Wednesday, July 25, 2007

An Intelligence Brief for the First Amendment Militia.

People have the right to be stupid. shirtI came very close in my youth to being scooped up by Navy Intelligence - as a recruit, not a suspect.

I have the sort of mind thatlends itself to the detachment and educated paranoia required to be a good intelligence analyst and I was heavily courted based, I suspect, on test results that really should have been confidential. Ah, but it was the Cold war, don't you know. Even the dismal results of my physical during my ASVAB panel didn't discourage them. After all, it was highly unlikely I'd get any exercise at all, much less risk combat after boot camp, and they were very willing to promise that my physical limitations would be taken into account. However, the coin flip came down against them - otherwise, I'd probably have had quite a different life.

I have never had any difficulty raising my right hand with my left on my own integrity and swearing to "protect and defend the constitution against all threats, foreign and domestic," but even then, I had some hints that it might not be possible to honor that oath AND honorably serve in a military capacity.

Remember, this was just before the final whimper of the Vietnam war and at the height of the Cold War, back when actual professionally qualified paranoids were taking National Security very damn seriously indeed, on both sides. And if a civil liberty or the odd civilian got caught in the gears, very well and oh, too bad.

At the time, I didn't have the intellectual basis to tell you why that was all wrong and an entirely futile and pointless exercise - but somehow, I knew that The Greatest Game was not for me.

But I never stopped thinking in the way that made me potentially valuable, and indeed, what I do now is not dissimilar to what a CIA analyst does, or a Wall Street analyst, for that matter. It's all about putting together disparate shreds, hints, trends and fragments of apparently unrelated information from obscure sources to develop a crude picture that, while imperfect, is ideally better than nothing.

And that is what this paper is; a deeply incomplete and inherently unreliable picture which I hope will yet be better than nothing, erring on the side of prudent paranoia.

There's more...

The Internet is an outright stampede of information, giving me access to information no government - much less a would-be totalitarian government - is comfortable having widely known. Indeed, there's been no need to access any information that's particularly obscure or even from fringe sources. It's all out there, you simply have to integrate it through the lens of a nasty, suspicious, cynical and un-trusting mind.

I have no government or even media contacts worth the name. Indeed, I have very few contacts. Come to think of it, outside of family... damn few.

All of this comes from the stream across my screen - which means that my conclusions are potentially verifiable by anyone with Internet access.

So consider the following to be the product of an untrained but suitably paranoid intelligence para-professional, who has been tracking the domestic and foreign affairs situation since 2001 - when 9/11 concentrated my attention.

I have two immediate concerns: First, distinct hints and rumors that the Bush Administration is considering the idea of generating a pretext to declare martial law and suspend elections. The pretext is concern one, for it's certain to involve mass casualties exceeding 9/11, but the second, martial law, is my most serious worry. Not because I think that the Bush Administration can successfully impose martial law and a subsequent totalitarian state. It's because I fear they believe they can succeed. Whatever the outcome, that presumption promises mass casualties equaling or exceeding the First Civil War.

Chertoff has spread broad hints about his "gut feelings," about the likelihood of a bi coastal terrorist attack, presumably to test the depths of our remaining credulity, and that is only one such hint.

I don't know what his sources have told him, but mine suggest that to be a very bad plan. Skepticism about 9/11 itself has grown deeper and broader with every release of information and piece of evidence that indicates a complete lack of official interest in who was responsible and how it was accomplished.

The lack of any sensible, much less humane or responsible action in response to the information the general public KNOWS the administration must be aware of makes me grimly unwilling to presume anything that remains unknown to reflect well upon George Bush.

There is a high probability that a number of radicalized activists would assume it to be a false-flag operation and a much larger population would consider it to be a distinct possibility. Should there be a national response of the imposition of martial law in response to widely separate terrorist attacks, many would feel justified in operating under just that assumption. Some might take immediate action - but the true threat to the Administration are those who quietly fall off the grid, or worse yet, remain in place.

Bluntly, this administration has squandered it's credibility to the extent that if they say the sky is NOT falling, there will be a run on umbrellas.

If the immediate response to an apparent terrorist attack was to declare martial law, disarm the population along with local law enforcement while rounding up Muslims, liberals and intellectuals for indefinite detention, I think there would be the great likelihood of an immediate outbreak of fairly well-organized resistance, seemingly from nowhere.

The Department of Homeland Security places great store in analyzing Internet chatter. So do I. To give one example, I was rather surprised to learn that there are more than 35000 results for Ghillie suits. That's "sniper camouflage" for the uninitiated. Of course, most recommend them for paintball games, even when selling military surplus or providing instructions on how to make your own.

But how else would you train an effective small infantry unit these days in a cost effective and secure manner?

Paintball, Lazer Tag and war gaming of all kinds, online and off.

So that one piece of data is an indication of an already organized and trained potential resistance, one that has very possibly evaded the serious attention of intelligence agencies.

But as tempting as it is to dismiss and disparage the current occupants of the White House as blind, ideological fools, I do not believe they are so foolish as to have not foreseen resistance as a certain outcome. Indeed, with all the talk in the MSM about Al-Queda setting up cells in the US, I would guess that any such resistance would be welcome and immediately attributed to Al-Queda.

Further, I think they may well be anticipating that response and planning on using initially isolated acts of resistance to clamp down with an iron fist, to confiscate all weapons from civilians - in order to keep them out of the hands of terrorists, of course - and generally impose a rule of fear enforced with systemic brutality, trusting that civilian inertia, compounded with outright terror will allow the minority of reliable Bushistas in and out of traditional military to keep a lid on civilian unrest.

I would argue that such a gamble might have worked two or three years ago, but with the administration so obviously on the run and so very dependent on their ability to delay legal sanctions against them, I doubt the majority of Americans will suspend disbelief in their favor. As a result, they cannot rely on civilian co-operation with martial law. It will quickly become clear that there will be a need to literally occupy many, if not most cities in the West, Northwest and Northeast, simply to secure strategic assets. It will be critical to maintain transport across the Midwest, so even certain cities that might be reluctant to resist martial law will find themselves under highly repressive federal control.

That is to say, under ideal circumstances, if you wished to preclude any organized uprising, that is what you would have to do. But, as with Iraq, the forces needed to do the job, and the forces available to do the job differ significantly in terms of numbers, equipment, preparedness, training and, indeed, in almost every other regard, with the most significant distinction being "reliability."

I've run the math, and even by withdrawing all armed forces from everywhere - including all National Guard troops and reserves- it would be by my calculations difficult to impossible to control either California or Texas in the face of a determined insurgency. I do not think that the employment of mercenaries would help for long - mercs like to be paid and dislike casualties. Furthermore, they would be paid in debt funded money under circumstances where the economic basis for the currency is in abatement - or out of scant gold reserves. Either way, it's not a long-term proposition.

I consider Iraq to be a much better template for something resembling "success" in controlling a large, unruly region, and frankly, I expect that "region" to include the United States as a whole. There might be more initial support within the highly religious Red States, at least outside of the urban areas - but it may be that Katrina has undermined that expectation to a significant degree, and the rural population is likely to be less controllable. In any case, the areas that will arguable present the greatest difficulty in terms of government control also represent the greatest concentrations of manufacturing capability and expertise. This geographic fact places absolute limits on how long such an effort can be sustained.

Now, let's consider the implications of the Secret Service's new Uniformed Division. I'm not sure whether to compare them to the SS, the Gestapo or the Praetorian Guard.

Let's say they have 2000 effectives. No, let's add a Fermi. 20000. Is that enough? I'm not sure it's enough to actually hold the Legislative district against determined opposition. It's certainly NOT enough to hold Washington DC as a whole, much less enough to act as a national police force.

But it's existence is pretty clear evidence that Bush doesn't trust the Capital Police, FBI or CIA, or the intelligence assets of the State Department to keep him safe and properly informed.

Blowback. It's a bitch.

I'm assuming that the capital would be abandoned as unsecurable, possibly even sacrificed, in a move that would dispense with any number of inconvenient legislators and civil servants. This leaves a number of alternate command and control facilities - but also communicates to the American people just how very terrified the Junta (for that is what it will be, at that point) is of them.

Now, remember what sorts of people did the vetting for the critical civilian personnel sent to Iraq? I bet they have done an equally good job vetting applicants for the SS Uniformed Division. I believe that because their political reliability will be of necessity an overriding concern, essential to any of the three likely intended missions. So they are not likely to be drawn from the best or the brightest - they will be drawn from the unimaginative and the reflexive authoritarians, people who automatically follow orders and go by the book with a touching belief in the effectiveness of overwhelming firepower.

Such were the men of the SS Panzer division that "took" the Warsaw Ghetto. Theirs was not to reason why, theirs was but to do or die. I believe more than ten percent did, with enough total casualties as to render the entire formation useless.

It's not difficult to imagine their performance being just about as good as FEMA's before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. But even if it were perfectly competent, with absolutely secure communication and years of tactical experience as a unit, it probably still would not matter.

At this stage of the game, building such a force with any expectation of it performing as well as existing units is a forlorn hope, and it's only the choice of those who have no other other choices. That should tell you something of the actual strength of the President's hand.

I'm fairly sure that the SSUD will not be greatly more effective than, say, a highway patrol division or a sheriff's department in a counter-insurgency role, although they should perform decently in terms of providing base security wherever the President and Vice President have gone to ground.

But I don't think that even those refuges will be as secure as, well, as secure as I would wish, were I in that position.

For example, I doubt that state and local law enforcement will be on the "side" of a federal military government, for one very good reason; local law enforcement officers will be "suspect number one," the very first to be disarmed and sent to detention camps or drafted into service in locations far distant from any unofficial contacts they might have.

I think it's safe to assume that from how the military handled Iraq's security forces, and I'm afraid it makes a great deal of operational sense in terms of who is in a position to organize and equip an effective resistance. Seeing as the various state Highway Patrols and Investigation agencies are as likely to be loyal to their governors as to the President, the same distrust and dispersal is likely to be expressed toward them. Likely such persons will either be imprisoned or drafted into service in some other state, and with the families of some held hostage in FEMA camps when that seems prudent.

In fact, if I were an LAPD officer, I'd be considering some personal fall back options right now, which might include clandestine arrangements with the Crips and or the Bloods. They, after all, will be high on the "round up and remove" lists too.

The Pirate Lafitte turned the tide for us in New Orleans, way back when. There is plenty of precedent for the support of freedom by Organized Crime - even when it's not actually in their long term interest. "Lucky" Luciano's support for the war effort was critical in WWII for instance.

Consider the sheer number of trained military leaders that have resigned their commissions or retired over the last several years. I don't consider it wise to presume that trained tactical and strategic minds have remained idle or stopped talking to one another.

Now, consider how excruciatingly vulnerable the military infrastructure is to sabotage, and how few military secrets will exist when people realize that their secrecy oaths no longer bind them.

So, the advantage federal forces have against the American people are not so great as might first appear, and indeed, they only really hold the upper hand so long as people are as yet unsure as to what lengths the Administration might go to remain in power and un-prosecuted.

Once there is an outright breach of the peace and United States armed forces are engaged in open warfare against the American people, any such advantage disappears. We - the civilian population - have overwhelming numerical superiority, superior local knowledge and a very startling amount of individual firepower. We will enjoy internal lines of communications by definition, will probably be able to enjoy at least rough parity in terms of intelligence and will have much better morale.

Meanwhile, individuals all over the US know how to brew fuel from - well, damn near anything that will ferment, or be pressed for oil, and they will generally prefer to operate on foot in any case.

So, bye-bye refineries and oil storage depots, and therefore goodbye to government mobility. You can presume that freeways and rail transport will be disrupted - they are obvious deathtraps for the armed forces.

BTW, ever wonder what a Barrett .50 semi-automatic rifle would do to an unarmed surveillance helicopter? Pretty much the same as it would do to an armored copter, if it had armor piercing ammo. There are a LOT of them in civilian hands, even at ten grand a pop, and even more less costly bolt-action .50 cal boy-toys. Any of them, in the hands of a competent marksman, can reach out and touch someone at ranges in excess of a mile.

Among other inconvenient facts, this means that local civilian forces can deny the use of a huge number of airports to the Government. One or two rounds though an engine on takeoff or landing, repeat as necessary. Our military relies very heavily on air superiority for success, and unlike in Iraq, I doubt very much their planners should take that luxury for granted.

Oh, would it cost ten grand to fabricate a knock-off of a Barrett in a basement machine shop? Not hardly. I can get precise plans for the equally useful Ma Deuce and BAR off the Internet. Despite the slick sales brochures from the manufacturers of fancy air defense missile systems, a quad .50 is a damn respectable deterrent to anything with wings.

Remember, an insurgency doesn't have to contest air superiority - they just need to make maintaining it expensive. That task is relatively cheap.

"But it's ILLEGAL for civilians to own armor piercing ammo and fully automatic weapons" you gasp incredulously!

Yeah. Illegal - and damned easy to fabricate, in quite a few calibers. As well as explosive ammunition and Teflon coated ring perpetrators for handguns. Mortars? Home depot has lots of pipe. A ten gauge shotgun shell works just fine as the propellant for a 30mm mortar round. Another one will impact-detonate it. The whole thing could be made from PVC pipe. Military grade weapons are not actually more expensive than civilian grade weapons, in general, they are far LESS expensive, designed to be mass-produced from cheap materials.

All that is required is a state of martial law - and widespread contempt for those attempting to enforce it.

Of course, "silvertips" for taking out elk are perfectly legal. Your average weapon for antelope or elk with such a round up the spout will put a hole the size of your head in a human being - and body armor without ballistic plates won't stop them. A head shot at a hundred meters or more is pretty trivial for a good hunting piece with upscale optics. A WWII surplus Garand rifle (30.06 caliber) can put a solid brass bullet through an engine block at 500 yards.There are hundreds of thousands of such weapons and surplus rounds in civilian hands.

Remember that given the force and equipment depletion caused by the Iraq War, any government forces will be lucky to have armored vehicles capable of stopping 9mm hardball.

Fully automatic weapons, handguns and long-arms of all varieties, hand grenades, silenced weapons that evade metal detectors, disposable rocket launchers and of course explosives such as C4 can be easily created in small machine shops and basements. If you are crazy enough to run a meth lab, well, creating explosives isn't a great deal more dangerous - and no easier to detect.

How's that War on Drugs going? Any widespread shortage of methamphetamine? Didn't think so.

Anyone with a two year college physics degree could use C4 to create a crude but effective "Plate Charge," such as has been used in Iraq. Hell, we have amateur rocketeers that for legal reasons have to take their contraptions to White Sands or Woomera to shoot them off. For FUN.

Would you be willing to assume them all to be good, loyal Republicans willing to tolerate a dictatorship - or would at least a few be casting around for suitable warheads?

But I'd fully expect there to be plenty of current military munitions available, up to and including stinger missiles, antipersonnel and anti-tank mines, even artillery... along with the national guard veterans who "liberated" them. Quite possibly along with the entire force complement of the local armory.

Now, an insurgency might start out as a tiny, doomed minority, and my worst case fear assumes Bush adminsitration planning on such a doomed and fringe resistance as the actual pretext for the imposition of Martial law.

But the probable overreaction to either a genuine or false-flag insurgency would surely work just as it has in Iraq, for exactly the same reasons, because it would be the same people in charge, operating with the same equipment and operational doctrine - and drawing from the same troop supply. In other words people who believe against all evidence that it's militarily possible to occupy, pacify and control a large modern urban area with a hundred years of hidden, forgotten and unrecorded infrastructure.

You may as well attempt to eradicate the roach population.

All an effective insurgency needs to do is avoid direct conflict while inflicting cheap casualties, The Iraqis haven't shown any great depth of imagination in that regard and are still doing fairly well.

Even if you throw in as many as 50 thousand Christianist fanatics as shock troops, people who gobble up "Left Behind" and "The Turner Diaries" as gospel, that simply makes the conflict a "target-rich environment." This is aside from the difficulties of training and equipping such a horde, or the wisdom of creating our very own domestic Taliban.

I leave aside the imponderable question as to what the rest of the world would do if the United States descended into a protracted civil war of any degree of intensity, but I doubt very much a Bush Junta could rely on the absolute neutrality of either immediate neighbor.

Now, this is a possible future I do not wish to experience. I encourage passive resistance, protest and proactive first-amendment activities at this point, especially when those activities approach that which the administration would prefer to refer to as "espionage," and reasonably sensible people would refer to as "whistleblowing."

People should be particularly alert for suspicious governmental activity. If you see somebody who reeks of G-Man in a place he shouldn't ougtta be - report it to your local emergency co-ordination facility. And by local, I mean "town, city or state." Meanwhile, take pictures with your cel phone, just in case something should happen later.

If you don't have a cel phone that takes pictures, get one. Ideally, a pay as you go cel phone.

Oh, yeah, that's another thing. How successful do you think that the government could be in shutting down or filtering internet access, when the opposition doesn't care about such trivia as bandwith theft, IP spoofing, illegal use of encryption, hiding pirate server farms in sewers, while the infrastructure, software and the majority of all computer talent is resistant to the whole idea?

I'd be stunned if, under conditions of a general civil war, that government communications would be secure or their servers immune from attack, if for no other reason than the widespread disaffection of federal employees who have access to such networks - either with passwords, or with keys to junction rooms.

Obviously, the latest executive order enabling the seizure of assets from anyone the Administration THINKS might be a threat to their war effort in Iraq, underlines the depth of concern the administration has regarding this possiblity, seeing as it's written so broadly it may as well be one of Richileu's Letters d'Cachet.

While liberals and leftists and activists understandably feel a great deal of concern, seeing as the immediate effect is to criminalize the peace movement, this seems to me to be much more directly aimed at those who have been loyal up to now, or up to a point. Cindy Sheehan is not so wealthy that such "asset forfeiture" could preclude her activism. No, it's aimed at the Coors family, the DuPonts, the Mellons and the Scaifes - anyone with enough personal resources to be able to seriously threaten the government, and the cussedness to do so. I'm sure there's a few millionaires and billionaires of various political persuasions who are even now shuffling portfolios and real property with that end in mind.

People who have enough money for this to be a serious threat are also quite capable of seeing the threat for what it is, no matter what attempts there are to camouflage it as being aimed at "them Liberal hippy peaceniks."

I have absolutely no idea how effective such threats will be, though, but my assumption is that that threatening very wealthy and powerful people with arbatrary forfeiture is unwise, to say the least. There are very wealthy people who are not part of the Bush crowd - but who are not unconnected or to be presumed to be toothless. And then there are those who are of the Bush crowd, who may well be of a mind to instruct Bush as to which is the tail and which is the dog that wags it. The threat is likely to be taken more personally and more urgently by people with a few mere millions in property and little liquidity - which represents a big foot on the neck of most small and medium entrepreneurs.

The only way I see they have a faint chance of pulling off a successful coup is by killing off as many "Liberals" as possible in some orchestrated or subcontracted terrorist attack that is so shocking, so horrifying that nobody could believe that it was not the work of some radical group of madmen. You know, like 9/11.

Look up "Project Monarch." You will find it within the tinfoil hat zone of the Internet, but nonetheless, it's existence and activities were confirmed in congressional hearings, where the CIA promised faithfully that all such programs have been shut down.

Riiight.

The government has long been fascinated with the potential uses of crazy people, and a great many changes in government and society seem to involve the convenient and inexplicable access of a crazy person to an inconvenient one. JFK, say. Or Bobby. Or Martin. So this would only be a difference of scale.

Evaluate for yourself the probable target zones and discuss the eventualities with those you trust and distrust alike. But for myself, I'd say get the hell out of the Bay Area, at least. After all, an earthquake would be a damned good pretext for a little "liberal cleansing." Consider how many people from New Orleans have disappeared into FEMA camps, where they languish still.

By the by - if you are working at NSA or any other intelligence agency - I am specifically speaking at you. Run this post of mine through your own brain with any additional information you might have. Come to your own expert conclusions and determine your best course, considering the worst-case implications of what you know and how many ways everything could go south for you and your loved ones.

Consider also where your true loyalties lie and what you may have said or done to indicate less than absolute willingness to personally suicide for the greater glory of Bushco. Consider who might well mention such reservations in their pursuit of career advancement. Then take such steps as seem reasonable and prudent, while remembering a famous quotation: "Two may keep a secret, if one of them is dead" - Benjamin Franklin.

Everyone else, buy yourself a copy of "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" by Robert A. Heinlein. With cash. Off line. From a used book store.

Resistance is not at ALL futile.

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