Por Manuel Cereijo

Agencies must find a new balance between electronic eavesdropping and spies on the ground to counter global terrorism. An intelligence lapse can mean thousands of civilians dead, hundreds of billion of dollars in economic losses, babies stricken with potentially fatal diseases, and video images of unspeakable horror ricocheting around the globe. Rarely has intelligence been so vital to U.S. and never before has the intelligence challenge been viewed so grimly.

Whereas espionage once had some rules, that is simply not true in a war against a bin Laden, a Saddam Hussein, or a Castro. There are no rules anymore.

In the United States analyses of intelligence weaknesses have focused on four areas:

· Human inadequacies in analysis, language skills, and especially spying-the gathering of data from informers within a hostile organization or targeted government.

· Growing gaps in technical intelligence in, for example, the ability to decrypt, analyze, and deliver expeditiously messages intercepted amid the oceans of encrypted e-mail, phone calls, and other communications monitored around the world.

· Lack of cooperation between organizations that collect foreign intelligence and others that counter the intelligence activities and terrorism of foreign countries at home

A recurring theme is that U.S. intelligence has grown too reliant on technical intelligence, allowing the human intelligence assets to deteriorate. Human intelligence, or spying, can be a devastating weapon against terrorists because in the right circumstances it reveals the specific dates, targets, plans, people involved in a plot, infrastructure facilities in the hostile country. This is particularly so in the case of Cuba, where the totalitarian nature of the regime has made it impossible since the late 1970s to have real intelligence on site.

However, in the case of Cuba, there is a second best scenario for human intelligence: the interaction between exiles and the people in Cuba. Engineers, scientists, technicians, public officials, come and go, visit, other stay here. They have family, friends, former colleagues. There is a continuous flow of people, and therefore, intelligence information, that has not been utilized at its optimum by the U.S. Cuba, in that sense, once the Cubans leave Cuba, becomes like a small town, since always someone knows someone, and the chain of information starts at that level. I will take a live source any day over an electronic intercept.

The Internet, email, and cellular telephony have ignited an explosion in data and wireless transmissions, which make SIGINT very difficult to keep up. Perhaps most disruptive has been the wholesale shift to fiber optics and packet switching. Fiber-optic lines are a lot more harder than copper wires or microwave links to tap into. Submarine cables pose the biggest challenge: they often carry the international traffic of greatest interest, but they are in the crushing depths of the ocean bottom. However, the NSA can apparently tap into the cables without resort to submarines or subterfuge.

The biggest problem is for undersea cables that do not terminate in the United States. Resent undersea cables use so-called fiber amplifiers. In essence, these are short stretches of fiber doped with the element erbium and pumped with a laser. The signal is never electronic, and no electromagnetic energy emanates from the amplifiers. However, NSA still have ways to tap these systems.

Packet switching is another obstacle. The technique assigns the bits of a digital transmission to small groups called packets. Individual packets can then take any route to their destination, where they are re-assembled into the original message or utterance. The problem for the eavesdropper is keeping track of the packets.

Let us not forget that, back to 1962, when the Missille Cuban crisis took place, many Cuban exiles unsuccessfully warned the U.S. government of what was taking place. How the exile Cubans did know it? By satellite information? No, by human intelligence. People to people contact.

For the past 10 years, Cuban exiles have been warning the U.S. of Castro's capacity to conduct bioterrorism, cyberterrorism, and even to possess radiological bombs, as well as RF bombs. People to people contact again. Even more so now. Let's hope someone listen and pay attention.


Manuel Cereijo
March, 2002

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Éste y otros excelentes artículos del mismo AUTOR aparecen en la REVISTA GUARACABUYA con dirección electrónica de: