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CIA decides to infiltrate more spies into India - The Observer

Aziz Haniffa ()
July 13, 1998

Title: CIA decides to infiltrate more spies into India
Author: Aziz Haniffa
Publication: The Observer
Date: July 13, 1998

The infiltration of more spies into India and the recruitment of
more agents in that country have become top priority for the
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the wake of its
embarrassing failure to detect India's nuclear tests in May.

Intelligence sources said the CIA would also completely separate
itself from the US embassy in New Delhi and other American
organisations in the country and work on its own, eschewing some
of the established and traditional forms of having their officers
serving ostensibly as defence attaches or other senior military

According to these sources, this upheaval in the CIA, spurred by
its being caught napping by India's tests, is a reversal to the
totally independent manner in which the agency used to operate in
South Asia earlier, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Apparently there were still a fair number of CIA agents in
Pakistan and intelligence gathering and the recruitment of moles
in that country was relatively easy compared to India, where the
secrecy of the nuclear tests and the manner in which New Delhi
was able to shield itself from the monitoring of the American
satellites showed up the spy agency's serious lack of

The sources said the new plans were essentially a case of getting
back to the basics - old fashioned spying using 'human
intelligence' and hence a major effort to recruit 'moles' inside
all sectors of India's scientific, defence, political and
diplomatic establishments.

In May, the CIA was forced to acknowledge that it did not have
any agents who could have tipped the US of India's plans and that
confession showed the Congress just how badly the CIA's espionage
network had deteriorated in recent years.

Meanwhile, the decision not to provide the intelligence
information to diplomats to fire off demarches to countries
warning of their nuclear or other clandestine activities, the
sources said, was a direct result of a realisation that India had
used information gleaned from these demarches to its advantage.

Former CIA director James Woolsey told Congress recently that the
Indians "Probably learnt something about our own reconnaissance
site capabilities by the way in which we delivered demarches."

"This often happens. I've had demarches delivered over my
objections when I was DCI (Director of Central Intelligence)," he

In 1995, then ambassador to India Frank Wisner, on being informed
that US satellites had detected that India was preparing for a
test, delivered a demarche to prime minister P V Narasimha Rao
warning that Indo-US relations would be harmed if India went
through with the tests.

Woolsey said, "in so far as we go around delivering demarches to
the world on what they should and should not do, almost always
the information comes from intelligence and therefore reveals
something about intelligence sources and methods."

Thus, the sources said, it was plausible that in the future the
non-delivery of demarches by the US to India would not
necessarily mean that the CIA hadn got a foothold in the
intelligence, scientific and other circles that matter in the

CIA director George Tenet, after testifying recently before the
senate intelligence committee, told reporters, "I'm going to take
dead charge of how our community collects information, how
collection and analyses are lashed together to ensure that the
kind of event that occurred here (the case of India) will not
occur again in the future."

The sources said from April, following the election that resulted
in the advent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government,
daily intelligence from satellite imagery and intercepted
communications on India's nuclear test sites were ordered because
the BJP had promised in its manifesto to introduce nuclear
weapons to the country's arsenal.

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