Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was the overall intelligence organization of the United States government till the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004 came into force and the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) was created to handle some of the government and intelligence community-related functions that had previously been the responsibility of the CIA. The CIA is now formally acknowledged as the civilian intelligence agency of the government of the United States.
The roots of the CIA goes back to the appointment of William J Donovan, the pioneer of organized intelligence effort in the US, as the Coordinator of Information (COI) in 1941 and the subsequent establishment of the Office of Strategic Services on June 1942 prompted by the entry of the United States into the Second World War. In its official web site, the CIA defines its mission as the country’s first line of defense, achieving what is impossible for others by venturing into areas where others would not tread.
Collection of information pertaining to perceived threats top the country, analyzing the collected information to provide timely insight and warning to decision makers, and conducting covert action at the direction of the President to deflect threats are describes as the primary functions of the CIA. In the present scenario of a multitude of organizations vying with each other to fight the terrorism, the CIA has been entrusted with the sole responsibility of all human intelligence operations (HUMINT). Read which one of these does not pose a risk to security at a government facility
The CIA has played vital roles in significant international conflicts and developments such as the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. MI5 Military Intelligence, Section 5 or the MI5 is the counter-intelligence and security agency of the United Kingdom under the aegis of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC). The other intelligence agencies under the JIC include the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS or MI6), the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) and the Defense Intelligence Staff (DIS).
The MI5 is primarily concerned with internal security comprising counter-terrorism, counter-intelligence and counter-espionage efforts within the UK but also works overseas for the sake of fulfilling its mission objectives of protecting British Parliamentary Democracy and its economic interests. The roots of MI5 can be traced back to Secret Service Bureau (SSS) established in 1909. Prior to 1914, just before the First World War, the home section of the SSS was formally christened the MI5.
The agency achieved considerable success in counter espionage before, during and after the War, resulting in a significant expansion of its role which did not remain limited to counter espionage only but extended to political surveillance and crime prevention within the country. MI5 has had its share of ups and downs. It failed miserably in its Irish operations during the Anglo-Irish war, its effectiveness in counter espionage decreased in the 1930s resulting in the embarrassing case of the Cambridge Five. It was also largely unsuccessful during the Second World War.
However, MI5 tasted remarkable success in its ‘double-cross’ system of turning German spies against Germany during the Second World War, and was thus able to play a crucial role in the deception campaign leading to the D-Day landings. The end of the Cold War has seen the MI5 emerge as an effective-terrorism agency especially against Islamist and Irish Terrorists. The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) The Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) was established in 1946 to help achieve the foreign policy and national security goals of the United States.
The INR works under the United States Department of State, and is charged with the responsibility to serve the Department of State by ensuring that intelligence activities and foreign policy plans are complementary of each other. The INR co-ordinates the State Department’s overseas activities related to intelligence, security, counter-intelligence, investigative and special operations. As a member of the National Counterintelligence Policy Board (NCPB) the INR briefs the entire US intelligence community.
The INR draws on all sources on intelligence including feedbacks from diplomats, public opinion polls and interaction with US and foreign scholars. It analyzes the intelligence collected to provide early warnings and details of trends and events. The INR was the only agency that had reservations on prewar intelligence on Iraq in the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002. This was taken note of by the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2004. A confidential 1969 report released by the National Security Achieve in 2004, also proves that the INR had a more realistic perspective of the Vietnam situation.
However, the INR has stumbled once in while as in assessing the strength of Soviet military defenses and in not being able to foresee the surprising nuclear bomb test by India. KGB The KGB or the Russian abbreviation for the Committee for State Security was the umbrella intelligence organization of the Soviet Union from 1954 to 1991. It served as a security agency, secret police and intelligence agency all rolled into one, and not only competed and overshadowed many western intelligence agencies but also monitored almost all aspect of life of the soviet citizen.
The Cheka, established in 1917 was the founding precursor of the KGB. Over the years the Cheka went through a long process of administrative changes to finally throw up the KGB IN 1954. Initially the KGB was under the Council of Ministers, and was delegated the responsibility of internal and external security and intelligence functions. In 1978, the KGB was renamed the KGB of the Soviet Union. The death keel was sounded for the KGB in 1991 when its chief Vladimir Kryuchkov attempted to overthrow Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in a coup.
The KGB finally ceased to exist on November 6, 1991. The KGB achieved considerable success in its early years more because of the casual and lax approach to intelligence efforts that the Western countries had adopted during the time. During the Cold War too, the KGB ensured the survival of the Communist Party by suppressing all dissent and achieved considerable success in foreign intelligence by gathering sensitive information on western science and technology. The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and the Prague Spring of 1968 were however black spots in its records.
Mossad Mossad, the Hebrew for Institution, is the national intelligence agency of the State of Israel, and is responsible for intelligence collection, counter-terrorism and covert operations such as paramilitary operations in foreign soil and assassinations. Prior to the formation of the State of Israel, the Mossad was originally a small Zionist organization responsible for bringing Jews into Israel bypassing the quota restrictions imposed by the British. However, with the establishment of Israel, the Mossad was formed on April 1, 1951.
The Mossad was formerly known as the Central Institute for Co-ordination and the Central Institute for Intelligence and Security, and has basically been a civilian organization. The Mossad reports directly to the Israeli Prime Minister and is headquartered in Tel Aviv. The Mossad comprise of eight different departments, the largest amongst which is Collections engaged in gathering of information and conducting espionage overseas. The Political Action and Liaison Department works both with allied foreign intelligence organizations as well as those of nations that have no formal relations with Israel depending on the demands of the situation.
The Special Operations division or ‘Metsada’ specializes in assassinations, psychological warfare, paramilitary operations and sabotage. The Lochamah Psichologit Department is also involved in activities related to propaganda and deception. The Research Department develops intelligence while the Technology Department develops the latest tools of the trade of intelligence operations. The Mossad is credited with having warned the United States of the impending 9/11 attacks. In 1960, it achieved a major success when it could smuggle the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann out of Argentina. Eichmann was subsequently tried and executed.
The Mossad has played a crucial role in the Palestinian issue by targeting Palestinian leaders, members of terrorist groups and culling vital intelligence. It had also successfully thwarted Iraqi designs to build nuclear facilities and super guns. Oleg Penkovsky Codenamed ‘Agent Hero’ by his British handlers, Oleg Penkovsky was a colonel with the Soviet Military Intelligence (GRU) who acted as a double agent or a ‘turned’ spy for the West and passed important documents and secrets in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Penkovsky was considered one of the best intelligence assets that the West had ever had in the Soviet Union.
Born in Russia in 1919, Oleg Penkovsky joined the Kiev Artillery School to become a lieutenant in 1939. He was a member of the Communist Party and had taken part in the invasion of Finland. By the end of the Second World War Penkovsky had reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Soviet army. Penkovsky was appointed military attache in Ankara in 1955 and was later made the deputy head of the Foreign Department of the Coordination of Scientific Research. However, the fact that Penkovsky’s father had died fighting as an officer in the White Army in the Russian Civil War became an obstacle to the career prospects of Penkovsky.
This was said to be the motivation why Penkovsky decided to turn traitor to his country. From April 1961 Penkovsky started passing vital information to his British contact Greville Wynne in Moscow. The material he passed had confidential information on Soviet missile development, locations of military headquarters and identities of KGB officers. His information proved that the Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s claim on the number of nuclear missiles in the Soviet Union was not correct. During a period of 14 months, this spy passed a total of 5,000 photographed secret papers to the MI6 and the CIA.
Soviet Intelligence finally got wind of the operation and arrested Penkovsky on October 20, 1962. His British contact Wynne was also subsequently arrested. Penkovsky was executed on May 16, 1963 while Wynne was sentenced to eight years of imprisonment. The Cambridge Five The Cambridge Five, or more precisely the Cambridge Four, refers to the groups of four identified Englishmen who had met in the Trinity College of Cambridge University in the 1930s and to one extent or the other active agents for the Soviet Union for over thirty years.
They are considered to be the most successful and the most dramatically efficient espionage agents against British and American interests in the Twentieth Century. These four master spies were Kim Philby alias Stanley who has been dubbed the ‘Spy of the Century’; Donald Duart Maclean alias Homer, a tense and insecure diplomat of ambiguous sexual orientation; Guy Burgess alias Hicks, a flamboyant alcoholic; and Anthony Blunt alias Johnson, a discrete homosexual who was conferred knighthood as the Royal Curator of Art.
The fifth man has however remained an enigma, with the added possibility that there could have been far greater than five persons in the spy ring. All of these spies were exposed but never prosecuted. It was when Burgess and Maclean, fearing exposure and apprehension, defected publicly to the Soviet Union in 1951, that the existence of a spy ring became apparent. Though Philby was identified as the third man, he managed to maintain a status of ambiguity until he finally defected in 1961.
The fourth man Blunt was granted a formal immunity by the British Attorney General in exchange for all the information he knew. The KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsysn had informed in 1961 that he knew of a five-spy ring. Thus the search for the fifth man became a never-ending guessing game. Thanks to the Cambridge Five, everything that Churchill, Roosevelt or Truman had thought of during the period was meticulously reported to the Soviets as high as to Stalin. The Enigma The Enigma was a cipher machine used to encrypt and decrypt secret messages extensively during the Second World War.
The Enigma was a group of related electro-mechanical rotor machines of different varieties. The Wehrmacht Enigma was the model used by the German military. The basic German model was invented as early as in 1918 and was developed both as a commercial and military ciphering machine before and during the Second World War. The commercial Enigma was purchased by the German Navy and adapted for military use in 1926. The commercial Enigma D version of the machine was revised by the Wehrmacht and christened Wehrmacht Enigma.
The Luftwaffe adopted the machine in 1935. An estimated number of 10,000 enigma machines were produced during the War. The German U-boats used the Enigma effectively to communicate with other U-boats to track and hunt down convoys of allied ships. In 1932 the Cipher Bureau of Poland attempted to break the enigma codes. Marian Rejewski, Henryk Zygalski and Jerzy Rozicki of the Bureau succeeded in breaking the Enigma codes, and developed an electro-mechanical machine called the Bomba to mechanize and speed up the process of deciphering the codes.
By 1939 however, the Enigma had become too sophisticated for their Bombe to break the codes. It was only in 1940 that the British Government Code and Cipher School succeeded again in breaking the enigma Code. The famous British Mathematician Alan Turing along with Gordon Welchman designed their own Bombe to decipher the code. All information culled from breaking the Enigma codes were codenamed Ultra and played an important role during the War. The German high command had remained blissfully unaware of the breaking of the Enigma Code.
The successful decoding of the German military Enigma codes by the Allied powers is said to have hastened the end of the European war by about two years. The Iran Contra Affair The Iran-Contra Affair, or Irangate as it is commonly known as, refers to the 1987 scandal that involved senior members of the Ronald Reagan administration. Congressional hearings in 1986-87 revealed that members of the executive branch of the Reagan Administration had sold weapon s to Iran which was an acknowledged enemy of the United States. They had then used the money to fund the antio-Sandinista Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
The Boland Amendment had made direct funding of the Nicaraguan rebels illegal. The entire affair came to light when a Lebanese newspaper reported that the selling of arms to Iran by the United States to secure the release of hostages held by the Hezbollah. Arms were routed to Iran through Israel in defiance of the law prohibiting the resale of US arms to a third country that was listed as a ‘terrorist nation. ’ The requirement that arms sale of more than $14 million be reported to the Congress had also been flaunted.
Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, a military aide to the National Security Council, who reported to the National Security Adviser in the White House, was identified as the key protagonist in the field. He and his associates were also found to have been channeling donations from individuals and other countries to the Contras. Though the Congressional Joint Investigative Committee reported in November 1987 that the President bore ‘ultimate responsibility’ for the affair, it could not find indisputable evidence that Ronald Reagan had been aware of the situation. North however was tried and convicted in May 1989.
HUMINT HUMINT or Human Intelligence is the process of collection of intelligence by employing human spies. HUMINT is achieved through espionage and spying which are sometimes collectively said to be the second oldest professions of the world. HUMINT gathering involves sending agents to foreign countries to recruit spies from that country to provide sensitive information. The task of the agents are to identify the persons who could be converted to spies, approach them, gain their confidence and then when they are absolutely sure, to make their pitch or actually try to induce them to spying against their country.
Agents frequently try and exploit weaknesses, grievances and desires of the persons that they try to recruit as spies. The potential recruits may be tempted with money, sexual favors and other perks or could even be blackmailed or forced to turn to spying. The agents who go in to collect human intelligence do so under some ‘cover’. They pose to be involved in some other occupation or work. Some covers can be official. These include posing to be member of the diplomatic corps or in any other government position.
Official cover bears a greater risk of being exposed as the agent is all the time identified with the government of the country of his origin. Unofficial covers include posing to be working for various multinationals which are not directly connected to the country of origin or posing to be a journalist. Diplomatic reporting is also a type of human intelligence reporting, but since it is not done under a cover, it is overt and lacks the credibility of a covert agent. Human intelligence can reveal intentions as well as the capabilities. It offers scope to influence the opposition by feeding false or deceptive information.
It could be the only option available when technical infrastructure is not available. Finally HUMINT is less expensive provided adequate cover is available. HUMINT has its disadvantages. That HUMINT collection needs proximity entails risk of its own. Exposure could lead to political ramifications less likely with technical methods of collection and finally, HUMINT is always susceptible to deception. OSINT OSINT or Open Source Intelligence is the form of intelligence that is openly available but not accessed and analysed. Intelligence is not only about secrets.
There is always a large volume of useful intelligence openly available if one knows where to look for it and identify it. At the height of the Cold War, almost 20% of the intelligence on the Soviet Union came through the open source. OSINT can be available from the printed or electronic media, from published government reports and from the academic and expert community. With the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, there has been a proliferation of OSINT. The thing of importance in the culling of OSINT is that one has to be focused and clearly oriented on the intelligence requirements.
The crucial point in collection of OSINT lies in the capability to realize their intrinsic value. Advantages of OSINT include its ready and easy availability, in the fact that it needs far less processing and analysis then technically acquired or Human Intelligence, it is more difficult because of its wide variety and lack of direct control, and finally in open source intelligence it is easier to apply the information to a wider context. The main disadvantage of OSINT lies in its volume. There is also a very high rate of duplication often termed as the ‘echo phenomenon.
The Same news or story may be picked up by a multitude of media and portrayed in different perspectives until it is diluted and distorted. SIGINT SIGINT or Signal Intelligence is a Twentieth Century phenomenon pioneered by British intelligence during the First World War in their attempts to intercept German communications by tapping underwater cables. Nowadays SIGINT is gathered in a variety of ways. Earth-based collector ships, high-flying aircrafts, ground sites and satellites are used to catch signals transmitted across the atmosphere and in space.
These signals are then decoded and turned into relevant intelligence. There are three basic types of signal intercepts viz. COMINT or Communication Intelligence which intercepts communication between two parties; TELINT or Telemetry Intelligence that picks up electronic signals emitted from modern weapons systems; and ELINT or Electronic Intelligence that picks up electronic emissions from modern weapons and tracking systems such as range and frequencies on which the system operates.
Intercepting communication between two parties is very important since it provides an insight into what is being planned or formulated. It very often gives warnings or indications of things to come. COMINT is like reading into the minds of the opposition from a distance and is superior to imagery which requires content analysis to be relevant and meaningful. In COMINT regularity of the communication and identification of a pattern provides a very great advantage.
Traffic analysis can also be done to monitor changes in the volume and pattern of the communication. A distinct disadvantage of SIGINT is that that communication has to be available for interception. The signals can be encrypted and coded making them immune to decoding or deciphering. A very large volume of communication can result in confusion and problems in collating and refining intelligence.