CONTENTS JULY 21, 2000
Click. U.S. House Uses Debt To Hit Russia Over Cuba Spy Station.
Click. Senate Panel Blasts FBI's Deployment and funds domestic counter terrorism czar.
Click. Blind man fired - victim of conflicting government programs.
Click. WHY FRANK KEATING SHOULD NOT BE VICE PRESIDENT OR CABINET OFFICIAL.
Click. CIA'S SCHOOL FOR NEW BRAND OF SPOOKS.
Click. PHILADELPHIA POLICE ADMIT SPYING ON CONVENTION ACTIVISTS.
07/18/2000 Newsday © 2000
HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. – Until last week, Mike Rendina, a man with an easy laugh and friendly manner, worked at a hole-in-the-wall concession off the lobby of a state office building where he was immensely popular with employees.
Only on the job seven months, Mr. Rendina, blind from birth, knew the names of most customers from their voices, could tell people where every item was stocked and could make change better than most sighted people.
But last week the 44-year-old man lost his job at the stand known as Small Change, after Suffolk County health officials conducted a sting and Mr. Rendina unknowingly sold a pack of cigarettes to a 16-year-old sent in by the department.
Mr. Rendina is a casualty of the collision of two separate government programs – a federal law that sets up newsstands and snack shops in public buildings to employ the blind and a state program that funds undercover operations to keep youngsters from smoking.
Morgan Edwards, owner of the stand and himself visually impaired, said he reluctantly dismissed Mr. Rendina after health officials, who issued no violation, told him he could not continue to allow Mr. Rendina to sell cigarettes while alone at the stand.
He consulted with the state Commission for the Blind, which said there was nothing it could do to protect Mr. Rendina and recommended he let the employee go to protect his tobacco-selling permit.
"It was the last thing I wanted to do," said Mr. Edwards, who considers Mr. Rendina a friend. "And Mike was so understanding it made me feel even worse."
Mr. Rendina's departure, however, has spurred a petition drive in this Long Island community. It has been signed by more than 300 state workers who want to see his job restored.
"This is entrapment," said Barbara Hoffman of the Civil Services Employees Association. "What about the disabilities laws?"
Others said the sting was unneeded because few minors use the building.
The stand was set up under the 1936 federal Randolph-Sheppard Act, which gives preference to the blind to operate newsstands, snack bars and food operations in public buildings. In New York, the state Commission for the Blind equips such facilities for visually impaired operators who are given space rent-free. After the first $1,250, Mr. Edwards said, they give 20 percent of the profits to the state.
The county's director of services for the disabled criticized health officials for aiming the sting at the concession stand set up for the blind.
"That's just ridiculous," Bruce Blower said. "The whole purpose of the stand is to provide jobs for blind people."
But Richard Meyer, the health department's principal sanitarian, defended the enforcement effort, done under contract with the state, emphasizing that the agency did not seek Mr. Rendina's firing nor did it take formal action against the operator.
"We understood the unique circumstances. That's why we only issued a warning," Mr. Meyer said. "But they have to deal with the problem. If we could buy them, kids could buy them, and kids are in there all the time getting junior licenses and other things."
Mr. Meyer said the concession owner had other options, including eliminating sales of cigarettes, having someone who can see help with checking identification cards and installing scanning devices that would read out what's on ID cards.
Mr. Edwards said adding staff or giving up cigarette sales is unrealistic because his shop is small and tobacco products make up much of his income.
Mr. Rendina does not blame Mr. Edwards or health officials, but he criticized the state's Commission for the Blind for failing to provide up-to-date gear to help operators. "They told Morgan to cut me loose. They didn't want to deal with it," he said.
The Office of Children and Family Services, which oversees the commission, provides some stands with scanners, but none that do an audio read-out of ID cards. Instead, the agency recommends that shops employ staffers who can see well enough to check IDs.
Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service
By David A. Vise, © 2000, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, July 21, 2000; Page A29
In unusually harsh language, a Senate panel has criticized the FBI for spreading itself too thin by taking on too many new tasks and for using costly elite units to police events that don't require high levels of expertise.
The Senate Appropriations Committee report, which has not been made public, cited statistics compiled by Syracuse University showing that just 30 percent of FBI criminal referrals resulted in convictions. It said the FBI spends too much time on bank robberies and other crimes that could be handled at the state and local level, instead of focusing on counterterrorism, counterintelligence, cyber-crime and other clearly federal responsibilities.
At the same time, the committee this week approved $23 million to fund a new domestic counterterrorism czar at the highest levels of the Justice Department. Saying the federal government lacks clarity and focus in combating domestic terrorism, the committee wants the new "deputy attorney general for national security and intelligence" to coordinate strategy and diminish confusion.
The Senate proposal would shift power away from the FBI by transferring authority over the National Domestic Preparedness Office from the bureau to the new deputy attorney general, who also would have the authority to review the budgets of any agency working on counterterrorism. The preparedness office serves as the central point of contact with state and local governments, whose officials have criticized the FBI for not readily sharing information.
The next president would be required to appoint the first person to hold the Senate-confirmed position by the spring of 2001.
"The Congress, the president and the attorney general must be able to look to a single person with a single national strategy to safeguard this country from terrorism," the report says.
Justice Department officials said they oppose creation of the new position.
"We learned during the millennium that we have a very good system in place to respond to terrorist threats," said Justice Department spokesman Myron Marlin. "While we are always willing to consider ways to improve the existing structure, we believe this proposal in its current form might just create more confusion."
The establishment of the new high-ranking post, backed by Justice appropriations subcommittee Chairman Judd Gregg (R.-N.H.), is outlined in a lengthy report that accompanies the Justice Department's budget bill. There is no similar provision in the House version of the bill.
The report is notable for its stern criticism of the FBI. Generally, the Republican-led Congress has been supportive of the bureau. But the report said the FBI's mission overlaps the responsibilities of a host of other law enforcement agencies, and its work has suffered.
"Pulled in every direction, the quality of FBI investigations has declined," the report concluded.
It castigated the bureau for misusing costly, highly trained units, including its Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) and its SWAT teams.
"The bureau's Hostage Rescue Team and . . . SWAT teams have participated in everything from the Miss America pageant to the Olympics to the pope's visit," the report says. "This seems a gross misuse of expensive and highly trained assets. . . . The bureau is directed to get the [Hostage Rescue Team] out of the dignitary protection and event security business."
FBI spokesman John Collingwood said that hostage rescue teams are deployed based on the magnitude of the threat at various events. "Regardless, the FBI will take the committee's observations to heart and study the situation closely," he said.
Collingwood also noted that complaints of blurred jurisdictions had led FBI Director Louis J. Freeh "to implement the FBI's first long-term strategic plan and most recently to reorganize the FBI in recognition of these new priorities." In its strategic plan, the FBI said that its top priorities include counterintelligence and counterterrorism.
Collingwood also contended that the Syracuse University statistics on case outcomes were based on flawed methodology and are "somewhat misleading."
U.S. House Uses Debt To Hit Russia Over Cuba Spy Station.
WASHINGTON, Jul 20, 2000 -- (Reuters) © In a clash of wills with the White House, the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill to try and prevent the United States from rescheduling hundreds of millions of dollars in debt owed by Russia unless Moscow shuts down a spy station in Cuba.
The measure passed easily in the Republican-led House by a vote of 275 to 146, with 61 Democrats joining Republicans to support the bill.
It seeks to bar the Clinton administration from agreeing to allow Russia to postpone payment of $485 million in bilateral Soviet-era debts owed to the United States, unless Moscow permanently closes a sophisticated electronic eavesdropping facility it leases from Cuba at Lourdes, just outside Havana.
The listening post is reported to house dozens of Russian intelligence officers using satellites and other high-tech electronic surveillance equipment to spy on the United States.
"This is about espionage. If we are to have a new relationship with Russia and if the Russian government seeks the support of our nation such as debt relief, then it's time they heard from our government about those actions that we do not appreciate," said Republican Representative Benjamin Gilman of New York, chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
"Supporting the Castro regime and spying on American citizens and our companies are not appreciated."
Republicans cited intelligence reports that Moscow pays the government of Cuban President Fidel Castro some $200 million a year to run the Lourdes facility, which collects intelligence on U.S. military activities, ordinary American citizens and private companies, particularly those in the high-tech industry.
"We have a situation where the Russians in Cuba are engaged in activities in direct conflict with the national security interests of the United States," said Representative Porter Goss, a Florida Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee.
The Clinton administration has strongly opposed the Congressional action, which is part of a concerted attempt by Republicans in both the House and Senate to block U.S. agreement to allow Russia to reschedule its debt as part of a broader pact with the Paris Club of 19 creditor nations.
"We share congressional concerns about the Lourdes facility and its intelligence collection activities. However, this legislation is not likely to be an effective lever on Russian actions," the White House Office of Management and the Budget said in a policy statement.
"Legislation like this bill may rebound adversely to the United States by inviting Russia and other countries to pursue similar charges against U.S. facilities they characterize as threatening."
U.S. officials have warned that any refusal by Washington to reschedule the U.S. share of the Russian debt would create tensions within the Paris Club. If the bill became law and Russia failed to repay the debt, it would automatically lose its normal trade relations status and Russian goods entering the United States could be hit by higher tariffs.
But Republicans in Congress have repeatedly accused the White House of being soft on Russia by agreeing to defer repayments of the debt, which Russia inherited from the old Soviet Union and dates back to the Cold War.
Representative Tom DeLay of Texas, the House Republican whip and one of President Bill Clinton's fiercest critics in Congress, accused the administration of an "alarming disregard for our national security" and said America demanded accountability in its relations with Russia.
A similar measure to block postponement of Russian debt repayments is also moving through the Senate, sponsored by conservative Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina.
Helms, Gilman and other influential Republicans have argued for months that alleviating Russia's debt burden simply frees up funds for Moscow to use for malevolent purposes, such as prosecuting the war in Chechnya and providing aid to Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic.
(C)2000 Copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
WHY FRANK KEATING SHOULD NOT BE A VICE PRESIDENT OR CABINET MEMBER.
A Review of Governor Frank Keating’s Public Record Shows Why He Should Not Be Vice President or President of the US and Should Not Be a US Cabinet Official (Nor a Federal Judge or a US Attorney Either).
1994-2000 Oklahoma Governor
Publicly attacked victims, witnesses, State Representative Charles Key, Federal Grand Juror Hoppi Heidelberg and KFOR-TV for their raising questions about other Middle Eastern John Does being involved with McVeigh in the OKC bombing. Keating publicly alienated and offended many of them by calling them anti-government, right-wing conspiracy nuts. See quotes below that Keating made about the right-wing while Keating was an FBI agent in the early 1970’s. Keating also told many of them that they should fully trust and not question the investigation of their government and the FBI.
Yet recently obtained court documents of the preliminary hearing for McVeigh on April 27, 1995, reveal that FBI agent Jon Hersely testified under oath that the FBI key witnesses who saw McVeigh at the scene also saw McVeigh with more than one John Doe at the scene and that FBI photographic evidence support the witnesses claims of John Does with McVeigh at the scene.
There is a large, well establish Hamas terrorist cell of Middle Eastern terrorists that has been entrenched in Oklahoma City for over ten years. This cell has been alleged to have been involved in the Oklahoma City bombing. FBI, Congressional officials (to whom I have talked), Frank Keating and his brother, Martin, all know about this cell. However, Frank Keating has not warned his fellow citizens of the cell and nor has he urged the FBI and Feds to take action against them to protect Oklahoma citizens. Former House Intelligence Chairman, Dave McCurdy wrote of the Hamas cell in OKC and the FBI knowledge of it and the allegations of Hamas involvement in the OKC bombing. McCurdy's article appeared in the May 1995 issue of the Oklahoma Gazette.
Publicly admitted on KTOK radio in Oklahoma City that his office staff had illegaly taken contributions made to bombing victims. Keating blamed the thefts on college intern students in his office but most of the monies were not returned to the victims and no one was prosecuted.
Reporter John Cash of the McCurtain County Gazette told victims of the bombing, Eddie Smith and members of the Glen Wilburn family, that Keating was observed illegally taking a number of artifacts and memorabilia from the Murrah building rubble (seals, plaques, pictures, etc.) and putting them in the trunk of his car and may not have properly turned them over.
Directly involved in the decision to demolish the Murrah building before investigators could complete a forensic investigation of the possible locations of explosive ordinance devices planted and/or illegally stored inside and outside of the building.
Alleged to have been informed of a likely attempted attack on the Murrah building one to two days before the bombing in a meeting with FBI and City Council and other state and Federal officials. But Keating failed to warn the public or any of the people killed in the Murrah building. There is very strong and considerable evidence that the Federal government had adequate forewarning of the bombing and covered up their knowledge.
His brother Martin Keating wrote a book called the “Final Jihad” that closely paralleled the OKC bombing, a train derailment in Arizona and the shoot down of an American jetliner over the US with Middle East terrorists and an American character named McVeigh. Martin Keating publicly bragged that he wrote much of his manuscript and with most of its major themes several years before the OKC bombing even though Keating waited after the bombing to publish his book. Martin Keating claimed he got many of his ideas from being inside FBI operation headquarters and talking to FBI agents about possible scenarios. Martin said his book was written in part to stress the need for anti-terrorist legislation (that gave the Feds too broad powers). Martin confirmed the presence of the Hamas terrorist cell in Oklahoma City during a broadcast on KTOK radio in OKC.
1989-1993 General Counsel and Acting Deputy Director of HUD (Under Jack Kemp)
Arranged the dismissal of two senior women at HUD, Austin Fitts and Claire Freeman, a black female. Fitts became President of Hamilton Securities in DC and Freeman became Director of Housing for Cuyahoga county Ohio.
Never won a case while at HUD.
Issued a directive (immediately overturned by Secretary Kemp) which denied basic life support and humanitarian aide to children and babies of immigrants facing life threatening situations. Keating believed these children should be denied emergency services because their parents were illegal aliens.
The HUD Chief of Staff ordered an investigation by the Inspector General into the extensive expenditures made by Keating for his personal travel (many trips made to Oklahoma) at taxpayers expense. Keating received a reprimand for his excessive expenses.
During a Senate confirmation hearing in 1992 to consider Keating’s nomination to be a Federal Appellate Court Judge, Keating was:
Investigated by Delaware Senator Joe Biden for allegations that Keating abused his motor pool privileges to be driven to breakfast and lunch sessions with his personal friends.
Accused of undermining fair housing laws at HUD. He was also accused of labeling African Americans living in government housing as “slaves in a slave ship.”
Keating was not confirmed for the Appellate Judgeship.
1988-1989 Associate US Attorney General (Under Edwin Meese)
Transferred from Treasury to Justice Department after Meese was alleged as receiving a bribe from Barry Seal by IRS investigator Bill Duncan and after Meese was alleged to be involved in Inslaw case and death of investigator Danny Cassalaro.
While at the Justice Department, Keating presided over:
US Prison System:
Keating was involved in a lawsuit and accused of ordering the illegal lockdown of a prisoner who accused Dan Quayle of using cocaine so there would not be a “disruption” of the 1992 Presidential election.
Immigration & Naturalization Service
All 94 US Attorneys
1985-1988 Acting Deputy Secretary of the Treasury (Under James Baker, III)
While in charge of enforcement Keating directed the:
US Customs Service
Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms (BATF)
Keating was present at Treasury during the following scandals:
Looting of Federal Savings and Loans
Illegal exports, agricultural loans and nuclear technology to Iraq (Iraqgate)
Illegal Drug Trafficking and money laundering at Mena, Arkansas
IRS agent Bill Duncan testified before Congress that Treasury officials asked him to perjure himself about his findings of drug trafficking and money laundering at Mena, Arkansas and allegations of bribes being paid to Edwin Meese by Barry Seal. Keating abruptly left Treasury and went to work for Meese a few months after Treasury had asked Duncan to perjure himself. There is a published report that Treasury Secretary James Baker publicly complained about Keating’s performance at Treasury and abrupt departure, allegedly saying that Keating was “lazy” and “duplicitous”.
1981-1984 US Attorney, Eastern (Northern) District of Oklahoma (Tulsa)
1974-1981 Oklahoma State Senator
1972-1974 Oklahoma State Representative
1969-1971 FBI Agent, San Francisco and Seattle
Joined the FBI resulting in a draft deferment at the peak of the Vietnam War when Keating was vulnerable to being drafted after he had completed the University of Oklahoma law school in 1969. He legally dodged the draft.
Keating’s specialty was investigating bombings and discrediting left wing terrorists at a time when the corrupt techniques of the COINTEL program (shutdown by Congress) were being used by FBI agents on the West Coast. Published accounts quote Keating about his FBI days: “The leftists I deal with would never consider themselves patriots, and they had contempt for the government. The right- wing crowd has contempt for the government, and yet they see themselves as patriots. It’s a curious anomaly, but both of them are very similar.”
I have asked Frank Keating questions on KTOK radio in Oklahoma City about the OKC bombing. I have asked his brother Martin Keating questions on KTOK radio about his book "The Final Jihad" and also the OKC bombing. I have visited in person with Martin Keating at his book signing.
I am a Viet Nam era veteran who volunteered to serve in the US Navy at a time when Frank Keating dodged the draft by joining the FBI. Keating is about two years older than I am. I am a native Oklahoma and have paid my dues and have my skin in the game. I say Frank Keating is not fit to be Vice-President, President or any US Cabinet official or Judge for that matter.
Posted on 07/20/2000 21:43:37 PDT by OKCSubmariner
NOTE RE: THE BOOK, THE FINAL JIHAD, BY MARTIN KEATING. Were the Middle Eastern terrorists "for hire" really provocateurs, in fiction or reality?
To read excerpts of the book, see: http://www.firstkeating.com/index2.htm
This book is "fiction." A blurb states:
"When the Soviet Union imploded, a lot of people figured the long nightmare was finally over. However, no one at the FBI felt that way. We knew that the former KGB hard-liners still controlled billions of dollars in gold in Zurich and could keep their cause alive by financing and directing scores of militants and terrorist-for-hire groups around the world. If they ever completed the loop by establishing a terrorist base here in America, they could tear us apart in a month." Red Redwine
Chapter 1 has a character with the last name McVey. See 8 brief customer reviews on Amazon. One review mentions the OKC bombing, which is also noted on the book's cover.
Martin Keating's book was completed in 1991 and released in June 1996 (See this page.) The OKC bombing occurred in 1995. Did Keating predict, or re-write his fiction, after the bombing.
CIA's SCHOOL FOR NEW BRAND OF SPOOKS.
The CIA's new Kent training facility is the spy agency's response to a changing world of threats. Past failures, and there are plenty of them, form a key part of the curriculum.
But on the second floor of this anonymous building, the CIA's newest spy school is in session.
The students wear laminated blue neck tags showing that they have security clearance to use classroom computers marked "top secret." Their trash is shredded and burned each day. And the study area has so many guards, locks and alarms that it is called "the vault."
The building is sheathed with special materials and sensors to stop anyone from secretly listening in. That's just as well, since a recent morning's visit found two instructors and 25 students deep in discussion of past coups, assassinations and invasions. Flunking out "is not an option," one teacher warns.
Welcome to the Sherman Kent School for Intelligence Analysis. Open since mid-May, it is the first comprehensive training program for the unheralded CIA analysts who sift stolen secrets, pore over satellite photos, review wiretap transcripts, scan State Department studies and wade through newspaper and other media reports.
The new school is the latest effort by the CIA to change the way it works. Buffeted by budget cuts, frustrated by new technology and mortified by scandals and failures, America's premier spook shop quietly has spent the last two years reevaluating its role--critics would say its rationale--and recharting its course in the post-Cold War world.
The goal, CIA Director George J. Tenet said recently, "is to make sense of a world that is more complicated and less predictable than it ever has been in our history." With the Cold War over, Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), head of the House Intelligence Committee, warns of "pop-up targets that threaten our national security."
Once focused primarily on the Soviet Union, the CIA now spies on China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Russia as strategic priorities. But it also tracks a host of smaller targets, from terrorists to drug traffickers, and a long list of thorny topics, from refugees to earthquakes.
Last year, for example, the CIA provided maps for humanitarian operations in Turkey and Taiwan, reported on arms traders in Africa, traced money laundering in the Caribbean and helped eliminate terrorist cells in Europe and the Middle East.
The CIA's Clandestine Service, home to the secret agents of legend and lore, also has been beefed up. A legion of new operatives--including a growing number of women and nonwhites--have been recruited. And funding is up for covert operations, new spy gizmos and a basic training course that includes crashing cars through barricades and parachuting from planes.
Spy Agency Extends Its High-Tech Reach
The CIA's gadget gurus, meanwhile, have tapped Silicon Valley. They launched a nonprofit corporation, In-Q-Tel, last fall to support private-sector development of information technology that the CIA can use. Flooded with proposals, the company has signed 10 contracts so far.
"We're looking at real 'Mission Impossible' stuff," Gilman G. Louie, president of In-Q-Tel, said earlier this year.
Analysts at the CIA are usually more sedate, but they often play the most crucial role in influencing U.S. policy. That's because they write the world's most expensive and exclusive newspaper: the President's Daily Brief.
Drawing on the entire U.S. intelligence community--an estimated $30-billion-a-year enterprise--the top-secret file tries to tell the president and about a dozen of his top advisors what really is going on each day in the inner circles of power, from Beijing to Bosnia, and what it means for U.S. interests and forces around the globe.
President Bush, a former CIA chief, insisted on starting his day with the PDB. President Nixon famously ignored his, once deriding "those clowns" at the CIA for failing to foresee the outbreak of the Middle East's Yom Kippur War in October 1973.
But the lessons of that failure and other high-profile CIA screw-ups form the core of the Kent School curriculum. For example, the agency told the president that there were no Soviet missiles in Cuba two weeks before they were discovered in 1962 and failed to foresee that the shah of Iran was in serious trouble at home before he was deposed in 1979.
"We spend a lot of time in this course studying mistakes," said Frans Bax, the Kent School dean and a 20-year CIA veteran.
There are plenty to study. The CIA was caught off-guard when India tested a series of underground nuclear devices in May 1998, even though the new government in New Delhi had been elected on a vow to develop nuclear weapons. Three months later, the agency was stunned again when North Korea launched a sophisticated three-stage rocket over Japan in a failed attempt to put a satellite into orbit.
And last year, in one of its worst foul-ups, the CIA provided incorrect targeting data that led U.S. warplanes to bomb the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization air war against Yugoslavia. The CIA had not noticed the embassy's new address in the Belgrade telephone directory.
Those failures added to the push for better collection, technology and analysis.
In the past, for example, CIA analysts were hired, given two to four weeks of training and assigned a desk at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Va. Now, hundreds of new analysts are being recruited. Many will serve at least temporary tours overseas after attending the Kent School's six-month course in intelligence trade craft.
The curriculum includes everything from ethics to "Fundamentals of Denial and Deception." Case studies will focus on the fall of President Suharto in Indonesia in 1998 and the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Field trips are planned to the supersecret National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md., and the Pentagon's Pacific Command and Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
The final week, at least this semester, will include a nonstop 28-hour exercise, starting at 2 a.m., involving a mock terrorist attack. "This is deliberately designed to be intensive and stressful," Denis Stadther, director of the school's career analyst program, said cheerfully.
Emphasis Is on Expertise, Loyalty
Martin Petersen, head of strategic programs in the CIA's directorate of intelligence, said that the course is designed to build expertise and a loyalty to the CIA among the Gen-Xers who could easily find work in the outside world.
"What they do here is get a short, intense slice of what they'll face for the rest of their careers," Petersen said. "It's not about answers. It's about a mission. And heavy responsibilities. There are lives at stake in what they do."
Not surprisingly, the veteran analysts who run the school argue that stolen blueprints and bugged hotel rooms are swell, but swift and insightful analysis of the growing torrent of information pouring into the CIA is the key to telling the president the real intentions of America's adversaries.
"Electronic intercepts are great, but you don't know if you've got two idiots talking on the phone," Petersen said. "And a picture may say 1,000 words, but it's still just a snapshot. There is no context."
Providing context was critical to the late Sherman Kent, a revered CIA analyst and tobacco-chewing Yale history professor who first proposed creating the analysts' school in 1953. A Times reporter was allowed to visit his namesake on condition that the paper not publish its location or the names of students and teachers.
The school's first class of 11 women and 14 men is an impressive group. Two-thirds have master's, doctor's or law degrees. Half have lived or worked abroad and are fluent in another language. A half dozen served in the military.
And at least one, James, 34, has worked 10 years abroad as a CIA case officer--in other words, an agent who sweet-talks generals, file clerks and other foreigners into betraying their country. He says that trading danger and derring-do for the intellectual challenge of solving puzzles has been "an eye-opener." His current project: "I'm changing my cover," referring to his former false identity.
Denise, the youngest student at 22, said that she already has learned the key difference between writing for the CIA and her professors back at UCLA. "Here you state the conclusions first," she said with a laugh. "And you have to be concise."
Another student, Kim, 31, is less enthusiastic. "I think they don't know what to do with a PhD in agricultural economics," she said. But later she admitted that her attitude may explain why she is there. "Skepticism is a characteristic that's encouraged here. So is being judgmental."
During a morning class on "Assumptions, Biases and Mindsets," the casually dressed students sit at five U-shaped tables, surrounded by flip-charts, in a windowless room.
The instructors--Helen, a Haiti expert, and Lynn, a Middle East specialist--use an overhead projector and pose "what if" questions based on real conflicts and crises. In each case, the students must analyze incomplete, and often conflicting, information.
"Look for things that aren't there," Lynn told the class. "If we make up our minds too early, we shut ourselves off to possible answers."
Later, the students discuss classified papers they are preparing. Their topics range from Chinese smuggling and illicit migration in Europe to food security and refugees in the Horn of Africa and the Balkans.
But during a break, Stewart, 27, confessed that his friends doubt he is studying such dry fare. "They wonder if I really learn to break someone's arm in three places and drive cars really fast." They're disappointed, he added, when he says no.
PHILADELPHIA POLICE ADMIT SPYING ON ACTIVISTS.
A spokeswoman had denied officers watched meetings as the convention neared. A car registration gave them away.
Reversing an earlier denial, the Philadelphia Police Department admitted yesterday that its officers conducted surveillance at private meetings of activists planning protests at the Republican convention.
The department earlier this month flatly denied that police were watching and photographing activists. Lt. Susan Slawson, the force's spokeswoman, said in an interview published July 6 that any such activity would violate formal curbs on police intelligence-gathering "and we are in no way violating it."
Yesterday, the department acknowledged plainclothes Philadelphia police officers had been photographing protesters. "It is our people," Slawson said.
She made the admission after The Inquirer informed department officials that car-registration records showed that a car used during one surveillance was owned by the force.
Slawson said Police Commissioner John F. Timoney was not available to comment on the reversal. Slawson took the blame entirely upon herself for the incorrect information provided earlier this month.
"I spoke prematurely," she said. "I wasn't aware that we were doing surveillance. Everybody else knew. I didn't check into it before I made the comment."
Slawson's denial was widely reported at the time. Neither Timoney, Deputy Commissioner Robert Mitchell, who is heading security for the convention, nor any other senior police official publicly corrected Slawson's denial.
In another shift, Slawson yesterday abandoned her previous statement that surveillance would violate a 1987 court settlement. The settlement came after police were sued for posing as civilians to get inside protest planning sessions for that year's celebration of the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution.
The department's new view, she said, is that the 1987 pact banned infiltration of protest groups, not watching them or taking pictures.
"I read the order wrong," Slawson said.
Stefan Presser, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, which monitors police adherence to the 1987 directive, yesterday endorsed the department's latest interpretation.
Presser agreed that the order applied only to undercover infiltration of protest groups.
Slawson, commander of the Police Public Affairs unit, declined yesterday to say whether the surveillance was still going on, who authorized it, or whether it was targeted at people thought to be planning disruptions or violence.
"We won't get into any of our intelligence operations," Lt. Slawson said.
While apparently lawful, the police surveillance - and the fact that nobody took responsibility for it - contributed to tension between police and activists over planned protests at the four-day GOP convention, starting July 31.
Throughout June, activists from several groups reported at least five instances in which unidentified men were seen watching and photographing people entering and leaving protest meetings.
In one instance, on June 29, an Inquirer reporter observed two men dressed in casual clothes, with one carrying a Nikon camera, watching activists arrive for a meeting at the offices of the leftist group Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
The pair at times sat on the hood of a maroon Plymouth, a car The Inquirer has learned was registered to the department.
Both men calmly refused to answer any questions posed by an Inquirer reporter and later by several activists. "I got no beef with them," one of the men said when asked about the demonstrators.
Yesterday's admission by the department prompted a mixture of scorn and disdain from protest organizers.
"This is just outrageous," said Michael Morrill, an organizer of a large rally on July 30 called Unity 2000. "If this is in fact going on, and city officials are lying about it, I wonder what else they're doing."
"We're taking it in stride now," said Amy Kwasnicki, a member of the Philadelphia Direct Action Group, an umbrella group for protesters. "Whatever is going to happen is going to happen."
The Direct Action Group is coordinating three days of protests and civil disobedience during the convention, including undisclosed actions for which protesters are preparing to be arrested. They have pledged not to be violent.
Asked yesterday about the reasons for the surveillance, Slawson said only: "Just because we are getting information about people who are going to be part of the demonstrations here doesn't mean we believe they in particular are going to be in any way disruptive or violent."
The surveillance is not the only picture-taking controversy now involving the Philadelphia police.
A New York City-based civil-rights group complained last week, in a letter to New York police, that a Philadelphia police officer photographed demonstrators during a May 1 rally in Manhattan.
Philadelphia commanders have confirmed that officers traveled to New York City for May 1 rallies, as well as to demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and Seattle as part of intelligence-gathering for the GOP convention.
Slawson yesterday refused to say whether Philadelphia police had, in fact, photographed protesters in New York.
New York police are forbidden to photograph demonstrators under a 1985 consent decree. The Center for Constitutional Rights, citing that decree, said in its letter of complaint that it might sue New York police for collaborating with Philadelphia officers in the surveillance. It's not clear whether the decree would cover Philadelphia police.