The blame for the attack on Pearl Harbor cannot be laid solely on intelligence failures. The Pearl Harbor investigations affixed plenty of blame to faulty leadership, inflexible policies and procedures, and overall complacency after more than two decades of peace. These same investigations, however, called attention to the long overlooked concepts that intelligence work not only required expert personnel and continuity in time of peace, but that it also should be recognized as an essential function of command.
July 1, 1965
Lori S. Tagg
USAICoE Command Historian
By Department of Defense Directive, on July 1, 1965, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) established a single Defense Attaché System (DAS), thereby consolidating the attaché systems managed by the individual military departments. On that date, the US Army, Air Force, and Navy placed all their attachés on temporary duty with the DIA and relinquished their responsibilities for the mission.
Officially, the US Army attaché program began in 1889, but as early as 1815, it had detailed individuals to foreign countries as observers. Capt. Sylvanus Thayer went to France to attend the military academy there and collect information on science and mathematics, while Maj. William McRee traveled to Belgium and France to survey those countries’ fortifications. Several other Army officers followed in the subsequent decades. In 1880, General William Tecumseh Sherman, Commanding General of the Army, who himself had undertaken an unofficial tour of Europe in the early 1870s, ordered all officers traveling abroad to obtain “information of value to the military service of the United States” and report their observations to the Adjutant General. This was not only the precursor to the official military attaché program formed nine years later, but also one of the catalysts for the formation of a Military Information Division (MID) in the Adjutant General’s office in 1885. The MID’s primary mission existence was to “obtain and collate such military data as may be deemed useful and beneficial to the Army at large.”
The US Navy had established a naval attaché system in 1882. Seven years later, the US Army followed suit, when Congress authorized expenditures for officers detailed abroad for the “collection and classification of military information.” Under the oversight of the MID of the Adjutant General’s Office, the attaché system was the foundation of national peacetime foreign intelligence throughout the late 19th and early 20th century. The first official attachés were posted at the American legations in London, Paris, and Vienna, with St. Petersburg and Berlin added later that year. By 1898, the Army had attachés stationed in 16 countries, including Italy, Spain, Belgium, Japan, Mexico, and several other Latin American nations.
The Army’s attaché in Mexico, Capt. (later Brig. Gen.) George Scriven, proved exceedingly valuable on the eve of the Spanish-American War in Cuba. His report detailed the Cuban road and railway systems (with maps), military strength and location of defensive works, and attitudes of local inhabitants. Scriven’s report formed in large part MID’s pamphlet “Military Notes on Cuba” issued in June 1898. Meanwhile, Capt. (later Gen.) Tasker Bliss, attaché in Madrid, forwarded reports on Spain’s decision to send troop reinforcements and munitions to the Caribbean island. MID, accordingly, compiled highly accurate strength estimates of the Spanish Army throughout Cuba.
During the early part of the 20th century, the number of military attachés increased until, by 1914, the Army had 23 posts, more than any other country except Russia. Twenty years later, more than 450 military, naval, and air attachés were serving abroad. Most of the military information the US Army had about the Axis powers prior to entering World War II came from peacetime collection efforts of these attachés. Although often incomplete, the information they provided specified technological developments and possible employment of the modern weapons of war, such as the airplane, tank, and antiaircraft guns.
In the two decades after World War II, the Army continued to rely heavily on attachés as the most effective method of peacetime human intelligence. Recognizing a long uncorrected deficiency, in 1946, it established the Strategic Intelligence School in Washington, DC, to train officers selected for such duty. The numbers continued to grow. In 1956, the Army had 68 attaché posts, the Navy 45 and the Air Force 53.
In 1963, a special Senate Subcommittee on National Security Staffing and Operations looked into the various attaché systems and found critical problems. Foremost were duplication of effort and poor information sharing, as well as inefficient use of resources. The Secretary of Defense, consequently, ordered a comprehensive study on the attaché structure, which resulted in the recommendation for a centralized military attaché system under the DIA. The trend toward consolidation had already begun when, in 1963, the Strategic Intelligence School and its Navy counterpart merged to become the Defense Intelligence School to train attachés from all the military services.
The Army’s attaché system remained a responsibility of the G-2 until DIA assumed the mission. After that, the military services maintained and financed the personnel, but DIA was responsible for programming and overall financing of the new Defense Attaché System and served as a single chain of command. DIA also determined the appropriate composition of attachés at each post as compatible with the intelligence collection goals. In this way, the identity of the individual service attachés was ensured, but reporting was streamlined, policies and procedures were standardized, and the management of the total attaché effort was improved.
Col. Truman Smith (left), military attaché in Berlin from 1935-1939, provided valuable intelligence on Germany’s preparation and modernization for war. Upon returning to the US, he worked in the Military Intelligence Division as a German specialist. Charles Lindbergh (right) also helped collect intelligence on the German Luftwaffe.
The Edward Lin espionage case highlights America’s human vulnerabilities.
By: Neal Duckworth
It was recently made public that U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edward Lin was arrested by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service on September 11, 2015, and is in pretrial confinement charged with passing secrets to a foreign government, patronizing prostitutes and committing adultery (the latter being a crime under military law). Lin pleaded not guilty, and it has not been revealed whether Lin passed, or attempted to pass, classified information to either Taiwan or China—and just recently, several media reports claim an undercover FBI agent may have been involved. However, since Lin is of Taiwanese heritage, Taiwan’s National Security Bureau quickly disavowed any knowledge, as you would expect, and the People’s Republic of China’s government provide a comment similar to “Who? Never heard of him!”—also as would be expected.
Lin’s arrest is a stark reminder that traditional espionage is ongoing, and despite such a global focus on securing computer systems in the wake of (alleged) Chinese hacking of the Office of Personnel Management, Edward Snowden’s theft of National Security Agency data, Bradley Manning’s release of classified information to the website WikiLeaks and several others, we must continue and renew the focus on countering all of the foreign intelligence methods used to obtain U.S. information.
Too often in today’s world we wake up to find that personal or government data was stolen by unknown (although often suspected) persons who found a way to hack into what we thought was an unhackable computer system. The recurrent theft of our personal data, credit-card details or sensitive government information is almost numbing to the public, but has caused a renewed emphasis across governments and corporations for cybersecurity. The data stolen from the government is unclassified, yet when properly connected and analyzed with other unclassified information, such as personal financial data, could identify government personnel with high amounts of debt and an increased susceptibility for recruitment or coercion by foreign intelligence services.
However, the theft of computer data is but one method of foreign intelligence services. Foreign intelligence entities around the world use a full spectrum of espionage techniques—not just cyber theft. I hope it turns out that an undercover FBI agent posed as a foreign intelligence officer to intercept the classified information Lin had access to, but this case reminds me of two classic operations from the espionage playbook that foreign intelligence agencies may utilize, and of which others must be aware: the honey trap and the false flag.
The honey trap is an intelligence operation that utilizes sex, either to place the target in a compromising position (one that he or she does not want revealed, such as to a spouse or employer) or to establish a “genuine” personal/physical relationship. In Lin’s case, he is accused both of using prostitutes and of adultery, so it is possible that someone took pictures of him with a prostitute and/or having an affair with a person other his wife, which could be used to coerce Lin into stealing classified information on the intelligence-collecting EP-3 Aries II aircraft, to which he was assigned. While I do not believe Western intelligence agencies use this technique, the media has reported its use by China, Taiwan and North Korea, to name a few.
This case also provides an opportunity for a false flag operation. Lin is originally from Taiwan and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. With a false flag operation, a foreign intelligence officer, for example, would identify himself as a compatriot to his target and ask that he or she provide assistance in defending “their” homeland—by providing information. In Lin’s case, a foreign intelligence officer from a third country would identify himself or herself as Taiwanese and appeal to Lin’s Taiwanese heritage to learn about the capabilities and limitations of the EP-3 and how, specifically, the U.S. Pacific Command planned to assist Taiwan in case of an attack from China. That information would be extremely valuable to China, or even North Korea.
The computer system hacks we see today are compromising U.S. national and economic security. However, as shown in the media, the stolen data is accessed through the internet and unclassified. To obtain the really juicy classified information, a foreign nation must establish some type of human connection with a person who has access to the information they need. Long before computer hacking, adversaries were exploiting the personal vulnerabilities and mistakes of their fellow man, and manipulating them to obtain information. Classic foreign espionage is alive and well, and our adversaries lack moral, ethical or even legal limitations on how they steal secrets. The United States must work diligently to educate those with access to sensitive information about the techniques that foreign intelligence services will use.
Neal Duckworth is a former U.S. intelligence officer with multiple international deployments who currently works at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Originally published: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/cybers-hot-low-tech-spies-are-still-threat-16258
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