Special Access

The ramblings and ruminations of suspense-thriller novelist, Mark A. Hewitt

Month: May 2016 (Page 1 of 2)

Sit Down, Shut Up, and Keep your Mouth Shut

The State Department Inspector General released a new report detailing how former Secretary Hillary Clinton violated the Federal Records Act by deleting thousands of emails, stored on her private server, that she deemed personal before turning remaining emails over to the Department for review and preservation. Not mentioned was any violation of the old Espionage Act of 1917, now Title 18, Chapter 37 (Espionage and Censorship), for her “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information.” No one wants to admit that she gathered the most sensitive of classified information, transmitted it to a private server, and then deleted those 33,000 emails. The penalty for violating Title 18 is life and even death. The official line now is that she simply violated a tiny piece of the Federal Records Act–the penalty for violating the FRA–a slap on the wrist. If that.

See, I told you they’d find a way not to indict the good former Secretary of State, even when she was caught dead to rights. How did that happen?

The media jumped into the lead wagon and circled the wagons, and have gone into full protection mode–she was just trying to protect her privacy! don’t you know. Having survived, escaped, evaded, and resisted the media and the vast right wing conspiracy on the issue of espionage, the official word “now” is that it’s all just a big misunderstanding. An error of judgment, a casual oversight–all in the name of protecting her privacy.

Riiiiight! And if you have another view, you had better sit down, shut up, and keep your mouth shut. If you know what is good for you, that is.

I’ve done some IG work. Office of Internal Audit for the DOJ. I was singled out to conduct some very sensitive investigations. I’ve investigated senior military officers for a variety of offences. To me, untrained in the law but ordered to conduct an investigation, the most amazing thing was how the lawyers “left it up to me” as to which way I wanted the investigation to proceed. I interviewed people, collected relevant information, analyzed testimony and the evidence, and came to a conclusion. With one exception, there was no unlawful or undue “command influence,” that legal concept within American military law. Unlawful or undue command influence occurs when a person bearing “the mantle of command authority” pressures—or even appears to pressure—military judicial proceedings, like an investigation. Military commanders may exert significant control over their units, but under the Uniform Code of Military Justice a commander must take a detached, quasi-judicial stance towards certain disciplinary proceedings such as a court martial or an investigation. In my case, I had a colonel that wanted me to hammer “the obvious guilty” party. When I didn’t, because that is not where the evidence or the law would take me, I suffered greatly. I violated the “sit down, shut up, do what you are told, and keep your mouth shut” phase of the investigation.

The media has ridden on a wave of goodwill, expected to conduct investigations and report them, “fair and balanced” as the guy on Fox news says. A reporter, journalist, correspondent or whatever they call themselves these days, are an investigator and a reporter. They work for a “commander,” someone bearing “the mantle of authority,” (which could be a senior editor all the way to the CEO, I suppose). These journalists also learn to comport themselves a certain way to ensure “the messaging” from the highest “authority” is complied with and is consistent. When every White House correspondent is a registered democrat, as is the case today, what are the chances anything that deviates from the accepted and approved “message” is not reported and is squashed. If you want to be invited to the White House correspondent’s dinner and the briefing room, you are expected to play and not give “the boss” any grief. In other words, if you like putting “White House Correspondent” on your business cards, you had better sit down, do what you are told, and keep your mouth shut.

Ms. Clinton had plenty of warnings to use official communications methods so as to ensure her records were properly preserved and to minimize cyber-security risks. She ignored them. The news media had to pretend there was ambiguity there when there really wasn’t any ambiguity, now’s there no ambiguity as the ambiguity is gone with the IG report. The media was slightly more shocked than the Vichy France Prefect of Police Captain Louis Renault was upon learning “there’s gambling going on” at Rick’s as his table winnings are being stuffed into his hand.

The IG report. These “journalists” (I’m making quotation marks with my fingers…) have come to the point at which where they can no longer willfully ignore at least some part of the truth, they can no longer carry that bucket of swill, as the stench has become too great and it begins to rub off onto them. I suppose it leaves a “residue,” to borrow a phrase. When journalists are forced to tell the truth, at some point to demonstrate that they have some microscopic level of journalistic integrity left in their body, they break like a bucking bronco, and say, “Well, yeah, ya’ caught me. It’s over.”

How do you defend the lies that we’ve all known were lies, all of these years?

The Espionage Act of 1917 was passed, along with the Trading with the Enemy Act, just after the United States entered World War I in April 1917. It was based on the Defense Secrets Act of 1911, especially the notions of obtaining or delivering information relating to “national defense” to a person who was not “entitled to have it”, itself based on an earlier British Official Secrets Act. The Espionage Act law imposed much stiffer penalties than the 1911 law, including the death penalty.

The current law that covers espionage is Title 18, Chapter 37 18 U.S. Code § 793 – Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information
(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it.

If that isn’t what Hillary Clinton did, just like Alger Hiss–a democrat, lawyer and senior State Department official–that is remove classified information, store it on a private email server, and willfully retained classified information and failed to deliver over 33,000 emails “on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it.”

Oh, yeah, that’s right. Sit down, shut up, do what you are told, and keep your mouth shut! The media is on the job.

More to follow.

What is it when you “just know” something is wrong but the world doesn’t want to hear it?

The basis for Shoot Down was Flight 800. Lots of conspiracy theories surrounding the incident. As I taught the aircraft accident course, I saw the obvious holes in the story that the media and the Clinton Administration was pounding. A center wing cell blew up and knocked the aircraft out of the sky. A completely bogus “causal factor.” Boeing engineers couldn’t replicate the NTSB’s solution and rationale for the incident. Lifelong pilots knew there was something fishy with the whole investigation. Why could I see that the incident of Flight 800 was a sham, definitely terrorism, when the official “word” (NTSB report and media/news reporting) was saying it was an accident? Willful ignorance or sympathetic media conspiracy? A new book is coming out: “TWA 800: The Crash, the Cover-Up, and the Conspiracy” of Flight 800. There are several others “out there” plus investigative television shows on what happened to Flight 800.

It’s not only me who “just knew” something was wrong with Flight 800 but the world didn’t want to hear it. Here’s something to chew on–had a Republican President been in the White House when Flight 800 went down, you could bet your sweet ass the media would have aggressively investigated it. There would be no place for a republican administration to hide the facts. But because it was the Clinton White House, with all of his “peccadillos” going on in 1996, the media yawned and proved cover smoke for the administration to manipulate the findings and steer the investigation to blame mechanical matters and not look at the obvious terrorist connections. For crying out loud, shortly after the accident congressmen were on record, after a MANPADS proliferation closed door meeting, and said, “We’re going to do everything we can to prevent another Flight 800.” A closed door meeting where congresscritters discussed the proliferation of man portable, shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles? The FBI didn’t interview people who claimed to see a streak of light from the ocean and arcing in the direction of airborne explosion? Come on! That’s how you know!

Dittos for the vetting of the President. See my post, The Greatest Fraud in American Politics.

More to follow.

Number Four in Review plus bonus book, Number Five

The working title of my fourth book is Blown Cover. More adventures of Duncan Hunter, Nazy Cunningham, Bill McGee and the old CIA chief, Greg Lynche. It picks up from both books one and three, Special Access and No Need to Know.

Bonus Book: A children’s book. (Yes, a children’s book.) My publisher likes the artwork of my wonderful illustrator and the manuscript, and wants to publish it.

More to follow.

The TSA was created after 9-11 because some unnamed “they” had defeated all the security layers that America’s civil aviation security system had in place to prevent a hijacking.

Nine days after four airplanes had destroyed the World Trade Center, parts of the Pentagon, and thousands of lives, President George W. Bush stood before the U.S. Congress and spoke of a new and imminent fight against terrorists and the governments that support them. He said, “Our response involves far more than instant retaliation and isolated strikes. Americans should not expect one battle but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen. It may include dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success.”

If you had been paying attention Congress and President Bush took an unprecedented step and federalized airport security. Not many people ask why they did that. Having been in that business for a while, they took action on a nasty secret no one wants to talk about: While all Muslims are not terrorists, all terrorists are Muslim.

Nineteen Muslim men walked into three American airports on September 11, 2001 and changed everything in and around airports. The unclassified 9-11 Commission Report was largely silent on the role the contracted pre-board screeners played that day. It focused on screening processes and not the failure of any screener or X-ray machine operator. We have no way of knowing what the classified volume of the 9-11 Commission Report had to say on the subject.

From the 9-11 Commission Report: “Checkpoint screening was considered the most important and obvious layer of security. Walk-through metal detectors and X-ray machines operated by trained screeners were employed to stop prohibited items. Numerous government reports indicated that checkpoints performed poorly, often failing to identify even obvious FAA test items. Many deadly and dangerous items did not set off metal detectors, or were hard to distinguish in an X-ray machine from innocent everyday items.”

Nineteen Muslim men walked through the airport security checkpoints at Boston (Flights 11 and 175–WTC), Newark (Flight 77—Pentagon), and Dulles (Flight 93–Shanksville). Somehow they were able to acquire weapons either already on board the aircraft or they were able to hide weapons in their baggage and those weapons were not detected. According to the 9-11 Commission Report, “They had defeated all the security layers that America’s civil aviation security system then had in place to prevent a hijacking.” Most people gloss over those words: They had defeated all the security layers that America’s civil aviation security system then had in place to prevent a hijacking.

Like the checkpoints in Boston, Newark lacked closed-circuit surveillance so there is no documentary evidence when the hijackers passed through the checkpoint, what alarms were triggered, or what security procedures were administered. This is incredible and largely unbelievable. Even in 1994, at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, there was closed circuit surveillance on all three concourses. One camera showed what was being x-rayed. A second camera showed the passenger putting their baggage on the X-ray machine. Camera three showed a frontal view of the passenger passing through the magnetometer to show if any warnings of where the passenger had metal on their body. And a fourth camera showed the x-ray operator doing their work at the machine. The 9-11 Commission Report indicated the “FAA interviewed the screeners later, none recalled anything unusual or suspicious.” Of course not. There’s no video, not only of who went through the checkpoint but who was sitting at the x-ray machine! Did anyone think that nineteen Muslim men passing through security checkpoints in three airports that didn’t have closed-circuit surveillance might be considered unusual or suspicious? How did they get that information? The obvious answer was, “It was an inside job.” Maybe that information is in the classified volume of the 9-11 Commission Report. Or maybe not. Let me reiterate: They had defeated all the security layers that America’s civil aviation security system then had in place to prevent a hijacking.

Air-to-ground telephones aboard the jets were used to report the news of the hijacking. From the 9-11 Commission Report, “They used knives,” reported two passengers. Another reported, “A flight attendant has been stabbed.” On another flight, “A man in first class had his throat slashed, two flight attendants had been stabbed.” And “Both pilots had been killed,” as reported by a flight attendant. “They used knives.”

The 9-11 Commission Report recommended: “We advocate a system for screening, not a categorical profiling. A screening system looks for particular, identifiable subjects or indicators of risks. It does not involve guesswork about who might be dangerous. It requires frontline border officials who have the tools and resources to establish that people are who they say they are, intercept identifiable suspects, and disrupt terrorist operations.”

This is a departure of how Israeli airport security conducts effective and efficient passenger screening. The Israelis profile; we do not. To profile or not to profile is a strategic decision made at the highest levels of government. Allow me to put some simple English to: They had defeated all the security layers that America’s civil aviation security system then had in place to prevent a hijacking. While all Muslims are not terrorists, the terrorists that defeated America’s civil aviation security system did so by infiltrating the contracted airport screening companies, and they were Muslim. Nineteen dudes didn’t just walk through airport security and magically knives appeared on the aircraft–in three separate locations? Envision a woman in a hijab sitting at the x-ray machine scanning the contents of passengers bags.

Because Muslim terrorists that defeated America’s civil aviation security system, the U.S. federalized the passenger screening process. Shortly after September 11th, all airports have closed-circuit surveillance on the concourses and terminals, the TSA has aggressively vetted employees, trained them and pay them a decent wage.

TSA has tried “profiling” with its Pre-Pass program. Those that were on long-time frequent traveler programs used to get shunted to another line for expeditious processing. Business men, military, and “others.” Consider it HOV lanes for airline passengers. Who knows why they killed their own program. We know they are not perfect.

March 22nd of 2016 may have changed everything for Brussels and European airports. The experience may have some effect on “improving” airport security in Europe, but I doubt it. To paraphrase an American talk show host, “They have a Muslim problem.” American airports are about to learn the latest threat to aviation—Brussels proved the airport itself is also a target for radical Islam which has an infatuation with aviation and aircraft. The Brussels Airport investigation will show Muslim terrorists working for a private contracted airport screening or services company, (again) defeated their civil aviation security system. See them struggle to quietly federalized their passenger screening process too.

Maybe if the TSA hadn’t expanded operations outside airport screening and into other parts of America things at our airports would be a little different, a little better. If they took the guys out of the field and put them back into the airports, maybe they would have enough TSA agents to process passengers. My issue is the troubles we see today with the TSA, at our major airports, is directly related to what our President once said, “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, President Obama proposed this national security force and is using the TSA in that capacity. Scholars and politicians note emphatically, that’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did as a function of the Russian Revolution. Develop a national security force. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the TSA has spilled out of their original charter to provide airport security–remember why they were organized: “They had defeated all the security layers that America’s civil aviation security system then had in place to prevent a hijacking.” Now they have turned their back on our airports and are trying to function as a civilian national security force.

More to follow.

Whistleblowers

In Special Access, Duncan Hunter finds himself as either a tree stump, someone who doesn’t do a thing in the face of an emergency or at a crucial moment, or become a whistleblower. In the book, a CIA analyst does what analysts do–when an interesting or curious person comes on the scene of an investigation or surveillance–such as monitoring the comings and goings of people wanting to see the master terrorist Osama bin Laden–the analyst starts a file on that person and begins to collect as much information on that “person of interest” as possible. In Special Access, in a quiet subplot, the analyst’s “person of interest” somehow acquires a US passport, becomes a state senator and is running for President.
Special Access full cover
There is a point in the analyst’s professional life when he realizes he possesses sensitive and damaging information that has been, heretofore, suppressed or killed, and places himself in the position of considering, “What do I do with this, if anything?” In the case of the CIA officer in Special Access, he now knows what he has is something that is both sensitive and damaging “in the current political environment” and that information has nothing to do with national security. So, he struggles with what to do with it.

From Special Access: “It is hard to believe she’s Muslim; we certainly think she is amazing and we appreciate her. All of her,” Lieutenant Commander Danny Cox said with a sly smile.

The two men pinched their lips, knowing any shared salacious thoughts would probably get one of them in trouble. His work done, Cox was about to leave when Dolan, in an expression that told Cox the Marine had something else on his mind. He was mildly surprised when Dolan asked, “Danny, can you keep a secret?”

The SEAL thought Ms. Cunningham was probably the topic. He held his hands out and said, “Of course.”

Dolan closed the file and slid it across to Cox. “Last night this guy said, on national TV, ‘We have a righteous wind at our backs.’ It is hard for me to believe it wasn’t a coincidence.”

Cox’s brows narrowed, cocked his head slightly and expressed surprise at the quote. He opened the file and sifted through two inches of loose paper. “Who is this guy? He looks a little familiar.”

“He delivered the keynote speech for the Democratic National Convention last night. He’s the junior state senator from Michigan running for the U.S. Senate.”

The dark haired man raised his head to meet the spook’s eyes. “Fuck, me.” Cox started over from the beginning, scrutinizing the documents one by one. The dispatches from Islamabad outlined how the tall skinny man and his traveling partners tried to be inconspicuous as they moved through hotels and markets before dashing into a mosque known for its fiery imam that railed against the Great Satan and Israel. Cox continued to flip through dispatches and case officer notes until he came to the Xeroxed copies of British passports and visas under an alias, and the more recent copy of the man’s US passport. He closed the file and handed it back to Dolan. “This shit could get someone into a lot of trouble.”

“I agree. I’m not so sure I can share this with upstairs or the CTC. Or the FBI for that matter. There is a part of me that screams ‘I need to wait and see what develops.’ The dude went to Pakistan and did the tourist terrorism bit and then utters one of AQ’s secret greetings on national TV, in essence saying ‘I’m in!’ What do you think?”

“I say you have a problem Marine. I think I’d take a page out of that Iraqi general’s playbook and make a copy of this,” as he held up the file, “and put it in a safe place. You’ll never know when that shit will come in handy.”

“That is kind of what I was thinking. In this business we have seen what can happen when you start a file on some weak tit and before you know it you have a real problem on your hand. I guarantee you the first time bin Laden’s name was mentioned and a file started on him, no one ever thought he would become the most wanted man on the planet.”

“You have a point.”

“Danny, I have a bad feeling about this guy. The history on him is blank since he last traveled to Africa and Pakistan. It is obvious he used an alias during the time he was traveling. You can see he went by another name and travelled under that name under an Indonesian passport, completing the Haj at Mecca. He also got in to school under that name as a foreign student. If he is now a U.S. citizen, I cannot have an official file on him. FBI would kill me. The DCI would have me dragged out the front door with my head on a pike.”

So in Special Access, while collecting information and intelligence on a foreign national is authorized and encouraged as a function of the intelligence gathering process, acquiring and holding information and intel on a US citizen is verboten at the Agency.

What the analyst does with the proscribed material is the stuff of spycraft. He made a decision to withhold the information collected on the suspicious character and stepped delicately into the realm of becoming a phase-one whistleblower. Later in the novel, Nazy Cunningham assumes the office of the pre-whistleblowing analyst and is asked to find the information.

From Special Access: With a delicate finger, Nazy rocked the two books toward her, grasped them and stood. She knew she was alone but she subconsciously looked around her office; her outer door was closed, the secretary long gone. All of her safes were closed with red magnetic signs indicating CLOSED and LOCKED. “This has to be it” she thought as she deliberately lowered herself again into the heavy leather chair behind her desk. She flipped opened the first book and thumbed through the pages quickly, expecting paper to fall out or a hollowed-out area holding a key or a thumb drive or something. But nothing like that occurred. She put that book aside and flipped open the pages of the other one. No papers. No hollows. Nothing. Yet something was different. The pages were slicker and whiter than other mass market books. The printing was different. She looked closer. One corner of her mouth raised in a wry grin. Then she began to read. When she turned to the center of the book, there was a copy of a British passport issued to the President, with his name and picture; evidence of the bearer’s nationality and immigration status from one of the territories of the United Kingdom. Nazy sat in shock, her heart raced, unable to blink; unable to resolve the conflict of the contents of the documents in front of her with the persona seen on television and crafted by the media; the smooth erudite Harvard attorney constantly and viciously being attacked by right wing elements. She recovered with a great inhalation and began blinking wildly. After a moment she slowly started to flip through the pages of the book. Copies of embassy dispatches, college applications, matriculation exemption documents, social security number application, close-up and long distance photographs. Further into the book, copies of attendance rosters at socialist and communist gatherings; church sign in sheets, license applications. Visa applications and more than 40 dispatches from Islamabad. She read fragments of the tiny print; it was clear but some of documents warranted a magnifying glass. Some 300 pages of material on bond paper were distributed between hardbound covers of the two books. “Something the S&T could have assembled,” she said to herself. Then the obviousness struck her. “It was all true. Oh my word. It is all true.” Pausing for a moment, then said, “These might be the only documents that could prove the president’s detractors were right about him.” Nazy Cunningham lifted her head and glanced around the room as another worm of an idea crept into her consciousness. There were many questions how the old Chief of the NE Division passed away. The rumors that an ex-wife had him knocked off circulated for a few days but the workload at the Agency was always crushing and high tempo, and that rumor mill up and died over time. During the strands of rumors generated after the Chief passed, there were questions as to not only how he died but the real reason why. Nazy suddenly realized the material in the two books might have been the reason the former Chief’s life ended so abruptly.

In Special Access, the American people knew something was wrong with their President. From Special Access: The election of the junior Senator from Michigan was viewed as cautiously optimistic. For the vast majority of the uniformed services, they quietly reserved judgment; the new president’s proposed social engineering policies were anathema to the rank and file while dubious past associations with domestic terrorists, radicals, and communists stretched the limits of credibility: no president could be that far to the left. Honesty, integrity, and leadership were what mattered to the military, both the officer corps and enlisted ranks. The new President’s reported associations were incredible, so radical as to be unbelievable; even un-American. His pastor of twenty years was a venom spewing racist and an anti-Semite as were his college professors. His neighbors were aggressive radicals and communists actively working to overthrow the government. There was the head of a very large black Muslim terrorist group, and a husband and wife team which had made the national news as a group of unrepentant domestic terrorists who had bombed police stations and military installations, and had killed dozens in uniform. It strained the limits of credulity to believe any American citizen could have been elected being the most liberal senator in the Senate, or being close friends with avowed Communists and Marxist radicals or being friends with unrepentant domestic terrorists. But for the mainstream press the new president got a pass, a get out of jail free card, and his past associations were viewed as immaterial; after all he only lived in the neighborhood and you cannot choose your neighbors, your professors, or your pastor.

Nazy Cunningham spirits the two books out of the Agency. She turns them over to Duncan, demonstrating he was correct in his assessment, “The President is not who he claims to be.” Then he becomes one of the most reviled patriots in America. He releases the information to Congress, some members of the press, and to law enforcement.

Duncan Hunter, reluctant whistleblower, saves the country. The resignation of the President sparks off a bitter political battle. The democrats hate whoever did this to their president. Some democrat or liberal would kill him “with extreme prejudice” if his name was ever released.

In the real world, in 2007, the senior senator from Arizona knew there was something very wrong with the democrat’s candidate for president. He chose to do nothing to expose the obvious fraud.

So the job fell to Duncan Hunter. Reluctant whistleblower. The most hated “unnamed man” in America.

More to follow.

Aerial Eradication, Part Three

Aerial eradication is an obscure topic for the average American, but for those involved in the drug war (DEA, FBI, State Department, DOD, DHS, and others in the alphabet soup in Washington DC) there is no better way to conduct industrial-scale eradication of the drug-producing crops. These crops are primarily defined as opium poppy, coca and cannabis. Armored crop dusters, protected by armed aircraft, spray herbicide to kill the offending plants. The host government is aware and quietly encourages the efforts, at least, if they want foreign aid to continue.

There is a significant effort by governments to curtail the international production and transportation of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana. The challenge is substantial. Drug cartels, for the most part, manage and propagate their fields. From a State Department paper, Afghanistan has over 5.5 million hectares of opium poppy under cultivation.

As you can probably imagine, there is much politics involved in the eradication efforts conducted by an outside government. This sensitivity is understood by the US government and under the program’s directives, aerial eradication efforts are considered “very good” if the government-contracted aerial spraying efforts are able to kill, in Afghanistan, 100,000 hectares of opium poppy. The drug cartels are not likely to be impressed; they usually press other farmers to grow the amount of crops lost due to aerial eradication efforts. It would be a zero sum game if not for the manual eradication efforts, which can be substantial. There are pictures of U.S. Marines wading through mature poppy fields as others pull up mature pre-scored opium poppies.

The solution to the problem, in the Duncan Hunter books, is to use a laser to irradiate the drug crops, at night, from a quiet airplane. The laser is a “green solution” in that it does not use herbicides and doesn’t leave a residue. After all, it is only a specific wavelength of “light.” The local government doesn’t know these additional efforts are going on as the program is run out of the White House under a special access program, and managed by the CIA. No one has a need to know when or why the Wraith program is active.

Part of Duncan Hunter and Greg Lynche’s charm is their ability to conceive of an industrial-strength solution and develop an effective system to kill plants “while they sleep in their beds.”
Special Access full cover
From Special Access:
For the last seven days, poppy farmers and their Taliban masters were in a state of high dither. The messages from Allah were clear: stop growing poppies. After every night, farmers raced into their fields to find the stench of hundreds of dying or dead poppy. Some plants were lifeless and discolored, some shrunken and curled, stalks drooped over fully; there was faint smell of burnt dung. Even watching or sleeping in the field, they saw nothing and heard nothing. Thousands of healthy plants surrounded thousands of sick plants.

The Taliban initially thought the Americans had been crop dusting, spraying their fields with poison like the Russians did thirty years ago. This time there were differences. The farmers didn’t see or hear any aircraft. They could not find any residue on poppy, anywhere. Some leaves were marred with discolored streaks while others appeared to be perforated with tiny holes but there were no mites or infestations. There were sharp straight rows of poppy, lines that stretched for over a hundred feet; deflated and defeated plants defined one side with a long row of healthy green plants standing straight on the other, unaffected. There were flattened dead or dying plants making curves with sharp points and definition.

“Why is it curved here and straight there?” asked Mansoor. He recalled something like this, in a Kandahar bazaar. “Father, I have seen something like this before, before the Taliban. A music cover, called a crop circle. These are no circles but they do look like it might be a design. It may be a message from God. Inshallah.” The farmers looked at each other and could not see the full design at ground level. The men consulted and with great trepidation, Mansoor climbed the valley walls to get a better look. Three distinct shapes carved into the fields of poppy began to emerge the higher he climbed. موقف جلو الله

Mansoor had seen the writing of Allah before and began to tremble. His bladder released and he fell to the ground, wailing.

When Hunter and Lynche aren’t killing poppy, they are in the mountains of South America, finding drug labs, killing coca, poking holes in the submersibles the cartels use to move cocaine to the land and water routes of Central America. All from the star of the novels, the YO-3A.
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More to follow.

Aerial Eradication, Part Two

Readers of my books will notice that Duncan Hunter is always engaged in a little “aerial eradication” work. Using a laser. The concept is not far-fetched or wildly crazy. At the last place I worked, we tested the concept in the lab and as the head of the photonics lab told me, “You have something here.” So when you work for a big box company and one of the best laser scientist in the country tells you, “You have something here,” you would think someone would sit up and take notice. Because I couldn’t sell the concept to the defense giants, I put it in my books. A laser-based aerial eradication system is the real reason the YO-3A is used in my novels and the reason it graces the cover of Special Access.

In my novels, when the “Weedbusters” system comes out to kill drug crops, those chapters are another way for my characters, Duncan Hunter and Greg Lynche specifically, to not only interact and move the story along but to emphasize that the work, if it were truly done by an airborne laser system, would be incredibly difficult for a number of reasons. First there is the altitude. A laser-based system, at its particular “maximum effective wavelength,” could only be used below 500 above ground level. Ultraviolet light at the operational wavelength disperses as altitude increases. At roughly 5,000 feet, there would be no light hitting a target. Nearly every airplane with an engine can easily be heard above 5,000 feet AGL, which makes the silent YO-3A the only real choice for an aerial eradication platform. Of course, the “Yo-Yo” can do more with a FLIR and low light camera.

And then there is the “gun.” Readers were introduced to the weapon in Shoot Down. Experiential ammunition in an airborne ultra-long range sniper rifle. Probability of kill percentages approach 100% at three miles. Duncan Hunter uses the Weedbusters laser system to kill plants; the gun is another form of aerial eradication, as he kills terrorists from the air.

From No Need to Know:
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There was no more movement in the jungle compound. Pickup trucks idled in a half circle around the decrepit concrete structure, a makeshift security buffer between the old schoolhouse and the hidden terrors of the jungle. Bodies of men were scattered on one side of the wall of trucks, inside the safety zone which had been crudely designed to protect them. For the men who fought the invisible enemy a hundred yards off in the jungle they won their ground battle but lost the air war.

The thermal image of young girls huddled in the beds of pickup trucks, shrieking and trembling in fear—but untouched—pleased Bill McGee as he stared at the shrinking image on the monitor. Hunter interrupted the reverie in the cockpit when he leveled the wings and announced, “We’re out of here.” The FLIR image instantly died as Hunter threw switches to kill the power and stowed the sensor. The gyroscopically-stabilized FLIR ball rotated into the fuselage followed by the gun. Without the drag-inducing components in the airstream, the aircraft quickly picked up speed.

There has been a lot of FLIR tape on the web, usually video taken from a fighter or a unmanned system that launches a laser-guided weapon (bomb or missile) at a group of terrorists, usually at night. (That’s when the bad guys come out to play.) In Hunter’s aurally-stealthy YO-3A, he is able to fly into enemy territory, find the bad guys (who only move at night), and whacks the bad guys. They could be Taliban or al-Qaeda popping out of holes in the mountains of Tora Bora, Osama bin Laden’s old stomping grounds, or they could be members of the Islamic Boko Haram in Nigeria, who kill Christians and the white man, when they aren’t kidnapping hundreds of girls from villages.

There is a reason the initial program to operate the YO-3A was called Wraith, a harbinger of death. A ghost in the night that takes the life away from those who are at war with life, peace, and decency. Hunter has no compunction killing terrorists. Or drug plants. Aerial eradication. It’s a grand thing.

More to follow.

Eastwood Predicting the Future

I suppose it would shock readers of the Duncan Hunter books that the main characters are seemingly ahead of the media and the press. In No Need to Know, the war correspondent Demetrius Eastwood is off interviewing “imams that defected and left Islam.” There is a spooky element of truth in “today’s news” what Eastwood is reporting on in the Duncan Hunter books. Today, France is on lockdown after radical Islamists attacked multiple locations in Paris and the networks have reported that in Brussels a Muslim enclave is being raided. How do those events square with what occurs in the Duncan Hunter novels?

From No Need to Know: The two men raised their coffee mugs; the image of a cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban was lacquered on the outside of the steaming cups. Eastwood sipped the strong coffee. He began his interview of the imam whose head and shoulders were in silhouette. “I call you one of the imams that defected. Is that an adequate characterization?”
“I say I escaped. You Americans have a term. I wised up—before they killed me; before Islam killed my spirit and my soul.”
“How should we react to the Islamization of our countries? In America and the United Kingdom the prevailing wisdom is that most mosques are run by peace loving imams.” Eastwood stared into the imam’s eyes, not into the camera.

The man thought for a second and said, “A devout Muslim is at war with infidels always. Every devout Muslim is an Islamist. The truth is that there isn’t a single mosque in Norway or Sweden or in all of Europe that isn’t run by or isn’t under the control of what you in the West call Islamists.” With a wave of his free hand the former imam said, “It’s that way in America and England also. You enter the house of the believers; you’re met with Islamism whether you want it or not. You go to mosque for that purpose. I would preach that the mosques are our barracks and the domes are our helmets. We’re always at war with the infidel and we cannot be defeated. As soon as you cross this imaginary line and become a devoted Muslim, you’re pushed toward more hate and anger. You’re encouraged to fight Christians. Kill Jews. You learn Islam is the only, the one true religion. You could not begin to believe what occurs in the office of an imam or in the basement of a mosque.”

Eastwood has long suspected, and his “imams that defected” confirmed, the infiltration of Europe by hostile elements of political Islam. If Eastwood was on-scene in Paris, he would report that in the middle of those legitimate Syrian refugees spilling into Europe is a modern day Trojan Horse, a distraction. How else do you move the more radical and capable elements of ISIS into Europe to sow death and destruction, than under the cover of a distraction? A Trojan Horse; the subterfuge the Greeks used to enter the city of Troy and win the Trojan war.

Saddam Hussein, Al-Qaeda and the Taliban used human shields to protect people and infrastructure from coalition aircraft/special operations soldiers. Syrian refugees are the latest version of human shields used to infiltrate Europe. Eastwood would report that the “JV Team” will never allow Europe to go back to their lives as usual. Sounds like there is a need for several quiet aircraft missions to find and eliminate some of the heads of ISIS. But Duncan Hunter doesn’t have sufficient assets to pull it off. So Europe will burn and the old KGB colonel in the Kremlin will foment more “revolution.” As quoted by Stalin in book four, “There is only the fight, Nikolai. Revolution everywhere. Revolution always.”

More to follow.

Kelly Horne

Hunter’s mysterious daughter is the perfect character who wants to be like dad. She’s young and talented. Lynche, the Director of Central Intelligence, is not one to mollycoddle her and sends her on very challenging assignments, to stretch her professionally, to accelerate her professional development as a spy and as a clandestine pilot. Hunter is getting too old for some of the more labor intensive work and having a daughter in the middle of the special access programs he’s been working on, first scares Hunter plenty–like any father, primarily for her safety. And second, she’s being groomed to be his replacement for some of the less kinetic, less lethal work. Hunter has plenty to worry about and he’s been pretty successful juggling and keeping all the balls in the air without dropping one or all of them. The addition of a daughter he didn’t know anything about, a little Catholic girl at that, may be one ball too many for him to handle. He has to make choices and some of those choices are designed to show the human side of Duncan Hunter.

Horne is named after a quiet aircraft scientist.

More to follow.

Real Torture vs. Political Torture; Duncan Hunter’s Observations

Alistair Stuart MacLean wrote several blockbuster novels. His works include The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, Where Eagles Dare, Breakheart Pass, The Satan Bug, and others. Many of his books were made into popular films. Alistair MacLean reported he had been tortured by the Japanese when his ship was sunk. The extent of his torture, supposedly, included having his teeth and fingernails pulled in order to extract information from him. If the great Alistair MacLean was honest (and that his claims of torture wasn’t the ideology of a drunken mind), then what he experienced was real torture, not the torture that was conjured up by people dedicated to redefine and shape the meaning of torture for political purposes.

Over the last few years, played out on the television and in print, there’s been discussions on what is torture and what isn’t. Duncan Hunter’s observation on what constitutes torture largely depends on which political party happens to be in power at the time. Apparently, when republicans are in office, anything up to and including yelling and sleep depravation are considered the worst form of torture that could possible exist and those nasty republicans are war criminals for simply interrogating terrorists. But when democrats are in office, those things–the means and methods of “real torture”–that should/would send republicans to Leavenworth but are perpetrated by liberals are just fine with liberals. Torture is in the eye of the beholder. Liberals, progressives, communists, and democrats will approve any measure if it advances their agenda. Their unholy alliance with the most vile and murderous terrorists “and their methods” is legendary. But when a republican administration wants to use methods to encourage a terrorist to talk, methods that make a terrorist uncomfortable, the left goes berserk. Their hypocrisy is astounding.

In Special Access, when Duncan Hunter and Bill McGee are discussing how to interrogate a sniper who was killing U.S. Navy SEALS, there is no doubt what the SEAL is advocating.

“Do we want to kill him? Don’t we want to know who sent him?” Hunter’s questions hung out there like a blood-filled tick on the nose of a baby. The shooter had killed a half dozen men; patriots, friends. It was apparent the DCI had facilitated those deaths. During the Revolutionary War a 13-year-old Andrew Jackson had seen men, patriots, and friends killed by the enemy. He refused to kowtow to a British officer brandishing a saber and was slashed across his cheek, and wore a scar his whole life. Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear-cut idea about what to do with an enemy: you kill them. McGee had seen men, patriots, and friends killed by the enemy and had a pretty clear-cut idea what to do with this enemy but was also professional enough to know you kill them when they no longer served their purpose. This enemy had some explaining to do first.

“Do you mean can we make him talk?” asked Lynche.

McGee was lost in thought but erased “Kill” after Desired End State and replaced with “Interrogate.” Then he returned to the present with, “I can make anyone talk.” McGee was emphatic and hard and otherworldly. “SEALs put the ‘special’ in special operations,” he said softly.

The stunning outburst from McGee affected Hunter and Lynch differently. Hunter was definitely in the corner of a government’s authority to use “enhanced interrogation techniques,” as they became known in the press, which encouraged a terrorist or other related scumballs to give up their secrets. How effective those techniques were, were the subject of significant debate in political circles. Lynche was on the other side of the ring that “enhanced interrogation techniques” didn’t work and it was immoral to do so. After all, his 35 year career with the Agency and access to Special Access Programs gave him unusual insight into the process and what actually worked and what didn’t. Hunter on the other hand spoke with former prisoners of war and read their books on the effectiveness of a range of interrogation techniques. Alistair MacLean broke when his nails and teeth were removed by Japanese sadists while Ayman al-Zawahiri broke when his Egyptian captors used car batteries and battery cables on his testicles. Getting someone to talk was a matter of leverage; getting slapped around or kept awake or exposed to hours of the Chipmunks was “D” league; having your nuts bolted to a Die Hard or watching your friend’s head get lopped off as the swordsman yells “Allahu Akbar” was big league. SEALs were definitely professionals and big league, and Hunter leaped in to avoid any potential conflict or an unauthorized disclosure.

Later, it was Duncan Hunter’s turn to interrogate the master terrorist, Osama bin Laden. He told the most decorated Navy SEAL, Bill McGee, “the high points” of what he did to OBL. from Special Access:

On the drive in from the BWI airport, Hunter debriefed McGee on the events of the last week and vice versa. “I’m not sure what more we could have done. ‘The girlfriend’ as you like to call her did a great job asking questions and got him to speak.”

“I heard he was induced.”

“I would say he responded well to electricity. Spock said he was a coward and was already very tame; I guess they used a ‘bang stick’ or some wireless Taser system on him. When Spock turned that thing on, OBL sat straight up and looked straight ahead. A true Pavlovian response. I brought blue collar tools. I had a big Die Hard and battery cables—when I banged them together and the sound and flash and burnt metal filled the air, your boy talked. I didn’t have to waterboard him. I did threaten to bolt his balls to that Die Hard.”

I think McGee and Hunter subscribe to the notion that since we don’t drink from the skulls of our enemies anymore, the guys who protect us from the bad guys and the evil of the night have been emasculated and have gotten soft.

More to follow.

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