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Archive for the ‘Spying’ Category

It’s difficult to understand why law enforcement, city, state, and federal, as well as the President of the United States, took so long to state the obvious about San Bernadino. I just don’t comprehend what is so difficult about seeing this couple, dressed as they were, not being immediately identified as ‘terrorists.’ However you wish to slice it, this was a terrorist act. It certainly terrified the crap out of the people who were being shot and those ducking for cover. With the discovery of the ammunition and pipe bombs in the house occupied by that couple and their baby would indicate preparation for a ‘terrorist’ attack. So we’re at war. Is there anyone in the USA who doesn’t understand that? Are there actually people whose heads are stuck so far up…in the sand that they aren’t aware that Americans are considered by some people who actually live and work here, as the enemy. Take a look at Dylan Roof who thought that blacks were taking over America. Can you understand why an ignoramus like that would think such a thing? Who does he see on television when the President speaks? Who does he see when the Director of Homeland Security speaks? Granted, the kid is probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he’s probably just a wee bit prejudiced against black folks in the first place. Someone said to me the other day, “I saw a family of Muslims in traditional dress coming in the store and I didn’t panic,” as though that was a major friggin’ achievement. It’s clue time…this country is filled with all sorts of people; some came here to escape terrorism and want to live peaceful lives. Others are here but are nothing but crazy fucking assholes who are influenced by other crazy fucking assholes and who will go out and kill anybody they see who is not dressed or look exactly as they do. They do have sufficient smarts to make certain they kill at a gathering…just walking up and down the street is not going to give one maximum exposure nor maximize your kill rate…riiiight!

To top off our understanding that we are at war, we have public panic purveyors like Donald “I-can-fix-everything-but-I-won’t-tell-you-how-because-I don’t-really-know-what-to-do” Trump. I find it truly difficult to understand how this man became a billionaire. The only thing I can think of is that he bullied his way to riches; he was the loudest shouter in the room; his face got so red, his opponents thought he was going to literally explode and shit would be flying everywhere since he was so full of it, so they gave in. It’s all I can think of. He speaks such ridiculous bullshit that no one in their right minds could possibly believe what he says. And yet, what is he doing? He’s appealing to the frightened, the uninformed, people who don’t know, or care to know, understand or care to understand other cultures. These are the folks who believe that blacks eat only fried chicken and watermelon; they may see hummus in the store so that’s what “they’ eat; Asians eat only fish and seaweed or some other shit like that. They don’t know, and one who preys on their fears such as Trump becomes their hero. The media is proving to be just as gullible. Trump speaks; it’s a sound byte they have to get on the air before the competition. Don’t react; don’t cover, and see how long Trump stays in this race. The media are “feeding Seymour” and he continues to grow. If the media ignore him, Trump will be within his rights to demand an equal amount of time as is given to other candidates; that is his right. However, the minute his talk becomes inflammatory, as it has been through most of his campaign, cut off the microphone; he has overstepped his bounds.

On November 8, 2016, America will go to the polls to elect a new President. That is eleven months from this very day. Should this country, in its ultimate stupidity, elect Donald Trump, I will make every effort to move to Nova Scotia and to renounce my American citizenship. I have little doubt that the world will become a nuclear wasteland before his term of office has ended.

Lone wolf terrorists on American streets will become more identifiable and stopped as we move along in our war. At some point, they will be identified before they enter the country. ISIS or some offspring of it will continue to function in the Middle East. It is only when America says, “Enough, solve your own problems,” that we will be able to breathe easily again. If “secure the homeland” is a dirty turn of phrase, forgive me. However, I don’t want to see more gold star flags hanging in more windows than are already there. We can “preserve, protect, and defend” the United States of America by putting our own nation first and let other nations solve their own problems.

The United Nations appears to be a useless group of foreign representatives suckling at the American teat and little else. Let us move their headquarters to someplace like Belgium, Luxemburg, or Lichtenstein, and see how quickly they dissolve or get their collective acts together to solve the world’s problems. America is too rich and too developed a nation to be playing host to a bunch of spies and neer-do-wells. Is this laissez-faire attitude going to work? No, because it will never receive bi-partisan support, nor will Wall Street allow it to happen. It would be nice to give it an honest try; to attempt to make other nations wholly responsible for their actions. We can’t; we’re America. We’re the supposed 800-pound gorilla in the room. That’s why poor families raise cannon fodder and we cry crocodile tears when they’re blown to pieces. If we really cared about our young men and women, we’d be expanding our efforts to keep them out of harm’s way rather than putting them directly in its path.

We have a great many problems in our own country that are in dire need of solutions. We need solutions to our problem of poverty. We need solutions to our problem of racial injustice and profiling. We need a unified, national police force that is fully trained and fairly paid. We need to stop teaching our children to pass some damned standardized test and teach them what it means to be a citizen of this country. We need more, better trained, and again, fairly paid, teachers. We need term limits for members of Congress to weed out the do-nothings, hangers-on, and radical assholes who somehow find their way into Congressional seats every now and then. We don’t need equalization of wealth, because if you’ve got the brains and ideas, God Bless You for making the money you’ve made, but we do need workers who are paid above a poverty level to build what you’ve designed or to sell what you have made. We need equal pay for equal work. We need to stop treating women like second-class citizens by telling them what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Our problems are tremendous; they’re hard to solve and they will continue to get harder until and unless we take some positive steps to address them. However, remember this: Over half of the Pilgrims who made the voyage on the Mayflower died before a year had passed – OVER HALF – yet the rest didn’t just lay down and die. Seventy-five thousand colonists died in the Revolutionary War; that’s 1 in 20 what we now call Americans. Yet, the men who signed the Constitution didn’t give up and say, “Screw this; take it back England.” No, the problems of their day were no more or less complex than the problems we face today. Sure, the world’s a smaller place, and the problems are terrifying. Problems of the magnitude facing the Pilgrims and the colonials and that guy who lives down the street from you today are daunting, but they can be solved. That’s our job – yours and mine – to chip in and ask what we can do to help solve those problems. No, I won’t give you the Jack Kennedy tag line; you can do that for yourself. I will say a couple of things: “If you see something, say something,” and “Don’t listen to fear-mongers and loud mouthed know-nothings like Donald Trump, because he’s not worth your time.”

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I suppose that if we really wanted to, the United States could always find a way to keep its population from growing by sending its young men and women to die somewhere. Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Columbia or any Central American country, or any other African country for that matter, and we could send in the cannon fodder, just for the hell of it, right?

What is wrong with us; no, not us; what is wrong with the President, the Congress, the Department of Defense, and the rest of the idiots who believe that we, the United States of America, must stick our noses into the business of other countries? Isn’t that why we have a United Nations? Just because that operation happens to be headquartered in New York – a fine place from which spies from other countries have a field day studying American processes – does not mean that we are the chosen one to send our children out to die. Why don’t we headquarter the UN in someplace like Berlin or Paris or Moscow or Milan? Let those people take the lead in interfering with what’s going on in other nations? Why not; the answer is simple; they wouldn’t. They are too intelligent to interfere. It’s a freaking wonder we haven’t sent some troops to Gaza and some to Israel…just to be fair.

These “wars,” for that’s what we seem to be calling them, are costing us billions of dollars. However, I really don’t care how many goddamned dollars we’re spending, we’re also killing and maiming our young men and women, and that, my friends, is the real tragedy of war. Oh, look, isn’t that wonderful; we’ve created an entire new charity; it’s called the Wounded Warrior Project; give now, and support our veterans. Bullshit and I’m not saying forget the wounded warriors. I’m saying that we should stop interfering in things that don’t concern us in order that we not have a need for programs like the Wounded Warriors. We have the technology to create arms and legs, hands and feet; we don’t have the technology to mend the minds of these young men and women. We cannot take away the memories of what they have seen and what they’ve been forced to do to protect themselves.  Post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] has become an ingrained part of our vocabulary. We hear it every night on some ‘news’ program or other. We ‘find’ the causes of it, but no one, as yet, has found a cure for it. Therefore, because we have the ability to do so, let us lessen the opportunities for people to endure it.

There are so many things that are in need of support here at home and America still has to find away to insert itself into the business of people abroad.  I kept hearing that we went to Korea to stop the “red menace” from taking over the country and then moving on until all of Southeast Asia was under the iron fist of the communists. I heard basically the same thing when we went into Vietnam. Then what happened? The bastion of communism, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ went kaput. The red menace was a menace no more…at least that’s what we believe. With KGB’s Killer Putin in charge, one never knows what to expect. The Middle East is a different story. We have no business interfering with tribal warfare. Let them kill each other; it’s just adding a bit more bleach to the gene pool. We have enough problems at home to take care of. How about spending fewer dollars on defense and a few more on (a) increasing the minimum wage to something above the poverty level; (b) protecting our borders to  the south from an immigrant invasion that is going to cause us nothing but problems in the future; (c) strengthening our infrastructure so that every time I drive over or under a bridge, I’m not terrified that the damned thing is going to collapse under me or crash down on top of me; (d) revitalizing cities like Detroit and others that have been allowed to go to hell in a hand basket; (e) revamping our educational system in order to allow future generations to compete on a world stage that is becoming smaller and smaller; (f) rewriting our tax laws to allow average Americans to at least attempt to live the American Dream; (g) taking a hard look at our immigrant population and getting rid of those who are abusing what we have to offer without buying into our language or culture – yes, there is such a thing as being too nice.

Does all of this mean that I’m opposed to a strong military? Absolutely not, because we need a strong military if we are to survive.  We require a dedicated military that can respond at a moment’s notice to threats directly against the United States. My military service was limited, for the most part, to reserve activities. However, I spent a tour at the Pentagon, and it was one of the most rewarding times of my life. For many, the discipline and structure of military life are critical, and we have the best damned military of any nation in the world…but let’s not waste their lives so generously or to protect the assets of a few wealthy people. That’s wrong, and as a country, we should know better.

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Recognizing fully that there are approximately seven billion people on earth who are more intelligent than I, far be it for me to suggest or dictate possible foreign policy decisions to those in my own nation who are in a temporary, at best, position to do so. It seems somewhat as ridiculous as attempting to tell General Motors how to make an ignition switch for their vehicles or how to tell American tourists which mountains to climb in the Middle East. In other words, speak well of what you know well and speak not of which you know nothing.

That having been said, I would propose that Congress begin impeachment proceedings against President Obama if he sends one soldier, sailor, marine, airman or woman, coast guardsman or woman, or even a member of the Boy/Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, or member of the 4-H into harm’s way in the Middle East before he clearly, articulately, and demonstrably proves well beyond the shadow of anyone’s doubt that we have national interests at stake in that region other than the protection of our oil interests or the interests of the so-called one percent. Please, do not tell me in the vaguest of terms that terrorists will use bases in the Middle East to plan and carry out attacks on our nation. I will not believe you. If you believe that to be the case, strengthen the protection of our borders at home; increase the use of HUMINT and other intelligence-gathering resources abroad, and devote greater resources to the same type of attacks that the terrorists carry out, i.e., sneak attacks on their targets before they can carry out their attacks on our targets.

It’s an entirely new era of warfare into which we have entered and America is lagging well behind the curve in terms of how it should be fought. Remember the days of the Napoleonic wars when great armies would face each other on the battlefield and exchange fire? Then, when the soldiers of King George III attempted to engage the “American Rabble” [note the capital ‘R’ please}, they were rudely shocked by the guerilla tactics of the Patriots. Those tactics plus planned operations such as D-Day, Operations Overlord, King Too, Charger, Casanova became the way to fight. What about civilians? Well, insofar as possible, America and its allies attempted to respect and reduce civilian casualties with noted exceptions. Today things are different. The people who are America’s enemies today prefer to use civilians because they are aware of America’s horror at seeing non-combatants used, abused, and slaughtered. Our enemies don’t care who they kill as long as they, the dead, don’t believe the way they, the terrorists, happen to believe on that particular day. Politely, we used to call it tribal warfare; it is not. ISIS or whatever the hell they are calling themselves are nothing more than a gang; no better than the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Michigan Militia, or the Wah Ching. They proclaim to be religious jihadists, but that, I believe, is merely an excuse to kill others unlike themselves.

In 1961, President Kennedy stated that we were sending “advisors” to someplace called Vietnam. It wasn’t a popular decision, but we trusted Jack the war hero to do what was right. The advisors were followed by more advisors and then marines and soldiers who weren’t “advisors,” but who were right in the thick of things. The guys who fought and died in that war were patriots; make no mistake about that. The reason they were asked to fight, I regret to say, were never clearly spelled out. As a consequence, many people back in the states didn’t understand and blamed those who fought and died as much as they blamed future administrations. I didn’t like him and didn’t vote for him, but thanks be to God for Richard Nixon’s intelligence in ending that war that claimed over 58,000 American lives.

Now, this current President – for whom I voted twice – who has nothing to lose because he can’t run again is talking about sending 275-300 “advisors” and Special Forces to “train” Iraqi forces. When do the “advisors” and “trainers” become companies, regiments, battalions, and armies who shed blood? When might we reach the point of saying, “We need more young men and women so by executive order, we’re reinstating selective service?” That is, perhaps extreme, but maybe extreme is what is required to wake up the American people to the fact that our people are dying and the only thing we’re told is “…because it’s in our national interest.” Dammit, give me specifics, not glittering generalities, because right now, I’m thinking that your national interests are not my national interests nor are they in the national interests of those mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters who have gold star flags hanging in their front windows.

If Iraq divides into three states, we all know what will happen. The most war-like state will soon absorb the other two. They will then, in all likelihood absorb Syria and move on Iran. The United Nations will condemn them and they won’t give a damn. The Israelis will fight them and eventually use a nuclear weapon to defeat them, or perhaps by that time, the war-like state will have nuclear weapons and the world’s Armageddon will have come about. Only at that point will some sage declare, “It’s Obama’s fault for not sending in “advisors” and “trainers,” and once more, I will have been proven wrong…but it won’t really matter to me; I’ll be dead.

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We live in techno-world. Is there anyone who has been living under a rock who is unaware of this? Those who believe that their lives are private are also those who use their head as a cork for their collective butts. Much of this we have brought upon ourselves through the use of social media. I have one friend who posts everything on her Facebook page except the number of times she pees during each day. From her Facebook page, I not only know where she lives; where she works; where her husband is employed; the layout of their house; where and when they go on vacation and; the number and ages of her children and where they go to school.  I haven’t even tried to get her Social Security number but it wouldn’t shock me if it’s out there somewhere…and available.

So many people were pissed when Edward Snowden began to unveil what has been going on in many parts of the world, including the United States, for decades. In his Christmas Day message, Snowden noted, “A child born today will never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that’s a problem because privacy matters, privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.” I have news for you, Mr. Snowden, we haven’t had a moment to ourselves in years, particularly if we haven’t deserved to have that privacy…for whatever reason. As America’s population of immigrants has grown, many have become bitter after learning that the “American Dream” is, for the most part just that…a dream. Very few have returned to their native country. Instead, they have developed a bitterness and hatred for the country that has taken them in. Does that sound strange? It shouldn’t. All one has to do is look at the number of homegrown terrorists we have created and what they have done or have tried to do to disrupt he way in which things have been done in our country for years.

I happen to be Massachusetts born and bred, and when I die, I’ll be Massachusetts dead. What the Tsarnaev brothers did last April at the Boston Marathon finish was a perfect example of why I have no problem with the NSA as long as we the people are informed. If greater surveillance means the loss of a little freedom, I have no problem with that. If you want to monitor my calls to Pakistan to talk to a Babson alumnus, feel free. Ahmad is just another guy trying to make a living in his home country…and it hasn’t been easy for him or his family.

Back in the eighties, I was teaching a class in creative problem solving to police officers. It was part of a residential three-week command training course for newly minted first-line supervisors. One of the ways of loosening their minds a bit was to pose situations. Here’s one I always enjoyed using: “The year is 2330; how has policing changed?” The first answer generally was that there would be one unified national police force. However, invariably, someone would say, “Every citizen, when born, would be implanted with a chip that would tell us who they are and where they are at all times.” Whoa, if you think what Snowden has leaked is Orwellian, how ‘bout that chip idea? Remember, these are police officers who are saying this, and most of them are arch conservative in their thoughts. I have mentioned the chip idea to others, and while they find it repulsive, they also admit that “some of them” should have the chip. Your guess is as good as mine as to who “them” are.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother are perfect examples of ‘them,’ but how do we know? How did we know about the Times Square bombing that failed? How have we learned of other terrorists in the United States? How many other plots to bomb subways, national monuments, trains, or buildings have been stopped, and stopped quietly because of what the NSA has done? The answer is that we don’t have any bloody ideas…and we never will. Having a private life is wonderful. I like my privacy as much as anyone; in some cases, probably more. However, if listening to my call to Pakistan – I really don’t make that many – tells Homeland Security to run a check on me, have at it guys, because I don’t have one damned thing to hide. If I did, would I be putting this on paper.

Just as my friend with her Facebook page is so open, so, too, do I have friends who guard their privacy to the other extreme; they wouldn’t have a Facebook or LinkedIn or any other public page to save their lives. That is their prerogative. If they live that kind of life, they will never have to worry about the NSA or any other agency checking on them…that we know of! Electronic intelligence or ‘elint’ has been around since the late fifties. Technological advances have been such that if a government agency, hell, if a dishonest technogeek wants to get personal information from you, they can. I believe it was Will Rogers who said, “Live your life in such a way that you wouldn’t be afraid to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”

I would venture to say that those who complain the loudest about having a lack of privacy are exactly those who are doing something their afraid will be discovered. Frankly, I rather doubt that these so-called “spy agencies” are concerned that you’re a closet alcoholic; that you’re a sex addict or that you’re a guy who likes to dress up in women’s clothes, or whatever else you can dream up. There are a lot of weird people out there…”even as thee and me”…as the saying goes.

Snowden is right. What was done was to a large extent wrong. Spying on the heads of state of our ‘friends’ was unconscionable. However, I don’t disagree with keeping an eye on some people within our own nation. If people in our own country decide that they want to disrupt something by bombing it, why should we discourage those who might just lean about it ahead of time by doing a bit of snooping? But, Snowden is also wrong…and he knew it. Otherwise, why would he fly out of the country to reveal what he had to say? As a former analyst, I consider his actions treasonous. As a private citizen who has been out of that business for nearly fifty years, I think he’s a naïve citizen who should have known better than to think privacy still exists today. Hell, look at all of the street cameras in Great Britain, in America, in God-only-knows-where-else. Look at the pinhole cameras that are available for use everywhere.

I just love these ads whereby a security company can allow you to keep an eye on your house from your telephone. You can set the temperature, tell the roast when to turn on, watch the kids come home safely from school, tell the dog to get off the couch, and even watch the burglar steal your television set. And you believe that no one else in this whole wide world can’t tap into that if they so desire? Oh, please.

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