Think On These Things — Is MEDINT Real Science or Junk Science?

“They (CIA Medical and Psychiatric Analysis Center) have been monitoring the health of world leaders for decades. It’s an essential element of biographical profiles.”

 Intelligence Historian Jeffrey T. Richelson — Author of “The Wizards of Langley”

“As an intelligence officer working with a team of physicians, psychiatrists and psychologists, you will assess the physical health of foreign leaders and terrorists..”

CIA advertisement published in ‘Journal of the American Medical Association’

“A CIA report concluded that based on the medical information, Ayatollah Khomeini will ‘probably die within the next few months’. That was nearly 10 months ago…”

Washington Post (March 19 1989)

January 15 2019 — The Medical and Psychiatric Analysis Center (MPAC) is one of the more intriguing parts of the CIA. The unit that has operated out of the public view for half a century, MPAC tries to gauge — from both public and classified sources — the health  of world leaders. Here is a simple but important question. Is Medical Intelligence serious science or junk science? Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

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The US Department of Defense defines Medical Intelligence (MEDINT) as:

“That category of intelligence resulting from collection, evaluation, analysis, and interpretation of foreign medical, bio-scientific, and environmental information that is of interest to strategic planning and to military medical planning and operations for the conservation of the fighting strength of friendly forces and the formation of assessments of foreign medical capabilities in both military and civilian sectors. (Also called MEDINT)”

The CIA personality profiles of top political leaders include medical and psychological information, as well as sexual proclivities.

Why does MEDINT matter anyway?

It does matter for several reasons. I will just point one of them. As Kissinger explained (in the context of the Iran Nuclear deal):

“Diplomacy needs a new impetus. As a first step, the United States and its negotiating partners need to agree on how much time is available for negotiations.”

Now, and this is crucial, sometime policymakers and diplomats must accept that they may not have reached the best possible deal they could have negotiated from the people sitting in front of them.

But the clock is ticking, and they are also aware that soon they may not face the same people, for better or worse.

Serious Science or Junk Science?

MEDINT is — of course — more ‘guesstimate’ than pure science. And the crystal ball can be foggy.

Let us not forget that the CIA — and the media — predicted Khomeini’s imminent death from the very day he returned to Iran.

Let us unpack the question into three sub-categories: medical and psychological information and, let us call it by its name, sexpionage.

Medical Intelligence

There is very little doubt that the work performed in this area is based on solid science and can provide valuable intelligence.

For instance, here is a cable — dated March 28 1973 — from the US Embassy in Paris regarding the health of the French President.

Pompidou died on April 2 1974, from Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, a type of cancer.

pompidou

But, if you think that serious scientific research is always glamorous, you may want to read this story and reconsider your career move…

In the 1940s Stalin’s secret police had set up a special department to get its hands on people’s faeces.

Joseph Stalin spied on Mao Zedong, among others, by analysing excrement to construct psychological portraits.

“For example, if they detected high levels of amino acid Tryptophan ( in faeces), they concluded that person was calm and approachable.”

“But a lack of potassium in poo was seen as a sign of a nervous disposition and someone with insomnia.”

Personally, that is the kind of ‘raw intelligence’ I would not touch with a ten-foot pole.

But, then again, I can only assume that there is a rational reason as to why the word “coprophilia” actually exists in the English language… And this fact brings us to the next subject.

Psychological Intelligence

Is North Korean leader Kim Jong-un crazy? Is Iran Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei irrational? Is Trump insane and unfit for the Presidency?

American Dr. John Gartner — Founder of Duty To Warn and co-editor of “Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump” — has written about the mental health conditions he believes Donald Trump has.

Dr. Gartner concluded that these conditions would justify his removal from the Presidency under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution.

But can a psychiatrist evaluate the mental health of a person by watching television and reading newspapers?

I have great doubts about that. Comments from experts are welcome!

Sexpionage

Let us be clear. This kind of work has nothing to do with science. Sexpionage is blackmail by government agencies. And sexpionage is rarely glamorous…

During the cold war, Jon Watkins, a Canadian ambassador, met a Soviet man with whom he had a brief affair on one of his trips to Central Asia.

The man later sent the ambassador a postcard, suggesting that they meet in Moscow. The encounter took place in a hotel room — and their amorous embraces were secretly filmed by the KGB.

In 1964 Watkins was secretly detained in a hotel in Montreal, Quebec, by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the US Central Intelligence Agency, who accused him of being an agent of influence.He died several days into the interrogation.

However, the official obituary claimed Watkins had suffered a heart attack in the company of friends during a farewell supper celebrating his illustrious career.

The events surrounding the death of Watkins were exposed by Ian Adams in 1980, and the Parti Québécois government swiftly ordered an inquest into the death.

The RCMP refused to hand over its full report, claiming it would damage national security.

Eventually, the RCMP revealed that Watkins had died under police interrogation in the Montreal hotel room.

They also admitted that he had not given in to Soviet blackmailing tactics, and he had not been found to be a traitor.

Conclusions

There is no doubt that MEDINT (sensu stricto) can provide valuable intelligence to policy makers.

On the other hand, psychological intelligence is very dubious at best. Finally, sexpionage has — most of the time — little to do with intelligence.

Post Scriptum — On January 13 2019, Amir A. Afkhami — an associate professor of psychiatry, global health and history at George Washington University — published a story in the Washington Post titled: “Why the U.S. must know the truth about the health of Iran’s supreme leader.”

The author argues that “Not knowing could produce major policy blunders.”

“As commander in chief of Iran’s armed forces and vicar of the Shiite Messiah, Supreme Leader Khamenei is the ultimate arbiter over the Islamic Republic’s factionalized political system.

His incapacity would escalate government infighting, unbridle the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and degrade the ability of the regime to cohesively respond to internal disturbances.

Washington’s readiness to respond to such an eventuality could turn a new leaf in the U.S.-Iran relationship for decades to come — and for that, the U.S. needs to be prepared with as much intelligence as possible.”

Two years ago, I told you to be very suspicious of MEDINT when various groups reported that Ayatollah Khamenei — Iran Supreme Leader — was living his very last days.

Obviously, I was not wrong. Two years later, the Supreme Leader is alive, and tweeting a lot!

Perhaps, I am now falling into the trap I warned you against two years ago, but I suspect that Ayatollah Khamenei may indeed die in the near future.

My reasons to believe so are not based on direct intelligence reports. There is not even RUMINT (RUMor INTel) or GOSINT (GOSsip INTel) to back it up!

However, as I explained recently, the sanctions passed by the US against Iran make little sense… unless the CIA believes that it is better to play a ‘waiting move’ until Khamenei dies, hoping that he will be succeeded by a ‘more moderate’ successor. Lots of luck with that!

Psychiatrist: Trump Mental Health Urgently Deteriorating

REFERENCES

NSA makes medical intelligence operations a priority

How the CIA diagnoses world leaders from afar

CIA is looking for a few good doctors

KHOMEINI’S LAST LAUGH — WP March 1989

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Think On These Things — Is MEDINT Real Science or Junk Science?

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