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Interview - Frederick P. Hitz, former CIA Inspector General
discusses his latest book "Why Spy? Espionage in an age
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Introduction by Charles Rault - back
was searching for ideas which would summarize the role of intelligence
in the 21st century and which would explain in a concise and
comprehensive way how to prevent (and deal with) today's and
tomorrow's dangers ranging from conventional threats to mass
destructive nightmares. In the meantime, President George W.
Bush made his farewells and a very-awaited President, Barack
Obama, is about to face the harsh reality of a dangerous world
in which the enemy has become less identifiable and more difficult
to catch. The time when intelligence officers exactly knew who
they were fighting is over. Today, democratic societies fight
against non-state actors; complex and sophisticated fanatic operatives.
One could say the challenge was huge during the cold war too.
Yes, it was and take it as hope: freedom prevailed.
But the real challenge now is not only winning the « war » against
terrorism but winning the war of ideas in which the Bush presidency
has been held responsible for making the USA (and the West in
general) a very hard-sell. Telling if they were right or wrong
is useless chiefly when considering what this administration
had to deal with. What is essential is that winning the hearts
and minds seems a pre-requisite to maximize the huge and often
heroic accomplishments of the intelligence community. Since 9/11,
a worldwide counterterrorism campaign has been initiated with
a success that one must notice: no major terrorist attack took
place in the United States since that day. In Europe, latest
Al-Qaeda bombings took place in London three years and a half
ago. Since then, there have been many attempts and France, Britain
and Germany still declare the threat is real and the question
remains « when and where it's gonna happen ».
In the Mideast and Afghanistan, the situation complicated alot
despite recent improvements in Iraq.
After a few searches, I found a book titled « Why
spy? Espionage in an age of uncertainty » authored
by Frederick P. Hitz. In addition to the title that immediately
caught my attention, the fact that the author has been the
first statutory Inspector General with the CIA from 1990 to
May 1998 convinced me to purchase the book. His double competence
as a former CIA top operative (including Deputy Director for
Europe in the Directorate of Operations) and as a jurist constituted
the perfect mix to tackle one of the main issues of today's
intelligence: how to neutralize non-state actors through most
lawful and most « human » ways? Guantanamo,
Abu Ghraib, waterboarding showed that treatments which contradict
with human rights bring more bad than good, not mentioning
the fact that many prisoners seemed of poor interest from the
viewpoint of intelligence collection. The reputation of the
United States has been seriously damaged and terrorists benefited
from a very successful recruitment campaign for free. Since
intelligence faced new challenges, it must update its relation
with what is lawful, unlawful, acceptable and non-acceptable
in a combat against enemies who have no limits, both in imagination
and in violence. Hence my choice to read Mr. Hitz's book.
The cover reads that « it is a fascinating glimpse
into the inner workings of international espionage and intelligence, Why
spy? is a must-read not only for fans of Tom Clancy and
John le Carré, but for anyone concerned about the security
of the United States in a post-cold war, post-9/11 world. » Why
Spy? provides the reader with a clear overview of the numerous
(and sometimes very distinct) interactions of intelligence with
the various threats originating from actors as different as terrorists,
states and foreign and competitive business interests. On the
other hand, it is not really for John Le Carré's fans
since it rather provides you with a roadmap for 21st century's
espionage than with an epic and risky story of a dark and charming
spy. I agree, this book is definetely a must-read.
Interview of Frederick P. Hitz - back
Interviewer - Espionage or spying «involves
an individual obtaining (i.e., using human intelligence HUMINT
methods) information that is considered secret or confidential
without the permission of the holder of the information »;
the systematic use of spies to get military or political secrets.
Intelligence is the capacity to « gather and interpret
information about an enemy ».(1) The title of your
book contains the word « espionage » and
not the word « intelligence ». Also, your
book begins with a chapter titled « Espionage versus
intelligence: How the United States goes about spying ».
Did you aim at stressing on the fact that in the war against
terrorism and proliferation, there is still need to use spies
to gather valuable information on people and interests? Europeans
seemingly privileged HUMINT to SIGNINT, do you think it has
been a main reason for the prevention till now of a 9/11-like
attack on the European soil?
Frederick P. Hitz - I did not mean to suggest
that humint is more valuable in the war against terror than
sigint or photint or any of the other forms of intelligence
collection. It is still the collection of secrets from foreign
sources by illegal means. It is also much harder now than it
was in the cold war. Without humint, it is hard to divine the
intentions of the terrorist enemy.
Question 2 - A commentary published on the
CSIS (3) website read that in March 2003, « the British
government (had given) wide publicity to the threat of terrorist
attack with chemical, biological or radiological weapons, and
has warned the public that complete defence cannot be guaranteed. » British
and German officials said that a non-conventional attack, with
chemical weapons in particular, is unavoidable in the future.
Given the incaculable consequences a non-conventional
attack would have, how must the intelligence community prepare
for such a « certainty »? According
to these statements, non-proliferation policies are quite
uneffective, is the intelligence community involved enough
with the combat against proliferation?
Answer 2 - Chemical, biological and nuclear
weapons are capable of doing the most damage to civilian populations,
so the counter-terrorist forces have to be prepared to deal
with these possibilities as the ultimate threat. That must
be the prime responsibility of departments of homeland security
around the world, whether it is through detection and public
health triage or campaigns to halt proliferation. I believe
the world is sensitive to these threats, but preparing to meet
such an attack is still difficult for democracies.
Question 3 - You identified different motivations
for espionage: ideological commitment; money and treasure; revenge
and score settling; sex, intimidation and blackmail; friendship,
ethnic and religious solidarity; and the sake of the (spy) game.
Espionage operations which made the biggest damage to the United
States were carried out by US citizens who were mid-level or
top-level members of the intelligence community like Robert P.
Hanssen or Aldrich Ames. You wrote that the « less
admirable » motivation is a « desire for
revenge , or to settle a long-term grievance. »
Can desire for revenge still encourage espionage against
the United States by fellow citizens whereas they cannot
be « recruited » by terrorist networks
the same way they were by the Soviets in the 1980s? To your
mind, what is the main motivation today of the terrorists
and of their potential recruits « on site » ?
Answer 3 - I think the desire for revenge
against an organization that may not have valued you is less
of a motivating factor if the information surrendered would
lead to civilian terrorist acts against the general population.
What is the revenge against CIA if New York City is randomly
attacked, for example? I think the primary motivation for espionage
in an age of holy terror is a belief in the twisted version
of Islam that equates a Western presence as an attack on Islam
Question 4 - Since the end of the cold war,
espionage tackles Islamic extremism as the top security concern.
The community's recruitment progressively focused on Arabic-speaking
people and on people having broad knowledge of terrorism issues.
Of course, this terrorism-centred approach of today's intelligence
has been justified by 9/11. On the contrary, threats from states
and from criminal groups still exist. Law enforcements experts
declare that organized crime has never been so powerful and so
wealthy. Officials say espionage from China or Russia remains
very agressive against the United States and its allies.
As the threat comes from a range of actors, do you think
the preference given to espionage against terrorist networks
sinks the very needed counter-espionage into oblivion? Does
the community pay enough attention to threats from states
and organized crime?
Answer 4 - It is clear that Western espionage
efforts now appear to revolve around the war on terror. But
it is also important to remain alert to the possibility of
subversion or espionage from other quarters, such as China,
North Korea or Russia. I think it is accurate to say that we
have not been spending as much time or effort concerned with
these other challenges as we shall have to in the future, for
they are still busy trying to steal our secrets.
Question 5 - In a recent statement that introduced
hearing on « After Mumbai attacks » on
January 8, US Senator Susan M. Collins (2) declared that « these
attacks focused on soft targets like hotels, restaurants, a railway
station, and a Jewish cultural center. And the Mumbai attackers
used conventional – but still dreadfully lethal – weapons
like automatic rifles and hand grenades to carry out their bloody
mission. While terrorists will certainly still seek to acquire
and use a weapon of mass destruction, the Mumbai attack underscores
the threat posed by a few well-armed and well-trained individuals. »
Do these attacks signal a shift in terrorist tactics by
combining conventional weapons and small groups?
Answer 5 - I think small groups armed with
conventional weapons have been the principal terrorist challenge
to civilian populations for some time. That was of course the
essence of the 911 attacks. There is some evidence that the
centrally directed terrorist threats such as Al Qaeda may be
breaking down and are being replaced by random small groups
of disenchanted terrorists who come together over the Internet
to plan and carry out terrorist acts in widely disparate areas.
Question 6 - US President Barack Obama has
appointed the former House Representative of California Leon
Panetta as Director-designate of the Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA). Many comments from intelligence officials have been quite
pessimistic as many insisted on the fact he never belonged to
the agency. Other told that due to his three years (1994-1997)
as former President Bill Clinton's chief of staff, he will help
the agency build a better relationship with the White House and
the US Congress too. In the eigth chapter of your book, you ask « if
political pressure from above caused some of the intelligence
community assessments to be widely off the mark ».
So, what is your mind about the decision of President
Obama not to appoint an intelligence expert? Should the community
interpret this nomination as another attempt to politicize
Answer 6 - I don’t think the nomination
of Mr. Panetta as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
presents as much of a risk of further politicizing U.S. intelligence
as of desiring to make sure there is not a fundamental split
between the Agency, the President and the Congressional oversight
committees. Certainly, President Obama wanted to turn the page
on the use of coercive intelligence methods by CIA and the
practice of “extraordinary rendition”, but he was
equally anxious to heal the split between CIA and its colleagues
in the Executive Branch and on Capitol Hill.
(1)Dictionaries of Princeton University, Wikipedia
(2)Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (Ranking Member)
Security Intelligence Service)
Biography of Frederick P. Hitz - back
Mr. Frederick P. Hitz is a Senior Fellow at the University of
Virginia’s Center for National Security Law. Since 1998
he has been lecturing at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton
University and at the University of Virginia School of Law and
Department of Politics. He has served extensively in the U.S.
Central Intelligence Agency, including in the CIA’s clandestine
service, as Legislative Counsel to the Director of Central Intelligence,
and as Deputy Director for Europe in the Directorate of Operations.
Mr. Hitz was appointed the first statutory Inspector General
of CIA by President George H.W. Bush. He served in that capacity
from 1990-1998 when he retired. He was awarded the Distinguished
Intelligence Medal by the Director of Central Intelligence in
1998 and received a Resolution of Commendation from the US Senate
upon the fifth anniversary of his tenure as CIA Inspector General
in 1995. Among the many investigations he led at the CIA was
the Aldrich Ames betrayal.
He has written extensively about espionage and intelligence
issues, including a book entitled “The Great Game: the
Myth and Reality of Espionage”, published by Knopf in 2004.
In April, 2008, a second book entitled “Why Spy? Espionage
in an Era of Uncertainty” by Mr. Hitz was published by
St. Martin’s Press. Mr. Hitz is a graduate of Harvard Law
School and Princeton University.
Reference of the book - back
spy? Espionage in an age of uncertainty
Frederick P. Hitz
ISBN 13: 978-0-312-35604-0
ISBN 10: 0-312-35604-8
Keywords: CIA, Espionage, Intelligence,
Spy, Terrorism, USA, Russia, China
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