Pentagon Increases Its Spying Markedly
By Mark Mazzetti and Greg Miller
Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
March 24, 2005
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon's new emphasis on intelligence gathering overseas has led to a major
expansion of espionage operations and a more prominent role for intelligence officers in military decision making and war
planning, Defense officials said Wednesday.
As part of the plan, the Pentagon is expanding the number of spies and
special operations forces abroad and creating new intelligence analysis centers inside military commands worldwide, the officials
Providing new details about the Pentagon's expanding role in intelligence operations, the officials also acknowledged
that the effort is controversial in Washington. The ramped-up activity "rubs some people the wrong way," said a Defense official
involved in the expansion.
But the Pentagon insists that it is not encroaching on the CIA's turf and says all its activities
are permissible under existing laws and executive orders.
In some cases, the clandestine operations involve inserting
U.S. military personnel in countries unaware of the intrusion. Officials emphasized that the military has previously executed
such delicate missions, but never before on such a large scale.
"The volume of these smaller-scale clandestine activities
has expanded dramatically," said the Defense official.
Pentagon officials declined to provide details about specific
operations or discuss countries where clandestine activities are underway. But their descriptions make it clear that the Pentagon
is seeking to improve its ability to gather intelligence within the borders of such countries as Iran, North Korea and China.
ability to collect inside the national territories of these potential adversaries — that is a challenge to us," said
another Defense official. "There's no silver bullet here."
Defense officials say they have been granted no new authority
since the Sept. 11 attacks to carry out "covert" operations — missions that the U.S. government can deny knowing about
and that require presidential authority. Covert operations are designed to influence the political, economic or military conditions
within another country's borders, and traditionally are carried out by CIA operatives.
At the same time, the Pentagon
is using a broad definition of its current authority to conduct what it describes instead as "clandestine" operations around
the globe — dispatching military teams to gather intelligence about potential adversaries. Unlike covert operations,
clandestine missions are not intended to influence the internal dynamics of another nation, according to U.S. officials.
we're getting information, then the last thing we want to do is influence the country, because then we're detectable," said
the first Defense official.
Using that definition, Defense and congressional officials said military personnel could
enter other countries to gather intelligence without getting advance approval from the president or giving notice to Congress.
the Sept. 11 attacks, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has chafed at the Defense Department's reliance on CIA spies to
provide on-the-ground intelligence to U.S. military commanders.
Rumsfeld ordered an overhaul and upgrade of the Pentagon's
intelligence apparatus in 2003, and Wednesday four Defense officials involved in the restructuring discussed some of the results
of the effort in interviews with The Times.
The changes outlined by the officials lay out the significantly expanded
espionage role for the U.S. military. Former officials said there was friction between the Pentagon and the CIA.
is a turf battle," said retired Army Col. W. Patrick Lang, former head of Middle Eastern affairs for the Defense Intelligence
Agency. "All of this represents that clandestine human intelligence in the Department of Defense is a growth industry and
that it is no longer regarding itself as under the control of the CIA."
Defense officials, in interviews Wednesday,
outlined an expansion of the military's intelligence-gathering capabilities across an array of fronts, from low-level soldiers
canvassing neighborhoods in Baghdad to highly trained Defense Department "case officers" working in undercover assignments
Some senior military officials are concerned about increased emphasis on espionage, fearing that soldiers
caught while carrying out clandestine operations might lose the protections accorded under international law for captured
Unlike CIA operatives, U.S. troops enjoy Geneva Convention protections and their activities are
traditionally acknowledged by the U.S. government.
One Defense official said that these traditional lines may have
blurred, and that in some cases, Washington might not acknowledge the identity of a soldier or civilian captured during an
"The decision about whether to reveal the affiliation [of that individual] is something
that would be handled on a case-by-case basis," he said.
The Pentagon is planning to increase the authority of military
intelligence officers within each geographic combatant command. Each command will have a general or admiral directing an intelligence
apparatus known as a Joint Intelligence and Operation Command, or JIOC, charged with gathering and analyzing intelligence
collected in that theater of operations.
The first JIOC will be established inside Central Command, based in Tampa,
Fla., which has military authority over the Middle East and Central Asia.
Under the new plan, the senior intelligence
officer within each combatant command could be given authority equivalent to that of the senior Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine
and special operations commanders.
Much of the Pentagon's new intelligence activity is centered in the Defense Intelligence
Agency, the military's main spying service. Under a program called the Strategic Support Branch, the DIA is assembling teams
of interrogators, analysts and other intelligence operatives that are being deployed with special forces units on operations
around the globe.
A DIA official said the teams are to be based in the United States but will have expertise in the
language, issues and customs of the region to which they are likely to be deployed.
The DIA is also in the midst of
a major expansion of its "Defense Humint Service," the military's equivalent of the CIA's overseas spying branch. DHS spies
are trained alongside CIA case officers at "the Farm," the CIA's training center in southern Virginia.
The number of
DHS case officers, which hovered around 100 in the late 1990s, has multiplied in recent years. The DIA official declined to
say how many officers are part of the service now, but noted that the agency added 1,200 positions across all job categories
last year, and expects to add an additional 600 to 800 this year.
Former military and intelligence officials said the
DIA's mission was also expanding. Military operatives have long studied other nations' militaries and conducted surveillance
of landing zones and bridges where U.S. forces might be inserted.
"But DIA is now engaged in doing far grander things
with regard to trying to penetrate foreign organizations," said Lang, the former DIA official. "They're trying to penetrate
jihadi organizations and they're doing battlefield reconnaissance in preparation for special operations in various places.
happening all over the Islamic world."
A congressional official familiar with the military's clandestine activities
said the Pentagon had "gotten much more aggressive in intelligence collection in a variety of areas" over the last two years.
congressional official also said that though intelligence-gathering operations by the Pentagon weren't considered "covert
action," the military nevertheless was often required to provide advance notice to Congress.
In particular, sections
of the 1947 National Security Act require the military or other agencies to notify lawmakers in advance of "significant" intelligence
activities. That is generally interpreted to mean operations in which operatives risk being captured or killed. It also applies
to missions that could damage U.S. foreign policy if they were uncovered.
Under that definition, almost any operation
inside Iran "would qualify as a 'significant' intelligence activity," the congressional official said.
to say whether the intelligence committees had received notification of such an operation.
Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times