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NSA不晓斯诺登“前科”不足为奇

今天的《纽约时报》登了一篇让人瞠目结舌的报道。前美国国安局(NSA)承包商斯诺登其实早在中央情报局(CIA)海外分部工作期间就被怀疑过。斯诺登的CIA老领导在四年前便发出预警,但却并未引起NSA和联邦调查局(FBI)的注意。《纽约时报》引述了一名共和党议员的话说,这个系统的弱点被再次暴露了。

问题的关键在于,为何美国三大情报系统间的沟通如此之糟糕?可惜《纽约时报》的文章并没有点明,这个系统到底弱在哪里,以及为何那么多年了还是如此。因为事实上,这已经不是第一次了。

刚刚就任哥伦比亚大学新闻学院院长的Steve Coll是反恐和安全问题的专家。伊拉克战争后,他倾注了大量心血研究美国情报系统究竟出了什么问题,于是就有了这本名叫Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001的书。此书于2004年出版,次年作者因此再获普利策奖(前一次是1990年,Coll与他《华盛顿邮报》的同事David Vise共同获此殊荣)。

今天从斯诺登事件中暴露出来的CIA,FBI,以及NSA的合作问题,其实在这本书中就早有提过。看来,这回美国的情报系统真得大刀阔斧改革了。

以下是书中的相关章节。为了保留Coll的原意,我将书中原文摘于此,但在部分地方做了强调。读完后,你或许会和我一样感到官僚系统的低效和可笑。作家Chalmers Johnson甚至在2004年10月的《伦敦书评》上这么说,“废了CIA!”(Abolish the CIA!)。但归根到底,还是因为美国的这些机构太恪守自己的职责范围,不愿手持“维护国家安全稳定”这把尚方宝剑逾矩罢了。

另,此书购买地址:http://www.amazon.com/Ghost-Wars-Afghanistan-Invasion-September/dp/0143034669

“Washington’s broader counterterrorist bureaucracy in 1993 was dispersed, plagued by interagency rivalries, and fraying under budgetary pressure.

The State Department’s counterterrorism office, on paper a focal point for policy, was in a state of near chaos, wracked by infighting, leadership turnover, and budget cuts. The National Security Council had yet to issue any formal directive about which government agency should take the lead in a case like the World Trade Center bombing or how different agencies should work together.

Early draft proposals about those issues sat at the White House unresolved for nearly two years. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, meanwhile, led by Louis Freeh, pushed to expand its role in criminal cases with international connections, including terrorism cases.

Freeh wanted to place FBI agents in U.S. embassies worldwide. Some CIA officers resisted the FBI’s global expansion, seeing it as an incursion into the agency’s turf. Even those at Langley who believed the CIA could profit by partnering with the FBI were uncertain how the new system was supposed to work in detail.

One basic unresolved question was whether to tackle terrorism as a national security problem—as a kind of war—or as a law enforcement problem, with police and prosecutors in the lead.

In some cases terrorists looked like enemy soldiers. At other times they were easy to dismiss as common criminals. Their sometimes spectacular media-conscious attacks might generate widespread fear and draw intense scrutiny, but the actual impact of terrorism on American society was minimal.

Americans were still much more likely to die from bee stings than from terrorist strikes during the early 1990s. In that respect it made more sense to treat terrorism as a law enforcement problem. Prosecuting and jailing a terrorist as an ordinary murderer effectively dismissed his claims to political legitimacy.

This seemed to many American national security thinkers a more rational reply to terrorists than waging a paramilitary war or treating some half-educated Marxist thug with the dignity accorded to enemy soldiers.

By the time the Clinton administration settled into office, this legalistic approach to terrorism was well established within the American bureaucracy. In 1995 when Clinton at last made a decision about his antiterrorism policy, he formally designated the FBI as the lead agency in terrorism cases where Americans were victims.

Clinton’s relationship with Louis Freeh and the FBI was perhaps even worse than his relationship with Woolsey and the CIA. Clinton seemed to regard Freeh as a self-righteous Boy Scout drone, and the White House political team resented the FBI’s role in what they saw as trivial, politically motivated investigations.

Still, Clinton was a Yale Law School graduate, a former law professor, and a deep believer in the principles of the American legal system. As a matter of policy Clinton sought to cloak American power with the legitimacy of international law wherever possible. Emphasizing police work and courtroom prosecutions against terrorists seemed both a practical and principled approach.

The CIA did not typically work inside the American legal system. The agency was chartered by an American law—the National Security Act of 1947—and its employees were subject to prosecution in the United States if they defied orders, carried out unauthorized operations, or lied under oath.

But the CIA’s espionage and paramilitary operations overseas were conducted in secret and were not subject to review by American courts. CIA operators routinely burglarized foreign embassies to obtain intelligence. They paid warlords and murderers for inside information about American adversaries.

The intelligence they collected often could not withstand scrutiny in an American courtroom. Nor did Congress want the CIA to participate in prosecuting criminals inside the United States.

The CIA was created to prevent another Pearl Harbor. But in the aftermath of a catastrophic war against Nazism, Congress also sought to protect the American people from the rise of anything like Hitler’s Gestapo, a secret force that combined spying and police methods. The CIA was therefore prohibited from spying on Americans or using intelligence it collected abroad to support directly criminal prosecutions in the American court system.

Prosecutors and police, including the FBI, were also discouraged from sharing with the CIA leads or evidence they collected in domestic criminal cases. In many cases if an FBI agent or federal prosecutor passed along to the CIA files or witness statements obtained during a terrorism investigation before a grand jury—no matter how important that evidence might be to American national security—he or she could go to jail.

The FBI’s hermetic culture had become infamous by the early 1990s: FBI agents would not tell local police what they were doing, were deeply reluctant to work on interagency teams, and would withhold crucial evidence even from other FBI agents. There were FBI agents stationed inside the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center to aid information exchange, and in some respects the FBI’s relations with the CIA were better than its relations with many other government agencies.

Even so, after the World Trade Center bombing, as the FBI began to communicate with the CIA about Islamist terrorism cases, its agents carefully followed the laws banning disclosure of grand jury evidence.

All of this inhibited the CIA’s reaction to the World Trade Center attack. Since 1989 the FBI had been running paid informants inside circles of Islamic radicals in New York and New Jersey.

In 1990, FBI agents carted away forty-seven boxes of documents and training manuals from the home of El Sayyid Nosair, Rabbi Meir Kahane’s assassin. The FBI did not translate the material from Arabic into English for two years, and even then it did not share with theCIA crucial evidence about the terrorists’ international network.

The documents provided rich details about Afghan training camps and the growth of al Qaeda along the Afghan border and throughout the Middle East. Osama bin Laden’s name surfaced in this initial FBI investigation because a relative of Nosair traveled to Saudi Arabia and received money from bin Laden to pay for Nosair’s defense lawyers. The CIA was not told.

The CIA’s analysts only learned about the full richness of the FBI’s files several years after the World Trade Center."

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