Quora questrion: Do you think that Putin actually has warheads capable of causing a tsunami?

May 20, 2018

My response to the Quora question:

Vladimir Putin’s boasts of a doomsday weapon are reminiscent of Leonid Brezhnev’s tactics of brinkmanship during the early days of the Cold War.[1] At that time the former Soviet state had showed off its long-range GR-1 Global Missile during a parade, prompting the United States to spend billions of dollars on an anti-missile defense system. As it turned out, that particular Soviet missile program had been abandoned long before the parade was held.[2]

Sergey Yaroslavtsev, a respondent to your question, has reminded us of studies dating back to World War II on the possibility of inducing a tsunami through detonation of a nuclear bomb. This possibility was made more distinct with the Soviets’ creation of their Tsar Bomb, a 57 megaton thermonuclear device first detonated on October 30, 1961, over the Mityushikha Bay Nuclear Testing Range in the northern Arctic Circle.[3]

There has long been an iniquitous method to Russia’s empire-building. Putin’s strategic madness is to bluff, to sow fear in his enemies, causing them to overreact as Brezhnev did with the U.S. in 1965. He further seeks to exploit the rifts in this country’s psyche with the aim that the ensuing paranoia will force the U.S. to capitulate to terms favorable to Russia.[4]

Destruction from natural phenomena exacerbated by man-made forces is a long-held fear. Putin is simply exploiting this fear to his—and Russia’s—own best interests.

[1] Tony Garcia’s answer to Why do most reputable experts dismiss the claim that Putin has such superior nuclear technology? Will Putin provide the evidence, before the elections?
[2] Tony Garcia’s answer to With Russia’s new missile developments, is the US truly defenseless against incoming modern Russian missiles?
[3] Tsar Bomba
[4] Tony Garcia’s answer to Re: Trump-Russia: Do you think we are witnessing overreach or is Russia still acting rationally? Destabilizing a nuclear-armed hyperpower is a very dangerous game to be playing.


Quora question: Nikola Tesla talked about aliens and UFOs and even designed a craft on paper. Are they real and if so, why all the denials today?

May 17, 2018

My response to the Quora question:

This is an example of a loaded question. It veers into speculation, then reveals a particularly narrow bent on phenomena that are, at times, unrelated.

Military programs have always been shrouded in secrecy as countries seek to gain a strategic edge on one’s adversaries (and often one’s allies). Revealing one’s technological capabilities exposes the limits of one’s knowledge—and this information can prove vital should armed conflict arise.

Understanding this, one can see why a government would delve into exopolitics as a means to divert attention from these “black” programs.

Heavily fortified military bases, intimidation of witnesses of unexplained aircraft, “leaks” of classified documents relating to the UFO phenomena, strong denials of captured alien spacecraft, rumors of detention or cooperation with aliens beings, rigorous and curiously public procedures to cordon off areas where crashes have occurred—these all fuel speculation that the government is hiding something from the public. Indeed they are; but what is being hidden is more likely of a terrestrial nature.

This does not mean that a belief in extraterrestrial intelligent life is not being considered and pursued. Many within the scientific community have postulated on the existence of life in the universe, just as many lay people have done. The existence of unidentified aerial objects though is only proof that there are as-yet-to-be-explained phenomena. To leap to a conclusion that they are of extraterrestrial origin is not a leap of faith but a steadfast refusal to examine other possible explanations.

Government propagandists bank on the general public’s limited understanding of science; it allows ufologists to self-flagellate in their insistence of a cover-up while making it easier to dissuade serious inquiry into a baffling subject.

I believe that current scientific research into the UFO phenomena is grounded in anthropomorphism. Those characteristics that define human beings do not necessarily have to define intelligent life in the universe. Were we to move off this pedestal, we might find answers to UFOs and other unexplained phenomena that are far stranger and more revealing than any exopolitician can dream.

Quora question: Does President Trump’s diplomatic policy make America’s allies incapable of trusting the US?

May 16, 2018

My response to the Quora question:

The goal of diplomacy is to not only protect a nation’s self-interests but to forge symbioses with other countries, thus linking countries under economic globalization and aligning with them as a bulwark against one’s common enemies. It is, to quote British scholar and diplomat Sir Ernest Satow, “the application of intelligence and tact to the conduct of official relations between the governments of independent states, extending sometimes also to their relations with vassal states.”[1]

Current diplomatic efforts under President Trump fly in the face of such sane reasoning. The European Union has sought to resolve international crises through negotiation and cooperation with both member and non-member states. The United States undermines these endeavors by refusing to work under existing frameworks, such as the Iran Nuclear Deal.

This is not a bipolar world; the U.S. and Russia are no longer the preeminent actors based upon their nuclear superiority. Regional conflicts threaten world stability by incorporating the former Cold War adversaries into proxy wars. It is through negotiation that peaceful solutions are obtained. Where obstinance prevails, pressure in the form of sanctions has proven an effective deterrent.

President Trump has opted to eschew this course in favor of capriciousness, aligning the EU against the U.S. Trump’s illusory foreign policy has cast the United States in the villainous role of Iago to the European Union’s Othello. Iago’s cunning, however, was the product of a deeply intelligent mind.

[1] Asia-Pacific Diplomacy: Nongovernmental Organizations and International Relations, by Lawrence T. Woods, UBC Press (University of British Columbia), 1993.

Quora question: If Oswald wasn’t Kennedy’s assassin, why did he leave the Texas School Book Depository shortly after the assassination without letting anyone know?

May 16, 2018

My response to the Quora question (originally answered on Dec. 10, 2016):

You are under the mistaken impression that no one other than Lee Harvey Oswald left the Texas School Book Depository at the time of President Kennedy’s assassination. The following persons who also worked at TSBD left the building without notifying building supervisor Roy Truly:

  • Danny Arce, 18, left at 1:00 pm, accompanied by the police, to go to City Hall.
  • Carolyn Arnold, 20, left at 12:25 pm and did not return.
  • Virgie Rachley, 18, left at 11:45 am and returned at 12:40 pm but was denied entry.
  • Jack Carson, 56, president of TSBD, left at 12:10 pm and did not return.
  • Betty Drago, 27, left at 12:20 pm but found the door locked when she returned. She stayed outside TSBD until 2:30 pm before going home.
  • Buell Wesley Frazier, 19, famously gave Oswald a lift to work that day. He left TSBD between 1:00 and 2:00 pm, about the same time Truly claims he made his roll call.
  • Charles Givens, 38, returned to TSBD after the shooting but was refused entry by a Dallas policeman. An APB was put out for him, and he was later interviewed at City Hall by Captain Will Fritz. Truly was aware of Given’s absence, having seen him prior to the assassination. Truly also saw Oswald prior to his encounter with him in the second-floor lunchroom. Using that logic, Oswald should have been exonerated as well.
  • Gloria Holt, 18, left at 12:10 pm and did not return.
  • Stella Jacob, 20, left at noon and did not return.
  • Judy Johnson, 20, was standing outside TSBD when the shooting began. She remained in the area until 2:00 pm then went home.
  • Dolores Kounas, 32, left at 12:15 pm and stayed outside until 3:00 pm.
  • Sharon Nelson, 19, left at 12:20 pm and never returned. She lived at 409 East 9th Street, near the site where Officer J.D. Tippit was gunned down.
  • Roberta Parker, 55, left at a time unknown, and said she wasn’t allowed back in until 3:30 pm.
  • Bonnie Richey, 20, left the building at 12:20 pm and never returned.
  • Lloyd Viles, 41, left at 12:15 pm and returned at 2:55 pm.
  • Vida Whatley, 45, left at 12:15 pm to go shopping. She tried to re-enter TSBD at 1:00 pm but was denied entry by the police. She went home.
  • Bonnie Ray Williams, 20, accompanied Arce to the police station at 1:00 pm.

Quora question: If the CIA was clearly involved in drugs of south America and Afghanistan, am I allowed to call them a criminal organization?

May 15, 2018

My response to the Quora question:

I would like to respond here by addressing CIA’s involvement in drug trafficking in South America as an answer to the question of criminality.

A December 1988 report from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations cited SETCO Aviation, the company the U.S. had contracted to handle many of the flights to deliver weapons and supplies to Contras camps in Hondura, was also ferrying cocaine into the U.S.[1,2]

According to a 1983 Customs Service report, SETCO, a Honduran airline company, was “headed by Juan Ramon Matta Ballesteros, a class I DEA violator.”[2] Ballesteros had been arrested in 1970 at Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport trying to smuggle in 26 kilos of cocaine.[3] Rather than receiving a stiff jail sentence, Ballesteros, a CIA asset, was deported to Honduras where, in 1975, he formed a partnership with Mexican drug lord Felix Gallardo.

Ballesteros and Gallardo used their drug profits to overthrow Honduran President Juan Alberto Melgar Castro, an opponent of then-President and CIA favorite Anastasio Somoza Debayle of Nicaragua. Under new Honduran leader General Policarpo Paz Garcia, the two drug traffickers flourished as Honduras became a way station for cocaine and marijuana from Columbia to the U.S.[4]

During this time, Argentine military officers were training the Contras, a right-wing, U.S.-backed rebel force fighting against the socialist Sandinista Junta government of Nicaragua. At the breakout of the Falklands War, these officers pulled out to join in the fighting. CIA’s then-lead officer in Latin America, Dewey Clarridge, began to depend more heavily on Ballesteros and Arias for money until the U.S. Congress appropriated money—humanitarian aid—for the Contras.[5]

The connection between CIA, the Contras and drug trafficking was the head of Honduran military intelligence, Leonides Torres Arias. After the coup that put Paz Garcia in power, Arias had been accepting kickbacks from Ballesteros.

One of the pilots for SETCO was an American named Frank Moss, who flew more than a dozen missions for the company. Moss was identified by the DEA as a drug smuggler “as far back as 1979.”[6] The weapons supplied to the Contras came from a U.S. firm called R&M Equipment, which had a warehouse in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. R&M was partly owned by Ron Martin, a former CIA operative. His partner was James McCoy, a former military attache to the Somoza regime.[7]

CIA had clearly entrusted some of its support of the Contras to known drug smugglers. But the Agency was not alone in looking the other way.

In 1981 the DEA had established an office in Tegucigalpa. Thomas Zepeda, its resident agent, had quickly come to the conclusion that the entire Honduran government was involved in the drug trade.[8] In May 1983, Zepeda opened an investigation into SETCO. A month later, the investigation was shut down, Zepeda was transferred out of Honduras, and the DEA’s Honduras station was shut down.[9]

The man responsible for this was the DEA’s Ed Heath, head of Latin American operations in Mexico City and a man suspected by fellow DEA agents as having ties to CIA.[10]

One conclusion that can be inferred from this is that then-CIA Director William Casey, whose world vision echoed that of then-President Ronald Reagan, wished to see the Contras succeed at any cost. This included alternative sources of funding—such as the arms sales to Iran—at a time when the Boland Amendment would have ended further funding of the Contras.

When President Reagan was asked in written interrogatories from Independent Counsel whether he authorized Casey, among others, to take action with respect to the Contras, Reagan responded that “administration officials were generally authorized to implement that policy.”[11]

Another conclusion that can be drawn is that private individuals—a former CIA officer, others under contract to enterprises involved in supplying the Contras—exploited the situation for personal gain.

Director Casey died of a brain tumor before he could expand on CIA’s role in drug trafficking in the Iran-Contra scandal. Oliver North, a key figure here, revealed in an August 9, 1985, entry in his diary that “Honduran DC-6 which is being used for runs out of New Orleans is probably being used for drug runs into the U.S.”[12]

CIA has had to respond to allegations it conspired to introduce crack cocaine into U.S. ghettos and waged a war against Blacks[13] in an internal newsletter.[14] In instances where journalists sought confirmation or denial of such allegations, CIA’s commitment to protecting its source and methods resulted in no comment—a response misinterpreted as culpability.

There is no doubt drug trafficking occurred in Honduras, and that some of the funds were furnished to the Contras. An investigation by CIA’s Inspector General’s Office, however, did not find evidence of direct Agency complicity. But as with any large organization, the acts of a few reflect upon the reputation of the many. CIA has had to pay that price in terms of a tarnished image. But that in and of itself does not presume criminal liability.

[1] https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAE…
[2] Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press, by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Verso Press, 1998.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Los Angeles Times, February 13, 1988.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Whiteout… Op. cit.
[11] https://fas.org/irp/offdocs/wals…, “Answers of the President of the United States to Interrogatories, In re Grand Jury Investigation”
[12] Key Figures In CIA-Crack Cocaine Scandal Begin To Come Forward
[13] https://www.cia.gov/library/read…
[14] Ibid.

Quora question: Do you think people who criticize CIA Haspel benefit from hindsight when she had to make the unpopular decision under uncertainty to get intelligence before another 9/11 terror event?

May 15, 2018

My response to the Quora question:

I answered a similarly-themed question, How likely is it that the U.S. government resumes torturing (specifically waterboarding) prisoners should Gina Haspel be confirmed as CIA Director? I believe my answer suffices here:

There is a scene from the movie The Ghost Writer in which the former British Prime Minister Adam Lang, played by Pierce Brosnan, is confronted by his ghostwriter, played by Ewan McGregor. Lang has been accused by his former Foreign Minister Richard Rycart of aiding and abetting CIA to execute its extraordinary rendition program, under which a detainee was waterboarded and subsequently died—a war crime.

The Ghostwriter accuses Lang of secretly working for CIA. An argument between the two culminates in Lang stating that he would have two flights: one on which no security checks had been done and no information had been obtained from detained terrorists using extralegal methods; on the other flight Lang would do everything within his power to protect the lives of everyone on board, including torture. Then Lang asks which plane would the Rycarts of the world put their children on?

We are 17 years removed from 9/11. There is a generation alive today who regard the most heinous terrorist attack on American soil from the languor and distance of history. The exigency of that time, to thwart future attacks, is now viewed through a revisionist lens that questions the morality of CIA’s actions at a time when this country’s enemies viewed morality as America’s weakness.

Extraordinary rendition, a limited program begun during President Bill Clinton’s administration, was expanded dramatically after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.[1]

“Foreign nationals suspected of terrorism have been transported to detention and interrogation facilities in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan, Guantánamo, and elsewhere. In the words of former CIA agent Robert Baer: ’If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear — never to see them again — you send them to Egypt.’”[2]

The program was intended to protect America; its effect, however, was to strip the detainees of their basic human rights. Was the program illegal? According to a congressional act and international treaties to which the United States is a signatory, the answer is yes.[3]

There is no question that individuals given absolute power over others will abuse that power. Some men and women did indulge their sadistic fantasies, inflicting the most debasing punishment on the detainees.

While some information obtained during these sessions was useful in averting future plots, most of what was learned was useless. In many cases the detainees simply said what their interrogators wanted to hear in order to stop the torture.

It was with hindsight and a refocusing of this nation’s moral compass that President Barack Obama sought to look forward rather than to the past and outlaw waterboarding. Unfortunately, President Trump’s lack of morality, buoyed by his affinity for methodologies that dehumanize the individual, have raised questions such as the one to which I am responding.

Time yields perspective, and sometimes wisdom. CIA and the American people, by and large, have learned from the past. In 2001, I believe CIA’s actions were consistent with the extant tenor of this country. Today, I believe Gina Haspel when she says CIA will reject any and all orders to implement torture—even if rendered by the president himself.

[1] Fact Sheet: Extraordinary Rendition
[2] Ibid.
[3] UNTC
[4] Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, (FARRA), Pub. L. No. 105-277, § 2242, 112 Stat. 2681 (Oct. 21, 1998)

Quora question: How many “decent dinosaurs” are left besides John McCain and Joe Biden?

May 13, 2018

My response to the Quora question:

Joe Biden and John McCain may be on in years, but their facile minds and firm moral compass hardly relegate them to the status of “decent dinosaurs.” That is an unnecessarily disparaging descriptive.

Incivility is no more a quality of one’s age than is civility. There are many in the Beltway, of varying ages, whose egalitarian views stand in stark contrast to the snarky, abhorrent remarks seeping from the White House.

Decency does not shout, nor does it pronounce itself as a banner headline or an illiterate tweet; it is a quiet affirmation that goes unnoticed—and that is as it should be.

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