Counterintelligence vs. Insurgency
APPROVED FOR RELEASE 1994
CIA HISTORICAL REVIEW PROGRAM
2 JULY 96
OFFICIAL USE ONLY
The counterintelligence role in a Latin American government's antisubversion effort.
COUNTERINTELLIGENCE VS. INSURGENCY
Carlos Revilla Arango
The counterintelligence force of established government authority enjoys certain advantages in its conflict with that of an insurgent organization.1 It has greater human and material resources. It operates on a sure financial base, has powers of investigation and control, and commands assets in the form of files and records which are not easily built up by the insurgents. Its officers have legal status and secure places of work instead of the hunted life of the dissidents. These advantages often suffice to guarantee the government success.
Although the achievements of the counterintelligence force can be reversed by military, political, or diplomatic action, the fact that it does succeed, even temporarily, demonstrates the superiority of the government operation. The excellent record made by the Tsarist secret police against revolutionaries in the decades before the first world war2 is not the less so because of the imperial government's subsequent political and military reversals. The successes of German counterintelligence in occupied Europe, in spite of great popular sympathy for its opponents, outweighed the failures; and the triumph of established authority in Malaya, the Philippine Islands, and Greece is a matter of record. The ultimate failure of British authority in Ireland and French in Algeria derived from political decisions, not the weakness of counterintelligence.3
The governments of Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru have been engaged in struggles with dissidents. The survival of these governments depends on the efficacy of their counterinsurgency programs and, within these programs, on the performance of their respective counterintelligence forces. And the success of the latter depends in turn on the ability of the individual counterintelligence officer to learn to know his enemy and to use his advantages to good effect.
The counterintelligence officer is responsible for getting information on the organization, personnel, assets, plans, and activity of the dissidents. He is also responsible for making the best possible use of this information to negate their activity or turn it to the advantage of the government; but his success in this will vary with the level and importance of the information he acquires.
Usually he first seeks to identify the objectives of the insurgent movement. He reads its manifestos, flysheets, pamphlets, newspapers. Is he dealing with a Marxist-Leninist organization? If so, does it take Peking's line? Or Moscow's? Is it opposed by communist factions of the other persuasion in the country? Do minority political groups sympathize with it? Do its social objectives differ significantly from those the government itself is striving for?
Will the government's accomplishment of its social and economic programs destroy the foundations of the insurgency? Can these programs be accomplished in time? A member of Peruvian President Belaunde Terry's own Acción Popular said, "I'm not waiting for my son to have a better life—I want a better life myself."4 This is the impatience which makes the Indians invade the lands. Can the President's programs bring a better standard of living to the people before the communists provoke them to rebel? The study of these broader questions will make the counterintelligence officer more persuasive in his later efforts to recruit members of the insurgent movement for his own purposes.
Next, the counterintelligence officer must get details on the nature and make-up of his adversary's forces. He must find out their numbers and the structure of their organization, trace its lines of command, and determine its unit functions, geographic scope, and practices with respect to compartmentation. At what stage in its development will it be a serious threat to the government? Is it organized on the basis of secret and street units? Does it follow the precept of General Alberto Bayo to the effect that a cell should be limited to three persons?5 Does the cell leader report to an area or city coordinator? Do the coordinators report independently to a central committee? What is the size of the central committee? Does it approve its manifestos meeting as a unit or do its members each indicate their individual concurrence by signature? Do the members reside in this country, or abroad? If abroad, how do they communicate with the resident leadership and transmit instructions, money, propaganda? Do the resident leaders travel abroad to report and receive briefings? Are the written records of the movement kept abroad? Or where are they secreted in this country? How do resident leaders communicate with one another? What degree of autonomy is exercised by area coordinators?
The Pursuit of Detail
As the counterintelligence officer finds the names of insurgents in their manifestos or in police reports, he begins to compile a record which will reflect their background, character, and motivation, their past record, and their ambitions for the future. He takes particular interest in Gustavo Ruiz de Somocurcio, for example.
On Thursday morning, Jan. 30, the Government security police raided a Communist hide-out located at Piura 900, in the Lima suburb of Mirafiores, seizing a veritable arsenal of weapons, ... Cuban flags, and a voluminous collection of propaganda material, including several thousand copies of a pamphlet entitled "La Revolución Peruana en Marcha" written by Gustavo Ruiz de Somocurcio, reportedly the leader of the group, who with a number of his confederates was captured and placed under arrest. ...6
He asks himself questions about Gustavo Ruiz. What kind of house is it at Piura 900? How much would it cost to maintain such a place? What family does Ruiz have? Did he have a telephone? Did he have a police record? Has he ever traveled abroad? What schooling did he have? What was his service record, if any, in the armed forces?
What was Ruiz's employment? How much was he paid? Was he a conscientious worker? Did he get along well with his colleagues? With whom was he friendly? What are their names and addresses? Did he pay his bills promptly? If he rented, what does his landlord have to say? Domestic servants? Friends of the family?
From telephone and residence directories, from police, passport, and military files, from surveillance and investigators' reports, from testimony of priests and professors, the counterintelligence officer culls the answers to such questions, both hard fact and potentially useful bits of gossip, speculation, criticism, and complaints from Ruiz's contacts, At this point he still can draw only a pencil outline of the subject and his motivation, his needs and his aims. The answers to many questions can be developed only by further investigation. And much work still remains to be done in identifying the men arrested with Ruiz and discovering their functions in the insurgent organization. Was one of them perchance a courier?
Couriers are an important target of the counterintelligence officer. He will look for persons who make frequent trips abroad, checking airline manifests, social column reports of arrivals and departures, the government consular officers (who might be so conscientious as to take note of the comings and goings of fellow nationals), or the representatives of friendly governments who may have a parallel interest in following the journeys of subversives.7 An even more important target for him are the area coordinators, because their knowledge should surpass that of any individual cell member. But he also makes every effort to pinpoint the location of meeting sites, the identities of foreign support personnel, and the location of caching and training sites. An inventory of the insurgent organization's physical and personnel assets can give some indication of its scope and operational prospects.
The Larger Picture
From interrogation reports the counterintelligence officer may get the location of safesites abroad and the identities of foreign sympathizers. He may, for example, learn of a safehouse in Hong Kong, perhaps one run by a Swiss national with a French passport. Does its location or keeper identify a foreign sponsor? If one assumes that it is a link to Red China, say a way point for travelers on the mainland, does this conflict with data which suggest that the insurgents have a tie to Soviet Russia? Or perhaps he may acquire the London address of a sympathizer with the insurgency. Does the sympathizer serve as a maildrop? A source of funds? Why London—a way point for travelers to Eastern Europe? Or he may identify a financial contributor in Stockholm. Is this an independent contributor or merely a channel for funds from Red China's diplomats? Or be may run onto a German courier who travels between Paris and Rome. What is this for? If the insurgency draws its major strength and sustenance from roots abroad, it is possible that our officer confronts not only its own counterintelligence force but that o€ the Soviet Union, or China's, or Cuba's.
Do the range and number of safesites suggest major financial backing? The counterintelligence' officer weighs against the apparent legitimate income of the insurgents the assets and expenditures of the organization as they become known to him, including the cost of travel to Peking, or Moscow, or Havana, the rentals paid for houses in Brussels, Madrid, or London, the funds needed for that courier run from Paris to Rome. Some contributions may be made by fellow citizens buying political insurance. He watches the daily press for editorialists who write sympathetically of the dissidents' objectives, use their grievances as the basis for questioning officials, or criticize the government for any resolute action against Indian land invaders or striking workers.
He looks for patterns in incidents of bombing, kidnaping, assassination, and intimidation of police and private citizens. He recalls that the killing of Caracas policemen not only demoralized the national police service but signaled further acts of violence. He interprets the shooting of an American consular official in Cordoba, Argentina, as a demonstration of power by the guerrillas in that country in their effort to win the uncommitted to their cause. He suspects that the rash of kidnapings in Guatemala provides needed funds for dissident groups there. He believes that the robbery of a Miraflores bank in Lima accomplished that same purpose. He searches reports of Indian land invasions and peasant uprisings for evidence of the hand of the insurgent organization:
Following the clash which took place on Feb. 4 near Sicuani ... between a detachment of the Guardia Civil (national police force) and highland Indian invaders of farms and other private property, the police on Feb. 8 seized an arsenal of guns, munitions, and explosives in the home of a Communist agitator, Paulino Marnani, at Chara, 15 kms. from Sicuani. Mamani, who proclaimed that he was "fighting for the poor," was reported to be living in the greatest luxury, with a bank account of some two million soles, said to have been accumulated from the contributions which he extracted from his followers.8
Such incidents can provide indications of the imminence of larger action. Organized attacks on police outposts, for example, can either reflect a need for arms or serve to demonstrate the dissidents' power. If the attackers seize arms, they probably need them; if not, they probably have their own in sufficient quantity, worse luck. If they carry away their dead and wounded, that is bad: they have discipline and a sense of responsibility. If not, they are less likely to represent an immediate threat to the government.
A campaign of terror usually precedes any broad-scale action aimed at the destruction of the government. But within such a campaign its targets have different connotations of immediacy. The destruction of a foreign-owned factory or plantation would be a low-heat action, particularly if it followed a campaign of vilification by others not participating in the insurgency. It could be just on-the-job training for recruits. Or an action which pleased the general public and served as a call to arms for the uncommitted. Assassination of a foreign resident, however, may mark the beginning of action against all foreigners; it will provoke an intensive investigation by security police and must therefore be rated somewhat higher in its connotation of immediacy. Assassination of an official representative of a foreign government must be placed yet higher on the scale, since police counteraction will be more severe. And the killing of someone in the country's own government can be taken as a clear warning of impending conflict.
As information is acquired, it must be recorded in a fashion which makes for ready retrieval when needed. The counterintelligence officer begins, for example, by preparing three-by-five cards on Gustavo Ruiz de Somocurcio and others who have come to his attention, recording full name, alias if known, date and place of birth, address, occupation, and data pertinent to their dissident role. Other cards, devoted to addresses which appear to have been used as maildrops or safe meeting sites, he cross-refers to those on the individuals or organizations involved. He makes a similar file of cards on telephone numbers used fo dissident communications, and one on automobiles used by couriers. He builds map files locating the dissidents' camps, caches, etc., and including sketches or photographs of these places.
More expansive personality files, keyed to the three-by-five name cards, extend to the subject's military and educational history, family data, strength and weaknesses of character, position in the insurgent organization, and relationships with comrades and associates. The counterintelligence officer can readily accumulate such data on personalities engaged in overt activities for the insurgency. Surveillance of these persons can lead him to echelons and persons hitherto unknown, and then the surveillance can be lifted from the overt targets and placed on the others. The theoretical compartmentation of overt elements from the clandestine is not always maintained. Friendship can be cause for violating it, need for ignoring it, foolishness for overlooking it, and accident for disrupting it.
These records—three-by-five cards with summary data on the dissidents, organizational and geographic charts showing locations and functions, maps and sketches locating and describing training sites, safesites, caching areas, and deaddrops, and above all the personality files reflecting individual prejudices and purposes, fears, problems, and motivation—are the counterintelligence officer's working file, his tool for operations.
Control and Harassment
Established authority has powers which it can use to control, restrain, or harass members of the insurgent organization. The government can declare martial law and suspend constitutional guarantees. It can deny the insurgents the right to peaceful assembly, freedom to propound their views in competition with official news media, and freedom of movement. The police can increase their vigilance against use of "the editorial pages of the poor,"—wall-painting—and set up checkpoints to intercept insurgent couriers.
Under these controls the dissidents cannot take advantage of disasters, protest the imposition of martial law, or exploit the administration's blunders in managing the crisis. At the very time when they might pose as champions of the people they have the least opportunity to capitalize on events. On the afternoon of May 24, 1964, a riot at the National Sports Stadium in Lima cost the lives of 301 persons. The Peruvian government was prompt in suspending constitutional guarantees before the dissidents could exploit the breakdown of law and order which took place that night, and they were powerless to add to the disaster.
As the government establishes curfews, increases its street patrols, and activates checkpoints on roads leading to the capital, counterintelligence can increase its knowledge by studying the interrogation reports on persons who travel in violation of the curfew. If the government requires registration of all firearms, the investigation and interrogation of violators may open up new channels to the insurgency. Or, on advice of counterintelligence, police may raid the home of a known member of the insurgent organization. The arrest and detailed interrogation of all persons found there should pave the way for further action.
Counterintelligence can begin its own harassment of the insurgent organization by exploiting the arrest of individual members. Assume that six self-confessed Marxist-Leninists have been detained by the authorities. (In Peru, charges are not pressed against a person for his political philosophy. But a pistol was found during a search of the premises, and none of the prisoners admits to ownership: grounds to hold and question.) They are being investigated. Advise the press in the course of the investigation that not all the prisoners have been cooperative. The implication will disturb their friends; which of the six have been cooperative? (Or is it a police trick? Yet they cannot assume it to be a police trick.) Treat the prisoners kindly and arrange for their early release. Their friends will interrogate them—perhaps to the government's ultimate advantage.
Counterintelligence can denigrate individual leaders of the insurgency by publicizing their lapses in morality or high level of living. For example Paulino Mamani, the champion of the poor with the bank account of two million soles. Arrange for an interview by reporters following his release from prison. Take photographs of his home, his car, his maid, his children and their school. In a feature story, speculate about his plans for the future. Travel abroad? A vacation in Lima? He must patronize some restaurants in Cuzco. Interview one of the owners, and ask for the names of Mamani's favorite dishes. Give the reporters the recipes for these, or better, serve them to the reporters. Encourage them to comment on the meal. And send the feature story to the newspapers in the provinces, where the guerrillas are going hungry.
These are mild harassments whose results cannot be foretold with assurance; they are a casting of bread on the waters. Yet, considering the disappointments and frustrations to which the young guerrilla is subject, they can make his life seem less attractive. Counterintelligence can intensify the climate of suspicion and concern in which the guerrilla lives by using them together with police harassment, control measures, and raids. It can also use further provocative techniques to demoralize the adversary.
The counterintelligence officer can, for example, give a Judas kiss to a member of the insurgency. He may direct a police officer well known in his precinct to approach this member while seated with fellow dissidents in a favorite café and give him a warm, friendly (and knowing) greeting. The target is left then to allay his friends' suspicion, to protest his ignorance of the reason for the incident, and to speculate himself on its purpose. Yet he greeted you by name, in the familiar form. He smiled at you; he gave you a half abrazo. He is well known here, as long assigned to this precinct. And this, too, is where you are from. So he could have known you from the past. But your record was never good here; you have said this many times. You were always in trouble, you said. You had to leave here because they were tough on you. You said. But we see that he greeted you warmly. And the target knows, even as he tries to protest his innocence, that a guerrilla can never explain a caress from the police.
The counterintelligence officer should exploit the climate of suspicion in which members of the insurgency live. But on the other hand he must anticipate their security scrutiny of any event which is not of their doing. When he acts, therefore, he must protect the source of the information he acts upon by diverting their security investigation from it. One tactic he can use is that of the "lion in the street." He can arrange for a police van ostensibly transporting a criminal to sustain an accident in the street. In the ensuing confusion; the criminal escapes. The police, of course, must establish a cordon around the area and search the houses and apartments in it. They explain that the escaped criminal may have sought sanctuary by holding an innocent family hostage. In their search they discover not the prisoner but a cache of dynamite and the subversives they were after. In this way counterintelligence can cover the source of its original lead, apprehend its chosen targets, and further shock the insurgent organization. The latter will make a security analysis, but not with the intensity that a direct arrest would have provoked.
Another provocation the counterintelligence officer may use is to mail an insurgent a cryptic note of thanks for certain gifts received or services rendered. He might ask the addressee to meet him at the "usual place." The target, out of town this week, lives with other members of the group, whose attention can be directed to the note by a telephone message urging an immediate reply. They become curious enough to examine it. Gifts? Usual place? Is it a woman? The handwriting looks like one with a mustache! Have you noticed a change in our friend of late? Why did our last job go badly? Was he really going to visit his mother in the country?
Or the counterintelligence officer may release to the public a list of subversives wanted for acts against the public weal. Later he publishes another list which omits certain names that appeared on the first one. He can select as the dropouts persons whom he knows to be in some difficulty with the leadership. Since these lists are read with an avidity appropriate to those of lottery winners, the dropouts may soon drop as well from the favor of their comrades. Then, in the classic process by which a suspicious conspiracy breeds its own traitors, they may be persuaded by subsequent ill treatment to work for the government in return for absolution or rewards.
Penetration: The Open Bid
The success of any action against an insurgency depends on the accuracy of the information upon which it is based; and the most useful information comes from sources within the enemy's ranks. Therefore the key task of the counterintelligence officer is to acquire such sources. His role is different from that of the police:
Counterintelligence does not knock at doors and arrest men. Rather it sits among them while others knock on the door. It is arrested with them and goes into the same cell. It works on escape routes with the patriots, it aids them, steers them, and tries to protect them, going on the assumption that knowing your enemy is better than destroying him and having to I search for a new enemy.9
Yet it is essential that he control the time and tactics of the arrest and provide the data on which formal charges may be based. He should monitor his source's progress through the prison routine, advise him as to his behavior under interrogation, and debrief him—privately in the prison. He must resolve the source's problems of the moment and guide him in his future actions. In all this the left hand must be well coordinated with the right.
There are different ways to acquire inside sources. One can offer to buy information from the hungriest member of the meanest cell in an underground movement. Such a person does not generally have access to much information, and the aim of the counterintelligence officer must be at sources who possess or have good prospects of gaining information of value. But since he must begin somewhere, he will often make a first approach by shotgun through the official or public press. Let all persons having knowledge o f the personnel or activities o f such-and -,wch organization report same in writing to post office box so-and-so. The constitutional rights o f all those reporting will be safeguarded. Immunity will be granted to reporting members o f the organization with respect to offences committed against the state prior to this date. Reward. Such a plea will draw a mass of conjectures and irrelevancies along with, possibly, some pertinent facts which, moreover, he may already have on file. The sources are likely to be persons only on the periphery of the movement, from waiters with long ears to embittered wives with long memories. Yet the public appeal may bear eventual good fruit, as we shall see.
More subtly, counterintelligence can sponsor feature articles in the press which describe the depredations, harmful activities, and constant threat posed by the insurgent organization and incidentally point out gaps in what is known about it. Readers having knowledge in these particular areas are urged to write the author. The virtue of this approach lies in narrowing the field of inquiry and encouraging more specific returns.
In either case the public plea is unlikely to produce immediate results of great value. But someday a guerrilla, leafing through old newspapers reserved by café management for meaner purposes, may discover the article. He may find it amusing, or even interesting. He might clip and keep it for a time, possibly thinking of insurance against a day when he falls from grace. In that case he will not discuss it with his colleagues, or at least not be the first to mention it.But if he ever finds himself in a situation which gives him little hope for the future, he may remember this invitation.
A public plea of this nature, if inefficient, is secure in that it enables the respondent to pick his own time and often place in which to make contact. He can not only satisfy himself of the good faith of the advertiser, but also take time to develop or organize the information requested. In taking these steps he commits himself of his own volition; he is not brought to heel by the pressures of prison life. It is true that a defector is not necessarily a great prize in terms of what he can give. He may have come over because of lack of advancement in the dissident organization or he may have lost contact with its leaders and resigned himself to recovering what he can by selling the past. But an aggressive counterintelligence program often brings unexpected rewards; and a public plea for information is an aggressive action, not a desperate alternative.
As he presses to expose or identify the personnel and activities of the insurgency, as he engineers arrests and provokes the dissidents to act against their own kind, as be intensifies the suspicion which pervades the enemy ranks, the counterintelligence officer often serves as midwife to the birth of dissidents within the dissident organization. Young guerrillas find that its chains of discipline fetter their movements and spirit more thoroughly than the regime it is dedicated to overthrow. They are gradually discouraged by the denigration of its leadership, provocations against its members, publicity for its noxious activities, offers of rewards for information about it, and the ever-increasing controls and suspicion it promotes. In time, some of them begin looking for a way out, for a door from the garden; and someday one finds this door. I believed something had to be done. Things are not good in Peru; it is wrong to be hungry. Things must be changed, but not in the way of Luis de la Puente. What do you think we can do?
The counterintelligence officer must now ask many questions. What does he really want? Money? Sanctuary? Revenge? Or is he an agent of the adversary? If he comes in good faith, what information can he provide? Can he identify the secret leaders, their safesites, caching points, and couriers? Does he hold a position of any importance? If he does, who knows that he is here? Will he return of his own free will? Can he return? How long before his absence will be noticed?
The young defector is likely to pose few problems of control. Though sometimes scarred by social inequities, he is not usually deeply marked by his underworld experience. His suspicions can, of course, be aroused to a self-defeating pitch, but he is also easily confused. He is not wary and patient like the old, who know the value of what they have to offer, may recognize the pressures on the counterintelligence officer to produce results, and make demands for money or other rewards accordingly.
The Penetration Agent
The value of a guerrilla who voluntarily offers his cooperation far surpasses that of one recruited by inducements or of an agent inserted into the insurgents' ranks. The bought or browbeat recruit has not cast off clean his old allegiances. And the synthetic dissident lacks the dedicated shine of the true believer.
If it is through an agent that counterintelligence is going to penetrate the dissidents' organization, it must be through one whose ostensible motivation they will understand and accept. It must also be someone whose talents or advantages of employment or location they needsay a customs official, or a passport office employee. Into the same category would fall international airline pilots (to serve as couriers), hotel managers (as safesite keepers), postal officials (for the procurement of post office boxes), interprovince bus drivers (as intracountry couriers), and university professors (to spot and assess student candidates). Such agents have to be briefed, prepared, and directed with the greatest care.
In a longer-term process, the counterintelligence officer may select a young student or worker and direct his activities as he simply enters the general milieu of the dissidents without making any positive approach to join them. He should frequent the coffee shops they patronize, move in the same university or labor circles, attend their student or worker rallies, act sympathetic to their beliefs, and serve as a spear-carrier in their public enterprises. In the course of time, after watching his attitude and assessing his reliability, they are likely to approach him. He should neither jump at the first offer they make nor delay his assent too long. The insurgency welcomes those whom it persuades to drop their ploughshares, books, or fishnets to serve the cause, even as it views with suspicion those who take it upon themselves to seek it out.
Recruiting in Place
Because the insurgent organization makes every effort to screen out espionage agents from among those who come to its doors uninvited, mounting a thorough background investigation and other checks, the counterintelligence officer may choose rather to recruit a person already in place and avoid the hazards of trying to introduce an outsider. Here his success will depend on how accurately he selects and assesses the candidate. He must make an exhaustive study of a candidate's dossier in order to assess his strengths and weaknesses and measure his desires and needs. If the target can be persuaded to cooperate, does he have access to the desired information? Can he safely transmit it to the counterintelligence officer on a continuing basis? When did he last participate in an approved insurgent activity? If he is reassigned elsewhere, would there be communications problems? Is he emotionally reliable? Through whom should we make an offer to him, and in what manner? If he accepts, how do we know it is in good faith? When in this world of counterintelligence does "yes" mean "no"?
Dissidents under arrest constitute one pool for recruitment. These candidates are most promising while still suffering from the trauma of arrest and before news of it reaches the public. The prisoner selected for recruitment is isolated from the others, and he is permitted no contact with the general prison administration. No publicity is given to the arrest, no record of it even made. The counterintelligence officer bends every effort to win the man's cooperation. With approval from above, he can promise him freedom, immunity from prosecution for past offenses, and the prospect of a bright future. He can assure him that no one will know of his arrest or cooperation.
If the candidate is one of several taken by the police in an action that has become known to the public, the counterintelligence officer must carry out the recruitment under devious guises. He should separate the prisoners, question each privately, assess them, review their dossiers, and formally announce their detention to the press. At this time he can also say that he is appreciative of the cooperation some of the prisoners have given to the authorities. Then, before interest in the case has subsided, he should release two of them, with a public statement that members of the underground do not have to fear lengthy detention or maltreatment by the authorities. In a separate statement at about the same time, the investigative police should request that anyone with further information concerning violence against the government contact the department for an interview.
Immediately after the release of these two prisoners the dissidents whose names appear in their dossiers should be arrested. If they have fled abroad or are in hiding, the police should go through the motions of searching their homes and offices. In another week, another prisoner can be released without comment to the press. Finally, the counterintelligence officer arranges for the charges against the remaining three or more prisoners, including his newly recruited source, to be dismissed. The investigative action of the insurgent organization will then be concentrated on the first three prisoners.
The successful recruitment of a prisoner can be ascribed to the trauma of detection and arrest, to the unfriendly regimen of the prison, to the sense of failure he feels (in proportion to his devotion to the cause), and to the effects of physical and spiritual separation from his comrades. The arraignment before authority, the removal of his clothes and personal possessions, the physical examination, the prison garb, and the isolation aggravate his psychological distress. As he lies in his cell, cut off from the discipline, demands, and dedication of his organization, denied participation in the busy give-and-take of his colleagues, he is a ready target for a sympathetic and understanding approach, for the friendly face and kindly manner of one who wants to help him, for the counterintelligence officer. And if he can be persuaded in this helpful spirit to take one corresponding step on behalf of the government, he may become an agent serving counterintelligence with the same fervor he formerly devoted to the insurgent cause.
The counterintelligence officer can also arrange for the creation of a phony guerrilla group in the mountains or the city, in the hope that the malcontents, social dropouts, and visionaries will flock to a modernday cave of Adullam. His purpose is to leech blood from the insurgent organization, identify potential enemies of the government, and provide an emotional safety valve he can control. He can supervise military security sweeps of the area, setting the bounds of search and informing his guerrillas of the impending action. Through manipulating publicity for his decoy group and government efforts to crush it, be can build up its leader as a new peasant hero, a superman whose valor, cunning, ruthlessness—and charity towards the poor—capture the public imagination.
In nourishment of this legend he can take natural disasters—a burned warehouse, a washed-out bridge, a derailment or roadblocking landslide—and attribute them to his heroic rebels. He can have them raid isolated police outposts and then multiply their purported numbers in eyewitness accounts by peasants or passers-by who exist only in his imagination. He can prepare letters to the editor in the name of his guerrilla. He can release photographs of a Hercules, with features suitably obscured, to convince the skeptical that a new Castro is on the horizon. He thus sets up a counter pole to the real insurgency, which cannot tolerate rival heroes, others' victories, and competitors for public favor. It must, then, divert effort to penetrate the new threat and bring all forces into its fold. This diversion can only weaken its proper struggle against the government.
The Shadow Battle
The counterintelligence officer sits with his maps, charts, cards, and files, studying his adversary and the apparent timetable of his program. He reads the propaganda and manifestos of the enemy organization; he attends public rallies held in its name. He initiates action against it to foil a particular undertaking, exploit information received from agents, or unnerve his opponents. His aggressive moves force the insurgency to conduct intensive security investigations, reorganize components, relocate assets, revise its communications, or re-educate its membership. He can even force it to compete with his decoys in addition to its genuine political competitors.
He cannot, however, disrupt the insurgents by offering them secure passage to freedom outside the country, as Fidel Castro has to the dissident in his Cuba. The dissidents of Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Guatemala are Marxist-Leninists who do not seek safehaven in free countries. These Latin American governments cannot protect their authority, as Castro did, by offering a free exit to dissidents.
Nor can one defeat the dissidents by armed action. The insurgent organization only thrives on violence. Counterintelligence tries, therefore, to discourage dissidents by provocative and harassing actions based on information acquired through penetration. It attempts to attenuate the spirit and numbers o€ the insurgents, and it can succeed if it is granted time. Its failures can most often be ascribed to pressures from above for immediate and dramatic achievements.
A carefully worked-out counterintelligence program is most undramatic even when effective. It entails hard work and the amassing of good records. It is drudgery. It produces no miracles. But if unencumbered by a short-sighted policy from its superiors, it can provide respite for mending the social and economic fabric of the state.
1 For an analysis of the counterpart effort of the insurgent organization against the intelligence and security forces of the government, see the author's "Insurgent Counterintelligence" in Studies X11 1, p. 39 ff. Note that the product of "counterintelligence" as discussed in both these articles includes what would be positive intelligence on a conventional adversary. This is not just because counterintelligence has been officially defined, somewhat extravagantly, to include countersubversion, but because the methods used by and against the subversives, featuring subtle harassment, surveillance, penetration, and provocation, are the hallmarks of counterintelligence. Counterintelligence forces should not, on the other hand, be put to gathering information on guerrilla order of battle from the standard military intelligence sources—captured documents, prisoner interrogation, reconnaissance, etc.
3 For a fuller discussion of this thesis see Andrew T. Molnar, et al., Undergrounds in Insurgent, Revolutionary, and Resistance Warfare (Special Operations Research Office, the American University, Washington D.C., 1963), pp. 11-12, 41.
7 See Edwin M. Martin, "Communist Subversion in the Western Hemisphere," Department o f State Bulletin, Vol. XLVIH, No. 1237, 7507, March 11, 1963, pp. 347-356, and No. 1238, March 18, 1963, pp. 404-412.
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