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NightWatch 20100108


For the Night of 8 January 2010

North Korea: The Daily NK reported today that the North Korean authorities held a Central Conference yesterday to commemorate the birthday of Kim Jong Eun, Kim Chong-il's third son and heir apparent, apparently.

The Daily NK source said that, "The Central Conference was held in Pyongyang; related meetings and lectures in provinces were also held. While these commemorative events were only for cadres, there also were lectures for residents."

Like father like son, North Korean directives call Kim Jong Eun a youth general and another leader. He is "the nation's greatest fortune. Communist party leaders designated Kim Jong Eun's birthday as the nation's "most auspicious" holiday.

Note: neither Kim Chong-il nor any of his children ever served a day in a military unit, but the Party insists on referring to them as great generals. In North Korea, words mean what the party says they mean.

The order to celebrate the third son's birthday was delivered to each party organization. From this day forward, 8 January shall be a national holiday.

The pace of the leadership transition has slowed, relative to the time after the elder Kim's stroke. The significance of the report from the Daily NK is that the grooming of a successor from within the Kim family continues, but in a measured fashion.

Pakistan-Japan: Pakistani Defense Minister Mukhtar asked the Japanese government to reconsider its decision to terminate Japan's fueling operation in the Indian Ocean on 15 January, Kyodo reported today. Mukhtar said Pakistan's navy will continue to patrol the sea lanes should Japan withdraw.

The Japanese operation has been based on Mumbai, India, not Pakistan., Odd.

Pakistan: Interior Minister Rehman Malik said a crackdown against foreigners will be launched soon in Karachi. The News International reported today that Malik asked illegal immigrants to leave within 15 days, warning that after this deadline they will be deported. He said Karachi will be cleared like Swat.

Reliable sources report that much of Karachi is a Pashtun enclave in Sindh Province that shelters Afghan and Pakistan Taliban leaders. Reportedly Mullah Omar removed to Karachi, fearing death by drone attack in Quetta, in Baluchistan Province.

The comparison to Swat is misdirected. Karachi will be exponentially harder to clean up that Swat ever was. Nevertheless, Malik's announcement is tonight's good news, assuming Malik follows up with action.

Pakistan-US: Too good to omit. The Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, said that only greater intelligence sharing between NATO and Pakistani forces about Taliban militants can eliminate militancy, the daily newspaper Dawn reported 8 January. Kayani made his request in a meeting with a four-member delegation from the U.S. Congress led by Senator McCain in Rawalpindi.

There seems to be special irony in Kayani' s request, after the US President discounted the value of CT analysis and after Major General Flynn discounted the value of Taliban analysis. So what does Kayani want? Drone and satellite imagery, apparently. His own analysts will do the analysis.

Alternatively, Kayani just might have been taunting Senator McCain.

Iran: Armed assailants attacked a house where opposition leader Mehdi Karrubi was visiting in Qazvin, the BBC reported. Karrubi's Web site SahamNews posted that a group of 500 people from Basij bases surrounded Karrubi's residence, throwing stones and bricks, breaking windows and creating fear among residents. The Web site added that many of the assailants were armed and police could not disperse the crowd.

Anti-riot police arrived on the scene and helped Karrubi leave Qazvin for Tehran. His armored car was shot at and windows were smashed. The groups chanted insulting slogans against Karrubi and demanded that he leave the city. Karrubi left Qazvin.

The administration is obsessed with suppressing the opposition, which is a negative indicator about its self-confidence.

Somalia anti-piracy patrol: China Daily reported today that some 25 Chinese crewmembers kidnapped by pirates on 19 October returned to Qingdao, China, early 8 January. The crew of cargo ship De Xin Hai was held on board until 28 December.

Despite tough talk, the Chinese paid the ransom. One maritime analysis center proved that the salaries and fuel costs of a portion of the anti-piracy patrol is much more expensive than the cumulative annual costs of paying ransoms.

It is important to uphold the rule of law, but the anti-piracy patrol raises the pragmatic question of the price of maintaining the rule of law on the seas. The Chinese placed their vote by paying the ransom.

Special comment: In 42 years, NightWatch has never seen a Presidential directive to intelligence and security entities remotely like that promulgated this week. It is a worthy document in intent and precision.

Its weak point is that implementation relies on the same people who failed, twice.

The two most extraordinary Presidential directives to the Director of National Intelligence have received no media coverage. The first is to "take further steps to enhance the rigor and raise the standard of tradecraft of intelligence analysis …" In other words, the analysts failed. They need more rigor in their analyses and better "tradecraft."

The intent of the directive is clear, but its execution is problematic. Analytical tradecraft is in the dock. Commentators and very experienced practitioners frequently cite the "new" challenges in this "new" form of war. (Counter-insurgency is hardly new.)

The pubic is bombarded with "Newness," but no transformation has occurred.

NightWatch senses that the intelligence failings cited by the President and cited by General Flynn are not failings of insight about new threats; they are the longstanding failings of complaisant analysts and supervisors, who shirk their responsibilities.

The 1978 HPSCI report on Warning found that in every crisis since Pearl Harbor, there always was enough information for competent analysts to issue actionable warning. The intelligence failures of the post-World War II era and the Cold War always were failures of analysts, not collectors and not systems.

President Obama's statement repeats those findings in spades, 32 years later!

If it means anything, analysis transformation has to mean creation of a systematic, structured approach to analysis that always and everywhere is replicable, auditable, non-idiosyncratic and non-anecdotal and which has application across boundaries and groups.

There are few lessons for young analysts in idiosyncratic and anecdotal personal expertise. No one can live another person's experiences and experts seldom agree on the significance of their experiences. So how can that mess be taught? Intelligence must escape this trap.

NightWatch insists that "expertise is necessary but not enough" to achieve actionable warning. To that assertion must now be added that sharing is not enough.

High predictability and the ability to warn in an actionable time frame require knowledge of threat phenomenology, the study of which has been neglected, except possibly at the tactical level. For example, two pieces of evidence - payment in cash for a transatlantic air trip and without checked luggage -- are the embodiment of actionable, phenomenological data.

Cash and no bags are universal red flags of threat that create a reasonable suspicion that justifies, nay compels, fail-safe security measures. This should be a "no-brainer."

The other Presidential directive of special interest is, "Ensure resources are properly aligned with issues highlighted in strategic warning analysis." The President issued a new directive on strategic warning analysis; not risk management, but warning. That has not happened since before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

One odd thing, though, is that the Defense Department and all its agencies, except the National Security Agency, received the directive but no direct guidance. DoD has more counter terrorism analysts in its national-level agencies and in the combatant commands than all the other agencies combined. Hmmm…

End of NightWatch for 8 January.

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