Various Resources

A bill in the last Congress “to provide a comprehensive framework for the United States to prevent and prepare for biological and other WMD attacks” was described in a lengthy Senate report last month.  The report provided a detailed congressional perspective on a range of biosecurity issues, inspired in part by the Graham-Talent Commission on the subject.  However, the bill was not enacted, and its provisions did not achieve consensus support.  It drew criticism in particular from Sen. Carl Levin whose dissenting comments were appended.  See “WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2009” (pdf), Report of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, December 17, 2010.

The Indian physicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1910-1995) was remembered in several fascinating and inspiring articles in the December 2010 issue of Physics Today.  Perhaps the most stimulating one of them, written by Freeman Dyson, is freely available to non-subscribers on the Physics Today website.  See “Chandrasekhar’s Role in 20th Century Science” by Freeman Dyson.

We were pleased to receive a copy of “The Black Bats: CIA Spy Flights over China from Taiwan 1951-1969” by Chris Pocock with Clarence Fu, Schiffer Publishing, 2010.

Did President Calvin Coolidge really issue an executive order on “homeland security”?  That seems to be the conceit of a “Compilation of Homeland Security Related Executive Orders (EO 4601 through EO 13528) (1927-2009)” prepared and published last year by the House Committee on Homeland Security.  In fact, of course, “homeland security” is a term of recent vintage (and also a questionable one for a nation of immigrants).  It was never used by President Coolidge.  But his 1927 executive order 4601 was modified a few years ago to include reference to the Secretary of Homeland Security, thereby justifying its inclusion in this 544-page volume.  Disturbingly, the editors misspelled “Foreword” as “Foreward.”

Publication: US Nuclear Weapons in Europe

The US Air Force deploys 150-200 B61 nuclear bombs in Europe.

By Hans M. Kristensen

Following  NATO’s strategic concept and expectations that the next round of US-Russian nuclear arms control negotiations will deal with tactical nuclear weapons in some shape or form, Stan Norris and I have published our latest estimate on U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Although the strategic concept states that “any” further reductions “must take into account the disparity with the greater Russian stockpiles of short-range nuclear weapons,” NATO has in fact been willing to make significant unilateral reductions in this decade regardless of disparity. Likewise, the United States has scrapped most of its tactical nuclear weapons because they are no longer important. It is important that the disparity argument does not become an excuse to prevent further reductions.

Our estimate of Russian tactical nuclear weapons is here with more details here.

Later this spring we will publish a more comprehensive report on U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons.

This publication was made possible by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ploughshares Fund. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author.

CIA “Open Source Works” on Pakistani Leadership

Corrected below

“A review of the Pakistani media during October 2010 indicates that there is less talk of imminent political change.”  That is the rather pedestrian conclusion of a brief report (pdf) that was prepared last November by “Open Source Works,” a previously unknown initiative of the CIA Directorate of Intelligence.

Open Source Works “was charged by the Director for Intelligence with drawing on language-trained analysts to mine open-source information for new or alternative insights on intelligence issues.  Open Source Works’ products, based only on open source information, do not represent the coordinated views of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

The recent report on Pakistan seems to be the first Open Source Works document to have reached public hands, though it is more of a digest of recent news and opinion than what would properly be termed an intelligence product.  A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.  See “Pakistan Leadership Watch: October 2010,” CIA Directorate of Intelligence, November 8, 2010.

Correction: An Open Source Works document was previously made available by Public Intelligence here.

Aid to Pakistan Expected to Grow

The Obama Administration is preparing to give increased military and economic aid to Pakistan, the Washington Post reported last weekend.  (“U.S. to Offer More Support to Pakistan” by Karen DeYoung, January 8.)

Nearly $20 billion in civilian and military support has been provided to Pakistan between Fiscal Years 2002 and 2010, according to a newly updated tabulation from the Congressional Research Service.  This sum does not include covert aid.  Some $3.2 billion in aid has been requested for FY 2011.  See “Direct Overt U.S. Aid and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan, FY2002-FY2011” (pdf), January 4, 2011.

Since June 2010, 17 new F-16 combat aircraft have been delivered by the U.S. to Pakistan (at Pakistani expense) along with numerous older armored personnel carriers, according to another Congressional Research Service fact sheet.  See “Major U.S. Arms Sales and Grants to Pakistan Since 2001” (pdf), updated January 4, 2011.

Intel Science Board on “The New S&T Landscape”

The diminishing U.S. lead in various scientific disciplines related to national security has posed a particular challenge for U.S. intelligence agencies, according to a newly released 2006 report (pdf) of the Intelligence Science Board.

“While the overall effect of a declining S&T [science and technology] position on the United States remains the subject of debate, there can be no debate concerning its enormous impact on the Intelligence Community,” the report said.  “Today’s collection and analysis needs… require an entirely new approach to increasing the contribution of S&T to the intelligence enterprise.  Neither the Intelligence Community nor the S&T establishment has put forth viable strategies for accomplishing this change.”

The authors endorse the creation of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), which was in fact established.  Otherwise, the report is largely derivative of previous studies on similar topics, and is mostly devoid of original analysis.  See “The Intelligence Community and Science and Technology: The Challenge of the New S&T Landscape,” Intelligence Science Board, November 2006, released December 2010.

The Intelligence Science Board, which was disestablished last year, provided independent science advice to the Director of National Intelligence.  Its most important and influential product was a 2006 report entitled “Educing Information: Interrogation: Science and Art” (pdf) on the weak scientific basis for prisoner interrogation practices.

Meeting Set on Sharing of Classified Info

A new government advisory committee on access to classified information by state, local and other non-federal bodies will hold its first meeting in Washington tomorrow.  The State, Local, Tribal, and Private (SLTP) Sector Policy Advisory Committee “will advise the President, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, and other executive branch officials on all matters concerning the policies relating to access to and safeguarding of classified national security information by U.S. State, Local, Tribal, and Private Sector Entities.”  The Committee will meet January 11 at the National Archives.

One excellent way to improve access to classified information, of course, is to declassify it.  An outfit called the “Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG) Detail” is responsible for finding classified intelligence information that could usefully be shared with state and local officials in unclassified form.

“A critical function of the Detail is to identify intelligence products which should be downgraded in classification for release to SLTP partners,” according to a new ITACG annual report (pdf).

“The Detail reviews reporting from the IC on a daily basis, looking for products which cover information that may be of interest to SLTP partners.  Once a product or specific information contained therein is identified, the Detail contacts the author or the originating agency’s disclosure office and requests a classification downgrade.  Once the downgrade is approved and completed, the Detail requests the document be posted to the appropriate portal for SLTP customers.”

“Last year, the Detail requested a classification downgrade for 74 products on behalf of SLTP partners.  Based on these requests, 58 products were downgraded; ten of the requests were denied due to source sensitivities; and six requests are pending as of the date of this report.”  See “2010 Report on the Interagency Threat Assessment and Coordination Group (ITACG),” prepared by the Program Manager, Information Sharing Environment, December 9, 2010.

DoD Agencies Have Prohibited Waterboarding, IG Says

Defense agencies have complied with a recommendation to prohibit the use of military survival training techniques — such as waterboarding — in prisoner interrogation, the DoD inspector general confirmed in a report (pdf) last year.

In response to a previous Inspector General report (pdf), a 2008 DoD directive (pdf) stated that “Use of SERE [survival, evasion, resistance, and escape] techniques against a person in the custody or effective control of the Department of Defense or detained in a DoD facility is prohibited.”  Likewise, a 2009 memorandum for the military services and the Special Operations Command specified that use of “SERE techniques for interrogations of personnel in DoD custody or control is prohibited.”

The 2010 IG report found that “all US Air Force, US Army, US Navy, US Marine Corps, and [Joint Personnel Recovery Agency] SERE training programs included, as part of their curriculum, a prohibition against the use of SERE techniques for interrogation of personnel in DoD custody or control.”  See “Field Verification-Interrogation and Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) Techniques Recommendation,” DoD Inspector General Report 10-INTEL-05, April 16, 2010 (released under FOIA in December 2010).

SERE training provides “a reasonable means to train [U.S. military personnel] for the most challenging captivity environment where captors do not abide by the Geneva Conventions,” the IG report said.  But “the physical and psychological pressures developed for… SERE training were not intended for real-world interrogations.  Intelligence resistance training does not qualify a SERE Specialist instructor to conduct interrogations or provide subject matter expertise to those who are trained in that specialty.”

Another Indictment in a Leak Case

The Obama Administration yesterday announced an unprecedented fifth prosecution in a case involving unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

Former Central Intelligence Agency officer Jeffrey A. Sterling was arrested on charges of disclosing classified intelligence information concerning a foreign nuclear weapons program to an unnamed author.  From the context, it is evident that the alleged recipient [referred to as Author A] is New York Times reporter James Risen and the foreign nuclear program is that of Iran.

A copy of the indictment, dated December 22, 2010 and unsealed January 6, 2011, is here (pdf).

Aside from the intrinsic interest of the allegations, the indictment includes numerous incidental details worthy of note.  For example:

**  “In or about early May 2003, senior management from Author A’s employer informed a senior United States government official that the newspaper article would not be published.”  That is, the New York Times decided not to publish the classified information at issue after the U.S. government argued that its revelation would damage national security.  But Mr. Risen reached a different conclusion and went on to write about the material in his 2006 book State of War.  In a contest of this sort, the party that is willing to publish naturally determines the outcome.

**  “Between on or about February 9, 2004, and on or about April 24, 2004, Author A placed fourteen interstate telephone calls from Author A’s personal residence to the temporary residence of defendant STERLING and sent one interstate email.”  This indicates that Mr. Risen or Mr. Sterling or both were under close surveillance at that time.

**  The indictment shows some prosecutorial creativity in adding charges such as “mail fraud,” along with alleged violations of the espionage statutes.  This is based on the allegation that Mr. Sterling “did knowingly cause to be delivered by the United States Postal Service … a shipment of Author A’s published books for sale at a commercial retail bookstore,” thereby somehow defrauding the CIA.  Also citing the distribution of Mr. Risen’s book, the indictment additionally charges Mr. Sterling with “unauthorized conveyance of government property.”

The record number of leak prosecutions in the Obama Administration now include Mr. Sterling, former FBI linguist Shamai Leibowitz, former NSA official Thomas A. Drake, Army private Bradley Manning, and former State Department contractor Stephen Kim.

See further coverage in Former CIA officer Jeffrey A. Sterling charged in leak probe by Greg Miller, Washington Post, January 7, and Ex-C.I.A. Officer Named in Disclosure Indictment by Charlie Savage, New York Times,” January 7.

A Century of Camouflage

Although concealment and misdirection of adversaries are primordial acts, the word “camouflage” did not enter the English language until World War I.  Author Nicholas Rankin observed in his book “A Genius for Deception” that “the Oxford English Dictionary’s first example of published usage is from the Daily Mail in May 1917: ‘The act of hiding anything from your enemy is termed “camouflage”.'”

Nearly a century later, there is a full-fledged theory of camouflage, which is neatly presented in a new U.S. Army manual (pdf).  The theory carefully distinguishes among related techniques such as hiding, blending, disguising, disrupting and decoying, each of which means something different.

The manual provides practical advice.  When selecting foliage for camouflage, “coniferous vegetation is preferred to deciduous vegetation since it maintains a valid chlorophyll response” — against an enemy’s infrared sensors — “longer after being cut.”

And it reflects the lessons of experience.  “Warfare often results in personnel losses from fratricide.  Fratricide compels commanders to consider [camouflage’s] effect on unit recognition by friendly troops.”

See “Camouflage, Concealment, and Decoys,” Army Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures 3-34.39, November 2010.

Tightening Security in the “Post-WikiLeaks” Era

The Obama Administration is moving to increase the security of classified information in response to the massive leaks of classified documents to Wikileaks in recent months.  The White House Office of Management and Budget yesterday issued a detailed memorandum (pdf) elaborating on the requirement to conduct an initial assessment of agency information policies and to initiate remedial steps to tighten security.  Agency assessments are to be completed by January 28.

The Wikileaks model for receiving and publishing classified documents exploits gaps in information security and takes advantage of weaknesses in security discipline.  It therefore produces greater disclosure in open societies, where security is often lax and penalties for violations are relatively mild, than in closed societies.  Within the U.S., the Wikileaks approach yields greater disclosure from those agencies where security is comparatively poor, such as the Army, than from agencies with more rigorous security practices, such as the CIA.

What this means is that Wikileaks is exercising a kind of evolutionary pressure on government agencies, and on the government as a whole, to ratchet up security in order to prevent wholesale compromises of classified information.  If the Army becomes more like the CIA in its information security policies, or so the thinking goes, and if the U.S. becomes more like some foreign countries, then it should become less vulnerable to selective security breaches.

The government’s response to this pressure from Wikileaks, which was entirely predictable, is evident in the new memorandum circulated by OMB, which calls on agencies to address “any perceived vulnerabilities, weaknesses, or gaps in automated systems in the post-WikiLeaks environment.”  See “Initial Assessments of Safeguarding and Counterintelligence Postures for Classified National Security Information in Automated Systems,” Office of Management and Budget, January 3, 2011.

In an attachment to the OMB memo, the National Counterintelligence Executive and the Information Security Oversight Office provided an 11-page list of questions and requirements that agencies are supposed to use in preparing their security self-assessment.  “If your agency does not have any of the required programs/processes listed, you should establish them.”

Agencies are asked to “deter, detect, and defend against employee unauthorized disclosures” by gathering “early warning indicators of insider threats” and also by considering “behavioral changes in cleared employees.”

So, for example, agencies are asked “Do you capture evidence of pre-employment and/or post-employment activities or participation in on-line media data mining sites like WikiLeaks or Open Leaks?”  It is unclear how agencies might be expected to gather evidence of “post-employment” activities.

Among other troubling questions, agencies are asked:  “Are all employees required to report their contacts with the media?”  This question seems out of place since there is no existing government-wide security requirement to report “contacts with the media.”  Rather, this is a security policy that is unique to some intelligence agencies, and is not to be found in any other military or civilian agencies. Its presence here seems to reflect the new “evolutionary pressure” on the government to adopt the stricter security policies of intelligence.

“I am not aware of any such requirement” to report on media contacts, a senior government security official told Secrecy News.  But he noted that the DNI was designated as Security Executive Agent for personnel security matters in the 2008 executive order 13467.  As a result, “I suspect that an IC requirement crept in” to the OMB memo.