Archive for June, 2013


Thursday, June 20th, 2013

Earthmasters, The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering, Clive Hamilton, 2013

The title of this book is intended ironically. We are masters of the Earth only in the sense that we have the power to destroy all life forms on Earth but lack the will or the knowledge to prevent that destruction. was named for the number of parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists believe to be the tipping point beyond which catastrophic climate changes are inevitable. We are currently at 395 parts per million and climbing with predictions of 700 or even 1100 by the end of this century. In other words, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere must be reduced, not merely stabilized to avoid the inevitable catastrophe. Hamilton summarizes:

It took the Earth millions of years to immobilize a large portion of the planet’s carbon in fossilized form deep underground. When we extract and burn it we mobilize the carbon and there is no place on Earth where, over human timescales, we can safely sequester it again. We know we cannot leave it in the atmosphere, Carbon stored in vegetation and soils is always on the brink of release through fire or human disturbance. The oceans are in constant flux, with even the deepest layers naturally coming to the surface sooner or later. Heavily promoted plans for carbon capture and storage, in which carbon dioxide extracted from the smoke-stacks of coal fired power plants is pumped in geological repositories underground, looks increasingly risky and expensive. I hope we have learned enough by now to be wary of any technology that claims to have found a way to immobilize for centuries huge quantities of carbon somewhere in the Earth system where it does not belong. Even if such a place could be found there is something deeply perverse in the demand that we construct an immense industrial infrastructure in order to deal with the carbon emissions from another immense infrastructure, when we could stop burning fossil fuels.

When you are already in a hole, stop digging. That would be too sensible.

Pinatubo The Scream

Hamilton discusses a group of climate engineering suggestions intended to regulate sunlight including making clouds whiter or generating more or fewer clouds in various parts of the world. The main focus of research, however, seems to have been on studying the effects of the historic volcanic eruptions of Laki in 1783 (effects studied by Ben Franklin), 1816 (the largest in recent history and resulting in famines), Krakatoa in 1883 and Pinatubo in 1991. All resulted in significant cooling of the global climate. Hamilton, tongue in cheek, notes that Krakatoa inspired “Frankenstein“, Lord Bryon’s poem Darkness, and Edward Munch’s painting “The Scream“.

The climate engineering idea is to somehow put sulphate aerosol particles into the stratosphere which is between 10 and 50 kilometers in altitiude. The engineering problem is getting the quantity of particulars required up there. One estimate has thousands of special planes making a million flights per year to produce the equivalent effect of the 1991 Pinatubo eruption. The big problem for researchers is that it is difficult to learn much from small scale experimentation and full scale deployment will undoubtedly have unforeseen consequences. Scientists agree that it would cool the Earth. Some believe more limited deployment over the arctic could reverse the melting of the ice and cool the Earth sufficiently. There is major concern that the sulphates would further damage the ozone layer, delaying its recovery for decades and increasing the ozone holes. The effects on patterns of rainfall and monsoons is unknown but likely large.

Then there is the problem that once started it would be impossible to stop the program regardless of the political or economic climate. Stopping it in the future would lead to instant warming without giving life on Earth any time at all to adapt. The catastrophe would be immediate and worse than if the program had not been started in the first place. This plan would affect everyone on Earth but the decision to go ahead could be made by a single nation or even a single very wealthy individual. Billions of people would be put at risk without having any say in the program.

China and India live within a constant brown haze from industrial emissions pollution that cause more than a million deaths a year. The US and Europe have put emissions controls in place to greatly reduce the pollution and China and India want to do the same. The problem is that reducing the haze results in increased warming so you trade improved health for accelerated climate change. There is little doubt that both countries will implement their emissions controls programs.

Caldeira liming the oceans
Keith let’s buy an ice age

Research in geoengineering is controlled by a small, incestuous group where two scientists, Ken Caldeira and David Keith, are so dominant they have been labeled the “geoclique“. Bill Gates is the biggest backer, but funds are also provided by N Murray Edwards, a Canadian oil billionaire with an enormous stake in the oil sands. Hamilton likens this to cancer research being funded by big tobacco. Keith plans to “test” sulphate aerosol spraying in New Mexico. Caldeira is conducting small scale tests of liming the oceans. Hamilton is worried that the backers, which include Richard Branson, are engaged in magical thinking, looking for the sexy “killer application“. They view existing technologies for wind and solar energy, insulation, and other energy reduction methods as boring and old fashioned, definitely not sexy.

Gates Branson Magical Thinkers

The geoclique has its origins, not surprisingly, at Lawrence Livermore Labs, home of nuclear Armageddon. The Dr. Strangeloves of geoengineering suggest we simply move the Earth a little further from the Sun perhaps by detonating a huge nuclear blast to steer a large asteroid close to the Earth. Hope they don’t miscalculate!

Arctic Oil

BP, Shell, and Exxon are all investing in geoengineering. Hamilton notes that the melting of arctic ice has made previously protected reserves of oil that were under the ice now accessible. The arctic oil gold rush is on so don’t expect an arctic sulphate aerosol shield anytime soon.

Big oil seem to favor experiments to get the ocean to absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by stimulating the growth of carbon eating lifeforms by fertilizing the oceans with iron or liming. The oceans are very complicated and the effects of major deployment are unknown. Major deployment would require massive industrial infrastructures and would divert chemicals needed to grow food. Phosphorous, in particular, is a scarce resource that should be preserved for food growing. Simply outlawing the killing of whales could have a big effect on the ability of the oceans to absorb carbon but the chances of passing such laws are negligible. Big oil is also supporting very small scale experiments in algae and other plants as “carbon neutral” sources of energy. This is safe for big oil since land, fertilizer, and water are not available for growing the plants on a meaningful large scale.

Hamilton notes the bizarre and illogical willingness of climate change deniers to embrace geoengineering technofixes to a problem they deny even exits:

..if planning to take control of the Earth’s climate system forever – using highly speculative technologies and risks – is needed to appease those whose prejudices prevent them from accepting scientific fact, then that is what we must do…We know we are in trouble when liberals who say they accept the science begin advocating geoengineering as a means of appeasing conservatives who reject the science.

This new coalition, in the name of doing something politically, is likely to embrace grand system changing interventions like stratospheric sulphate aerosols rather than more modest efforts like reforestation, biochar, or painting roofs white, and to favor US unilateral implementation of those grand schemes.

More humble scientist Ron Prinn asks: “How can you engineer a system you don’t understand?” Overconfident geoengineers say we just need to decide where to set the thermostat.

The Earth’s decision makers lost an entire decade waiting for the miracle of Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) in which carbon was to be extracted from the smoke chimneys of coal fired plants and permanently stored somewhere. The oxymoron “clean coal” CCS was never technically or economically feasible. We are now well into the second decade of waiting for the magic solution that won’t require changes to the existing social and political power structures or our life styles.

Paul Crutzen

This time, the magic solution seems to be stratospheric sulfate aerosols made public for the first time in a 2006 “intervention” by Dutch scientist Paul Crutzen with his essay “Albedo (Reflection) enhancement by stratospheric sulfur injections: A contribution to resolve a policy dilemma?” Crutzen strongly believes that we must also find ways to reduce carbon emissions as well as ways to remove carbon from the atmosphere, but not all sulfate aerosol advocates share this conviction. Many seriously believe we can carry on as usual to burn fossil fuels, compensating for the resulting climate changes with sulfate aerosols or ocean cloud whitening. This is just what those that control big oil and coal want to hear. Little attention is given to “side effects” like damage to the ozone layer and changes to weather patterns affecting monsoons and inducing droughts.

Lonnie Thompson stores a million year history of Earth’s Climate gathered from the highest places on the planet

A previous post Thin Ice discusses the three cycles of Earth orbit and wobble which, in the past, have determined patterns of Earth temperatures with long ice ages followed by short warm ages. The last 10,000 years, during which time agriculture and human civilizations have risen, has been named the “Holocene”. In 2000, Crutzen and another scientist declared a new age, the “Anthropocene”, the age induced by human activity.

With the Anhropocene, humans have become a geological force, so that the two kinds of history have merged…Our future has become entangled with that of the Earth’s geological evolution. Anthropogenic climate change affects not just the atmosphere but the chemical composition of the oceans (acidification), the biosphere (species extinctions and shifting habitats), the cryosphere (melting ice masses), and the lithosphere itself.

Yet how can we think our way out of the problem when the problem is the way we think? There is something increasingly desperate about placing more faith in technological cleverness when it is the unrelenting desire to command the natural world that has brought us to this point.

The magnitude of this climate change is emphasized when we realize the already released carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels will suppress the entire next ice age. Brace yourselves for the geoengineering era. Geoengineers are “Earthmasters” like Wall Street denizens are “Masters of the Universe“. Maybe they can hold a competition to see who can do the most damage.

Edward Snowden, Targeted Assassinations, and cell phone privacy

Friday, June 14th, 2013

How private is your cellphone? How anyone can trace your location from your cellphone

Edward Snowden in the Guardian

This post is a reaction to the recent proof that Verizon (and presumably all other cellular operators) are providing the US government (NSA and private contractors like Booz Allen) with all your phone call metadata which, in the case of cell phones which almost everyone uses, include location information.

Osama bin Laden Courier Abu Ahmed al Kuwaiti found after cell phone call.

The targeted killing program has located and killed many of its targets because they made or received calls on their cell phones, including Osama bin Laden whose courier’s vehicle was identified and followed to the Abbottabad compound because of a cell phone call made by Kuwaiti as shown in a scene from the movie Zero Dark Thirty.

The book Digital Disconnect pointed out that smartphones should be called trackers because they allow the government and private corporations to track your movements.

Searches on the internet make it abundantly clear that the tracking capabilities of cell phones and the ability of governments and private companies to access this information is broadly misunderstood.

The author of this post is a retired engineer with more than ten years working with digital cellular networks and the technology that is now known as WIFI. Any errors in this information is his own.

All cell phone operators are able to trace the approximate location of the cell phone based on the cell that is currently being used during the call. Individual cell phones can be “heard” by more than one cell during use allowing cell phone operators to use the relative signal strengths (the number of bars on your phone) at each cell to calculate your actual real time location using triangulation. Because radio signals are affected by terrain, buildings, and other obstructions, using the cell phone signal strength to determine location is only an approximation. This approximation is usually good enough when the cell phone user is looking for a gas station or a restaurant or a landmark near his location. Smartphones target their searches based on location information.


Smartphones usually include GPS satellite receivers in their devices to enable the cell phone operator to know your exact location. The GPS is so accurate it can determine your location to within a few feet and if you are moving can determine your direction and speed with enough precision that the information could be used to accurately target a missile. The first basis of misunderstanding of the technology is that GPS signals are receive only. The location information from the GPS satellite must still be transmitted to a third party via ground wireless transmission and this requires a smartphone transmission to a central information collector using cellular frequencies or WIFI.

Smartphones have introduced a second independent communication technology, WIFI capability. Now your phone can be transmitting your location via the cell phone network or via WIFI. Since the range for WIFI transmissions is very limited, your WIFI location is within a few hundred yards of the WIFI node. So if your location is determined by the cell phone network, you can be located within a mile or so, if your location is determined by the WIFI node, your location can be known to within a few hundred yards, if your location is determined by GPS, you can be targeted to within a few feet.

If you don’t want your location monitored by third parties what can you do? If you want to use your phone to receive or send phone calls or use WIFI there is nothing you can do short of changing the law and enforcing that law. Sorry.

Can you “turn your phone off” as many web sites suggest? Short of removing the battery, no you can’t. When your screen goes dark, the phone has entered a battery saving standby mode where an incoming call can instantly wake the phone up. Is your phone transmitting location information while it “sleeps”? We don’t know but probably not as this would drain your battery, but the cell phone operator still retains the technical ability to get your location from a sleeping phone without alerting you should they wish to do so.

If you are also connected to a WIFI node things become even more complicated and a definitive answer probably depends on the phone provider software and on the applications that the provider or you have loaded into your phone. Generally, when the phone goes to sleep, WIFI is inoperable, but it is technically possible for a WIFI transmission to wake a sleeping phone without alerting the user. The technical problem is that a sleeping phone can be woken remotely. It depends on secret technical information unavailable to the user. As to downloaded applications anything goes. The Way of the Knife includes a story about Michael Furlong an overweight long time government and military contractor. He ran an operation where spyware was hidden in a cell phone game with information gathered and stored in an illegal database in the Czech Republic. You have no way to know what is hidden secretly inside the software the cell phone provider or you load to your cell phones.

Removing the SIM card may not prevent location transmission because of the emergency call requirements of cell phones in some countries including the US. Wikipedia reports that some US smartphones can make 911 calls without a SIM card. An inactive SIM card will not prevent you from making a 911 call on any cell phone but removing the card may or may not disable transmission. It depends on the phone model.

The assassination books noted that targeted terrorists routinely remove the SIM cards from their phones and use multiple SIM cards and multiple cell phones to avoid tracking, but the manufacturers and operators know this and could easily create phones that transmit location information without SIM cards if they wanted to. One would guess the US government is pressuring manufacturers to include this capability in all new cell phones. If a SIM card has been removed, the transmitted metadata would still include the unique identifier of the cell phone. Cell phones known to have been used by people on the US government’s targeted kill list have not only the phone numbers (associated with the SIM card) but the unique identifying numbers of the physical phones themselves. When one of the targeted cell phones is used, the information, including the location of the phone, is instantly available to the government assassination teams. Many assassinations have resulted from a phone call.

So the best bet at the moment to avoid transmission of tracking information in the US is to do two things:

1) Current Airline FAA regulations absolutely prohibit passengers from transmitting radio signals, specifically cell phone transmissions while flying. Consequently, most cell phones, including smart phones have an “airplane mode” which disables your cell phone transmission. Your cell phone will still allow the camera, music player, GPS and other features to function. So if you want to disappear from tracking monitors, just turn on your phone’s airplane mode.

2) If your phone has built in WIFI, you will need to turn it off to avoid location tracking. Strangely, the airlines are pressuring the FAA to allow the use of WIFI aboard their flights and this seems to be the new trend so turning on airplane mode still leaves WIFI functioning. How the FAA justifies allowing you to use WIFI but not cell phone transmission is one of those mysteries that have almost nothing to do with technology and may be carryovers from the distant past where old cell phone frequencies might interfere with aircraft communications. I doubt interference is possible today if it ever was a problem. Still airplane mode is one of the few remaining options if you want to use your cell phones for some functions while blocking cell phone transmission.

For a general discussion of metadata, the Guardian, which broke the Edward Snowden FISA authorization story posted this What is metadata guide. A recent blog post lists the information currently available and probably collected by the government and its contractors as NSA metadata.

Moyers and Lessig

For a great discussion of Snowden, Privacy, and Congressional corruption which prevents fixing our problems see Bill Moyers’ Big Brother’s Prying Eyes which aired on June 14, 2013.

Lawrence Lessig and Bill explore how we can protect our privacy when Big Government and Big Business morph into Big Brother.

Rise of the President as Assassin

Friday, June 14th, 2013

The Way of the Knife, The CIA, A Secret Army, and a War at the ends of the Earth, Mark Mazzeti, 2013

Dirty Wars, the World is a Battlefield, Jeremy Scahill, 2013

Or How the ChickenHawks Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld institutionalized Presidential Assassinations

The political term Chickenhawk is defined in Wikipedia as:

Chickenhawk (also chicken hawk and chicken-hawk) is a political term used in the United States to describe a person who strongly supports war or other military action (i.e., a War Hawk), yet who actively avoided military service when of age.

The term indicates that the person in question is hypocritical for personally dodging a draft or otherwise shirking their duty to their country during a time of armed conflict while advocating that others do so. Generally, the implication is that chickenhawks lack the moral character to ask others to support, fight and perhaps die in an armed conflict. Those who avoid military service and continue to oppose armed aggression are not chickenhawks.

Chickenhawks 1980 and 2000

These two books explore how Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld , hereinafter referred to as CR, transformed the elite special forces (Navy Seals, Delta Forces, and Army Rangers) into the ultra secretive JSOC command, reporting directly to the President with a worldwide license to kill. CR largely insulated W from their decisions under the guise of denyability.

Prior to CR under W, these special forces were primarily famous for two disastrous actions, the aborted 1980 attempt to rescue the Iran hostages under Carter and the even more disastrous 1993 Black Hawk Down incident in Mogadishu Somalia under Clinton. The only group with a more disastrous history than the special forces was the CIA who Congress outlawed from initiating assassinations after the revelations of the Frank Church hearings in 1975. For more on CIA incompetence see Secrets in an Open Society.

A more minor enabling player in these books is the FBI with their proclivities to entrap innocent victims in their notorious sting operations. Two US citizen victims of drone assassinations were driven by previous FBI sting operations, Imam Anwar Awlaki was killed in September 2011 and Buffalo citizen Ahmed Hijazi (Kamal Derwish) was killed in November 2002 along with the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole attack, Abu Ali al Harithi. Awlaki was arrested twice in San Diego when FBI prostitute undercover agents approached him unsolicited. Hijazi was accused of being one of the Buffalo NY “Lackawanna Six” after his assassination. The FBI stings were instrumental in encouraging both men to leave their US homes for Yemen where they were assassinated. For more on FBI methods see Paranoid Ideologues.

The central theme of both books is how American policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and elsewhere has actually led to an increase in American insecurity and how policy makers refused to see how their policies were counterproductive. In each case, America either invaded directly to destroy an existing regime, or had proxies (Christian Ethiopians invading Islamic Somalia) destroy the existing regime or undermined the regimes by totally disregarding the country’s sovereignty (Yemen and Pakistan). America always chose the wrong people to form new regimes and these US backed regimes always led to an increased presence of enemies of the US in the countries. For example, al Shabab, a Taliban like group in Somalia, has gone from a nonentity to a major force controlling more and more of Somalia. Unless American soldiers stay in Afghanistan, the Taliban will likely retake control of the country. Our good ally Pakistan likely welcomes this outcome. This universally disastrous foreign policy has cost hundreds of thousands of innocent lives and trillions of US taxpayer dollars. Enemies of the US have multiplied many fold. Yet none of these enemies pose an existential threat to the US, unlike the Soviet Union during the cold war. The disastrous policy of “war on terror” and “the world is a battlefield” is designed to continue forever.

Stanley McChrystal with Obama

CR authorized a secret JSOC facility camp in Iraq, NAMA under McChrystal, where JSOC personnel both captured and “interrogated” prisoners. NAMA was far worse than Abu Ghraib yet Americans were never told about it and its abuses. Tortured prisoners will say whatever the torturers want to hear, in this case WMD and al Queda. That the confessions were untrue didn’t matter to true ideologues CR. When a major insurgency erupted, CR kept insisting it was just a few “dead enders” from the Hussein Baathist era. De-Baathification had created hundreds of thousands of unemployed, trained soldiers, with unlimited weapons. There were plenty of groups willing to exploit these soldiers for their own purposes. A Jordanian terrorist claiming to be associated with al Queda, and working in Iraq, Zarqawi, started chopping off heads, giving CR “evidence” that Hussein had harbored terrorists. The evidence was that Zarqawi had traveled to Iraq for medical treatment once prior to the American invasion. Hussein probably never heard of Zarqawi.

Obama and Brennen Terror Tuesdays

Obama, upon taking office and to everyone’s surprise, kept W’s security team of Petraeus, McChrystal, McRaven, Gates, and Brennen. Early in Obama’s administration, Somali pirates mistakenly boarded an American flagship. They quickly realized their mistake and attempted to escape, taking the captain hostage. A battleship was ordered to the scene. Obama was informed that the planet’s best snipers (the JSOC ninjas) were only 45 minutes away from the battleship. Obama ordered them to the scene and when they reported they had clear shots at the pirates, Obama gave the order to kill. Three shots, three dead Somali pirates. Obama loved it and invited the ninjas involved (members of Navy Seal Team 6) to the White House. Thus was born the era of Obama as assassin in Chief.

Who snatched Leon Panetta’s Body?

Obama had appointed trusted ally Leon Panetta to head the CIA and under Obama the JSOC and CIA were to form a closer working relationship in their “targeted killing” program. This program has been expanded from the W era and has been largely successful in assassinating people on the kill lists although with countless innocent victims. Obama and Panetta announced the closing of the black sites (secret prisons), the end of torture interrogations, and the end of renditions, and then secretly continued all three.

The books recount discussions about the best way to kill a target, with an M16 or a drone strike. The drone strike is seen as more antiseptic but more difficult to confirm the kill. Occasionally, CIA operatives have been sent to strike sites to collect DNA samples and other evidence, but the strikes make such a mess that identification is difficult. Maybe the Ninjas should bring back the head after a kill. The reader is reminded of scenes from the movie “GoodFellas” and discussions among its psychotic characters. Kill or capture? If you capture you need a prison and you are expected to interrogate. Do you hold indefinitely or are you forced to try the “detainee“? Better to just kill the target and be done with it.

Obama condemns US citizen to death without due process >
Anwar’s 16 year old son Abdulrahman also killed by US drone

In the case of Anwar Awlaki, the intelligence community seems to have concluded that his speeches and blogs were protected free speech and they never got evidence, despite Obama’s false statements, that Awlaki was associated with al Queda or ever assisted any terrorist. This conclusion also included analysis of emails between Awlaki and Nidal Hasan the American soldier that killed 13 at Fort Hood Texas. Awlaki posted a blog after the killings supporting Hasan’s actions which may have been the breaking point for Obama. Awlaki was killed simply to silence him. Nothing more. two weeks later a US drone strike “accidentally” killed Awlaki’s son Abdulrahman. Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs comment: “Well I would suggest that he should have a more responsible father.” Unbelievable.

Petraeus sells Obama on Afghan “surge”

When McChrystal was put in charge of the Afghanistan “surge” other military commanders expected the worst and got it. McChrystal reproduced his Iraq operation on steroids. JSOC operators multiplied, black ops prisons like NAMA were created, and targeted killings skyrocketed. Like Iraq, there were virtually no al Queda operating inside Afghanistan. The targets this time were mid level Taliban but the ninjas couldn’t even tell the tribes apart, so the killing of innocents and allies multiplied. Hatred of Americans and sympathy if not support for the Taliban increased. One mistaken raid killed Daoud, an American trained regional head of intelligence, and members of his family. Realizing their mistake, the JSOC team refused to call medical assistance and starting digging their bullets out of the victims body while some were still alive. They died. The team was only able to recover only 17 of the 21 rounds fired in the raid. A dogged British journalist, Jerome Starkey, exposed the coverup and witnessed a scene where a fatigue wearing soldier with the name tag McRaven enacts a ritualistic sheep sacrifice in front of the family by way of apology. Starkey didn’t even know who McRaven was at the time. Another example of foreign policy gone terribly wrong.

Raymond Davis contractor with license to kill

Secret Wars is organized chronologically, jumping from Iraq to Afghanistan to Yemen to Somalia with Awlaki’s story threaded throughout. Toward the end, we finally get to Pakistan where things get really strange. Remember that the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI worked closely through the 1980’s to support the Afghan Mujahedin (see Ghost Wars) in their fight against the Soviet occupation and that Pakistan is a nuclear power. In January 2011 American Raymond Davis killed two Pakistanis at a busy intersection in Lahore. Davis’ rented Honda Civic was carrying enough arsenal to hold off a small army in addition to GPS, satellite communications, night vision equipment, multiple ids and cell phones, ATM cards, makeup and disguises and other trade craft. He would have made James Bond envious. The killed Pakistanis were ISI operatives who were following Davis and he shot them both through the windshield as only a trained assassin would have been able to do. He was in possession of sensitive photos of secret Pakistani military facilities including nuclear storage facilities. His cell phones showed he had made calls to both Tehrik-e-Taliban and Lahkar-e-Jhangvi Pakistani terror groups. Who was Davis working for? Was it the CIA, JSOC or someone we haven’t heard of? People at his obvious level of experience have level after level of cover stor. He was released after admission that he worked for the CIA but the reality is probably deeper. What was he doing at the secret military sites? It seems that the US government has secret plans to secure (i.e. steal) Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in the event of a coup or other instability inside Pakistan. How wild is that? Why was he calling Pakistani terror groups?

Davis called for backup, calmly photographed the two Pakistani’s he killed, and fled the scene in his Honda. A backup Land Cruiser with false license plates rushed to assist Davis but ran over a motorcycle killing its driver. The Land Cruiser fled but Davis’ Honda was stopped by police two miles from the murders. ISI sent special forces to guard his prison cell and prevent a JSOC style rescue. Had Davis been put with the general prison population he would probably have had his throat slit. The backup team returned to the CIA-JSOC safe house, destroyed all their documents and equipment, and fled to the US Consulate where they were evacuated from the country before Pakistani officials could question them. They have not been identified.

The CIA had followed a courier to Osama bin Laden’s safe house five months prior to the Davis incident and were awaiting confirmation that Osama was there and assassination plans were readied when the Davis incident happened. The US needed to get Davis out of Pakistan before they could initiate the assassination of bin Laden. Thus the negotiations with Pakistan and the ISI took on an urgency it would not have otherwise had. Then the wife of one of the ISI murder victims committed suicide leaving a video statement blaming the US. Davis’s handlers apparently hid his true job from the white house and state department leading both to make embarrassing and false claims about Davis’s job. Afraid that Davis might start talking and needing to proceed with bin Laden’s assassination, top US military officials including Admiral Mullen and Petraeus met in Oman with their Pakistani counterparts in the military and ISI to hash out a solution. A very unusual Sharia court proceeding presented the families of the victims with $2.3 million and Davis was whisked out of the country on a CIA rendition plane.

William McRaven Mr. Cool

Six weeks later Osama bin Laden was assassinated in Abbottabad Pakistan. For bin Laden’s murder, the JSOC ninjas under CIA direction shot and killed bin Laden, brought the entire body to a ship, and buried it at sea. It was not deemed necessary to share confirmation with the American people. Before the mission the team discussed not shooting bin Laden in the head since the reason for sending a team on a dangerous mission 150 miles inside sovereign Pakistan to a house a mile away from a military academy was to confirm the kill.

Matt Bissonnette Seal Team 6 Member

The first team member to encounter a tall man in the house shot him three times in the head. The next team member shot the body multiple times in the chest. Matt Bissonnette’s job was to collect DNA samples (they had DNA from bin Laden’s sister) and when he cleaned off the face he was surprised how young the man was and that his beard was completely black. Bissonnette had surely seen every photo and video of bin Laden in existence yet he didn’t recognize the man in person. Bissonnette remembers thinking at the time that the American people don’t need to see this (the messed up face and head). Even if this is the reason photos were not released there is no security reason why the DNA test results should not have released to the public. Guns were found in the house but none were loaded. Anyone there could have been captured without a fight but the mission was assassination. Four men and one woman were killed in the raid. Others, including children, were injured. Immediately after the raid Brennan said that the team had been in a firefight (false) and that bin Laden had used women as a shield (false). The Obama administration said just trust us then lied about so many aspects of the mission that Bissonnette felt compelled to write his own account No Easy Day. He would not have been privy to the DNA test results. We should trust them that the DNA test results were a match?

Michael Furlong Michele Ballarin

The Way of the Knife includes a couple of characters (for comic relief?). Michael Furlong was an overweight long time government and military person who spoke in fast government-military speak that seemed to bedazzle whoever he met. He ran an operation where spyware was hidden in a cell phone game with information gathered and stored in an illegal database in the Czech Republic. Furlong showed up in Prague during sensitive negotiations over deploying a US missile defense system in the Czech Republic and US government officials had him thrown out the the country.
Michele Ballarin was a wealthy West Virginia Republican socialite who raised Lippizaner horses. She somehow inserted herself into Somali pirate ransom negotiations and pirates on one seized ship raised a sign asking specifically for her. She proposed setting up a food program for refugees in Somalia where she would collect intelligence about everyone who came to get aid that she could feed to US intelligence. The program was not approved.

Blackwater’s Eric Prince appears in both books with activities no less bizarre but certainly not comic. Prince is drawn to unsavory characters around the world like a magnet. He outfitted his own small ship with an incredible arsenal, helicopter, and small speed boats, and offered to escort ships through the Somali pirate area of operations for $200,000 a trip. This was his sanest venture. He lives in Abu Dhabi to be close to the action and avoid taxes.