Thursday, December 22, 2005

He Who Lies Most, Lies Worst

Wayne Madsen | December 22 2005

President Bush is contending that a government leak about Osama Bin Laden using his satellite phone in 1998 resulted in the Al Qaeda leader avoiding the phone or "going dark," to use an National Security Agency (NSA) term. That, Bush maintains, resulted in an intelligence failure.

Once again, Bush is just plain lying (along with being misinformed). It was no secret that Bin Laden stopped using his satellite phone in 1996 after Chechen President Dzhokar Dudayev was killed by a Russian air-to-ground missile as he was talking on his satellite phone. In that case, Dudayev erred by keeping his conversation longer than two minutes, ample time for a joint Russian-US operation to pinpoint his location using an overhead U.S. communications intelligence satellite. The editor reported and spoke in detail on that operation in 1996 ("DID NSA HELP RUSSIA TARGET DUDAYEV?"
by Wayne Madsen, Covert Action Quarterly, Summer 1997.

Strong evidence suggests that the US, in violation of its ban on assassination, used the world's most sophisticated satellite technology to help Russia target the Chechen leader, and boost both Yeltsin's and Clinton's election chances.)

and was once berated by a senior Pentagon officer for referring to the public news reports concerning it in an address to a seminar in Tyson's Corner, Virginia. Also, from Wayne Madsen, "Report Alleges US Role in Angola Arms-for-Oil Scandal," CorpWatch, May 17, 2002:

"Jardo Muekalia, who headed UNITA's Washington office until it was forced to close in 1997, says that that the military forces that ultimately succeeded in assassinating [Jonas] Savimbi were supported by commercial satellite imagery and other intelligence support provided by Houston-based Brown & Root, Cheney's old outfit. Both the State Department and Pentagon vehemently deny any US government role in the killing of Savimbi.

But the US frequently uses such intelligence wizardry to help track down troublesome leaders. In 1996, according to US and British intelligence sources, the NSA may have passed on location data to the Russians on the location of Chechen President Dzhokar Dudayev (he was struck by an air-to-surface missile while talking on his satellite phone). In 1999, the New York Times reported that Turkey captured Kurdish Workers' Party leader Abdallah Ocalan after his cell phone location data was tracked by U.S., British, and Israeli intelligence agents."

From Network World, "The Terrorist Network," by Sharon Gaudin, Nov. 26, 01:

"Chechen leader Dzokhar Dudayev knew he needed to limit the time he spent using the satellite phone given to him by his Islamic allies in Turkey. It was the spring of 1996, and the survivor of two Russian assassination attempts was wary of Russia's ability to home in on his communication signal - and his location.

But on the evening of April 21, Dudayev, baited by Russian President Boris Yeltsin's offer of peace talks, called an adviser in Moscow to discuss the impending negotiations.

This time, Dudayev stayed on the phone too long.

American spy satellites, trained on Iraq and Kuwait, were quickly turned north to the Caucasus mountains and Chechnya, according to a former communications specialist with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA). The satellites pinpointed the Chechen leader's location to within meters of his satellite phone signal, and the coordinates were sent to a Russian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet.

Dudayev was killed by two laser-guided air-to-surface missiles while still holding the phone that gave him away.

This deadly lesson, which the U.S. has never officially confirmed, was not lost on Osama bin Laden, a purported Chechen ally who fed money and weapons to their fight against the Russians. That lesson was complete when bin Laden subsequently received word that U.S. spy satellites, perhaps the very same that located Dudayev, had eavesdropped on his own satellite phone conversations. And members of the NSA played the tapes for visitors.

'Bin Laden knows what has happened and he's a smart man,' says Wayne Madsen, a security consultant and former communications specialist with the U.S. Navy and the NSA. 'He's learned his lesson... and he knows technology is a double-edged sword so he's using it carefully.'

Today bin Laden is believed to school his soldiers in high-tech tools of communication. E-mail, online dead drops, satellite phones, cell phones, encryption and digital camouflage called stenography (see story, next page) are all tools of Al Qaeda, bin Laden's terrorist network. Those high-tech tools enable members of Al Qaeda to communicate with terrorist cells (or groups) hidden around the world.

But bin Laden himself uses none of it.

Instead, he has fallen back on ancient methods of communication, denying the U.S. and its allies the chance to track electronic footprints, satellite signals or even the radiation emissions from cellular phones. A grid of trusted human couriers, foot soldiers melding in with civilians, crisscross Afghanistan and flow into neighboring countries carrying written and whispered messages that are then electronically shot around the world."

Bush is actually trying to stop the flood of leaks from NSA and other intelligence agencies by disgruntled analysts and other professionals by making noise about "leaks." Its a desperate move on Bush's part. It was Bush who alienated the US Intelligence Community and now Bush will pay the political price for his arrogance and demoralization of the "INT" agencies: Sigint, Humint, Imint, and Elint.

Bin Laden ceased using his sat phone in 1996 after Dudayev's sat phone frequency and location was homed in on by a Russian missile.


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