Anzio. For sand. WWII thing. In honor of a friend’s dad. Anyone been there? Any advice? My Thursday’s free on the voyage and I’ve been promising for a long time.
Anzio. For sand. WWII thing. In honor of a friend’s dad. Anyone been there? Any advice? My Thursday’s free on the voyage and I’ve been promising for a long time.
Seems not even one day can go by without some contact from some intelligence service or agency or contractor or whathaveyou. Yesterday, there were a number of encounters, but the most memorable was yet another logistics guy, you know, delivery guy, you know, of detainees. Over the last while I think I’ve gotten to know really a lot of these guys spanning the last number of decades. Why is that? They’re all the same when they’re legit. I’ve seen this in a best friend. I’ve seen it in those I know are legit… super smart, reasonable, balanced, calm, able to take things in, fearful of nothing, able to do anything physically, super smart, able to give an incisive critique, loyal, patriotic, one who would lay down his life for you in a second, one who can’t tolerate stupid on a team where smarts in everyone count in order to stay alive, not boasting, but rather humble, but totally able to smack anyone down by getting those others to push themselves for betterment to their utmost and then beyond that… Did I say super smart?
He’ll be going to work for me during the next couple of weeks on an especially dangerous project – only because it’s what he loves to do in down time for recreation and only because this job was recommended by a friend – not anything necessarily to do with intelligence mind you, but it will admittedly for him put all his skills to the test. Not everyone can be a monkey, or take care of monkeys for their own best interests. It’s something I used to do in the seminary which needed an extreme sports person, one who was willing to take risks.
Interestingly, he mentioned the monkey-cage thing in Zero Dark Thirty down in GTMO, and then made some incisive comments on the accuracy of the film. I made some hypotheses about the personages depicted by various characters. He did his best not to say anything, and he didn’t, but this totally caught him off guard. It was the nanosecond look in the eyes which told the entire story when I mentioned the present employment of one personage depicted by one character and then the present demise of another personage depicted by another character. ;-)
On Monday of this week a great meal at The Hub was had with the higher ups among the caretakers of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest up in the back ridges of the parish. Personalized commemorative photos were handed out. The more one learns about Joyce Kilmer, the more enthralled one becomes. Besides the ol’ Wikipedia, here’s some bits and pieces which might hold your attention:
The next project for me is to walk the “Upper Loop”. I did the lower, and was told that I hadn’t yet seen the forest. So, O.K. I’m getting psyched up for this nature extravaganza.
Joyce Kilmer, just so you know, in putting us before the creation of the Creator, puts us before the Creator of creation. Clever, that. I love that.
After taking care of some things in northeast Atlanta on my day off a few days ago, I hiked it over to nearby FBI Atlanta where, at the security building, a printout on yours truly was placed in front of me. I had wanted to discuss some options for a perpetual / interdepartmental program Main State placed me on (and in which I was further entrenched by the FBI four years later) in the early and mid-1990s. But the printout placed in front of me indicated another and more recent program altogether. I guess the agent was wondering which program it was that I wanted to talk about. That took me off guard as I didn’t know until now that I was on more than one program.
The guy was terribly exaggerated in looking at the printout, looking at me, looking at the printout, looking at me, looking at the printout, looking at me, and then putting it down on the otherwise entirely empty counter and shoving it toward me while he asked me a few questions. If he wanted me to see at least the title on the top of the page through the dark window of that security building, that was a mistake, or on purpose, either to show me how stupid it was for me to show up at the FBI when the program is spearheaded by another agency altogether, or because he was told to do that (and that indicates something else altogether, something for another post).
The summary report shoved in front of me was about another and quite recent program having provenance with “DOD/DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA is largely constituted by civilian scientists and mathematicians, by physics and chemistry nerds, by manipulators of everything internet (which they helped to invent btw). DARPA is spread out in multiple research centers, playgrounds, if you will, in which imagination rules the day. Budget is simply not a concern. That would be one of the coolest places in the world to work under those conditions, wouldn’t you agree? For many years of my life I was in those circumstances. It was exhilarating. But, here’s the deal: there’s always someone who thinks they’ve found salvation by way of self-congratulation for the little project they’ve been able to get approved just because, for instance, he or she is an ultra-super-genius mathematician. And then things get dangerous.
The next day I spoke with a top DOD guy who is quite familiar with DARPA, as he would acquire the results of some of their projects for integration into some of his own major military projects he was working up with our military manufacturers. He knows a bit of my history and was much perplexed as to why DARPA could possibly be interested in yours truly. That was my reaction exactly. Until I saw this while scrolling through DARPA’s news items, now on page two as of this writing, as this was announced back in March of this year (2018). Perusing that little announcement, lots of pieces fell into place regarding incidents in relatively recent times, particularly after that date. Let’s take a quick look at that short publicly consumable document on that particular project. Be sure that anything publicly consumable doesn’t tell the whole story. But, we have what we have. It’s all baiting. As far as my own involvement in all this, I guess I would be a guinea pig upon whom to test some baiting. I don’t like it. Being a beta-target has its risks and misunderstandings. Whatever about me, it also puts those around me at risk. I’m not a willing participant. I note that the guy who stole my identity decades ago has been telling me for the past number of months that I’m on another program besides the one occasioned by him. I thought he was off his rocker. But he was spot on, describing what is happening in detail. So, here we are. So, it’s also a chance to make an evaluation from a disadvantaged, merely baited position. Here’s the short document with my emphases and [comments]:
New program aims to lift the fog obscuring an adversary’s intentions in slow, simmering non-traditional conflicts – firstname.lastname@example.org 3/14/2018
An emergent type of conflict in recent years has been coined “gray zone,” because it sits in a nebulous area between peace and conventional warfare. Gray-zone action is not openly declared or defined, it’s slower, and is prosecuted more subtly—using social, psychological, religious, information, cyber and other means to achieve physical or cognitive objectives with or without violence [thus not exclusive of violence to achieve also destruction of religious sites or people(s), not exclusive of violence to achieve also the brainwashing of religious people or changes in religious practice and doctrine. While all that refers to malevolent actors, the response is to be on the same level:]. The lack of clarity of intent—the grayness—makes it challenging to detect, characterize, and counter an enemy fighting this way.
To better understand and respond to an adversary’s gray-zone engagement [meaning we are engaged and respond to that engagement in that same gray-zone with or without violence; see “theater-level operations” below], DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office today announced a new program called COMPASS, which stands for Collection and Monitoring [including humint guys=baiters to better define targets whose particularities on any given day after he’s been studied are available through metadata evaluations and actionable parameters the field] via Planning for Active Situational Scenarios [which is where in-the-field-violence can enter the equation]. The program aims to develop software that would help clarify enemy intent by gauging an adversary’s responses to various stimuli. [=baiting typical of counterintelligence reduced to spreadsheet style metadata.] COMPASS will leverage advanced artificial intelligence technologies, game theory, and modeling and estimation [all of which is utterly dependent on arbitrarily established standards of philosophy, theology, economic anthropologies, etc. This is the elephant in the room. It throws out the Constitution and replaces it with theories used by adversaries. Law is thrown out. Natural law is thrown out. It’s all just the yin-yang action and reaction, indeed being controlled by the adversary in this way as it is he who leads, who invites being baited, you know, in particular ways] to both identify stimuli [through contrived, arbitrary, thought to be leading baiting incidents] that yield the most information about an adversary’s intentions [“the ol’ mafia-esque extortion: “We know where your family lives” (it always comes down to that, as I’m told, very quickly)], and provide decision makers high-fidelity intelligence on how to respond [unless the one so baited is himself baiting his baiters since the beginning, taking any number of sides and tactics to see who’s who with what intentions] – with positive and negative tradeoffs for each course of action [people being taken out is always the “positive” result as it gives “decision makers” stuff to do, an encouragement for which can always be obtained in this fashion, the negative tradeoff simply being the bother one has to go through in explaining the reason why an action had to be taken must remain classified information].
“The ultimate goal of the program is to provide theater-level operations and planning staffs with robust analytics and decision-support tools that reduce ambiguity of adversarial actors and their objectives,” [adversarial for who, the Southern Poverty Law Center, who hold citizens in good standing to be suspected terrorists and have been joined in that opinion by the FBI for very many years now?] said Fotis Barlos, DARPA program manager. [Thus, the guy sitting behind his computer screen with a joy-stick, who is from there flying an otherwise unmanned drone and is dropping bombs on a village on the other side of the world will feel nice about himself because his target’s teenagers all play with the target’s computer all on the target’s profile and are just baiting their friends who are having fun baiting them and no one is a terrorist. Have we really given up on humint?] “As we see increasingly more sophistication in gray-zone activity around the world, we need to leverage advanced AI and other technologies to help commanders make more effective decisions to thwart an enemy’s complex, multi-layered disruptive activity.” [The response to that which is “using social, psychological, religious, information, cyber and other means to achieve physical or cognitive objectives with or without violence” is a response which is also “using social, psychological, religious, information, cyber and other means to achieve physical or cognitive objectives with or without violence”. This makes everything descend into chaos. Everyone gets better at being gray. And, by the way, baiting is also entrapment. Thus, if you put enough pressure on someone, they will react. Thus, the Mafia will break your mother’s arm for not paying her usual installment for protection, and you, the son, will express your disgruntlement publicly, the response to which is a bullet between the eyes for you, which offers a “good example” to anyone else thinking about not paying their installment for protection. And you get more people paying protection. This is called empire building. In the past number of months I’ve been baited in all sorts of ways regarding terrorist activities, and with plenty of “insurance policies” for extortion, even though I have a history throughout my life of stopping any number of terrorist incidents. This is a distraction, I think, from something going on with the duty roster at Main State. I’ve been trying to report that. This is way to stop that reporting. Anyway…]
Current military decision-making follows a well-understood and effective OODA loop—Observe, Orient, Decide and Act. [Yes. That’s rather pedantic.] This is how planning is done in various geographic areas around the world, which works for traditional kinetic scenarios, Barlos said. This process, however, is not effective in gray zone warfare. Signals in the environment are typically not rich enough to draw any conclusions, and, just as often, adversaries could implant these signals to induce ambiguity. [Tradecraft is, however recognizable if you don’t blind yourself with self-congratulatory game theory. The entire methodology must remain open to new conditions. That’s how we caught UBL. Phone calls were made on behalf of UBL, but always from a different pay phone. But no one does that. That was tradecraft so persnickety that it revealed the malicious actor. But no program would have seen that as the “programmer” back in the day configured analysis according to pre-9-11 thinking that UBL and his supporters were all in a cave. The one person only who thought outside of the program is the one who caught him. So, what does that say about this?] COMPASS aims to add a dynamic, adaptive element [not really, as the active baiting that is feeding algorithms is using increasingly ossified algorithms, right? Right?] to the OODA loop for complex, gray-zone environments. [This is someone overexcited for finding what they think the Holy Grail for them happens to be. I see this all the time in academics.]
The COMPASS program will leverage game theory for developing simulations to test and understand various potential actions and possible reactions by an adversary employing gray-zone activity. [For those not in the know, “game theory” forces life itself into an ideology of action and reaction, whose metadata can feed into imagined equations: “Everything is math” is the exclamation of promoters, “everything.” Game theory has been used by economists and some rather cynical investors for many decades. Some think, seriously, that game theory is what runs the world, absolutely, no question, everything, all based on greed, a reverse of Karl Marx but not different from him in the end. And this is where it all falls apart. Human beings, terrorists or not, have currents running deeper than all the yin-yang gaming theory. To deny this is to miss out on the experience and POV of literally trillions of people throughout the millennia] Barlos quickly noted, however, that the program is not about developing new sensory technologies, virtual reality systems or other advanced hardware. The program focuses rather on advanced software that would quickly present options to decision makers by assimilating a large amount of intelligence collected using existing, state of the art systems (such as standard video exploitation, or textual analysis tools [and humint]) related to rapidly changing scenarios.
“We’re looking at the problem from two perspectives: Trying to determine what the adversary is trying to do, his intent; and once we understand that or have a better understanding of it, then identify how he’s going to carry out his plans—what the timing will be, and what actors will be used,” Barlos said. “The first is the what, and second is the where, when, and how. [Bill Binney at the NSA diversely came up with predictions like this twenty years ago.]
“But in order to decide which of those actions is important you need to analyze the data, and you need to understand what different implications are and build a model of what you think the adversary will do,” he said. “That’s where game theory comes in. If I do this [baiting], what will the adversary do? If I do that [baiting], what might he do? So it is using artificial intelligence in a repeated game theory process to try to decide what the most effective action is based on what the adversary cares about.” [“cares about” isn’t just ideology, but also the “insurance” extortion scenarios, always. Also, again, what if the baiter is baiting you to bait in particular ways, while meanwhile he is doing something different entirely? Sitting behind a screen is one of the best ways to ensure terrorism. People aren’t so stupid as all that.]
The COMPASS program seeks experts in AI, machine learning, game theory, modeling and simulation, control systems, estimation and other related fields [I hope “other” means humint]. A Proposers Day is scheduled for March 30, 2018, in Arlington, Virginia. Registration instructions and more details are available on […]
My further commentary: The problem with all this is that the emphasis is entirely on the adversary, with nothing on the arbitrary input of the programmer. It canonizes any result recommending whatever it is that sells to “decision makers” because it is all backed up with… oooo!… mathematics. What does the programmer think philosophically, religiously, economically, socially…? Any action of violence, brainwashing, whatever, is going to be based on a few programmers in DARPA. Really? Wow. Also, the humint side of things doesn’t work if the target can figure out what you’re doing before you even start. Anyway, more on “deep currents” and how to deal with them in another post.
Ten minutes apart in two countries. Numbers killed differ officially, somewhere between 100+ and 303 people. Many thousands wounded. It was catastrophic. Two truck bombs. All other embassies everywhere scared to death. And, of course, this wasn’t only an attack on the United States, but also, very directly, on the peoples and the viability of the countries of Kenya and Tanzania. These bombings were UBL’s first big projects for al-Qaeda.
Two years previously, at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, “Rick” was the guy behind the window who, in express coordination with Main State and without me asking, provided me with a false passport because of a situation with a certain guy who had taken my identity. “Rick” became the FBI’s Chief investigator for U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam two years later. “Rick” isn’t sloppy in his work.
When, in late 1998, after these bombings, I went to report something at the Embassy in Rome, I was escorted to a back office upstairs and seated with a certain agent who entirely ignored whatever I had to report, expressly rejecting even being shown what I had brought with me as proof of gun transfers to straw purchases of Mexican cartels as wrought by the guy who stole my identity. But then she proceeded to reprimand me severely for not taking the false passport two years previously. Obviously this was front and center in their minds two years later, even not long after the embassy bombings. She was still incredulous at my stupidity: “Don’t you know who that was who gave you that passport? He became the Chief Investigator for the Embassy bombings. And you didn’t do what he said with what he offered you. Just to let you know,” she continued, “that week we were having a seminar on why never ever to give out a false passport, and in the midst of that, he did, to you. So, what do you think that means? Do you think you should have taken it?”
Rhetorical questions. I was duly smacked down. I just didn’t know what to do two years before, it being that I had only been ordained some four years and couldn’t fathom why I, a citizen in good standing, should disappear from the face of the earth with yet another “identity” in play even while the guy who stole me identity should be protected by the FBI and the State Department. It only more recently dawned on me that he’s working for them. I’m a bit slow on the uptake. This is a perpetual interdepartmental program since 1992 (at least as dated to the letter from the Ambassador at Main State), if not since the late 1970s.
Why mention this again? Because of what happened at Atlanta FBI the other day:
When I told FBI Atlanta that I just wanted to have a chat about some options of the perpetual program I’m on (which the FBI later further entrenched me in), that program going back many decades, they thought I meant something much more recent that popped up when they looked up my name, a program with DARPA. I didn’t know about that one. I have much to say about that, about being game for gaming gamers, assassins. But, I digress. That’s for another post. What I’m concerned about especially is the duty roster at Main State and how that affects the viability of our counterterrorism efforts. Concerns I raised now a year ago are as fresh as if I’d make them today. The DARPA, more recent than all of that, is a distraction. How ironic. Stay tuned for some irony.
Continuing my “Day-Off story, by coincidence I arrived to the side-parking lot outside the perimeter of FBI Atlanta at the same time as a CTU guy from Virginia, who didn’t go through the main gate but instead parked in one of the free remaining spaces outside. I parked next to him. He walked me to the security building, except when I went back to my car to get I think it was my passport. He went back to his car and rummaged around next to me until I was on my way again to the security building. He went inside handing off a piece of paper. I went to the window outside, out front as instructed. I struggled to see anyone as the window is almost completely blacked out and even the voices are so muffled that almost zero communication can go on.
The two agents had one piece of paper visible on the entire length of the long counter between them and me. They were looking at that, looking at me, looking at that, looking at me, looking at that, looking at me, shoving it on the counter right under my nose, though upside down. I guess they were beckoning me to, you know, accidentally have a look. It was a one-page summary report, you know, the kind you fill out with the “tab” key on your computer keyboard so as to jump from one bordered-field-box to the next, entering the least info possible, the origin, the date, the name of the author, a slightly larger box for comments at the bottom. I did get a look at the name of the author (which I needn’t give) and the provenance of the printout. The provenance of the report is what took me totally off guard. The provenance of that report was the absolutely last thing I would have thought to see that morning just there at the FBI.
To be continued. Time to start gaming the gaming game.
I’m guessing that if a priest takes a day off it has to be put in scare quotes: “Day-Off”. First on the agenda for me the other day on the “Day-Off”, at about 3:00 AM, was to edit the article written by Father Gordon J. MacRae (About) over on TheseStoneWalls entitled “Assassin’s Deed” (what a fright!), which, this time, included at a zillion pictures. Father Gordon says that editing counts for visiting those in prison. Never an easier visit.
At the very end of the day, some 18 hours later, when I got back to the rectory, I noticed the top picture of this post which came in an envelope from Father Gordon along with his post for next week. Hahaha. This is, of course, what Father Gordon thinks of all my carry on about our intelligence services. Hahaha. Of course, I laughed out loud because, of course, he’s spot on. But, I digress.
Yesterday, a comment came in for moderation which included this appraisal:
“One thing love about you is how much you love being a priest. In another era your affinity for “spies” might have made you a great underground Jesuit somewhere where it was illegal to be a Catholic priest.”
“Another era…” Hmm… Let’s continue on the “day off.”
About 7:00 AM Sassy the Subaru was put in gear for an easy downhill ride to northeast Atlanta. If you’re ever passing through northeast Georgia, I recommend taking Hwy 19 with its frighteningly tight curves. It’s Georgia’s answer to the Tail of the Dragon up from my parish. Anyway, I had to complete the purchase of some specialized tactical items that had been on back order for some months and the order some other items that needed the know-how of a supervisor to put it through. What happened next on my “day-off” at FBI Atlanta certainly raised my eyebrows. But that’s best put in another post…
Today’s the 100th anniversary of death by sniper of forward field intelligence officer Joyce Kilmer. He’s personally the heroic example of what would become the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) which would itself turn into the Central Intelligence Agency.
We had a memorial today, July 30, 2018, in the absolutely gorgeous National Forest dedicated to the memory of the great military operative Joyce Kilmer. Joyce, mind you, was a literary giant, compared even to G.K. Chesterton, certainly for his poetry. Look him up in Wikipedia. You won’t be disappointed.
Descendants of Joyce Kilmer were there. The VFW was there in force, including the State and National Commanders. There were bagpipes, the bugle for Taps, the 21 gun salute.
I also had a part to play, offering a few religious words about heroism. I then had the great privilege of reciting the entire Rouge Bouquet included below.
JOYCE KILMER: Memorial – Rev. George David Byers
July 30, 2018 – Centenary Memorial Service – Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
Since Joyce Kilmer was a devout Catholic and since I’m the Catholic pastor of the local parish, I’ve been invited to say a few words to attempt to go the heart of who Joyce Kilmer is as a hero. Joyce’s Rouge Bouquet will then be read before a short prayer, followed by rendering honors and the Taps.
Joyce Kilmer was enthusiastically respected in all good friendship by his brothers in arms back in the day, a lively respect which continues today as we are now witnessing one hundred years later. Anyone who is profoundly immersed in their own times remains at one with us in all times. Joyce Kilmer is a hero because he leads us back to ourselves and who we are before God. Joyce’s poetical intervention about, say, any tree being awesome because of being just another tree, but made by God is an analogy bringing us into the lived reality of who any one of us is to be as a hero.
Like so many others in our topsy turvy society with wars and rumors of wars, in our day as people did in Joyce’s day, I have searched for heroism if not in all the wrong places then surely in all the wrong ways. Growing up in a military family, my father having been trained up at Parris Island as a Marine Fighter Attack Pilot in Guam, the Philippines, Japan, China and Korea, having been commander of the famed Checkerboard Squadron, I have bragged about him as my hero, perhaps making him too extra special. Joyce Kilmer knew there was a danger to making one tree more special than all the others, a danger of not seeing that we are all made by God, the danger of thinking that this other fellow is a hero so I don’t have to be one. That’s not the kind of respect a real hero wants.
At the same time I would go out of my way to greet any veteran I might see at a gas station or a supermarket or at church. I’ve learned NOT to say, “Thank you for your service,” as I would often get a half-hearted, or sad, or almost cynical if polite acknowledgment in return. To say “Thank you for your service” almost seems ungrateful to the very veteran before whom one stands, being thankful perhaps only for his or her service in unrepeatable circumstances so very far away, a fog of war that any veteran struggles to recount to anyone, a service which, therefore, is in danger of being forgotten if heroism is merely about things done, if heroism is just that specialized, that distant, that out of reach, my usual mistake of “he’s the hero so I don’t have to be one.”
To veterans then, I’ve learned NOT to say “Thank you for your service,” but simply, “Thank you.” The acknowledgment is immediate, sincere, one of appreciated solidarity. And yet, even in this thanksgiving there can still be something missing about the heroism Joyce Kilmer lived out, the heroism which won him the enthusiastic respect in all good friendship of his brothers in arms and of our own respect today.
An Army friend of mine who was taken up as a field agent of the CIA much along the lines of Joyce becoming a kind of distant forerunner of the best of our CIA operatives, reprimanded me, saying that I had much to learn about thanking any veteran. He said that a hero isn’t someone you thank so much as strive to imitate with intensity of service at whatever cost. That’s it, thought I foolishly. Striving to imitate intensity of service is a real compliment, a real thanksgiving, and goes a long way and is what any veteran would like to see from anyone. But it still isn’t the full story and is certainly not quite yet an appreciation of the kind of heroism lived out by Joyce Kilmer.
We’ve all heard veterans of foreign wars like Marcus Luttrell or Robert O’Neill say it; we’ve all heard our friends in Law Enforcement and Firefighting say it; I’m certain that most who are here today have said it, as heroes: “I’ve done nothing special.” And then they add what our Lord said we will all say should we make it into the gates of heaven: “I’ve only done what I had to do.” There are those who think that this is what humility is all about, misunderstanding this as some sort of self-deprecation. But they miss the point. This isn’t false humility to say “I’ve done nothing special.” It is to say in Joyce Kilmer’s analogy, that any tree is awesome among any other trees, each having been made by God, so that each tree, each person is to do what they have to do, what they’ve been given to do, what they’ve been called to do in whatever impossibly unrepeatable circumstances they happen to be in. We’re all called to be heroes.
What was so attractive about Joyce Kilmer to his brothers in arms and to us today is that he knew he had what we can all have by way of God: we can all have a love that is stronger than death, a love stronger than death. “Let me have the most dangerous assignment!” said Joyce Kilmer again and again. A love stronger than death given by God. That’s what we recognize as what we are all to have, a love stronger than death given by God; this is who we are all to be, one who lives out what we have to do, what we’ve been given to do, what we’ve been called to do in all our impossibly unrepeatable circumstances. What makes the hero is that which all can have, this God given love which is stronger than death. “Let me have the most dangerous assignment!”
So said the eternal Word of God the Father: let me have the most dangerous assignment; let me stand in their place, the innocent for the guilty, so that I might have the right in my own justice to have mercy on them. And we know what happened next: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life,” eternal life, a love stronger than death, the eternal Son of God, our warrior of goodness conquering evil because giving us of his love that is stronger than death so that we might also say: “Let me have the most dangerous assignment!” Jesus is the One hero, and we are all heroes in him, recognizing before this love that is stronger than death that is offered to us all, that we then do, in thanksgiving, what we have to do, what we’ve been given to do, what we’ve been called to do in all our own unrepeatable circumstances, as in Joyce’s day, so in our own. The thanksgiving that our hero veterans want to have is that we all become heroes.
My own prayer this day is that those who visit this forest, coming into contact with the eternal Creator of creation, might find out about the heroism of Joyce Kilmer, the heroism we can all have with that God-given love that is stronger than death, that love which is eternal. Only God can make a tree. Only God can make a hero. We thank God for all our heroes, begging that we might strive to imitate intensity of generosity by living out in our everyday circumstances, with enthusiasm, that love which is stronger than death. Thank you, Joyce. Thanks to all our veterans. Thanks to all our heroes. Thanks to Jesus for giving us a love stronger than death.
The Rouge Bouquet
In a wood they call the Rouge Bouquet
There is a new-made grave to-day,
Built by never a spade nor pick
Yet covered with earth ten metres thick.
There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime,
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the Summertime.
For Death came flying through the air
And stopped his flight at the dugout stair,
Touched his prey and left them there,
Clay to clay.
He hid their bodies stealthily
In the soil of the land they fought to free
And fled away.
Now over the grave abrupt and clear
Three volleys ring;
And perhaps their brave young spirits hear
The bugle sing: “Go to sleep! Go to sleep!
Slumber well where the shell screamed
Let your rifles rest on the muddy floor,
You will not need them any more.
Now at last, Go to sleep!”
There is on earth no worthier grave
To hold the bodies of the brave
Than this place of pain and pride
Where they nobly fought and nobly died.
Never fear but in the skies
Saints and angels stand
Smiling with their holy eyes
On this new-come band.
St. Michael’s sword darts through the air
And touches the aureole on his hair
As he sees them stand saluting there,
His stalwart sons;
And Patrick, Brigid, Columkill
Rejoice that in veins of warriors still
The Gael’s blood runs.
And up to Heaven’s doorway floats,
From the wood called Rouge Bouquet
A delicate cloud of bugle notes
That softly say: “Farewell! Farewell!
Comrades true, born anew, peace to you!
Your souls shall be where the heroes are
And your memory shine like the morning-star.
Brave and dear, Shield us here. Farewell!”
From the Catholic funerary rites:
Saints of God, come to their aid! Come to meet them angels of the Lord!
Receive their souls and present them to God the Most High.
May Christ, Who called you, take you to Himself; may angels lead you to Abraham’s side.
Receive their souls and present them to God the Most High.
Let us pray: We commend our brothers and sisters to you, Lord. Now that they have passed from this life, may they live on in Your presence. Amen.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
And so it continues. People with ineffable military experience, with CVs including any number of alphabet agencies and institutes, offices and bureaus and divisions, come up to me to somehow bait me on whatever stupidity, such as, now most recently, bomb making. With their help I too, like them, can get as much C-4 as I want [technical advice on how to use it in what amounts], or otherwise spend a few dollars (literally just a few dollars) to prep up the necessary for a suicide vest [in such and such a way: technical advice] or otherwise hand-carried WMDs [technical, chemical advice], that would involve me, or be employed more remotely for, say, a car bomb because you know – Hey! – car bombs! Maybe I could go to [named building] it was suggested, and take it out by [technical, architectural advice here].
The old second person grammatical mistake – “You could…” replacing the impersonal third person – “One could…” – was no mistake in all this. After all, I am told, I have the perfect cover: a “priest”. I never said a word in all this. No questions. No notes. It was presented to me without me asking, presumably with incorrect and insufficient details. People like this can be honest, have integrity, and are baiting, not really knowing the full story, knowing that the full story cannot be known. Fine. Or they can do all this to get themselves more useful idiots. Here’s the deal: one cannot but make some small mistake. Meanwhile, bad stuff happens.
I have to wonder how many people have been manipulated into doing whatever. In the most recent encounter I was told that the assignment he had in France was to bait people, manipulate people, have people do things without them knowing that they were doing his will, the will of those who assigned him to France to have such things accomplished, things that they would never have done on their own but were baited into doing. I have to wonder how many people have to die.
See this kid in the picture of this paragraph? I stopped him for like ten years, but then he went ahead and did it – the suicide bombing thing – manipulated by others, including his own father, 21 dead (plus himself), and well over a hundred wounded (horrific life changing maiming etc), mostly Russian Jewish girls who had just arrived in Israel and had nothing to do with any violence with Palestinians. When will the manipulation stop?
Anyway, this most recent bomb guy, manipulator guy, did in fact make a mistake, two in fact. Purposed? Baiting? Dunno. This kind of thing goes on all the time. It’s all a “he said” “she said” kind of scenario. In fact, he told me that, and this isn’t the first time he said this: I could go ahead and say whatever and the simple question will be asked: Do you have proof? In a world of multiple levels of physical deniability? “Proof.” So, people continue to die. Violence is the way things are and will continue to be.
Jesus knows all about it. He used it for His own victory of laying down His own life for ours, the innocent for the guilty. That’s the one thing important. That’s the one thing these guys don’t include in their calculation. Really smart guys. They think they’ve got you with all their “insurance policy” extortion. But they’re perfectly lacking in wisdom. They only hurt themselves. Jesus continues to win. Love cuts through the deception of power for the sake of power. Why is that? Because in God, love is truth is power is goodness is kindness.
If you think I’m letting violence just pass me by like I don’t care. Think again. Certain steps can be taken. This post is one of them. But there are more steps. I don’t think that I’ll be able to stop much of any violence. But – Hey! – like the Master, so the disciple. Jesus didn’t ask us to be successful in all ways, just in being faithful to His love and truth and goodness and kindness, that which these guys don’t fear, that which will overpower these guys when Jesus comes to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.
I’ll be writing, please God, about his mistakes in posts to come. Stay tuned.
“Uneven pacing…” Sounds like my life… Thank you for this. My last and only other was Sum of All Fears. It reminds me I have to write up the memorial for the Joyce Kilmer centenary memorial service on July 30 up in the Forest named after him. He was in the famed Rainbow Division. More on that later. I’m actually excited about reading Rainbow Six. The last time I read a Tom Clancy novel I wrote my own (which I only half put up). This may get me reinvigorated. With all the other stuff going on, I may be able to add some further intrigue, and a sequel, as if there wasn’t enough intrigue and me already not having an unpublished thought. ;-)
UPDATE: Well, well. That only took a day for the White House to agree. The trouble is, they shouldn’t have had to think this through. This should have been known. Rosenstein is up to what? /////
When asked about Rosenstein’s indictment of twelve Russian GRU spies, Putin, of course, with a chuckle, invited Mueller and his investigators to come to Moscow to question them, adding, of course, with a chuckle, and entirely predictably, that his own investigators would then come to these USA to interrogate our own spies. Sounds fair, but what’s the upshot and why is this betrayal of the intelligence community? Because extensive proof would be wanted. We would have to reveal connections, contacts, assets, methods, capabilities, ways and means of all kinds. At any rate, that’s impossible on both sides, not just because neither side would want to do this, but because neither side could. The levels of impossible to overcome levels of physical deniability built into all programs, all actions, all deliveries of any kind of communications will stop any investigation in its tracks, even if everyone would sincerely want to cooperate. I mean, if you think you know something, a discovery, it’s only because it is desired by your opposition that you think this way.
(1) Rosenstein’s unethical indictment
Number two at the Department of Justice, Assistant Attorney General, Rod Jay Rosenstein just made an indictment of twelve Russian spies, really of Russia itself, as they belong to Russia’s GRU, equivalent to our NSA, CIA, Гла́вное разве́дывательное управле́ние, Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, descendant of the KGB.
This indictment is entirely unethical, immoral, manipulative, utterly political for the reason that there is zero hope of any trial. An indictment must never be made when there is no hope of a trial. The impression is that those indicted are guilty even though there has been no due process. This is the easiest thing in the world to do. You can indict a ham sandwich, but especially a Russian ham sandwich. It means nothing on one level, but has consequences for politics on another level. This was done immediately before Trump’s trip to speak with Putin. Oh. Politics. A political Department of Justice. Rosenstein is totally discredited. Rosenstein thinks the American people are so stupid that they can’t see through his manipulations.
[[UPDATE: Hahaha! ]]
(2) DOJ Rosenstein’s smacking down of NSA’s William Binney
Bill Binney was by far the NSA’s greatest genius, the guy who could come up with a simple answer that perfectly worked, getting actionable intel for otherwise impossible complexities, time and again. When things got political with our national security, subjecting these USA to terrorist attacks, Mr Binney became a whistle blower.
Meanwhile, during the announcement of the indictment, Rosenstein went on to speak about “Guccifer 2.0,” putting himself at odds with verifiable, repeatable experiments first brought to the fore by Mr Binney, that is, about transfer speeds necessitating not a hack, but a local hardware download. I find it interesting that Rosenstein went out of his way to indicate that this was all mere piecemeal internet hacking, when provably it was not just that.
When Trump had our ex-CIA Director and now Secretary of State Mike Pompeo utilize Binney’s know-how, some thought this looked bad for Trump, but that is not a necessary conclusion. When the best people in the world say something, like Mr Binney, one should listen to what they say. That’s always a good idea regardless of anything else.
(3) Murder as “suicide”: Bill Binney
As Rosenstein was preparing his strange statement about the indictment, I myself got a visit from a group of our top “Humint” counterintelligence, counterterrorism crowd, at the very top of their game, who are privy to plans and plots and all that goes on in that dark world, also by way of enhanced interrogation of the worst of the worst. Some would say that such knowledge is ill-gotten. At any rate, these are the guys and gals involved. At least that’s what they say they were, and perhaps they were at one time, but now, are… are… are… maybe just a bunch of nice guys who want nothing more than to protect Bill Binney.
Firstly, let me state that I am forever mistaken as being someone else in that someone stole my identity when I was just a teenager. The FBI and Main State, in consort, offered me a false passport, wanting to give this guy total access to my identity even while I was supposed to disappear entirely. I’m on (1) a perpetual and (2) an interdepartmental program, meaning (1) all details have been destroyed so that nothing can be connected with anyone higher up the chain (a common exercise) and so that no one’s op can be accidentally revealed by another department, and (2) my actual identity as opposed to the one who stole it cannot be unmasked except through a summary held personally only by the Secretary of State and the Director of the CIA (as was repeated to me, again, this time by Main State this past year). It is what it is, a kind of curse with strange visits through the decades. After all these decades, they have no idea whether I’m me or the guy who stole my identity.
Having said that, our “Humint” crowd gave me what the obviously ranking officer told me was an “assignment”, that is, to note well a possible upcoming murder made to look like “suicide” of Bill Binney. The word assignment is rather interesting. As one of our top guys in the DoD who accompanied me to this meeting said about the word assignment: “Oh s#|+”. But maybe they just want me to write about it so as to help protect Bill Binney. I don’t know. It wouldn’t mean anything if anyone else said it. But it’s these guys, whoever they are. This could be an assignment if I’m actually instead the person who stole my identity – to protect or take out Bill Binney – or it could just be a “counterintelligence product” which seeks a reaction or lack of reaction or change in behavior, whatever. Everything says something even if nothing is at it seems. If I follow up on the assignment in either way, then they know. If I don’t, then they are still wondering, except in this case there look to be a number of Strzok style “insurance policies.” It’s just the way things are done.
Insurance policies aggravate me. I’m a priest. I don’t like innocent people getting hurt. And they won’t if I can help it, part of the motivation for this blog post.
Not wanting anyone to get hurt includes the guy who stole my identity. I have no idea if he’s connected with any of this. He did Mexico. He’s into Syria (which involves Russia). But this? I don’t know. Whatever about him, he’s protected. No one will touch him, or me for that matter. That’s how “perpetual programs” work. Well, unless…
Sundays are busy:
Meanwhile, people you meet in this tiniest of all parishes in the middle of nowhere are always amazing. After Mass in Robinsville I met the guy who, hundreds of miles and four hours away from home, now on a yearly camping trip in these parts… a guy who, after a lifetime in the Military, went to work on designing MOAB or GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast (the “Mother Of All Bombs”). He’s a devout Catholic, very active in the apostolate, as is his wife. He spoke of the “kill-zone” being a 25 mile radius. I said it would be better to call it a “stop the threat” zone (using concealed carry terminology). He laughed at that immediately – which tells me something – and admitted that that was not his language, but that of his physicists. Here’s one of his nerdy scientists talking us through a test explosion.
How to say it? “Unconventional-Conventional”? All war is hell. No one “likes war.” But, because of unjust aggression, there it is. If something like the MOAB gets us a step away from nuclear bombs that’s a step in the right direction. You can avoid:
But besides all that, carpet bombing populations is immoral. That’s true. But this isn’t true of a MOAB if it’s not used on a population center. I would never say that this guy wants his MOAB dropped on population centers. No. We did use the MOAB once for real, and it was used in the middle of nowhere, taking out 36 militants.
But, of course, it could happen. That’s true. The U.S. dropped nukes on the only two solidly Catholic population centers in Japan. And, yes, I’ve been having this discussion with those involved in one way or the other off an on for decades, since the early 1980s. It’s simply not true that killing so many innocent people just to make an intellectual point about power is ever a good thing even if the consequences are good, such as stopping a war. You can always find another way. Tell people to look at their military base in the middle of nowhere and explode it while they are looking. That’s more than enough.
Any tool could be used the wrong way. That’s not the tool’s fault. A butter knife is a good thing, but it can be used the wrong way. A car is a good thing, but it can be used the wrong way. So…
Meanwhile, in the midst of designing such bombs, there is time for prayer, is there not? Yes, there is. Adoration. Rosaries. Even in this tiniest of all parishes. Prayer is, after all, the greatest of all weapons beating down any need for a defensive war in which one might have the need to make a positive contribution to the virtue of justice by making use of such a thing. Again, all war is hell, but Jesus has faced and conquered all of hell. You might say that the love of God shouldn’t make up part of an analogy with weapons of war. But Satan thinks of prayer and the love of God in exactly that way. It is always the love of God, but for those who reject love, it is more devastating than any kind of bomb whatsoever. For Satan, God’s love is hell. For humans on this earth, it’s a chance for conversion from darkness to light.
The above double rainbow was seen after Mass yesterday evening over the rectory (the house with the sunshine shining on it). The sunshine you see on the far side of the street leads up to the Veterans Memorial.
For a long time, Father Gordon MacRae is trying to get me to read Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six apparently on the exploits of a counterterrorism unit. The problem is that I’m the most un-well-read priest in the world. I read one other book by Tom, The Sum of All Fears, perhaps exactly twenty years ago, which is about the only novel I’ve ever read in my life. The problem is to actually order it.
Meanwhile, the time draws near for the centennial memorial of Joyce Kilmer here at his memorial forest at Slick Rock in the western reaches of Graham County in the Smoky Mountains. In my opinion, Joyce should have a star on the memorial wall of the CIA for his own activities which brought him to his death. The CIA and even its forerunner were not yet founded, but there’s a pretty direct line. Another reason why the CIA has been dubbed the Catholic Intelligence Agency. Joyce was a member of the famed Rainbow Division, actually The Fighting 69th.
This is Major Brian Shul, USAF (Ret.). I gotta thank him for this story. It makes me recall my own dad, who also had lots of fun flying what was, in his day, back in the day, by far the fastest plane on earth. Hah. Lol. I love it. I bet he did this exact same thing, not on the West coast, but rather on the Eastern Seaboard teaching the guys to fly there. We’re getting closer to getting dad’s citations for his DFCs. Colonel “J” just had me sign some “standing” papers. :-)
Before Mass at Noon we all marched outside and recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Then, as is the custom on this Memorial Day, we raised the flag which had been at half mast in honor of the fallen heroes, and then quickly raised at Noon to honor their achievements for the country and the world. I was sopping wet under the vestments, as I had just been to the cemetery. It was raining. But, you’ll hear about that. And about this 16 year old…
That kind of brings it home. You’ll hear about that…
You see it immediately, don’t you, above: Look! Up in the sky! What’s out of place? If you draw a line between the two light poles sticking above the tree line, you’ll see it midway between the two. About 5 seconds earlier he was over my parish.
He screamed directly in front of me. But, I didn’t see him. Wasn’t looking for him. I heard him, but only after he had passed by quite a long distance. Then I looked. But he was already almost gone. Let’s zoom in, but, know that had you been the enemy, you would never have seen or heard him. In the mountains here, there is no such thing as situational awareness for this.
Note to the dozens of militias in the area who think they can take on the U.S. Military: are you out of your minds? Are you, like, that ignorant? I’m all pro-second amendment, but, I mean, grow up. And if you say that the U.S. Military can’t be used against the citizenry of these United States, know that you wouldn’t qualify, being that you will have become enemy combatants. /// End of rant.
That, my friends, in the picture above, is an F-16 Fighting Falcon on its 45th year originally produced by General Dynamics, now also by Lockheed Martin and others around the world.
He’s just barely high enough to hit safely the branches of the trees instead of the tree trunks when topping the highest ridges. My dad used to do this kind of thing with an old fighter attack Corsair, ripping the shingles off our house and the houses of our city back in the early 1960s. I would run outside jumping up and down, running, waving, I see times haven’t changed so much at all.
Am I seeing things? Is that a bit of red on its tail? Let’s zoom in:
I think so. And only one attack fighter has that silhouette these days. So, here’s a stock photo below (looks like during a takeoff as if it were a landing the wheels would already be fully down):
Flying at top speed from its home in Alabama to Western North Carolina would take only 9 minutes. 229 miles. I’m guessing they like to practice zipping through the crazy mountain terrain. From here to Mount Mitchell we have the highest, craziest mountains in eastern North America. I’m guessing this is radar evasion practice. This was done a while back late at night with what I’m guessing was a proof-of-concept flight with a C-5 Galaxy with the intention of getting it back into service. It was accompanied by what seemed to be varying fighters, one I clearly saw being an F-18. They were really low-flying, like just 300 feet up or so. Insane. Awesome. Really, really, really loud.
Let me take the opportunity to thank everyone in our military and our military families. Thanks for what you have done and continue to do. Thanks for giving us all an example for us to strive to follow.
Our tiniest of all parishes has wildly interesting people. Many are military and many number among the intelligence and scientific community. Jerry Hudson is a good example. (And, yes, it’s that Hudson.) We had his wake 5-4-2018 and the funeral 5-5-2018. He was edging on 80 years young. I will miss him sorely.
As with most ultra-extreme-genii who change the entire world in which we live, Jerry dropped out of High School. Jerry was profoundly patriotic, profoundly Catholic. He was scooped up by the USAF in his Junior year. They gave him further schooling, specialized, fit for his smarts. After that, he was known simply as “The Mechanic.” It’s like calling “Good” Will Hunting “The Janitor.”
At one point, Jerry went through the FBI qualification exams with extreme perfection.
That hits home with me. I myself have seen it before, up close and personal, at by far the most academic of Catholic institutions. It is frustrating. There is so much that could be done. But, that’s just how it is. It is what it is.
In a what could have been imagination, what if the FBI had instead created a specialized investigatory IG position for Jerry. The Strzok and Comey scenarios and all the rest of the Department of Justice corruption would most likely have never come about the way it is today. Anyway…
There’s no love lost between the FBI and CIA. So, of course, after Jerry was dumped by the FBI, he was picked up by the CIA. I love that. Since he was “The Mechanic”, they put him to work on the U2 spy plane for its missions over Russia, from Turkey – yes, don’t deny it – where he kept the pilots in good order with good oxygen for four years. Mind you, he figured out how to do this for a plane flying many miles higher than the ceiling of our most capable passenger jetliners even while he himself was living in a tent (since you can’t have a base for a plane that doesn’t exist, right?). Mind you, today, we let our fighter pilots die in our own day because of CYA cover-ups, we not wanting to admit that we don’t know what we are doing in trying to keep the pilots in good order with oxygen. For shame! Sure, the guts of planes change. But we should investigate the procedures by which Jerry was able to figure out problems. We might learn something that will save lives today. Science is as much about method as facts. Knowing the facts doesn’t mean understanding. Jerry knew stuff, and understood, and could “fix it.” After all, he was “The Mechanic.”
And, by the way, that stint with the CIA helped to change quite entirely the course of the cold war with Russia. He was, perhaps, at that time, the biggest enemy that Russia had. He was also instrumental during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Jerry is a great American hero, yes, as CIA. I sometimes make purposed poking fun at the CIA, or what looks like serious criticism, but let me for a moment be serious:
Meanwhile, “The Mechanic” worked on pretty much all the Apollo space missions – yes, those missions – and on pretty much all missile systems of whatever kind, air to air, air to ground, ground to air, from the sea, intercontinental… for whatever military manufacturer, for whatever branch of the military, pretty much everywhere. Yes, it’s him: “The Mechanic.”
His baby, above. Just a few of the missions he worked on (but much more than these):
Obviously, he was from Kansas…
I mentioned that Jerry was Catholic. Most of the crowd at the wake and funeral were non-Catholic, mostly family from everywhere and friends. But there were also quite a number whom no one had seen before, were not related, came late, left early, and, if you know what to look for, very much fit the bill as reps for, you know, The Company. I’m very touched by that. Very human, that. And it’s a recognition by The Company of just what an impact Jerry made not only on America but on the entire world in stopping Russian imperialism dead in its tracks. With the passing of Jerry comes the passing of an entire era. He should be recognized in Congress post-mortem. The Air Force came up and did the flag ceremony for the burial. Very touching. They really did a good job as it was obvious this was much more than a job. This was personal.
Meanwhile, Jerry was always helpful, always encouraging, always a friend to everyone. Jerry encouraged me on my homilies, loving the irony of mercy being founded on justice. He loved that I myself led the rosary during adoration, saying that he never once in his life saw a priest doing that, and loved to see a priest who is a believer. As I say, he was always encouraging, looking for things by which he could encourage people. I mean, when does anyone encourage a priest? He did. That’s the kind of guy he was.
When he had some medical difficulties recently, we spoke of going to heaven as I gave him the anointing and such. He simply enjoyed life because he had a deep faith, a wild sense of irony. Those two go together, faith and irony, very well and make up the Jerry we all knew and loved. You’ll be sorely missed, Jerry. God speed, my friend. Tell Jesus how we want to get to the gates of heaven… and then get in!
Mind you, Jerry was a genius in the extreme. And yet he was always the little kid, full of wonder, always wanting to learn more, always thinking, pondering, but with joy, never with fear or bitterness, knowing that he knew nothing compared to what there is to know both in this life and in the life to come. Would that we could all retain our wonder as kids, and be joyful in learning about things here on earth, and then, please God, in heaven. Here’s Jerry in his younger days, just like his older days: