11-25-2016 | Distant Roar

On September 29, 1944, FBI agents burglarized the New York apartment of a middle-aged man who worked at a record company selling Communist songs. He want by the name of Arthur Alexandrovich Adams, and he was a skilled mechanical engineer. He had probably come to the United States in the 1920s, and he may have been one of the first deep-cover Soviet spies in America. He was certainly the first the FBI ever found.

The black-bag job produced a bonanza.

Adams had notebooks that made little sense to the FBI agents who saw them. "He was in possession of a document that talked about some type of water," FBI agent Donald Shannon, a member of the Bureau's Soviet espionage squad, said in an oral history interview six decades later. "We weren't sure of the information so we turned it over to the Atomic Energy Commission for evaluation." Upon expert review, the notes revealed intimate knowledge of highly technical and deeply secret phases of the Manhattan Project. They included work on heavy water, a linchpin of secret research into the atomic bomb.

"We were informed that the person who had his certainly had some information on America's atomic research," Shannon said. Adams soon was indicted by a federal grand jury in New York under the foreign agents registration law -- and the State Department ordered him deported.

Eighteen months had passed since the FBI's first clue that Stalin's spies were trying to steal the bomb. The second clue was now in hand.

Hoover understood in broad terms what the Manhattan Project was about. The War Department had told him about its own search for spies at Los Alamos. He began to realize that control of the bomb was not simply a matter of winning the war. It was about national survival after the war was won.

Not long before Pearl Harbor, Hoover and his aides had written about the wartime goals of British intelligence: "to be in a position at the end of the war to organize the world." Hoover thought that role rightfully belonged to the United States. The atomic bomb would be the key to its supremacy.

-- Tim Weiner, Enemies: A History of the FBI


10-04-2016 | Pure Perception

Hyde Street. Sunday 11 March 1984.

Ren Breck has just shown me the imagery of Mars that displays what some people consider a giant pyramid representing a "Face," near a series of pyramids they are already calling "The City," which left me unconvinced. When the photograph was passed around the table at SRI, with only the information that it showed a face, six people found it at six different spots!

--Vallee, Forbidden Science Volume Three


09-26-2016 | Cold Snap

Palo Alto, Wednesday 21 May 1980.

Bad sleep, shaken by allergies: everything is always blooming here. There is a hedge of rosebushes along our fence, and jasmine at the corner. Over lunch with Hal Puthoff at SRI, I told him I no longer believed our government had an ongoing UFO project. He has reached similar conclusions. I added I had no intention to be used by the Intelligence folks. The more I got to know them, the more I have the feeling they play stupid games. "No," Hal replied, "but as soon as they get promoted they only respond to political signals."

"That's the same thing as playing stupid games," I said. "I can't afford to share UFO data with them -- what if happened to expose some of their own games?"

"We have the same problem," Hal said. "Our successes with remote viewing are a threat to the satellite folks. Some big budget organizations want to shut us down, so they spread false rumors about us. Even the White House is having trouble finding out the truth. In our war game simulation we succeeded in pinpointing the position of MX missiles in one of the 10 hidden silos on a random basis. We did it 12 times in a row, no misses -- a result with odds of one in a trillion! But the budget for the projected MX is 55 billion dollars. How can we fight against that?"

--Vallee, Forbidden Science Volume Three


08-05-2016 | Doubleplus Ungood

There is a strange urge in my mind: I would like to stop behaving as a rat pressing levers -- even if I have to go hungry for awhile. I would like to step outside the conditioning maze and see what makes it tick. I wonder what I would find. Perhaps a terrible superhuman monstrosity the very contemplation of which would make a man insane? Perhaps a solemn gathering of wise men? Or the maddening simplicity of unattended clockwork?

--Jacques Valle, The Invisible College, p. 206


07-23-2016 | All Things

"God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realize what it will be like when he does.

When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.

God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else -- something it never entered your head to conceive -- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left?"

-- C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 52


05-18-2016 | Simple Vanity

Desert Storm was a replay of Operation Praying Mantis, albeit on a far grander canvas. By nightfall on February 27th, American commanders estimated that given one more day the demolition of the Iraqi army would be complete. Before that day could arrive, however, Desert Storm ended.

In Washington, where destroying the Imperial Guard had never figured as a particular imperative, priorities were shifting. Concern for appearances was displacing serious strategic analysis. To some observers, it looked like the Americans were piling on a hapless and defeated foe. The optics were changing in ways that threatened to tarnish perceptions. When to call time was emerging as the question of the moment.

Powell was quick to sense - and embrace - the new mood. "The doves are starting to complain about all the damage you're doing," the closeted four-star dove told Schwarzkopf on a call to Riyadh. "The reports make it look like a wanton killing." What would Schwarzkopf think about calling a halt on the 28th? After briefly hesitating, the CENTCOM commander gave way. The idea of winning a Five-Day War, outdoing the vaunted Israelis by one day, caught his fancy. (The several weeks of bombing that had preceeded the ground attack did not figure in his arithmetic.)

Soon thereafter, Powell updated President Bush and his senior aides in the Oval Office. "Mr. President, it's going much better than expected. The Iraqi army is broken. All they're trying to do is get out," he reported. "By sometime tomorrow the job will be done." Norm concurred in this assessment, Powell added.

"If that's the case," the commander in chief asked, "why not end it today?" Once again, Bush was far in front of his subordinates. Ducking into the president's study, Powell quickly called Riyadh. What if the president terminated hostilities later that very day? "I don't have any problem," Schwarzkopf replied. "Our objective was to drive 'em out and we've done that." Desert Storm would end at midnight Washington time, the president decided, a nice, tidy one hundred hours after the ground offensive had begun.

With the clock ticking down, Schwarzkopf, channeling MacArthur, seized the moment to lay down his own narrative of events that unfolded. In a globally televised presentation subsequently known as "The Mother of All Briefings" - Saddam had vowed to defeat the Americans in "The Mother of All Battles" - the CENTCOM commander declared victory. It was a masterful performance, alternately pugnacious, sarcastic, humane, and self-depreciating. His overarching theme emphasized the historic, indeed unprecedented, nature of the US-led coalition's military achievement. In a "classic tank battle," it had all but obliterated the Iraqi army. Any remnants that survived were trapped. "The gates are closed." It was time to stop. "We've accomplished our mission." The problem was that he had not. And the gates were not closed.

Later the same night, Bush himself appeared on television. Absent Schwarzkopf's bombast, he affirmed Schwarzkopf's verdict. "Kuwait is liberated," the president announced. "Iraq's army is defeated. Our military objectives are met." It was time to move on: "the war is now behind us." The first of Bush's claims was indubitably correct, the second partially so. Unfortunately, the last two assertions missed by a wide margin, with considerable implications for the future.

In fact, substantial elements of the Republican Guard remained intact. Nor were they hemmed in. The unilaterally declared ceasefire offered the prospect of escaping back to Baghdad; they wasted little time in doing just that.

Compounding the error, Schwarzkopf bungled the ceasefire's implementation. In a position to impose, he instead chose to concede, with regrettable consequences. The fault was not his alone. Strangely enough, the suspension of operations caught American political and military leaders alike by surprise. No one in a position of authority had given much thought to what would happen next. Washington had provided CENTCOM with no instructions regarding the terms of any agreement to terminate hostilities. So Schwarzkopf drafted his own...


...when that meeting convened on March 3 at Safwan, an Iraqi airfield not far from the Kuwaiti border, satisfying the presumed demands of History competed with more substantial considerations. The atmosphere was rife with grandstanding. Earmarking furnishings for the Smithsonian Institution "in case they ever wanted to re-create the Safwan negotiation scene" emerged as a priority.

To demonstrate that he harbored no grudges against his adversaries, Schwarzkopf magnanimously agreed to grant an Iraqi request to resume use of their military helicopters. "Given that the Iraqis had agreed to all our requests," he later explained, "I didn't feel it was unreasonable to grant one of theirs." So much for the prerogative of dictating terms. The event adjourned with comradely saltues and handshakes all around.

- Andrew Bacevich, America's War for the Greater Middle East p. 126-128.


05-14-2015 | Fitness Landscapes (Slight Reprise)

The normal functioning of the world serves to hide our state of truly catastrophic dispossession. What is called "catastrophe" is no more than the forced suspension of this state, one of those rare moments when we regain some sort of presence in the world. Let the petroleum reserves run out earlier than expected; let the international flows that regulate the tempo of the metropolis be interrupted; let us suffer some great social disruption and some great "return to the savagery of the population," a "planetary threat," the "end of civilization!" Whatever. Any loss of control would be preferable to all the crisis management scenarios they envision.

When this comes, the specialists in sustainable development won't be the ones with the best advice. It's within the malfunction and short-circuits of the system that we find elements of a response whose logic would be to abolish the problems themselves. Among the signatory nations to the Kyoto Protocol, the only countries to have fulfilled their commitments, in spite of themselves, are Ukraine and Romania. Guess why. The most advanced experimentation with "organic" agriculture on a global level has taken place since 1989 on the island of Cuba. Guess why. And it's along the African highways, and nowhere else, that auto mechanics has been elevated to a form of popular art. Guess how.

What makes the crisis desirable is the fact that, in the crisis, the environment ceases to be the environment. We are forced to reestablish contact, albeit a potentially fatal one, with what's there, to rediscover the rhythms of reality. What surrounds us is no longer a landscape, a panorama, a theater, but something to inhabit, something we need to come to terms with, something we can learn from.

We won't let ourselves be led astray by the ones who've brought about this "catastrophe." Where the managers platonically discuss among themselves how they might decrease emissions without "breaking the bank," the only realistic option we can see is to "break the bank" as soon as possible, and, in the meantime, take advantages of every collapse in the system to increase our own strength.

The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection p. 81-82


05-12-2016 | Salad Days

The principal item on the agenda in these conversations was Rumsfeld's career. Nixon was engaging in one of his favorite pastimes, dispensing political advice. At the time of their talks both men assumed that eventually Rumsfeld would run for the U.S. Senate from his home state of Illinois. The main question was what jobs or experience would help him win a Senate seat. Nixon encouraged Rumsfeld to do something in foreign policy.

"Believe me, in a big sophisticated state, and yours is a big sophisticated state, it's about the world. It's not about their miserable little subjects," the president told Rumsfeld. He recounted his own experience as a representative from California, becoming active in the House Un-American Affairs Committee and in the investigation of Alger Hiss, so that when he ran for Senate from California in 1950, he was considered a foreign policy "expert" and voters looked up to him.

Rumsfeld agreed that he'd like to be involved in foreign affairs because "that'd give me a credential." Nixon suggested Rumsfeld might consider a job in the Defense Department but warned him away from becoming a secretary of the Army, Navy or Air Force. "The service secretaries, well, they're just warts. I like them as individuals, but they do not do important things."

Nixon also outlined for Rumsfeld which countries and regions of the world might help further the career of an aspiring politician and which wouldn't. "The only things that matter in the world are Japan and China, Russia and Europe," Nixon explained. "Latin America doesn't matter. Long as we've been in it, people don't give one damn about Latin America, Don." Stay away from Africa, too, Nixon warned. As for the middle east, he went on, getting involved there carried too many potential hazards for a politician. "People think it's for the purpose of catering to the Jewish vote," Nixon told Rumsfeld. "And anyway, there's nothing you can do about the middle east."


...Rumsfeld did what could to please the president, and that meant helping out with White House political operations. He worked with Mitchell and Colson, the key figures in Nixon's political apparatus. One secret bit of help Rumsfeld volunteered was to use his old Princeton ties for secret contracts with the Gallup Poll, which Colson believed had "dovish" instincts. "We have decided that we'll try Rumsfeld working with Gallup. He went to school with George Jr. at Princeton," Colson told the president in July 1971. Nixon and Colson were eager to try to influence the results of major pollsters, notably Gallup and Harris, perhaps getting them to phrase their questions or to present their results in a way that was helpful to Nixon. "I mean, if the figures aren't up there, we don't want them to lie about it," Nixon explained to Colson at one point. "They can trim them a little one way or another."

There is no evidence in the Nixon tapes that Rumsfeld tried to sway the outcome of Gallup's polling results. Rumsfeld did, however, manage to glean some advance information about what Gallup's upcoming poll results would show, giving Nixon an edge of a few days to prepare. Rumsfeld appeared to realize that in these contacts he was asking Gallup to go beyond the traditional independent role of a pollster. At a White House session in October 1971, Rumsfeld urged Nixon to keep these contacts with the Gallup Poll top secret:

Rumsfeld: Say, I just want to report, sir, about my conversation with George Gallup.

Nixon: Oh yeah, you went to school with him, didn't you?

Rumsfeld: I did. And I kind of want to be awful careful about telling people around the building that I'm talking to him. Because all he's got in his business is his integrity.

Rumsfeld then informed Nixon that an upcoming Gallup Poll would show that the president's popularity had gone up.

Nixon and Haldeman seemed to believe that these secret contacts through Rumsfeld were paying off in subtle ways. On the even of Nixon's trip to China, Haldeman told the president that the Gallup Poll would be timed in a way that would help Nixon. "I can't believe that Gallup would tell Rumsfeld that he would hold," Nixon exclaimed. "Because Gallup was always, 'Jesus Christ, I call them as I see them.'" Haldeman explained that Gallup wasn't rescheduling the poll itself, but merely altering when the results would be made public. "He would wait and release it next month, after you got back," he explained.

James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans, p. 17-19


05-11-2016 | Being Concise

At the conclusion of the war against Nazi Germany, from his headquarters in Riems, France, Dwight D. Eisenhower had sent this admirably succinct cable to the War Department: "The mission of this Allied Force was fulfilled at 02:41, local time, May 7th, 1945." In the seven decades since, no U.S. regional commander has replicated Eisenhower's achievement. Not one has ever fulfilled his mission. That is, at no time have conditions within the command's assigned AOR ever reached the point where the officer in charge has felt able to report the job finished.

Andrew Bagevich, America's War for the Greater Middle East p. 37