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Posted at 5:15 PM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Cable reveals manual for handling defectors

By Jeff Stein

A few years ago a former U.S. intelligence official doing business in the Middle East was alerted that an al-Qaeda financier wanted to defect, and was asked to help. The former official agreed and called up the CIA station in the local U.S. Embassy.

"Bring him in," a CIA man said.

"Not gonna happen," the former official responded: The defector would certainly know that the embassy was closely watched and refuse to go anywhere near the place.

"You have to go get him," he said.

"We can't do that," the CIA officer said. U.S. operatives were forbidden to travel in the high-danger area where the would-be defector was located.

No deal. The al-Qaeda banker may still be out there, as far as the former official knows.

Two former CIA operatives corroborated this account in general terms, on the basis that the city not be identified.

As it turns out, the State Department was soon to issue classified guidance to U.S. embassy personnel, marked “Secret,” on how to handle defectors. It’s highly unlikely that there was any connection between the incident described above and issuance of the manual, “Walk-in Guidance for 2009: Handling Foreign National Walk-ins, Defectors and Asylum Seekers.”

But the document, one of the more than 250,000 cables released this week by WikiLeaks, seems absent of instructions on how to handle a defector who says he doesn’t want to risk his life by driving up to, much less standing in line at, an American embassy where al-Qaeda and its allies are likely watching.

Perhaps such a circumstance was beyond the purview of the “guidance.”

It does say that “legitimate walk-ins may exhibit nervous or anxious behavior, particularly because… host nation security forces around many of our diplomatic posts make it difficult for walk-ins to approach our facilities discreetly.”

Embassy security briefings “should also stress the importance of not drawing attention to the walk-in or alerting host nation security personnel…” the manual says.

In places like Afghanistan and Iraq, of course, the local security forces outside the embassy may well have been penetrated by insurgents. Just this week an Afghan police trainee turned his weapons on U.S. military advisers, killing six.

But there’s no word in the manual about what to do when a phone call to the embassy’s switchboard in, say, Beirut, carries the trembling voice of senior al-Qaeda operative who says he wants somebody to come get him.

Customarily, such calls are referred to the CIA and FBI contingents in the embassy.

But that, oddly enough, is a secret. The manual says “the fact that a walk-in may be referred to other post officials for a decision on further actions is classified, and may not be shared with non-cleared personnel.”

By Jeff Stein  | December 1, 2010; 5:15 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy, Intelligence  
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Yeah, and the manual also doesn't tell you what to do when a supposedly friendly Third World government put into power by U.S. backing labels a scientist or a mathematician as possibly a madman or a liar or a foreign intelligence agency disinformation agent or worse still an information gathering agent for terrorists (which gives them seemingly logical grounds to monitor him without raising your suspicions) just to prevent you from talking to him, does it? They know your manual (how much of this did you share with your European and Canadian "Allies"? And how much of that did they share with their Third World "Allies"?), what do you do when they try and use it against you to prevent you from talking to the right guy? Not going to happen? But it has happened, for seven years...;-). lol.

Posted by: darkasnight1234 | December 1, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Game it out and see what happens.

Guy walks into an embassy and says he wants to defect. Staff says okay, you're on the next flight out. He says no, he has family and property and extended family. Staff tells him to get back to work and provide intel. Guy cooperates. All his intel is dubious because he may have been seen going to the embassy and flipped.

The danger isn't that he'd be seen going to the embassy. The emabassy can protect him within their compound. The alarms will go off when he does not show up at work or home. And then a damage assessment of who and what has been compromised by his defection will begin. As we know from all our recent spies in America like R. Philip Hanssen, Aldrich Ames, and the Cuban spies, the very last thing they do as productive spies is try to defect.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 1, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama no longer stood a chance of getting my help the moment he chose Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State, did he? Just like George W never stood a chance of getting any more of my help after Dick Cheney took credit (and blame) for my work. Funny how they both resorted to going to the same micro-credit people in this Third World country, and how they both got done over by the same micro-credit people. Let me take it from the top, first Hillary Clinton's favorite micro-credit people said I was a mad, because I was angry that U.S. Embassy staff kept going to them instead of coming to me and the local word for angry is "mad" just as it is in American English so they said "he is mad", then those same micro-credit people said I was a liar because I claimed to be me-myself-I, because those micro-credit people had pretended that some five foot two inch tall male friend of Abed's daughter with a similar first name to mine was me (I am six foot two inches tall), then those same micro-credit people tried to pretend I worked for the local military intelligence agency, because the father of that same five foot two inch tall guy (Abed's daughter's friend with a similar first name to mine whom they pretended was me) did run the fund-raising apparatus for the local military intelligence agency, and then those same micro-credit people pretended I was a fundamentalist (even though no one could find any links to other fundamentalists nor to anyone fighting the Americans) when I kept a beard for the winter (it was cold, I didn't feel like shaving - did they mention I grew some hair on my head too, which I usually also shave? lol), and then Hillary Clinton sends all the U.S. embassies that memo with the all terms/labels in the very sequence (can't be coincidence since she didn't get a single one out of sequence) that her favorite micro-credit people tried to stick those onto me, may be hoping one or more of those had stuck - she probably thought her favorite micro-credit NGOs would be able to steal my work and give it to her, afterall they had been paid handsomely by the U.S. government while Hillary Clinton was still a Senator (she was their contact on the Hill), so she figured I wouldn't be needed. lol.

Well, she can rest easy, I wouldn't go anywhere near the U.S. Embassy if it was the last place left on earth or the State Department while Hillary Clinton is Secretary of State - not a chance in hell. lol.

And no one can steal something from me that I haven't even designed yet, and I am not going to design it until I have an "in person" chat with John Boehner once he is Speaker and has clearance. lol.

I'll going to wait for the new Congress to come in and have them figure out a more workable solution, if they want my help...;-).

Posted by: darkasnight1234 | December 2, 2010 3:50 AM | Report abuse

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