Category Archives: Don’t be THAT guy

PC Plod seizes “3D Printed Gun Parts” — that weren’t.

Hot-Fuzz-2The Greater Manchester (England) Police are looking staggeringly inept after a highly publicized raid that seized “gun parts” turned out to be nothing of the sort. Working on a tip, the Manchester rozzers seized a MakerBot Replicator 2 and a number of works in progress that they trumpeted in a media event as “gun parts.”

Greater Manchester Police have seized a 3D printer and suspected “homemade” gun components during police raids in Manchester. Detectives initially said the parts are being testing to see whether the gun were viable.

They said more than that. The pointy-headed flatfeet trumpeted that they’d seized gun parts including a “gun clip” and a “trigger.” But they hadn’t, actually: the “gun parts” were Replicator 2 spares. The “clip” was a filament spool holder, and the “trigger” a feed pawl for the filament feed. Fail.

“Gun Clip,” per the Greater Manchester Police.

Filament spool holder, per Makerbot. Heh.

Police have issued a new statement following earlier claims after the 3D printing community pointed out they may be harmless printer upgrade parts.

“We need to be absolutely clear that at that this stage, we cannot categorically say we have recovered the component parts for a 3D gun,” write the police in the statement.

“Can’t categorically say,” PC Plod? Taking time to walk this one back, apparently. You know, the longer it takes to admit you blew it, the more embarrassing it is. People in the 3D community recognized the parts almost instantaneously when the first press release hit:

3ders user Chris Thorpe says “they’re replacement parts for a MakerBot”, and user Joo and Kit F point out that “gun clip” is a spool holder for the Replicator 2.

via – 3D printer ‘gun parts’ found in Manchester raid may be parts for a printer | 3D Printer News & 3D Printing News.

Still, despite the British cops twisting in the wind as bunglers, it’s very different from the bungling our Yank cops get up to. Nobody’s been shot (not even the dog). Or beaten up, or thrown on death row because some payroll patriot in the evidence locker lost the DNA proving him innocent. So, there is that.

One hopes the media will be there when a red-faced policeman — undoubtedly one much lower-ranking that the one that ordered the raid — brings back the MakerBot.

Incidentally, you can’t really make guns on a MakerBot very well, as they only really support polylactic acid (PLA), and PLA isn’t strong enough. The Liberators the Australian police and the BBC blew up were deliberately made flimsy, by using PLA and as little as 20% infill (the instructions specify ABS or nylon, and 100% infill). They also used 9mm parabellum ammunition in the .380 chamber. Gee, shocking it blew up, eh?

Poly-Ticks: Separated at Birth?

A Tale of two Nutballs

Jerry Brown

Jesse Ventura

Governor_Jerry_Brown Jesse Ventura
Associated with a California industry — loopy politics. Associated with a California industry — Hollyweird.
Sometimes shaves head so others can bask in the glare of his brilliance Sometimes shaves head so others can bask in the glare of his brilliance
Parlayed being a politician’s kid to fame and fortune Parlayed being a frogman to fame and fortune
Adored by Press for his entertainment value Adored by Press for his entertainment value
Has a lot of lawyers at his beck and call Has a lot of lawyers at his beck and call, too. But poor Jesse has to pay his own lawyers.
Everyone thought his career was over Everyone thought his career was over
Has too many bodyguards for someone to clobber Doesn’t
Is rumored to have a silicon implant in his chin Is rumored to have a glass chin
Subscribes to loopy conspiracy theory: gun owners cause CA crime Subscribes to loopy conspiracy theory: all the rest of them.
Panders to Hispanics Impersonates Hispanic
Replaced Schwarzenegger in Governor’s Mansion Survived by Schwarzenegger in Predator.
Has a demeaning cartoon image of members of the gun culture and military veterans Spent his entertainment career establishing demeaning cartoon images of members of the gun culture and military veterans


Politics, n. From Greek poly-, “many,” and ticks, “small bloodsucking arthropods.”

Kiddie Diddler to be Released on Technicality

Timothy McKenna, admitted child rapist, 2010 mugshot.  Coming soon to a day care center near you.

Timothy McKenna, admitted child rapist. 2010 mugshot. Coming soon to a day care center near you.

Miranda, the man, came to the usual bleak end of those who choose a life of crime, but Miranda the <i>decision</i>, and its progeny, have gladdened the heart of many a violent criminal. Take Timothy McKenna, who admitted raping a five-year-old girl. But he didn’t stop there — he kept raping her. And raping her. Until she was ten, and getting too old for him. (In the way of these creatures, he no doubt moved on to another child).

He raped her just about daily — somewhere between hundreds and two thousand times.

But when the cops came to talk to McKenna, they were too hard on him, the NH Supreme Court just ruled. (Alternate link).

McKenna was at the Errol campground and restaurant he owned when two Newmarket officers and a state trooper arrived in October 2010 to question him about a report of sexual assaults. They asked him to get into the cruiser to talk, but McKenna asked whether they could walk and talk instead.

The uniformed trooper remained in his cruiser as the two Newmarket officers walked around asking him about the allegations. McKenna walked toward the woods, but the officers stopped him, saying they wanted to stay in the trooper’s line of sight. After about 75 minutes and several admissions by McKenna, police say, he was placed under arrest.

The majority said the officers’ insistence that McKenna not enter the woods and remain in view of the trooper was a “significant factor” in the court’s ruling that McKenna was in custody and should have been read his Miranda rights. The three justices said the officers’ polite manner and calm voices do not diminish the accusatory nature of their questions and their assertions that they thought he’d committed the sexual assaults.

But hey, he’s all but a hero, to his fans. He’s the Jerry Sandusky of the ACLU set: sexually transgressive, and he didn’t use one of those icky guns. Well, in a manner of speaking.

The judges ruled that the confession, the arrest, and everything that flowed from it was tainted. McKenna must be released, and stricken from the register of sex offenders, lest the decisions of those cops crimp the perv’s ability to target his future victims.

But here’s a little fact, from the Supreme Court’s own opinion, that the media hasn’t picked up:

The officers had an arrest warrant in their possession, and it was their intention to arrest the defendant that day, unless the defendant provided the officers information that established that he could not have committed the crime — for example, if the defendant had evidence that he had been outside of the country during the alleged incidents.

In other words, nothing McKenna could have said (since, as we know now, he did rape the child) would have prevented his arrest that day. But criminal-loving judges can erase it and turn him loose. Q.E.D.

The prosecutor from this case believes that there are other victims out there, who didn’t come forward.

In one of the bizarre turns the case took, the judges ruled that McKenna must walk because the police told him they had evidence of his guilt: “confronting the defendant with evidence of guilt,” they said, “weighs in favor” of him being under arrest and subject to a Miranda warning.

The forgotten person in all this legal argy-bargy is, as usual, the victim. It took years for therapists to convince the emotionally shattered child to come forward and testify against her tormentor, which the brave girl, by then a teenager, did.

She’s 20 now, old enough that she might have kids of her own. And it a couple of years, they’ll be just the right age for Timothy McKenna. But hey, the usual suspects are cool with him, because he’s just Doing His Own Thing™, and Who Are We To Judge™?

There was a time when our society would not only convict a monster like McKenna, we’d cheerfully execute him. Yet our law schools, law firms, and courts are full of people who think what McKenna did was no big deal — no doubt, some of them think he can’t be a criminal because he didn’t use a gun.

Random stuff happens in courts all the time. The courts are so mired in verbiage that any occurrence of justice is the purest happenstance. And we grow inured to the lawyers’ toxins and their poisonous effect on society. But this decision is as wrong as raping a child.

Pulling Gun in Road Rage? It does happen.

tim high mugshotAt least that’s what New Hampshire State Troopers say about Timothy High, 29, who they say fired a Smith & Wesson pistol at a woman on Route 101 in Exeter. Route 101 is a high-speed, divided highway, but has only two lanes in each direction, so there are frequent jam-ups due to people not passing in the passing lane. That produces frustration, which some people can handle emotionally. And some, apparently, can’t.

According to state police, troopers from Troop A in Epping received a call reporting a road rage incident involving the discharge of a firearm on Route 101 eastbound in Exeter around 9:18 p.m. Saturday.

Troopers responded to the area and a short time later, Trooper First Class Gary Ingham spotted the suspect vehicle driving eastbound in Hampton east of Landing Road, state police said.

Ingham stopped the vehicle and arrested High.

Troopers located a Smith & Wesson 9mm semi-automatic handgun while searching the vehicle, police said. Ingham determined High allegedly fired the gun on Route 101, while involved in a road rage incident with an unidentified female driver, police said.

High spent Saturday night and Sunday in jail, and was due to be arraigned Monday. He’s living proof that all of life is an IQ test, and he’s going to be receiving a long, drawn-out, “no-go,” in a way that only the legal system can.

Many anti-gun campaigners warned, as far back as the 1960s when the overwhelming majority of states made legally carrying concealed firearms difficult or impossible, that cases like High’s would be commonplace if states liberalized their carry laws. After nearly 30 years of liberalization, only occasional cases, like High’s, crop up. The same story recaps some other 2014 NH road rage cases, including another in which a gun was brandished, but not fired:

On May 28, police arrested a Vermont man in Lebanon for allegedly pointing a gun at a woman on Mechanic Street in a reported road rage incident. A woman called police about 7:50 a.m. to report a man, driving a Vermont registered vehicle, had tailgated her and then pulled out a gun. Police found the vehicle and identified the driver as Nicholas J. Downey, 25, of Wilder, Vt. Officers found a handgun in his vehicle and arrested him for criminal threatening with a deadly weapon.

But there were also other cases in which firearms were not the road rager’s choice of weapon. In April, Keith Hoyt of Goffstown was arrested in the act of punching out another motorist in Manchester. And in August… well, we’ll let the Union Leader tell the story:

Police were called by a man who stopped after he saw a vehicle nearly hit a woman crossing a parking lot.

He approached the driver of the vehicle and the driver, identified by police as [24-year-old Matthew] Merrill, threatened to shoot him and began waving a hatchet at him, according to police.

The man ran back to his car, but followed Merrill’s vehicle while calling police, police said.

via Police say Manchester man fired gun in Route 101 road rage incident | New Hampshire Crime.

Note that the last assclown, Merrill, threatened to shoot the would-be White Knight, but only had a hatchet to brandish.

Maybe the problem isn’t the guns. Maybe it’s the rage.

None of these guys has a credible self-defense claim, so it’s quite likely that all of them will be seeing their sunlight in stripes for a while. What’s gonna happen when some other con tailgates ‘em in the chow line?


It gets better, for some values of “better” that include “weirder and more puzzling”. High was on his honeymoon at the time of his arrest. And he’s been ordered held on $25k cash bail, in light of the fact he’s charged with a serious felony. If he makes the bail and gets released, he’s to have no contact with his wife — she’s a witness.

None of our honeymoon stories can top that. 

At his arraignment, High pleaded with Judge Sawako Gardner to lower his bail so he could get out of jail.

“I was actually on my honeymoon that night,” said High, who told the judge that he has three children and works two jobs.

After he was stopped in Hampton following the shooting incident, his wife, Dawn High, who was a passenger, told police that her husband had engaged in a “road rage” incident with another vehicle earlier.

“She also stated that her husband rolled down his window as she was looking at wedding pictures on her phone. She said shortly after the window was rolled down, she heard a ‘bang.’ She stated she saw the flash of the gun and began yelling at her husband. She was asked if the ‘flash” was a result of her husband, Timothy, shooting the gun, which she stated yes,” State Police Trooper First Class Gary Ingham wrote in an affidavit.

High initially denied he fired the gun, but during further questioning, Ingham said High admitted to shooting a single round toward the ground.

You have to wonder what these folks were thinking. Still no word on what in the name of Niffelheim motivated High to take that shot (which he admitted doing, saying he fired towards the ground).

Also, he’s clearly not au courant in the DAMN acronym for brazening out the consequences of some stupid action.

His name was Bubba, and he came with the wrong tool

So there’s an M16A2 upper on GunBroker last week, and no one is bidding. We’ve bolded the reason why.

For sale is a Government surplus M16 A2 upper with an FN made barrel. This upper would be perfect, and I would be keeping it, except someone decided to put it in a vise to change the flash hider. Upper comes complete with bolt, carrier, and charging handle. I do not know the manufacturer of any parts other than the barrel. Please ask any questions before you bid as this upper is being sold “AS IS”. No FFL required, will ship right to your door. Thanks for looking and be sure to check out my other auctions!

via M16A2 Complete Upper w/FN barrel, not Colt M16 : AR15 Parts at

Yikes. Lookit this poor forlorn thing:

bubba strikes M16A2

The other side is similarly bubba’d.

He doesn’t know the manufacturer of any other parts, but the forge markings tell us it’s an FN upper forged by Kaiser Aluminum. It would build a nice FN A2 for someone wanting to fake it with an 80% lower and some CNC markings. Of course, you can now buy a de facto FN A2 at your LGS. And be confident Bubba has not been at it with a vise (or a set of Vise Grips, or whatever jerry-rigged abomination he applied to that poor rifle).

Maybe Bubba the Gunsmith is not the right name for this guy. Maybe it should be Bubba the Gunsmite, as in, Bubba who smites guns with Old Testament-worthy blows.

Breaking: Scruff Face out to Solve 911 “Mystery.”

Ex- (not “former,” he’s definitely “ex” these days) SEAL Jesse Ventura has some show we’ve never watched on some cable channel we’re not going to waste time trying to find. And he’s going to find out who weally weally blew up the World Trade Center, how fire melted steel for the first time (Mr Bessemer, call your office), and what planet the passengers on the plane that he’s sure didn’t hit the Pentagon are being held captive on. Or maybe it’s one of NASA’s sound-stages where they faked moon landings — ol’ Glass Jaw Scruff Face is kind of hard to follow these days.


Jesse’s new show (of which he hopes to get the 14 retweeters and the 17 who “favorited” that tweet as viewers, which would give him a viewership that still rounds to zero) is called, we are not making this up, Off the Grid. Fortunately there is no law, regulation, convention or moré requiring “Truth in Television.” Or it would have to be Off his Rocker, or maybe, Off his Meds. 



Here’s what we want you to investigate, Scruff (as fellow special operators we feel like we’re on a first name basis with you, eh?): “How the ethics of truth telling as practiced in, say, the SEALs, raised to a standard in Rogers’s Rangers Standing Orders (“Don’t Never Lie to a Ranger or Officer”), or customary among the various sorts of first responders who went into the smoking buildings, and the history books, on 9/11 — how do those ethics of bald truth square with the ethics of lies, deceptions and misrepresentations that’s the norm in fake Pro Wrestling, Hollywood, and television in general?”

When the phone doesn’t ring, we’ll know it’s Glass Jaw Scruff Face not calling. He’s probably on the phone with Sly saying, “No hard feelings about you not calling for Expendables w/Various Roman Numerals. I’m totes too busy with this 9/11 conspiracy gig on a tv station that’s so lost in the high numbers even Comcast doesn’t bother screwing with its reception.”

But hey, he’s just asking questions!


Yeah, we had a teammate who died there and then, and there were others who had hairy, pure-luck escapes, but remain shaken by the experience – even 13 years later. Hell, we went to war in middle age because of that, so guys who are push half-assed conspiracy tales (like you do) don’t impress us. You know, you guys who haven’t read the voluminous and credible reports, and instead prefer to slur various Americans based on the say-so of internet poseurs who couldn’t find their asses with both hands and a telescope. But you’ll tell us you’re not really putting down the people you’re putting down: no, you’re just asking questions. 

So, in that spirit, we’ll close by just asking a question. We notice that you, Scruff, wear a turtleneck lots of the time. Is that an homage to the sixties, or did your circumcision leave a really bad scar?

The Education of Bubba

Here’s a thread in ARFcom’s Build It Yourself forum where the consequences of gorilla (no, not “guerrilla”) gunsmithing come home to roost.

The modular nature of the AR let Our Hero (who just joined ARFcom, and thus dwells in Baby Duck World) assemble a working one first shot:

I built my first AR, took it to the range and it shot great. No malfunctions and great groupings.

Since he titled his thread, “Shouldn’t have messed with [it]” we have already had some foreshadowing of the fact that he did not leave well enough alone, and he didn’t:

I didn’t like the compensator I had though so I bought the standard A2 style flash hider. Put my upper in the action block and into my vise.

Anybody see what’s about to go wrong here? Class? Bueller? Anyone?

We’ll explain. The action block is for protecting the receiver, which although forged 7075 is still only a thin-walled alloy forging, while removing, installing, and especially torquing a barrel. We’re going to emphasize what’s next: action blocks are not for removing muzzle devices. Why not? Well, consider the following as a crude illustration of an AR barrel, with the letter E being the chamber and barrel [E]xtension, the letter A being the gas block or FSB, and the letter D in brackets being the muzzle [D]evice:


So what our novice protagonist did was secure “E” and apply torque at about “D” — 16 or 20″ distant. The barrel is fairly stiff and acts more like a torque tube than a torsion bar, delivering most of that torsion efficiently to the interface between the barrel extension and the upper receiver — where nothing resists that torque but the barrel nut, a little, and the locating pin on the extension which fits into a matching groove in the upper receiver. The locating pin is just for lining the barrel up consistently; it’s not made to bear torque loads, but it is steel and the aluminum alloy slot it rides in is even less able to resist. The pin can bend, but it’s steel. What usually happens is that it springs the upper receiver or cuts the metal of the upper.

What happened here:

The comp came off no problem but the crush washer did not so I got a screw driver gave it a few taps and it came off but damaged the threads on the barrel a little.

Repeat after WeaponsMan, please: “The right tool for the right job.” In fact, write that down. There will be a test. Because all of life is a test — an IQ test.

If you have a crush washer that will not come off, you can thread it off. Don’t worry if you have to mark up its perimeter with pliers or even grind flats on it to get purchase with a wrench, because then you’re going to throw it away. Many fasteners, from the rod bolts on your 350 Chevy to the crush washers on muzzle-devices, are made for one use only.

If you gouge the threads, the right thing to do is to chase them with the right size die. WWBD, though — What Will Bubba Do?

It didn’t look too bad so I put on the new flash hider and it wasn’t too hard to get on I attributed it to the damaged threads but when it got down to the crush washer I had to put some serious torque on it to get it to line up but it went on.

Yeah, ’cause nothin’ fixes threads like cross-threading something else over them. Note also the calibrated Bubba torque wrench, with its precsion torque meter:

  1. Faint city-boy torque;
  2. Some torque;
  3. Some serious torque;
  4. King-hell torque.

Well, “some serious torque” may not be what the -50 says but the proof of the pudding, etc., so how did Our Hero Bubba do at the range?

at 25 yards it was shooting 8 inches high and 6 inches to the left I knew it would change my POI a little but I had to adjust my sights as far as they would go to zero it again and I know that is not right and I am not okay with that since I didn’t have to adjust the sights at all the first time I went out.

He didn’t say anything about the size of the group changing yet, just point of impact (POI) shift. any muzzle device causes a point of impact shift. Ceteris Paribus asymmetrical devices cause more of a shift than symmetrical ones. The M16A2 flash suppressor is asymmetrical — two “slots” are not milled out, so that no gas escapes in that direction. Those slots should be oriented down, to reduce the amount of dust that’s kicked up when the gun is fired. And so you do have to expect

Quick rule of thumb: a fresh AR upper should work with the windage and elevation near the center of their travel. (A few clicks off absolute center is OK. Most of the way to the end of travel, is not OK). If it doesn’t, Bubba is In Da House.

He’s also violated the Golden Law of Troubleshooting: change only one thing at a time. But for a Bubba, he wises up quickly, and makes one change:

So I took of the muzzle device off and found out I cross threaded it and thought that was the issue so I shot it again with no muzzle device and same thing 8 inches high 6 inches left but still a great grouping its just not where I want it to be.

He found the POI change was the same with the A2 flash suppressor and without it:

i dont think its anything with the muzzle because I shot it with the cross threaded flash hider and with no muzzle device just exposed threads and it shot in the exact same spot for both

Ergo, it wasn’t the A2 cage per se that changed his point of aim. But something did it. Without examining the bubba’d upper, we can’t diagnose it, but our guess is that it was a consequence of either damaging the muzzle crown in his enthusiastic attack on the crush washer, or of torque damage to the barrel assembly or its seating in the upper receiver.

Amazingly — it is ARFCom, after all — he got good advice about what his problem might be, and he began to take it. His responses:

[D]oes this mean I need a new barrel or upper receiver or just take it all apart and re torque everything down to specs?

…I will take it apart as soon as I get home from work and see what she looks like. And my die to re thread the muzzle is supposed to come in today….

Barrel is a gov profile barrel. I learned my lesson and ordered all the correct equipment for my next build….

Ok took it all apart and everything looked fine except for the feed ramps but I could hardly tell they didn’t line up its barely noticeable. Put it back together torqued it all to specs and took it to the range. its shooting in the same exact spot maybe just an inch lower this time but still way off. So I have no idea whats going on

The bit about the feed ramps not  lining up tells us he did torque the barrel out of its place in the upper receiver, and the consistent and continuing shooting to a point of impact eight inches out from the point of aim strongly suggests the receiver is hosed, probably where the barrel alignment pin sits.

In the end, he (with a lot of help from the board) came to the understanding that he needed to try a new upper. He lacks the tools, information and skills to inspect his present upper.

Update: I can zero the rifle but I have to adjust the front and rear sights to their extremes which I am not ok with. It is to the point that when I shoulder the rifle I need to remove my cheek from the stock to get a clear sight picture (sure optics would work) but the poi is out of my comfort zone. So I ordered a new upper from Anderson and just my luck the upper is botched and my bcg hangs up about halfway in and my charging handle won’t fit either. So I’m calling them on my lunch break to see what they can do for me.

One suspects that he’ll learn a lot, and in the end have a shootable rifle, but right now he doesn’t. Contrary to what is said in the thread, a displacement of point of aim can come from a damaged crown (without necessarily opening up the groups) but his problem is almost certainly a bubba’d upper receiver.

Eight inches is rather badly out of spec. He can’t even use this thing as a burglar defense gun now, unless the burglars where he’s at are broader in the chest than the skinny meth heads we have around here.

What he should have done, and the things he did right

So, what should Bubba have done, and his rifle would be good and accurate?

He should (as he undoubtedly knows now), have clamped the barrel forward of the FSB (or, with an FSB block, at the FSB) before R&R’ing the flash hider. He definitely should have gotten some advice before putting his back into the wrench on the flash suppressor.

But he did some things right. He asked for help, and most of the comments in his thread gave it to him. He didn’t act on his first impulse, which was to reef on the barrel again, clamping it with a Reaction Rod instead of an action block. (A Reaction Rod is the cat’s ass, but doesn’t address the problem of applying force 15-20″ away from where the barrel’s anchored). Few things can produce more expensive scrap metal faster than impatience at the armorer’s bench.

And a Final Warning

One last warning. Many people take on a flash suppressor replacement as a first attempt at customization. There are a million different kinds to try out. And it’s so tiny, it’s trivial, right?

No, not right. This guy’s results explain why that’s not necessarily a good idea: Just because of part is small, doesn’t mean it’s easily handled, or susceptible to trivial customization. Make your first experiments in AR-smithing on some part of the firearm that is not critical to accuracy and reliability. (That means, not the barrel).

He flew a drone in Yellowstone

He flew a drone in Yellowstone
Because he saw no sign at all
And now he sits in jail alone
On every side a concrete wall

He only sought to launch his quad
And get a picture from on high
Park rangers struck, the hand of God
And now he counts the days gone by

Dumb cluck! He thought he had the right
And dared to be unlike the crowds
A lonely impulse of delight
Droned to this tumult in the clouds

He balanced all, with thoughts so brisk
He thought him safe, and all alone
And so he took a little risk.
They got him, though. Him and his drone.



Written 1st September, 2014, on learning that the Park Service considers operation of a quadcopter or other consumer drone in a National Park a serious crime, deserving of a kangaroo court in front of a rubber-stamp US Magistrate (not a real judge), and six months’ durance vile.


With apologies to the long-dead Irishman whose form, and two of whose lines, fell to hand.

(FMI: Park Service press release).

John Walker: Go Direct to Hell

Inmate ID: Cancelled. We'll see you in Hell, Johnny boy.

Inmate ID: Cancelled. We’ll see you in Hell, Johnny boy.

There are obituaries that make a guy sorry that the subject of the obit died. There are obituaries that make a guy humbly grateful that the decedent ever lived. And then, there’s John Walker’s obituary. It just makes a guy sad it took so goddamn long.

RALEIGH, N.C. — A former American sailor convicted during the Cold War of leading a family spy ring for the Soviet Union has died in a prison hospital in North Carolina, officials said Friday.

Retired Navy Warrant Officer John A. Walker Jr. died Thursday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, Federal Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said. The cause of death was not immediately released. He was 77.

Walker was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty in 1985 to passing secrets to the Soviets while he was a shipboard communications officer.

The security breach was then considered among the largest and most devastating leaks of military secrets in the nation’s history.

A cryptologist, Walker used his high-level security clearance to provide Navy codes, ship locations, and other sensitive data in exchange for cash. After his 1976 retirement, Walker recruited his son, his brother and a friend to keep providing the Soviets fresh information. All were convicted.

via Former US sailor who passed secrets to Soviet Union, led family spy ring dies in prison | Star Tribune.

Walker provided more than just “codes.” He provided technical manuals on encryption systems, which allowed Soviet cryptographers to reverse-engineer the systems. Of course, the systems were of limited utility without the keys. The keys are the instructions for setting the configurable features of a coding device or a cryptological add-on for a communications system, and they are changed at intervals to confound hostile cryptologists. Without the keys, even having cloned or captured KW-7 hardware was useless to the Soviets.

So Walker provided the keys.

KW-7 Orestes keystream cipher unit.

KW-7 Orestes keystream cipher unit. The KGB got the keys from Walker, and working units from USS Pueblo.

One of the systems he gave to the Russians was Orestes, a keystream cipher that used the KW-7, an encryption device used on teletype links (among other applications). The KW-7 was used to encrypt the SOG data links between SOG HQ in With Walker’s help, Russian SIGINT personnel were able to read the daily cables describing upcoming SOG RT and Hatchet Force operations in Laos and Cambodia. The Russians then “sanitized” the information (stripping it of details that would expose their sources and methods) and provided it to their allies, the People’s Army of Viet Nam or, in our terms, the NVA.

Dozens of men were slain, and a few captured, because John A. Walker wanted more money than he was worth. Entire teams were landed into the arms of waiting, tipped-off NVA. The Russians had received KW-7 data from other traitors (at least one of whom preceded Walker and has never been exposed) and later got a crypto windfall, including two functional KW-7 machines, and the then-current keys, from USS Pueblo. According to former KGB officer Oleg Kalugin, the Pueblo captures were key; according to former KGB officer Boris Solomatin, the  Walker info alone was of critical importance and allowed the 8th Chief Directorate to reverse-engineer the device (both interviews paraphrased and linked here).

The fate of the Pueblo crypto was very controversial. In 2001, the late Lloyd Bucher, commander of the ship, insisted that the Norks got nothing of value (.pdf) because the KW-7 was in wide enough use as to guarantee that it was compromised. Bucher thought the treason of Walker was much more serious than the loss of his ship. On the other hand, a Top Secret codeword NSA/CSS damage assessment (.pdf), since declassified, indicated that the ship’s cryptologic technicians (the Navy rating that handles cryptography and intercept efforts) were effectively interrogated by Nork specialists, and “ineffective… destruction… resulted in the compromise of the cryptographic principles embodied in the KL-47, KW-7, KWR-37, and KG-14.”

The NSA/CSS analysts, of course, couldn’t know that Walker had provided an ongoing supply of crypto keys.

It took three years after Walker’s arrest for the US to begin replacing the compromised KW-7s. Meanwhile, the 8th Chief Directorate was hanging on the teletype links’ every word.

Cops to Cons, for Capping Cervus Canadensis

…or, for Whacking a Wapiti. That’s an elk, for the rest of us.

Back in 2012, a large bull elk begin roaming the streets of the Mapleton Hill neighborhood of Boulder, Colorado. Many Mapleton residents considered the large beast harmless, and a rather welcome presence in their neighborhood. They named him “Big Boy,” and enjoyed watching his forays against their fruit trees. Others just tolerated the animal: if there’s one thing plentiful in Boulder, it’s “tolerance” — just ask ‘em. But three men saw a trophy for the taking. Most people couldn’t just up and shoot a tame elk in the middle of a built-up urban area, either for reasons of conscience, or out of concern for law and safety, but the three conspirators were cops: Sam Carter and Brent Curnow, Boulder city cops, and Jeff George, a Boulder County deputy. They figured that their badges would protect them from any consequences, and planned the hit by text message.

Carter, a military veteran,  fired the shot on the night of January 1, 2013. Here he is, posing with his trophy.

Sam Carter great white hunter


Note the lights — including residential Christmas decorations (or, being that it was Boulder, Kwanzaa or Festivus, maybe).

Residents were alarmed, and appalled. So was the police leadership, when they learned that Carter and Curnow had lied to them in the immediate aftermath of the case. Text messages between them showed that the killing of the elk was premeditated. After they came under suspicion, they tried to destroy the evidence by clearing their incriminating texts.

All of the texts and calls from that night had been deleted on Carter and Curnow’s phones when they were seized for evidence, but investigators were able to obtain them from their respective cell phone carriers.

George from the first claimed that the two city cops had told him they were ordered to kill the elk, and has never wavered from this self-serving, if implausible, story. As we will see, his stubbornness has paid off.  This is Carter, posing again, with George as photographer:

Carter and Deputy

Both of the city cops were at first suspended with pay. Then, both men were indicted on a nine felony and misdemeanor charges each, and the Chief moved to fire them. The charges included:

…suspicion of forgery, tampering with physical evidence, attempting to influence a public official — all felonies — as well as unlawful taking of a trophy elk, conspiracy, a Samson surcharge, killing an elk out of season, unlawful use of an electronic device to unlawfully take wildlife and first degree official misconduct — all misdemeanors.

Curnow took a sweet plea deal for one “exploding” felony charge, and four misdemeanors. He was sentenced to 60 days’ house arrest and a year of probation; if he completes it (which should be happening within a month or so), his felony record will be expunged.

The case had a definite impact on the public’s perception of the police in Boulder:

“It’s a case that has struck at one of the most important things in any community — the ability to trust law enforcement,” [DA Stan] Garnett said. “We’ve been trying other cases where potential jurors said, ‘I don’t know if I believe a police officer because of that case of the elk.'”

Judge Butler echoed that observation, saying police officers need to be “beyond reproach.”

“It’s the breach of the public trust that’s the most egregious part of this case,” Butler said.

With Curnow out of the way, the legal system began whetting its incisors for a taste of Carter. The DA was more keen on Carter as a suspect — he had shot the elk, after all — and would not give him the same deal Curnow got. With the best deal on the table still leaving him a for-real felon (the DA says it never got to the point of an actual offer), Carter had nothing to lose by going to trial.

Meanwhile, his life plunged out of control. From being behind the badge, he wound up in front of it, again, busted for DUI. He scraped out of that with a suspended license, but was subsequently arrested again, again, for driving under suspension. Months after his felony indictment, the courts discovered he hadn’t surrendered his weapons as he’d been ordered.

The trial went badly for him. Curnow testified against him, as did a wildlife biologist. Jeff George and other Boulder cops testified against him, saying that he was in the habit of disabling his cruiser’s GPS to keep sergeants in the dark about his whereabouts. After ten days or presentation, the jury expeditiously convicted him on all nine counts. He could have been sentenced to six years in the state pen, but instead, the DA was reluctant to recommend more than a year. He told the Boulder Daily Camera that sending a cop to prison is “complex.” (They’re only slightly safer inside than kiddie diddlers; neither cons nor screws care a whit for a crooked cop).

Ultimately, the gavel came down on Carter, and he was sentenced to four years’ probation and 30 days on a work gang. The judge considered his lack of a prior record (the motor vehicle problems were subsequent) and his prior military service. But unlike his friend (or former friend perhaps) Curnow, he’ll be marked as a felon for life. He made an abject apology at his sentencing hearing. Neither he nor Curnow has been able to find steady work.

Oh, and George? Nothing happened to him. He’s still on duty at the county.

Maybe that’s why the elk have been staying in the hills this year.