with little or no fluorescence used for the pages and the holographic laminates used on the photo pages. However, like photo-subbed passports, it is far more difficult to create a functional counterfeit passport today than it was several years ago. Not only does the passport have to be of high quality, but the number needs to correspond to the database of legitimately issued passports. Therefore, most counterfeit passports are useful for traveling in the third world but would not withstand the scrutiny of authorities in the developed world.

In spite of these problems, there is still a market for counterfeit and photo-subbed passports. While they may not be useful for traveling to a country like the United States or France, they can be used to travel from a place like Pakistan or China to a gateway country in the Western Hemisphere like Venezuela or a gateway country in Europe like Albania. Because of this, American and European passports still fetch a decent price on the black market and are frequently stolen from or sold by Westerners. Citizens of Western countries who travel to terrorist training camps are also frequently encouraged to “donate” their passports and other documents to the group that trains them. There are also many reports that Mossad makes use of the passports of foreign Jews who move to Israel and give their passports to the intelligence agency. Stolen or deliberately lost passports not only can be altered or cloned but also can be used for travel by people who physically resemble the original bearer, although once they are reported stolen or lost and entered into lookout databases, their utility declines.

A Shifting Focus

The difficulty in obtaining functional travel documents has affected the way criminal and terrorist organizations operate. With increasing scrutiny of travel documents, groups like al Qaeda have found it progressively more difficult to travel to the West. This is one of the factors that has led to their increasing use of operatives who have the ability to travel to where the planned attack is to be conducted, rather than sending a more professional terrorist operative to conduct the attack.

This difficulty in counterfeiting passports has even affected intelligence agencies, which are the best passport counterfeiters in the world. This is why we see intelligence agencies like Mossad having to clone passports — that is, create a counterfeit passport that bears the same name and number of a legitimate passport — or even resort to other types of fraud to obtain genuine passports for operatives. It has become difficult to fabricate a usable passport using a fictitious name. Mossad operatives have gotten in trouble for attempting to fraudulently obtain genuine passports in places like New Zealand. And Mossad is certainly not the only intelligence service experiencing this difficulty in obtaining documents for its operatives.

Because of these difficulties, intelligence agencies and militant and criminal organizations have begun to place increasing importance on recruiting assets involved in the issuance of identity documents. At an embassy, a consular officer is viewed as almost as important a person to recruit as a code clerk. A corrupt consular officer can make a great deal of money selling documents. But the threat can extend far from an overseas embassy. If an organization like the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (or the Sinaloa cartel) can recruit an employee at the New Jersey Office of Vital Statistics, they can arrange to have their agent occasionally issue a genuine birth certificate (camouflaged in a large stack of legitimately issued documents) in a fraudulent identity for their use. Likewise, if they can recruit a clerk at the Social Security office in Jersey City, they can get that agent to occasionally issue a Social Security number and card that corresponds to the birth certificate. These primary documents can then be used to obtain a driver’s license (the key identity document for living in the United States) and eventually a passport for international travel.

Of course, recruiting an agent who works inside an agency is not the only way to obtain identification documents. Several years ago, a cleaning company owned by a group of Nigerians placed a low bid on the contract to provide cleaning services to Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in Florida. Shortly after the company began providing services to the DMV, the agency suffered a rash of thefts across the state that included not only blank driver’s licenses and laminates but an entire machine that took the photos and processed the blank licenses.

The advent of cross-referencing databases, machine-readable passports routinely checked against such databases, radio frequency identification technology and procedures intended to prevent fraud have helped curtail many types of passport fraud. That said, passports are still required to travel for nefarious purposes, and these security measures have caused resourceful criminals, terrorists and intelligence agencies to shift their focus from technical methods of fraud toward exploiting humans in the process. In many places, the effort made to vet and monitor employees issuing documents is far less extensive than the effort made to physically protect documents from counterfeiting. The end result is that humans have become the weakest link in the equation.

Reprinting or republication of this report on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence at the beginning or end of the report, including the hyperlink to STRATFOR:

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2010/07/13

Russian Spies and Strategic Intelligence

Filed under: CIA, Lies and more Lies, National Security, Obama, Progressives — Tags: , , , — - @ 1:13 pm

By George Friedman

The United States has captured a group of Russian spies and exchanged them for four individuals held by the Russians on espionage charges. The way the media has reported on the issue falls into three groups:

  • That the Cold War is back,
  • That, given that the Cold War is over, the point of such outmoded intelligence operations is questionable,
  • And that the Russian spy ring was spending its time aimlessly nosing around in think tanks and open meetings in an archaic and incompetent effort.

It is said that the world is global and interdependent. This makes it vital for a given nation to know three things about all of the nations with which it interacts.

First, it needs to know what other nations are capable of doing. Whether militarily, economically or politically, knowing what other nations are capable of narrows down those nations’ possible actions, eliminating fantasies and rhetoric from the spectrum of possible moves. Second, the nation needs to know what other nations intend to do. This is important in the short run, especially when intentions and capabilities match up. And third, the nation needs to know what will happen in other nations that those nations’ governments didn’t anticipate.

The more powerful a nation is, the more important it is to understand what it is doing. The United States is the most powerful country in the world. It therefore follows that it is one of the prime focuses of every country in the world. Knowing what the United States will do, and shifting policy based on that, can save countries from difficulties and even disaster. This need is not confined, of course, to the United States. Each country in the world has a list of nations that it is interdependent with, and it keeps an eye on those nations. These can be enemies, friends or just acquaintances. It is impossible for nations not to keep their eyes on other nations, corporations not to keep their eyes on other corporations and individuals not to keep their eyes on other people. How they do so varies; that they do so is a permanent part of the human condition. The shock at learning that the Russians really do want to know what is going on in the United States is, to say the least, overdone.

Russian Tradecraft Examined

Let’s consider whether the Russian spies were amateurish. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Soviets developed a unique model of espionage. They would certainly recruit government officials or steal documents. What they excelled at, however, was placing undetectable operatives in key positions. Soviet talent scouts would range around left-wing meetings to discover potential recruits. These would be young people with impeccable backgrounds and only limited contact with the left. They would be recruited based on ideology, and less often via money, sex or blackmail. They would never again be in contact with communists or fellow travelers. They would apply for jobs in their countries’ intelligence services, foreign or defense ministries, and so on. Given their family and academic backgrounds, they would be hired. They would then be left in place for 20 or 30 years while they rose in the ranks — and, on occasion, aided with bits of information from the Soviet side to move their careers ahead.

The Soviets understood that a recruited employee might be a double agent. But stealing information on an ad hoc basis was also risky, as the provenance of such material was always murky. Recruiting people who were not yet agents, creating psychological and material bonds over long years of management and allowing them to mature into senior intelligence or ministry officials allowed ample time for testing loyalty and positioning. The Soviets not only got more reliable information this way but also the ability to influence the other country’s decision-making. Recruiting a young man in the 1930s, having him work with the OSS and later the CIA, and having him rise to the top levels of the CIA — had that ever happened — would thus give the Soviets information and control.

These operations took decades, and Soviet handlers would spend their entire careers managing one career. There were four phases:

  • Identifying likely candidates,
  • Evaluating and recruiting them,
  • Placing them and managing their rise in the organization,
  • And exploiting them.

The longer the third phase took, the more effective the fourth phase would be.

It is difficult to know what the Russian team was up to in the United States from news reports, but there are two things we know about the Russians: They are not stupid, and they are extremely patient. If we were to guess — and we are guessing — this was a team of talent scouts. They were not going to meetings at the think tanks because they were interested in listening to the papers; rather, they were searching for recruits. These were people between the ages of 22 and 30, doing internships or entry level jobs, with family and academic backgrounds that would make employment in classified areas of the U.S. government easy — and who in 20 to 30 years would provide intelligence and control to Moscow.

In our view, the media may have conflated two of Moscow’s missions.

Twin Goals and the Espionage Challenge

One of the Russian operatives, Don Heathfield, once approached a STRATFOR employee in a series of five meetings. There appeared to be no goal of recruitment; rather, the Russian operative tried to get the STRATFOR employee to try out software he said his company had developed. We suspect that had this been done, our servers would be outputting to Moscow. We did not know at the time who he was. (We have since reported the incident to the FBI, but these folks were everywhere, and we were one among many.)

Thus, the group apparently included a man using software sales as cover — or as we suspect, as a way to intrude on computers. As discussed, the group also included talent scouts. We would guess that Anna Chapman was brought in as part of the recruitment phase of talent scouting. No one at STRATFOR ever had a chance to meet her, having apparently failed the first screening.

Each of the phases of the operatives’ tasks required a tremendous amount of time, patience and, above all, cover. The operatives had to blend in (in this case, they didn’t do so well enough). Russians have always had a tremendous advantage over Americans in this regard. A Russian long-term deployment took you to the United States, for example. Were the Americans to try the same thing, they would have to convince people to spend years learning Russian to near-native perfection and then to spend 20-30 years of their lives in Russia. Some would be willing to do so, but not nearly as many as there are Russians prepared to spend that amount of time in the United States or Western Europe.

The United States can thus recruit sources (and sometimes it gets genuine ones). It can buy documents. But the extremely patient, long-term deployments are very difficult for it. It doesn’t fit with U.S. career patterns or family expectations.

The United States has substituted technical intelligence for this process. Thus, the most important U.S. intelligence-collection agency is not the CIA; it is the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA focuses on intercepting communications, penetrating computer networks, encryption and the like. (We will assume that they are successful at this.) So whereas the Russians seek to control the career of a recruit through retirement, the NSA seeks access to everything that is recorded electronically. The goal here is understanding capabilities and intentions. To the extent that the target is unaware of the NSA’s capabilities, the NSA does well. In many ways, this provides better and faster intelligence than the placement of agents, except that this does not provide influence.

The Intelligence Assumption

In the end, both the U.S. and Russian models — indeed most intelligence models — are built on the core assumption that the more senior the individual, the more knowledge he and his staff have. To put it more starkly, it assumes that what senior (and other) individuals say, write or even think reveals the most important things about the country in question. Thus, controlling a senior government official or listening to his phone conversations or e-mails makes one privy to the actions that country will take — thus allowing one to tell the future.

Let’s consider two cases: Iran in 1979 and the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1991. The fall of the Shah of Iran and the collapse of the Soviet empire were events of towering importance for the United States. Assume that the United States knew everything the shah’s senior officials and their staffs knew, wrote, or said in the period leading up to the Iranian Revolution. Or assume that the shah’s prime minister or a member of the Soviet Union’s Politburo was a long-term mole.

Either of those scenarios would not have made any difference to how events played out. This is because, in the end, the respective senior leadership didn’t know how events were going to play out. Partly this is because they were in denial, but mostly this is because they didn’t have the facts and they didn’t interpret the facts they did have properly. At these critical turning points in history, the most thorough penetration using either American or Russian techniques would have failed to provide warning of the change ahead. This is because the basic premise of the intelligence operation was wrong. The people being spied on and penetrated simply didn’t understand their own capabilities — i.e., the reality on the ground in their respective countries — and therefore their intentions about what to do were irrelevant and actually misleading.

In saying this, we must be very cautious, since obviously there are many instances in which targets of intelligence agencies do have valuable information and their decisions do actually represent what will happen. But if we regard anticipating systemic changes as one of the most important categories of intelligence, then these are cases where the targets of intelligence may well know the least and know it last. The Japanese knew they were going to hit Pearl Harbor, and having intelligence on that fact was enormously important. But that the British would collapse at Singapore was a fact not known to the British, so there would have been no way to obtain that information in advance from the British.

We started with three classes of intelligence: capabilities, intentions and what will actually happen. The first is an objective measure that can sometimes be seen directly but more frequently is obtained through data held by someone in the target country. The most important issue is not what this data says but how accurate it is. Intentions, by contrast, represent the subjective plans of decision makers. History is filled with intentions that were never implemented, or that, when implemented, had wildly different outcomes than the decision maker expected. From our point of view, the most important aspect of this category is the potential for unintended consequences. For example, George W. Bush did not intend to get bogged down in a guerrilla war in Iraq. What he intended and what happened were two different things because his view of American and Iraqi capabilities were not tied to reality.

American and Russian intelligence is source-based. There is value in sources, but they need to be taken with many grains of salt, not because they necessarily lie but because the highest placed source may simply be wrong — and at times, an entire government can be wrong. If the purpose of intelligence is to predict what will happen, and it is source-based, then that assumes that the sources know what is going on and how it will play out. But often they don’t.

Russian and American intelligence agencies are both source-obsessed. On the surface, this is reasonable and essential. But it assumes something about sources that is frequently true, but not always — and in fact is only true with great infrequency on the most important issues. From our point of view, the purpose of intelligence is obvious: It is to collect as much information as possible, and surely from the most highly placed sources. But in the end, the most important question to ask is whether the most highly placed source has any clue as to what is going to happen.

Knowledge of what is being thought is essential. But gaming out how the objective and impersonal forces will interact and play out it is the most important thing of all. The focus on sources allows the universe of intelligence to be populated by the thoughts of the target. Sometimes that is of enormous value. But sometimes the most highly placed source has no idea what is about to happen. Sometimes it is necessary to listen to the tape of Gorbachev or Bush planning the future and recognize that what they think will happen and what is about to happen are very different things.

The events of the past few weeks show intelligence doing the necessary work of recruiting and rescuing agents. The measure of all of this activity is not whether one has penetrated the other side, but in the end, whether your intelligence organization knew what was going to happen and told you regardless of what well-placed sources believed. Sometimes sources are indispensable. Sometimes they are misleading. And sometimes they are the way an intelligence organization justifies being wrong.

Reprinting or republication of this report on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence at the beginning or end of the report, including the hyperlink to STRATFOR:

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2010/07/01

The Dismantling of a Suspected Russian Intelligence Operation

Filed under: CIA, Lies and more Lies, National Security, Obama, Progressives — Tags: , — - @ 9:54 am

By Fred Burton and Ben West

The U.S. Department of Justice announced June 28 that an FBI counterintelligence investigation had resulted in the arrest on June 27 of 10 individuals suspected of acting as undeclared agents of a foreign country, in this case, Russia. Eight of the individuals were also accused of money laundering. On June 28, five of the defendants appeared before a federal magistrate in U.S. District Court in Manhattan while three others went before a federal magistrate in Alexandria, Va., and two more went before a U.S. magistrate in Boston. An 11th person named in the criminal complaint was arrested in Cyprus on June 29, posted bail and is currently at large.

The number of arrested suspects in this case makes this counterintelligence investigation one of the biggest in U.S. history. According to the criminal complaint, the FBI had been investigating some of these people for as long as 10 years, recording conversations in their homes, intercepting radio and electronic messages and conducting surveillance on them in and out of the United States. The case suggests that the classic tactics of intelligence gathering and counterintelligence are still being used by Russia and the United States.

Cast of Characters

The following are the 11 individuals detained in the investigation, along with summaries of their alleged activities listed in the criminal complaint:

Christopher Metsos

  • Claimed to originally be from Canada.
  • Acted as an intermediary between the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York and suspects Richard Murphy, Cynthia Murphy, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills.
  • Traveled to and from Canada.
  • Met with Richard Murphy at least four times between February 2001 and April 2005 at a restaurant in New York.
  • Was first surveilled in 2001 in meetings with other suspects.
  • Left the United States on June 17 and was detained in Cyprus on June 29, but appears to have skipped bail.

Richard and Cynthia Murphy

  • Claimed to be married and to be U.S. citizens.
  • First surveilled by the FBI in 2001 during meetings with Mestos.
  • Also met with the third secretary in the Russian mission to the United Nations.
  • Communicated electronically with Moscow.
  • Richard Murphy’s safe-deposit box was searched in 2006 and agents found a birth certificate claiming he was born in Philadelphia; city officials claim there is no such birth certificate on record.
  • Engaged in electronic communications with Moscow.
  • Traveled to Moscow via Italy in February 2010.

Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley

  • Claimed to be married and to be natives of Canada who are naturalized U.S. citizens.
  • FBI searched a safe-deposit box listed under their names in January 2001.
  • FBI discovered that Donald Heathfield’s identity had been taken from a deceased child by the same name in Canada and found old photos of Foley taken with Soviet film.
  • Engaged in electronic communications with Moscow.
  • Tracey Foley traveled to Moscow via Paris in March 2010.

Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills

  • Claimed to be married and to be a U.S. citizen (Zottoli) and a Canadian citizen (Mills).
  • First surveilled in June 2004 during a meeting with Richard Murphy.
  • Engaged in electronic communications with Moscow.

Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez

  • Claimed to be married and to be a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Peru (Pelaez) and a Peruvian citizen born in Uruguay (Lazaro).
  • First surveilled at a meeting in a public park in an unidentified South American country in January 2000.
  • Evidence against Vicky Pelaez was the first gathered on the 11 suspected operatives.
  • Lazaro appeared to communicate with a diplomat at the Russian Embassy in an unidentified South American country.
  • Engaged in electronic communications with Moscow.

Anna Chapman

  • First surveillance mentioned was in Manhattan in January 2010.
  • Communicated with a declared diplomat in the Russian mission to the United Nations on Wednesdays.
  • Knowingly accepted a fraudulent passport from an undercover FBI agent whom she believed to be a Russian diplomatic officer June 26, but turned it in to the police the next day shortly before her arrest.

Mikhail Semenko

  • First surveillance mentioned in the criminal complaint was in June 2010 in Washington.
  • Revealed to an undercover officer that he had received training and instruction from “the center” (a common term for the Moscow headquarters of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR).
  • Accepted a payment of $5,000 and followed orders given by an undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian diplomatic officer to deliver the money to a drop site in Washington.

Their Mission

According to the FBI, some of the alleged “undeclared agents” moved to the United States in the 1990s, while others (such as Anna Chapman) did not arrive until 2009. The FBI says nine of the suspects were provided with fake identities and even fake childhood photos and cover stories (part of what would be called a “legend”) in order to establish themselves in the United State under “deep cover.” Chapman and Semenko used their own Russian identities (Chapman is divorced and may have taken her surname from her former husband). The true nationalities of the other suspects are unknown, but several passages in the criminal complaint indicate that most of them were originally from Russia. The Russian SVR allegedly provided the suspects with bank accounts, homes, cars and regular payments in order to facilitate “long-term service” inside the United States, where, according to the criminal complaint, the individuals were supposed to “search [for] and develop ties in policymaking circles” in the United States.

The FBI criminal complaint provides evidence that two of the deep-cover couples (Heathfield/Foley and Lazaro/Palaez) and the two short-term cover agents (Semenko and Chapman) were operating without knowledge of each other or in connection with the other two couples and Metsos, who did interact. This suggests that they would not have formed one network, as is being reported, but perhaps discrete networks. The criminal complaint provides evidence indicating that most of the operatives were being run out of the SVR residence at the U.N. mission.

It is unclear exactly how successful the 11 accused individuals were in finding and developing those ties in policymaking circles. The criminal complaint accuses the individuals of sending everything from information on the gold market from a financier in New York (a contact that Moscow apparently found helpful, since it reportedly encouraged further contact with the source) to seeking out potential college graduates headed for jobs at the CIA. The criminal complaint outlines one recorded conversation in which Lazaro told Pelaez that his handlers were not pleased with his reports because he wasn’t attributing them properly. Pelaez then advised Lazaro to “put down any politician” (to whom the information could be attributed) in order to appease the handlers, indicating that the alleged operatives did not always practice scrupulous tradecraft in their work. Improperly identifying sources in the field ultimately diminishes the value of the information, since it cannot be adequately assessed without knowing where it came from. If these kinds of shortcuts were normally taken by Pelaez, Lazaro and others, then it would reduce their value to the SVR and the harm that they may have done to the United States. The suspects were allegedly instructed by their handlers in the United States and Russia to not pursue high-level government jobs, since their legends were not strong enough to withstand a significant background investigation. But they allegedly were encouraged to make contact with high-level government officials, in order to have a finger on the pulse of policymaking in Washington.

Tradecraft

The criminal complaint alleges that the suspects used traditional tradecraft of the clandestine services to communicate with each other and send reports to their handlers. The suspects allegedly transmitted messages to Moscow containing their reports encrypted in “radiograms” (short-burst radio transmissions that appear as Morse code) or written in invisible ink, and met in third countries for payments and briefings. They are also said to have used “brush passes” (the quick and discreet exchange of materials between one person and another) and “flash meets” (seemingly innocuous, brief encounters) to transfer information, equipment and money. The criminal complaint also gives examples of operatives using coded phrases with each other and with their operators to confirm each other’s identities.

In addition to the traditional tradecraft described in the criminal complaint, there are also new operational twists. The suspects allegedly used e-mail to set up electronic dead drops to transmit encrypted intelligence reports to Moscow, and several operatives were said to have used steganography (embedding information in seemingly innocuous images) to encrypt messages. Chapman and Semenko allegedly employed private wireless networks hosted by a laptop programmed to communicate only with a specific laptop. The FBI claims to have identified networks (and may have intercepted the messages transmitted) that had been temporarily set up when a suspect was in proximity to a known Russian diplomat. These electronic meetings occurred frequently, according to the FBI, and allowed operatives and their operators to communicate covertly without actually being seen together.

Operations are said to have been run largely out of Russia’s U.N. mission in New York, meaning that when face-to-face meetings were required, declared diplomats from the U.N. mission could do the job. According to the criminal complaint, Russian diplomats handed off cash to Christopher Metsos on at least two occasions, and he allegedly distributed it to various other operatives (which provided the grounds for the charge of money laundering). The actual information gathered from the field appears to have gone directly to Russia, according to the complaint.

It is important to note that the accused individuals were not charged with espionage; the charge of acting as an undeclared agent of a foreign state is less serious. The criminal complaint never alleges that any of the 11 individuals received or transmitted classified information. This doesn’t mean that the suspects weren’t committing espionage. (Investigators will certainly learn more about their activities during interrogation and trial preparation.) According to the criminal complaint, their original guidance from Moscow was to establish deep cover. This means that they would have been tasked with positioning themselves over time in order gain access to valuable information (it is important to point out that “valuable” is not synonymous with “classified”) through their established occupations or social lives. This allows agents to gain access to what they want without running unnecessary security risks.

Any intelligence operation must balance operational security with the need to gather intelligence. Too much security and the operative is unable to do anything; but if intelligence gathering is too aggressive, the handlers risk losing an intelligence asset. If these people were operating in deep cover, the SVR probably invested quite a bit of time and money training and cultivating them, likely well before they arrived in the United States. According to information in the criminal complaint, the suspects were actively meeting with potential sources, sending reports back to Moscow and interacting with declared Russian diplomats in the United States, all the while running the risk of being caught. But they also took security measures, according to the complaint. There is no evidence that they attempted to reach out to people who would have fallen outside their natural professional and social circles, which could have raised suspicions. In many ways, these individuals appear to have acted more like recruiters, seeking out people with access to valuable information, rather than agents trying to gain access to that information themselves. However, all we know now is based on what was released in the criminal complaint. An investigation that lasted this long surely has an abundance of evidence (much of it likely classified) that wasn’t included in the complaint.

Counterintelligence

According to authorities, the suspected operatives were under heavy surveillance by U.S. counterintelligence agents for 10 years. Working out of Boston, New York and Washington, the FBI employed its Special Surveillance Group to track suspects in person; place video and audio recorders in their homes and at meeting places to record communications; search their homes and safe-deposit boxes; intercept e-mail and electronic communications; and deploy undercover agents to entrap the suspects.

Counterintelligence operations don’t just materialize out of thin air. There has to be a tip or a clue that puts investigators on the trail of a suspected undeclared foreign agent. As suggested by interviews with the suspects’ neighbors, none of them displayed unusual behavior that would have tipped the neighbors off. All apparently had deep (but not airtight) legends going back decades that allayed suspicion. The criminal complaint did not suggest how the U.S. government came to suspect these people of reporting back to the SVR in Russia, although we did notice that the beginning of the investigation coincides with the time that a high-level SVR agent stationed at Russia’s U.N. mission in New York began passing information to the FBI. Sergei Tretyakov (who told his story in the book by Pete Earley called “Comrade J,” an abbreviation of his SVR codename, “Comrade Jean”), passed information to the FBI from the U.N. mission from 1997 to 2000, just before he defected to the United States in October 2000. According to the criminal complaint, seven of the 11 suspects were connected to Russia’s U.N. mission, though evidence of those links did not begin to emerge until 2004 (and some as late as 2010). The timing of Tretyakov’s cooperation with the U.S. government and the timing of the beginning of this investigation resulting in the arrest of the 11 suspects this week suggests that Tretyakov may have been the original source who tipped off the U.S. government. So far, the evidence is circumstantial — the timing and the location match up — but Tretyakov, as the SVR operative at Russia’s U.N. mission, certainly would have been in a position to know about operations involving most of the people arrested June 27.

Why Now?

Nothing in the complaint indicates why, after more than 10 years of investigation, the FBI decided to arrest the 11 suspects June 27. It is not unusual for investigations to be drawn out for years, since much information on tradecraft and intent can be obtained by watching foreign intelligence agencies operate without knowing they are being watched. Extended surveillance can also reveal additional contacts and build a stronger case. As long as the suspects aren’t posing an immediate risk to national security (and judging by the criminal complaint, these 11 suspects were not), there is little reason for the authorities to show their hand and conclude a fruitful counterintelligence operation.

It has been suggested that some of the suspects were a flight risk, so agents arrested all of them in order to prevent them from escaping the United States. Metsos left the United States on June 17 and was arrested in Cyprus on June 29, however, his whereabouts are currently unknown, as he has not reported back to Cypriot authorities after posting bail. A number of the suspects left and came back to the United States numerous times, and investigators appear not to have been concerned about these past comings and goings. It isn’t clear why they would have been concerned about someone leaving at this point.

The timing of the arrests so soon after U.S. President Barack Obama’s June 25 meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev also raises questions about political motivations. Medvedev was in Washington to talk with Obama in an attempt to improve relations between the two countries on the day the FBI officially filed the criminal complaint. The revelation of a network of undeclared foreign agents operating in the United States would ordinarily have a negative effect on relations between the United States and the foreign country in question. In this case, though, officials from both countries made public statements saying they hoped the arrests would not damage ties, and neither side appears to be trying to leverage the incident. Indeed, if there were political motivations behind the timing of the arrests, they remain a mystery.

Whatever the motivations, now that the FBI has these suspects in custody it will be able to interrogate them and probably gather even more information on the operation. The charges for now don’t include espionage, but the FBI could very well be withholding this charge in order to provide an incentive for the suspects to plea bargain. We expect considerably more information on this unprecedented case to come out in the following weeks and months, revealing much about Russian clandestine operations and their targets in the United States.

Reprinting or republication of this report on websites is authorized by prominently displaying the following sentence at the beginning or end of the report, including the hyperlink to STRATFOR:

“This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR

2010/05/25

Mainstream Media Led by the Old Gray Lady Imperil Americans

Filed under: CIA, Lies and more Lies, National Security, Progressives, Treason — Tags: , — - @ 6:25 pm

Source: Western Journalism

Mainstream Media Led by the Old Gray Lady Imperil Americans

Posted by Caleb

Except for good luck and a bomber’s incompetence, hundreds in Times Square would be dead or maimed with a little help from the New York Times.

by Gary Larson

The Failed New York Bomber’s Nissan Pathfinder

“Some of our primary tools of counter-terrorism have been severely compromised by the American press…”
– Gabriel Schoenfeld, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute

Treason is aiding our country’s enemies, aligning with those who, given the chance, would kill us. In the words of the foundation document of these United States, the Constitution at Article III, Sec. 3, says treason is “…adhering to their [the states’] enemies, giving them aid and comfort.”

Clear enough. Simple words, not well understood, evidently, in America’s news media, and in the judiciary, tilting toward giving our enemies, unlike suckers, more than an even break. And in the process, or rather the lack of it, putting Americans in deadly peril.

Except for good luck and dunderhead bomb-making, a would-be catastrophe such as attempted by a hyphenated Pakistani-American in Times Square, mainstream media might have been, in large part, responsible for a “successful” bombing in Frank Sinatra’s city that never sleeps.

Trace that near “success” of Faisal Shahzadi’s act principally to the Old Gray Lady, The New York Times. Two reporters there, and blind-to- reality editors, could have been largely culpable for the deaths and injuries of hundreds.

Some dare call it treason.

Here’s the nexus, mostly unexplored by incurious American media or the heads-in-the-sand Justice Department under two administrations:

December 16, 2005: “warrantless wiretapping” is revealed, with critical details, in a featured article by the New York Times’ James Riser and Eric Lichtblau. Blowing the cover on this secret National Security Agency (NSA) program, they give notice to al Qaeda and the Taliban to alter their methods of communication with their agents of doom. Riser and Lichtblau disclose this NSA program in spite of stern protests from the agency that to do so would compromise catching the thugs. To no avail.

Sprouting indignation, of all things, quite shamelessly, the headline carries the witless allegation of “warrantless wiretaps” of terrorists’ calls:

“Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts”

Admitting giving away secrets, the reporters do not name their “official” sources “because of the classified nature of the material.” Someone is guilty here, plainly, and getting away with it. The White House had asked Times’ editors not to publish it, they note, “arguing it could jeopardize continuing investigations and alert terrorists they might be under scrutiny.” Again, to no avail.

Soon other newspapers and 7/24 electronic media pick up the story. It’s a “W” for tipping off terrorists. Irresponsibility sprouts wings. Gone are days of the second World War when media respected national security, recognizing “loose lips” could sink ships. New times, these postmodern days, full of political correctness, with agendas to carry out, even at the awful cost in killing fellow Americans.

Not content with their original perfidy, the two reporters strike again six months later with another heads-up for the thugs:

– June 23, 2006: Revealed is the hush-hush CIA program of monitoring the enormous database of worldwide financial transactions to see how and when terrorists finance their deadly operations. Oblivious to national security, the Times tips ‘em off, even naming the entity used to monitor the interbank transfers, a Belgian-based cooperative bank clearinghouse called “SWIFT.”

Here’s the headline that, ironically, admits to peddling national security secrets:

“Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. In Secret To Block Terror”

Their tell-all article discloses the CIA “reviews records from the nerve center of the global banking industry [“SWIFT”] that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks…”

The story is picked up by Washington Post,Los Angeles Times, even by the usually-circumspect Wall Street Journal. Print pickup is followed by the 7/24 electronic news media proudly, it seems, quoting the Times’s original article.

What kind of craziness is this? Such disclosures give heads up to the terrorists to (1) use extreme caution when communicating with their agents and (2) alter their methods of payments to avoid detection. Not born yesterday, terrorists have ears, if not top-notch bomb-making skills. Our out-to-kill us jihidist enemies’ primary intelligence-gathering is not undercover agents, or break-ins in the dark of night, but the American press. Who would think treason finds a place in the repertoire of our news media?

It is more than coincidental that would-be bomber Shahzadi’s communications back and forth to Pakistan, his trips there, were shielded from surveillance. Now comes word he received money to pay for the ‘93 Nissan Pathfinder and his air fare to Dubai, by a cash-carring courier, not a money wire transfer. How very, very telling.
Telling also, would-be bomber Shahzadi used a disposable cell phone, not a land line or device that could be traced, to contact the Pathfinder-for-sale’s owner. Now who exactly told him to do that? Did the walls have ears? No, it was on the front-page of the New York Times.
Is such tipping off terrorists grounds for legal action? One would think so. Where’s a civil-defense minded Justice Dept., not invoking espionage laws? Congressional hearings, anyone? Not a snowball’s chance.

Media outrage? Don’t even think of it. Media circle the wagons to protect their kind, endlessly reciting the First Amendment as if that had anything to do it with exposing our naked hides to terrorists.

Betrayers of our national security secrets get away with it, even win plaudits from the like-minded, fellow journalists wrapping themselves in the First Amendment. It’s a bizarre, upside-down, Orwellian world: Peace Is War. Ignorance is Strength. And secrets are for sharing with one’s enemies? All the better to kill or maim us.
Senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, author-historian Gabriel Schoenfeld comments in a Washington Post blog:

“Both of these stories [by Risen-Lichtblau in 2005 and 2006] were published against strenuous objections of high-ranking officials . . . including straight-shooting intelligence professionals [such as] CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden and, in the case of the SWIFT story, even leading Democrats, like former Congressman Lee Hamilton. President Bush himself warned the Times’ top editors that if they went forward with the NSA wiretapping story, they might one day have blood on their hands.”

Indeed. Will news media “get it”? One wonders if such practices will continue to trump national security in this crazy, upside-down postmodern world of ours.

(Larson is a retired former newspaper and business magazine editor residing in Minnesota.  He is not the cartoonist of the same name.)

2010/05/21

Obama’s ‘Moderate’ Hezbo Guy: ‘The city I have come to love most is al-Quds’

Source: NRO

Obama’s ‘Moderate’ Hezbo Guy: ‘The city I have come to love most is al-Quds’

By [Andy McCarthy]

Yes, al-Quds. That would be Jerusalem — or, rather, what Islamists call Jerusalem.

Fresh from announcing his quest for moderate Hezbos, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for homeland security, John Brennan, has given a speech in which — after the usual pandering to, among other things, Islam’s purported dedication to the “aspiration” that we should all be able to “practice our faith freely” — he referred to his favorite city as “al-Quds, Jerusalem, where three great faiths come together.” Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit has the clip.

As explained by the link Hoft provides, “al-Quds Day,” which is now cause for anti-Israeli demonstrations throughout the world, was actually started by Ayatollah Khomeini 27 years ago — as the “Day of the Oppressed.” (The real nasties in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps are called the “al-Quds” forces.)

This administration certainly does go out of its way to give our Israeli allies that warm feeling, doesn’t it?

I can’t help but note that Brennan’s insufferable remarks included the following: “In Saudi Arabia, I saw how our Saudi partners fulfilled their duty as custodians of the two holy mosques at Mecca and Medina.” As I discuss in The Grand Jihad (officially released next Tuesday), the main way they fulfill it is by banning non-Muslims from entering — so I’m wondering how Brennan managed to see how they do it.

Meantime, at his Pajamas blog, Faster Please, our friend Michael Ledeen has thoughts on Brennan’s search for all those Hezbollah moderates:

Brennan is a long-time CIA officer who was briefly in the running for director of national intelligence, but got blown up by allegations he supported the Bush Administration’s interrogation policies.  He landed vertically in the national security council staff.  Like most CIA “experts” he doesn’t know much about Hezbollah:

Hezbollah [2] is a very interesting organization,” Brennan told a Washington conference, citing its evolution from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia to an organization that now has members within the parliament and the cabinet.

But Hezbollah was never “purely a terrorist organization.”  From day minus-one it was designed to create a radical Shi’ite community that would eventually rule Lebanon, and that model has been replicated all over the world, most recently in South America and East Africa.  You might want to remember that, as Hezbollah (that is, Iran) extends the range of its murderous activities.

Twenty-five years ago, when I was a purported expert on terrorism, Hezbollah was of considerable interest to our intelligence community, and there was a vigorous debate between those who believed it was a Lebanese phenomenon–the product of local conditions–and those who thought it was a Syrian creation.  I posed this question to the infamous Manucher Ghorbanifar–who has been portrayed as a totally unreliable source by CIA–and he just laughed.  “Why are you laughing?” say I.  “Because Hezbollah is a creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” says he.  “It’s run out of the prime minister’s office.”

Back in Washington nobody believed it.  But he was right.  However, our guys are still looking for ways to deny it, or to find ways to wiggle out of its consequences.  Obama is always keen to find admirable qualities among the practitioners of the Religion of Peace, and brother Brennan is singing from the official White House hymnal when he talks about those kinder and gentler Hezbos….

House panel OKs probe of Gitmo lawyers

Source: Washington Times

House panel OKs probe of Gitmo lawyers

Bill Gertz

The House Armed Services Committee approved legislation Wednesday that would require the Pentagon’s inspector general to conduct an investigation into whether defense attorneys for detainees at the detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, acted improperly.

The measure is part of a $760 billion defense authorization bill approved by the panel that will fund the military, Energy Department, nuclear weapons programs, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and military relief operations in Haiti.

The detainee measure was sponsored by Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican, and directs the Pentagon inspector general to investigate whether attorneys may have acted improperly or violated laws related to detainee operations at the Cuban prison.

The amendment still faces a full House vote as part of the bill, which then must be reconciled with the Senate version.

The provision followed a recent closed-door briefing for the committee by the Pentagon on the joint Justice Department, CIA and Pentagon investigation of an American Civil Liberties-backed program called the John Adams Project.

The project has come under investigation for suspected violations of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act after the group hired private investigators to photograph undercover CIA officers and show the photos to al Qaeda detainees in Cuba, as part of an effort to identify CIA interrogators who could be called as witnesses in future military or civilian trials.

Spokesmen for the ACLU and John Adams Project have denied that any attorneys acted improperly in supporting military defense attorneys for the detainees.

The amendment, adopted by the committee Wednesday night, also would require the inspector general to investigate any misconduct by defense attorneys and whether any misconduct is continuing.

“If the reports are true, the disgraceful actions by these disloyal defense lawyers involved in the John Adams Project have created a severe security risk for our military and intelligence personnel and, ultimately, the American people,” Mr. Miller said in a statement on the amendment.

“Our citizens deserve a complete and honest investigation to determine if our Nations laws were broken or if the Department of Defenses policies were violated.”

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, California Republican and ranking member of the committee, said that based on information the committee received on the John Adams Project he is “very concerned that the departments detainee operations have been – and may continue to be – compromised.:

“Of greater concern is that the John Adams Project may have put military and U.S. government personnel at risk,” Mr. McKeon said. “Its for these reasons that we believe its vital for the departments inspector general to fully investigate the conduct and practices of certain defense lawyers and report to Congress in a timely manner.”

In other action, committee Democrats defeated a Republican amendment that would have blocked the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the U.S. mainland for prosecution.

Other measures now included in the bill include a provision requiring the Pentagon to develop a strategic military plan to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and to study the administration’s new missile defense plan for Europe.

2010/05/06

Ex-CIA lawyer: Gitmo IDs graver than Plame leak

Source: Washington Times

Ex-CIA lawyer: Gitmo IDs graver than Plame leak

Eli Lake and Bill Gertz THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Covertly taken photos of CIA interrogators that were shown by defense attorneys to al Qaeda inmates at the Guantanamo Bay prison represent a more serious security breach than the 2003 outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame, the agency’s former general counsel said Wednesday.

John Rizzo, who was the agency’s top attorney until December, said in an interview that he initially requested the Justice Department and CIA investigation into the compromise of CIA interrogators’ identities after photographs of the officers were found in the cell of one al Qaeda terrorist in Cuba.

“Well I think this is far more serious than Valerie Plame,” Mr. Rizzo said after a breakfast speech. “That was clearly illegal, outing a covert officer. I am not downplaying that. But this is far more serious.”

“This was not leaked to a columnist,” he added. “These were pictures of undercover people who were involved in the interrogations program given for identification purposes to the 9/11 [terrorists].”

Mr. Rizzo’s remarks are the first public comments by someone who was involved in the probe on the still-secret investigation.

On Capitol Hill, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, a California Republican who was briefed recently on the investigation, agreed with Mr. Rizzo that the ongoing probe of the John Adams Project is very serious.

Mr. McKeon, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he has been pushing the Obama administration to brief the full committee on the investigation, which will now take place next week.

“The published reports indicate that there have been things that have happened, information passed back and forth to the detainees possibly through their attorneys,” he said.

“My greatest concern is that [the information supplied to the detainees] put our people at risk,” Mr. McKeon said in an interview with The Washington Times.

An indication of the seriousness was the fact that the investigation has been going for a year and the Justice Department recent appointment of U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald as “special prosecutor,” Mr. McKeon said.

Mr. McKeon said the CIA also “is very concerned” about the safety of its officers because of the compromise.

Mr. Rizzo, who was the CIA’s acting general counsel from 2004 until December 2009 when he left, said the Guantanamo case is a graver matter than the scandal over Mrs. Plame, a former CIA undercover officer whose name was leaked to the press after her husband accused the Bush administration of lying about prewar intelligence in Iraq

The Plame scandal ended up ensnaring the Bush administration in an unauthorized disclosure probe from 2004 and 2007, after the Justice Department appointed Mr. Fitzgerald to investigate that case.

Mr. Fitzgerald has been asked to investigate the military lawyers in charge of representing some high-value detainees in Guantanamo Bay, along with outside attorneys who were helping them.

U.S. officials close to the CIA-Justice probe said photographs of the CIA officers were found last year in the cell of Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, an alleged financier of the Sept. 11 plot. Officials said the photographs appeared to have been taken by private investigators for the John Adams Project, which is jointly backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

The ACLU on Wednesday said, “The members of the John Adams Project at all times adhered to the law and fulfilled their ethical obligations while representing their clients.”

“In addition, the members of the John Adams Project complied with every requirement of the Joint Task Force and every protective order of the military commissions,” the group said in a statement. The joint task force is the governing body that runs the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Mr. Rizzo said the photos “were pictures of agency people, some of which were captured paparazzi-style, clearly taken in a kind of surveillance mode.”

In recent years, nongovernmental organizations have compiled dossiers on CIA officers involved in the enhanced interrogation program that have included waterboarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation — practices considered by human rights groups to be torture.

Mr. Rizzo said when he was nominated to be the CIA’s general counsel he agreed with the interpretation of the Bush administration’s Justice Department that torture was defined as harm to someone’s internal organs and not the enhanced techniques used by the CIA.

“These were undercover people, the pictures taken surreptitiously found in the cell of one of the 9/11 suspects. I think they found it under the guy’s blanket,” he said.

Mr. Rizzo said the case was first brought to his attention by military officials at Guantanamo. “When we do referrals, we don’t necessarily have to cite a particular provision of the law that has been violated,” he said.

But he said that he could think of two types of crimes that may have been committed by the attorneys giving the photos to the detainees.

One possible crime would be the “disclosure of classified information, being the faces of these people, to an enemy foreign power,” Mr. Rizzo said.

Mr. Rizzo said the other possible law the pro-bono attorneys may have violated would be the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), the same law Mr. Fitzgerald initially investigated in Mrs. Plame’s case. No one in the Plame case was prosecuted under that statute. A former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., was convicted of lying to investigators and later partially pardoned.

The IIPA requires the prosecutor to prove that the leaker knowingly disclosed the identity of a CIA covert officer. Victoria Toensing, a former chief counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence who helped co-author the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, said the government never proved that Bush administration officials knew beforehand that Mrs. Plame was a covert CIA officer.

By contrast, she said from what she could gather with regard to the current investigation into the detainee attorneys, the law she helped write would apply.

“In this case, these were exactly the kind of people we were trying to protect under the act,” Mrs. Toensing said, referring to the CIA interrogators.

Mr. Rizzo in the past has been criticized by civil liberties groups for being the top agency lawyer when 92 videotapes alleged to have shown the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri were destroyed.

Mr. Rizzo in the interview said he had no knowledge that those tapes were going to be destroyed in 2004. He said he did not, however, believe the destruction of the tapes constituted a crime.

“It would have been a crime if it was being done to obstruct an investigation,” he said. “There are court cases ongoing, but there was no ongoing congressional investigations at that time. There were court cases, but as best as we can tell, those tapes were never part of a protective order.”

Mr. Rizzo did, however, say that Jose Rodriguez, the CIA clandestine officer who ordered the destruction of the tapes, “shouldn’t have done it.”

The CIA declined to comment for this article.