Intelligence: Filipino Spies in America


September 18, 2005: An FBI analyst was arrested for passing on over a hundred documents to the government of the Philippines. This is a typical case where HUMINT is involved. The Philippines have been beset by rumors of a military coup (which has happened before - there was a failed coup in 1989). The FBI analyst's contact, a former director of the Philippine National Police, who is affiliated with the opposition to Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, was also picked up for overstaying a tourist visa.

Human intelligence sources usually provide information for one of five reasons: Money, Ideology, Compromise, Conscience, or Ego (often the initials MICCE are used). In this case, the FBI analyst, a Filipino native who is a naturalized citizen, apparently had $500,000 in debts. This would indicate that his revelation of the documents had a monetary motive. The FBI is not revealing how the suspect was caught - part of this is deliberate, to protect methods used in counter-intelligence. What is known is that much of this information seems to be at lower levels (out of the 101 documents, only 37 were classified as "secret", and there is no information of any top secret documents), and that these documents contained information on various Filipino leaders.

There have been persistent coup rumors over the past year. One of the goals of the coup plotters would be to determine which leaders and units they would remain loyal to the government they are trying to topple and which leaders and units would support the coup. Access to American intelligence data on the Philippines would help them decide who they could trust.

The United States, having taken a position of promoting democracy, would be greatly embarrassed if a successful coup were to occur in the Philippines, where there has been a democracy since the departure of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. There have been major problems since President Joseph Estrada was deposed by the Supreme Court in 2001, though. Currently, the coup rumors surround a scandal over rigging of the 2004 election by President Arroyo. A coup would apparently have popular support - recent polls indicated that 57.5 percent of the population felt she should not finish her term in office (which extends to 2010). - Harold C. Hutchison (


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