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Data Leaks Persist From Afghan Base

Data Leaks Persist From Afghan Base
Data Leaks Persist From Afghan Base

Forwarded from: William Knowles,0,1166178.story?coll=la-home-headlines 

By Paul Watson
Times Staff Writer
April 13, 2006 

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - A computer drive sold openly Wednesday at a 
bazaar outside the U.S. air base here holds what appears to be a trove 
of potentially sensitive American intelligence data, including the 
names, photographs and telephone numbers of Afghan spies informing on 
the Taliban and Al Qaeda. 

The flash memory drive, which a teenager sold for $40, holds scores of 
military documents marked "secret," describing intelligence-gathering 
methods and information - including escape routes into Pakistan and 
the location of a suspected safe house there, and the payment of $50 
bounties for each Taliban or Al Qaeda fighter apprehended based on the 
source's intelligence. 

The documents appear to be authentic, but the accuracy of the 
information they contain could not be independently verified. 

On its face, the information seems to jeopardize the safety of 
intelligence sources working secretly for U.S. Special Forces in 
Afghanistan, which would constitute a serious breach of security. For 
that reason, The Times has withheld personal information and details 
that could compromise military operations.

U.S. commanders in Afghanistan said an investigation was underway into 
what shopkeepers at the bazaar describe as ongoing theft and resale of 
U.S. computer equipment from the Bagram air base. The facility is the 
center of intelligence-gathering activities and includes a detention 
center for suspected members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups 
flown in from around the world. 

"Members of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command are conducting 
an investigation into potential criminal activity," a statement said.

The top U.S. commander here, Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, has 
ordered a review of policies and procedures for keeping track of 
computer hardware and software.

"Coalition officials regularly survey bazaars across Afghanistan for 
the presence of contraband materials, but thus far have not uncovered 
sensitive or classified items," the statement added.

The credibility and reliability of some intelligence sources 
identified in the documents is marked as unknown.

Other operatives, however, appear to be of high importance, including 
one whose information, the document says, led to the apprehension of 
seven Al Qaeda suspects in the United States.

One document describes a source as having "people working for him" in 
11 Afghan cities. "The potential for success with this contact is 
unlimited," the report says. 

Even the names of people identified as the sources' wives and children 
are listed - details that could put them at risk of retaliation by 
insurgents who have boasted about executing dozens of people suspected 
of spying for U.S. forces.

The drive includes descriptions of Taliban commanders' meetings in 
neighboring Pakistan and maps of militants' infiltration and escape 
routes along its border with Afghanistan.

In another folder, there is a diagram of a mosque and madrasa, or 
Islamic school, where an informant said fugitive Taliban leader Mullah 
Mohammed Omar had stayed in Pakistan.

Another document describes in detail how a member of Pakistan's 
Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, the Taliban's former 
mentors, tried to recruit an Afghan spying for the U.S. by promising 
him $500 a month.

Some of the documents can't be opened without a password, but most are 
neither locked nor encrypted.

Numerous files indicate the flash drive may have belonged to a member 
of the Army's 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), based at Ft. Bragg, 
N.C. The unit is operating in southern Afghanistan, where a U.S.-led 
coalition is battling a growing insurgency.

Some of the computer files are dated as recently as this month, while 
others date to 2004. The clerk who sold the computer drive said an 
Afghan worker smuggled it out of the Bagram base Tuesday, a day after 
The Times first reported that military secrets were available at 
several stalls at the bazaar.

The 1-gigabyte flash drive sold at the bazaar Wednesday is almost full 
and contains personal snapshots, Special Forces training manuals, 
records of "direct action" training missions in South America, along 
with numerous computer slide presentations and documents marked 

There is also a detailed "Site Security Survey" describing the layout 
of the Special Forces unit's "Low Visibility Operating Base" in 
southwestern Afghanistan. Another document outlines procedures for 
defending the base if it comes under attack, and there are several 
photographs of the walls and areas inside the perimeter.

The drive holds detailed information on a handful of Afghan informants 
identified by name and the number of contacts with U.S. handlers. In 
some cases, photographs of the sources are attached. 

A report on a spy involved with a code-named operation says the Afghan 
has been used in "cross border operations." But it cautions that an 
American officer "has come to the conclusion that Contact may or may 
not be as security conscious as thought to be or expected."

The report describes a potential "low-level source" who reportedly has 
"brought in active and inactive Taliban and Al Qaeda 
associates/operators who have expressed a desire to repatriate/end 
conflict peacefully."

The man is identified as a former ISI agent in the 1980s, during the 
U.S.-backed mujahedin war against Soviet troops in Afghanistan. He 
also provided a document on Al Qaeda's cell structure to the CIA, the 
report adds. 

The document also names the man's wife and children and lists his 
cellphone number.

It describes the informant as very punctual, with a good sense of 
humor. Politically, it adds, he is "much like a Republican in the 
United States." 

The computer files also provide a rare look at how the U.S. military 
contracts and pays its Afghan spies, and the commitments they make in 
signed contracts, written in English.

In a two-page "Record of Oral Commitment," marked "secret" and dated 
Jan. 28, 2005, a source agreed to work for the U.S. Army by providing 
information on Al Qaeda, the Taliban and an allied militia, the 
Hizb-i-Islami, led by fugitive warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

"The source will be paid $15 USD for each mission he completes that 
has verified information," the agreement stipulates. "This sum will 
not exceed a total of $300 USD in a 1-month period," the report says. 
The sum rises to $500 a month for information "deemed of very high 

And there are serious consequences for any breaches of the commitment, 
such as failing to disclose information on the terrorist organizations 
or missing either of two meetings scheduled for each month.

The penalty for "using his new skills to participate in activities 
that are deemed" anti-U.S. or against the Afghan government is 
"termination with prejudice," according to the document.

Another document describes how an Afghan informant for the U.S. 
military said he was contacted by an official from Pakistan's Embassy, 
who asked the Afghan to spy for the ISI.

A high-level ISI official then offered the Afghan $500 a month and 
other incentives, the document says.

The report adds that the ISI official "said that he's looking for an 
U.S. Embassy employee to aid in the bombing of the embassy that [he] 
is planning." The ISI official promised he would pay the Afghan 
$100,000 after the destruction of the embassy in Kabul.

The report concludes: "Everything that [Pakistani] told the Source 
could be made up or inflated as to look good and exciting to the 
Source; a possible ploy to get the Source to 'sign up' for the ISI=85. 
However, my 'gut' tells me otherwise, and this guy really is trying to 
recruit my source for the other side." 

Special correspondent Wesal Zaman in Kabul contributed to this report.

"Communications without intelligence is noise;  Intelligence
without communications is irrelevant." Gen Alfred. M. Gray, USMC - Computer Security, & Intelligence - 

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