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EVALUATING HUMINT: THE ROLE OF FOREIGN AGENTS IN U.S.

SECURITY
Loch K. Johnson Introduction The world is a dangerous place, plagued by the presence of terrorist cells; failed or failing states; competition for scarce resources, such as oil, water, uranium, and food; chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, not to mention bristling arsenals of conventional armaments; and deep-seated animosities between rival nations and factions. For self-protection, if for no other reason, government officials leaders seek information about the capabilities andan especially elusive topicthe intentions of those overseas (or subversives at home) who can inflict harm upon the nation. That is the core purpose of espionage: to gather information about threats, whether external or internal, and to warn leaders about perils facing the homeland. Further, the secret services hope to provide leaders with data that can help advance the national interestthe opportunity side of the security equation. Through the practice of espionagespying or clandestine human intelligence: whichever is ones favorite termthe central task, stated baldly, is to steal secrets from adversaries as a means for achieving a more thorough understanding of threats and opportunities in the world. National governments study information that is available in the public domain (Chinese newspapers, for example), but knowledge gaps are bound to arise. A favorite metaphor for intelligence is the jigsaw puzzle. Many of the pieces to the puzzle are available in the stacks of the Library of Congress or on the Internet; nevertheless, there will continue to be several missing piecesperhaps the most important ones. They may be hidden away in Kremlin vaults or in

caves where members of Al Qaeda hunker down in Pakistans western frontier. The public pieces of the puzzle can be acquired through careful research; but often discovery of the missing secret pieces has to rely on spying, if they can be found at all. Some things mysteries in the argot of intelligence professionalsare unknowable in any definitive way, such as who is likely to replace the current leader of North Korea. Secrets, in contrast, may be uncovered with a combination of luck and skillsay, the number of Chinese nuclear-armed submarines, which are vulnerable to satellite and sonar tracking. Espionage can be pursued by way of human agents or with machines, respectively known inside Americas secret agencies as human intelligence (humint, in the acronym) and technical intelligence (techint). Humint consists of spy rings that rely on foreign agents or assets in the field, recruited by intelligence professionals (known as case officers during the Cold War or, in more current jargon, operations officers).i Techint includes mechanical devises large and small, including satellites the size of Greyhound buses, equipped with fancy cameras and listening devices that can see and hear acutely from orbits deep in space; reconnaissance aircraft, most famously the U-2; unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones, such as the Predatoroften armed with Hellfire missiles, allowing the option to kill what its handlers have just spotted through the lens of an onboard camera); enormous ground-based listening antennae, aimed at enemy territory; listening devices clamped surreptitiously on fiber-optic communications cables that carry telephone conversations; and miniature listening bugs concealed within sparkling cut-glass chandeliers in foreign embassies or palaces. Techint attracts the most funding in Washington, D.C. (machines are costly, especially heavy satellites that must be launched into space), by a ratio of some nine-to-one over humint in Americas widely estimated $50 billion annual intelligence budget. Human spies, though,

continue to be recruited by the United States in most every region of the globe. Some critics contend that these spies contribute little to the knowledge of Washington officials about the state of international affairs; other authorities maintain, though, that only human agents can provide insights into that most vital of all national security questions: the intentions of ones rivals especially those adversaries who are well armed and hostile. The purpose of this essay is to examine the value of humint, based on a review of the research literature on intelligence, survey data, and the authors interviews with individuals in the espionage trade. The essay is organized in the following manner: it opens with a primer on the purpose, structure, and methods of humint; then examines some empirical data on its value; surveys more broadly the pros and cons of this approach to spying; and concludes with an overall judgment about the value of agents for a nations security. Humint 101 The Purpose. Human intelligence involves the collection of information the old fashioned way: relying on well-placed agents within the enemys camp. Sometimes the phrase humint refers narrowly to the use of agents by intelligence professionals for the clandestine acquisition of documents or other secrets; more recently, its usage has expanded to incorporate all information collection by human beings, whether gathered overtly or covertly, and whether the instruments of collection are individuals in the diplomatic corps, the military, the intelligence agencies, or non-governmental personnel under temporary contract to the government (outsourced human intelligence). The Agencies and Personnel. During the Cold War, officers of the Operations Directorate in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)one of Americas sixteen major intelligence agencieswere primarily responsible for the gathering of humint information on

behalf of U.S. policymakers. Most of these intelligence officers served overseas within American embassies, relying on official diplomatic cover. (Cover refers to the ostensible reason the excusefor the presence of an intelligence officer abroad, since wearing C.I.A. on ones hatband could be decidedly dangerous, even fatal, in some parts of the world.) In addition to this official cover (OC) inside an embassy, some intelligence professionals are deployed under non-official cover (NOC) outside the embassy, perhaps as an investment banker in Cairo, a Ph.D. candidate on an archeological dig in Sudan, or an oil rigger in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, some are diversified cover officers (DCOs), who are non-CIA officersoften non-Americans working overseas on contract for the U.S. government. The advantage of NOCs and DCOs, especially if they have an ethic heritage reflective of the society where they are stationed, is that they are less likely to be suspected as spies by local counterintelligence officials; they have no obvious connection to the U.S. embassy. Despite this advantage of NOCs and DCOs, during the Cold Warand even todaymost American intelligence officers stationed abroad are white men posted in embassies.ii Intelligence officers operating under official cover are much easier to communicate with safely, given their presence inside the confines of a U.S. embassy. Further, they enjoy the luxury of diplomatic immunity, whereas NOCs and DCOs are subject to the local criminal justice system. A further disadvantage of the latter is that the establishment of believable non-official cover for U.S. intelligence officers in other nations can be difficult. The Peace Corps, for example, has successfully demanded that no intelligence officer use its credentials for cover; so has the Fulbright Scholarship program that sponsors students and professors engaged in travel, research, and classroom activities abroad. In both cases, properly so. Universities, news media, and religious organizations balk, too, at the prospect of letting their professions be used for

espionage cover, since one such spy caught in an act of espionage can cast doubt on the legitimate activities of all American scholars, reporters, and clergy abroad. Some international businesses recoil, too, at requests to provide cover. Why should they endanger their legitimate employees overseas, ask CEOs, by taking such risks? Even inside a U.S. embassy overseas, the Department of State resists requests from the CIA to provide diplomatic credentials for its operations officers. Why contaminate diplomacy with espionage? is a common State Department refrain. As a Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) once complained in great frustration, the end result of these rejections is a melting ice floe of cover for Americas spies.iii According to recent figures, the United States has fielded about 1,100 CIA operations officers around the world, including some one hundred sixty or so NOCs and approximately one hundred DCOs.iv They are in the business of collecting strategic intelligence for the most part, with some limited attention to tactical (battlefield-related) information. The CIA is joined in the humint enterprise by elements of the U.S. armed services, whose human intelligence capabilities have been consolidated into a Defense Humint Services (DHS) that became officially operational in 1995.v The DHS is housed within the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), an umbrella defense intelligence analytic organization inside the organizational framework of the Department of Defense (DoD). The DHS fields a full complement of humint operations, from overt collection by men and women in uniform overseas to spy rings comprised of clandestine agents. About 75 percent of these activities consist of overt collection operations, with the rest relying on clandestine methods. The mix of DHS personnel include U.S. military officers who are overt intelligence collectors working at DoD; U.S. military officers stationed on American bases

abroad and similarly engaged in overt collection; and a team of U.S. military officers who normally operate from inside an American embassy overseas or a DHS base on a U.S. military installation and who run clandestine agents under the supervision of the CIAs chief of station (COS, the top intelligence official person in an embassy). In addition, DHS manages the U.S. governments 100-plus Defense Attach Offices around the world, located primarily in American embassies. These attachs serve the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the combatant commanders, and the intelligence agencies. The purpose of all these organizations within the DHS framework is to collect information about global military, scientific, and technological subjects, as well as to provide tactical intelligence in support of military operations (SMO, in the inevitable Pentagon acronym). Several other departments and agencies are involved in humint, on the overt side. The largest of the overt humint collectors is the Department of State, with its diplomatic corps (the Foreign Service) spread around the world in U.S. embassies. Feeding overt humint data into the collection funnel, as well, are such entities as the Departments of Commerce, Treasury, and Energy. Law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), contribute a combination of overt and covert humint. These entities jockey with the Department of State and the CIA for billets in U.S. embassies. National Clandestine Service. Since 1995, the CIA and DHS services have been combined into what is now known as the National Clandestine Service or NCS (the old Operations Directorate in the CIA), augmented by military elements that reside within DHS.vi This new institutional framework is managed by a Marine general with offices at the CIAs campus located in Langley, Virginia, near McLean. The NCS director serves directly beneath the director of the CIA (D/CIA) in the intelligence chain of command, continuing the CIAs

traditional status as the lead agency in the humint domain. (Much of the rest of the Agencys central coordinating position in the intelligence community has diminished in the aftermath of its mistakes related to the 9/11 failure, along with its faulty predictions about the probable existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq prior to the second Persian Gulf War that began in 2003.) The NCS director has two deputies, one to head CIA clandestine humint operations and the other to coordinate the activities of other humint operators overseas. The CIA humint components remain headquartered at Langley, and the DHS is still housed within the DIA, located at Bolling Air Force Base, across the Potomac River from Reagan National Airport. Another CIA entity involved in humint activities is the National Resources Division (NR, for short), a unit in the National Clandestine Service.vii The NR is in the business of interviewing Americans, and sometimes foreign travelers and students in the United States, about their impressions from journeys they have made abroad. The NR has offices in major cities around the United States and carries out its mission in an overt manner, with a listing in telephone directories and open contact with people it seeks to interview. The FBI counterintelligence unit conducts similar interviews. At a recent lecture on intelligence I gave at a college in Pennsylvania, a local businessman told me he had been to the Soviet Union twenty-four times during the Cold War on business trips. I asked him if he been contacted by NR after his return. I was interviewed twenty-four times, either by the Bureau or the CIA, he responded with a grin, adding that he simply told these agencies what he had observed in the Moscow market place (shoddy goods) and the bars (beautiful women). There is no evidence to suggest that NRs interviews have made a significant contribution to U.S. intelligence reports (see, for instance, the data reported below in Figure 3). The major difference in contemporary humint management, beyond the name change to

NCS, is the attempt to improve the government-wide coordination of all clandestine humint operations, both civilian (CIA, State, FBI, DEA) and military (DHS), in place of two separate approaches to foreign agent recruitment and handling. Civilian intelligence officers and military intelligence officers are now less likely to bump into one another trying to recruit the same agent in the same distant capital. Moreover, the presumption is that humint operations and findings will now be coordinated and collated more effectivelythe all source fusion, jointness, or, in plain English, sharing that the government has touted since the disastrous intelligence failures of 9/11. Leading up to the terrorist attacks on that infamous day, the CIA and the FBI (most conspicuously) proved unable or unwilling to integrate their knowledge of the Qaeda terrorists who eventually carried out the airplane hijackings. To accomplish these fusion objectives, NCS has three divisions: CIA Humint, Community Humint (that is, the coordination of human collection operations throughout the sixteen agencies in the intelligence community), and Technology (bringing modern science to espionagemore sophisticated listening devices carried by humint agents, for example). The activities of the other humint collectors, such as the State Department and the FBI, are only loosely coordinated by the NCS through its Community Humint branch. The fragmentation of the human spying effort remains a challenge, as with the full range of U.S. intelligence activities, exacerbated by the fact that the overall chief of American intelligence, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI, an office set up in 2005), has limited budget and appointment powers to leverage the sharing of operational planning and the findings harvested by the separate intelligence collection agencies. The Method. The key to successful humint espionage lies in having access to places where secrets are kept: inside file cabinets with sophisticated combination locks, computer drives with

daunting firewalls, encoded telephone conversations, private meetings in the inner sanctums of foreign governments. Access to these sites requires an insider. Certainly an American NCS officer, whatever his or her cover, is unlikely to be able to walk off the street and into the heart of another nations higher councils of deliberation on foreign and security policyeven in the United Kingdom, a close ally. Needed is a trusted local who already has access to restricted government offices, whether a lofty prime minister who may have been recruited to the U.S. espionage cause while a young student enrolled in an American university (won over with secret monthly financial stipendsbeer moneyand, later, by a growing dependence on secret payments); a prime ministers aide, mistress, or chauffeur; a diplomat; an intelligence officer; a colonel or, better yet, a general; a terrorist operativeanyone who might be able to put his or her hands on documents relevant to Americas interests or attend a meeting in which schemes detrimental to the United States are being hatched. In the instance of terrorist groups and other criminal organizations, scholar Robert Kennedy underscores how they can be relatively small, secretive, and tightly knit. Membership in the group may depend on long acquaintanceships, family ties or previous criminal acts. Thus inserting a source into such groups can be a first-order challenge.viii The Agent Acquisition Cycle. When American intelligence officers are sent abroad for clandestine humint recruitment operations, they follow certain procedures (methods or tradecraft), known collectively as the agent acquisition cycle. The first goal is to identify someone abroad who has good access to government secrets or to those who hold secrets, and who might also be vulnerable to a recruitment pitchperhaps a senior aide to the Minister of Defense in Europe living beyond his means with a 100,000 Euro credit card debt. The task is to befriend the aide, maybe by joining his tennis club, then gaining his trust with a sympathetic ear. Eventually comes the pitch: an offer by the American for confidential research funding for the

preparation of a paper about European politics. If this initiative is accepted, the door opens for a further offer of increased funding for more sensitive research. Sometimes a local intermediary a cut-outmay be employed as a discreet liaison between the CIA operations officer and the potential source, thereby helping to protect the officers cover. Once a foreign source is drawn into this web, the tacit possibility of blackmail remains in the background, should the new recruit begin to have second thoughts. This process can take months or even years, possibly requiring the coordination of two or more case officers in succession to bring the potential source along to asset status. Put simply, in the words of a senior intelligence official, . . . . it takes a long time to get the right guys in place.ix With this in mind, the hallmarks of the humint trade are, as laid out by a recent DCI: Patience. Persistence. Time on Target.x Another former DCI has pointed out that Soviet intelligence during the Cold War displayed much more patience than its U.S. counterpart services. A Soviet intelligence officer and his family would typically emigrate and establish themselves in another nation for years before he begins spying.xi The pitch to a potential source can beand often isrejected, on occasion in a public way, with the offended local disclosing to the media that the CIA has tried clumsily to recruit him. The result may be a declaration by the host government that the CIA officer in question is henceforth persona non grata; he (or she) is PNGed, sent home, resulting in a temporary setback in relations between the United States and the host nation. In retaliation, the United States may decide to PNG one of that nations diplomats posted in Washingtontit for tat in what Rudyard Kipling referred to as the Great Game.xii Often the scandal quickly fades, although sometimes the harm can be lasting. A certain degree of stress continues between Israeli and U.S. officials over the discovery of Jonathan Pollards espionage activities in the 1980s, which involved his passing of classified U.S. Navy documents to Israeli intelligence officers.

The sine quo non for an operations officers advancement in the National Clandestine Service is the number of assets he or she has recruited, the publish or perish criterion of the spy trade. For an operations officer to succeed as an ace recruiter, he or she would ideally know the language, history, politics, and customs of the assigned nation; after all, winning the confidence of a local government official depends upon establishing rapport, in part, and it is easier to relate to foreigners when one displays a certain comfort level in the norms of their own society. Some experts believe that it takes about seven years to reach this level of familiarity.xiii The Walk-In. Actively trying to recruit foreign assets is only one approach to humintand some say not the most effective. Another prominent source of human intelligence is the walkin, an unsolicited individual who volunteers his or her espionage services to the United States. Some walk-ins, for instance, have tossed secret documents over the wall of a U.S. embassy, with a note providing contact information and offers of even better secrets if the price is right. The obvious danger is that the walk-in may be, in reality, a provocation by a foreign intelligence servicea dangle meant only to smoke out American operations officers and their tradecraft, or to serve as a conduit of disinformation designed to trick the United States. The James Bond Approach. Further, in some few cases, an operations officer may actually have an opportunity to spy directly on the target nation, perhaps having insinuated him- or herself into a friendship relationship with a foreign intelligence officer or, say, a member of a royal family. Here is the operations officer in the style of James Bond, perhaps massaging the neck of a beautiful blonde with one hand while spinning the combination lock on the safe in the Kremlin with the other hand. Harold Kim Philby, a high-ranking officer in British intelligence (MI6), played the role of a direct spyno asset or intermediary requiredin the United States during the 1960s. He earned the confidence of none other than James J. Angleton, the CIAs Chief of Counterintelligence from 1954-74, who assumed that Philby was a loyal ally in the war

against communism. Instead, all along the suave British intelligence officer was engaged in espionage against the United Kingdom and the United States on behalf of the Soviet Union. Once burned, twice shy; Angleton never trusted anyone again, with or without reason. Foreign Liaison. Another important source of humint are allied nationsthough, as the Philby case illustrates, such liaison relationships must be handled with care and a healthy dose of suspicion. The world is simply too vast for the United States to rely strictly on its own humint networks to track global events and conditions. Besides, in some parts of the world where the United States has had less of a presence, the British (in the Middle East), the Japanese (in Asia), the Russians (in the stans), and Turkey (in the Middle East) have had a long history of successful human spying. Trading them techint data, Americas comparative advantage, for humint can be a sensible bargain.xiv As Kennedy emphasizes, foreign liaison can serve as a valuable force multiplierxv although with all the caveats that the Philby experience raises, along with the reality that the United States must have its own clandestine human sources as a double-check against sometimes questionable or poorly informed foreign liaison assets. The old arms-control adage followed by the Reagan Administration provides a suitable rule for humint liaison as well: trust but verify Ethical or legal limits may exist, too, with a liaison relationship. For example, the intelligence service of Egypt may be helpful in tracking the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Islamic group; but does the United States wish to be joined in close partnership with an intelligence service widely known to torture prisoners? The CIA has engaged in extraordinary rendition of terrorist suspects for interrogation purposes (quite possibly involving torture), but should it continue this controversial practice? The broad consensus in the United States, as reflected in widespread public comments, seems to favor a resounding no!xvi The Deutch Rules. Ethical limits can affect humint recruitment in other ways. In 1995, DCI

John Deutch (1995-97) issued an internal intelligence directive that raised the ethical standards at the CIA for recruiting foreign assets. Reacting to allegations that a CIA asset in Guatemala, a Col. Alperez, had murdered an American citizen and the husband of another American citizen, Deutch tightened asset recruitment procedures in the Operations Directorate by requiring the CIA to sever its ties with sources who displayed a gross violation of human rights. Henceforth, according to what became known as the Deutch rules, case officers were required to clear the recruitment of notably unsavory individuals with the Office of the DCI. Deutch made it plain that an important exception would be the recruitment of individuals who might help the United States in the struggle against global terrorism. In these instances, recruitments could go forward regardless of how venal the individual might be; the important criterion was whether the source might be able to alert the United States about an intended act of terrorism. The Deutch directive took on a life of its own, however, beyond the DCIs specific intent to avoid the hiring of murderers, especially when they contributed nothing to the nations counterterrorism objectives. Some case officers, many of whom did not appreciate Deutchs rumored intentions to downsize the Operations Directorate, complained through friendly sources in the U.S. media that they were now expected to have ties abroad only with nuns and boy scouts motherhood and apple pie intelligence, recalls a former CIA officer.xvii Deutch, they argued, failed to understand the Hobbesian nature of international affairs; his nave rules were creating a risk averse Operations Directorate. When Qaeda terrorists struck U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the criticism mounted, despite Deutchs reaffirmation that his rules had nothing to do with the recruitment of counterterrorist assets. Indeed, Deutch had never rejected a recruitment requestno matter how unscrupulous the potential sourcewhen it came to humint sources directed against terrorist organizations. Nevertheless, in a backlash that followed the 9/11 attacks against the United States, the CIA began to ignore the Deutch rules altogether. They

were formally rescinded in July of 2002 by DCI George J. Tenet (1997-2004).

Surge or

Presence. When the Cold War ended in 1991, a quest for a peace dividend began in Washington, D.C. Perhaps money spent in fighting the Soviets could now be used for other purposes, from health care to education. As a result, defense and intelligence budgets started to shrinka trend that the 9/11 attacks would dramatically reverse. During this interim, though, budget pressures forced intelligence managers to consider cost-savings measures. On the humint side of things, the number of operations officers was reduced around the world. Compared to techint, humint is relatively inexpensive, amounting to less than 10 percent of the total intelligence budget.xviii Nevertheless, a penny saved is a penny earned; so in the spirit of achieving a peace dividend, DCI R. James Woolsey (1993-95) advocated the idea of humint global surge or global reach. According to the Woolsey prescription, just as the United States had limited resources to build aircraft carriers and, thus, had to move (surge) them from one sea to another, depending on the need, so, too, should the CIA move operations officers from one place to another, as required. Bolivia today, Bulgaria tomorrow. The alternative was to seek a global presence for operations officers, that is, the stationing of CIA operatives in most every country, busily recruiting assets. In light of the yearning for a peace dividend, global presence was viewed by some as too expensive; surge would have to suffice. The argument in favor of surge lasted about as long as the quest for a peace dividend, which is to say until the 9/11 attacks. Cost-benefit analysis aside, the idea of surge never made much sense to most observers. How could a Spanish-speaking CIA officer in Bolivia, capable perhaps of impressive asset recruitment tallies in that country, be expected to have the same success when suddenly dropped into Bulgaria, Somalia, or Indonesia? If establishing a comfort zone in a foreign country took some seven years, what could be accomplished in Bulgaria in

seven days? This is not to say that the concept of surge was completely without merit. As a senior CIA told the author: While most operations officers are not that fungible, some may be sufficiently flexible to take on selected tasks wherever they are posted.xix An example would be installing listening devices in buildings overseas. Moreover, sometimes surge is a necessity. Today, Baghdad has hundreds of operations officers (few of whom were previously Iraqi specialists), because it is an important theater of combat for the United States. Support for military operationsthe SMO imperativerequires many asset recruitments, especially for the tactical intelligence requirements of counterinsurgency warfare. Generally, though, surging humint officers is unproductive, given the long start-up time for recruitment effectiveness. In contrast, the surging of techint can be a valuable option, moving satellites and reconnaissance airplanes wherever they are most needed. Studies on the Uses of Humint by Policymakers Soon after the end of the Cold War, intelligence managers in the United States paused to assess the contributions made to their intelligence reports by the various collections methods, from humint to a range of techint activitiessatellite photography and telephone taps, for instance. In a government-wide survey conducted in 1994, the managers polled the consumers of intelligence (those policymakers who receive secret reports from the intelligence agencies) to ascertain their impressions about the value added by the various intelligences or, for short, the ints. These ints include, primarily: open-source intelligence (osint); signals intelligence (sigint, including telephone wiretaps); imagery intelligence (imint or photography, especially from satellite cameras); masint (measurement-and-signatures intelligence, which involvesfor examplethe capture traces that indicate the presence of weapons, biological materials, and chemicals); and humint. The consumer survey explored twelve issue domains, including such topics as arms

control or specific countries and regions of the world.xx The intelligence consumers were asked to rate the contribution of each int to 376 specific information needs or requirements they had within the dozen issue domains. The survey asked respondents to appraise each of the int contributions as either critical, important, useful, or of no value. As displayed in Figure 1, humint (both overtly and covertly collected) surpassed the other ints when it came to critical contributions (so designated in 205 of the 376 needs, or 55 percent), with sigint next (35 percent), followed by osint (25 percent), imint (11 percent), and masint (2 percent). [Insert Figure 1 Here] More detailed data on humint and osint sources from the 1994 survey are provided in Figure 2, which illustrates the strong attraction of both collection methods to policymakers when it comes to selected topics and areas of the world. The consumers indicated a strong preference for humint when it came to counterterrorism (critical for 74 percent ), counternarcotics (64 percent), Europe (54 percent), and Near East/South Asia (51 percent). Osint, though, was considered vastly superior to humint with respect to some regions of the world, most notably Russia/Eurasia (82 percent) and Latin America (77 percent). The value of the ints varied according to the target, with humint performing most effectively on selected international (transnational) issues, such as counterterrorism and counternarcotics. With respect to drugs, humint was graded critical more often than all the other ints together, and provided the main contribution when it came to the vital area of weapons proliferation. Some intelligence experts view the contribution of osint as widely underappreciated by policymakers, but the findings in Figures 1 and 2 suggest otherwise. Where humint was weakest, osint proved strongest (Russia/Eurasia and Latin America); conversely, where osint was weakest, humint proved strongest (counterterrorism and counternarcotics). Beyond excelling on key transnational targets, humint made significant contributions to a number of country targets

even if it appeared to be of little use with respect to Russia, Eurasia, and Latin America. The humint-rich targets were Europe, Near East, and South Asia. Humint added value on Africa as well, registering a critical evaluation in almost 40 percent of the cases. During the year of the survey (1994), the CIA had its largest number of humint assets in the two regions that received strong evaluations (Europe and Africa), suggesting that the greater the number of human assets targeted on a topic or country, the more effective the results. This hypothesis warrants much more testing, however, since in 1994 some locations with a relatively high density of humint assets recorded only modest results (notably, Central Eurasia/Russia, where osint suddenly experienced a bonanza of open sources when the iron curtain collapsed three years earlier). [Insert Figure 2 Here] Another survey initiated by intelligence managers soon after the end of the Cold War focused on intelligence sources for items published in the National Intelligence Daily (NID), one of Americas key intelligence products circulated widely among security officials in Washington and the worldwide U.S. military chain of command. This survey, conducted during January of 1993, found that osint and overt State Department humint reporting accounted for the most heavily used sources of information: 525 out of 846 items in the NIDs or 62 percent (see Figure 3).xxi Clandestinely derived humint from the CIA accounted for 133 items or about 16 percent, with the Defense Attach system far back at 32 items or about 4 percent. Techint played its role, weighing in above CIA humintbut below osint and State humintby contributing to 156 items or 18 percent of the total. According to this survey, CIA humint reporting was particularly helpful in NID coverage of (in order of value): Africa (19 items), Latin America and the Middle East (tied at 15), weapons proliferation (14), and East Asia (11). Significant humint contributions also appeared in reporting on Europe and Somalia (both 10) and the Balkans (9),

and was least helpful on transnational issues dealing with counternarcotics (4), terrorism (0), human rights (0), and the environment (0). Defense attach reporting contributed only modestly across the board, with (in its best performance) seven items on Europe. The most conspicuous contributions in the survey were chalked up by osint with respect to Eurasia/Russia (65 items), Europe (53), and East Asia (34); by State Department humint with Europe (40) and Eurasia/Russia (34); and by techint with the Middle East (48). These results are in part a commentary on what topics intelligence consumers and managers may have wanted to hear about; a political crisis in Portugal would have stimulated more items about that country. Still, the survey results do provide a sense of which ints contributed to high-priority intelligence targeting in early 1993. [Insert Figure 3 Here] Overlaying the 1993 and the 1994 surveys, the most striking general conclusion to emerge is that opinions of intelligence consumers on the value of the ints can vary significantly. The 1994 survey found humint particularly helpful when it came to the broad transnational targets of counterterrorismeven before the Age of Al Qaeda arrived in 1998 with the attacks on U.S. embassies in Africaand counternarcotics. Important, as well, in this survey were the humint contributions made toward understanding a traditional regional target, Europe; but also toward the Near East and South Asia, regions given less attention by the United States during the Cold War. These opinions, recall, reflected how consumers perceived the value of the various ints. In contrast, the 1993 survey looked at actual items appearing in the NID and traced them back to their int sources. In this case, humint contributions to counterterrorism and counternarcotics fared less well. Here humint shined against specific regions of the world Africa, Latin America, the Middle Eastand against weapons proliferation. As a broad generalization, the combined survey data suggest that clandestinely derived

human intelligence has the potential to acquire useful information with respect to the targets listed in Figure 4, which includes much of the world. Notably missing are Russia/Eurasia and East Asia, as well as humanitarian, environmental, and scientific topics. Humints contribution to economic intelligence, though relatively small, wasat one-third in the 1994 surveynot insignificant. These survey results support the view reached about the same time by John I. Millis, an experienced CIA officer, that humint was unsurpassed as a source of critical intelligence to the national policymaker.xxii [Insert Figure 4 Here] Qualitative Indications of Humint Usage by Policymakers In 1995, the Aspin-Brown Commission on Intelligence examined a number of intelligence challenges to determine the value-added of humint.xxiii Among these cases were the questions of whether secret agents contributed to an understanding of a prominent terrorist group in Japan, Aum Shinrikyo (Supreme Truth, in Japanese); and whether they shed light on a vexing topic that year concerning the possible Chinese sale of M-11 missiles to Pakistan. As Chairman Les Aspins aide assigned to this project, I examined several CIA publications, including Intelligence Reports, Research Papers, Intelligence Memoranda, and the Terrorist Review (prepared by the CIAs Counterterrorism Center). For comparative purposes, I also looked at open media sources, most prominently the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as the journals The Economist and The New Republic. (The National Interest, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy had no reporting on this subject.) Aum Shinrikyo. In 1995, members of the Aum Shinrikyo sect released sarin nerve gas into the Tokyo subway system. Sarin is a lethal substance, accidently invented by German chemists in the 1930s as they worked on new types of pesticides. It was later used in Nazi death camps. In sufficient concentration, the gas acts quickly to paralyze the respiratory musculature, resulting in

death. Sarin is five hundred times more toxic than the cyanide gas used to executive criminals in some prisons; only 0.5 milligrams of sarin is sufficient to kill an average-sized person. At 8:13 on the morning of March 20, 1995, during the rush hour, Aum Shinrikyo operatives placed containers that resembled lunch boxes and bottled drinks near three subway entrances. As the sarin wafted out of these containers it fortunately pooled at the subway entrances, rather than drifting throughout the tunnels. Thousands could have died; instead, there were twelve casualties, although another people 5,500 suffered injuries to their lungs and eyes. After the attack, these basic facts about the attack surfaced in the Times and the Post, along with revelations that the cult had a $1.2 billion treasury and a sizable membership in Japan (10,000) and Russia (20,000); that its leader, Shoko Asahara, had run for a seat in the Japanese parliament in 1990 and lost by a wide margin, causing him to seek the violent overthrow of the Japanese government as a means for achieving his rightful place as its leader; that Aum Shinrikyo members, who were known to pay as much as $4,000 to drink Asaharas bath water and $10,000 to wear special helmets equipped with electrodes that picked up the leaders brain waves, had met with Russian nuclear specialists in 1994, seeking to purchase nuclear weapons (they were turned down by the Russians); that the cult had the capacity to manufacture fifty tons of sarin or enough, in theory at least, to kill 4-10 million people; that Japanese police investigations had found biological-weapons materials inside the Aum Shinrikyo compound, located at the base of Mt. Fuji; and that the cult owned a 48,000-acre ranch in Australia, where it had tested sarin on sheep and experimented with other chemical and biological agents. The frequency of this fairly extensive open-source coverage of the sarin incident during the key months of 1995 is summarized in Figure 5. [Insert Figure 5 Here] The question of interest to Les Aspin was: had the U.S. intelligence agencies learned

more about Aum Shinrikyo than was revealed by Americas newspapers? The answer was: the intelligence agencies had found little additional information from humint or any other int. Indeed, the newspapers had considerably more detail about the history of the sect. The CIA and its companion agencies simply had no humint sources within, or near to, Aum Shinrikyo; nor did the Japanese police or intelligence agencies, for that matter. At best, the covert sources that did exist in Japan could add only modest further details. The CIA station in Toyko and the U.S. defense attach relied overwhelmingly on osint information, chiefly Japanese newspapers. The few available covert humint sources in the country managed to provide some missing specifics about the administrative structure of the cult and its financial assets, along with the useful assessment that the incident was the first large-scale terrorist use of chemical weapons against an urban targetthe crossing of a threshold in the annals of global terrorism. Outside the domain of humint and osint, U.S. intelligence did have satellite photos of the Aum Shrinkyo compound, which allowed intelligence experts to identify key buildings according to what was likely to be inside. This intelligence could have been helpful to share with Japanese officials, should they have opted for a military or police assault on these quarters; but the sects leader and other top members were arrested without incident. Through masint (soil samples), the CIA was also able to determine that sarin had in fact been manufactured on the compounds grounds, a finding already established by the Japanese police. In brief, both U.S. and Japanese intelligence coverage of Aum Shrinkyo was thin prior to the subway attack, with virtually no enlightenment from humint. This was a result in large part of a reluctance by Japanese and American authorities to infiltrate what initially seemed to be a religious organization. One case does not a theory make, but it does appear that in a fast-moving incident of short duration like the Aum Shrinkyo attack, the public media in the United States is apt to know as much about what happenedin some ways, morethan the America intelligence

community, especially if the peering lenses of overhead satellite cameras are largely irrelevant to the circumstances. If an event involves troop movements somewhere, or large-scale weapons deployments, intelligenceimint, at any rateis likely to play a greater role than newspaper reporting. What about events that unfold over a longer period of time? The case of the suspected Chinese M-11 missile sales to Pakistan falls into this category. M-11 Missile Sales to Pakistan The sarin incident was discrete, lasting but a few hours on one day, followed by the arrest of the suspected perpetrators two months later. In contrast, the M-11 missile controversy stretched out over several years. In the missile case, years not days are the appropriate measure of time. Data on the open-source coverage of the suspected M-11 sale are presented in Figure 6, which again draws on two prominent American newspapers and a few widely read periodicals. [Insert Figure 6] What could the public have learned about the alleged missile sale from open sources on the newsstands? First, the reader could have acquired basic information about the M-11's specifications. Thirty-one feet in length, the missile had the capacity to carry a payload of 1,750 pounds over a range of 175-185 miles. It was considered more accurate and easier to launch rapidly, as well as faster and more elusive in flight, than the Soviet-designed Scud missiles used by Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War. Further, the reader could have found in the newspapers a fairly detailed time line for this issue, from 1983 when the Chinese gave Pakistan the design of a tested nuclear weapon and enough weapons-grade uranium to build two nuclear bombs to 1995 when the CIA concluded that China had delivered M-11missile parts to Pakistanan allegation denied by the governments in Beijing and Islamabad. The public sources of information on the missile controversy also provided in-depth

analysis about U.S.-Chinese and U.S.-Pakistani relations, and why Washington was reluctant to charge openly either government of duplicity and violations of international agreements prohibiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The United States sought good relations with both nations, especially the powerful Chinathe fastest growing market for American goods. Moreover, noted some public commentators, the Chinese may have failed to understand that the M-11 missile did in fact violate accords that banned the sale of mediumrange missiles; the United States defined this category of weapons to include those with a 160mile range, while the Chinese definition was 625 miles. Other commentators, though, were more skeptical, accusing the Chinese of violating accords with impunity only to feign great offense whenever anyone complained. In a word, the public record on this topic was rich during the years from 1989-1995. Readers could take away an extensive understanding of the dispute, although the record remained cloudy on the central point of contention: had the Chinese actually sold M-11 missiles to Pakistan? To what extent did intelligence reports chase away these clouds? This was Aspins research question for me. The declassified analyzes provided to the Aspin-Brown Commission by the CIA provided some valuable additional information, including these key points:

the CIA time line was much more detailed in its coverage of key Chinese-Pakistani interactions related to weapons sales;

while less than definitive, imt, sigint, and masint provided significant clues about the likelihood that the sale had been consummated: records on Pakistani payments for missile components delivered by Chinese freighters; suspicious cargo being unloaded in large boxes from Chinese vessels in the Pakistani port of Karachi; missile launchers spotted on Chinese trains headed for export ports;

photographs of the Sargodha Missile Complex in Pakistan revealed cylindrical objects on the groundagain, not conclusively identified as M-11 missiles, but strongly suspected as such.

Thus, the circumstantial evidence gathered by U.S. intelligence agencies summed to an even more compelling case than the already persuasive evidence in the newspapers that the missile deal had gone forward. Much of this covert evidence came from techint, but some humint observations were part of the data mixmost notably related to port activity in China and Pakistan. While no actual, intact M-11 missiles in Pakistan were ever observed by a human asset or a spy machine, a combination of the two ints gave Washington officials a much stronger empirical basis to confront officials in Beijing and Islamabad on the issue through diplomatic channels than would have newspaper reports alone. Both the public and the intelligence record suffered from many ambiguities; but at least the clandestine sourcesespecially spy machines in this instancecarried the behind-the-scenes debate beyond the boundaries of speculation and more into the realm of credible, if still circumstantial, evidence. This gave Washington added leverage in ongoing trade and arms-control negotiations with both powers. Other Qualitative Indicators. While humint played only a secondary role in understanding Aum Shrinkyo and the Chinese sale of M-11 missiles, in a number of other instances since the end of the Cold War its influence has been strongly felt in high office, according to my interviews with intelligence and policy officials in Washington from 1992-1998. In 1994, for example, the U.S. Treasury Department relied heavily on CIA humint reporting in its successful resolution of the Mexican peso crisis in 1994. Almost 600 humint reports out of Mexico City tracked the deteriorating financial situation and the declining state-led petroleum industry. CIA assets accurately communicated the likely decreases in Mexicos foreign exchange reserves, its continuing capital

flight, a bulge in the short-term debt coming due, and the probability that Mexico would soon become a net petroleum importer. Humint reports also provided a useful check on the accuracy of information being released by the Mexican Finance Ministry, which was inclined to manipulate public fiscal dataespecially on the amount of oil revenues available to the government of Mexico to collateralize U.S. loans. Moreover, negotiations with Tokyo over automobile trade imbalances that favored the Japanese from 1980-1998 depended on a steady flow of humint (and sigint) reporting. So did questions of tactical military risks and opportunities in the Balkans, along with bomb-damage assessments from that battlefield during the 1990s. Humint assets secured photography of sites where human rights atrocities had been committed, including the location of mass graves (further verified by satellite imint)humint in the service of human rights. Chemical-biological (C-B) weapons production in Russia has also depended on human assets, along with some use of masint, to report on whether a factory was manufacturing microchips, pharmaceuticals, or C-B weaponry. A Soviet defector offered up startling insights into Russian production of smallpox, plague, and anthrax in a form for delivery by ICBMs. In each of these instances, humint assets have on occasion given the United States information to assist its security objectives that was unavailable through other sources. An Assessment of the Pros and Cons of Humint Understandably awed by the technological capabilities of spy machines, officials during the Cold War were inclined to readily approve appropriations for their construction and deployment. Washington policymakers and their military commanders in the field wanted photographs of Soviet tanks and missile silos, and transcripts of telephone conversations between officials in communist capitals. Less sexy were humint assets, whose identities remained concealed from budget officials and whose yield was comparatively meagerno four hundred

photographs a day of enemy installations, as produced by U.S. surveillance satellites in the final years of the Cold War. Moreover, human assets were often notoriously unreliable, all too often fabricating reports merely to stay on the CIA payroll. Even legitimate assets yielded information that was at best a meager flow. As a leading State Department official, Roger Hilsman, once put it (in one of the most damning critiques of humint): . . . . even though the take can occasionally be crucial, relatively little information comes from espionage, and very rarely is it decisive.xxiv Hilsman attributed this lackluster performance to the extraordinarily delicate and difficult task of placing and maintaining assets in locations where they had access to decisive information. Over and above this near impossibility of good access was, in his view, the added difficulty of communicating with assets and receiving their messages in time to make a difference. In Hilsmans pessimistic judgment, . . . espionage is obviously something the United States can do without. The costs exceed any possible gain.xxv More recently, a retired head of the NSCs Asia divisionmindful of the CIAs inability to capture the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden or to know much about the North Korean or Iranian nuclear programsoffered a similarly gloomy appraisal of humint since 2001: We couldnt do much worse.xxvi Despite the many negative critiques of humint, former DCI Tenet emphasizes that intelligence is still primarily a human endeavor.xxvii He is obviously not referring to the governments intelligence budget priorities. Recall that the United States devotes only a small percentage of its annual intelligence budget to human spying.xxviii Spy machines are costly, while human agents are relatively inexpensive to hire and sustain on an annual stipend. One of the ironies of American intelligence is that the vast percentage of its spending goes into expensive intelligence hardware, especially surveillance satellites, even though the value of these machines is questionable in helping the United States understand such contemporary global concerns as

terrorism or Chinas economic might. Cameras mounted on satellites or airplanes are unable to peer inside the canvas tents, mud huts, or mountain caves in Afghanistan or Pakistan where terrorists plan their lethal operations, or into the deep underground caverns where North Koreans construct atomic weapons. Space cameras cannot see into factories where missiles are made, or into the sheds of shipyards, writes an intelligence expert. Photographs cannot tell whether stacks of drums outside an assumed chemical-warfare plant contain nerve gas or oil, or whether they are empty.xxix As a U.S. intelligence officer has observed, we need to know whats inside the building, not what the building looks like.xxx Many of the best contributions from spy machines come not so much from pricey satellites as from the far less expensive UAVs. On occasion, though, sophisticated sigint satellites do capture revealing telephone communications, say, between international drug lords. Moreover, the photography that imint satellites produce on such matters as Russian and Chinese missile sites, North Korean troop deployments, or the secretive construction of nuclear reactors in Iran, are of obvious importance. In the case of terrorism, though, one would like to have a human agent well placed within the Qaeda organization; for Americas security, such an asset could be worth a dozen billion-dollar satellites. The value of techint, though often exaggerated, cannot be denied. Yet, most intelligence experts agree, clandestine human collection has a place at the table, too. In the aftermath of 9/11 and the WMD errors in Iraq, both the Kean and the Silberman-Robb Commissions expressed their faith in humint by criticizing the lack of a sufficient number of assets in key parts of the world; and President George W. Bush authorized a 50 percent increase in the number of operations officers, leading in 2004 to the largest incoming class of clandestine officers in the CIAs history.xxxi On the diplomatic front, former DCI Stansfield Turner (1977-81) has further

emphasized the centrality of humint reporting in support of international negotiations involving the United States. I have seen us sit down at a negotiating table when we had the other guys plan for negotiating in hand, thanks to a humint asset, he told me. Thats pretty useful.xxxii Another DCI, William E. Colby (1973-76), offered this appraisal of humint: Its one of those things you cant afford to say no to, because sometimes it can be valuable.xxxiii He added: You can go through years with nothing much happening [with regard to CIAs assets abroad], so then you cut off the relationship. Since nothing had happened there for ten years, we were in the process of closing the [CIAs] stations in El Salvador and Portugaljust before these countries blew up! His conclusion: I think youll always have some humint, and itll pay off. And remember that the human agent is also available to somehow engage in the manipulation of a foreign government (the CIAs covert action mission). The question of their relative merit aside for the moment, it should be underscored that spies overseas can be enormously difficult to recruit in closed societies like Iran and North Korea, which possess effective counterespionage and security defenses. Before the United States invaded Iraq the first time in 1990, for example, the CIA had only four human assets in that closed society.xxxiv Michael Goodman has underscored the problem of acquiring humint about nuclear developments in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The West, he notes, was attempting to gather intelligence on a strictly compartmentalized, highly secret programme within a secure police state.xxxv Or, as John Millis observed, humint faces its greatest challenge going up against xenophobic states with effective counterintelligence services.xxxvi Spies in nations like Syria, Pakistan, and Iran today are particularly hard to recruit, because Americans have focused for decades on the communist world and largely ignored the study of languages, history, and culture necessary to operate spies in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. How many Americans speak Pashto, Arabic, and Farsi well? How many understand the nuances of

slang and various dialects? How many are willing to serve as operational officers for government pay in some of the worlds most perilous places, trying to recruit local assets? Near the end of the Cold War, I asked one of the most well-known of the former intelligence directors, Richard Helms (1966-73), what the consequences would be if the United States were to eliminate humint altogether. Deeply agitated by this prospect, he responded at length: You would eliminate most of the information that comes into the United States government. This idea that photographic satellites, satellites that pick up electronic emissions, and all the rest of itall those technical things . . . . theyre Jim-dandy when it comes to photographing missile installations, listening to missile firings, checking on telemetry, looking at the number of tanks being produced in certain factoriesin other words, bean-counting mostly. Great. But once you eliminate the issue of beancounting, what good do those pictures do you? Theyre nice to have, in a situation like now [1990] in the Persian Gulf. You can count the tanks and so forth that the Iraqis are putting in there. Its a wonderful device. But it doesnt tell you whats inside [Iraqi leader Saddam] Husseins head. It doesnt tell you what he is going to do. It doesnt give you the price of oil; it doesnt give you the price of gold; it doesnt tell you what the wheat production is going to be within a given place. Even though you photograph [something] and can make some assessments from the photographs, that isnt the final word that you want. In short, the end of the Cold War means that theres going to be more emphasis on human intelligence than there was before.xxxvii

Former DCI (1991-93), and now Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates agrees with the notion that humint has been highly valuable. Acknowledging the substantial contribution made by techint towards Americas understanding of Soviet strategic weapons, he recalls nonetheless that a great deal of what we learned about the technical characteristics of Soviet conventional weapons we learned through humint.xxxviii He adds that when it came to fathoming the Kremlins intentions, not just its capabilities, humint provided especially important insights. The question of intentions is particular significant and a matter that humint can addresses in ways that are impossible for machines. An asset well placed near a foreign leader might be in a position to pose the question to him or her: What will you do if the United States does X? As former CIA officer Millis has written: Humint can shake the intelligence apple from the tree, where other intelligence collection techniques must wait for the apple to fall.xxxix Yet, humint has limitations that go beyond the already substantial challenge of how to successfully recruit well-placed agents. Even if this barrier is overcome, assets can be difficult to manage and are frequently untrustworthy. After all, they are hardly choir boys, but rather the dregs of their society in many casesindividuals driven by greed, absent any moral compass. In the recruitment of such individuals, the ethos of intelligence officers would bring a blush to Machiavellis cheek, suggests a close observer of the Great Game. Their job in life is to spot useful foreigners and then do what it takesmoney, flattery, green cards and so onto turn them into traitors.xl The untrustworthiness of agents is legendary. During the Cuban missile crisis, for example, of about 3,500 humint reports, only eight in retrospect were considered as reasonably valid indicators of the deployment of offensive missiles in Cuba.xli Yet, at the same time, the 0.2 percent who proved correct in their reports provided the vital geographic coordinates necessary to direct U-2 flights over the missile sitesan int synergy leading to the gathering of indispensable imint about the missile sites.

Foreign intelligence assets, then, will sometimes fabricate reports, sell information to the highest bidder, and scheme as false defectors or double agents. Many of Americas humint recruits have turned out to be double agents who have secretly remained in the ongoing employment of the adversary. The CIAs assets in Cuba and in East Germany, for example, were doubled during the Cold War.xlii Unlike techint machines, humint assets can lie, cheat, steal, and remain loyal to Americas enemies. A recent example of the risks involved in humint was the German agent in Iraq during 2002, Rafid Ahmed Alwan, prophetically codenamed Curve Ball. He managed to convince the German intelligence service that WMDs did exist in Iraq; and the CIA, in turn, took this bait through its intelligence liaison relationship with the Germans. Only after the war began in Iraq in 2003 did Curveballs bona fides fall into doubt among German and CIA intelligence officials; he was, it turned out, a consummate liar.xliii Pointing chiefly to this example, a leading intelligence scholar concludes that overwhelming evidence shows that humint can be very misleading.xliv Certainly one important lesson to be learned in this case is that no U.S. intelligence agency should rely on a single intelligence source as heavily as occurred with Curve Ballespecially without having full access to the asset and instead relying on foreign liaison evaluations. Curve Ball aside, even the sharpest-tongued critics of humint are apt to acknowledge that now and then an agent can provide extraordinarily helpful information, as did the Soviet military intelligence officer Oleg Penkosky during the Cold War. Information from Col. Penkosky helped the United States identify the presence of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962, and also provided the Kennedy Administration with reports that suggested some top figures in the Kremlin were arguing against a confrontation with the United States during the missile crisis. Aldrich Hazen Rick Ames, the most damaging Soviet asset inside the CIA during the Cold War, provides painful evidence that humint can be valuablein this case, unfortunately, for

Moscow. At least U.S. counterintelligence officials could find some comfort, perhaps, in Amess testimony during his trial for treason in 1994. He stated that the United States had effectively penetrated and manipulated the Soviet and Warsaw Pact intelligence services on a massive scale.xlv With such successes in mind, the United States and most other countries persevere in their quest for reliable and productive espionage assets, even though the cost-benefit ratio has been poor over the years. Maybe the next recruit or the next walk-in will be a Penkosky from the Al Qaeda camp, someone who has managed to steal the terrorist organizationss next plot against the United States. As Kim Philby, the British intelligence officer who proved all too effective in serving as a KGB asset, concluded: If one attempt in fifty is successful [in recruiting a wellplaced humint asset], your efforts wont have been wasted.xlvi The humint success rate would likely improve if some of the CIAs operational officers moved outside of Americas embassies aboard. The editor of Newsweek International has noted that the best sources of intelligence on jihadi cells have tended to come from within localities and neighborhoods [that is, from local humint]. This information has probably been more useful than any we have obtained from waterboarding or sleep deprivation.xlvii It goes without saying, CIA officers are unlikely to meet members of Al Qaeda on the diplomatic cocktail circuit; a certain number of case officers need to be out in local society, making contact with the indigenous population in foreign nations. As former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht stresses, the principle problem when it comes to humint is the inability of case officers to meet Islamic terrorists . . . .xlviii The best way to make local contacts, Gehrect and others stipulate, is through the use of NOCs with contacts in the local community.xlix Synergy is important, too, for effective intelligence collection. The ints work best when they work togetherwhat one former intelligence officer has called the Black & Decker approach that uses every tool in the box.l DCI Woolsey once offered the example of spying

against North Korea. That nation is so closely guarded that humint becomes indispensable to know what is going on, he told me. This humint then tips off sigint possibilities, which in turn may suggest where best to gather imint. These capabilities, ideally, dovetail with one another.li Conclusion The collection of intelligence is pursued as a means for informing the foreign policy and security deliberations of Americas leaders. Many elements make up a decision, Secretary of State Dean Rusk has said. First, though, one must grapple with the facts. What is the situation?lii In determining the situation overseas, no single int is sufficient. Success depends on the synergism of all the ints working together, just as an engine performs best when each of its cylinders is firing. As a former CIA officer notes, the ints can be teamed to operate jointly.liii Both survey data and qualitative case studies of collection operations indicate that humint contributes regularly, and sometimes significantly to this synergismparticularly against certain targets like terrorists, narcotics dealers, and weapons proliferators, as well as events and conditions in much of the developing world. Humint must be approached warily, however; assets are corruptible and a depressingly high number of foreign recruits have proven to be doubled. Further, a large percentage have offered inaccurate and sometimes fabricated reports, as the postmortem results on the Cuban missile crisis illustrate. Nevertheless, humint successes like Col. Penkovsky, Adolf G. Tolkachev (a Soviet aviation specialistliv), and a host of othersincluding several who managed during the Cold War to penetrate the Soviet intelligence services (though seldom the political or military leadership ranks in Moscowlv)underscore how crucial the payoff can be from classical espionage. Much can be done to improve humint as practiced by the United States. Even observers sympathetic to this approach have serious reservations about its current effectiveness. The

United States has a moribund Clandestine Service, writes one experienced field officer.lvi The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence warned that humint is headed over a cliff, as a result of poor management.lvii A former high-level humint operative in the CIA has complained about the muddled requirements process in the government, which leaves humint managers with an unclear understanding of what the nations collection priorities are. Clarity in taskingthats the main problem, he said to me and expressed his concern, too, about the lack of adequate cover abroad.lviii Based on the studies I have examined for this essay, as well as my own interviews, an agenda for humint reform would embrace these initiatives:

increase the number of operations officers in key parts of the world, especially NOCs; develop more cover arrangements overseas, inside and outside U.S. embassies; hold more frequent tasking (requirements) meetings between consumers and humint managers, with at least a once-a-year major revision of an administrations threat assessment priorities;

encourage more calculated risk-taking by operations officers in the recruitment of potentially important assets, especially in the domain of counterterrorism;

boost the entrance requirements for operations officers, making this professional career as demanding and prestigious as a Foreign Service career;

improve language training of operations officers, along with the deep study of the histories and cultures of other societies;lix

recruit more U.S. citizens with ethic backgrounds relevant to the strategic locations of the world, such as the Middle East and Southwest Asia, and encourage diversity generally throughout the humint services;lx

provide easier access to U.S. embassies abroad to encourage walk-ins, relying on

perimeter physical searches and metal detectors as means for thwarting terrorist attacks against these facilities;

reduce the size of the U.S. humint bureaucracy at headquarters, building up a small, nimble clandestine service that focuses on high-priority foreign targets;

reward operations officers on the basis of the quality of the assets they recruit, not the quantity;

continue to encourage closer cooperation between the CIAs Directorate of Intelligence (DI) and the National Clandestine Servicea partnership known as co-location;

continue to encourage greater sharing of humint findings across the intelligence community;

improve liaison relations with foreign intelligence services allied with the United States in the global struggle against terrorists, drug dealers, and other international criminals;

provide longer periods of posting for humint officers in other countries, since asset recruitments take time; and,

resort to global surge only rarely, building global presence capabilities instead. This is a challenging agenda, but one well worth pursuing if the United States is

determined to prevent another 9/11 catastrophe. The prudent policymaker will continue to seek information from all the collection sources, overt and across the covert ints, with human intelligence continuing to have a valuable role to play. The motivation: the fewer the missing pieces in the constantly changing jigsaw puzzle of world affairs, the more likely the puzzle might be solved.

Figure 1. A Hierarchy of Int Sources Valued by Consumers (Policymakers) at the Critical Level of Contribution to Issue Domains, 1994 ____________________________________________________________________________ Tradecraft (Int) _______________ Humint Sigint Osint Imint Masint Number of Times (x) a Specific Int Played a Critical Role in Meeting the Intelligence Needs (y) of Consumers __________________________________________________ x/y = 205/376 (55 %) x/y = 131/376 (35 %) x/y = 94/376 (25 %) x/y = 41/376 (11 %) x/y = 8/376 (2 %)

Source: Strategic Intelligence Reviews of the National Needs Process, unclassified survey results, Office of Legislative Affairs, Director of Central Intelligence, Langley, Virginia (1994). For humint, the data include both overt and clandestine human intelligence collection.

Figure 2. Int Sources of Critical Intelligence: A Hierarchy of Humint and Osint Contributions, by Percentage, 1994

Collection Method Humint Targets: 1. Counterterrorism 2. Counterterrorism 3. Europe 4. Near East/South Asia 5. Nonproliferation 6. Africa 7. Arms control 8. Economics 9. S & T 10. East Asia 11. Latin America 12. Russia/Eurasia 74 %* 64 % 54 % 51 % 43 % 39 % 34 % 34 % 30 % 25 % 8% 5% 1. Russia/Eurasia 2. Latin America 3. Economics 4. Africa 5. S & T** 6. East Asia 7. Europe 8. Arms control 9. Counternarcotics 10. Nonproliferation 11. Near East/South Asia 12. Counterterrorism 82 % 77 % 38 % 35 % 30 % 25 % 24 % 17 % 9% 3% 5% 0% Osint

* Percentage of consumers who said they thought humint or osint was critical to their subject

area. ** Science and Technology Source: Strategic Intelligence Reviews of the National Needs Process, unclassified survey results, Office of Legislative Affairs, Director of Central Intelligence, Langley, Virginia (1994). For humint, the data include both overt and clandestine collection. Figure 3. A Frequency Distribution of Collection Source Types Used in the National Intelligence Daily (NID), January 1993* ____________________________________________________________________________ Sources Issue or Region Africa Latin America Middle East Weapons Proliferation East Asia Europe Somalia Balkans Economics Eurasia/Russia Counternarcotics Terrorism Humanitarian Issues Environmental Issues International Issues Total 15 15 14 11 10 10 9 7 7 4 4 0 0 0 133 CIA Humint State Humint 19 28 28 10 26 40 5 17 3 34 3 6 5 2 4 258 35 1 7 0 2 6 3 5 0 6 0 1 1 0 0 32 Defense Attach OSINT 0 7 29 4 34 53 8 22 2 65 4 2 0 1 2 267 24 2 48 14 14 4 1 20 4 16 0 0 2 0 1 156 Techint 12

___________________________________________________________________________ * The number of times source types were used under each issue exceed the monthly total because two or more sources were important to many individual NID items. Rarely was information from the National Resources (NR) Division mentioned as a source: just twice for European Issues and once each for Economic Security, Middle East, and Africa. Source: Sourcing for the NID, unclassified, Office of Legislative Affairs, Director of Central Intelligence, Langley, Virginia (February 1993).

Figure 4. Targets Deriving Special Value from Humint Reporting, 1993-94

Transnational Targets Counterterrorism Counternarcotics Nonproliferation

Regional Targets Africa Latin America Middle East/Near East/South Asia Europe

Sources: Sourcing for the NID [National Intelligence Daily], unclassified survey data, Office of Legislative Affairs, Director of Central Intelligence, Langley, Virginia (January 1993); and,. Strategic Intelligence Reviews of the National Needs Process, unclassified survey data, Office of Legislative Affairs, Director of Central Intelligence, Langley, Virginia (1994). For humint, the data include both overt and clandestine collection.

Figure 5. Open-Source Coverage of the Sarin Nerve Gas Terrorist Attack in Japan, 1995 ____________________________________________________________________________ Articles Per Month Source New York Times Washington Post Economist New Republic Total 48 March 33 13 2 0 28 April 16 9 3 0 25 May 16 7 1 1 9 June 7 1 1 0 3 July 2 1 0 0

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Figure 6. Open Source Coverage of the Alleged Chinese M-11 Missile Sale to Pakistan, 1989-1995 ____________________________________________________________________________ Articles Per Year Source New York Times Washington Post Economist New Republic Foreign Affairs Foreign Policy National Interest 1 1989 1990 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 1991 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1992 8 10 2 0 0 0 0 1993 1994 3 4 0 0 0 0 0 20 16 2 2 0 0 0 1995 8 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 7 12 2 2 0

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Notes

i For historical illustrations of humint activities, see Frederick P. Hitz, The Great Game: The Myth and Reality of Espionage (New York: Knopf, 2004), and his The Importance and Future of Espionage, in Loch K. Johnson, ed., Strategic Intelligence: Vol. 2, The Intelligence Cycle (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007), pp. 75-94; as well as Matthew M. Aid, U.S. Humint and Comint in the Korean War: From the Approach of War to the Chinese Intervention, Intelligence and National Security 14 (August 1999), pp. 17-63. ii Douglas Jehl, An Abundance of Caution And Years of Budget Cuts Are Seen to Limit C.I.A., New York Times (May 11, 2004), p. A18 iii William E. Colby, quoted by Loch K. Johnson, The CIA and the Media, Intelligence and National Security 1 (May 1986), p. 152; see, also, Brian Champion, Spies (Look) Like Us: The Early Use of Business and Civilian Covers in Covert Operations, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 21 (Fall 2008), pp. 530-64. iv The 1,000 figure is from Jehl, op.cit., p. A18; the NOC and DCO figures are from the authors interviews with CIA managers in 2004, Washington, D.C. v See Jeffrey T. Richelson, From Monarch Eagle to Modern Age: The Consolidation of U.S. Defense HUMINT, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 10 (Summer 1997), pp. 131-164. vi See Walter Pincus, CIA Spies Get a new Home Base, Washington Post (October 14, 2005), p. A1. vii See Loch K. Johnson, Americas Secret Power: The CIA in a Democratic Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 162-163. viii Robert Kennedy, Of Knowledge and Power: The Complexities of National Intelligence (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008), p. 33. ix Quoted by Seymour M. Hersh, Preparing the Battlefield, The New Yorker (July 7 & 14, 2008), p. 66. x Porter J. Goss, remarks to CIA Employees, Langley, Virginia (September 22, 2005), p. 4. xi Admiral Stansfield Turner, Terrorism and Democracy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1991), p. 176. xii Rudyard Kipling, Kim (New York: Bantam Classics, 1983), p. 200. xiii Intelligence sources cited by Mark M. Lowenthal, Intelligence: From Secrets to Policy, 4th

ed. (Washington, D.C.: CQ Press, 2008), p. 98. xiv See, for instance, Ferhat Goktepe, Comparative Analysis of the Role of Intelligence in Counterterrorism in Turkey and in the United States, in Ozgur Nikbay, ed., Understanding and Responding to the Terrorism Phenomenon (Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2006), pp. 386-388; Loch K. Johnson, Bombs, Bugs, Drugs, and Thugs: Intelligence and Americas Quest for Security (New York: New York University Press, 2000), ch. 7. xv Kennedy, op.cit., p. 38; see, also: Government Accountability Office, Enhancing U.S. Partnerships in Countering Transnational Terrorism (U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C., 2008). xvi See, for instance, the sources cited in Loch K. Johnson, Educing Information: Interrogation: Science and Art, Studies in Intelligence 51 (December 2007), pp. 43-46; and Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., Restoring the Rule of Law, testimony, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, 110th Cong., 2nd Sess. (September 16, 2008). For an argument in favor of such cooperation, even if it leads to torture, see Reuel Marc Gerecht, Out of Sight, New York Times (December 14, 2008), p. WK-11. xvii Joe Wippl, Congressional Relations and the Intelligence Community, presentation, International Studies Association, Annual Meeting, San Francisco (March 27, 2008), p. 4. xviii Authors interview with a congressional budget official, Washington, D.C. (February 21, 2005). xix Authors interview with a retired senior CIA officer, Washington, D.C. (March 12, 1999). xx Strategic Intelligence Reviews of the National Needs Process, unclassified, Office of Legislative Affairs, Director of Central Intelligence, Langley, Virginia (1994). xxi Sourcing for the NID, unclassified, Office of Legislative Affairs, Director of Central Intelligence, Langley, Virginia (February 1993). xxii John I. Millis, Why Spy? unpublished working paper (June 1995), p. 5. Millis served as staff member and later staff director of the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence during the 1990s. xxiii The official name of the commission, led by former secretaries of defense Les Aspin and Harold Brown, was the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community, which issued the report entitled Preparing for the 21st Century: An

Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, March 1, 1996). xxiv Roger Hilsman, Does the CIA Still Have a Role? Foreign Affairs 74 (September/October 1995), p. 107. Hilsman served during the 1950s as Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research and Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. xxv Ibid., p. 110. xxvi Art Brown, Intelligence Boosters, New York Times (December 14, 2008), p. WK-11. xxvii George J. Tenet, quoted in Tim Weiner, Easy Going At Hearing For Nominee To the C.I.A., New York Times (May 7, 1997), p. A17. xxviii John I. Millis, HPSCI staff member, letter to the editor, Our Spying Success Is No Secret, New York Times (October 12, 1994), p. A15. xxix Solly Zuckerman, Nuclear Illusion and Reality (New York: Viking, 1982), p. 130. xxx Quoted by Steven Emerson, Secret Warriors (New York: Putnam, 1988), p. 35. xxxi See, respectively, The Kean Commissions 9/11 Commission Report, Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States (New York: Norton, 2004), p. 415; the Silberman-Robb Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, Final Report (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005), pp. 410-411; and George Tenet, with Bill Harlow, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), p. 24. xxxii Authors interview with Admiral Stansfield Turner, McLean, Virginia (May 1, 1991). xxxiii Authors interview with William E. Colby, Washington, D.C. (January 22,1991). For the complete published interview, see Loch K. Johnson, William E. Colby: Spymaster during the Year of the Intelligence War, Intelligence and National Security 22 (April 2007), pp. 250-269. xxxiv Jehl, op.cit., p. A18. xxxv See Michael S. Goodman, Spying on the Nuclear Bear: Anglo-American Intelligence and the Soviet Bomb (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2007), p. 206. xxxvi Millis, Why Spy? op.cit., p. 5 xxxvii Authors interview with Richard Helms, Washington, D.C. (December 12, 1990). For the complete published interview, see Loch K. Johnson, Spymaster Richard Helms, Intelligence and National Security 18 (Autumn 2003), pp. 24-44. xxxviii Authors interview with Robert M. Gates, Washington, D.C. (March 28, 1994).

xxxix Millis, op.cit., p. 6. xl Jonathan Clarke, The CIA Drifts Between Fear and Loathing, Los Angeles Times (September 3, 1995), p. M5. Clarke served as a British diplomat. xli John A. McCone, DCI, Memorandum for the President (February 28, 1963), reprinted in Mary S. McAuliffe, ed., CIA Documents on the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962, History Staff, Central Intelligence Agency (October 1992), p. 374. xlii See Robert M. Gates, From the Shadows (New York: Free Press, 1996), p. 560; Bud Shuster, HiTech vs. Human Spying, Washington Times (February 11, 1992), p. F3. xliii Faulty Intel Source Curve Ball Revealed, 60 Minutes, CBS News (November 4, 2007); Bob Drogin, Curveball (New York: Random House, 2007). xliv Jeffrey T. Richelson, The US Intelligence Community, 5th ed. (Boulder: Westview, 2008), pp. 530-31. xlv Testimony from April 28, 1994, excerpted in the New York Times (April 29, 1994), p. A16. xlvi Cited in Robert Wallace and H. Keith Melton, Spycraft: The Secret History of the CIAs Spytechs from Communism to Al-Qaeda (New York: Dutton, 2008), p. 363. xlvii Fareed Zakaria, The Enemy Within, Sunday Book Review, New York Times (December 17, 2006), p. 9. See, also, David Cole and James X. Dempsey, Terrorism and the Constitution (New York: The New Press, 2006); and Jack Goldsmith, The Terror Presidency (New York: Norton, 2007); and Peter Bergen, How Bush Lost the War on Terror, New Republic 237 (October 22, 2007), p. 26. xlviii Reuel Marc Gerecht, A New Clandestine Service: The Case for Creative Destruction, in Peter Berkowitz, ed., The Future of American Intelligence (Stanford, California: Hoover Press, 2005), p. 110. xlix The number of NOCsless than seventy worldwide, according to my interviews with CIA operations managers in 1999remained relatively constant in number from 1990 until the 9/11 attacks a decade later [see, also, interviews with three former clandestine officials, December 2004, conducted by Amy B. Zegart, Spying Blind: The CIA, the FBI, and the Origins of 9/11 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2007), p. 94]. For the case in favor of establishing more NOCs abroadas many as one-third to one-half of the entire espionage cadre at the CIAsee Gerecht, ibid., pp. 129-133.

l Quoted in Stewart Bell, How CSIS Tool Box Broke Up Terror Cell, National Post, Canada (April 26, 2005), p. A1. li Authors interview with DCI R. James Woolsey, CIA Headquarters, Langley, Virginia (September 29, 1993). lii Dean Rusk in an interview conducted by Professor Eric Goldman (January 12, 1964), cited in Loch K. Johnson, Secret Agencies: U.S. Intelligence in a Hostile World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), p. vi. liii Arthur S. Hulnick, Fixing the Spy Machine: Preparing American Intelligence for the Twenty-First Century (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999). liv Barry G. Royder, Tolkachev, A Worthy Successor to Penkovsky, Studies in Intelligence 47 (September 2003), pp. 3-34. lv We never recruited a spy who gave us unique political information from inside the Kremlin, remembers former DCI Gates, op.cit., p. 560. lvi Gerecht, A New Clandestine Service, op.cit., p. 128. lvii Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005, Report, 108-558, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. House of Representatives, 108th Cong., 2nd Sess. (June 21, 2004), p. 24. lviii Authors interview, Washington, D.C. (April 21, 2004). lix An experienced former CIA officer notes: CIA operatives are not particularly well prepared; they seldom speak foreign languages well and almost never know a line of business or a technical field [Michael Turner, Why Secret Intelligence Fails, Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2005), p. 92]. lx See Robert Callum, The Case for Cultural Diversity in the Intelligence Community, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 14 (Spring 2001), pp. 25-48. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has encouraged the establishment of a multi-tier security clearance system to help patriot [sic] Americans with relatives in foreign countries obtain security clearances [Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, Report 109-101, U.S. House of Representatives, 109th Cong., 1st Sess. (June 2, 2005), p. 32].