In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

CIA's anti-terrorism NOC effort called 'colossal flop'

By Ken Dilanian

$3 billion wasted; spent with little to show for it

JewishWorldReview.com |

W ASHINGTON— (MCT) Several years ago, a senior officer in the CIA clandestine service attended a closed-door conference for overseas operatives. Speakers included case officers who were working in the manner Hollywood usually portrays spies — out on their own.

Most CIA officers abroad pose as U.S. diplomats. But those given what's called non-official cover are known as NOCs, pronounced "knocks," and they typically pose as business executives. At the forum, the NOCs spoke of their cover jobs, their false identities and measures taken to protect them. Few said much about gathering intelligence.

A colleague passed a caustic note to the senior officer. "Lots of business," it read. "Little espionage."

Twelve years after the CIA began a major push to get its operatives out of embassy cubicles and into foreign universities, businesses and other local perches to collect intelligence on terrorists and rogue nations, the effort has been a disappointment, current and former U.S. officials say. Along with other parts of the CIA, the budget of the so-called Global Deployment Initiative, which covers the NOC program, is now being cut.

"It was a colossal flop," a former senior CIA official said in sentiments echoed by a dozen former colleagues, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a classified program.

Spurred by Congress after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the CIA rushed to put its eyes and ears in gritty corners of the globe where Al Qaeda and other adversaries operate or recruit. The risk was considerable: Unlike CIA officers in embassies, NOCs have no diplomatic immunity if caught, and could face imprisonment or worse.

The CIA spent at least $3 billion on the program, and the number of specially trained spies grew from dozens to hundreds. The entire clandestine service is believed to total about 5,000 people.

But because of inexperience, bureaucratic hurdles, lack of language skills and other problems, only a few of the deep-cover officers recruited useful intelligence sources, several former officers said.

Some of the most ambitious efforts were aimed at Iran, former officers said. The CIA created front companies and elaborate fake identities for operatives trying to recruit sources inside Iran's nuclear and missile procurement networks.

But Iranian authorities were able to expose American operatives, said two former senior CIA officials. They were transferred back to CIA headquarters in Virginia or other U.S. posts.

Sometimes the CIA didn't send the right people with the right cover, said Joseph Wippl, former chief of the CIA's Europe division. Others were posted "a zillion miles from where their targets were located," he said.

CIA leaders also were reluctant to put the special spies in harm's way.

"There was just a great unwillingness to put NOCs in really, really dangerous places," said another former case officer. "If you're a high-grade agency manager, are you going to sign off on a memo that puts Joe Schmuckatelli in Pyongyang? Whether you are a careerist or not, that is a hard decision for anybody to make."

The program also was tainted by financial irregularities, according to a former senior CIA official. The CIA's inspector general found that some NOCs billed the agency for unjustified time and expenses, three former officials said, and it forced a few to repay money.

A CIA spokesman, Todd Ebitz, declined to comment about the NOC program, its budget or its problems.

"The agency does not discuss publicly any cover techniques that it may employ," he wrote in an email. "The CIA does keep the congressional intelligence oversight committees fully informed of its activities, which are constantly evolving to meet the threats to national security. And, while the details of the agency budget remain properly classified, sequestration and budget cutbacks have affected the entire federal government, including CIA."

The best-known NOC was Valerie Plame. In the mid-1990s, while in Brussels, she posed as an energy analyst for a Boston-based firm, Brewster Jennings & Associates, which the CIA later acknowledged was a front company. Plame maintained her false identity after she moved back to CIA headquarters in 1997, traveling frequently to the Middle East and elsewhere to recruit agents who could spy in Iran and elsewhere.


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Her CIA career ended in 2003 after Bush administration officials leaked her name to the press in an effort to discredit her husband, who had claimed the White House had manipulated intelligence on Iraq. A White House aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was later convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. Plame's best-selling book on the case, "Fair Game," was turned into a Hollywood film.

Masking spies as engineers, consultants or other professions has long been part of the CIA playbook. But the push took on new urgency after the 2001 terrorist attacks exposed the CIA's lack of informants inside Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks.

It wasn't that CIA officers were expected to personally infiltrate Al Qaeda. But working outside the embassy might make it easier to recruit local sources in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere who could collect intelligence on terrorist money, aims and intentions.

In 2004, then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss announced a new effort to put more officers under deep cover to gain what he called "close-in access to the plans and intentions" of America's adversaries. Soon after, Congress passed legislation permitting undercover CIA officers serving overseas to keep salaries from their civilian cover jobs even if it exceeded their federal paychecks.

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee pressed the CIA to go further. They attached a provision to their 2006 intelligence authorization measure questioning whether the spy service was "committed to doing what is needed to ensure that NOC operations are successful."

The agency doubled down. A growing number of recruits at the CIA training facility at Camp Peary, Va., known as the Farm — including the class of 2008, the largest in CIA history — was made up of NOCs, former officials said.

Unlike their classmates, they were barred from making cellphone calls or using the Internet in order to hide any ties to the CIA. Later, many would operate in their own names, holding real jobs for multinational companies around the globe.

But when it came to penetrating terrorist networks, NOCs suffered the same shortcomings as other CIA officers — too few spoke Urdu, Pashto, Dari or other necessary languages, or could disappear in local cultures, former CIA officers say.

In 2008, a former CIA operative's biting memoir, "The Human Factor," was published, describing his 15 years overseas targeting nuclear networks and terrorist groups. He wrote that the CIA had spent at least $3 billion since 2001 to get deep-cover operatives overseas, but only a few had been successfully deployed.

"There were only a handful of effective NOCs overseas, and that never changed," the author, who uses the pseudonym Ishmael Jones, said in a telephone interview.

In 2010, then-CIA Director Leon E. Panetta gave a speech promising "new approaches to cover." But the vast majority of case officers continue to pose as diplomats, U.S. officials say.

John Maguire, who retired from the CIA in 2005, argues that the CIA could help the NOC program by doing more to establish legitimate commerce for the front companies. But that would cause headaches for CIA administrators, he acknowledged.

Maguire said he knew only three successful NOCs in his 23 years as a case officer. "They were absolute nightmares for the administrative bureaucracy of the agency," he said.

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