Return to


July 14, 2006
Notes from the Pentagon

Damage assessment
Congress has been asked to conduct a damage assessment of the intelligence compromise caused by former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analyst Ronald N. Montaperto, who pleaded guilty last month to illegally retaining classified information and who told investigators he passed secrets to China.

"I am deeply concerned about the damage that has been done by Ronald N. Montaperto to our country's formulation and implementation of foreign policy related to the People's Republic of China [PRC]," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican and chairman of the House International Relations oversight and investigations subcommittee.

Mr. Rohrabacher stated in a letter to David M. Walker, the chief of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), that the agency should check policy documents that were "prepared and influenced" by Montaperto and that affected U.S. policy toward China.

The July 6 letter also asked GAO to investigate propaganda themes Montaperto supported throughout his career in speeches, scholarly work and conference roles.

Montaperto was a senior China analyst at DIA who came under suspicion of being a Chinese spy in 1991 but who continued to hold a security clearance at the National Defense University and U.S. Pacific Command until his dismissal in 2004.

"In addition, I need to know whether he was in a position of authority that enabled him to hire and/or fire employees whose views concerning the PRC differed from his," Mr. Rohrabacher stated, noting that the review should include Montaperto's role in analysis of Chinese intentions.

The report was requested "as soon as possible" in both classified and unclassified forms.

According to court papers, Montaperto admitted during a ruse by FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service agents that he passed top-secret information to Chinese military intelligence officer Yu Zenghe.

Friends of Montaperto in the U.S. intelligence and policy communities have sought to defend the former analyst and have criticized the FBI. One of the supporters, Lonnie Henley, deputy national intelligence officer for East Asia, recently defended Montaperto in an e-mail and as a result has come under scrutiny by the office of Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte.

New counterspy chief
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John D. Negroponte is expected in the next few days to name a new national counterintelligence executive, the government's most senior counterspy, and neither of the two candidates has counterintelligence experience, we are told.

The leading candidate is said to be Mike Pritchard, a former U.S. Secret Service agent who is now a security specialist with Hunt Oil Co. in Texas. Another candidate is Howard J. Krongard, the State Department's inspector general.

A DNI spokesman said yesterday that no decision on the appointment has been made. Neither candidate could be reached for comment.

The counterintelligence post has been vacant since the resignation of Michelle Van Cleave in January. Miss Van Cleave left after her independent post was folded into the new Office of Director of National Intelligence. The office has sought to downgrade the counterintelligence function from that of an independent strategic capability of countering foreign spies and their activities to one that is more limited to supporting U.S. foreign intelligence collection.

President Bush signed a new counterintelligence strategy last year that calls for conducting aggressive activities against foreign spies, but little has been done to implement the strategy.

100 percent Cotton
Ever since Powerline.com posted a letter from Lt. Tom Cotton in Iraq to the New York Times, some on the left have insisted no such person exists. It's too neat, they say. A Harvard law graduate gives up his law practice to enlist in the Army to fight terrorists? Can't be.

But the Army assures us that one Tom Cotton does exist. He is fighting today as a member of the 101st Airborne Division, 506th Infantry Regiment. Maybe the left cannot imagine that such men exist. But there are likely many more out there, men and women who put aside promising civilian careers to join the military after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, was so taken by Lt. Cotton's umbrage at the Times for revealing how the United States tracks al Qaeda cash that the four-star general sent it to soldiers via e-mail.

Said an Army spokesman: "The Army chief of staff routinely communicates with the Army's generals and soldiers about subjects of great concern. One of those subjects is operational security. In fact, he has been emphasizing for over a year not posting on personal Web sites photographs of bomb damage from attacks on soldiers and not Web logging information that could assist enemies targeting our soldiers."

A senior Treasury Department official told Congress this week that the Times disclosure has had negative effects on the U.S. government's ability to trace al Qaeda financing.

"This disclosure compromised one of our most valuable programs and will only make our efforts to track terrorist financing and to prevent terrorist attacks harder," said Stuart Levey, undersecretary of Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

Laser JDAM
The Boeing Co. conducted a successful test-firing of an upgraded Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), which blasted a moving target using a laser targeting device, the company said.

The new guided bomb, called the LJDAM, provides the military with precision bombing power that is an improvement over the already highly accurate satellite-guided JDAM.

During a test, an Air Force F-16 flying at 20,000 feet hit an armored personnel carrier (APC) moving at 25 mph. The F-16 used an on-board targeting pod to laser-designate the APC and hit the vehicle with the 500-pound guided bomb four miles from the target.

The laser designator is part of a kit that fits existing JDAMs and boosts the accuracy of the Global Positioning System guidance package. Deliveries of the laser- and satellite-guided version of the bomb could be deployed as early as next year.

  • Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough are Pentagon reporters. Gertz can be reached at 202/636-3274 or by e-mail at bgertz@washingtontimes.com. Scarborough can be reached at 202/636-3208 or by e-mail at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.


  • Inside the Ring Archives
    1999 Columns
    2000 Columns
    2001 Columns

    2002 Columns
    2003 Columns
    2004 Columns
    2005 Columns
    2006 Columns
    Return to