Spies on spies
This is going to get a little technical, so strap in.
There are very strict provisions (and prohibitions) on when American intelligence assets can be used to collect and report on U.S. persons. These Intelligence Oversight (IO) principles are taken from Executive Order 12333, referred to in the intelligence community as “EO twelve triple three” listed, in abbreviated form, here:
(a) Information that is publicly available or collected with the consent of the person concerned;
(b) Information constituting foreign intelligence or counterintelligence,
(c) Information obtained in the course of a lawful investigation;
(d) Information needed to protect the safety of any persons or organizations,
(e) Information needed to protect foreign intelligence or counterintelligence sources or methods from unauthorized disclosure,
(f) Information concerning persons who are reasonably believed to be potential sources or contacts,
(g) Information arising out of a lawful personnel, physical or communications security investigation,
(h) Information acquired by overhead reconnaissance not directed at specific United States persons,
(i) Incidentally obtained information that may indicate involvement in activities that may violate federal, state, local or foreign laws; and
(j) Information necessary for administrative purposes.
It’s not incredibly important to memorize these provisions. The important takeaway from this chapter is highlighting what is not listed, specifically, tasking intelligence assets to collect derogatory and slanderous information on attachés (U.S. persons) in order to use that information as leverage over them.
If you recall, my first interaction with Tanya was in September 2019 when she accused three of my attaché colleagues of colluding to “overthrow the Defense Attaché Office.” This interaction was bizarre for a few reasons. The first question arose was: “if there were issues of insubordination / mutiny in the office, why would the commanding officer not be the one to address it?” The second question was: “how exactly did Tanya arrive at these outlandish conclusions?”
Before we delve into this, it’s important to introduce how the Defense Attaché Service is structured. In doing so, pay particular attention to how each Defense Attaché Office (DAO) is led by a Defense Attaché, and a group of DAOs is overseen by a Geographic Division Chief within DIA:
Take another look at Figure 2 (structure of a DAO). Note that there is a line leading directly from a service attaché to the boss, the Defense Attaché. There is no line going around the commander – there is one and only one line. It is worth repeating the questions at this point:
1. If there are issues with a service attaché, is that then not for their superior officer, the Defense Attaché, to address?
2. Where is the derogatory information coming from and why would the Geographic Division feel the need to intervene and thereby circumvent the Defense Attaché?
The answers to the above are this:
1. Yes, it is absolutely a matter for the Defense Attaché. To not do so is to intentionally circumvent the chain of command, which is the sacred foundation of good order and discipline in every military unit in existence.
2. Read on.
The September 2019 exchange with Tanya keyed me and most of my colleagues into the potential that we had a “mole” in the office, and we had a pretty good idea who it was, but I needed to prove it. That opportunity presented itself the following month. I was in the midst of authoring my annual performance report when it was returned to me for some edits. DIA, upon returning the performance report, gave me some ridiculous and arbitrary due date, not to mention the requested edits seemed silly to me. I went to our mole, the Operations Coordinator (OPSCO, in the diagram) and told her I was going to refuse to comply with the requested edits. In parallel, I adjusted the performance report and submitted the revisions the next day. That day, I received the following email directly from the Geographic Division Chief:
I am told by my staff that you are refusing to assist in fixing your OPR. Is this true?
I have been trying to help you get another assignment in the DAS, and if this is true, it does not encourage me to continue to help you out.”
The mole had been outed: it was the OPSCO. There is no other way Tanya would have been clued into my “insubordination” so expeditiously if there wasn’t an open line of subversive communication in place. It was a minor exchange, but it nonetheless demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that there was collection and reporting of U.S. persons occurring and the OPSCO was the source. And in the process, I had (even more) proof of the extortive methods Tanya so often carried out: carrot and stick, yet again. When Tanya showed up in January 2020 to carry out her hits on attachés, she had a dossier of information she had been fed from the OPSCO over the previous months. When we were publicly berated for our “transgressions,” we knew exactly what was transpiring: we were being spied on – by our own intelligence agency.
A few months after my departure, my colleague was summoned to D.C. to be lambasted by Tanya. In the meeting, she waved a sheet of paper with all the “derogatory” information the OPSCO had been subversively collecting and reporting to Headquarters and as she did, veritably blackmailed the attaché saying “this can go back in the drawer if…” She did this right in front of a witness as well – the colleague’s legal counsel, no less!
It gets worse…
While I was authoring the first report to Congress, I received a tip from a former OPSCO that provided this statement:
“In 2020, my Geographic Division Chief held a meeting during a DAS conference and directed that all OPSCOs work directly for them. I had serious concerns with this policy in that it was a direct order to circumvent the chain of command.”
It wasn’t just one rogue bureaucratic cancer in the DAS running her own Stasi network, it was institutional policy to violate Intelligence Oversight law, while routinely usurping the chain of command in the process. And not only were there Americans spying on Americans, throughout the entire DAS: it was Americans tasking Americans to spy on Americans!
I think the best way to summate the situation would be from another witness account, which I incorporated into the July 2021 report to Congress:
“As a defense attaché in a foreign country, I should not have to spend a large portion of time looking over my shoulder for someone nefarious from DIA; there are plenty of other foreign threats for me to worry about.”
This paints the unfortunate picture of life as an attaché in the Defense Attaché Service: you had to be constantly weary about foreign threats and at the same time had to worry about your own “teammates” as well, all while the Agency’s military leadership fiddled. Any wonder why this is with the Congress now?