Sequester and Furloughs: It’s Discount Espionage Time

Published with Permission by:
Coleman, Timothy & Lint, James R., “Sequester and Furloughs: It’s Discount Espionage Time”, Homeland Security Today, 15 July 2013, Web,

On his deathbed in 1801, legend has it that the infamous American Continental Army Gen. Benedict Arnold, a hero of the battles of Ticonderoga and Saratoga who defected to the British Army, uttered his regret: “Let me die in this old uniform in which I fought my battles. May God forgive me for ever having put on another.”

But while scholars have debated the prevailing historical wisdom that Arnold’s treasonous conversion was motivated by his frustration at having been passed over for promotion and outraged that others took credit for his achievements and military victories, a congressional investigation indicted his motivation was purely financial — he was nearly penniless, having spent much of his own money on the American war effort. But when he joined the British Army as a brigadier general, the Red Coats gave him what was then a very generous pension and a £6,000 signing bonus.

It’s a familiar story, though: money, or ideology; sometimes both.

For American traitor Navy communications officer John Walker, Jr., his motivation for nearly two-decades of spying for the Soviets (which included providing “enough code-data information to alter significantly the balance of power between Russia and the United States”), was purely financial, prosecutors said.

Heavily in debt and bitter that his brilliance had gone unrecognized, veteran CIA Soviet counterintelligence officer Aldrich Ames — among other things — sold to the KGB the identities of the CIA’s agents secreted throughout the Soviet spy agency.

FBI Soviet counterintelligence agent Robert Hanssen spied for Soviet, and then Russian, intelligence services for 22 years also partly due to the same frustrations that tormented Ames, but also partly, it seemed according to prosecutors, because of the tastes of an expensive mistress. The Justice Department’s Commission for the Review of FBI Security Programs said Hanssen “possibly [was] the worst intelligence disaster in US history.”

While these turncoats spied against their country during an espionage boom when the Soviet’s were quite willing to cut CEO-equivalent paychecks for such big fish, they were the exceptions rather than the rule. In today’s austere espionage market economy, brought on by sequester and furloughs, foreign intelligence services are far more likely to ensnare a broke and bitter GG-13 with access to secrets for a bargain basement price.

Foreign Intelligence Security Services (FISS) still keep a keen eye out for the Walkers, Ames, and Hanssens, but they’re also spending a great deal more time assessing the vulnerabilities of the many lower level military and Intelligence Community (IC) employees who have access to valuable secrets.

For decades, the US military, IC and contractors have been required to not only continuously evaluate their workforces for eligibility to access classified information, but also to be on the lookout for signs and indicators of potentially treasonous espionage from within their ranks. This includes the criminal leaking under the nation’s espionage laws of the nation’s most closely guarded foreign intelligence collection operations — — espionage operations former National Security Agency (NSA) and CIA director, AF Gen. (Ret.) Michael Hayden, recently pointed out that all nations’ intelligence services engage in.

Consequently, the failure of the early warning system to alert what NSA contractor Edward Snowden was up to has provoked an intensive investigation into whether there were, in fact, signs and indicators that someone had observed that weren’t properly reported. Former NSA official John R. Schindler recently remarked that Snowden’s security clearance background investigation was “clearly flawed.”

The threat of penetration by FISS is ever-present, and the Army trains its soldiers as well as civilian employees to always be vigilant. Training and awareness efforts are clearly articulated under US Army Regulation 382-12, Threat Awareness and Reporting Program (TARP), revised by the US Army on Oct. 4, 2010.

Formerly known as Subversion and Espionage Directed Against the US Army (SAEDA), TARP outlines the policy and responsibilities for threat awareness and reporting within the US Army. Specifically, it requires Department of the Army (DA) personnel to report any information to counterintelligence offices regarding known or suspected espionage, international terrorism, sabotage, subversion, theft or illegal diversion of military technology, information systems intrusions and unauthorized disclosure of classified information, among other required security and espionage concerns.

As the revised directive states: “The primary focus of this regulation is to ensure that DA personnel understand and report potential threats by foreign intelligence and international terrorists to the Army. Threat awareness and education training is designed to ensure that DA personnel recognize and report incidents and indicators of attempted or actual espionage, subversion, sabotage, terrorism or extremist activities directed against the Army and its personnel, facilities, resources and activities; indicators of potential terrorist associated insider threats; illegal diversion of military technology; unauthorized intrusions into automated information systems; unauthorized disclosure of classified information; and indicators of other incidents that may indicate foreign intelligence or international terrorism targeting of the Army.

Following the digital data dump of roughly a quarter-million State Department cables — six percent of which were classified “Secret” and the rest were either “Confidential” or unclassified  — accessed via classified Internet networks and downloaded onto thumb drives by low-level, but sufficiently cleared 23-year-old Army intelligence analyst, Private First Class Bradley Manning, President Obama on October 07, 2011, issued Executive Order 13587 that required government-wide “structural reforms to improve the security of classified networks and the responsible sharing and safeguarding of classified information.”

The order applies to “all agencies that operate or access classified computer networks, all users of classified computer networks (including contractors and others who operate or access classified computer networks controlled by the federal government), and all classified information on those networks …”

All of these security efforts are not without justifiable reasons. Cleared personnel can become the target for recruitment by foreign spies and hostile intelligence services by no fault of their own. It is simply the reality and consequence of having access to classified information and sensitive US government secrets.

Not access alone

It is not only access to classified information that makes one an inviting target, however, there are other activities that increase the desirability. In fact, any Army team member/employee and or soldier can be targeted because of where they are stationed, where they travel or even because of an ethnic or cultural background of particular interest.

It should be noted and emphasized that being a target for recruitment does not necessarily reflect poorly on an individual. The opposite also applies, especially if the reason a specific person is targeted is because of his or her susceptibility to recruitment or exposure to compromise. Even so, just being a target does carry with it embedded risk factors, as it clearly increases the potentiality that a weakness or pressure point can be discovered and exploited by foreign intelligence collectors.

Targets of convenient opportunity

The historical record clearly demonstrates that US personnel with security clearances are regularly targeted. ‘By hook or by crook,’ foreign counterintelligence agents have repeatedly been able to entice Americans to commit treason. The question then quickly becomes, what is it that makes America and would-be patriots such inviting targets of opportunity?

Prominent and well-publicized instances of Americans turned traitors shows that monetary reward and financial gain are very often a major driving factor in the equation. In turn, it should come as no surprise that foreign intelligence agents seeking new, well-placed assets often examine the financial circumstances and standing of identified potential targets.

Financial difficulties provides an initial and eventually lucrative ingress of potential exploitable temptation to facilitate the evolution of an individual’s compromise – and eventual treason. But it is generally not the only factor that’s in play in the targeting and recruitment effort.

Win, place or show: An espionage trifecta

Another and sometimes more nefarious element to recruitment can include exploiting personal feelings of disillusionment, anger, frustration and disappointment. These emotions can exist for a multitude of reasons, and can run the gamut from being passed over for a promotion, feeling underappreciated at work, disgruntled with the Army … or even America itself. These beliefs– indications of which can openly manifest as attitudes of anger and resentment — are recognized by foreign intelligence services’ case officers as openings to manipulate a potential target into justifying his or her espionage.

This can all add up to a desired trifecta of opportunity for a foreign counterintelligence case officer – a potent, readily exploitable human Petri dish seething with psychological, financial and other stressors that make the person a target ripe for recruitment.

An individual who possesses a security clearance, has financial problems and is disgruntled poses a dangerous triad … and a compounding problem for counterintelligence interdiction efforts. In the end, a counterintelligence target that embodies the aforementioned trifecta is one that has two more levers to pull, and two more pressure points than is required for an FISS to target.

This trifecta, in essence, can define the elements required for the low-hanging fruit of an American traitor that’s ripe for the picking.

Catch more flies with honey

With the current budgetary environment, furloughs the talk of the town, and sequestration the topic of water cooler chatter, low-hanging fruit that bear the elements of trifecta targets are sure to abound. Just a superficial reading of “Letters to the Editor” in various magazines and publications widely read by federal employees and members of the military makes the case for a target-rich environment for foreign agents. The problem is compounded by a growing segment of government personnel — many of whom likely hold security clearances — venting their frustration and anger in Internet blog comments, making them identifiable potential targets for recruitment.

Disgruntled individuals that publicly voice their justifiable concerns make easy work for foreign intelligence operatives who seek potential turncoats of opportunity. In many respects, it would appear as though potential opportunities for penetration are being served up on a silver platter at an all you can eat buffet where the chow line stretches around the proverbial corner!

We could even say that we are ensuring job advancement prospects for foreign intelligence agents and providing the very fodder for enemy promotions with such a perfect storm for motivating espionage from within our own ranks.

Consequences of context

Currently, sequester and  current furloughs are expected to impact soldiers with great effect. Stress and greater work scrutiny, coupled to an increase in regulations, and some early outs will cause worry among all ranks of the Army. Inevitably, this will extend into the civilian workforce, particularly with an estimated 20 percent pay cut caused by the recent start of 11 weeks of furlough.

While 99.9 percent of the individuals who are likely to be the hardest hit are loyal and dedicated American patriots, there nevertheless will be a small percentage whose financial hardships and other life stresses become so overwhelming that the resulting discontent and dissatisfaction will make them vulnerable to persuasion by foreign intelligence operatives, whose efforts to entrap these susceptible and exposed targets will require little effort at all.

The certainty of maybe not today

As accurate and apropos as the adage, “if you play with fire you will get burned,” is, it is vital to understand that if you commit espionage, you will be caught.

The Army’s military intelligence and counterintelligence organizations are designed to protect soldiers and employees from espionage threats and FISS espionage overtures. These entities and their work remains key to protecting the technological advances that give American soldiers the edge on the battlefield. Army counterintelligence have partnered with the FBI and have taken down important foreign recruitment operations. While trifecta targets may, in turn, be a target rich environment for FISS recruitment, one should assume that Newton’s thirdlaw of motion applies to counterintelligence: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

To be specific, Army counterintelligence units have, and continue, to partner with the FBI on very important espionage investigations. Disgraced former US Army National Security Agency SIGINT analyst David Sheldon Boone’s 24 year and four month sentence for espionage on behalf of the former Soviet Union is proof positive that treason will be dealt with. Boone was arrested following a successful sting operation by the FBI in 1999 that was supported in large part by Army counterintelligence. According to press reports at the time, Boone decided to become a Soviet spy in order to alleviate “severe financial and personal difficulties” — a familiar refrain sung by many other American traitors in financial trouble.

Remaining true to the core values

It is not by accident that loyalty is the first word cited in the Seven Core Army Values. It is also isn’t accidental that the US Army is composed of both solders and civilians who know the importance of the mission at hand, and therefore go well above and beyond what is expected of them in their service to their country.

Nevertheless, because of current operating environments, tempos and the resulting pressures, there should be no doubt that there’s a well-trained cadre of highly proficient foreign intelligence professionals out there who are operating in overdrive. Like barbarians breaching the gate, or a pack of hungry wolves surrounding a campfire, we have no alternative other than to remain more vigilant than we’ve ever been, especially given that our enemies today have far better knowledge and understanding of the stresses that are on America’s Army workforce. This is why supporting your battle buddies, knowing your left and right flanks and having your six covered will get us through this time of seemingly unprecedented tribulations with our core security values intact.

It’s easy to imagine especially hostile foreign governments and their intelligence services plotting and rejoicing as they undoubtedly regard our furloughs and sequestration as a euphemism for discount espionage.

And a “discount espionage” opportunity almost assuredly is apparent in the minds of our avowed adversaries, as they understand that it’s now far cheaper to buy not just one, but perhaps many, Benedict Arnolds today than it was during, say, the Cold War era of President Ronald Reagan. The return on a foreign intelligence service’s investment has been made inherently worth the risk because of the cut-rate prices they can get away with paying today to comprise disgruntled, financially overextended and security cleared individuals. Like it or not, these individuals are perceived as virtually undemanding targets for espionage recruitment operations.

It is for this reason we must aggressively boost our awareness, redouble our vigilance and steadfastly support our fellow co-workers. The Army has a series of vitally important programs in place to take care of our people, yet they’re often underutilized. And they’re not new programs — many were launched more than half-a-century ago. But over time, they’ve become overlooked, underappreciated and underutilized. For those in uniform who may be experiencing a financial crisis, the Army Community Services, Employee Assistance Programs and organizational Chaplains are there to counsel and provide spiritual guidance. Financial counseling and assistance is also available.

Your Army, as well as those who lead it — are ready, willing and able to do their part. But it’s also the duty and responsibility for  all government employees, uniformed or civilian, to be vigilant and help your fellow soldier and office worker. It is one Army, and one team — and we are dependent on that more today than ever before.

Remember, inaction begets targeting. Targeting invites compromise, and compromise precipitates contrition. But forgiveness for treason remains unattainable.

James R. Lint served in the United States military for over 20 years, in both the US Marine Corps (7 years) and US Army (14 years). He spent three years in Marine Infantry, four years as a Marine Counterintelligence specialist, and nearly 15 years as an Army Counterintelligence Special Agent. Lint has expertise in counterintelligence, cyber intelligence, security, information assurance, terrorism studies, counterterrorism, human intelligence collection and low-intensity asymmetric warfare.

Previously, Lint served as Deputy Director for Safeguards & Security, Office of Science, at the Department of Energy. And prior to that, he served at the Department of Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis, where he was initially the lead cyber intelligence analyst and later the Chief of the Collection Analysis Team.

His military assignments include Korea, Germany and Cuba in addition to numerous CONUS locations. He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at American Military University.

Timothy W. Coleman is a writer and security analyst who has co-founded two technology startup firms. He has a Masters of Public and International Affairs in Security and Intelligence Studies, and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance.

The views expressed in this article are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect official policy or the position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense or any other department or agency within the US Government.

Mogadishu: Prelude to the War on Terror

by Jonathan Deemer
Published with Permission

Thesis Statement

The U.S. intervention in the Somalia humanitarian crisis and the Battle of Mogadishu provided valuable insight into the changing nature of warfare and exposed significant weaknesses in U.S. command structure and and inter-unit partnering which would become evident and prove valuable in the War on Terror.


U.S. troops were first sent to Somalia as part of a 1992 United Nations humanitarian mission authorized by President George H. W. Bush to maintain order so that food and water could be provided for civilians. In June of 1993, warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s militia, Somali National Alliance, attacked and mutilated a UN-affiliated Pakistani peacekeeping force. In response, the UN representative in Somalia ordered his arrest, triggering a months-long search for Aidid’s whereabouts. In early October, the location of two of Aidid’s top lieutenants was discovered and, on the afternoon of October 3, 1993, a force of twelve vehicles, 19 aircraft, and 160 personnel moved on a residence in central Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

Shortly after arriving on target, 1st SFOD-D operators apprehended 24 individuals, including both lieutenants. Simultaneously, four chalks of Rangers deployed and secured a perimeter around the target building as the vehicles arrived to transport the high value targets (HVTs). At this point, large crowds of Somalis amassed around the target building and armed militiamen hit one of the U.S. vehicles with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG), wounding 27 U.S. service members. As the convoy prepares to leave, three trucks depart with a wounded Ranger who fell while fast-roping along with casualties from the RPG attack. Super 6-1, a UH-60 Black Hawk, carrying two Delta Force snipers is hit by an RPG and crashes five blocks northeast of the target residence while providing overwatch, prompting throngs of armed militiamen to race to the crash site. Shortly thereafter, the convoy departs the target residence carrying the HVTs as Super 6-4 replaces Super 6-1 circling the city. 15 minutes later, Super 6-4 is also struck by an RPG and crashes. Because of wrong turns, poor communication, and faulty intelligence, rescue convoys are dispatched and become stranded, suffer more and more casualties, and fail to regroup at a Pakistani-secured soccer stadium until 0630 on the morning of October 4. Once the dust settles, 19 Americans are killed, 73 are injured, and 1 is captured.


There are three main takeaways from the Battle of Mogadishu that are relevant to U.S. foreign policy and had implications for the nature and scope of U.S. military involvement in the following decades.
1) Superior technology does not guarantee victory
2) After Mogadishu, victory looked different
3) In multilateral engagements, clear command and control is imperative

1) Superior technology does not guarantee victory

The idea that U.S. military technology would be outmatched by that of Somali warlords was laughable and, even if it was raised in a serious discussion among U.S. leadership at the time, would have been immediately dismissed. Yet, that is exactly what happened. Aidid’s preferred methods of communication were couriers and dated, weak walkie-talkies which could not be detected by advanced U.S. equipment. Adding insult to injury, the U.S. Army’s Intelligence Support Activity was diverted from the search for Colombian drug-lord Pablo Escobar in support of the hunt for Aidid. In short, the U.S. deployed an extensive number of state of the art technological assets only for them to be thwarted by improvisation driven by technological backwardness and deficiency.

One could say this situation was similarly ironic to a 2001 picture of U.S. troops, outfitted with world-class equipment and technology, being outmatched by men wearing turbans and flip flops in the White Mountains during the Battle of Tora Bora. Even in Vietnam, insurgent-type warfighters were supplied with Soviet technology which was at least reasonably comparable to American equipment. Indeed, the disparity in technological assets (and the ensuing unanticipated results) displayed in Mogadishu would be seen again and again in the first years of the War on Terror with similar results. The crude technological innovation made accidentally successful by Aidid’s militias would be intentionally employed by groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the coming decades, manifesting itself in the widespread use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and similar technologies.

2) After Mogadishu, victory looked different

By all objective measurements, U.S. forces were wildly successful in the Battle of Mogadishu. There were an estimated 500-1,000 Somali casualties compared to 19 U.S.servicemembers killed. The raid was successful—Aidid’s lieutenants, along with 21 others, were taken from the heart of enemy territory and transported to base where actionable intelligence was extracted. Even the Somalis considered the Battle to be an American victory. U.S. intelligence assets on the ground in Somalia reported that many Aidid allies had fled the country fearing U.S. retribution and powerful families whose influence Aidid relied upon withdrew their support. Some allied warlords even went so far as to communicate to U.S. forces and diplomatic teams their willingness to reject Aidid’s leadership or replace him altogether.

And yet, notwithstanding these objective measures, the reaction in the United States was harsh and had far-reaching consequences. Calls from the Congress for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Somalia came nearly immediately. President Clinton was quoted asking administration officials, “How did this happen?” The fact that Somali militiamen experienced 26-to-53 times as many deaths compared to U.S. forces was offset by the expectation that the U.S. military was, simply put, better. Expectations were not tailored to fit the situation at hand and, as a result, “We wound up…giving a military victory to Aidid that Aidid did not win on the third day of October,” according to Army Major General Thomas Montgomery. Moreover, there were foreign policy implications. Perhaps the best example of American timidity after Mogadishu is the U.S. refusal to intervene in the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. So regardless of the fact that the Battle of Mogadishu was operationally successful for U.S. forces, it simultaneously displayed a lack of victory where it mattered—the minds of U.S. leadership and the American public. Mogadishu forecasted operational or tactical success ending in defeat that would come to be a chronic phenomenon in the War on Terror.

3) In both multilateral and unilateral engagements, clear command and control is imperative

The Battle of Mogadishu made clear the need for simple, streamlined, and efficient command and control structure, both internally and dealing with allies. Due to the nature of the conflict in Somalia (peacekeeping mission turned armed conflict), some members of the UN peacekeeping force sought approval from their respective home governments before following UN orders. In one case, this led to an Italian commander attempting to negotiate directly with Aidid even as troops under his command were actively involved in the UN’s search efforts. When UN authorities requested his removal, the motion fizzled and the commander was allowed to remain with no repercussions. Obviously, this specific flaw is in UN command and control structure, but it is still useful insofar as it informs U.S. commanders of the proper protocols and procedures that must be insured against before participating in multilateral military engagements. In fact, today it is rare to find U.S. military engagement on a unilateral basis. Whether classified under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, the U.S. military is often highly integrated with its allies, and Mogadishu necessarily informed current U.S. best practices in engaging with its allies.

Internal command and control during the Battle of Mogadishu lacked coherent organization as well. For example, U.S. Forces Somalia were considered “leased” forces under the control of the UN itself, while the assault and quick reaction forces used to conduct operations were under the control of the U.S. Central Command. More complicated still, Task Force Ranger, the force deployed to abduct Aidid’s lieutenants, had its own operational command structure. Such inconsistencies and unnecessary complications resulted in missteps directly responsible for the loss of American lives. For example, once 1st SFOD-D operators had successfully abducted Aidid’s lieutenants and others, the convoy to transport them back to base was delayed outside the target building while awaiting confirmation through the “proper” communication channels, leaving the entire convoy exposed for an extended period of time for no justifiable reason whatsoever.


The Battle of Mogadishu was effectively a case study in the changing nature of warfare and its effects on U.S. warfighting capabilities. Over the course of two days, weaknesses of the U.S. were exposed, both operationally and organizationally, and the effects on American foreign policy could be seen for the remainder of President Clinton’s time in office. Mogadishu marked a turning point in U.S. military engagement worldwide, and it accurately forecasted challenges the U.S. military would face in the War on Terror. Though 19 brave Americans were killed, their sacrifices were not in vain. Their sacrifices, and the lessons learned from the Battle of Mogadishu, prepared the United States for its now nearly 20-year old War on Terror and potentially saved far more U.S. service members from meeting a similar fate for lack of experience.