Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Inside the Wire & False Security

Inside the wire in military jargon means that area located within its compound. The implication is that it is protected area, physically guarded and defended by technical security devices. It invokes an image of an area surrounded with razor wire, defended by claymore mines and illuminated at night with perimeter lights and trip flares. This mentality has been stretched to include headquarters of bureaucracies especially those belonging to the CIA and FBI; most likely now to include the orbiting anti-terrorist organizations spinning around Homeland Security.

The non-military entities are usually protected by uniform police, who check photo ID badges on entry and search carry-ins with magnetometers. Despite this scrutiny, both CIA and the FBI had their lunch eaten by the Soviet recruitment of CIA Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen at the FBI. Those two traitors beat the routine lie detectors and security up-dates. Both were at the heart of counter intelligence in their organizations and were high priority targets for the KGB. So you really never know who will inflict damage on the organization.

When the US falls flat on human intelligence collection, it robotically turns to more national technical means to compensate for its failures; that is until the next time it falls flat on its ass, only to order more national technical means; even worse, it creates more intelligence organizations with more layers; this makes it even more difficult to connect the so called dots. Just follow this cause and effect since 9/11.

Defense of commercial aircraft depends on no-fly lists, TSA search of passengers, and a sometime air marshal who wondrously never appears on the aircraft that is in in jeopardy. TSA personnel strike me as involved in a program designed to help to employ the mentally handicapped rather than to protect the flights from terrorist bombers. The most recent crotch bomber snafu was a Homeland Security misstep, not specifically linked to its subordinate TSA.

Whereas this inside the wire mentality is more abstract within the national security bureaucracies, it is stark reality in the military compounds and bases to include those not surrounded by the enemy. The slaughter of 13 soldiers at Ft. Hood, Texas by an indicted Jihadist fellow soldier Major Hasan, is an example of an enemy within the wire. Common sense and command responsibility by the US Army may have prevented the terrorist attack, but all the perimeter defenses in world could not. Before they were killed, the victims believed they were safe within the confines of the guarded military installation with controlled entry.

Another tragic inside the wire bloody incident just occurred at an isolated US installation in eastern Afghanistan at CIA forward base Chapman. Seven were killed, two of them Blackwater mercenaries, by an al Qaeda operative whom the CIA thought it had recruited as an agent.

If you ever worked along with CIA clandestine operators, you will find they all share a cynical careful approach to their work of recruiting spies. I used to joke that they were easy to pick out at diplomatic receptions, because they could not look you in the eye. It takes a strong, confident personality and a bright mind to do their work. So as this breed becomes rarer in government service, you understand why CIA prefers Nintendo games with 9 million dollar lethal drones under its command.

It seems apparent now that the agents who were killed were trying fulfill targeting requirements for its drones with a human intelligence resource. So it always come back to CIA's imbroglio with human intelligent sources. In this case they probably made mistakes under pressure for results. Mistakes in combat zones kill you, but without taking risks not much happens and the enemy gains the initiative. The British commando slogan, WHO DARES WINS is still appropriate, but should be amended with the word SOMETIMES as the last word.

The people killed by the Jihadists at Ft. Hood and Base Chapman, though inside the wire, were killed face-to-face by their murderers. It should be crystal clear by now that the American stalkers of terrorists are now being stalked. It is almost that they are studied by the Jihadists like laboratory rats in a Skinner Box. The attackers are suicidal, so stopping them before they inflict damage is always problematic.

Though considered quaint by the modernists at the CIA, the first line of defense is to penetrate Jihad organizations; this cannot be done sitting behind a console directing lethal attacks by drones. It is a long term proposition to train people in languages and spy-craft – there are no quick results. The Russians used spies i.e. residential agents planted for years in locations, imbedded in societies, paid, and called on only when required. The Soviets picked off the atomic and hydrogen bombs through espionage.

Uncertain today of the personal profiles of clandestine operatives at CIA. During the Cold War they were mostly aggressive, intelligent Ivy leaguers who tried to recruit proletarian/peasants from the USSR and Eastern Bloc. Their record was abysmal; they had a tough time establishing rapport talking tennis, squash and crew racing with people like those M. Gorky described in his book the Lower Depths. So far it does not look as history taught them much, especially since instead of building a stable of covert operators with in-house long term expertise, the Agency now turns almost exclusively to fly-by-night mercenaries for help. NINTENDO ANYONE? Ahmed and Mustafa, you are not answering. WHERE ARE YOU??? Colonel Robert E Bartos USA Ret


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently deployed at FOB Salerno, 5 minutes by road from Chapman. I don't know all of the facts, hey I am doing container management here. But they did bring all the dead and wounded here first. We were alerted that mass casualties were coming in and to don our gear and weapons. So there is no safe area here or behind the "wire". I suppose if you want any info just read the NY Times, my wife tells me more of what is going on than we know over here. Also the military/industrial/contrator complex is alive and well. Wow, I have never seen so many people. Bagram is a booming metropolis with contractors, DOD civilians, DA civilians, O-6's and Sergeant Major's are just a plentiful as E-3's. This is it for me I'll be 54 when I am done here. I have 36 years and 5 years of active duty with 2 deployments. My superiors said here we will give you E-8. I love the Army but no thanks, it is time to go.


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