Tuesday, April 7, 2009



This article may please be read in continuation of my earlier article dated September 17, 2003, in which I had analysed three of the six documents of the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) of the Pentagon, which have been declassified by the US Government on the eve of the second anniversary of 9/11. This article analyses the remaining three.

2. Before commenting on the documents, certain general observations would be in order. In the US intelligence community, there has been an unresolved debate for many years on whether the DIA should have the same powers for clandestine human intelligence (HUMINT) collection as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). During the second tenure of former President Clinton, the Brown Commission on the working of the intelligence community had recommended as follows:

* During times of war, the DIA should have the same powers as the CIA.

* In times of peace, the DIA should have the same powers as the CIA only in areas of conflict where US troops are deployed.

* In other areas, if the DIA felt that one of its officers would be better able to handle a clandestine HUMINT operation, he should be deputed to the CIA to handle that operation under its supervision.

3. One does not know whether its recommendations have been accepted and implemented. Presuming they have been, the DIA must now be having the same powers as the CIA in Afghanistan, Iraq and Liberia. One is not certain about Pakistan.

4. In the absence of clandestine HUMINT powers, the DIA restricts the activities of its overseas officers to collection of information from open and semi-open sources and their analysis and assessment. Examples of open sources are the media, military and military-related exhibitions, seminars etc. Semi-open sources are contacts, mainly in the armed forces of the host country, with whom the DIA officers have opportunities for official and social interaction. While they can pick their brain during such interactions, they are debarred from making any approach to them for recruiting them as conscious, paid clandestine sources.

5. The fourth document dated October 4, 2001, is the excised version of a report apparently sent by a DIA officer in Pakistan to his headquarters in Washington DC giving bits and pieces of information and views collected by him during an interaction with an unidentified Pakistani contact, most probably in the Armed Forces. The contact seems to have spoken to the DIA officer with confidence and authority, indicating thereby that he must be highly placed, most probably in the Inter-Services Intelligence. The DIA officer has recorded what was told to him by the contact and forwarded his note to his headquarters without any analysis and assessment and without any comments as to the reliability of the contact, his access to information of use to the US, the acceptability of his information/views and their significance, if true. The document carries the usual caution that what it contains is information and not assessed intelligence.

6. The document starts with the following summary of what the Pakistani contact told the DIA officer: "Maintains the vast majority of Pakistanis are firmly in support of President Musharraf; says TNI sought a meeting with UBL and Taliban reps to ask them to stop support for domestic Indonesian Muslim groups; claims GOP closed down the Al Rashid computer school and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen office in Lahore because of their ties to the Taliban; maintains Al Qaeda is producing rudimentary chem/bio agents in Afghanistan; Muslim groups demonstrate in front of the Pakistani Embassy."

7. The text of the report elaborates on all the points referred to in the summary except the one relating to Indonesia's request for a meeting with bin Laden and Taliban representatives. The portion of the text, apparently giving details of what the Pakistani contact told the DIA officer about the Indonesian attempts for a meeting with bin Laden and the Taliban, have been excised from the report before its declassification, but intriguingly the reference to it in the summary has not been excised. Was it oversight or deliberate?

8.UBL stands for Usama bin Laden and GOP for Government of Pakistan. The US intelligence agencies generally spell Osama as Usama. TNI is probably a reference to the Indonesian army.

9. The unexcised portion of the text gives the following important details of what the Pakistani contact told the DIA officer regarding the other points figuring in the summary.

10."President Musharraf is fully committed to support the international fight against terrorism and confident that it is the right course of action that serves Pakistan's self-interests. It has nothing to do with support for the US per se. But, of course, Pakistan would like to be recognised and assisted by the US and rest of the international community for its commitment in the struggle. Musharraf and other Pakistani leaders see this as an opportunity for a better future and expect concrete forms of assistance to help Pakistan climb out of the terrible economic condition the country is presently in.

11."There is no division within the military and no hesitation to support the President among Pakistan's military leaders. All of the Corps, Division and other senior military commanders have already pledged their loyalty to Musharraf.

12." It would be a mistake for the US to back the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. He maintained that the Northern Alliance is of little importance. It has primary allegiance to Iran and Pakistan traditionally has never had close ties to this group.

13. "President Musharraf ordered the closing of the Al Rashid computer school in Lahore because of its connections to the Taliban. He said the President also ordered the authorities to shut down the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen office in Lahore. He said the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen is a Kashmiri group with connections to Taliban that had been collecting money in Lahore. According to him, both organisations were closed on Oct.2. He said the closing of the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen office was controversial because some Pakistanis were accusing Musharraf of bowing to US pressure to cut off support for Kashmiri freedom-fighters. But, said the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen was closed purely because of its ties to the Taliban. He categorically denied Indian allegations that Kashmiri Mujahideen were travelling to Afghanistan to support the Taliban.

14." Said he was sure that UBL and Al Qaeda have made efforts to produce chemical and biological warfare agents, but felt that these programmes were very rudimentary. He assumed that the GOP was sharing any details on these facilities, along with other UBL activities in Afghanistan, with the US.

15. "Said neither Indian nor Pakistani military forces were conducting dry season training manoeuvres near the border this year. Pakistan's only concern with India is the situation in Kashmir. In the aftermath of the serious car bomb incident in Indian Kashmir, said Pakistani leaders are concerned that the US will agree to India's demands that Kashmir be treated as a global terrorism problem. He maintained that the Indian leaders are now feeling politically and militarily strong. They are likely to exploit the situation by actively lobbying the international community over Kashmir. Said Pakistani leaders also expect that India might take some military action in Kashmir during the current crisis. " ( End of citation from the fourth document )

16. The fifth document, dated November 2,2001, discusses why bin Laden had Ahmed Shah Massoud killed on September 9, 2001. The document, heavily excised, does not read like the analysis of a DIA officer. It reads more like a source report, but does not give any indication that it is a source report. It carries the usual caution that what it contains is information and not assessed intelligence. It says:

17."Through Northern Alliance intelligence efforts, the late commander Massoud gained limited knowledge regarding the intentions of the Saudi millionaire Usama bin Laden and his terrorist organisation Al Qaeda to perform a terrorist act against the US on a scale larger than the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzaniya. In April 2001, Massoud addressed the French and European Parliaments in Paris. In his televised speech, he warned the US Government about UBL.

18. "Although Commander Massoud was fighting the Taliban forces over the control of Afghanistan, he was not a threat to UBL and the Al Qaeda organisation. To Massoud, UBL was a Saudi citizen, exiled to Afghanistan due to his challenge to the legitimacy of the Saudi monarchy. After the terrorist strikes on the US Embassies in Africa and receiving intelligence for his forces regarding UBL's future attacks, Massoud began to warn the West of UBL and Al Qaeda." ( End of citation from the fifth document )

19 The sixth document dated January 7, 2002,is also heavily excised before declassification. It gives the assessment either of a source or of a DIA officer, most probably based in Islamabad, on the situation in Pakistan with the usual caution that it was only information and not finally evaluated intelligence.

20. There are only two paras left unexcised. They say:" The Pakistani Government was stable and there was no chance that any groups, including the intelligence organisation, would overthrow the Government. The only formation capable of overthrowing the Government would be the Pakistani Armed Forces.

21." Many people in Pakistan feared that defeat of Taliban/Al Qaeda forces would cause more attacks on Westerners in Pakistan. The Pakistani Government would not officially hide any Taliban/Al Qaeda terrorists unless it would be beneficial to their security interests. There were many organisations within Pakistan, which would provide shelter and support Taliban/Al Qaeda terrorists. In the eyes of many Pakistani people (low class), what Western world perceives as terrorists, to them, they are freedom fighters or Moslem fighters of the same fate. " (End of citation from the sixth document)

22. The language in the document uses the past tense. In view of this, one cannot rule out the possibility that instead of being the assessment of a DIA officer, it was the assessment of a well-placed Pakistani contact, which he had recorded in indirect speech.

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-Mail: corde@vsnl.com )

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