Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Top 10 Spy News Stories of 2011

The Killing of Osama Bin Laden
The top spy news story of 2011 was the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden. Ten years of intelligence provided tantalizing clues that finally led to the city of Abbottabad, Pakistan. Bin Laden had apparently been living there for years, probably with the knowledge of some elements within Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

Several high-value terrorists had been waterboarded in the years after 9/11, resulting in the discovery of the name of a bin Laden courier. Later, the National Security Agency was made aware of a SIM card from a cell phone associated with the courier, which allowed it to monitor a conversation between the courier & an associate. His location was pinpointed and he was eventually tracked to bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.

But more evidence was needed that bin Laden was actually living there, so the CIA concocted a phony vaccination program for locals in that area. The DNA of bin Laden’s children was thereby collected, and that provided enough evidence that the CIA had finally discovered bin Laden’s whereabouts. A Navy SEAL team swept in and ended bin Laden’s reign of terror on May 2.

Cyberespionage Rising

Cyberspying is the fastest growing type of espionage. Hackers are targeting military, government, business, educational, and personal computer systems. Often, they are acting on behalf of a foreign government. The Pentagon has taken notice and formulated policies for the first time in dealing with the threat. “Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace” is the first ever reports by the Pentagon to protect from potentially devastating attacks. The “Department of Defense Cyberspace Policy Report” includes guidelines for a military response to a cyberattack.

The Secret War on Iran’s Nuclear Program
In Iran, things fall apart—by way of unexplained explosions. Gas pipelines, oil installations, and military facilities have all suffered from this mysterious illness. Nuclear physicists have been assassinated and nuclear facilities sabotaged. Who knows why? Many speculate the Mossad, CIA, and other western intelligence services are engaged in a secret campaign to inhibit Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions, and all this chaos is the result.

The Raymond Davis Affair
Relations between Pakistan and the US became exceptionally strained during the Raymond Davis Affair. Davis was a CIA contractor working at the US consulate in Lahore, Pakistan. On January 27, he shot and killed two Pakistani men who had approached his vehicle while in traffic. Davis said they were trying to rob him. The Pakistani public was outraged, feeling that CIA agents were running around their country killing people with no accountability or respect for innocent lives. After two months of diplomatic negotiations, it was decided that the Islamic practice of accepting “blood money” by the victims’ relatives would solve the matter in a way acceptable to all parties, and Davis was released from jail and flown out of the country.

China is Crowned King of Cyberespionage
China has become “the bad guy” in terms of cyberespionage. Fair? All countries spy, all countries try to discover military and governmental secrets from both enemies and friends. But critics assert that China’s espionage has gone far beyond stealing those kinds of secrets, and it is waging a massive trade war by targeting private American companies. Most countries steal what they need, while China steals everything it can get its hands on, they say. The US doesn’t steal on behalf of private industry, but that isn’t a problem for China or other countries. We are playing by different rules. “Foreign Spies Stealing US Economic Secrets in Cyberspace” was issued by the National Counterintelligence Executive accusing China of being the most active perpetrator of economic espionage.

Iran Captures US Spy Drone
In early December, Iran somehow came into possession of an unmanned US spy plane, an RQ-170 Sentinel drone. It was apparently spying on Iran’s nuclear facilities. What caused the plane to fall out of the sky is disputed. The US believes it suffered a technical malfunction and crashed; Iran collected the pieces, then reassembled and painted them before placing the vehicle on display for the public. Iranian authorities, on the other hand, claim they jammed the plane’s navigation technology, allowing them to gain control and force it to land. This particular drone is considered highly advanced, but has no self-destruct mechanism. Prominent figures on the political right berated President Obama for not ordering a strike team to fly in and destroy the vehicle before it could be captured. Obama was left in the humiliating position of begging an adversarial foreign power to give it back, which Iran rejected. How much Iran can learn from the plane is debated as well, but it is feared Iran will allow China or Russia to see the drone and learn what they can from it.

The Lebanon Espionage War
In early December, the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon revealed the names of the CIA station chief in Beirut as well as other CIA staffers, which seriously compromised the ability of the US to conduct intelligence operations. Hezbollah also announced it had arrested several Lebanese spies working for the CIA. The spy network was discovered with telephone data mining equipment originally provided to Lebanon by the US. Sloppy CIA tradecraft made the exposure easier. Alleged spies for Israel continue to be arrested. Hezbollah discovered an Israeli tapping device attached to a private fiber-optic communication network, which Lebanon then complained about to the UN. The Pentagon said Hezbollah receives millions in aid from Iran yearly.

Crackdown on Spies in Iran
Throughout the year, Iran claimed to have arrested dozens of CIA spies engaged in espionage and sabotage of their nuclear facilities. The spies were apparently Iranians persuaded to work for the US. Otherwise, Iran has provided few details on those arrested. But it is clear than an ongoing intelligence war is underway in Iran and the major players are Israel and the US. The point of all the espionage activity seems to be to avoid, if possible, airstrikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, except as a last resort. In the absence of any successful diplomatic initiatives, the shadow war will continue unless it no longer shows results.

Zatuliveter Exonerated of Espionage Charge
Katia Zatuliveter, a Russian national who was also a researcher for UK MP Mike Hancock, was accused of spying for Russia, but in November was finally cleared of the accusations of espionage and is permitted to stay in the UK. MI5 and the British Home Office believed the young Russian woman had targeted the middle-aged Hancock due to his place on the Defence committee. There were “grounds for suspicion” but nothing concrete against her in terms of spying. She plans to write a book about the entire affair.

Looming Budget Cuts
The US intelligence and defense budgets are facing dramatic cuts of a magnitude not seen since the early 1990s, in the days after the fall of the Soviet Union. For the first time since 9/11, spending for non-military intelligence will decrease. Will our spying capabilities suffer, as they did 20 years ago, when many feel the deep cutbacks eventually resulted in 9/11, which no one foresaw. Any deep cuts are likely to increase security risks, making another 9/11 a greater possibility. The Pentagon and DNI are already issuing warnings that the risk of attacks will increase.

Didn’t Quite Make the Top 10

India’s Chewing Gum Spy Scandal
Wads of chewing gum were found placed strategically under the desks of the Prime Minister of India’s top staff members. The implication, in terms of espionage, was that the innocent-looking gum was used as an adhesive to hold electronic surveillance bugs in place and out of sight. The intelligence bureau decided nothing sinister was involved in Bubblegumgate, although nothing could be ruled out.

Top UK Minister Dumps Secret Papers in the Trash
Oliver Letwin, policy adviser to UK Prime Minister David Cameron, was observed and photographed dumping private government papers in trash cans in a public park where anyone could have retrieved them. A damage-control spokesman claimed none of the documents were of a sensitive nature.

German Spy HQ Blueprints Stolen
A new headquarters for Germany’s spy agency is being built in Berlin. The blueprints were stolen, which included sensitive information about the security of the building.

Saudis Arrest Israeli Spy Vulture

Saudi Arabian security services detained a vulture that had flown into their territory. Suspiciously, the bird carried a GPS transmitter from Tel Aviv University, prompting accusations of a Zionist plot. Israeli officials said the tracking device stored data about the bird’s travels, altitude, and speed to better understand its behavior.

See Also: The Best Spy Nonfiction of 2011

See Also: The Best Spy Fiction of 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

CIA Contractor Raymond Davis Freed from Pakistani Jail

Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor charged with murder in Pakistan, has been freed, according to news reports.

Families of the two Pakistanis he killed were given "blood money," who then forgave Davis, and the case was dropped, as is permitted by Pakistani law.

Davis is en route on a special flight to London.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

John Le Carre Donates Archive to Oxford

Legendary spy novelist John Le Carre has donated his personal archive to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

As a graduate of Oxford, it was unlikely Le Carre would place his papers anywhere else, although one British paper called it a "crushing blow to archive-hungry American universities.

The archive consists of over 85 boxes with multiple versions of some of his works. Several items will be included in the kickoff to World Book Day in 2 weeks.

The writings of Le Carre, 79, whose real name is David Corwell, are considered important to understanding the history of the Cold War, as well as the history and development of the spy novel.

Le Carre said Oxford is the spiritual home of himself as well as his famous character George Smiley.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Best Spy Fiction of 2011

Updated: 12/15/11

Do you agree with a book reviewer for the UK Spectator by the name of Lewis Jones that American spy novelists are "unreadable"?

The English fascination with spies is gloriously reflected in our literature, from Kim to A Question of Attribution, and while their Egyptian and Israeli counterparts remain untranslated, and the Americans unreadable, English spy novelists rule.

Here is a selection of noteworthy spy novels published in 2011:

  • Berquist, Drew. The Maverick Experiment. Author Berquist is a former spy. His hero Derek Stevens stalks the Taliban in Afghanistan.
  • Boyd, Noah. Agent X. Former FBI agent Boyd introduced his hero Steve Vail in last year’s crime thriller The Bricklayer. Now, Vail must find Russian moles feeding intelligence to Moscow. Reviews haven’t been kind, but the Amazonians generally like it.
  • Clancy, Tom with Peter Telep. Against All Enemies. Clancy/Telep introduce a new character, ex-Navy SEAL Max Moore. The Taliban and Mexican drug lords join forces.
  • Coonts, Stephen. Deep Black: Death Wave. Hero Charlie Dean heads up a National Security Agency team to foil a sinister terrorist plot hatched from the Canary Islands. This is the 3rd installment of the Deep Black series.
  • Cumming, Charles. The Trinity Six. The Cambridge 5 were Kim Philby, Anthony Blunt, John Cairncross, Guy Burgess, and Donald Maclean. But was there a sixth?
  • Deaver, Jeffery. Carte Blanche. US writer Deaver pens the latest James Bond spy thriller. Bond must stop a terrorist attack that could kill thousands.
  • Dunn, Matthew. Spycatcher. Superspy Will Cochrane chases a terrorist mastermind.
  • Finder, Joseph. Buried Secrets. Nick Heller must discover who kidnapped the daughter of a hedge fund titan. Early reviews are very positive.
  • Ignatius, David. Bloodmoney. Washington Post reporter Ignatius pens a story that asks who is killing the members of a CIA intelligence unit in Pakistan? The task of finding out what's going on falls on the heroine of this novel with the somewhat embarrassing name Sophie Marx.
  • Jacobson, Douglas W. The Katyn Order. Spy thriller about the 1940 Katyn forest massacre of 20,000 Polish officers by the Soviet NKVD.
  • Patterson, Richard North. The Devil's Light. Best-selling author Patterson crafts a timely story about CIA agent Brooke Chandler, who must stop an Al Qaeda nuclear plot.
  • Rimington, Stella. Rip Tide. MI5 officer Liz Carlyle investigates pirates off the Somalian coast. Author Rimington was Director General of MI5.
  • Silva, Daniel. Portrait of a Spy. Silva's superspy Gabriel Allon is faced with a series of bombings in Europe.
  • Thomson, Keith. Twice a Spy. Billed as a combination of humor and suspense. Terrorists and a nuclear bomb disguised as a washing machine. Old former CIA with Alzheimer's saves the day?
  • Thor, Brad. Full Black. Scot Harvath must save the United States from terrorists.

Also Noted:
  • Chadbourn, Mark. The Scar-Crow Men. Historical fantasy set in 16th Century England. Who is killing Queen Elizabeth I’s spies?
  • Willig, Lauren. The Orchid Affair. Historical romance set in Napoleonic France.

Read “The Best Spy Fiction of 2010

Read "The Best Spy Nonfiction of 2011"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Japan Creates Foreign Intelligence Service

Japan has decided to create a foreign intelligence service for the first time since World War II, according to news reports.

Lacking vital intelligence on the leaders of North Korea and China, Japan is in a vulnerable position. The new agency will be modeled on western services such as the CIA, MI6 and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

The new agency will keep an eye on regional adversaries and gather information to prevent terrorist attacks.

The existence of the agency was revealed by WikiLeaks, which published a secret US diplomatic cable discussing the new espionage initiative.

Japan has been reluctant to move quickly on foreign espionage for fear of alienating diplomatic relations with friendly countries, but the country needs important information the agency could provide.

Japan admitted their best information about North Korean leader Kim Jong-il came from the published memoir of his former sushi chef.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Nano Hummingbird to Hunt Bin Laden

The Nano Hummingbird is a miniature drone designed by AeroVironment that could one day join the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

The bird-like nano air vehicle could provide covert surveillance and reconnaissance without alerting terrorists that they are being watched.

The hummingbird could be used to surreptitiously locate a target while an armed UAV is brought in for the kill.

Ideally, it would make sense for the hummingbird to come equipped with its own armament, but that seems further down the road.

As unmanned drones become smaller and smaller and can be made to mimic the look of birds or insects, the next step would seem to be a Nano Fly, which would be even smaller and less noticeable than the hummingbird.

Once these devices are integrated into the search for terrorists, it would appear Osama bin Laden's days are numbered, as it would be nearly impossible to keep a mini drone & its on-board camera out of any room anywhere in the world.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Panel Releases Report on Anthrax Letters Case

A National Academy of Sciences panel released a report reviewing the scientific approaches and scientific conclusions reached by the FBI in their investigation of the anthrax letters case of 2001.

While faulting the FBI for overstating the strength of the genetic analysis linking the anthrax letters to a supply kept by Bruce Ivins, the panel's findings back up the previous conclusion that Ivins was the perpetrator of the anthrax crimes.

The evidence, the panel said, is consistent with and supports an association between the letters and Ivins' anthrax flask.

The FBI and Justice Department issued a joint statement responding to the committee's work and reiterating that Ivins was determined to be "the perpetrator of the deadly mailings."

Reports in the news media play up the critical aspects of the report, but nothing in the report absolves Ivins from guilt.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Algeria Is the New Egypt

(LNS) Emboldened by events in Egypt, thousands of protesters gathered in Algiers, Algeria, demanding a change in government.

The gripes of Algerians are similar to those in Tunisia and Egypt: unemployment, high food prices, corruption, and weariness with a police state offering no real democracy.

A state of emergency has existed in Algeria for nearly two decades. Fearful of the wave of protests sweeping the Middle East, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika claimed he would soon lift the emergency measures.

Protests are officially banned in Algiers, and hundreds of riot police confronted protesters.

France was rocked this week by revelations that the government authorized a shipment of tear gas grenades to Tunisia in the days before President Zine el Abidine ben Ali was toppled from power. Last year, France trained the dreaded Egyptian police force in crowd control as well. France has a long historical relationship with Algeria.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Best Spy Nonfiction of 2011

Update 9/15/11: Just added: Warrick, Joby. The Triple Agent: The al-Qaeda Mole Who Infiltrated the CIA. (See listing below)

In the year 2011, we see intelligence and espionage dancing around on the world stage, captivating attention. Here are the latest nonfiction books on the intelligence world.

Obama's Blame Game on Middle East Intelligence

With the 2012 presidential election season fast approaching, President Obama is playing the blame game on intelligence "failures" regarding the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Obama said he was "disappointed with the intelligence community" in not predicting events in Tunisia, but does Obama really understand intelligence and what it can and can't do?

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden, with his usual tactfulness, doesn't come out and call Obama an ignoramus, but does contradict his assessment:

Suggestions of intelligence failure miss the mark and betray a lack of understanding of what intelligence can and cannot do.
Has Obama read Hayden's commentary? He needs it more than anyone.

Didn't Obama hire Leon Panetta to run the CIA, a guy with no intelligence experience? Didn't Obama just change horses in midstream by hiring a new Director of National Intelligence? Isn't Obama the guy who hired Janet Napolitano as DHS chief, though she has no national security background?

These facts betray a lack of seriousness on Obama's part with respect to intelligence, and now he wants to play the blame game, and it's a game he himself doesn't even comprehend!

House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers praised the intelligence community on its "impressive" work on the uprising in Egypt.

Democrat Dianne Feinstein of the Senate Intelligence Committee also directly contradicted Obama by saying "there was a good deal of intelligence about Tunisia," although she wants to argue about what was known about Egypt.

Everything indicates Obama is well behind the curve on intelligence, doesn't understand the issues, and is making public statements with an eye toward the next election.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

HuffPost Deal: Drudge Next?

The Huffington Post is now part of AOL's empire and two questions are paramount in the minds of pundits:

1. Was it a smart deal for AOL? Is Arianna Huffington and her website worth the $315 million investment or will it turn sour?

2. Will Arianna stay on the left side of the political aisle or turn centrist, as she claims has been her recent trend? What's best for business?

Our impression is that Arianna was never really a liberal or a conservative, she's an Arianna.

Could we see more acquisitions of independent media outlets? Is Matt Drudge ready to sell? His site these days provides links rather than any original breaking stories and steers discussion to favored topics. Would Rush Limbaugh want Drudge for his website, or would Fox News have an interest?

Is Rush looking at Drudge or Free Republic and its staunchly conservative audience, or will he continue to go his own way and develop his website without acquisitions? Are sites like these coveted by media empires?

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Taliban Versus Al Qaeda

Substantial friction exists between the Taliban and al Qaeda, a new report asserts.

The Taliban could be persuaded to renounce al Qaeda by focusing on commonalities between them and the United States.

Under a new relationship, the Taliban could conduct counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda with US Special Forces along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

It seems a bizarre possibility, but the report suggests the Taliban may be ready for a break with al Qaeda and might be interested in keeping the Afghan border terror-free.

Such agreements would necessitate looking at the Taliban in a different light than previously.

The New York University report is available at this website.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Why Hotties Never Shop at Victoria’s Secret

Every large shopping mall in the country boasts one or both of the famous women’s lingerie stores Victoria’s Secret or Frederick’s of Hollywood.

Every time I walk by I say to myself, I wonder if there are any hotties in there right now? And after looking through the doorway and windows and passing by, the answer is invariably No. Not even close. It doesn’t matter what mall it is or where, attractive women are never to be seen shopping in one of these stores.

The only time you see pretty girls at these stores is when they are professional models paid to appear on their websites or in their catalogs. You too can look just like this! Just buy something and you’ll be hot, too!

Sometimes I’ll feel sorry for those I do see rummaging around in there and say to myself, not even Victoria’s Secret can help that poor girl. The stores clearly cater to those born without a heaping helping of natural beauty.

Why do the most attractive women seemingly avoid these stores as if they were a fashion plague—or as if wearing their apparel would produce the opposite of the intended effect? Because they only shop by mail order? It’s can’t be true that hotties use nothing but mail order and unattractive women take the trouble to physically trudge into the stores and perhaps solicit some much-needed advice from the clerks. That just can’t be.

Women such as Reese Witherspoon or Taylor Swift don’t need to wear sexy lingerie to accentuate their attractiveness. They would look good in a burlap sack.

Standard lingerie on attractive girls underscores their natural beauty. Expensive lingerie isn’t needed. Perhaps might even be counterproductive. They know they don’t need anything more than something plain without frills and can flaunt their lack of need for anything sensual. It’s like saying, It’s not the lingerie, it’s the girl!

Not needing sexy lingerie is proof that one is irresistible without it.

Women who aren’t hotties need all the help they can get. They are the customer base of lingerie shops. Without them, these stores couldn’t exist.

Lingerie boutiques make a profit by adorning average women with such enticing sensual lingerie that their men will drool at the very sight of them and find them irresistible. And if they weren’t wearing slinky panties, well, things might be different. If not, then why bother?

Next time you’re at the local mall, take a look inside and see if it isn’t true.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Obama Was Warned About Egypt, CIA Official Says

A CIA official said today that the Obama Administration was warned in late 2010 about instability in Egypt.

Stephanie O'Sullivan, nominated to be deputy director of national intelligence, said the intelligence community didn't know exactly what might trigger the instability, but did warn about it.

The political stagnation in some Middle East countries is untenable in the long run, she said the intelligence community has warned for some time.

She made the comments at a hearing regarding her nomination.

It is unclear what use, if any, Obama made of the information, if any policy was changed, or if his administration discussed problems with Hosni Mubarak as a result.

Mice Sniff Out Explosives

Tired of intrusive body pat-downs at airports? The solution could be mice.

A company in Israel, BioExplorers, believe trained mice can be useful for detecting explosives at airports and other places as well.

Mice have some drawbacks, but in their favor, the critters have a more acute sense of smell than dogs, which are commonly used to find explosives.

The company's recent field tests have been positive, however there is little scientific study on the use of rodents as detectors of explosives.

Dirty Bomb Fears Grow

Scotland Yard and MI5 foiled an Al Qaeda plot in 2004, according to newly released documents.

Recent terrorist activities related to dirty bombs throughout the world have been listed in the media, and the verdict is that one will be detonated at some point in the foreseeable future, and such an event can't be stopped but only delayed.

Al Qaeda has the ability to build a dirty bomb and has been trying to recruit rogue scientists to assist them. But so far the logistics of emplacing it in the US and detonating it haven't been surmounted, otherwise it would already have happened.

European Leaders Call for Egyptian Transition

The leaders of several western European countries issued a joint statement calling for an orderly transition of the Egyptian government to begin "now."

We have been calling for world leaders to issue such statements, but unfortunately, they have yet to address Hosni Mubarak specifically and demand that he himself step down "right now."

The death toll in Egypt is rising. One wonders how many more will die before world leaders understand their public appeal must mention Mubarak and the need for him to leave now, and not 6 months down the road.

The time for diplomat-speak is over.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Mubarak's First Bloody Day of Transition

Hosni Mubarak told the Egyptian people he would begin the transition of power and not run for reelection in September.

Pro-Mubarak supporters suddenly appeared soon after his speech and clashed with opposition protesters in Tahrir Square with predictable bloodshed.

If Mubarak honestly intended to give up power, this would never have happened. A lot can happen when a dictator claims he will give up power 6 months into the future. People have a habit of changing their minds.

Today proved Mubarak and his supporters have no intention of giving up power, and Mubarak is willing to risk civil war to keep his job.

This is the result of the US never pushing Mubarak hard enough on establishing an honest democratic opposition. President Obama and world leaders must unite in demanding that Mubarak leave immediately.

Things will only get uglier until Mubarak leaves.

Anything can happen in such circumstances, and Mubarak's wish to die on Egyptian soil could end in a way he didn't quite imagine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Researcher: WikiLeaks Has Damaged American Power

Professor Inderjeet Parmar of the University of Manchester delivered a paper recently that concluded the WikiLeaks exposure of secret diplomatic cables has damaged American power.

Parmar's paper, apparently the first academic study on the effects of the publication of the cables, contradicts some in the Obama Administration who have tried to downplay the effects of the information breach and said the cables do no serious or long-lasting harm.

President Obama has been weakened both domestically and internationally, Parmar said. It is now up to the Obama Administration to respond if it is believed his analysis or conclusions are in error.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MI6 Denies Hamas Role

The British foreign intelligence agency MI6 has denied a new report from al-Jazeera that it "drew up plans to crush Hamas."

Some are questioning the legitimacy of the so-called "Palestine Papers" leaked to the Qatar-based news outlet.

MI6 called the allegations "ridiculous."

Supposing for a moment that MI6 did in fact assist in defeating Hamas, that would not be considered unusual. Hamas is recognized as a terrorist group by the UK, US, and the European Union.

It is the position of the United States to do everything it can to marginalize and defeat Hamas.

One would expect intelligence agencies around the world to join in and defeat all terrorist groups, such as those recognized by the EU, UK, and US.

Hamas is considered the major obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

Any serious peace proposal in the Middle East must include the destruction of Hamas.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New York Times to Solicit Classified Documents

The New York Times is considering ways to solicit and make it easy for anyone with access to secret classified documents to submit them for possible publication.

The Times has a long history of publishing classified documents that have a deleterious effect on US national security, such as exposing the National Security Agency's "warrentless wiretapping" program a few years ago. The Times published the "Pentagon Papers" back in 1971 as well.

Envious of WikiLeaks' treasure-trove of secret diplomatic cables in its possession, the Times surely has been wondering why Julian Assange should be the recipient of such jewels instead of themselves, the leading liberal newspaper publisher in the United States.

Like Al Jazeera, the Times believes it should be a major player in the game of exposing national security secrets, especially considering its unparalleled history in this regard.

The Times may not crudely and baldly advertise for those who possess classified information to break the law, imperil national security, and possibly destroy their own lives and careers, but that is clearly the intent of this new initiative. Classified documents is where all the fun is, as well as the publicity and glory. Open source material, not so much.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Moscow Airport Bombing Could Happen in US Tomorrow

The terrorist suicide bombing at the Domododevo Airport near Moscow could happen tomorrow at any major US airport.

Anyone can walk into an airport and stand in the pre-security screening areas where hundreds of people congregate and set off an explosive.

While TSA security at airports has focused on groping children and women unlikely to commit any act of sabotage, the real problems remain unaddressed. It is only sheer luck and the lack of effort that the Moscow attack hasn't already happened in Washington DC, New York, Chicago, or any other major city.

Jesse Ventura has now sued DHS and TSA over their pat-downs.

A significant impediment remains the head of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, a politician more concerned with political battles than national security.

As experts love to point out, there is no such thing as perfect security. But there is no excuse for the current absurd situation, either. Not only are we a long way from perfect, but we are far from implementing necessary precautions that would mitigate the chances of the Moscow attack happening over here.

The talk of TSA's behavioral observation at airports as some sort of answer is as ridiculous as their invasive personal searches on unlikely suspects at the security checkpoints.

News articles all indicate increased security checks at the world's major airports as a result of this terrorist attack, but that is another indication of how wrong things are. Seriousness after the crisis, rather than before.

Left Wing Groups Rally for Bradley Manning

Amnesty International is the latest left-wing organization accusing US authorities of "inhumane treatment" of Bradley Manning, the Army Private sitting in a brig at Quantico for passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Supporters of Manning from the leftist website firedoglake tried to deliver a petition protesting the conditions under which Manning is held.

There is nothing wrong with the treatment Manning is receiving, but left-wing activists have turned him into a cause celebre and embraced him as one of their own, ignoring the damage he has caused, such as placing individuals in personal physical danger around the world.

Manning's lawyers approve of all the fuss on their client's behalf. Many left-wing media outlets have published news stories alleging mistreatment as well, including the Washington Post, and many lesser-known sites with a Socialist outlook.

A similar strategy has been used in portraying the terrorists at Guantanamo Bay as victims of inhumane treatment. Any prominent figure on the left can expect the same sort of help from the left-wing crowd if such a fate should befall him or her.

A roll call of leftist groups can be seen at work here, as it may not have been obvious that groups such as Amnesty International are not unbiased but have their own partisan political agenda.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

AP on WikiLeaks Consequences

The Associated Press published a story today on the effects of WikiLeaks so far, written by one Raphael G. Satter.

Satter attempts to provide some analysis but really has nothing new to say. The article starts off by reminding everyone yet again that only 1 percent of the 250,000 secret documents in the possession of WikiLeaks has been published. Clearly, Satter and the AP want to see more--soon.

Here is the level of Satter's analysis. What have we learned from the 2,600 cables published so far? "It's shown how leaders lie," Satter opines. And not only that, "It's lifted the veil on international relations."

Satter laments that even though a handful of newspapers have held all the secret documents "for weeks, if not months," there seems to be no rush to publish more, and wonders whether they have gone through all the documents yet. You get the message: what are you all waiting for? Publish everything!

But never fear, Satter says, because WikiLeaks is still sitting on a "a huge archive of leaked data from nearly every country in the world" and Julian Assange said more material could be online within weeks. You can almost see Satter drooling at the prospect.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Vein Analysis Fingered Daniel Pearl Killer

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s confession that he beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was confirmed by a newly emergent biometric technology called “vein analysis,” “vein matching,” or “vascular biometrics.”

The vascular structure of the back of a hand is used to match a known person’s hand with that of an unknown person, to positively identify that individual.

This technology has potential to be superior to fingerprinting or iris scanners for identification purposes, as it has been pointed out that fingerprint recognition technology and iris scanners can be tricked.

Scientific papers are sparse. One recent study said “finger-vein based personal identification systems can be immune to counterfeit fingers and noninvasive to users” and the technique has some “excellent advantages” over traditional biometric characteristics, such as faces, irises, and fingerprints.

Vascular readers are used by some companies to identify employees, but are not widely used in North America. The technology is more popular in South Korea and Australia.

Mohammed is one of the terrorists currently incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Media Attacks on Sarah Palin Work

A new CNN poll indicates more Americans have an unfavorable view of Sarah Palin than ever before.

This poll comes on the heels of attacks against her in the liberal mainstream media that reached unprecedented heights after the Tucson shootings. Some on the right dispute this survey, but I suspect it isn’t far from the truth.

Concerted, deliberate propaganda attacks by the mainstream media against Sarah Palin work, and this poll adds to the evidence.

This is the traditional, boiler-plate strategy of liberals against any political figure considered a danger to them. We’ve all seen it before when the media targeted Newt Gingrich, Dan Quayle, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and many others. All too often, the media can cry “Mission accomplished!”

Far too many Americans are vulnerable to mass media propaganda. Their opinions on Palin are a direct reflection of what they see and hear in the media. Most would not know hardly anything about her otherwise. That explains Palin’s high negative numbers. Even prominent figures on the right are influenced, and talk about Palin’s “radioactivity,” which only results from media attacks without any corresponding counterattack.

Conservatives still lack a strategy for countering mainstream media hit jobs on their leaders. The result is a growing list of damaged figures that otherwise deserve a far better fate than being dismissed by their own party with the standard wisdom that anyone with high negatives is unelectable.

Liberal media outlets, as well as celebrities and others sympathetic to their cause, turn promising and “dangerous” conservatives into “radioactive” personalities with high negatives. All liberal media join the party.

It’s not about truth; it’s about creating an alternate reality designed to damage their political prospects. The truth is not considered a desirable goal; advocating the liberal party line has achieved primacy. A fantasy assessment of the conservative’s qualities has been substituted for the reality—the ultimate goal of the attack. The disparity can be seen when Democratic politicians such as Joe Biden and Barack Obama constantly utter gaffes, yet the media is largely silent.

Lessons can be learned from Ronald Reagan. The media hated him, called him a fool, and tried every stunt in the book to discredit him and his policies in the eyes of the public, yet he still overcame all that.

Palin and others on the right have their advocates, such as Rush Limbaugh and others, but sometimes it isn’t enough, and something else needs to be brought into play to effectively counter the propaganda directed at the American public. A counterstrategy is needed to protect outstanding political figures on the right against the mainstream media’s attacks.

This latest poll indicating Palin’s high negatives highlights the problem.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Obama’s China State Dinner

President Obama will host his third official state dinner Wednesday when Chinese President Hu Jintao and friends assemble at the White House for fancy grub amid promises of closer ties between the two countries.

There is much tongue wagging over the possibility of Obama assailing China on such hot-button issues as North Korea, currency manipulation, human rights, and its challenges to American naval supremacy in the Pacific. He might also want to demand that the Chinese government stop hacking into US military computer systems if his country is to be considered anything but an enemy.

The truth is that Obama will get nothing Hu and the Chinese don’t want to give him. They have already decided on what that will be, and a “beggar’s banquet” is on the menu.

Will the news media, always overprotective of Obama as one of their own, take this opportunity to question the details or even the existence of Obama’s China strategy? Does he have one? And if so, does it involve anything more substantial than wondering if General Tso is a black belt at Chop Suey?

George W. Bush nixed a state dinner for China over their human rights record, but that is no impediment for Obama, who will honor Hu with a 21-gun salute.

The question foremost on the minds of many is whether Obama will bow again to Hu when they greet each other in front of cameras? Probably, because Hu represents the sort of government (Communist) that is very much in harmony with Obama’s personal beliefs and in direct opposition to the traditional values of Western Democracy. Obama has a sad history of bowing to people who don’t deserve it and Hu meets those qualifications.

Guests: Plenty of Democratic big-wigs and donors. The Salahis? Do they dare try? Security personnel no doubt have familiarized themselves with their photos. But the likelihood of someone or other without papers gaining entry past the borders of the Obamas’ imperial gate always seems possible.

Gifts: The Obamas are notorious for their ill-conceived gifts, such as giving the Queen of England an iPod with his speeches on it, and more of the same are expected to be presented to Hu. Here are the odds-on favorites:
1. An iPod with an MP3 file of the president playing “Chopsticks” on the piano with two fingers
2. That White House toilet paper they sell in the DC souvenir shops
3. Together We Thrive t-shirts

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jonathan Pollard Clemency Appeals Continue Unabated

Clemency appeals for convicted spy Jonathan Pollard continue unabated and have been ongoing virtually non-stop since March 11, 1988. That was the day members of the Israeli parliament asked President Ronald Reagan to pardon him—a mere 1 year after Pollard was sentenced for his crimes on March 4, 1987!

Recently Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a letter to President Obama requesting yet again his release from prison. Democratic members of Congress piled on the pressure and sent a letter to Obama urging clemency as well. Rep. Barney Frank admitted he was behind the initiative. Republicans refused to sign it.

Frank has a longstanding, well-earned reputation as someone antithetical to the intelligence community, going back to the early 1990s when he consistently sought extremely deep cuts in its budget. His role as the initiator of this letter could not possibly help in gaining bipartisan support; on the contrary, Frank’s activism could only hurt the cause of freeing Pollard.

Should we be surprised no one mentions that the 23rd anniversary of clemency appeals will arrive within 2 months? Pollard apologists like to claim that the standard sentence for someone who spies for a friendly nation is 7 years (which doesn’t apply in Pollard’s case due to the enormity of his crimes). But Israel thought just 1 year was plenty enough!

There is nothing special about the “25th anniversary” of Pollard’s incarceration. Somehow, that number is posited as a convenient termination date for his jail sentence.

Obama is unlikely to give Pollard a get-out-of-jail pass. If he did so, he would be seen in Israel (and everywhere else) as a weak sucker, whereas his predecessors—Clinton and George W. Bush—weren’t. Obama’s growing international reputation as an easy mark in over his head would only be enhanced, and he surely must know it.

If I were the POTUS and Netanyahu asked me to free Pollard in exchange for extending a freeze on construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, as he did Obama, I would be insulted, because I would know he was playing me for a fool.

Pollard advocates say his has spent more time than others who committed similar crimes. The problem with this logic is that there are very few (if any!) who committed espionage on the scale of Pollard’s treachery. His “peers” in that regard would be the likes of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen, who spied for the Soviet Union.

What Pollard gave, and Israel freely and happily asked for and accepted, went far beyond what one would expect from a friendly country spying on another. The magnitude of the security breach is what one would expect only from an enemy. What other spy gave a friendly country highly classified material similar to the incredible number of documents Pollard handed Israel?

We don’t know if third countries—such as the Soviet Union—benefitted from Pollard’s thefts. Lawrence Korb keeps repeating that the Soviets never received information stolen by Pollard, but he is in no position to know that and neither is R. James Woolsey. Korb says the information the Soviet Union received “most likely” came from Ames and Hanssen. That is nothing more than idle speculation on his part.

Did Israel give some of Pollard’s documents to them in exchange for easing restrictions on Soviet Jews? Did other countries penetrate Israel without their knowledge? What about South Africa? Other countries? What happened to the documents once the US lost control of them? No one can be sure.

Our friend Israel refused to assist the US in recovering material passed on to them by Pollard. They didn’t admit he was working for them until long after his arrest when it was already common knowledge. They have badgered the US since Pollard was jailed for his release. Again, Israel behaved more like an enemy than a friend.

Korb claims Bill Clinton agreed to free Pollard in 1998, but Clinton has said no such deal was ever reached, although he was amenable to the idea. When Pollard had asked for clemency the previous time (yes, the appeals always keep coming), Clinton had noted that he had shown no remorse, his crimes were enormous, and he had caused significant damage to US security.

All reports of his behavior suggest Pollard is nothing but a scoundrel who doesn’t deserve a break. This is the character that is constantly upheld as worthy of our sorrow? Worthy of treatment like others who did a bit of lower-level espionage on behalf of our valued friends abroad? It is laughable to compare Pollard with anyone but the worst spies in our history.

At the time when Clinton was president, a number of former defense secretaries (from both Democratic and Republican administrations) joined the current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in signing a letter to Clinton urging him to keep Pollard behind bars. Recently in 2010, Clinton said he would support whatever decision Obama made on Pollard, and didn’t call for his release.

Korb has taken a special interest in this case for the past 20 years, although it’s not entirely clear why. It is fair to ask if he has received any indication from Israel, either directly or indirectly, of some sort of compensation for his services. If Korb is a leader of the Free Pollard movement, what will Israel give him in return if his work bears fruit? Or is he merely a concerned citizen expecting nothing?

The concept of releasing spies after short sentences because “they worked for friendly countries” is wrong-headed. It doesn’t matter who you spy for—friend or foe. Information is classified and kept from friends and foes alike for good reasons related to the national security of the United States. The policy of early releases in these cases should be completely overthrown. There is no reason to continue a wrong practice because that’s the way it was done before—and it shouldn’t apply in Pollard’s case, anyway.

The idea of Pollard or someone like WikiLeaks' Julian Assange deciding what US classified documents should be given to others is preposterous.

Pleas have been made to release Pollard since shortly after he was jailed. Even back in the early 1990s, his sentence was already considered excessive. That’s part of the problem—the lack of a true admission that what was done by both Pollard and Israel was wrong and never should have happened.

A square in Jerusalem has been named after this so-called “national hero.” The existence of the square seems a slap in the face to the United States. I wonder if the square includes a plaque citing the exact amount of money Israel paid him? Quotes from prosecutors on the damage he inflicted to the US? Is there true remorse here? I’m not seeing that. There is only remorse that he got caught.

Israel’s behavior from the moment Pollard was arrested has been inconsistent with the behavior of a friendly nation. The lesson to be learned is how to be a friendly nation—and why. It is still a lesson to be learned.

Pollard was described by his Israeli handlers as a “one-man intelligence agency” for Israel. "The breadth and volume of the US classified information sold by defendant to Israel was enormous, as great as in any reported case involving espionage on behalf of any foreign nation," federal prosecutors charged.

Ronald Olive, in his book Capturing Jonathan Pollard, assessed the damage: at least 360 cubic feet of classified documents and over one million pages—and probably much more than that. The amount of stolen material staggered investigators. He stole everything he could get his hands on. Was a document useful to Israel? He didn’t spend any time judging anything, he simply pilfered it all!

Treason on an unprecedented scale—that is Pollard’s claim to fame. Who else in the history of espionage could say he stole so much for a friend of the US? Or even for an enemy? And for this, Pollard’s sympathizers think a short 7-year prison term would have been adequate?

The Israeli “patriot” was paid for his treason as well. He didn’t do it out of a loyalist spirit for Israel, he did it for money. What other foreign countries was he willing to “do business with” as well? South Africa? Others?

Netanyahu’s harping on this sore issue can only damage the “special relationship” the US has with Israel, which already took a hit the day Obama was elected president. I’m not sure he’s really worried about that. But Netanyahu knows with Obama he has a chance of success, because anything is possible until Obama leaves.

Funny thing, the unsavory creatures people choose as their heroes.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CNN Portrays Loughner As a Sensitive Poet

CNN has published 2 poems apparently written by Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner.

Some are questioning why CNN would give publicity to a murderer's schoolwork, but it fits in with the typical liberal approach for laying a foundation of compassion and forgiveness for criminals and terrorists.

The same poetry card was played with the terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, as I wrote about here before. Lawyers have tried to portray those terrorists as sensitive poets who did no one any harm and are unjustifiably incarcerated without any proof against them, etc.

We know now that many of the Guantanamo terrorists who were released went back to their old ways.

CNN is playing the same game. Loughner is a poet! He is a sensitive person despite all evidence to the contrary. CNN's point? No death penalty. That's their goal.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Respected Journal to Publish Evidence of ESP

The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a highly respected psychology journal, will soon publish a paper presenting strong evidence of ESP.

Many scientists are described as either amused or scornful.

This paper may or may not prove to be a landmark event in the history of psychology, but some type of ESP, albeit limited, seems possible. The problem is to figure out under what conditions ESP occurs and what can be divined with it.

The New York Times article poses questions that I think completely miss the point about the true nature of ESP:
[I]f ESP exists, why aren’t people getting rich by reliably predicting the movement of the stock market or the outcome of football games?

The answer, of course, is that ESP doesn’t allow for such detailed understandings of future events. The phenomenon of glimpsing the future may be far more fleeting and shadowy than that. Reading future numbers and scores, if theoretically possible, may require specific prerequisites currently unknown to us.

The fact that no one gets rich by seeing future lottery numbers says nothing pro or con about the possibility of ESP. The question simply misreads the ephemeral nature of the phenomenon, and reproduction of results may be incredibly problematic.

Studies are now underway to replicate the results.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dead Birds & Fish Defy Scientific Explanation

Massive numbers of dead birds & fish have now been found in many locations around the United States, Sweden, Brazil, Paraguay, New Zealand, Haiti, the UK, and Australia, with more countries likely to be added to the list.

The deaths defy scientific explanation. One theory bandied about is that the birds died as a result of the sound of loud new-year fireworks. But reports of dead birds haven’t been made in previous years around January. Why this year and not before?

The synchronization of so many bird and fish deaths suggests the intriguing possibility that a force unknown to science is at work.

Daphne Du Maurier wrote a short story called “The Birds” in 1952, in which birds deliberately attacked humans. The symbolism of the story suggested the birds represented communism attacking a democratic western world during the cold war after World War II. Alfred Hitchcock based his famous movie on this story (excising the cold-war symbolism).

In this current mystery we see the birds behaving in the opposite manner: instead of attacking us, they simply die, and we humans are mere spectators, not targets.

The second mystery, after the idea of an unseen and unknown force at work, is the possibility that the deaths portend some future event on a planetary scale, as the international nature of the problem suggests.

Many people see what they want to see here, and I find their theories less than compelling. The most prominent are pollution, global warming, the end times, and the like. The solution is elsewhere, and the scientific examination and testing of the bird corpses will not be fully enlightening.

Biologists claim mass die-offs happen almost every day and are unrelated. Only now with the internet do people pay attention, but clearly that doesn't explain why no one has noticed until just now.

Others say mass bird deaths are rare, and "science is struggling to explain these things."

The proffered explanations remain unconvincing.