James Bond vs. The Spook

By Piper Bayard

You could say I work with Bond. James Bond. The real one. But that wouldn’t be quite right. I work with a spook.

 

Please don’t ask me how a small town author/belly dancer/recovering attorney grew up to be the writing partner of a seasoned covert operative, because that is a story I can never tell. But I can tell you this . . . It’s nothing like fiction.

 

His name is Holmes. Jay Holmes. And unlike James Bond, that’s not his real name. That’s because when covert operatives reveal their identities – even decades after they are out of deep cover – people can die. Assets and loved ones alike can become targets. So when a celebrity author shows up in an “I’m a Spook” T-shirt flaunting a “covert” career, it’s a dead giveaway that though she may have done some great and necessary work with an intelligence agency, she has never been a covert operative in the field. Covert operatives must forever keep a Chinese wall around their true identities.

 

Not Holmes. Holmes avoids suits wherever possible.

Not Holmes. Holmes avoids suits wherever possible. 

 

So what’s this real covert spook writing partner of mine like? First off, Holmes and his ilk are “spooks,” not spies. As Holmes says, “Spying is seamy. It’s what the Russians do.”

 

Spooks refer to each other lightheartedly as “spooks.” That’s also what military personnel call them when military and intelligence operations overlap. For example, if an intelligence team is working in a secured area of a ship, the crew refers to them as “the spooks.”

 

There is no official Dictionary of Spook Terminology, but the proper terms for spooks are “intelligence operatives” and “intelligence agents.” By habit, “operative” is used by CIA personnel when they are talking among themselves or reviewing an operation, and “agent” refers to someone – usually a foreigner – who is collecting information in a foreign country. Intelligence personnel are the “operatives” who are managing the foreign “agents.”

 

And all of those wild car chases that happen in books and movies? Sure. They happen now and then in real life. Holmes has personally driven down the Spanish Steps and gone the wrong way up a narrow one-way street to get his man. But what you almost never see in fiction is that spooks wear seatbelts. Religiously. “Because you can’t finish the mission if you’re dead.”

 

There are also many things fictional spooks do that real spooks never do—or at least few live to tell if they do. How many times in fiction does a spook duck into a doorway and peek out of it to spy on someone he’s following? That’s a good way to get dead in real life.

 

One of the first things spooks must learn about following people is to not be followed themselves. It’s common for bad guys to have their own people tailing them to pick up any newcomers, so spooks can’t only focus on who’s in front of them. They have to be acutely aware of who is behind them, too. That means that if a spook wants to watch someone from a doorway, she has to take her eyes off the target, go all the way inside a building, and only turn around once she’s out of sight of the street. Then she can come back out and stop in the doorway under some other pretense than watching someone. It also gives her the chance to handle the bad guy’s trailing entourage.

 

Another thing fiction almost invariably gets wrong is the spook’s relationship to room service. How many times has Bond ordered room service? And how has that worked out for him? You’d think he would have learned after Rosa Klebb’s stunt in From Russia with Love that this is a seriously bad idea. Even the spooks in the otherwise realistic movie Act of Valor ordered take out and paid the price.

 

This isn’t only because of the opportunity for an enemy to poison them, it’s also because it’s generally bad juju for spooks to invite strangers into their space when they are on a mission. In fact, Holmes won’t even have a pizza delivered to his home. The only food he actually enjoys is his own, his wife’s, or mine if it includes chocolate, and only then if he is eating at home or at the home of a trusted friend.

 

So back to my original question – what’s this real life spook like? Unlike fiction, Holmes is incredibly mundane. While he has an incredibly charming boyish smile, he doesn’t look a thing like James Bond, Jason Bourne, or Jack Reacher. In fact, real spooks come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and abilities. When they aren’t on a job, they might be working as Wal-Mart managers, secretaries, teachers, insurance salesmen, or corporate CEOs. And their days at home can look like anyone else’s, filled with gardening, grocery shopping, cleaning, and following behind their children turning off lights. Holmes would say that spooks are ordinary people with a bit more than average commitment and dedication to their work.

 

More like Holmes. Never too good for the dirty work.

More like Holmes. Never too good for the dirty work.

 

Notice I said that Holmes would say that. He strongly objects to the notion that he and other covert operatives are special in any way. However, speaking as a small town author/belly dancer/recovering attorney with a home in “normalville” and a window into the shadow world, I would suggest that from most people’s perspective, there is one thing fiction definitely gets right. These folks are anything but ordinary.

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James Bond vs. The Spook

NSA: Hoarders, Cheaters, Dr. Phil, or Jerry Springer? You Decide.

By Piper Bayard

“Compulsive Hoarding is a mental disorder marked by an obsessive need to acquire and keep things, even if the items are worthless, hazardous, or unsanitary.” ~ Hoarders

At this point, we know the following about the NSA and its electronic data collection on Americans and foreigners:

  • First and foremost, the NSA is not acting in a vacuum. The basic purpose of intelligence agencies is to gather information . . . not for themselves, but for the policy makers. Their actions must be authorized and funded by the White House and Congress.
  • The NSA, at the behest of the White House and Congress, is unapologetically collecting and storing all of our electronic transmissions—phone calls, banking transactions, grocery purchases, social media posts, social media connections, internet search histories, etc., in the name of “security.”
  • In spite of all of this Extreme Security, they couldn’t pinpoint two deadbeats with a hotline to Chechnya Jihad Central who were Facebooking and Tweeting their jihadi hafla across the Cyberverse.

What does this tell us? The NSA has so many ones and zeros stacked up on us that it can no longer tell fact from fiction, or terrorist from law-abiding citizen. It has at this point collected so much hay in the barn that it can no longer find the threatening needle, or even the barn.

Actual photo of NSA data storage

Actual photo of NSA data storage

So I’m wondering . . . Do we need to send the Hoarders crew to NSA headquarters to help them sort out this dysfunction? Or do we just need to fire them all and put the crew of Cheaters in charge of figuring out who needs surveilling, and who doesn’t?

Come on over to our new site, and help me walk the NSA through a 12-Step Program. Please bring your comments — we love your comments — over to the new site, and remember to subscribe when you get there. We want to bring you all with us!

Bayard & Holmes

NSA:  Hoarders, Cheaters, Dr. Phil, or Jerry Springer? You Decide.

4th Annual Love a Spook Day – An Insignificant Quaker Woman

By Jay Holmes

Three years ago, my writing partner, Piper Bayard, declared October 31st to be Love a Spook Day in appreciation of the quiet contributions of the intelligence community. In real life, versus Hollywood, not all spooks are highly trained supermen and superwomen who look like Daniel Craig and Scarlett Johansson. Many are simple people who rise to the occasion of their moment in history. Lydia Darragh was one of those people.

Lydia Barrington Darragh

Lydia Barrington Darragh

To learn about this remarkable nurse, midwife, and spy who affected the course of history, please click on the link below, and remember to transfer your subscription. We want to welcome you all to our new digs.

Bayard & Holmes

4th Annual Love a Spook Day

An Insignificant Quaker Woman

New US Outreach Program — Spooks without Boundaries

By Piper Bayard

First it was the NSA peeking up our digital skirts, illegally collecting and storing raw intelligence on Americans to paw through at will. Then the other four of the Five Eyes—Australia, the UK, New Zealand, and Canada—crowded up for a glimpse. Now I find out that Israel has its cameras under our hemlines, as well. When I consider how many other as-yet-to-be-revealed countries must be signed up for the Big NSA Raw Giveaway, I wonder if America unwittingly wandered onto the set of “Criminal Minds” during Rampant Voyeurs Week.  But as our government so glibly tells us, if we wear our Sponge Bob undies like a good little girls and boys, we have nothing to worry about.

Internet bugs Canstock

I know what you’re thinking—those World Order Conspiracy theorists just might be onto something, after all. Why else would our American government ditch the warrant system to illegally collect our own citizens’ electronic transmissions and share them with all of their corporate and political friends—none of whom loves us enough to help us hide the bodies? That’s the behavior of a bad boyfriend with a revenge porn account.

I don’t blame you one bit for that train of thought. But rest assured! You’ll be glad to know I did some checking with non-existent sources and found out nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, I’m betting you’ll feel as pleased with our government as I am when you hear the details.

Our government leaders, in their infinite wisdom and compassion, noticed that giving out candy bars in war zones somehow didn’t win America the Miss Congeniality prize they so coveted in the World Image Competition. They hired three out-of-work Carnival cruise directors, a retired circus clown, and the hostess from the local Hooters to get together and figure out what would make us more popular on the world stage. Their innovative solution is already rocking the planet.

These brilliant out-of-the-box thinkers looked to Doctors Without Borders and No Child Left Behind as guidelines and developed a new, all-inclusive friendship outreach program that proves America is now willing to put out for anyone who gives her an “I love you” and a promise of respect in the morning. The folks in D.C. and in the NSA have proudly dubbed it “Spooks Without Boundaries.” Their motto? No Country Left Behind!

The new program is rooted in the same fundamental progressive notion that makes Obamacare so successful—the conviction that candidates win votes with overblown promises of physical comfort and security. And why shouldn’t every government have the same illegal access to our phone calls and electronic transactions that our own government has? After all, if all of this intimate surveillance of Americans is keeping us safe—except from a couple of deadbeat potheads with a hotline to Chechnya Jihad Central—isn’t it only compassionate that we share this universal safety with those electronically less fortunate? Why should outdated Cold War ethnocentrism, phobia of al-Qaeda and its wannabes, or the rogue Israeli faction attack on the USS Liberty* affect our foreign policy decisions? With Spooks Without Boundaries, everyone, citizen or not, will be safe, because every government will have access to the personal transactions and communications of Americans.

World Hug Canstock

With all of this free love going around, it has me wondering how long it will be before the NSA starts to share a little of it with America. After all, if Americans are so willing to toss off their privacy rights in the name of safety, why not give state and local police access to the benefits of PRISM and the other NSA toys? It would be nothing to track down meth labs, underage drinkers, and deadbeat dads, not to mention felons and bail jumpers. Why should Israel, the Five Eyes, and untold others enjoy that level of knowledge about us when we don’t?

And why stop there? The NSA is already swapping info with their BFFs, the international corporations. Why not small businesses, too? Just think how useful PRISM would be to collection agents, private eyes hired to track cheating spouses, or marketing firms sending targeted ads just for you. If we’ve already decimated American privacy in the name of homeland security, how long will it be before we enjoy the safety inherent in giving all of our information to our local police and small businesses?

Spooks Without Boundaries—it’s not just for foreign terrorists anymore! Write to your congressmen today and tell them you want Americans to enjoy the same free love we give to Israel, our allies, and others. After all, if we’re going to pass out tickets to foreign countries to peep at our privates, shouldn’t we see them ourselves?

* Recently declassified documents indicate that a rogue element of the Israeli government orchestrated the 1967 attack on the USS Liberty.

Related Articles:

British Spy Agency Taps Cables, Shares with US NSA (Info on Five Eyes)

U.S. Agencies Said to Swap Data with Thousands of Firms

NSA Shares Raw Intelligence Including Americans’ Data with Israel

NSA and Israeli Intelligence: Memorandum of Understanding—Full Document

What Makes US-Israeli Intelligence Co-operation “Exceptional”?

Life in the Cold

By Piper Bayard

Independence Day was not the end of our fight for freedom, but only the beginning. Most of the men who signed our Declaration of Independence lost their fortunes and their lives in the battle. It is a battle that has been fought by each generation since 1776, as freedom is a great responsibility that we must continually earn, and not something bought and paid for once in the past that we can now take for granted.

My generation is the Cold War generation. This Independence Day, I would honor those of the intelligence community who served quietly, often giving everything to protect us from the threat of nuclear annihilation.

The following is an excerpt from “From Inside the Cold War,” written by my writing partner, “Jay Holmes,” who is a veteran of that conflict. A conflict which, in spite of the wishful thinking and historical ignorance of younger politicians, continues in a very real way to this day. In it, he gives us a window into his world and what it is like for him and his compatriots to walk through ours.

Anonymous Man Canstock

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

From the end of World War II in 1945 until the fall of the Soviet government in Russia in 1991, Western nations faced off with the Soviet Union and its allies and captive satellite states in what became known as the “Cold War.” Basically, the Soviet Union, led by the ruthless Joseph Stalin, felt that it was its duty to spread communism throughout the world, while Western nations governed by democracies felt it was their responsibility to keep the entire world from falling under Soviet domination. . . .

Most Western citizens think of the Cold War as being without casualties, except during the proxy wars in Korea and Viet Nam. Few Westerners will even remember that the allied nations fought a war against Soviet-backed communists in Greece from 1946 -1949, or that the United Kingdom struggled with a communist guerrilla war in Malaysia until 1960. Beyond the publicly acknowledged battle fields in Korea, South East Asia, Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama, the United States thus far acknowledges 382 American servicemen killed in combat against communist forces between 1945 and 1991. This figure does not include the officially acknowledged civilian losses of the CIA and other civilian personnel, nor does it include the deaths of “denied” personnel working under “deep cover.”

I believe the figure of 382 to be wildly low and a long, smoldering debate is currently underway in DOD and CIA circles concerning casualty figures during the Cold War. It is unclear how they should be counted and how much information should be released. After a lifetime of living in a necessary state of denial, “old hands” have well-founded fears about releasing too much information. For one thing, releasing dates and locations of deaths will assist belligerent parties in identifying and killing those who assisted US efforts. Our word was given that our friends would never be exposed, and they never should be.

For nearly four decades, the deaths of American Cold War combatants were explained away as accidents and sudden acute illnesses. Wives and mothers buried their husbands and sons without ever knowing what happened. The battlefield deaths of most of America’s Cold War combatants will likely remain unrecognized for years to come in order to protect the living. Some day, if a future generation gets around to dealing with the information, it will likely seem too distant for anyone to pay much attention to it. This is a natural consequence of the type of battles fought.

If it seems sad, we should remember that it is far less sad than the alternatives would have been. Armageddon was avoided. Freedom was not lost. That matters, at least to me and to those who have gone before me. My brothers paid a price. I knew none who were unwilling to pay that price quietly. None can now regain their lives by being identified.

When we review espionage activities from the Cold War, it is easy to take an academic view. If the seriousness of some of the participants seems almost comical from our current perspective, they seemed far less humorous at the time that they occurred. The events seem distant now, and the causes may have been forgotten by many, and never understood by some. I point out the issue of casualties in an attempt to describe an important aspect of clandestine activities during the Cold War. The contestants on all sides played for keeps.

Between the bright lights of international diplomacy and the dark cloud of the threat of nuclear war, life in the shadows in between was a bit different. Some of us feel as though we have lived in a parallel world far away from this one. We walked through this world every day, careful not to leave too many footprints here on our way to somewhere else. That other world became our home. This world where we trust our neighbors and love our children, is the world that we desperately wanted to see remain intact. But in a sense, we will always be visitors here in this world that we hold so dear. For some of us, our home remains somewhere else, far away.

~ Jay Holmes

Two Worlds Canstock

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From our world to your world, Holmes, thank you.

PRISM — You Can’t Stop the Signal

By Piper Bayard

In one of my favorite Joss Wheden movies, Serenity, the crew of a small scavenger space ship, Firefly, risks everything to bring the truth to the people of the Alliance about how their government was lying to them and screwing them over. To do this, they transmitted a damning recording across every media outlet in the galaxy. For them, it worked, because, “You can’t stop the signal.”

image from Serenity

image from Serenity

What the movie did not show was what happened after the broadcast, which was most likely a lot of huffing and puffing from diverse quadrants, and then a mass forgetting the next time some celebrity choose a freakish baby name. What it didn’t show was how many people do not care what a government does, as long as they can believe it doesn’t affect them.

Which brings me to a far more relevant pop culture analogy—Game of Thrones. I don’t know if Edward Snowden watched either Serenity or Game of Thrones, but if he had watched or read the latter, he would have known that the honorable man who brings the truth to a nation is always the first to lose his head.

Intelligence Operative Jay Holmes, my writing partner, is no Edward Snowden. He is not disappointed in the Obama administration because he has been through enough presidents to not expect anything from them in the first place. Also, he never reveals anything Classified at any level; however, he does at times know what is true of what is public.

That being said, this is the information from the public domain that I would pass on to you, our readers.

The NSA has direct access to the servers of the PRISM Nine. (See PRISM Surveillance on Americans—What Price Convenience?) I’ve seen many people commenting around the net that they don’t care that the NSA knows what Google knows. After all, everyone knows the internet isn’t private. To those people, I would point out two things. First, Google doesn’t have an FBI and a DHS to arrest us. And second, the NSA reach does not stop at the voluntary information we give to Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and the rest. It also includes our emails, bank transactions, credit card purchases, phone records and the very content of the calls, themselves.

All of this data is collected and analyzed for red flags. Like someone going through our “Electronic Footprint House” on a continual basis, looking for missteps. If an analyst suspects any, he can listen to specific conversations and read specific emails without obtaining a warrant specific to us. In fact, in Mr. Snowden’s words, “The reality is that due to the FISA Amendments Act and its section 702 authorities, Americans’ communications are collected and viewed on a daily basis on the certification of an analyst rather than a warrant. They excuse this as “incidental” collection, but at the end of the day, someone at NSA still has the content of your communications . . .”

image from weknowmemes.com

image from weknowmemes.com

There is one notable exception to this illegal invasion of privacy. Members of Congress have a special exemption from NSA surveillance. Sort of speaks for itself, doesn’t it? If the NSA isn’t spying on Americans, why would Congress need an exemption from the spying they’re not doing?

Not only is this data collected and stored on all Americans and subject to viewing at the whim of an analyst, it is exchanged with foreign countries. The Five Eyes—the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand—have agreements in place between their intelligence agencies to share information on each other’s citizens.

This begs another question. Why would we spend money to illegally spy on our allies’ citizens? We are not at war with these people any more than we are at war with ourselves.

Sure, there are some maggots in those countries, just as there are some maggots in our own. Our Founding Fathers understood and accepted the fact that some maggots need to be spied on. However, they also understood that it was important to prevent the government from spying on its citizens without cause if we were to avoid devolving into tyranny. This dilemma was easily solved. It’s called a “warrant system.”

The requirement of obtaining a warrant does not in any way hinder intelligence and law enforcement agencies from acting in a timely fashion. Judges are available to approve warrants 24/7, 365 days a year. The judge’s staff then follows up with a paper document.

This procedure allows police and domestic intelligence operatives, such as the DHS, to act promptly while employing standard safeguards. The judicial system keeps records of what is requested and why. Eventually, any warrants issued for domestic eavesdropping became public knowledge. The warrant system prevents, or at least minimizes, abuse by elected officials and government employees while respecting the constitutional rights of Americans to enjoy reasonable privacy.

PRISM, however, has no such protections. The NSA eavesdrops with no judicial process, and citizens are not informed of the surveillance unless they commit felonies and are arrested. That means no accountability to the people. Think about it. A government that holds citizens responsible to it without a process in place for citizens to hold the government responsible to them is not a government by or for the people.

And it doesn’t stop there . . .

Eighteen days ago, when I first wrote about this Big Brother surveillance of Americans, I posed the following questions:

1)    Corporations sponsor and “own” politicians, so who in corporate America gets to benefit from this data collection?

2)    Do corporations who buy political figures get to use this technology to spy on their competitors?

Only days later, it became public knowledge that, indeed, there is an information exchange between our government and private corporations. You heard that correctly. Thousands of companies—finance, manufacturing, technology, etc.—receive benefits from the federal government in exchange for sensitive information about their clientele.

Having naïvely agreed to travel from Hong Kong to Ecuador via Moscow, Edward Snowden finds himself in Putin’s hands. For Putin, this is Christmas. For Edward Snowden, he might as well be Eddard Stark in the dungeons of King’s Landing. His winter is here, and when it comes to privacy protections in America, “Winter is Coming.”

meme by bizarrojerri.wordpress.com

meme by bizarrojerri.wordpress.com

We have seen time and again that technology, once developed, does not undevelop. You can’t stop the signal. However, we can choose how we will use it. Like nuclear weapons, the horse is out of the barn, but with careful controls and regulations, we have not used those nuclear weapons in nearly seventy years. Just because we have a tool, it doesn’t mean we have to use it in careless or evil ways.

Rather than calling for a shut-down of PRISM and its use, which would only create a more sophisticated government mouse, let us instead insist on understanding the unprecedented power of this program and treat it with the respect that it deserves. Let us instead focus this power toward the true enemies—not average Americans, but those who would terrorize and destroy us. Let us not do the job for them by continuing to turn this potentially devastating power on ourselves.

Penultimate Irony

Ultimate Irony

The Fall of the Falcon and How Top Security Access Changed — Or Didn’t

By Jay Holmes

In the past two weeks, we looked at how two of America’s recent traitors, Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee, developed from childhood friends into spies for the Soviet Union. See When Altar Boys Get Bored–The TRW National Security Disaster, and Why You Don’t Want Chemically-Enhanced Partners in Treason.

Top Secret Canstock

After their brief and all-too-productive careers as spies, Federal Marshals arrested Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee in January, 1977. By May, they were convicted of espionage. Boyce was given a 40-year sentence. Due to his higher number of convictions and the fact that he had violated his parole from prior drug dealing convictions, Lee was given a life sentence.

The trial was markedly speedy. I’ve always wondered if the federal judges and prosecutors were in a hurry to get it done and out of the news as quickly as possible. There was plenty of embarrassment to go around, and too many taxpayers might have asked too many questions too loudly about how much tax money they were giving TRW to carelessly allow so much Top Secret information stroll out their door.

Boyce and Lee were clearly guilty of espionage and deserved the infamy that came their way. In my view, they deserved worse than they got. But Boyce never should have had access to the information that he sold to the Soviets in the first place. The sloppy practices that allowed Top Secret communications and telemetry codes to be so easily stolen deserved close scrutiny by the federal government. If any such scrutiny occurred, it happened very quietly and remains a remarkably well-guarded secret. Any ramifications to TRW Corporation, the NSA, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the CIA—if they occurred at all—were far better hidden than all of the Top Secret data in their collective care.

Boyce and Lee started serving their sentences at Terminal Island federal prison in California.  After a while, Boyce was moved to a jail in San Diego. I assume that the move was to make it easier for investigators to do follow up interrogations, as they were never certain that they had the full story. Counter Intelligence agents in the FBI and CIA likely wondered if there were even more spies at TRW.

On July 10, 1979, Boyce was transferred to a federal prison in Lompoc, California. Neither Boyce nor Lee was fond of prison life. The social status of a convicted traitor in prison is close to that of a pedophile. Life was appropriately unpleasant for them at the bottom of the prison social ladder.

Boyce was smart enough and patient enough to carefully plan an escape. He took up jogging and ran laps to build his endurance. On January 21, 1980, Boyce escaped from Lompoc prison. He ran all night to gain as much distance as possible. He stole some clothes from a clothes line and managed to elude capture.

After Boyce’s escape, Lee was moved to a higher security federal prison in Marion, Illionos.  Lee claims that that ended his “friendship” with Boyce.

Now free but on the lamb, Boyce faced serious challenges. How would he escape the notice of alert passerbys or the occasional FBI agents and US Marshals that he might run in to in his day? How would he eat? Boyce’s one career skill, the “my FBI daddy got me this job” option, was no longer available to him.

Boyce started on a new career in bank robbery as the cornerstone of his financial planning. He befriended a single mom with a strong anti-establishment, anti-social outlook, and she became his bank robbing assistant.

Generally, bank robbers plan and execute profitable enough robberies to net enough cash to keep them from having to take the risk too often. Bank robbery is a dangerous crime. It can easily escalate to multiple murders, which then attract the interest of major law enforcement assets such as the FBI and state police. Bank robberies in Western states have an additional risk. Sometimes an impatient customer doesn’t like having his busy schedule interrupted by a snotty little bank robber, and he simply pulls a weapon and shoots the crook. Unfortunately, Boyce never robbed a bank that I happened to be standing in, so I never got the chance to shoot him. Neither did anyone else.

Boyce and his pickup team of latter day bank robbers may not have been too clear on the best model for successful heists, but they managed to rob 17 banks without being killed or captured. I have to give them credit for getting away with their hides intact.

Boyce developed the alias of “Anthony Edward Lester.” He knew he couldn’t live as a fugitive in the US forever, so he took flying lessons and planned to fly to the Soviet Union. He naively believed that the KGB would offer him an active commission as an officer in the Soviet military.

The USSR always maintained reputable training facilities for military officers. They turned out well-trained, intelligent officers, and Boyce would not have been given any sort of real commission. Might they have given him some cute medals and certificates to hang on the limited wall space of a small apartment in Moscow? Sure. Would they have given him a manuscript to sign off on and then publish it for him? You bet they would have. Would the Soviets have been so dumb as to treat Boyce like a real adult and make him an active officer in the KGB or Soviet military? Unfortunately, they were always smarter than that. The Soviets would have probably propped him up for propaganda purposes, but his life in the USSR would have been little better than life in a federal prison in the US.

As Boyce slowly increased his piloting skills, the FBI and US Marshals Service were each conducting “manhunts” for him and closing in. In August of 1981, the feds received a viable tip from one of Boyce’s  bank robbery teammates that Boyce was in Port Angeles, Washington. A task force of eighteen US Marshals, six FBI agents, and a US Border Patrol agent was formed and began a systematic investigation in Port Angeles.

On August 21, 1981, two US Marshals pulled into a drive-in restaurant, The Pit Stop. There sat Christopher Boyce. The temptation to immediately draw down on him must have been intense. The Marshals were calm and disciplined. They called for back-up. Once they had five agents in place, they arrested Boyce. Boyce received another conviction for his escape and was returned to prison.

In recent years, both Boyce and Lee were paroled. Their life as spies is over, but questions remain about their cases. Why was there apparently no negative consequence to the people at TRW who were responsible for the handling and security of the Top Secret information? TRW has since been involved in other scandals, including illegal dumping of dangerous chemicals and hazardous work place practices. They and many other companies with histories of shabby security practices remain beneficiaries of multibillion dollar defense and intelligence contracts.

TRW in Asia

Boyce and Lee were amateurs. Lee all but begged to be caught. But were there other and more sober employees at TRW and other contractors that remain at large? Since 9-11, we have seen sweeping changes in law enforcement and politics. The US Congress and the past and present Presidents all claim a desperate need for more invasive domestic surveillance in order that we might survive one more day. And yet we have the same open borders and the same sloppy handling of our own top secrets.

As I send this article to my fearless warrior-editor, TRW and other federal contractors are in a legal fight over alleged improper bidding practices by TRW in its attempt to gain yet another huge contract for the next generation of US spy satellites. It is my considered opinion that what occurred at TRW in the 70s could still be happening there today, and at any other contractor that handles secret information for the US government. Private Bradley Manning has demonstrated that it can just as easily still be happening with government employees, as well.

Remember the old saying about closing the barn door after the horse has escaped?  The Falcon has long fallen, and the Snowman melted, but in our ever-increasing zeal to know everything about every citizen, have we even bothered to close the barn door?  I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think so.

When Altar Boys Get Bored–The TRW National Security Disaster

By Jay Holmes

In Santa Monica, California, in 1953, a recently “ex” FBI agent named Charles Boyce and his wife Noreen were blessed with the birth of their first child. They named their future altar boy Christopher. Noreen Boyce was a strict Catholic who avoided birth control, and eventually gave Christopher eight younger siblings. Charles Boyce had a successful career as a security expert in the aerospace industry, and even with nine children, the family enjoyed a life of affluence with a home in the fashionable Palo Verde community. Charles and Noreen Boyce were politically conservative and outspokenly patriotic. FBI agents and other law enforcement friends frequently visited their home. The successful parents doubtless had no idea that their oldest would one day betray their country.

Christopher Boyce mugshot from US Marshals Service

Christopher Boyce
mug shot from US Marshals Service

Christopher Boyce attended a Catholic elementary school, where he flourished both academically and socially. He embraced Catholicism and was an enthusiastic altar boy at the local church. He made friends easily, and his best friend was a fellow altar boy by the name of Andrew Daulton Lee. Unlike the popular “A” student Boyce, Lee struggled to maintain a “C” average and was socially awkward, but they shared something important. Chris Boyce was known to be a daredevil, even in his elementary school days, and so was Andrew Dalton Lee.

On one occasion, Boyce’s love of risk-taking led to a fall from a forty-foot tree. Unfortunately, he landed in a pile of leaves on a muddy river bed and survived. He suffered two compressed disks in his back, but the injury did not dampen his love of thrill seeking.

As teenagers, Boyce and Lee took up the hobby of falconry. Boyce became fairly expert at it, hence his eventual name, “the Falcon.”

During high school, the two lost their enthusiasm for the Catholic Church and decided that they were no longer Christian. Boyce’s grades slipped, but he remained popular with his fellow students. Lee’s grades remained poor, and he replaced his love of church with a love of cocaine. Though he’d previous had trouble attracting female companionship, he was able to use marijuana and cocaine to obtain sex with cooperative girls. He thus obtained the nickname, “the Snowman.”

If we are to understand the eventual criminal misadventures of Boyce and Lee, a.k.a. the Falcon and the Snowman, we should consider the time in which they were raised. By the late 60s, the Viet Nam war was on the news every night, and in general, the major media networks took a dim view of the federal government’s atrocious mismanagement of that conflict. The great American Optimism of the 40s and 50s had been replaced with cynicism and a healthy mistrust of authority.

After Boyce and Lee graduated high school, Boyce started college, and Lee expanded his drug business. Lee did hold legitimate jobs on occasion, but the low wages and long hours held no appeal when the easy money of drug dealing was available. Besides, as the Snowman—a successful cocaine dealer—he held a certain place of importance in the same social circles of affluent youths who had never accepted him prior to his drug dealing career.

Chris Boyce floundered in college and dropped out. At his parents’ urging and support, he started college again and dropped out again, and again. Boyce was certainly smart enough for school, but he had no interest.

Boyce’s parents were worried about their bright son’s seemingly dull future. His father had a close friend who was the security director at TRW Corporation, so he asked that friend if he could help find a job for Chris. TRW hired Chris Boyce as a clerk in 1974.

TRW manufactured components for highly advanced Top Secret communications and reconnaissance satellites for the CIA and other federal agencies. Chris Boyce worked at a TRW facility that was equipped to receive and decode information from US satellites. Thanks to his dad’s influence, Boyce, with no post high school education, no legitimate experience, and no security screening, was given a security badge and access to classified documents at TRW.

To the average reader, this might seem outrageously careless of TRW. It was. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Boyce was soon given Top Secret clearances by the CIA and the NSA.

If a proper investigation had been done, and if anyone had bothered to analyze the results, Boyce’s lack of any track record and three successive drop outs from three different colleges would have indicated a glaring lack of maturity and reliability. However, Boyce did not even receive a lie-detector test, which, while not full proof, would likely have uncovered his drug history and the fact that his best friend was the local “Snowman.” Apparently, the simple lack of an arrest record and his father’s reputation were enough to propel Chris Boyce from an entry-level status to Top Secret access within a few months of his joining TRW.

Boyce was transferred to an even higher position in the “Black Vault” at TRW. This is where the company stored Top Secret Codes, and where incoming data from satellites were decoded. We now know that Boyce discovered a “party atmosphere” within the Black Vault team. Safe in the knowledge that visitors were not allowed in the vault, the Black Vault team was using a CIA shredding machine as a daiquiri mixer. It literally was a party.

After being promoted to the Black Vault team, Boyce began reading decoded messages that were supposedly being misrouted to TRW. These included diplomatic messages. Boyce claims that, in combination with his anger at the Viet Nam War, the content of some of the messages caused him to decide to turn against the US.

One series of messages that Boyce pointed to was supposed diplomatic traffic indicating that the US was plotting the downfall of the Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. According to Boyce, the US government was angry at Australia because they were “threatening to pull out of Viet Nam.” The US was, indeed, unhappy with Gough and his anti-American views, but Boyce’s story sounds like something that was fed to him in contingency planning by a Soviet KGB handler. Australia pulled its last combat forces out of Viet Nam in 1972, two years prior to Boyce’s joining TRW and beginning his career as a spy for the USSR. The US pulled out its last combat troops in Viet Nam in 1973. The “Australia” line in Boyce’s justifications of his betrayal makes no sense.

Chris Boyce’s motivations for betraying the US were likely far less noble than he claims. He copied and stole documents and codes from the Black Vault to sell them to the USSR. In a lapse of judgment, he decided to use his close friend Dalton Lee, “the Snowman,” as his go-between to communicate with the Soviets.

While drug dealers and all variety of criminals are often used in intelligence operations, they are not usually trusted with more than the minimal information they need for a particular task. They are never trusted to act as couriers. Boyce had read a couple of spy novels, but apparently not the right ones. Given Lee’s basic emotional insecurity and his drug use, he was a bad choice, but Lee was the one person who Boyce could trust in terms of personal loyalty.

The Snowman was thrilled with Boyce’s suggestion that they spy for the USSR, and he quickly agreed. Lee purchased spy novels for his training regimen and travelled to Mexico City to contact the Soviet Embassy. Thus began the espionage careers of the Falcon and the Snowman. Next Wednesday, we will consider how and what the Falcon and the Snowman delivered to the USSR, and what damage they did to America.

Chinese Theft and Hacking in the News — Where Lies the Blame?

By Jay Holmes

Headlines this week are reporting the not-very-new “news” that China is—drumroll and sound track of gasping readers please—stealing US technology and hacking into classified US government computer systems. A secondary aspect of the story focuses on daily denials by China. So is China really stealing US technology? If it is, then what does it mean to us US taxpayers and consumers? What does it mean to our allies and their well-bled taxpayers and highly unemployed consumers?

Stealing Data Canstock

Let’s first consider this “news” from the Chinese side of the issue.  Chinese denials are generally orated in monotone fashion by one highly placed spin doctor or another with even less acting skill than the average D.C. government mouthpiece. The denials, themselves, are always about as convincing as those issued by well-paid celebrity lawyers defending their highly privileged clients.

In China, as in Hollywood or D.C., reasonable observers start with the assumption that the spokesman is a well-practiced, lying crook. They then try to extract some grain of truth from the transparently nonsensical denials being issued. In the case of Chinese government spin doctors, the only truth available from them is the simple truth that they have no need to or intention of ever telling the truth about anything to anyone. They don’t have to. Or at least have never had to until recently.

Different cultures view truth-telling in different ways, and in the Chinese culture, telling the truth to the world at large is considered a form of severe naiveté bordering on mental illness. Add to that the fact that China has never had a government that answered to the Chinese people. As a result, in Chinese government culture, the rare and refined art of telling the truth is about as useful as space heaters in a Congolese home. In a Western context, one might imagine how weasel-like White House and Whitehall spokesmen would become if their masters and their masters’ masters never had to face the expense of another election campaign.

And yet there is one group of listeners that the Chinese find more complex and difficult to deal with—the world’s non-Chinese consumers. The Chinese have figured out that while the thoughts and opinions of their own well-policed prisoner-citizens can be easily dismissed or silenced, the image of the Chinese communist police state now matters to the Chinese oligarchy for financial reasons.

China makes trillions of dollars from Western consumers and Western corporations. As the image of the Chinese government rises and falls from the depths of the public opinion sewer, profits rise and fall. Western consumers buy cheap Chinese junk with the same enthusiasm that heroin addicts demonstrate in their methadone lines. But even with the severity of the West’s addiction to low-priced Chinese garbage, sales can and do rise and fall. A small movement in sales levels represents billions of dollars in lost revenue to the economic warlords that now run China.

What if a Chinese nouveau riche politician is considering buying another Caribbean island or US skyscraper, and his profits drop? What if he and his pals desperately need to rent some Western politicians to do their bidding, and the cash flow takes a dive? To those few people in China who are used to getting anything they want when they want it, that would be annoying. That threat of annoyance inspires Chinese devotion to keeping those revenue bumps from happening.

Predictably, the Chinese have recently switched from routinely denying that anyone in China ever would or could hack a computer, steal technology, or violate a patent, to doing the old “shoulder shrug” response. They are now saying “all governments hack other countries’ computers.” And, of course, they’re not quite right. Not all governments hack other countries’ computers. Only governments with the required resources do that. And furthermore, not all governments ignore patent violations. China does.

Now that we’ve had a laugh considering China’s denials, let’s consider the “hacking” from a Western perspective. China’s routine theft of US technology makes Western companies less competitive in the giant sludge pit that we call “the world market.” That means higher unemployment leading to higher tax rates to help the unemployed, which in turn makes the West still less competitive in the world marketplace.

As well as commercial technology, the Chinese hacking efforts also focus on US military secrets, including advanced weapons design. This means that China gets to develop their advanced weapons, such as their stealth fighter or their drones, without the expense of years of scientific research or the subsequent thousands of engineering hours that lead to lots of engineers having strokes and their employers eventually delivering a useful product. It also means that our weapons systems are less useful as deterrents to Chinese imperial aims.

In Maoist times, the Chinese military only needed to be well-enough equipped and trained to keep the Chinese people obedient to Mao. The most important characteristic of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army was obedience to Mao. The emphasis was not on developing a highly skilled, powerful military, but rather a highly obedient one.

In 1978, Viet Nam invaded Laos and Cambodia to overthrow their Chinese-backed governments. In 1979, after yearlong logistical preparations, China confidently invaded Viet Nam. After China’s logistical support for its invading army collapsed, they were forced to withdraw from Viet Nam.

The Chinese military leadership has wanted to do two things since that 1979 disaster. One, it has wanted to continue using its control of the Chinese military and Chinese military industries to acquire personal wealth. In this it has excelled fantastically. In the post-Maoist era they need not hide their profits. They don’t. Their second concern has been to become a more powerful military capable of conquering someone other than themselves. They needed science and technology to do that.

The Chinese suffered decades of “cultural revolution” that included purges of “intellectuals” that would have made even Stalin jealous. The problem with killing all those nasty, opinionated university types, though, is that nobody was left to develop technology. As a result, stealing science and technology became a huge imperative for the Chinese government in the post-Mao age.

Now that China has avoided the routine random slaughter of university professors for a few decades, they have a powerful and effective scientific/engineering community, but that community remains hamstrung by government agencies that are so corrupt that they make Western governments appear to be honest and efficient by comparison. So stealing technology and military secrets remains a priority for China. In fact, it remains a priority for all governments that have the ability to effectively spy.

It’s easy to get angry at the Chinese for being the thieving crooks that they are, but let’s be realistic a moment. The Chinese would give us the standard Chinese answer to that indignation. They would—and frequently do—laugh at us for being so stupid as to allow ourselves to get robbed. In this, they are right.

Most of the Western corporations that whine about the Chinese hacking their computer systems and stealing their technologies have factories in China manned by Chinese employees. While unemployment remains depressingly high in Western nations, these same Western corporations are building yet more factories in China.  Wondering where all your GM bailout cash went? It went to building factories and research centers in communist China. No need for the Chinese to steal GM’s technology. GM gives it to them on a silver platter. And YOU paid for that silver platter!

Whose job is it to secure US military secrets? Is that the job of the Chinese? I don’t think so. Hacking into US intelligence and military networks should not be a “crime.” It should be an impossibility. The fact that it can be done at all is a travesty. Basic compartmentalization to keep top-secret data off of internet systems would prevent that.

So while we listen to the not-so-new news reports about Chinese theft of US technologies and military secrets, we should perhaps not bother questioning China’s spin-doctors. Instead, we should be asking our own government and corporations why it’s happening in the first place.

The Original Bond–Ian Fleming

By Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes

In spite of last night’s Oscar snub of Skyfall, it is arguable that no Hollywood character has been more enduring or more popular over the decades than Bond. James Bond. Novelist Ian Fleming’s never shaken, never stirred superstar agent of Britain’s MI-6.

Watching the Bond movies would likely leave viewers thinking that Fleming was a novelist with a good imagination and little or no knowledge of the often grueling, sometimes tedious, and almost always dangerous work done by real life intelligence operatives. The lavish spending on equipment and accommodations and the hours spent tossing money around in posh casinos filled with apparently lonely, glamorous women would make average MI-6 employees chuckle to themselves. But Ian knew more about MI6 then he ever explained to the public.

Ian Flemingfair use under US copyright law

Ian Fleming
fair use under US copyright law

Fleming came from a wealthy Scottish-English family that some sources say traces back to an Elizabethan intelligence operative, John Bond, whose motto was Non Sufficit Orbis, or, “The world is not enough”. Fleming grew up in posh private schools. After graduating from Eton College with some of the highest honors ever achieved by an Etonian, he entered Sandhurst Military Academy. Fleming found Sandhurst boring and tedious and left early, though on good terms with the staff.

He then traveled to the continent to study and perfect his abilities in French and German in preparation for applying to work in the British Foreign Office. The brilliant Fleming mysteriously failed the Foreign Office exam and did not opt to retest. He quickly found a position as a journalist with the Reuters news service and spent part of 1933 in Moscow.

In retrospect, his failure on the Foreign Office exam may have been arraigned by MI6 recruiters to keep him “clean” of association with the British Foreign Office in order to enable “deep cover” peace time work for the British intelligence community. On the eve of WWII, Ian accepted a reserve commission as a subaltern in Britain’s renowned Black Watch regiment. In 1939, Rear Admiral John Godfrey recruited Fleming to work in Naval intelligence.

In the snail’s pace promotion world of the British Navy, Fleming quickly rose to the rank of commander. His imagination served him well in naval intelligence. He commanded a very secretive, elite special intelligence force known “Assault Force 30.” Fleming selected men that he felt had the intelligence and sophistication to recognize valuable information that normal commandos might not notice.

Fleming also helped found the highly successful “T Force” for the purpose of recovering Nazi technology from the collapsing Nazi empire at the end of the war. T Force was more successful than anyone imagined possible. Anyone but Fleming, that is.

In the last year of the war, T Force used intelligence from a variety of sources to locate and acquire valuable information on the latest NAZI inventions. The Nazis had developed several new weapons that they no longer had the industrial infrastructure to produce, or could not produce in significant numbers. The British and their allies profited tremendously from T Force’s acquisitions of the latest German developments in jet engines, rockets, chemistry, submarines and electronics.

Flemming never spoke of his war-time activities to outsiders. Some say that Assault Force 30’s heavy casualties when they were misused by allied commanders in the Normandy invasions had left him deeply affected. To strangers and journalists, Fleming always minimized his war experiences with vague stories of a paper pushing office life. However, enough information was pieced together over the years by curious investigators to know that the man who wrote the charming and fun James Bond series, as well as the children’s story, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, was a real life, deadly special agent and the leader of British naval intelligence’s most elite WWII group.

One charming story of Fleming is that he once heard about a party to celebrate the production of a Bond movie that he had not had a hand in. The party was allegedly held at a mansion in the Bahamas and attended by several British royals and other VIPs. Given the concentration of politicians, millionaires, and royals, the security effort for the party was massive and included troops of machine gun armed guards with guard dogs. The party was held on a large patio-pool area and adjoining lawn on a hill top overlooking the Atlantic. Fleming allegedly slipped his way through the security cordons, walked through the crowd, accepted a glass of champagne from a waiter, was noticed by a few of the movie people who knew him, and, as a murmur grew in the crowd, he stepped out of the light and vanished.

On August 12, 1964, Ian Lancaster Fleming died of a heart attack. He is interred next to his wife, Anne Fleming (1931-81), and their only child, Caspar Robert (1952-75), in the village of Sevenhampton, England near the Welsh border. His entertaining character, James Bond, lives on.

The 23 Bond films are not only fun and interesting, they are a photo album of the last fifty years of changing societal issues and attitudes toward war, space travel, feminism, realism in film, and exactly what constitutes a hero.

What are your favorite Bond films and why? Are there any you would like us to review?