Russian Deniability

 

In respect to deniability, the United States was frequently forced to turn to its practices during the Cold War – usually very ineffectively given that its various covert and political warfare operations sometimes failed rather spectacularly…even when successful, they fooled few observers.  The Russians were quite good at deniability, even in the face of obvious facts, however other than in spying and espionage they found themselves able to operate more openly and had less need for it.

There are a number of elements in deniable practices but cut outs and autonomous operations are fundamental. A number of American CIA operations which could be called “rogue” were conducted with great autonomy, in an effort to isolate the President from blame if they failed – or from accusations given their illegality. General high level statements along the lines of “we need to do something” translated into more aggressive and often high risk operations as they passed down the chain of operational command.

In contemporary times, we are seeing quite similar practices occurring within the new Russia. There are some excellent books on Putin’s rise to power and his modes of operation – which are quite tactical. Reportedly he has become quite proficient at the leadership game of calling out issues to subordinates and when they respond with plans or actions simply telling them to do what they think best.

It’s a classic form of deniability but as certain American presidents found, it can also go very bad – very quickly. If you seriously want to understand the context of what is going on in the new Russia, I highly recommend All the Kremlin’s Men by Mikhail Zygar. It does an excellent job of describing Putin’s rise to power but is far more important for an appreciation of how he has repeatedly used various sets of Russian oligarchs for his purposes, leveraging them for deniability and ruthlessly discarding them if they embarrass him or fail to perform.

That practice is going to become very clear as the investigation of Russian information warfare makes it more visible – in the end Putin may well take the Reagan position over Iran-Contra i.e. it was a bad deal and nobody told me they were doing it. I was really sincere when I told your President my government was not officially involved, it was a group of bad apples, rogues…

At the moment, one of the risks is that this level of autonomous operations is translating beyond information warfare and into military operations. It was evident in the Crimea and Ukraine for those who were not in denial, with some “volunteers” actually recruited and financed by very wealthy Russian capitalists. It’s becoming even more obvious in Syria, with Russian military contracting companies being exposed.

The thing is that it often works well at first, until casualties start to pick up and friends and families at home begin to ask questions about the bodies. In Syria, it appears that the head of a contracting firm named Wagner (Dmitry Utkin, a former colonel in the Russian Special Forces) may have seen an opportunity to gain control and revenues from what was thought to be an ISIS vacated oil field. Utkin is under US sanctions for assisting pro-Russian separatists in the conflict in eastern Ukraine and was formerly head of security for Yevgeny Prigozhin, himself recently indicted by Robert Mueller for funding the infamous Internet Research Agency, operating out of St. Petersburg.

If you have not been following the results of the Russian led military efforts in Syria, in particular the recent engagement with American backed forces, an engagement which proved to be highly violent and quite deadly for the Russian initiative, check out the following link:

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/18533/russian-mercenaries-take-a-lead-in-attacks-on-us-and-allied-forces-in-syria

Individuals with the wealth and connections of Prigozhin provide a great degree of deniability for policy decisions made in Moscow – and as long as their actions appear to be working it’s a fine thing. When they are either exposed or fail, things could get a bit nastier. Vladimir Putin is known for his classic Russian cultural world view, which involves supporting success but dealing harshly with failure.

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Russian Role Reversal

 

One of the major themes in Creating Chaos – now in edit and still scheduled for publication in September – is the dramatic reversal of roles between the United States and Russia which has occurred in the second decade of the 21st Century.  Creating Chaos is primarily a study of political warfare but there is always a shadow side to such competitions, deniable military action via surrogate forces, detached military or paramiliary forces under commercial cover. During the 20th Century, especially the Cold War era, deniable military action was largely a practice of the United States.

There were a variety of reasons for that, perhaps the most significant being that with America’s failure to comprehend the forces of nationalism and populism – instead seeing virtually all political change as an effect of a global communist movement – the Russians had the advantage of most often being invited into countries where regime change had occurred. In fact since the U.S. (other than under President Kennedy) failed to understand or cope with nations who pursued policies of neutrality, the Soviet Union was also able to extend its influence via trade and military sales agreements as America backed away from neutral nations and most often moved to covertly bring about new cycles of regime change with the intent of replacing neutral governments.

While that assessment may offend some, I think I make the case for it in considerable detail in Creating Chaos so I will leave the defense of that assessment to the book.  The corollary to the American geopolitical stance, which most often opposed regime change, was an extended series of covert military operations, most often conducted by CIA field officers, exercising control over exiled, expatriate or local volunteers. Generally speaking, the success of those operations was limited and the long term effect on America’s image was negative, to put it mildly. If that sounds like sour grapes you only need to compare the international image of the United States immediately following World War II to perceptions during the 1960s and 1970s.

A broad and objective look at the practices of deniable military action, and the covers used to conceal it (which virtually never fooled anyone) are contained in both Shadow Warfare and to a lesser extent in Creating Chaos.  That exploration includes the variant which uses military contractors and “volunteers” as surrogates for formal military deployments.  The history of contractors such as Blackwater in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya tell that story effectively. Reliance on contractors and paid local forces is dicey at best, illustrated by the failure of the British security contractors (almost never discussed) and paid local militia (discussed even less) in Benghazi, Libya. And when you have to send in either the military or contractors to protect the leaders of new governments you have put in place, as both Russia and the U.S. did in Afghanistan, it’s a clue you made a really bad mistake in the first place.

Strangely – or perhaps not – what we see happening in the 21st Century is one more example of nations and leaders being totally unable to learn from history.  Of course neither East nor West seems to be able to learn simply to stay out of Afghanistan.  But today it seems that the new Russia may be proving itself to be as blind to history as the United States has shown itself to be time and again.  That story is also a major part of Creating Chaos, and if you are not following the new tactics of Russian use of detached military, of “vacationers” and now of deniable military contractors, you are missing it.  It has been visible in the Ukraine, obscured by the political conflicts there, but is becoming much easier to see in Syria.

And in Syria, matters are progressing to the point that U.S. military operations are directly opposing surrogate forces led by deniable Russian fighters, deniable to the extent that they are operating as military contractors.  It’s a familiar cover but this is the first time in a long time – since Korea and possibly at a far more minimal level in Laos – that U.S. military forces are engaging and killing Russians.  Given the national news of the day, you are not seeing this in the major media, but you can find a good in depth analysis at the link below:

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/18533/russian-mercenaries-take-a-lead-in-attacks-on-us-and-allied-forces-in-syria

Killing King

 

Those of you who read The Awful Grace of God know that Stu Wexler and I have been digging into the conspiracy which resulted in the death of Martin Luther King Jr. for some years now,  overall it’s probably a good seven years by this point. We picked up the trail from the work of the HSCA and in particular a large number of FBI investigative reports, many obtained via FOIA. In fact a considerable number of those FOIA requests required challenges and revisits with both the FBI and NARA and the information in them was not available to us until after the publication of our first book on the subject.

What we found was that – in contrast to the JFK investigation which only remained truly open ended for less than 24 hours – the FBI had conducted a far broader inquiry into leads related to Dr. King’s murder. Part of that was due to the fact that initially, dealing with multiple names and aliases, they felt that there were at least three actual participants. Of course that was in conflict with the statement from the Attorney General given immediately following the attack, claiming that it was strictly the work of one man.  Years later the AG admitted that his remarks were knowingly false, designed strictly for containment purposes and to deal with the rioting that had begun to sweep the nation.

Given that it took a matter of months to isolate the FBI search to James Earl Ray, a great many leads were documented and explored at least to a minimal level, providing us with a much greater breadth of actual investigative data than we find with the JFK or RFK murders. But what we learned as a result of our work was that the breadth of that data was not internally available either within the FBI investigation or to the Justice Department at the time.  It was spread among field office and individual agent reports – and most importantly, relevant names and connections were not readily visible without the sort of computerized “database mining” that is now available to us. Those techniques allowed us to locate and even question living FBI investigators and suspects in a fashion that simply had not ever been done.

My friend Stu Wexler played point in much of the field investigative work, making multiple trips to the south as well as to the archives – that work has continued since the publication of our first book and now I’m happy to announce that we have published a much deeper and more focused view of the conspiracy – and the network of individuals involved – in a new book which will be available in April.

Killing King provides the full picture of how the plots against King originated and evolved over some four years, of the sophisticated cut outs that were used to conceal the plot even from certain individuals who were tangentially involved with it, and an expanded picture of how James Earl Ray was ultimately recruited into the effort. It also explores our speculation that Ray himself may well have preempted the plan for an even more sensational, highly public murder of Dr. King – leaving him unable to actually collect the bounty money due him and with funds so limited that he actually had to rob a bank in England during his escape, simply to afford food and one more airline ticket.

The book is now available on Amazon for preorder:

https://www.amazon.com/Killing-King-Racial-Terrorists-Assassinate/dp/1619029197/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1517063525&sr=1-1&keywords=killing+king+wexler

And for those not familiar with our King investigative work, the following link will take you to a recent talk show discussion which I did with Jeff Bushman. There are a few minutes of general news commentary at the beginning so if you want to jump right into the MLK dialog just start a bit into the program.  You will find it at:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/jeff-bushman/2018/01/27/speaking-of-everything-with-jeff-bushman

Cause for Concern

The recent Emergency Warning System incident (incoming ballistic missile) in Hawaii has received extensive news coverage and produced much bad publicity for that state…which actually had been making some effort towards establishing a viable public warning system. Given that Hawaii faces not just the relatively unlikely threat of ballistic missile attack but much more common disasters such as tsunamis, the state should actually receive commendation for its efforts. Beyond that the incident should serve as a wakeup call for the nation as a whole – and should have stimulated a much broader dialog about government response to worst case national emergencies, the ones that occur with no warning at all, unlike the hurricanes which were so devastating in 2017.

One of the things that emerged from my research into the response to such emergencies, and which I wrote about in Surprise Attack, is the simple fact that casualties and damage can be reduced not only by an effective, integrated command and control system – but by subjecting that system to a continual and ongoing exercise and practice to a variety of threats. The United States learned just how tragic a failure to identify and consistently practice against contemporary threats can be in 2001.

Ironically, on September 11 of that year, a variety of military exercises were in progress – as they had routinely been in previous years. I cover points of failure for 9/11 in Surprise Attack and one of the first was that even though terrorist airliner attacks had been identified as a threat, and actually exercised against on several occasions, those exercises had been limited to simply intercepting the aircraft – with the assumption that the hijacked aircraft would leave on their tracking transponders and that they could be voluntarily diverted. The previous exercises ended at the intercept, further measures were not explored or addressed. Worse yet, in 2001 the entire series of excise scenarios actually being practiced were “historical”, cold war related and focused on Russian strategic nuclear attacks.

In point of fact, during the actual of 9/11 virtually every agency (other than the Air Force’s regional air defense centers/specifically NEADS and its air defense personnel including interceptor pilots) totally failed in the execution of its command and control responsibilities. In response, and over time, the lessons learned from those failures resulted in a dramatically improved level of integrated response, enhanced inter agency/service communications and dramatically expanded inter-agency exercises. Realistic and varying threat scenarios were developed and exercised annually. I cover those improvements and the extended exercises in Chapter 20, “Going Forward”. One of the major differences in following years was that senior personnel including the Commanders in Chief, actually devoted the time to become involved in the exercises. History shows that is absolutely mandatory if any national level response is to succeed.

Unfortunately the recent incident in Hawaii suggests that the integration of emergency response may have slipped once again. We know that the military was quite aware that no ballistic missile was incoming, however they were not advised of the EMS test nor did they appear to have had a way to immediately communicate a follow up message to the public, worse yet the system itself had been computerized to the extent that immediate human intervention was impossible.  Beyond that the test itself was limited, sirens were not triggered, the news media were not involved – it had all become mechanical and so routine that it was a matter of button pushing (which is always a terribly bad practice).  It also appears that Homeland Security had not been involved in the test nor was even aware of it.  But apart from communications failures, clearly the EMS system had not been thoroughly exercised in a comprehensive, real world sense – such an exercise should have included the steps to be taken if just the human error/false alarm was initiated.

All that is bad enough, but having researched and written about how hard it is to get both agency principals and the Commander in Chief involved in serious real world emergency response exercises I have to wonder if the sorts of interdepartmental exercises that evolved following 9/11 are even being carried on at all?  There seems to have been no reassurance from Washington that the Hawaiian incident was an aberration, or even a statement on corrective action at the level of Homeland Security – as far as I can tell there was simply finger pointing at Hawaii.  That plus the news articles below suggests to me there is truly cause for concern:

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/15/politics/trump-hawaii-missile-alarm-timeline/index.html

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/15/health/cdc-nuclear-disaster-preparedness-postponed/index.html

If someone finds evidence of integrated emergency exercises still being conducted (outside the military which routinely does them) or of senior officials, agency principals or the CIC being involved in emergency response activities, please share it.

Congressional Oversight

The work of Congressional committees has provided us with an ongoing stream of revelations and information about the internal (and often hidden) activities of not only the CIA, the FBI, and the Secret Service but also the military services and even agencies such as the DEA and FAA.  One of my recent posts included a link to an extended discussion of the information surfaced by the work of the Church Committee – the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities.

In general the Church committee looked “inside” the Central Intelligence Agency, examining a number of its covert Cold War activities and operations in terms of both their effectiveness and their legality under the National Security Acts and the agencies own charter. At the same time the Senate was conducting this oversight, the House initiated its own effort with what came to be referred to as the Pike Committee.  The House Committee was officially designated as the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. It had been established in February, 1975; its original chairman, Lucian Nedzi – a strong supporter of the CIA – appears to have become uncomfortable with the efforts of the committee, resigning and leaving Otis Pike in charge of the effort.

The Pike Committee also focused on potential illegal activities of the CIA, the FBI and the NSA however to some extent it took a considerably different approach – investigating agency financial operations and funding and leading to hard questions about the authorization and tracking of covert projects. That approach led them not only inside the operations themselves but upwards into authorization and funding decisions. That direction led to the Executive Office and to extensive protests from the White House, claims of Executive Privilege and challenges to requests for documents with Executive classification.

To a large extent the Pike Committee became the first Congressional effort to actively inquire into and challenge Presidential involvement in potentially illegal intelligence activities. The fact that it was posing a challenge to Presidential privilege was confirmed by the Ford Administration’ ongoing efforts to protect documents and information from the committee. The matter became so contentious that it was feared the Pike Committee might challenge the Executive Office, the matter was headed towards a very real constitutional crisis circa 1975.

In the end a compromise was brokered between the Pike Committee, the CIA and the Ford Administration. Ultimately the Pike Committee was able to produce a report. However conservative opposition within Congress actually suppressed the report and prevented it from becoming public. Ultimately a version of the draft report was leaded to the press and published, documenting one of the first – and one of the very few – true attempts by Congress to assert its legal authority as an equal partner in national security decision making.

Both the Church Committee and Pike Committee work deserves a great deal more contemporary attention than they receive; especially given that they are examples of the extent to which Congress could conceivably assert its authority over what has developed over the decades into what is not commonly referred to as the “Imperial Presidency” – a term that is applicable, at least in regard to national security decision making, regardless of the party or individual holding the office of the President.

If you would like to hear more discussion on the origins and the work of both committees, and specifically on the Pike Committee, you can find it in the links below, leading you to the recent conversations between myself, Chuck Ochelli and Carmine Savastano which explore the history of the JFK assassination and the inquiries that touched on it.

https://ochelli.com/jfk-assassination-101-pike-committee/

https://ochelli.com/?s=jfk+101

Church Committee

Happy 2018 to everyone. With this post I will move back briefly back to the JFK assassination and to Congressional inquiries in general.  As I’ve said many times before, normally political/party self interest makes such hearings and inquiries nothing more than an exercise in stage management and accomplishes relatively little. The government has a horrible record of investigating itself; actually agency IG’s do a far better job – but in terms of actual effect, such work is usually defeated by bureaucracy and career interests.  The CIA IG investigation of the Bay of Pigs fiasco is a case in point. More recently the CIA and FBI investigations of 9/11 produced some very solid results and recommendations – which were officially ignored.

Even when a special investigation does turn up some solid evidence of dereliction of duty, as in the 9/11 Commission or the Kerry Committee, politics somehow manages to protect those responsible – I detailed that in Surprise Attack so no need to elaborate here.

Yet there are exceptions, as an example the work of the Church Committee, the Pike Committee and the Kerry Committee exposed a significant of amount of CIA and FBI “sins”  and raised fundamental questions in regard to the operation of those agencies. In particular the Kerry committee exposed the extent to which the National Security Act of 1947 and secret agreements with the Justice Department actually protected both CIA and Reagan Administration assets involved in massive drug smuggling.

Good work can be done by committees, although it normally has to be done in closed session, it requires professional investigators and it has to be done within an Administration that is not afraid of skeletons in the Presidential closet.

Recently, as part of the JFK 101 series, Chuck Ochelli, Carmine Savastino and I spent two hours digging into the work of the Church Committee and the activities it exposed – as well as its role in setting the stage for the House Select Committee on Assassinations. In terms of understanding the evolution of JFK assassination revelations I think it was a worthwhile effort; you can find it at the following link:

https://ochelli.com/jfk-101-church-committee-reports/

 

Who Knew?

I will be continuing posts relating to the evolving relationship between Russia and the West, which shows no sign of improving – especially with Putin pursuing a fourth term. Standing up to the West has been key to the revival of his political fortunes and it seems unlikely that he will abandon that tactic. Look for an escalation of the new Russian surrogate offensive in eastern Ukraine and the potential that a miscalculation in Syria could bring about some sort of actual aerial engagement – the recent incident with an American F-22 deploying flares to warn Soviet aircraft repeatedly overflying agreed upon demarcation lines is a bad sign.

For this post I’m turning back to the recent news about the previously unknown Office of Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification which began operation in the Pentagon circa 2007, and even with funding largely cut in 2012, appears to have function at some minimal level into 2017. Even with ongoing FOIA requests from several very experienced UFO historical researchers, that office and its files was totally unknown – while it was collecting decades worth of more contemporary military related UFO incidents.

While I was able to develop some very solid indications, patterns and trends for UFO activities in regard to the American atomic warfare complex in Unidentified, that effort was hindered by the virtual end of the military reporting during the 1970’s, alleviated only by some excellent individual FOIA work from the researchers I cite in that book

Yet now we know that a new Pentagon office collected extensive reports from at least the Navy into contemporary times – the extent to which the Air Force cooperated is unclear at this point but apparently the Pentagon office may have been stonewalled by the Air Force and by NORAD. NORAD’s record for space tracking is quite good but as I pointed out in the recent west coast aircraft incident, its airspace capabilities remain somewhat questionable. Which means that reports from individual military units – such as were released along with three sets of Navy intercepts – were probably the key data being collected.

Three things stand out in this new story. First, it appears that some of the patterns I call out in Unidentified may have proved to be very consistent – in one contemporary Navy incident a cruiser observed a group of UFOs enter its airspace at 80,000 feet, apparently circling over the ship and departing again at only 20,000 feet. That sort of observation occurred repeatedly over the Navy facilities in San Diego back in the late 1940s.

Second, given the new, sophisticated sensor pods on our interceptors, the level of technical data collected during even a fruitless interception has advanced tremendously. In at least one instance sensor pods provided both video and infrared scans of an object –  clearly differentiating the spectrum of emission from the body of the unknown from what appears to be a field emanating from it.  This is the type of technical data that the early UFO projects fought and failed to obtain – although now it appears that the broader intelligence community is still totally uninterested in it.  You can see what I’m talking about, if you have not already, at the following link:

http://www.cnn.com/videos/world/2017/12/19/ufo-department-of-defense-orig-lon-ak.cnn

Finally, this news once again demonstrates that an entity within the government can function – for years – collecting exactly the type of information that the public is requesting, via FOIA, while it and the data it is collecting remains totally invisible to public scrutiny and apparently totally ignored by the broader intelligence community.

Hopefully we will be able to force out some of the extensive data collected by the Pentagon Office, reportedly it prepared a 740 page report which is still not released. But even at this point, the experience confirms a point I made in Unidentified – if military intelligence studies UFOs and records no actual threat (apparently meaning no attacks or damage in the incidents) then the investigation will end up being dropped and the studies will be left at an incident by incident level, with no longer term indications analysis being conducted.

For those who may not have followed this story, the following interview is one of the most interesting views inside the program, which was apparently taken very seriously and very well staffed – although operating largely without broad reach within the overall intel community.

http://www.wbur.org/npr/571868263/secret-program-at-the-pentagon-spent-million-to-study-ufos

 

Russian Reality Check

If you have been reading these posts you know that I just submitted my manuscript for Creating Chaos, to be published next year. Among other things research for the book immersed me in Russian politics and in particular Vladimir Putin’s views – which surveys show actually now represent a large segment of the Russian public, largely because of some 9 years of constant and very effective media control and news management.  Putin himself has become very pointed and very definitive in describing Russian issues and policy towards the U.S. – and exactly how Russia is dealing with it. That response includes both classic “active measures” programs and deniable media warfare. He has publicly admitted to both…unfortunately President Trump and the current administration really does not want to hear Putin’s message, but then to some extent none of the recent administrations has, for reasons I detail in the book.

To cut to the chase, anyone following contemporary events should be aware of the following:

Since around 2002 and increasingly up to 2014 Russia had viewed both the EU and the U.S. to be conducting political warfare against both Russia and what it views as a territorial region of traditional Russian hegemony – a territory defined both by the Tsarist Empire and Soviet Union. That includes not only the former satellite states in Eastern Europe but areas of the middle east such as Syria and former Soviet economic partners including Iran, Iraq and nations in North Africa such as Libya and Egypt.

Putin views the United States as an active regime change agent – as evidenced by events in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Georgia. In contrast Russia officially and culturally is now maintaining a foreign policy opposing regime change – as in Syria.

Putin views the American government and certain EU agencies as engaged in covert political action and propaganda programs including political intervention not only in Russia but in nations Russia officially claims as within its own area of economic and political sovereignty.

Based on this, Putin has openly stated, including personal remarks to President Obama and to European leaders, that since the United States and the EU are guilty of media warfare and efforts to fragment Russian sovereignty, it is only reasonable that Russia respond accordingly.  Putin has even observed that such a response is not a policy of the Russian government but is a matter for  voluntary efforts (which means carried out deniably), by Russian citizens acting at their own patriotic initiative – a long established Russian government practice, illustrated by both the activities of the Cominterm and Cominform. Translation: As long as individuals do it at their own volition, even if they are government officers or associated with the government, such activities are a private matter and a matter of their own rights of free speech and political practice.

Bottom line, the West is viewed as engaged in active political warfare against Russia, under the cover of the so called “democracy” initiative begun decades ago and still actively funded by the government and by voluntary donors and foundations.  The Russian response is to divert that initiative politically, to fragment the American government and public in general and literally to turn American and EU attention back to its own internal problems in order to prevent further meddling with areas of Russian sovereignty.

Very simple, very straight forward, very obvious by this point in time since the actual Russian campaigns began in Europe circa 2012 and were expanded to the U.S. in 2014.  This is simply the Russian foreign policy reality. The problem is that a refusal to officially or practically recognize it has allowed it to be amazingly successful so far – much more than similar CIA campaigns during the Cold War. Part of the result can be seen in the following article.  Like it or not, admit it or not, this is the reality of political warfare in the 21st Century.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/15/politics/donald-trump-russia/index.html

Sources, citations and details on the above – actually my usually annoying level of detail – will be in Creating Chaos, however current events being what they are, it’s time to get past politics and wake up to reality.

Addendum:

The news keeps running ahead of me but today’s published national security strategy suggests that the NSC and the intelligence advisory side of the administration certainly does have a clear view of the Russian reality – per this excerpt from the statement:

“Russia is “using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies…The American public and private sectors must recognize the threat and work together to defend our way of life,” according to the strategy document. The document also describes Russian aggression against its neighbors: “With its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, Russia demonstrated its willingness to violate the sovereignty of states in the region.”
The document goes on to link Russia’s “information operations” to a broader campaign to influence public opinion across the globe. Its influence campaigns blend covert intelligence operations and false online personas with state-funded media, third-party intermediaries and paid social media users, or “trolls.” This, of course, is similar to the US intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia meddled in the 2016 American presidential election.”
However the article notes that the President himself still seems to be totally isolated from the concerns in the actual, published national security strategy.  That sort of disconnect is clearly a problem.

Surprise Attack

I haven’t posted on Surprise Attack in some time and that’s probably a mistake given that it deals extensively with America’s crisis command and control system, the historical performance of our Presidents in their role as Commander in Chief and with the protocols for responding to a true national emergency. Given contemporary affairs all those elements deserve a lot of thought.

Beyond the broad issues and questions about America’s National Command Authority and how it really operates, an incident occurred a few weeks ago that totally escaped the mainstream media or, just possibly, was avoided by the media upon request due to the fact that it appears to have exposed a massive failure of homeland security – in this case of American air space defense.

In Surprise Attack I cover the failure of that air space defense on 9/11, a failure with many elements but most dramatically the decision to essentially to abandon the American air defense network which had been put in place during the Cold War, a positive defense network including surveillance radar systems and alert aircraft. I imagine most people still don’t realize that the nation had something less than two dozen interceptors on any type of standby in 2001, with only a handful in classic strip alert. I cover that in great detail in the book and its truly sad to see how the Air Force alert pilots and even their regional controllers were totally let down by the system and indeed by high level NORAD command (the regional combat centers and pilots responded in heroic fashion, the system failed them).

The thing is that those failures were obvious and in following months and years were supposed to have been fixed by a system which integrated positive military radar surveillance with FAA transponder radar tracking and set up a protocol to hand off any potential threats or even aircraft emergencies to trained NORAD combat controllers (rather than the FAA personnel who had been left holding the bag controlling military aircraft on 9/11). And a new alert interceptor aircraft network was established, you will find it designated as Noble Eagle.

It all sounded pretty good although actually operations are largely classified – certainly the problems and fixes had clearly been identified. However exactly how well the new system is working was brought into serious question only a few weeks ago.  You can find the details of the incident at the following link:

http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/16079/airliners-and-f-15s-involved-in-bizzare-encounter-with-mystery-aircraft-over-oregon

The basic facts are that an aircraft of either commercial airliner size, or that of the largest private jets, was flying in daylight at commercial aircraft altitudes (35-37,000 feet)on a course that took it up the entire west coast from California past Portland, Seattle and apparently beyond. The FAA attempted to track it although it had no active transponder (something that has actually become in Russian military flights in Europe and off American coasts) and responded to no standard radio queries. This unidentified white aircraft was also “outrunning” 737 commercial jets, just simply cruising on past them as it passed up the stream of commercial traffic going up and down the west coast – which means a speed well in excess of 500 mph, more likely upwards of 600.

Apparently the military had trouble tracking it on their primary defense radars even though FAA appears to have gotten some local tracks on their much more limited approach control radars. Interceptors were scrambled out of Portland (this against an aircraft first observed over southern California).  A close reading of the reports suggests that the unknown aircraft was not effectively being tracked by a number of military and even airliner collision avoidance radars – that is a very bad thing. It’s also unclear if there was any positive attempt to intercept over California at all.

The article I linked to above does mention one very special American test aircraft which could have been involved, but if so it appears there was no NORAD coordination and the aircraft would have been operating across one of the nation’s heaviest commercial traffic patterns and doing so in test mode, without communications, certainly not SOP.  So either someone made a real operational mistake or somebody was operating an aircraft that essentially demonstrated that our post 9/11 air defense just flat does not work even under the best conditions. If we can’t track and intercept a commercial size airliner flying over several states right along with all the other air traffic and in daylight, the implications are obvious. Certainly it appears neither NORAD nor anyone else wants to talk about the incident – which is understandable if not comforting.

Update

It appears that I might be closing in on being able to routinely do some blogging once again. As mentioned earlier, I’ve been in the final sprint on two book projects for 2018.  Stu Wexler and I are finishing up the proof edits of a sequel to our MLK assassination research, titled Killing King.  It will be out next spring and fortunately Stu’s field research has allowed us to further flesh out a good number of the connections from James Earl Ray to the people that came up with the $100,000 dollar bounty he was pursuing. That includes more information on how connections were made to Ray – including an important new contact made prior to his prison escape, someone who ended up in LA for a time as did Ray – as well as a more definitive timeline for how Ray’s actual participation evolved.

Separately, I just sent off the draft of Creating Chaos to the publisher who is doing that book, in terms of scope and content (and size) I can safely say it will be a companion to Shadow Warfare – but in this case dealing with both American and Russian political warfare into the 21st Century. The research for Creating Chaos has been a real eye opener and I will be posting a bit of that here, especially in regard to contemporary Russian goals and activities.

In regard to the JFK assassination, I’m still doing a good deal of thinking and outreach on what is being done in regard to  professional studies of the medical evidence for conspiracy. Of course some aspects of that have been around for some time, including the utter nonsense related to the official story of CE399, but I’d like to see something much more focused and something including objective medical appraisals based on current knowledge from medical professionals, as compared to the official assessments in the Warren Commission report.

The truth is that much of the original autopsy report is highly questionable – of course since we now know there were three of those and two were destroyed perhaps the first one or even the second one was more credible than what ended up in the record. If you are new to this story I would encourage you to specifically read the ARRB interview with the autopsy doctor in which the doctor himself cannot locate the entry or exit wounds on the extant photographic and X-ray records. If that does not make  you cringe nothing will..Doug Horne covers that incident extremely well in one of his volumes.

Along those lines, take a look at the following link to see how a major item of the physical evidence offered in support of the Warren Report is no longer even acceptable in court.

http://www.newsweek.com/jfk-assassination-modern-forensic-science-could-finally-solve-shooting-741292

Lots of subjects, lots of work to do…oh and if anyone has read Unidentified, drop me a note. I’d love to chat about it and I’ll be doing another interview on that book later this month. Three of them are already posted on my Web site at larry-hancock.com if you have not checked out my most recent work dealing with a long time challenge to the national intelligence community.