Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, who did not deliver any truly damaging intelligence on Al Qaeda, was a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, trained as a physician in Turkey, and double agent who killed seven Americans in a suicide attack inside the CIA base Camp Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan.
Balawi attracted the attention of Jordanian intelligence via radical comments on his blog. Being under pressure from the United States to infiltrate al-Qadea, the Jordanians decided to house Balawi in one of their interrogation cells until they could turn him, force him to renounce his radical beliefs, and agree to become a mole.
Robert Baer gives a chilling history of the CIA leading up to the Khost, Afghanistan tragedy that killed CIA agents, in his article "A Dagger to the CIA".
Operatives vs Analysts.
On December 30, in one of the deadliest attacks in CIA history, an Al Qaeda double agent schemed his way onto a U.S. base in Afghanistan and blew himself into the next life, taking seven Americans with him. How could this have happened? Agency veteran Robert Baer explains, offering chilling new details about the attack and a plea to save the dying art of espionage
Operatives were obsessed with the craft of espionage. They knew how to steal secrets, break into banks, and overthrow governments. They prided themselves on learning languages: Russian, of course, but also Arabic, Persian, Chinese, even obscure tongues like Afrikaans and Pashto. A four-month paramilitary course was mandatory until the early '70s. Operatives learned to fieldstrip a Kalashnikov blindfolded, prime explosives, and jump out of an airplane. After training an operative, the CIA sent him overseas for four or five years to work under a seasoned agent, a mentor. The mentor looked over the rookie's shoulder to see how he intended to meet his informant, to check the questions he was going to ask, and even to go over the route he intended to take to avoid a tail. It took years to acquire these skills and decades to perfect them.
The CIA's other breed of agent—a much lesser animal in the eyes of the operatives—was the analyst. Analysts spend their careers at headquarters writing reports. Many have Ph.D.'s, and they're smart in a bookish way. You'd find their desks stacked with The Economist, Pravda, Le Monde. They always seemed to be shabbily dressed. When they did get out of Washington, it was to attend an academic conference.The one thing all analysts shared was a disdain for the operatives and their cloakand-dagger pretensions. As far as they were concerned, the operatives' "tradecraft" was a lot of hocus-pocus. Operatives were cowboys—and of questionable utility.
Analysts were convinced that most good information was right out in the open. All you needed was a good brain to make sense of it. And what you didn't know from open sources, you could learn from intercepts and satellites.
It's impossible to pinpoint exactly when the operatives' sun started to set, but many CIA insiders would point to John Deutch, the former MIT provost and Bill Clinton's second CIA director. From the moment Deutch set foot in Langley, he made it plain that he hated the operatives, their swagger and arrogance. [snip]
Deutch's first shot at the operatives was his appointment of Dave Cohen as deputy director of operations, the CIA's most senior operative. Cohen was an analyst who had never served overseas or run a foreign informant. Deutch's message couldn't be any clearer: Anyone can do an operative's work.
The first thing Cohen did was order a "scrub" of every informant with dirty hands. Drug dealers, dictators' minions, arms dealers, terrorists—Cohen ordered the operatives to sever ties with all of them. The only problem was, these were the people who mix well with our enemies—rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea and terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Al Qaeda. Deutch and Cohen didn't care; they had a mandate to clean up the CIA, and that's what they were going to do. [big snip]
Go read the entire article, share it with friends. Hat tip to friend and fellow fighter in this war, Martel Sobieskey.