The Russians (and Donald Trump) Did It!

http://intelligence.house.gov/

I just finished watching yesterday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers. I came away from it with the opinion that the Democrats on the committee are only interested in advancing a political agenda, as evidenced by the many, many statements they made rather than actually asking questions of the two subjects. Those statements were all based on information taken from the media, which is ironic because Director Comey made clear that media accounts regarding classified information are almost without exception inaccurate. (He gave them an accuracy of maybe ten percent.)  He also said that the “sources” used by the media are often some distance removed from the actual information and that the information they provide members of the media is usually inaccurate. Yet, even after he made this statement, the Democrats on the committee continued to read their obviously pre-written statements that were largely based on media accounts. Such a travesty!

The purpose of the hearings was, at least ostensibly, to hear from the two agency directors regarding the ongoing investigation into Russian “meddling” in the 2016 presidential election. The Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, was not there, probably because he just took over the agency. At the time of the alleged “meddling,” the CIA director was John Brennan, an Obama appointee who left office on January 20. Congressman Trey Gowdy, a former Federal prosecutor, insinuated that Brennan may have been responsible for some of the highly illegal leaks of information that have appeared in the media since President Trump’s election, leaks that Director Comey made clear are criminal and that the leakers should be found and prosecuted. The most serious is the leaking of information pertaining to Lt. General Mike Flynn, the short-lived Director of Intelligence in the Trump Administration. (Gowdy may have even been insinuating that Obama himself is the leaker. Someone in his administration authorized the “unmasking” of the general after his voice was found on recordings of the Russian ambassador.)

As the hearings proceeded, it became obvious that the object of Democrats was to attempt to influence Director Comey to investigate/prosecute various members of the Trump circle, particularly General Flynn. Congresswoman Terri Sewell, a black woman from Alabama, was the attack dog. She kept harping on General Flynn, insinuating that he is a criminal, in spite of Director Comey’s continual refusal to answer her questions. Comey had made it clear at the beginning of the hearing that he was not going to answer any questions related to individuals or information that had appeared in the media. (It has recently come to light that General Flynn’s company was paid $500,000 for consulting work for a Dutch company that is suspected of “having ties” to Turkey.) Sewell was obviously trying to get Comey to have Flynn charged for not registering as a foreign agent (which he did on March 8.) GOP Congressman Trey Gowdy, insinuated that the Obama White House leaked information about General Flynn that had been obtained illegally by the NSA. Remember that General Flynn is alleged to have engaged in a number of conversations with the Russian ambassador, information that could have only been obtained by surveillance, which is illegal since General Flynn is an American citizen and surveillance requires a court order.

When it comes to the actual Russian “interference” in the election, very little was actually said about it. At the beginning of the hearing, Congressman Nunes solicited statements from both directors that there is no evidence that the Russians changed the vote in any of the states that President Trump won by a narrow margin. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers stated that there is no evidence of any Russian interference in the actual election in those states. The two directors referred to the findings of the three intelligence agencies – CIA, FBI and NSA – that the Russians meddled in the election primarily by spreading “propaganda” on the Russian government-owned television station RT and it’s associated web site designed to hurt Mrs. Clinton. (There was no mention of the American propaganda stations – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC. However, as stated previously, Director Comey stated that their stories are highly inaccurate.) In reality, the information I’ve seen on RT was no different than accounts I have seen on other outlets dating back to the 1990s. Both Director Comey and Admiral Rogers referred to Russia as an “adversary” of the United States, but neither actually stated why they considered the two countries to be adversaries. (Adversary is not the same as an enemy – adversary is actually synonymous with opponent, as in a contest.)

Are Russia and the United States actually in competition with one another? If so, just how? Back when the Soviet Union was still in power, there was the matter of ideology as the Soviet Union was the leading advocate of the spread of communism. Those days are over, however. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and since then Russia and the United States have had a different kind of relationship. Russia is not trying to manipulate ideology in the West; in fact, Russia is now capitalist even if the country is run, at least allegedly, by an oligarchy (another word that is often thrown about without consideration – some allege that the United States is an oligarchy, or was before Donald Trump became president. Since then, it’s often called fascist – by people who are actually Marxist themselves.) The truth is that the United States has nothing Russia wants. Yes, Russia now owns a company that owns a uranium mine in the US but it also has large uranium reserves of its own, more than twice as much as the United States. It’s the same with oil – Russian oil reserves are more than double those of the United States. The fear and hatred of Russia characteristic of so many Americans, particularly those in government, is actually a holdover from the Cold War combined with animosity over Russia’s occupation of Crimea and influence in Ukraine, both of which have strong connections to Russia dating back for centuries. It’s actually Europe that fears Russia, and that fear has spread into elements in the United States.

Director Comey stated something that has been made public in the past, that the FBI never had access to the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers. The claim that they were hacked by “the Russians” (the hackers were actually not from the Russian government, but are alleged to have been working for it) is based on information provided by a third party internet security company contracted by the DNC. He alleged that this is not abnormal, but that the FBI often depends on information from third party internet security companies when investigating cyber crimes.

Personally, I doubt that the hearings and the House (and FBI) investigations will accomplish anything. One writer has referred to the hearing as a “nothing burger.” I tend to agree.

 

 

Freedom of “the Press” – Or, Don’t Believe the Media

 Members of the modern media have a highly exalted opinion of themselves, a completely unjustified opinion, an opinion based on misrepresentation of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, an opinion that is completely false. It has been a long time coming because it hasn’t been so obvious, but the result is an emerging war between television news networks, newspapers and the administration of President Donald Trump, a war fought with words rather than the kind of bullets that kill and maim. To hear them tell it, the media is on a mission from God to “tell the truth” about the United States government. However, the real truth is that media is and always has been highly partisan and editors, journalists and TV newsmen and women rarely ever relate anything resembling truth. Instead, newspapers and TV news publish opinions and represent it as truth when it is anything but. “Fake news” is a new term but it accurately describes the media as it exists in the United States (and the world) and how it has existed since the printing press first came into being, for much of what has claimed to be “news” has always been politically motivated and has been slanted to represent a particular political point of view.

When the First Amendment was adopted, its meaning was far different than it is represented as today. It reads as follows – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The amendment begins with the words “CONGRESS shall make no law…” which is a clear indication that it was intended to apply to only one body of government, the United States Congress. Left-wing legal scholars have reapplied it to every level of government by disregarding the Founders’ original intent and substituting their own but original intent is still there. It was not intended to apply to state, county, or local government nor was it intended that the duly elected officials of government at any level were not free to challenge those exercising either of the three “freedoms” spelled out in the amendment, the first being religion, followed by speech and then by “the press” as represented by only three words. (Challenging and making laws are not the same.) Those words do not establish the press as “the watchdog of the people” in any form. In fact, the words “the press” doesn’t refer to what we consider today to be “the media” but actually refers to the printing press, regardless of how it is used, whether to print books, political pamphlets or, both last and least, “newspapers.” In fact, the phrase refers to exactly the same thing “speech” refers to, which is the expression of individual opinion although through the published, rather than the spoken, word. The problem is that the media has developed practices of expressing opinion and passing it off as “news”. They also misrepresent their opinions as being the corporate opinion of the nation as a whole.

When it comes to members of the media, it is important to understand that while they represent themselves as vast repositories of knowledge, they really have no knowledge of, well – anything, especially not the inner workings of government – nor do they have “facts”. The only “news” agencies that actually might have real knowledge are those that are part of government, regardless of level. They put out the official statement of whatever government body they represent, whether it is the White House itself, a government agency or a branch of the military. Only official press releases are based on any knowledge of the actions of government; any other “news” is mere speculation and depends on information provided by “sources” who may or may not be reliable and who, as often as not, have some kind of political ax to grind. A classic example is the “Watergate” scandal – the scandal, as it developed, didn’t become public knowledge because Bernstein and Woodward “uncovered” it by “investigative reporting”, but rather because the assistant director of the FBI, William M. “Mark” Felt, a Democrat, fed them information about the ongoing investigation into the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. (Although he had become an FBI agent in 1941, Felt had been a staffer for two Democratic senators from Idaho. He was at odds with President Nixon, although whether it was for political reasons or because he wanted to somehow protect the FBI is unclear. Woodward, who knew him from when he had served in the White House as a naval officer, referred to him as “a terrible gossip”.)Without that source, they would have had nothing.

Speaking of nothing, there is nothing in the Constitution or its amendments even implying a “public right to know.” This is an invention of (Who else?) the media themselves! Now, granted, official information services may not tell everything that the public thinks they want to know and sometimes they may not be completely truthful but the media is even worse, far worse, because members of the media quite often make up stories and represent it as truth. In fact, this is quite common. Journalists are employees, whether fulltime or freelance, and in order to earn a living, they must produce copy that editors want to publish. Newspapers, news magazines and TV “news” put out whatever their editors want to put out, as often as not in an attempt to sway public opinion and with little regard for the veracity of the content. Their stories are often false, although they represent them to be “truth” and may actually believe them to be. Much of “news” is the publishing of the opinions of members of the party not in power, and of so-called “activists” group, which are actually political action groups, nearly all of which are far left-wing. The media also publishes fake news fed to them by political campaigns and by the political parties themselves – and they publish fake news distributed by Federal agencies. For example, the Central Intelligence Agency feeds fake news to foreign news outlets in an attempt to influence elections and promote or discredit the party in power. The CIA is barred by law from domestic activities but they doesn’t mean they aren’t involved, as evidenced by the current “revelation” of information damaging to President Donald Trump by the previous CIA director. The CIA has a long history of illegal activities.

I first came to realize that journalism cannot be depended on in the spring of 1966 when I was a twenty-year old airman in the United States Air Force assigned to duty in Thailand flying nightly missions (actually every other night) over southern North Vietnam and Laos looking for truck and river traffic on the complex of roads, trails and rivers leading out of North Vietnam through Laos into South Vietnam that had come to be collectively known as “the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” Once we spotted something that looked like it might be traffic, our pilot initiated a complex series of communications to obtain clearance to direct air strikes against the targets. He radioed an airborne command post that orbited high overhead with a team of battlefield controllers on board. The airborne controller then contacted higher headquarters, who then went even further to obtain permission for air strikes against the targets. Over Laos, the contact went to the American embassy in Vientiane and from there to the local province chief. On missions over North Vietnam, permission had to come from the Military Assistance Command, Vietnam through a joint command center in Saigon. The purpose of this complex procedure was to minimize civilian casualties. By the time we received clearance to send fighters in to attack the targets, the trucks would have pulled into one of the fake villages the North Vietnamese had constructed along their infiltration routes and thus be impervious to air attack. That, however, was not what newspapers in the United States were reporting – we saw the articles – they were reporting that US airmen were conducting “unrestricted warfare” even though that was nowhere even close to the truth; it was, rather, an outright lie. Reporters, who lived and worked primarily in Saigon, and who attended daily news briefings, had no idea what American airmen were actually doing so they made up a story to tell, a story designed to embarrass the Johnson Administration and the military. Reporters knew that air attacks were only on specified targets but they wanted to tell a different story. In short, newspapers, particularly the New York Times, were lying to the American people about what was really taking place in Southeast Asia. They continued to lie until the United States withdrew from the war in Vietnam and continue to lie about it to this day. Very much of what has appeared in print about the Vietnam War over the past five decades came from journalists who made up their stories in the bar of the Caravelle Hotel in Saigon and never actually saw a military operation firsthand.

Members of the media claim they are impartial but in reality, American newspapers – and newspapers around the world for that matter – have NEVER been impartial. In fact, American newspapers were originally organized to represent a particular political viewpoint, whatever it might be. They can be traced back in the United States to the conflict between Thomas Jefferson and his Republican Democrats and Alexander Hamilton’s Federalists in the earliest days of our nation. Both sides used the press to produce pamphlets advocating their viewpoint. The pamphlets were then distributed by various means. Pamphleteering led to newspapers, which published under a name that often indicated their particular political viewpoint. Of course, modern news media’s main purpose is to make money for their owners but they also have a particular political agenda and are often associated with a political party – and always have been. For example, at one time there were newspapers all over the United States that had either “Democrat” or “Republican” in their names. Papers had – and still have – political agendas as do broadcast networks, both radio and television. This is also true of national news magazines, with some representing a more conservative viewpoint while others have adopted the “progressive” viewpoint. Since the 1930s and the complete control of government by the Roosevelt White House, the slant has been increasingly toward the “progressive” viewpoint, a viewpoint based on a decidedly European view of socialism and Marxism. This should come as no surprise since Marxism began spreading throughout the world in the mid-nineteenth century and had become firmly entrenched in political thought by the turn of the Twentieth Century. In order to give themselves legitimacy, such outlets began claiming a nonexistent status for themselves as “guardians of the public trust.” In fact, however, they are no such thing. They fancy themselves to be public opinion makers and, until the advent of electronic means of communication, they were.

The current conflict between the national media and President Donald Trump is due to his not being a politician, and not willing to play the political game. President Trump couldn’t care less what the media thinks of him. He knows that the so-called “mainstream” media was opposed to him as a candidate and that most journalists, editors and publishers were caught by surprise when he won the election. He knows that they based their opinions on polling methods that have become unreliable now that Americans have Caller ID and simply don’t answer calls when they don’t know who he is calling. He furthermore knows that certain media outlets, particularly the New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN are working hard to delegitimize his presidency. This should come as no surprise since the editor of the New York Times declared open war on Mr. Trump when he was a candidate and even went to the extent of offering payment for information obtained by illegal means. Nearly every large city newspaper in the country endorsed Hillary Clinton, often  claiming that Donald Trump was “unfit to be president” but without offering any solid reasoning for such a claim. (The Constitution establishes the qualifications for the presidency and they are very liberal, being only that the president must be 35 years of age or older and must be a “natural born citizen” of the United States. (The media and academics have caused considerable confusion regarding the meaning of the “natural born” phrase, which simply means that they are citizens by birth and require no action on the part of government to make them citizens.)

Cable news is as political as newspapers. CNN founder/owner Ted Turner is a lifelong Democrat who makes no secret of his political views. Turner supports Democrats and, like newspaper editors and owners of the past, has long been using his “cable news” network as a means of advancing the progressive political agenda. Australian-born media magnate Rupert Murdock, who is generally conservative, owns Fox. MSNBC is Far Left in its political viewpoint, representing the socialist view. All claim to be broadcast “news” but they mostly broadcast political opinion. Since Donald Trump was inaugurated, instead of letting media publish “news” that is not really news but is actually political opinion, the White House is pushing back and calling them out for what they put out. As President Trump recently stated, journalists don’t know what is actually happening in the White House or any branch of the government. They rely on unidentified sources who may or may not be telling the truth and who usually are grinding an ax. Good examples are the stories about Trump campaign officials “ties with Russia.”

There is an effort to equate the Federal Government of Russia with the former Soviet Union, which disbanded and ceased to exist almost thirty years ago. Media accounts frequently refer to the KGB, the Soviet Union’s counterpart to the American Central Intelligence Agency even though the KGB ceased to exist along with the Soviet Union. This is being done in an effort to cause Americans, who grew up in fear of a Soviet Union that was often equated with Russia since it was the largest member state, to believe that the Cold War has resumed or, more accurately, that it never ended. Media accounts refer to “ties” between Trump campaign officials and Russia, without acknowledging that Americans, particularly businessmen, have been involved with Russian nationals since the early 1990s when the collapse of the Soviet Union and the establishment of a new Russia opened up both dialogue and business opportunities between Americans and Russians. Large numbers of Russians immigrated to the United States and became involved in various businesses, including financial and communications. American oil companies – most of them – became involved in oil exploration in Russia, which, after all, is not only the largest nation in the world, is the richest in natural resources. Doing business with Russia has been quite common for three decades but you’d never know in to hear the media tell it – they represent having “ties” to Russia as some kind of Federal crime.

Ever since documents from the Democratic National Committee were leaked to the world by Julian Assange’s Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton supporters have been claiming they were leaked by “the Russians.” As soon as the leaks came out, the Clinton campaign claimed the DNC computer server had been “hacked” although no proof of such a claim has even been offered. They put out claims that there was “evidence” of hacks by actors “associated with Russian intelligence” which is actually a play on words because (1) evidence of hacks can only be assumed and (2) the word “associated” has multiple meanings. In fact, when the “intelligence community” put out a statement that the DNC was hacked by “the Russians”, the statement merely contained the same allegations put out by the Clinton campaign and offered no solid proof. They also stated that such evidence as they had came from “third party” sources. In short, the statement has the appearance of political propaganda, which is no surprise since the primary advocate was former CIA head John Brennan, an Obama political appointee and a critic of Donald Trump. (Brennan is also known to have strong ties to left-wing politics, and has admitted to voting for the Communist Party, USA candidate for president in an election in the 1970s.) As I write this, a major “news story” is that that are calls for a special prosecutor to “investigate ties to Russia by Trump campaign officials,” calls made by Democratic Party politicians and activists.

Regardless of the stories appearing in the various forms of media, just remember one thing – you can’t trust media, whether it’s newspapers, news magazines, cable “news” or major television “news” networks. They are all accomplished liars.

 

 

 

 

 

Red Blood of Patriots

Dong Ha Takeoff (2)

This morning as I was watching coverage of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, I was keeping track of Twitter. In his speech, President Trump spoke this line – “It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.” Immediately after he said it ,  Conservative, Inc. writer John Podhoretz, who has a reputation for arrogance, tweeted that traitors have red blood too, which is true enough but the way he said it really pissed me off. The president’s line reminded me of my own experience with red, American blood, although it was Podhoretz’ comment that caused me to dwell on it for some time. I know exactly what the blood of our armed forces, whether patriot or not, looks like after it has been spilled.

During the late Southeast Asian unpleasantness, I was an Air Force flight crewmember, a loadmaster assigned to squadrons that flew the now-famous, but not so much then, Lockheed C-130 Hercules. It was sometime in the spring of 1967. I was nearing the end of my tour. A year before, I was flying on missions over North Vietnam and Laos dropping flares for fighters to attack trucks bringing supplies south to the communists who were seeking to overthrow the government of South Vietnam. I had returned to routine transport flying, or hauling trash, as we were beginning to call it. Our flying really was routine – hauling troops and cargo, but mostly cargo, around South Vietnam and Thailand. We were physically based at Naha, Okinawa but we’d go TDY for sixteen days at a time to either Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam or Bangkok, Thailand to fly airlift missions. We called the stints “shuttles.” We’d take off early on our first day in country, then start later and later each day until we were flying mainly night missions, then we’d have a day off and start over again on the day missions. After two weeks, we’d go home for a few days then come back and do it all over again.

On this particular shuttle, I was flying with Captain Tom McQuaide, an experienced C-130 pilot who had come to our squadron from a Tactical Air Command C-130 squadron at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio. Some of our pilots had come from other commands and other aircraft types, and were restricted to airfields with runways at least 4,000 feet long because of several prop-reversal accidents involving the C-130As we were flying. Flying with them truly was routine but when flying with an experienced C-130 pilot like Captain McQuaide, we got into the short, unimproved airfields out in the boondocks where the war was. (We actually got shot at no matter what airfield we went to – one night after landing at Tan Son Nhut, the huge airport at Saigon, the air freight people who met us told me they’d watch us come in and that we’d been trailed by tracer bullets.)

We were a little over half-way through our two weeks of flying. We took off for our first sortie late in the afternoon and had then gone to night missions, which usually involved moving backlog cargo out of Cam Ranh to the major airfields around South Vietnam, particularly Qui Nhon. We went north to Da Nang for the last part of our mission and after dropping off our load, air freight brought out a stack of five empty pallets – we were required to always have five pallets on the airplane to insure a supply of pallets in the country – and were supposed to take off and fly south to Qui Nhon to pick up cargo for Cam Ranh. When we reached Cam Ranh, we’d be finished for the night. I had just finished chaining the empties to the ramp when a dispatch truck drove up to the back of the open ramp. The driver stuck his head out of the window and informed me that our mission had been changed – we were being diverted to a combat emergency air evacuation mission to Dong Ha. Combat emergency was the highest priority for airlift missions in Southeast Asia. My adrenaline started pumping just at the words.

I was well-acquainted with Dong Ha. I took the above picture there in the fall of 1965 when I was at a tiny island in the Philippines called Macton on temporary duty from Pope AFB, North Carolina. We took a hit that day, although we didn’t know it until we got back to Mactan. Miraculously, it was only one of two hits I took in more than 1,200 combat sorties although we got shot at on nearly every flight. I had flown air evac missions before, but not a CE. In fact, although air evac was one of our missions, we rarely flew them because Army and Marine helicopters usually flew wounded men to rear area hospitals. As the dispatcher was pulling away, a forklift came up to  remove the forklift. As soon as the pallets were removed, I went to the front of the airplane and got the emergency escape ladder and installed it just behind the wing – the ladder was part of the litter system. Then another truck pulled up and the air evac crew got out, a nurse and two enlisted medical technicians. The nurse was male – only male nurses were assigned to combat missions. They loaded their equipment on the airplane and got on.

The nurse, a lieutenant, told me that Dong Ha was under attack and that a Marine had been hit in the head. We were to pick him up and bring him back to Da Nang, hopefully in time for emergency surgery to save his life. Casualties were mounting and there were other wounded, some in litters and some walking, and we would be bringing them back as well because the field hospital at Dong Ha was running out of space. After engine start, I continued setting up litter stanchions and dropping the straps from the ceiling that served to secure one side of each litter. We continued rigging stanchions and dropping straps while we taxied out and took off. Each stanchion had steps that could be dropped down so someone could climb up and reach the straps – since it was my airplane, that someone was me. The medical crew and I also dropped the nylon seats on the sides to have them available for walking wounded.

The flight wasn’t that long, not more than twenty minutes at most. Dong Ha was about 50 miles northwest of Da Nang. It sat right on the Demilitarized Zone. On the other side was North Vietnam. When I went in there the first time in the fall of 1965, there was nothing much there but since then, the Marines had moved in and made it a major base. Navy Seabees had laid 2,900 feet of pierced-aluminum planking on the dirt runway, making it an “all-weather” runway. C-130s went in there every day, but not normally at night.  North Vietnamese troops probed the base nearly every night; it was considered too dangerous for routine missions at night.

The firefight was still going on right off the runway when we landed. The guys in the cockpit saw the green and red tracers flying back and forth. I didn’t see them. I was too busy in the back. I was so pumped up on adrenaline that I went outside and started opening the doors that covered the gas turbine compressor, the auxiliary power unit that provided power when the engines weren’t running with the #2 propeller still coasting down. As soon as I got the rear ramp opened, Navy ambulances began arriving with the wounded Marines. The number had increased drastically since we left Da Nang a half hour before. I don’t recall the exact number but there were around a dozen or so men in litters and around twice that many walking wounded. I remember noticing that none of the men were black. I noticed this because civil rights leaders in the US, particularly Martin Luther King, were claiming that blacks were being killed and wounded at rates far in excess of their numbers.

The men had received only minimal medical care and many were bloody and still bleeding. In addition to the Marine with the head wound for which we had initially been sent out, there was at least one other patient whose life was in danger. While the medical crew took care of the litter patients, I helped the walking wounded settle into their seats and fasten their seatbelts. Now, I had always thought I was squeamish; Vietnam proved that I’m not. The men were all bloody but they seemed lucid enough. Once all of the patients were loaded, we fired up the four engines. When the flight engineer switched power from one generator to another, there was a momentary power loss. A huge sigh of dismay went up from the patients. The loss was only momentary and the airplane was only dark for a couple of seconds. Captain McQuaide took off right over the firefight. He reckoned it was safer than taxiing to that end of the runway and then turning around, and exposing the airplane to AK-47 fire in the process. By taking off over them, we’d only be in range for a few seconds. As far as I know, we took no hits.

There wasn’t anything I could do once we were airborne but keep watch on everybody. The medics and the nurse were tending to the litter patients. They were cleaning their wounds and nipping away pieces of flesh, although I didn’t notice it at the time as they were in the back of the cargo compartment and I was sitting in the first seat aft of the entrance door at the front. The nurse was devoting his attention to the Marine with the head wound. He looked up then started walking toward me. I knew the Marine was dead. He told me to ask the navigator for our coordinates so he could put it in the death certificate. He told me not to say anything to the other wounded. He left the dead Marine’s head uncovered. I felt very deflated.

We continued to Da Nang. We taxied to the ramp and were met by a blue Air Force ambulance/bus. They are large busses that had been configured with litter stanchions in the back and seats in the front. More medical personnel were with them. I stood by the dead Marine while the medical crew offloaded the litters and the walking wounded filed by. The nurse had put me there to try to keep the other Marines from realizing he had died. It didn’t work. The other litter patients had been offloaded and the one litter remained in place. The walking wounded had to go right by it and they realized something was wrong.

The bus pulled away and the medical crew got their stuff and went with it, leaving me with the dead Marine. Because we were only a few minutes out when the copilot called and advised that we needed Graves Registration, it was some time before they arrived to take the body. The nurse had given me the paperwork recording the man’s death. I didn’t cover up his head. I looked at him and thought to myself, “What a waste.” I wondered about him. He had the rough face of a coal miner or a football player. I wondered if he might be from Pennsylvania. I didn’t have a clue how old he was. I was twenty-one myself. He could have been older or he could have been nineteen for all I knew. One of the officers, I think it was Capt. McQuaide, came back to where I was keeping watch over the dead Marine and kept me company until Graves Registration finally came out in their olive drab ambulance to pick up the body, or KIA as they are referred to in the military, or were before the military became “sensitive.” After they left, I went outside to keep watch on the engines during engine start then came back inside and closed the ramp. Once the engines were started, I went to work stowing the litter straps and moving the stanchions to their stowage at the front of the cargo compartment.

It was after I had put everything away that I realized that our airplane looked like an operating room after multiple surgeries. Normally, I would sweep the floor and put the dirt in the trash can that was part of every airplane’s extra equipment. We were on our way back to Cam Ranh empty as we had already exceeded our crew duty day. I called Captain McQuaide on the intercom and told him we were going to need a firetruck. I’d never called for one before but had heard of others doing it. The floor was covered with blood but there were also pieces of flesh where the nurse had snipped them off of the wounds. The only way to clean it up was to wash it out.

By the time we landed at Cam Ranh, the sun was up. There was no firetruck but there was a water truck waiting for us. We pulled into our parking spot and shut down the engines. The maintenance dispatcher’s truck pulled up and the airplane’s crew chief got out. He bounded up the steps and took one look at his airplane, then turned around with his hand over his mouth and ran back down the steps, then started retching. The water truck driver took one look then handed me the hose and left. The officers and flight engineer had all left. It was just me, a water hose and a bloody, gory airplane. I started washing. The water mixed with the blood and turned red.

I grew up in West Tennessee about 75 miles from Shiloh Battlefield where one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War was fought. I’d been there once on a field trip when I was in elementary school. One of the features on the park is a pond called The Bloody Pond. According to local tradition, the waters of the pond turned red with the blood of the wounded soldiers, Confederate and Federal, who went there to drink and wash their wounds. As I washed the blood and gore out of the airplane that was now being returned to its crew chief, the bloody water reminded me of that pond.

Now, I don’t know if those young Marines considered themselves to be patriots or not. Seriously, I doubt that they did. Patriotism was not something young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines talked about in those days. I’m sure they were volunteers, at least most probably were. Draftees only went into the Army as a rule, although the Marine Corps had started accepting them due to the lack of volunteers in a country where the youth were becoming violently “anti-war” and pro-Viet Cong. Nevertheless, we were serving our country, no matter our motivations – and we all bled red.

What upset me about Podhoretz’ Tweet is that he’s never seen anyone shed blood for their country and never will. He, along with the rest of the Conservative, Inc. crowd are good at using the word processor as a weapon but none of them will ever hear a shot fired in anger. They’re all talk. As for “traitors,” a traitor is a patriot to the country he or she supports. We all bleed red.

Treason? Nope!

18 U.S. Code § 2381 – Treason

Current through Pub. L. 114-38. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

§ 2381.
Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

18 U.S. Code § 953 – Private correspondence with foreign governments

Current through Pub. L. 114-38. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

§ 953.
Private correspondence with foreign governments

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

This section shall not abridge the right of a citizen to apply, himself or his agent, to any foreign government or the agents thereof for redress of any injury which he may have sustained from such government or any of its agents or subjects.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 744; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(K), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)
In November 1968 I voted for the first time. Actually, I didn’t vote on November 5, I had already voted by absentee ballot, along with most other US military personnel. At age 22 – I turned 23 just before the election – 1968 was the first election I could vote in. As a legal Tennessee resident, that it is where I voted although I was physically at Warner Robins, Georgia at the time. I was on my second enlistment in the US Air Force, having reenlisted in Vietnam the previous year. I’d been back in the United States for a little over a year and already had orders back to the Pacific, orders that I knew would put me back in combat again. In order to vote, I had to send a request for an absentee ballot through our squadron voting officer to my Tennessee county’s election commission. The ballot went to my squadron, and I was notified it was there. I went to the squadron and saw the officer, who opened a safe and took out the ballot and gave it to me to mark. After I had marked my choices, I handed it back. He sealed it and put it in the mail.

Recently, political author John A. Ferrell wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times (obviously, to publicize his upcoming book on President Richard Nixon) in which he claimed he had “proof” that Richard Nixon tried to sabotage the 1968 election. He points as “proof” to notes written by Nixon associate and later Nixon Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman in which he briefly mentions noted Chinese newspaper woman and widow of Lt. General Claire Chennault that he found in an archive. Ferrell and Nixon critics immediately seized on the notes as definite proof that Nixon used Mrs. Chennault as a go-between to sabotage President Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to establish peace talks between South Vietnam and North Vietnam.  There is no doubt that Mrs. Chennault had a close relationship with the South Vietnamese government. Although she is alleged to have become an American citizen in 1950, she was Chinese by birth and an active supporter of the Nationalist Chinese government of Chaing Ki Shek. A virulent anti-communist, as had been her husband, she was active with the Republican party. However, that doesn’t mean that the very brief notes Ferrell found prove that she was acting on Richard Nixon’s behalf. If anything, they indicate that he knew she was in contact with Saigon and had been there numerous times. Since Haldeman and Nixon are both dead, there’s no way to know what the notes meant. That they are “proof” of Nixon’s “treason” is (erroneous) conjecture.

 Democrats and Nixon-haters like to claim that South Vietnam’s refusal to participate in peace talks cost Hubert Humphreys the election. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. It is a myth that American voters wait until the last minute to decide who they are going to vote for. In fact, the vast majority of Americans know who they’re going to vote for as soon as the candidates are announced. The idea that people wait to the last minute to decide is a sham. Johnson announced that a halt of all offensive actions against North Vietnam on October 31, less than a week before the election. If it had any effect on the election at all, it was negative. I was an Air Force flight crewmember and had flown missions over North Vietnam as well as Laos. The general consensus among the officers and non-commissioned officers I flew with was that it was a mistake. As Johnson’s talk of impending peace talks, we paid little attention.

Was Anna Chennault’s relationship with the South Vietnamese treason? The answer is unequivocally NO! The definition of treason, shown above, is very narrow. It consists solely of waging war against the United States or providing aid and comfort within the United States and elsewhere. Anna Chennault was not supporting the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese communist Viet Cong in any way. In fact, she was vehemently opposed to them. Did her actions violate the Logan Act?  At first glance, it appears she might have but a closer reading of the 1799 act shows that there must be with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States. Mrs. Chennault’s relationship with the South Vietnamese president and South Vietnam’s ambassador to the United States was purely to convey political information. There were no disputes or controversies with the United States involved. Incidentally, since the Logan Act was adopted by Congress in 1799, there has been only one person indicted and the subject, a Kentucky farmer who had written an article in the Frankfort, KY paper advocating a separate nation in the western part of what was then the United States to ally with France. He was never prosecuted.
There are parallels between Anna Chennault’s contacts with South Vietnam and the allegations of President Donald Trump’s relations with Russia, although the first is factual and the second is unfounded. There are allegations of violation of the Logan Act by President Trump’s security advisor, Lt. General Mike Flynn in that he had conversations with the Russian ambassador without White House clearance. A number of Democrats, including left-wing journalist and White House Press Secretary for LBJ Bill Moyers, are calling for a senate investigation of allegations against President Trump and using Anna Chennault’s activities as a basis for such an action. However, in both instances, Democrats are grasping at straws to explain why Hubert Humphrey in 1968 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 lost the election.
Commentators often like to call the 1968 election “close.” In fact, it wasn’t. Nixon won by a 110 vote margin. Alabama Governor George Wallace, running for the American Independent Party, captured 46 votes and was the preferred candidate among young men, (based on exit polling.) In short, Nixon was the preferred candidate as the 1972 election proved when he received 520 votes, as opposed to his opponent’s 17. Similarly, Donald Trump won the 2016 election by a wide margin, winning 77 more votes than Clinton and winning 30 states as opposed to her 20 and the District of Columbia. Nixon and Trump didn’t win because of “dirty politics,” they won because they were popular and had large followings nationwide. I voted for both of them.
Canadian/British/American Conrad Black’s take on it.

DEFINITELY Political!

The “Intelligence Community Report” has been released and, as I expected, it doesn’t say anything. The IC claims that (1) Russian President Vladimir Putin  ordered a campaign to influence the US election, (2) that Russian intelligence services conducted cyberespionage against US political establishments and (3) that they used certain outlets – the Russian English language TV channel and RT.com, DCLeaks.com, Guccifer 2.0 and WikiLeaks –  to disseminate the information. Yet they only offer supposition with no actual evidence to back up their claims. Of course, they insinuate that such evidence is classified.

Let me mention a few things. First, I am an Air Force veteran and held Secret and Top Secret clearances. I was required to read classified documents and attended classified intelligence briefings. I am also a published author and was cleared by the Air Force to access classified documents while doing research. I was advised that documents are classified for three reasons – (1) to protect national security matters (2) to protect relations between the US and foreign governments and (3) to protect reputations, meaning the reputations of high placed government officials and military officers. Classified documents are routinely declassified after a specified period of time. For instance, Air Force unit records are classified for thirty years but some documents have been classified for as much as half a century and perhaps longer. An example is the intelligence report of the interrogation of the senior Japanese officers responsible for the defense of Kyushu, the Japanese island where the Allies planned to land in the initial invasion of Japan. This report was classified for a half century for one reason – to protect the reputation of President Harry Truman, who ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The claim that Putin personally ordered a campaign to affect the US election is very sketchy, although the report claims that the three intelligence agencies involved, the FBI, CIA, and National Security Agency agree “with high confidence.” They also claim that Putin and the Russian government “aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.” However, while the FBI and CIA claimed “high confidence” in this claim, the NSA’s confidence is “moderate.” That the NSA’s position is essentially “maybe” is significant because it is the agency that actually collects electronic data.

The report uses the term “to denigrate Secretary Cinton” and “discredit Secretary Clinton” numerous times, which indicates that the report was political. Bear in mind that this report was requested by President Barrack Obama AFTER Donald Trump was elected. This is an indication that he intended it for political purposes, specifically to foster discontent among Clinton supporters and to undermine President Trump’s administration.

The “Intelligence Community” is actually of recent origin. It came into existence in 1981 by executive order of President Ronald Reagan, who sought to increase the access of the CIA to classified information. The role of the IC was increased in 2004 by President George W. Bush. Bush’s order established the new Director of National Intelligence to oversee ALL intelligence agencies of the US government, both civilian and military.  The office was initially proposed by Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein, Jay Rockefeller and Bob Graham. The position was formalized by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The DNI is a political appointee, as is the Director of the CIA and the Director of the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) although the latter is an active duty military officer.

Although the report states that there’s no evidence of actual Russian tampering in the election, such as hacking voting machines, it states that the Russians were influential in disseminating information to “denigrate” and “discredit” Secretary Clinton. Never mind that the DNC leaks revealed information about how the committee operated rather than anything about Clinton, other than that the DNC favored Clinton over Bernie Sanders as the candidate. They claim that the Russians disseminated information through RT, a Russian television and internet network. However, the information put out by RT was no different than that circulated by conservative web sites and news outlets. I would consider the claims made in the report as disinformation, meaning that it is not really information at all.

I rate the report as nothing but political bullshit.

 

“Intelligence” or Supposition?

I’ve not posted anything in awhile because so much has been going on I’ve not decided which to talk about. Now that the so-called “intelligence community” is making waves about “The Russians” and Julian Assange is saying essentially that they’re full of shit, I’ve decided to talk about government intelligence. I’ll preface this by stating that in 12 years in the Air Force I had a few intelligence briefings and did some things that weren’t talked about.

Let me start this off by saying that the term “seventeen intelligence agencies” used by Hillary Clinton in her claim that these agencies had determined the information published on WikiLeaks came from “the Russians” is a misnomer. There are actually only two intelligence agencies, the CIA and the DIA, but there are fifteen organizations that have intelligence-collecting arms that report to the Director of Intelligence in some form or fashion. These organizations use the term “intelligence” but their role is actually the gathering of information from other countries by spying. In short, the “intelligence community” is a euphemism for America’s spies. Take a look at the list at the link above to see who they are and, to some extent, what they do.

Intelligence is collected in a number of ways. Some are sophisticated electronic intelligence gathering methods using airborne, seaborne and ground stations to record radio communications and other means of electronics communications of foreign governments. Others are as simple as eavesdropping on conversations in hotel bars or reading newspapers. The CIA uses foreign intelligence sources including paid informants who may be anything from a janitor in a foreign government building to high-placed government officials who are passing on their government’s secrets to US agents, for an often sizeable fee. Such information may or may not be accurate.

The problem is that the “intelligence community,” meaning Director of Intelligence James Clapper, a retired USAF general and Barack Obama, claim that the Emails published several months ago by Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks were hacked and leaked by “the Russians.” Assange says the information did not come from the Russians, which has caused a big uproar in Washington. Craig Murray, a British politician and former diplomat, has said he picked up the document in Washington, DC and turned them over to Assange. (Assange, who has promised never to reveal sources, has said Murray doesn’t speak for WikiLeaks.) Clapper’s claim seems to be based on information provided by CrowdStrike, a private cybersecurity firm employed by the Democratic National Committee.

Now, “intelligence” is one thing, but drawing the correct conclusion is another. Each of the intelligence organizations employs large number of “analysts” whose job is to look at the information that has been gleaned from various sources and come up with some kind of report. Sometimes they get it right, but more often they don’t. One of the biggest intelligence failures in history was the Allied forces in Europe’s failure to detect the massive German attacks in Belgium that led to the “Battle of the Bulge.” General George Patton’s G-2 correctly reported that the Germans were building up their forces in the Ardennes but Eisenhower’s own G-2 ignored the report. Intelligence failed to predict the North Korean attacks on South Korea in 1950, intelligence failed to predict North Vietnamese attacks on South Vietnam in 1972, intelligence failed to predict the fall of the Soviet Union and intelligence claimed Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” when, in fact, all such weapons had been destroyed. In short, the intelligence community has been wrong about some of the most important events in recent history. If they’ve been wrong about so much, why believe them now?

What bothers me most about the current claims is that “the Russians” were blamed for the alleged hacks on the Democratic National Committee Email system as soon as they were released by WikiLeaks by the Clinton Campaign, then the White House backed her up. Those Emails contain devastating information that showed that certain DNC officials were manipulating the Democratic primaries to give Clinton an advantage over Bernie Sanders. The information was so devastating that DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was immediately fired. “The Russians” claim timing is very suspicious. A few days after the WikiLeaks revelation, a DNC employee named Seth Rich was mysteriously murdered. The murder has never been solved and some believe his death is connected to the leaks. Julian Assange hinted that Rich was one of his informants, and took the unprecedented step of offering a sizeable reward for information leading to the conviction of Rich’s killer.

There is something else that needs to be realized. Right after the CIA was established, the Agency initiated Project MOCKINGBIRD, a campaign to influence American public opinion. When the project was originally established, the goal was to promote opinion against communism. However, since then the CIA and other intelligence agencies have become more leftist in outlook. For example, current CIA director John Brennan is known to have voted for a Communist Party USA presidential candidate and to have voiced far left opinions.  Can he be trusted?

So, regardless of what the “intelligence community” claims about Russia and the election, just remember that no intelligence is conclusive and the US intelligence community, once called The Cult of Intelligence, can’t be trusted.

 

What “Blank Check”?

Ubon

There’s a missive going around about how a “veteran” is someone who “gave a blank check” to America. While this may sound good, it’s simply not true. The fact is, young men who serve in the military are not “offering” anything, they are fulfilling a military obligation established by Federal  regulation. Title 10 defines the militia as “all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States.”  This has been the definition of the militia ever since the United States became a nation. (the Code has recently been modified to include female members of the National Guard.) Until 1973, when conscription ended due to a number of legal rulings, particularly one in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, ALL young American men were subject to eight years of military service, which could be served in various ways ranging from two years of active service followed by six years in the reserves to four to six years of active service followed by reserve service. It was the policy in force when I graduated from high school in 1963 and was faced with the choice of how I was going to fulfil my military commitment. After considerable deliberation, I decided to enlist in the US Air Force.

If I had any thoughts of patriotism or somehow servicing my fellow Americans, they were so far in the back of my mind I never thought of them. I had a number of reasons for choosing the Air Force – my dad was in the Air Corps during the war and my uncle was an Air Force pilot, I liked airplanes and wanted to fly – but I enlisted like most other young men because I was obligated by law to do so unless I wanted to wait and take my chances with the military draft. Since I was unmarried – although they were classified as 1A, married men were lower on the list of potential draftees – I only had three options, enlist, enroll in college and receive a deferment or wait to be drafted. I thought about college – and was accepted at both the University of Tennessee and Memphis State (but didn’t know how I’d pay for it) – but decided to enlist and attend college later. (I also had the option of taking college classes in my off duty hours but my duties precluded it.)

Those who have never served in the military – and some who have – seem to think that those who go into it are somehow making a sacrifice. While this may be true of older men who had established themselves in some kind of job, it’s not true of most military enlistees. (Yes, there is the potential for making the ultimate sacrifice but only a tiny fraction of those who serve die in the line of duty. I’m referring to somehow sacrificing something to go into the service in the first place.) It is true that military service may mean separation from family but there are numerous civilian professions in which men must work in remote areas far from their families. Granted, it’s their choice but since 1973 and the end of conscription, military service is also a choice. As for compensation, although my initial pay as a recruit was only $83.20 a month, that was $83.20 more a month than I was making as a high school student. I was also provided a place to lay my head and three meals a day, as well as free medical care had I needed it. By the time I left the Air Force 12 years later, my total compensation as an E 6 on flying status with a wife and daughter was equal to or better than that of most American men my age. In fact, when I left the service, I took a substantial cut in pay and it took several years before I was back to the level I was when I left military life. I also gave up lifetime retirement pay of half of my military salary and free medical care for life had I elected to remain another eight years. I recently compared my compensation at the time I left the service in 1975 with that of a young man or woman with the same amount of service doing the same job as me and found that their total pay was as much as I was making when I took early retirement from a major corporation in 2000 – and I was in a white collar job!

Yes, I got to play in the Great Southeast Asian Games but there was no sacrifice involved for me or anyone else. Even those who died who came in as draftee or had yet to complete their military obligation were doing their duty as citizens. Career men and women who were there were there by choice. They could have left the service at the end of their enlistment or when they had filled the obligation they had for specialized training such as military pilot training. Not to mention that we were compensated for our service, which raises another point. Besides, it was an adventure and I didn’t have to pay a nickel for it. (I was paid!)

There was one campaign issue used by Donald Trump with which I was not in tune, the claim that veterans are “not being cared for.” This is patently untrue. If a man or woman suffers injury or disease while they are on active military service that leaves them disabled, they not only entitled to medical care at government expense, they are also entitled  to compensation of varying amounts, depending on the level of disability. (Military retirees can now receive BOTH their military retirement and disability compensation.) That young men and women who suffer injury in one of our recent and current military adventures are left to fend for themselves is simply untrue. In fact, all military veterans are theoretically eligible for medical treatment in the VA system, but there is a priority system with those with service-connected disabilities in the highest priorities. (I know – I am 60% disabled.) The cases that so often receive major coverage in the media are veterans who are in low priority, many of whom have no service-connected disability and are unable to prove their claims. The truth is that the majority of veterans don’t need VA treatment because (1) they are healthy and (2) they have insurance coverage through their employers. (Retirees have their own health care program.) I myself only started using the VA for medical treatment when my service-connected disability began causing problems requiring medical care. Before that, I used civilian medical facilities and my former employer-sponsored insurance coverage.

Just where this “blank check” idea came from, I don’t know. I suspect it came from one of the veteran’s organizations but if so, there doesn’t seem to be any indication of it. Regardless, the slogan is not true. Those of us who served in the military did not “give” the United States of America anything. In fact, by serving we were paying the debt that all American men incur the instant they are born, or in the case of immigrants, the moment they become a citizen. There is a blank check all right but it’s the one we’re all given, and I mean ALL, by citizenship in a free country.