Essay:Wherein you ask me about intelligence, international politics and the war on terror

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For 5 years of my life, I was a jackbooted thug of Uncle Sam's murder squad, the United States Army. Owing to my ear for language, I quickly rose from a position as an Army linguist to an intelligence officer.

Many of the things I learned on this job, I couldn't tell you, both because I respect my former co-workers and because I have no desire to end up face down in a ditch or in Gitmo with electrodes attached to my nipples.

Fire away, comrades. I will try to answer all your questions, but remember I know little of how the CIA (who I never worked for) or any foreign intelligence agencies operate. Going to go ahead and bump this again.

Question 1[edit]

Is it true that Thabo Mbeki is a CIA stooge and his whole "quiet diplomacy" on Zimbabwe was a secret ploy to bring Zim to its knees, thus alowing the US to sneak in an snap up its mineral (and tobacco) wealth? How did they react to the fact that China got there first? Also, was Mbeki's AIDS denialism part of a secret eugenics project aimed at reducing over-population in the third world? --Ψ GremlinSermā! 08:39, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

The ANC have been stooges since Mandela's release from prison. They sold their souls for power. That said, if anyone wanted their hands on Zimbabwe, it would be the British. As far as Mbeki's AIDS denialism, there may well have been something going on there, but it's hard to find any real motive besides idiocy, so I'll go with that. I'm not really an expert on this particular situation, however.UncleHo (talk)
Is it the case that prior to the end of the cold war the ANC were give indirect support from the Soviet Union as well? Or was that just BS from South Africa to try and scare the West into propping them up? (I always tended to think both were true, that they were given support, but that SA over-hyped it to get Western support) --TheEgyptiansig001.png 12:53, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Certainly, the "Red Menace" propaganda put about by the Nationalist govt was overblown, but equally certainly many Umkhonto cadres received military training either directly in Russia, or the Warsaw Pact countries, or from communist advisers in countries such as Tanzania. It was also the tail end of the Cold War, so it was a strange situation of Russia & allies indirectly supporting the liberation struggle in SA, along with direct support for the regimes surrounding the country, and the US backing forces such as UNITA, which was - with the SADF - fighting SWAPO, the Cubans and Angolan forces in Angola/SWA. That's why you ended up with the situation of Mandela being on a terrorist list in the US - because MK/ANC were commie backed, they had to be the bad guys. As much as the US wanted apartheid to end, they didn't want a commie regime taking over - especially when all our mineral wealth is taken into account. --Ψ GremlinFale! 13:11, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
America didn't really want Apartheid to end. At least, Reagan didn't.UncleHo (talk) 22:31, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Question #35[edit]

Where did I leave my keys? C®ackeЯ 10:26, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

  • You'll find them in the last place you look. --Ψ GremlinSermā! 10:31, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Question #94[edit]

Where do babies come from? Webbtje (talk) 10:35, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Storks deliver them to the doorstep of a couple about 9 months after they marry as a gift from baby jeebus. --TheEgyptiansig001.png 01:25, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Your whore mother. Fortunately, I have the wisdom of 1000 Julian Assanges, so I double bag that shit for my own protection.UncleHo (talk) 07:33, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Question 2[edit]

Is five years not an extremely short timeframe in which to rise from enlisted grunt to intelligence officer? Basic grunt training must be about six months, then at least as long as well for basic officer training, plus a good couple of years to train for the intelligence officer role. Doesn't seem to leave much time for grunting of intelligence officering? DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 13:24, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

I spent 2 years total as a linguist. Then I transferred to a 97E and had somewhat abridged training as I had already been trained in the most important languages (Arabic and Persian) and I was able to score high enough on the DLAB to skip some classes. I spent about a year and a half deployed. Not as long as some, but long enough to get sent to Iraq.UncleHo (talk) 23:17, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Question 3[edit]

Why did you leave after only five years? Surely after gaining a commission and a specialist role, you'd have stuck it for the long term? Did they not beg you to stay? DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 13:24, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Firstly, I was seriously wounded by an IED, and secondly I was totally disgusted with the military and wouldn't have gone back in for anything.UncleHo (talk) 23:18, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Question 4[edit]

Why would someone who left as a specialist officer be working as a lineman now? DeltaStarSenior SysopSpeciationspeed! 13:24, 9 December 2010 (UTC)

Because the CIA and FBI are thugs, and the private intelligence groups are even worse. I could have found employment elsewhere in intelligence, but I didn't want to.UncleHo (talk) 23:19, 10 December 2010 (UTC)

Question 5[edit]

Is military intelligence genuinely as paranoid about Iran as the government itself claims to be, or is it just public posturing? If they really are that paranoid, is it justified, in your view? --TheEgyptiansig001.png 01:28, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

We had bigger fish to fry (Iraq) during most of my tenure, but the general consensus among people in the know is that the Saudis are the real assholes. Iran has the potential to be dangerous, but they haven't shown themselves to be aggressive, whereas the Saudis have basically skull fucked Islam and spread extremism throughout the world. I think the Iranians are a proud people who want to continue to stand against the West and the Saudis, but it would take some provocation (Which Israel REALLY wants to provide) to drive them over the edge. My analysis on Iran is about the same as North Korea. Leave them alone and they will eventually self-destruct. There are two real threats in the middle east, Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Saudis are more covert, funding extremists and pushing fundamentalist Islam, where the Israelis are a nuclear armed schizophrenic juggernaught with a hair trigger and a big time persecution complex. If asked, I would say it will be Israel who starts WW3. UncleHo (talk) 02:48, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
That's really interesting, as it's mostly what I tended to conclude was the situation, though I have always assumed that within Saudi Arabia there is a quiet schism between the government, who saw there best interests as being served by an alliance with the west as an ultimate guarantee against being deposed by fundamentalists, but at the time trying to buy off those same Islamists in the hope they go and bother someone else, i.e. basically doing much the same thing as Pakistan. Would you agree with that view, or do you think the fundamentalists and the government in Saudi Arabia are actually one and the same (or singing from the same hymn sheet), and that it is the West that is being led on a merry dance?
Also, in your opinion, is the rhetoric amongst Isreali politicians regarding her neighbours just rhetoric, or is it actually regarded by them (and the intelligence community) as serious strategic aspirations/options? Specifically I was thinking of:
* Egypt: Bombing of the Aswan dam, and/or re-occupation of Sinai.
* Palestine/Jordan: Forced expulsion of Palestinians into Jordan.
* Palestine: Tacit support or deliberately avoiding destruction of Hamas to undermine the PA
* Iran: Bombing Iranian nuclear/military facilities "unilaterally" (genuinely or with silent US/Saudi support)
If they are regarded as real possibilities, what, in the opinions of mil-intelligence, would the best option for the west be? And lastly, does the intelligence community actually have any faith in their government to act on dispassionate intelligence advice/conclusions, or do they feel that their finding are ignored due to issues such as corruption, special interests, ideological concerns? Thanks for taking the time with this, it is really interesting to get the view from an individual directly involved on the "other side". --TheEgyptiansig001.png 12:49, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
The Saudi royals are very much in bed with Sunni extremists. There is actually a somewhat fragile alliance between the Saudi monarchy and the clerical class, all of whom are hard line Wahhabi extremists. The house of Saud doesn't really give a shit about what the clerics preach (Being rich playboys themselves), but they see it as the only way to maintain power. They toss cash to the clerics and let them keep the people in line while they snort more coke off the asses of imported Russian hookers. Any funding or training of international jihads which goes on with that money is ignored.
When it comes to Israel, the most terrifying thing is that they're not bluffing. Their overt actions are scary enough, but if you knew the shit the Mossad does behind closed doors, you'd be VERY afraid of Israel.
* Egypt: Bombing of the Aswan dam, and/or re-occupation of Sinai. Off the table for now. Israel and Egypt are sort of working together and with the combination of international pressure and Egypt having the capacity to re-ignite the Palestinian insurgency, I don't see it happening.
* Palestine/Jordan: Forced expulsion of Palestinians into Jordan. It's already happened, and you may well see more of it soon. Although it's hard to tell if it will be so much "forced explusion" as "fleeing for their lives"
* Palestine: Tacit support or deliberately avoiding destruction of Hamas to undermine the PA. Israel has been playing this game for a long time. They support the Palestinian faction that is losing against the one that is winning to undermine the stability of the country. They have, at various times, supported both Hamas and Fatah, always making sure to support them when they are on a downturn. This gives them a nice, stable enemy and keeps anyone from working towards that worrying peaceful resolution thing.
* Iran: Bombing Iranian nuclear/military facilities "unilaterally" (genuinely or with silent US/Saudi support) This is a possibility you may see towards the end of Obama's term. With the left totally disillusioned and the right still in Muslim marxist manchurian candidate loony mode, a war is just what Barry needs, so the attacks could be greenlighted. By the way, Israel does everything with silent US support.
The best position for the west is to invent a time machine, travel back to about 1800 and punch every single British MP in the face. Failing that, all we can do is damage control every time Israel forgets to take it's meds. Also,the government spins things the way they want, they will listen to or ignore us as is politically expedient.UncleHo (talk) 19:10, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
What is your view on the extremely lenient attitude of the US in particular towards Israel? I am woefully ignorant on such affairs. Word cubic Hoover! 20:13, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Lobbyist money talks.UncleHo (talk) 20:44, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Pretty much. I remember one career soldier, occasionally worked for DIA, ranting about "considering the Book of Genesis a title deed." I don't mind keeping friends on both sides of that one, so I mostly smile and nod. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 21:14, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Some secret secrets[edit]

What were the most shocking, damning, or otherwise interesting things you learned whenever? ~ Lumenos (talk) 12:59, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

The qassam rockets fired at Israel during the 2008 ceasefire? Yeah, that was a false flag operation by the Israelis.UncleHo (talk) 20:57, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Is the same true of the Hizbollah rocket launches in 2006? I've personally believed Hizbollah to have been an actual real opponent of Israel for the most part, acting as a de-facto Iranian vassal that Lebanon and Israel jointly wished to destroy, but couldn't for political reasons (i.e. Lebanon because of fear of Shia retaliation, and Israel due to the need to justify military actions in the north) Kind of on the right track, or way off in the long grass, in your view? --TheEgyptiansig001.png 23:22, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
I don't think it was a false flag. The rockets were just a diversion to capture some IDF soldiers, which Hezbollah wanted to swap for their people. Hezbollah apparently forgot the Israelis are utterly nuts and will overreact at the slightest provocation, but it ended up working out for them anyway, as they gave the mighty IDF a bloody nose.UncleHo (talk) 23:56, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Question 7 from a European[edit]

How separate are the various arms of the American intelligence community and how many are there?

What is the difference between them and how do their objectives differ?

Assuming that their objectives/responsibilities overlap in some cases, how are these resolved--BobSpring is sprung! 16:02, 12 December 2010 (UTC)?

The major US intelligence agencies are the CIA (civilian intelligence), NSA (cryptography and signals intelligence), and DIA (military intelligence) There are also branch-specific MI units, who are overseen by the DIA.
The CIA, being a civilian group, isn't bound by any military law or regulation. This gives them a lot more flexibility in operations. Although the majority of their personnel are either diplomats or office jockeys, the CIA is the one who will do the James Bond shit, if anyone. However, if a CIA agent is captured, they can expect to have the shit tortured out of them, as they have zero protection under international law.
The NSA are the nerds of the intelligence community. They create codes, break codes and listen in as suspected dissidents fuck their girlfriends.
The DIA is military, and is therefore bound by lots of rules and regulations. MI is mostly about finding the enemy so the military can kill them, although the role has expanded somewhat. DIA is sort of a more gentile CIA, and the military laws cut both ways. Military intelligence is protected by international law, and is therefore expected to give the same courtesy to others.
I could go more in depth about how these agencies clash and overlap, but I will just say that they all absolutely despise each other and turn into counter-productive jealous dickheads the second any sort of teamwork is suggested. Any conflicts are generally resolved with slap fights and screaming "NUH UH" until everyone is put into timeout.UncleHo (talk) 19:32, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. But if the CIA are mostly either diplomats or office jockeys won't they have diplomatic immunity? Or did you use the term loosely?--BobSpring is sprung! 19:49, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Diplomats have diplomatic immunity, spies posing as diplomats do not. The second you commit an act of espionage as a civilian, you can toss any protection you might have had out the windowUncleHo (talk) 20:38, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Are you sure about this? I thought they could only expel you. Isn't diplomatic immunity total?--BobSpring is sprung! 21:35, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Depends on what you did. If it was garden variety snooping, you'll be detained and eventually either swapped for another spy, or just released when the heat dies off. More serious stuff will lead to prison time, or worse.UncleHo (talk) 22:13, 12 December 2010 (UTC)
Still not convinced. I seem to recall that policewoman Yvonne Fletcher was shot by a Libyan diplomat from inside his embassy and that he was later spirited back to Libya as he had diplomatic immunity. If diplomatic immunity can get you off shooting an on-duty police officer it would seem to be pretty comprehensive! --BobSpring is sprung! 12:29, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Different ballgame. Murder falls in the civilian realm of things, were acts of espionage are acts of war.UncleHo (talk) 18:14, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

But if diplomatic immunity can get you off shooting policemen it can presumably get you off a bit of espionage. And is espionage an "act of war"? And if it is shouldn't the response in that case be against the state and not the individual?--BobSpring is sprung! 20:06, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Holding one or more of your personnel (Usually without charge or legal recourse) is a response against both the state and the individual. It is akin to capturing enemy soldiers. While simply executing the spy is generally frowned upon in the west, detaining them until they can be bartered off is the general practice. See: Anna Chapman. What happened to her happens quite frequently, it's just not big news because hot women are the best damn spies around and rarely get caught.UncleHo (talk) 22:25, 13 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but there is a legal difference between spies and diplomats - although they may get up to the same sort of activities. Can you give me one example of a diplomat with diplomatic immunity being prosecuted and sent to jail for spying?--BobSpring is sprung! 13:19, 16 December 2010 (UTC)
The thing I think you're missing here is that these "diplomats" are not really diplomats. They are spies posing as diplomats. The facade itself does offer some protection, but if caught, you are legally considered to be a spy, and entitled to none of the diplomatic protections.UncleHo (talk) 03:04, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
In respect of either diplomats or "diplomats" with diplomatic immunity - can you give me a single example of a diplomat being sent to prison for spying?--BobSpring is sprung! 09:47, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
Yes. Keep in mind that these stories don't always hit the news, either.UncleHo (talk) 18:07, 17 December 2010 (UTC)
No she was an person who happened to be diplomat who was arrested by her own country for selling secrets to the enemy. Pretty obviously the question of diplomatic immunity doesn't arise. I'm asking you for a single example of a diplomat not being saved by diplomatic immunity when found spying in a foreign country.--BobSpring is sprung! 20:13, 17 December 2010 (UTC)


In your view, how much actual professionalism is there within each of the services? Is anyone of them truly the best at what they do, or are they just another over-worked under-paid mostly ignored government department run on a shoestring? Do any of them command respect within government, outside of the intelligence community (since they seem to regard each other with mutual contempt)? --TheEgyptiansig001.png 23:28, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

It's hard to say any intelligence service is the best for certain. American intelligence tends to be pretty good, which isn't surprising, as America is a wealthy superpower which spends a ton on defense. There is usually respect from politicians, but that respect doesn't always translate following our advice.UncleHo (talk) 00:16, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Question 11: Who are these people?[edit]

What is the religious makeup of your outfit in the military? Was there a difference between that of the officers and the rank and file? I'm horrified by the proposition that there is a goodly contingent in the American military that espouses some scary ideas. Did you encounter exceptionalism, theonomy, dominionism, rapturianism, or whatever you call fundie Zionism concocted to encourage the Jews to build another temple so we can have that rapture right fucking now? Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svgUser:Nutty Roux/sigtalk 01:16, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Religious makeup was mostly your standard not that observant Protestants, a jew, 3 or 4 Catholics and a few fundies. We did HUMINT, so we had to be good liars. If you thought pretending to be a fundamentalist, atheist, Zoroastrian, or professional wrestling enthusiast would help you get information, you did it. Due to my brown skin, I could get away with telling people I was either Turkish or Lebanese if I thought it would help. What you personally believe is one thing, but if you let your religion effect how you do your job, you won't last long in intelligence.UncleHo (talk) 18:27, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Question 12: When the innocent die[edit]

I read the section on the talk page about How a terrorist is born and want to ask: Was there a proper investigation into this incident? The reason I ask is that when a westerner is killed by US forces, such as Linda Norgrove it makes the news and military blowhards and politicians alike make noises about investigations and "justice." I imagine that when a non-westerner is killed, it gets shrugged off as a "hey, that's war for ya" attitude. Bondurant (talk) 13:40, 30 December 2010 (UTC)

There MIGHT be an investigation, depending on how much your COs like you. We were explicitly told that we were to make judgements based off how things appeared to us at the time. That means if we thought the old lady sweeping her porch was holding an AK, we'd be free and clear.UncleHo (talk) 06:41, 6 January 2011 (UTC)