Category Archives: Lord Love a Duck

TSA: Turkeys Strike Again

The world’s most incompetent “security” agency did it again, and wait till you see what it did. The gist of it:

Eleven passengers strolled through a security lane without being screened at Kennedy Airport early Monday after Transportation Security Administration agents left the area unsupervised, law enforcement sources said.

There was no one present to operate the magnetometer and the X-ray machine, or to do pat-downs and secondary screening….

Instead of following protocol and notifying Port Authority cops, it took the TSA two hours to tell police about the frightening breach, the sources add.

Just how horrible was this security breach?

The unscreened passengers — three of whom set off a metal detector — didn’t even have to take off their shoes to get through security, according to a photo of two of the men obtained by the Daily News.

Oh, God. They didn’t even take off their shoes. What is the world coming to?

Of course, the TSA immediately fixed everything, right? Er, wrong. Remember, no one good, decent, honest, competent, moral, ethical or intelligent has ever been employed at TSA in any capacity whatsoever. We call that the Fundamental Law of TSA. Rather than fix anything, these bozos continued screwing up by the numbers.

Rather than notifying the police, who are specifically trained to handle those situations, the TSA used its own agents to search for the unscreened passengers.

Well, that will lead to the usual “security” crisis: bureaucratic turf battles! Did it? You betcha:

“The TSA tried to mitigate the situation by sending their screeners through the terminal in violation of all the protocols,” a source said. “The protocol says law enforcement is immediately notified.”

As you might imagine, TSA’s brain-dead trust was not successful in suddenly repurposing themselves as Emil and the Detectives. When they realized that they couldn’t find The Unclean the unscreened, they finally sent up a signal flare to the real cops.

Well, Port Authority cops.

But regardless of which cops they were, that received this belated notice from the screenergarten, it was too late.

When they were finally alerted, Port Authority cops flooded the terminal equipped with surveillance photos of the travelers, but none of them could be found, the sources said.

To us, the take-away from this is this: TSA’s passenger-harassment game broke down for a period… and nothing happened. That’s because targeting every single passenger as a terrorist threat, because the nation doesn’t have the stones to actually target the known wolves of actual terrorism, is not doing anything but pretending to provide security.

It’s security theater. But the joke is on us, as a nation, because after 15 years of uninterruped failure by TSA, the most brilliant North Star of incompetence in the entire Milky Way of incompetence that is fed.gov, the rubes demand their security theater:

“It’s scary that people could just walk in like that. It’s seems like something’s out of control here,” said Marie Ruiz-Martinez, 49, of Connecticut, who was at the airport to see her niece off to Puerto Rico.

No, it’s stupid that everybody can’t just walk in like that.

But somehow, even the ever-expanding purulent cyst of failure that is TSA has come to be comforting to our increasingly uneducated people. Prognosis: we’re getting more of it.

Social Justice 1, Olympic Shooting Sports 0

Matthew Emmons has been hogging the medals. He and the other guys need to share more with the girls. (His wife is also an Olympic medalist — for another country!)

If you follow shooting sports, you know that  USA Shooting is powerfully competitive if not dominant in the international shooting sports, and brings home lots of medals. This is especially true at the Olympics. And you know that the gun-hating TV network — whichever one has overbid to bring viewers an increasingly politicized, commercialized, and dull quadrennial sports event — will do its level best to minimize or ignore these sports.

But now, the sports themselves are being reorganized from the top down — and not to enhance competition.

The official reason for reshuffling the sports is, and we are not making this up, because the International Olympic Committee’s “Agenda 2020” demands 100% equal participation of men and women.  It’s basically Title IX for a slower, weaker, duller, more political, Feminist Olympics. If the US Olympic Committee didn’t buy off on this, the IOC would threaten the US’s bid for the Olympics in LA. (Fine. Hold it in Lagos then, or Manila. Let them pay to feed 10,000 useless IOC bureaucrats: the ones who only eat lobster, so long as it has to be flown in by Learjet).

For reasons that should need no elaboration, but in this day of you-go-grrl infantrywomen being carried through training by the male peers, and resenting them for it, will have to be elaborated on in a future post, women and men do not compete directly against one another in almost all sports. This means male sports must go to make room, as they have done at colleges.

The three sports on the chopping block are men’s 50 meter rifle prone, men’s

The IOC is irretrievably opposed to men competing directly against women — in most sports, women would be rare on the podium, although several of the shooting sports might be exceptions — so male events are being eliminated to create female events, and individual events are being deprecated to create “mixed double” team events, turning everything into the yawnfest that is Tennis Mixed Doubles.

A Tee-Ball, Participation Trophy Olympics.

The US Olympic Committee’s honcho, Scott Blackmun, has put his thumb on the scale — against his own athletes, as a nod towards Social Justice. Chris Dolnack of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) reports:

Perhaps most alarming is that the USOC’s motivation seems to be securing the bid for Los Angeles as host of the 2024 games. USOC CEO Scott Blackmun has urged USA Shooting to not participate in the ISSF vote, citing that there are already enough votes to eliminate double trap and that USA Shooting’s participation in the vote could hurt the chances of Los Angeles being awarded the games.

Angelenos and Californians should be appealing to their gods — whatever santeria believes in, we suppose, because that’s about the only faith superstition left in Greater Aztlan — that they don’t get the Olympics. Every city that’s had one since Montreal is still paying for it, except for Sarajevo, which cleverly got out of the debt by destroying itself in civil war.

But it’s a great deal for Scott Blackmun, and all the other Olympicrats.

Anyway, for a critical take, read the above-linked story by Dolnack. (We’ll link it again). To read what the fully-SJW-converged International Shooting Sports Federation has to say about it, go here. We’ll just excerpt a bit of question-begging (emphasis theirs):

Gender equality is one of the key principles in Agenda 2020.  Gender equality means all Olympic sports must have 50-50 men’s and women’s events and participation quotas for the Tokyo 2020 Games.  There are concerns regarding the shooting events program because there were nine men’s events and only six women’s events in the 2016 Games.

And, of course, because Diversity is Our Vibrancy™, this will magically decant us all onto the bright sunlit uplands, as New Soviet Man Gender-Fluid Cog in Society!

The changes necessary to achieve gender equality in Olympic shooting have great potential to make shooting an even stronger Olympic sport.  Deciding the ISSF recommendations to the IOC is a past versus future decision….

We march forward in the Vanguard of the Proletariat, the winds of history at our back!

Gender equality is right and the ISSF fully supports this aim.

Translation: no discussion is wanted or will be heard. Shut up and follow.

The changes necessary to achieve gender equality will probably include the loss of three beloved events that represent the past and no longer fulfil [sic] the highest standards for dynamic, growing Olympic events.

If we were one of those East German guys who got gelded to participate in female sports back in the nineties, and was DQ’d for it, we’d be pretty bitter.

The strange thing is for this to be happening in shooting sports, where women have always been much more competitive with the men than in any of the more physical, less cerebral sports.

The TSA Continues to Excel

Evil, or stupid? Embrace the power of “and”!

Excellence, TSA style, is in the news again, this time for its agents’ merry participation in a cocaine smuggling ring that has been running through Puerto Rico since prior to the misbegotten agency’s existence.

Not surprisingly, the smugglers found that TSA employees, far from threatening the criminal enterprise, were delighted to join in.

A dozen airport and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees have been arrested for their alleged involvement in a massive cocaine smuggling operation in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.

The defendants are accused of helping smuggle approximately 20 tons of cocaine through Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport over the course of 18 years, from 1998 to 2016.

The operation allegedly involved employees smuggling suitcases through TSA checkpoints at the airport and onto flights, with as many as five mules on some flights and with each mule checking two suitcases in some cases.

Six current and former TSA screening officers have been indicted in the case for their alleged role in smuggling cocaine through X-ray machines and onto airplanes without detection.

Since named TSA employees have been indicted, you know that this wasn’t a TSA internal investigation. TSA never prosecutes its own, no matter how heinous the crime, under the flimsy excuse that to punish insiders would risk exposing “critical security procedures.” So when you see a TSA goon standing in the dock, it’s not just to check that the defendant’s place is level (which you can tell, because the TSAnik drools evenly from both sides of his mouth). It’s because some other agency caught him.

An Airport Aviation Services worker, who was a baggage handler and ramp employee, is charged with paying TSA employees to clear the suitcases stuffed with cocaine; taking the suitcases to their designated flights; and giving a drug trafficking organization member the “all clear” for mules to board the plane.

“These individuals were involved in a conspiracy to traffic massive quantities of illegal narcotics to the continental United States,” Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, said in a statement. “These arrests demonstrate the success of the AirTAT initiative, which has successfully allocated a dedicated group of state and federal law enforcement officers, whose mission is to ensure that our airports are not used in the drug traffickers’ illicit businesses.”

Now TSA is claiming that they uncovered this inside ring themselves, but we know from the charging of TSA criminals that such was not the case. So who was it, really?

The Drug Enforcement Agency is in charge of the investigation, in collaboration with the FBI, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement-Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Marshals and Puerto Rican police.

Three Federal agencies and the PR cops made it too big for TSA’s usual under-the-rug treatment.

The TSA has dealt with a number of high-profile security lapses at airports in recent years, including a gun-smuggling operation uncovered at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in 2015.

via TSA employees arrested for cocaine smuggling operation in Puerto Rico | TheHill.

So, at least in this case, we should be glad that they were just smuggling drugs, and not guns. Or were they? Puerto Rico still clings to pre-Heller gun control, and yet has a high level of armed crime. Where are the guns coming from?

If the answer is, “through a TSA smuggling ring,” we know that the one agency that will never expose the ring is the TSA itself.

Once again, we have evidence of the Fundamental Law of TSA: No one good, decent, honest, competent, moral, ethical or intelligent has ever been employed at TSA in any capacity whatsoever.

When Guns are Outlawed, Only Outlaws will have Knives, Bats and Meat Cleavers

Lifestyles of the violent and illegal aliens — in England, where guns actually are outlawed. Criminalien Bilal Miah would have had his ticket punched by knife-wielding, cleaver-chopping, and bat-swinging Dalya Saeed, if the UK didn’t have really good emergency services.

The punchline? Dalya was Bilal’s estranged wife, and she whipped out the knife after a meeting about child custody segued into four hours of intense sex. The Sun (UK):

Dalya Saeed, 35, is accused of stabbing Bilal Miah, 31, with a carving knife and trying to pull out his intestines after the pair had romped.

A court heard part of Mr Miah’s small bowel was cut from his body and thrown on to the bedroom carpet.

The taxi driver, who had remarried, told a jury he desperately tried to push his entrails back into his stomach after being attacked by his estranged wife at her home.

Saeed denied charges of attempted murder and wounding with intent when she went on trial at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday.

Mr Miah told the jury he was attacked by Saeed at around 10pm on October 19, 2015 after going to her flat in Moseley, Birmingham.

He said the pair had argued about custody of their daughter before they ended up back on the bed.

Giving evidence, Mr Miah added: “Suddenly in the blink of an eye, and I didn’t see the knife, she stabbed me twice in the belly.

“I can only assume the knife came from either under the bed or the pocket of her dressing gown.

“My intestines were out, everything was out and she was grabbing hold of them, trying to pull them.

“She broke one of them and threw it on to the floor but I managed to put the rest of them back in my belly.”

The court heard Mr Miah tried to flee the flat but Saeed pursued him into the street where she attacked him with a wooden bat and a meat cleaver.

“The female of the species is deadlier than the male.” Once, Britons learned that poem in school. But of course these aren’t exactly Britons, are they?

He was only discovered in a nearby doorway at 3am when neighbours heard his screams and called police.

The jury were told Mr Miah suffered 30 separate wounds and spent ten days in hospital, where he had two operations, but made a full recovery.

The generosity of the British taxpayer, which no doubt Mr Miah and Ms Saeed are not, knows no rational bounds.

Prosecutor Adam Western told the jury: “The cuts were so severe part of his small bowel ended up on the carpet.

“She caused his injuries. Her intention was nothing less than to kill him.”

Well, on the one hand, who knows what ideas were among the bats in her belfry? But on the other hand, homicidal intent does seem like a reasonable inference, under the circumstances.

via Dad ‘had to stuff his entrails back into his stomach when his ex-wife disemboweled him after 4 hour sex session’.

ATF Cracks Down on Retro Builders using 80% Receivers

In an entirely unexpected turn of events, ATF has reclassified completed and even so-called “80% lowers” with a fake auto sear marking as machine guns, depending on who makes them. Here’s an image of one such receiver the Bureau has taken custody of and ordered destroyed.

The problem is that fake sear hole. Marking such a receiver with a small, engraved ring has been one detail adopted by detail-obsessed retro builders for years. The receiver above is a typical example of this detail obsession. It began as a so-called 80% blank, and has been completed to firearm stage. But it also has been engraved with Colt markings and extensively machined to change its profile from the current reinforced lower to the M16A1 vintage shape, especially in the vicinity of the pivot pin bosses and the buffer tower. Internally, the receiver remains AR-15 semi-auto profile only, and cannot accept M16 full-automatic parts.

High-pocket AR lower (l.) and M16 showing auto sear and more open receiver (r).

Under this novel, stretching interpretation, this 80% receiver blank, too, is probably a machine gun, even though it is not completed. No trigger group machining has been done, and it cannot accept machine gun (or any) trigger group parts.

There is no consistency to these rulings, and ATF lawyers insist that every ruling applies only to the single case at hand, which must be considered de novo, and that previous rulings are not precedent or even evidence. ATF lawyers will take you to court, and will fight to keep their own agency’s prior determinations out of that court.

The ATF has even given written approval to this engraving — when it’s done by large licensees who can afford lawyers to haggle over ATF rulings, like Colt and Troy:

(Troy has taken hits from the market before for hiring a disgraced ATF figure, and some infer an unusually cordial relationship with ATF management. The Troy receiver also has a couple of unique features, which are discussed below).

ATF has also approved the marking in the past, in letters to individuals and licensees, when it is out of position relative to the factory location of an auto sear. But the same engraving now, and done by or for a little guy who has no practical defense against an ATF attack? Strengstens verboten. 

When the definition of an object depends not on what it is, but on who you are, is it really law we’re talking about, or just power? Are we operating under a system of laws that claims derivation from the US Constitution, or under Hammurabi’s Code, which provided “different spanks for different ranks”?

This whole affair began during a routine inspection of US Anodizing in Virginia. All licensees accept such inspections, during which ATF inspectors or occasionally agents examine paperwork, inventory, and overall regulation compliance. Generally these are cordial and professional, but given the weak firearms knowledge of many ATF personnel, and its politics-first pursuit of gun control enthusiast personnel, sometimes they lead to disagreements or disputes. (And some licensees screw up; nothing thrills the ATF more than the chance to hammer a licensee, the bigger the better). On this particular inspection, there was no tension and no suggestion that US Anodizing was doing anything wrong, but ATF initially set several lowers in-process aside for further review. The inspector made a tentative determination that lowers completed from so-called 80% lowers, and showing any indication of a mock auto-sear pin anywhere on the side of the trigger group, was a “machine gun” because it would be “readily convertible.” That’s even in the case of a firearm that would require considerable internal machining to accept MG parts.

There were relatively few receivers — more than three but not more than six — with such a marking on site, but others may have passed through in the past, given this feature’s popularity with retro-heads.

The ATF actually hasn’t seized the receivers in legal terms. Instead, it is holding the receivers and has demanded that the owners voluntarily surrender them to be destroyed, or face prosecution. They say that this is a generous offer that they don’t have to make but are willing to do because they have determined that there was no intent to violate the law.

But, and here’s the rub, they’re demanding that the owners not only allow the ATF destroy the receivers, but also, that they sign a sort of Chinese-show-trial-confession letter, admitting having produced an “unregistered machine gun.”

UPDATE: The following was received from the owner of the 1st receiver illustrated above:

The 1st pic is of my receiver. I am one of the 6 or so that have had my receiver seized. I must tell you that this part :

But, and here’s the rub, they’re demanding that the owners not only allow the ATF destroy the receivers, but also, that they sign a sort of Chinese-show-trial-confession letter, admitting having produced an “unregistered machine gun.”

…is not true. I, at least , have only been given an ATF Form 3400.1. I have NOT been asked to sign anything admitting to creating anything or breaking any laws.

We stand corrected and have lined out the paragraph in question. Form 3400.1, Property Taken into Bureau Custody, is used in nonjudicial takings. It describes the property, and the person or entity from which the property was taken, but does not require or expect any admission of anything. This OIG report of some of ATF’s problems (.pdf) managing seized property in the 2004-05 period shines some light on the regulation in question, ATF 3400.1B. ATF takes approximately 200,000-300,000 items a year, of which about 10,000 to 30,000 have historically been firearms.

The owner of the receiver in the first illustration above decided to sign the ATF letter and let his “machine gun” be destroyed; others, who are not in the crosshairs of the ATF like he is, have criticized him for “caving,” but his choices are (1) give the ATF the Cardinal Mindszenty confession uncontested, nonjudicial surrender-of-property that they want, or (2) fight, with the possible outcomes of: (2a) a pyrrhic “victory” that would leave him a financial ruin after years of stress; or, (2b) a decade of two in Club Fed.

Of course, given the legal constraints and historically demonstrated character of the ATF as an institution, you can choose (1) and get (2a or 2b) also, if they feel like making an example of you.  Today. For something they approved for Harry yesterday and will approve for Tom tomorrow.

It is hard to fight this kind of creeping, arbitrary, whimsical regulation. Under most US regulatory law, the courts defer almost absolutely to the regulatory agency. As we understand it, and we’re not lawyers, court precedents rule that the expertise on any particular regulatory area is contained within the regulating agency.

There are social and organizational dynamics at work in the current regulatory environment. Once a field agent or inspector makes such a allegation, it’s the instinct of the Firearms Technology Branch to produce whatever it takes to support the ATF officer and keep him or her from losing face, even at the cost of the FTB’s and the Bureau’s reputation for consistency and even integrity.

ATF argues that Colt and Troy are doing something slightly different. For example, Troy’s receiver has a bridge between left and right sides, and is engraved REPLICA – SEMI ONLY for those law officers not steeped in firearms design and construction. But the real underlying problem is baked into regulatory law: there’s no reason that ATF can’t argue the law any of several different ways in different cases at the same time.

We see this ATF power grab casting a chill over the retro movement, which is a small and relatively inconsequential. But the bureau’s real target is the “80% lower” builder in general and the entire home gun building movement, which senior managers and the Chief Counsel’s Office would like to criminalize. This is one of the things that senior managers such as Thomas F. Brandon, who put the ATF behind the Hillary Clinton campaign in major newspapers, was hoping to get out of the Administration they wanted. (Wanted and expected. They had initiatives ready to go).

This is a legal minefield and anyone in this position needs a professional and experienced attorney (i.e. experienced with the ATF and with Federal gun laws).

 

 

 

You Can Always Trust the FBI

Fidelity… Bravery… and we forget what the “I” is, but it sure as hell isn’t “Inventory Control.”

An HK MP5 in 10mm has been lost by a southern California special agent. According to the agent, the submachine gun, the mag and ammo, and a protective vest were stolen from his or her car (the agent remains unidentified… when they screw up, FBI Special Agents are secret agents).

That was January 8th, in Lafayette. Or maybe it was January 9th, in Concord. Wait, it was the 8th or the 9th, in Concord, Lafayette or maybe Orinda. But, whatever, it’s missing now. 

Have you seen this lost puppy? Dial 1-800-FBI-CLUE (OK, that’s a joke, call the number in the actual post).

The Bureau snuck the press release out at the witching hour of all Washington embarrassments, Friday night, so there have been only brief stories in the San Francisco Chronicle (warning, autoplay video) at about 11 PM Friday, and Fox News even later, on Saturday.

Meanwhile, if you’re a SoCal WeaponsMan reader, and happen to stumble across the missing MP5-10, the Bureau requests you to call them at (415) 553-7400 or online at http://tips.fbi.gov. They certainly don’t want you to, say, take a picture of it for the media, and call the media after calling it in to your local Law Enforcement, who can get the pleasure of making whichever SA or manager snubbed them last, beg for its return.

Heard at the range: “Ah, he probably got tired of not having 10mm ammo and tossed it in San Diego Bay so they’d give him one in a caliber they could give him ammo for.”

The news stories linked above both reference a California law meant to address the epidemic of police carelessness with firearms, but CA has no authority over Federal LE. And, after all, they are the Only Ones dependable enough to be trusted with the careless storage of such terrible firepower. Because the FBI agent has always been a model of integrity.

If the agent was a local cop, a soldier, or God help him a citizen, he’d be getting the third degree right now. But he won’t. Because the FBI agent has always been a model of integrity, his word stands without question.

Rodney King Day, 2017!

As long-time readers know, we like to celebrate Rodney King Day. As we said in the first ever WeaponsMan Rodney King Day story:

Sure, some people celebrate another Civil Rights King this day. But his maybe-relative Rodney’s story resonates with us more, in part, perhaps, because one of the cops that helped make Rodney King famous was an SF guy. (Which one, we’re not saying. It was not our finest hour).

But the main reason is that, in the middle of 1992’s violent, destructive riots (55 dead and 2,000 injured), caused by people supposedly supporting him, Mr King went on the radio with this sentiment, the one that underlies any workable approach to civil rights, and that bespeaks tolerance and respect for your fellow man.

“Can’t we all just get along?”

In 2012, the LA Riots that Rodney, peace be unto him, tried to tamp down were already 20 years old. This year, they’re 25, and it’s fair to say that “race relations” in America are worse than they were before the LAPD tuned him up for resisting arrest all those years ago. In fact, even the phrase, “race relations,” adds to the toxicity of the situation, implying that people have no individuality, nothing more important than the bands of skin-tone-marked ancestry into which they can be conveniently sorted.

Who benefits from this? Not the average soul in our fair land, whatever his or her ancestry might be.

Can’t we see each other as individuals? And, if we can do that, can’t we all just get along?

Here’s some of our past Rodney King Day columns:

And if all else fails, remember how we closed the column in 2014?

“Can’t we all just get along?”

Of course we can. Mostly. But for the times when we just can’t, well, there’s always weaponsman.com. See you on the range!

Indeed. See you on the range!

What 17 Intelligence Agencies?

If you’ve heard all the drama about “17 Intelligence Agencies” recently, you might have wondered 1. who the hell all those agencies are, and, 2. why do we need so many?

Unfortunately, we can’t answer the second question. But we’ll take a shot at the first.

The current, highly dysfunctional and ineffective structure of the intelligence community was a result of a re-organization after the 9/11 Commission found that interagency rivalry and stove-piping prevented unity of command and efficiency in the IC. So they created several new agencies, including “One Ring to Rule Them All,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which duplicated the primary function of the Director of Central Intelligence. They also created the duplicative Department of Homeland Security.

So, Congress’s response to too much bureaucracy in intelligence was to create two more enormous, empire-building, and completely non-operational bureaucracies. That bid against each other, raising the prices of credentialed and cleared personnel in the National Capital Area, and have 17 independent, redundant and leaky massive overhead bureaucracies. None of the overhead — the great bulk of the personnel and costs of these agencies — does a thing to secure an adversary’s secret or protect a friendly one. Feeling safer, yet?

So, the ODNI (website here) is one of the agencies. Here’s how ODNI presents what it sees as the subordinate 16 (not all the agencies are subordinated willingly):

That’s a really illogical way to do it, and we have no idea why they listed them like that. Wait… duh. They’re in alphabetical order. OK, let’s break it down functionally and historically for you. With ODNI accounted for, we have 1 down and 16 to go.

First, we have Cabinet Departments that want to horn in on intelligence. DOE was formerly involved in nuclear intelligence, because it’s involved in nuclear everything. State contains the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which has always been an attempt to duplicate CIA capability in Foggy Bottom, and has a long history free of significant attainments. Treasury wants to play the-spy-as-auditor. And DHS has already been mentioned. Treasury and DHS do have some agencies with intelligence capabilities, mostly domestic. This accounts for 4 more of the agencies: 5 down and 11 to go.

There are the service intelligence bureaucracies, five of them (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard), plus the long-standing DIA which is mostly another duplicative analysis shop, but does run some military HUMINT and CI projects. This happens because the main HUMINT agency has dropped the ball on HUMINT and is unresponsive to military tasking. 10 down and 6 to go.

Then, we have the flatfeet. These agencies are primarily crim catchers, but DEA gets intel (mostly by liaison) about transnational drug traffic that often has other intelligence implications, and FBI has internal security and national security responsibilities — they’re supposed to be our prime spy catchers. These 2 chiefly-crimefighting crowds bring us to 12 down and 4 to go.

The four that remain are what you probably think of when you think of US intelligence. They are divided along functional lines of intelligence disciplines (the “INTs”).

  1. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) runs HUMINT (as well as an organization that institutionally hates to leave the flagpole can), runs any collection it can, and runs a comprehensive all-source analysis shop. It has some paramilitary “regime change” capability, first developed early in the Cold War but now waxes and wanes because many politicians have turned against it.
  2. The National Security Agency (NSA) runs most electronic and technical intelligence collection and analysis, using swarms of military personnel as its foot soldiers (think Bradley Manning). Its Central Security Service branch is also responsible for securing American codes and ciphers. Like CIA, it was established by the National Security Act of 1947.
  3. The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), in conjunction with the Air Force Space Command and other intelligence agencies, manages intelligence collection via overhead platforms. Until the last couple of decades, its very existence and everything it did was classified.
  4. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) is a textbook example of bureaucracy creep. Like the NRO, the NGA’s intelligence work is kept mostly secret for good reasons. It also has overt and public responsibilities; it used to be the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA), before that it was the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), and before that it was the very prosaic Army Map Service. Along with its secret responsibilities (many of the agency’s personnel and contractors got a well-deserved attaboy for the OBL raid), the NGA also makes our maps and charts, both paper and digital. (Having used stuff from all round the world, our digital stuff can be incredibly awesome, but the Russians make the best paper maps by far).

That brings us to 16 agencies plus ODNI. Now, frequently you will see some Beltway drone or chinless broadsheet bloviator talking about what “17 intelligence agencies” (or “16” if the berk leaves off the DNI) did or didn’t do, and that should act as a handy tag, like the ones that Tracking Point puts on a target, but a kind of photographic negative version — a marker that that guy is so stupid he’s not worth shooting and/or so dishonest that he’s not worth listening to. When you hear “17 intelligence agencies” all you need to understand is “ODNI Opinion” which generally means something coming from the top down. From the political appointees and the career officers who suck up to them.

“The last piece of the puzzle before we can execute this mission will be the ODNI analysis,” said no one operational, not in any of the “17 agencies” nor military services. We can guarantee you that. ODNI is entirely a Beltway political knob-polisher and brings nothing to the the intelligence community but more headcount (and a concomitant lowering of the entry bar and product quality). They do, however, have a lot of really flashy document formats, logos, and slide deck templates.

This may be because they have learned what leaks best to their journalism pals.

Most of actual production of useful and actionable intelligence is done by individuals and very small teams, usually working for a single agency, often taking the sort of risks that ensure that they, ultimately, won’t be promoted, and the teeming HQ credit-thieves will.

Our bloated, blind, and Beltway-bound intelligence community is mostly in the wrong place. Intelligence is, mostly, foreign information, but we insist on gathering it and analyzing it from DC desks.

Fun facts:

  • the majority of our intelligence analysts have never been to the countries or regions on which they’re supposedly experts.
  • Perhaps 5 or 10% are functional in the languages of their target area. Professional fluency is vanishingly rare, and usually rests on immigrants and first-generation Americans.
  • Many analysts have never been outside the First World.
  • Another large percentage of them, who have been to the area, were on an escorted 7-capitals-in-11-days tour.
  • You can rise to the Senior Executive Service level in any of the agencies without ever having to move from your Maryland or NoVA suburb.

And yeah, we’re worse off in intelligence than we were on 11 September, 2001, despite producing vastly more output (and leaking it, to the press and adverse intelligence agencies, but we repeat ourselves). Because we didn’t solve the bureaucracy problem, we exacerbated it. And we blew billions — and continue to blow billions — on the project.

Which is increasingly a government jobs program — the WPA for liberal arts graduates. Except, we’re still using some of the useful bridges and town halls the WPA built.

(Note: with this post, we’ve added a new category, which we seldom do. A lot of previous writing on Intelligence and Espionage has been characterized as Unconventional Warfare, but they’re not the same thing. For practical reasons, we’re probably not going to go back in five years’ of archives reassigning the new I&E label, but we’ll use it going forward. -Ed.)

What’s an Original 1911 Worth?

Well, this one didn’t draw a bid… even for a penny.

And a penny bid would have taken it… it was a no reserve auction.

Obviously, you didn’t see it, and we didn’t see it. And no, they didn’t relist it that way.

We’re guessing that this was an error by the seller, a pretty high-volume FFL.

(The link to the auction is still live at press time. At some point it will go stale).

Had someone bid the cent, he’d either have gotten a gun valued between $1k-2k for $35.01 plus his transfer fee (there was a $35 shipping charge, which is fairly standard), or the seller would have had to plead error, welsh on the sale, and risk getting toxic feedback.

The pistol was a relatively uncommon M1911 (not A1) pistol. The 1911A1 was introduced in 1927, and all the vast quantities of pistols that were made from then to 1945 were A1s. But the original 1911 was the World War I pistol, and some original 1911s — rebuilt several times –served right up to the last days of the .45.

We’re kind of glad this sale didn’t happen… we all like to get a bargain, but who likes to see a seller get ripped off, even due to his own error? We all benefit from a healthy gun-industry economy, including manufacturers, importers, and retailers.

Of course, if someone had snagged the 1911 for very short money, the seller would have had one positive result from it: he’d never, ever make that mistake again.

The Hijab Jab

To steal a gag from the mighty Horwitz brothers (and Larry Feinberg): Hasan Ben Sober. Eric Fanning’s model soldier.

In a last-minute strike at the service he worked tirelessly to undermine and disrupt, outgoing Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning issued a rule subordinating Army uniform regulations to mohammedan dress codes. Now commanders must allow scruffy beards, turbans, hijabs, and other ancient Arab dress affected by extremist moslems.

Brigade-level commanders now must grant religious accommodations to any soldier seeking to wear a religiously mandated beard, turban or Muslim hijab while in uniform with only a few exceptions, Army Secretary Eric Fanning wrote Tuesday in a memorandum. Previously such uniform exemptions had to be approved by the secretary.

“The soldier’s brigade-level commander will approve a request for a religious accommodation …unless the commander determines the request is not based on a sincerely held religious belief, or identifies a specific, concrete hazard that is not specifically addressed in this directive and that cannot be mitigated by reasonable measures,” Fanning wrote, noting the new policy would be added to Army Regulation 670-1, which defines the Army uniform appearance standards.

Supporters of the “Social Justice Secretary” have been spinning the rule as an accommodation for the handful of unquestionably loyal Sikh soldiers that the Army has been blessed with over the years, but its real intended beneficiaries are moslems like Nidal Hassan, the failed doctor turned Al-Qaeda murderer at Fort Hood.

The Army has granted several Sikh soldiers temporary appearance waiversin recent years to wear neatly groomed unshorn beards and hair under a turban while serving in uniform. Those waivers were applied on a case-by-case basis, and most of them were granted only after the soldiers filed lawsuits seeking their uniform exemptions.

The new accommodations will be made permanent for soldiers throughout their careers once granted by their brigade-level commander, Fanning wrote in the memo issued in the final weeks of his tenure.

Meanwhile, Fanning’s office met with silent indifference the death of an SF support guy in Jordan.

A 23-year-old cook assigned to a deployed Special Forces group is the fourth soldier from that unit to die during their current mission.

Spc. Isiah Booker was operating construction equipment when he was killed Saturday in a non-combat related accident in Jordan, according to a Defense Department release. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group.

A 2,000-soldier task force is in Jordan under Operation Inherent Resolve, an amusing name for anything under the command of this waffling, trimming, difference-splitting Pentagon. The core of that effort is a Special Forces battalion, 2/5th SFG(A). Three soldiers from the unit were killed last year by a Jordanian guard in an apparent friendly fire incident. While Jordan is not without extremist elements, and the massive refugee presence is a threat to the nation’s stability, the Jordanian man in the street is far and away the most pro-Western and pro-US of any Arab nation.