January Monthly Gathering – Burn Before Reading – America’s Incredible Intelligence Failures

Until it is deemed once again safe to return to meeting as a group, Southeast Michigan Mensa will be presenting a series of lectures on Zoom. These programs are “members only” events, and not open to the public.  Members should consult this month’s newsletter to register.  If you are not a member, why not join us?  See how at the “Join Now” tab above.

Unbelievably screwed-up intelligence operations rarely make headlines unless people die or major political figures are involved. What screws up a carefully planned operation? Most of the time it is ignorance or personality driven guidance and direction from people who have attained senior decision-making positions without ever having spent a day “on the street.”

For example, a person who spent their entire career in signals intelligence (SIGINT) wearing headphones, listening to enemy radio conversations, or supervising soldiers wearing headphones, is promoted to lieutenant colonel, assigned to be a department chief, and suddenly has the responsibility of approving human intelligence (HUMINT) operations involving real people illegally crossing borders, to carry out clandestine activities. It is analogous to a TV repairman being asked to do open-heart surgery.

On the other hand, an experienced HUMINT operator, who served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam demands his subordinates use some of the same tactics and methods from those conflicts in post-Cold War Europe. When his subordinates question his guidance, they get fired, their operation goes down in flames, and the operator gets pushed into a dark corner until they retire.

In his thirty-three-year career as a multi-disciplined intelligence operator and analyst, our speaker this month, Robert Dukelow, participated in or provided support to several operations that should have been stamped SNAFU, maybe even FUBAR, rather than SECRET. Tales based on these operations have been fictionalized in Dukelow’s books, which were cleared for publication by the NSA and the Pentagon’s security offices. You should not, therefore, hear any currently classified information in this presentation.

Robert Dukelow lived 27 years in Germany. The fictional books he’s authored are filled with humor, spy stories, and strong women. After working 33 years as an Army counterintelligence special agent in Europe, Afghanistan, and the Pentagon, his German is superb. His Hungarian is marginal. His Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Turkish, and Japanese can get him in trouble. He now lives in Arizona, where he writes, gardens, teaches, hikes in the mountains, and says he’s having more fun than an old guy at his age should probably expect.

Join us on Saturday, January 16, to hear former Army Intelligence officer Robert Dukelow tell some of the astounding stories behind the stories of America’s intelligence operations. The Zoom room will open at 6:30pm for mingling. The program starts at 7:00pm.