The area schools will soon be out for Spring Break. This means that there will be droves of youngsters riding bikes, running around playing, and enjoying their freedom for a week. I used to look forward to this break when I was a kid. Even though we usually still had snow on the ground, it was a taste of summer freedom and marked the winding down of the school year to me. I also had to get a new suit and get all dressed up for at least one day. While our boys greeted this event with about as much enthusiasm as I did at their age, the girls loved getting new frilly, flowery dresses, especially if a matching hat was involved! My, how times have changed! Now I look forward to those days when I do NOT have to wear a suit and you'd be hard-pressed to get either daughter into anything flowery or frilly. These days, Spring Break signals the official start of baseball season for me. Now there is something to get excited about! ~ Michael S. Pauley
As we approach a major holiday time in both the Christian and Jewish faiths, our eyes are drawn to that part of the world where both of these holidays were born. We see the turmoil in the region and many think the worst, seeing portents of end times. This is not the first time the Middle East has been in conflict of this magnitude and, no doubt, it will not be the last. Passover is the remembrance of a rebellion against slavery and injustice. The events of what we now call Easter began during a time of up-risings and rebellion against the rule of the Romans. Both events changed the face of the world forever. We look to the Middle East and see things that make us fear more world-changing may be on the way. As with WW II, there are those who want to rid the world of others they deem unfit. We humans seem to affect our world through violent actions. Let us hope that this is not another such time. ~Michael S. Pauley
I hate getting political, but yesterday a story broke that bears a little comment. There is an old adage, (sadly I have no idea who said it first), that goes like this: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” When the news broke the other day that Israel was spying on the talks with Iran, I couldn’t help but chuckle. This sounds a lot like the news from a year or so ago, where it was released that the United States was spying on Germany, Spain, France, and even the UK. Imagine that, we were even accused of listening in on Chancellor Merkel’s phone calls!
Once I stopped laughing, I couldn’t help but recall the height of the Cold War, where spying was pretty much an art form, practiced by professionals. There were actually Rules of Ethics that applied amongst the professional “spook” community, and it was not only understood, but accepted as a matter of prudence that everyone spies on everyone else. Nations do this constantly, and honestly, it would be sheer folly not to engage in such things. National interests demand it, and so this “revelation” was hardly an eye opener for me.
In my Third Book, I talk about things like trade craft, and methods of intelligence gathering, used by everyone on the planet. They range from the classic human intelligence (spys), to the more sophisticated intelligence gathering that comes from other sources such as Signal, Satellite, and now, Cyber Intelligence (Hackers). From the information gathered, people like ISIS produce hit lists (not subtle at all, but, hey, it is ISIS). Historically, and as just mentioned, all of our Enemies will develop target lists or information about our strong and weak points. We’re used to this concept, and so we automatically assume that spying is all about keeping an eye on your enemies.
Well, it doesn’t stop there, and it NEVER has stopped there. Our friends keep an eye on us to know how we’re going act or react to certain things. While not the thing of spy movies, it is a long established practice. I hate to say it, but this really is normal “spook” behavior, as is the use of the intelligence to influence things with our friends. Most of the time, the more usable intelligence is about our allies, and yes we use this information to influence negotiations and international deals all the time. Sometimes, the information from your friends can be of greater value than information from your enemies, for a myriad of reasons that do not include anything sinister.
So, when we talk about spying on friends, I’m NOT shocked at all. Instead, I would be more shocked if it didn’t happen amongst all nations. Sometimes these very things prevent misunderstandings, just like in the Cold War, the use of the back channel probably saved us from huge mistakes that could well have ended the world. (Thank you History Channel for getting some of the more recently declassified stuff out here for us to peruse.) In this most recent incident with Israel, if we’d not seen someone come and Address our Congress, thereby offending some rookie wanker at the State Department, then we never would have had the unsubstantiated story leak to the “press.” This is the crux of the latest “spy scandal.” Someone embarrassed someone else in our Government. Now we’re going all “Mean Girls” about it.
Having said all this, the real problem for our State Department is that they are going to be hard put to actually produce evidence of this “spying.” This is a P-5+1 negotiation, which means that the players are not only spying on each other, they are spying on the other side, and each of these groups verbally leaks like a sieve. In other words, as a veteran of watching such things, this begs the question. Why spy when you can just turn on an open source TV, and get all you need from the press leaks coming out of all the parties themselves. In case you haven’t noticed, the Iranian press has this story covered four ways from Sunday, and in another shocker, Israeli’s do check the Iranian News Wire. That isn’t spying, that is just common sense.
Face it, the concept of open source leaks of critical information, at the worst possible time, is hardly a new thing. Ask the guy who gave the press briefing at CENTCOM, who told the world about the timetable for an offensive on Mosul. Was this a leak to mislead or was it simply an act of stupidity? The answer to that question is critical to any analysis in which an intelligence agency has to engage. Is this real or a trick? Part of that game is to check the timing, see who has the most to gain from such a thing, and then the answer will usually appear right in front of you. So, back to the question of Israeli spying. Do they? Absolutely. Did they this time for the reasons stated? Probably not, since there is no need to do something that has been leaked all over the place.
Getting upset because someone used an open secret, that you yourself leaked to the world through countless press reports, is both very disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. So, I think even a casual observer can answer the real questions: Who do you think gained anything from this finger pointing exercise? Who is wanting to divert our attention from what they are doing? Who has the ax to grind? Gee, could it be the same people who constantly want us to engage in “hashtag” diplomacy, or “reset” buttons? Could it be that notorious group of self absorbed snake oil salesmen in the State Department? Oh, wait, the State Department? Do you mean that fine upstanding institution that has ignored our friends, and created problems where there were none for well over 200 years? While I don’t know for sure who gave us this ridiculous bone to gnaw on, but looking at State sure explains everything to me. Face it, Foggy Bottom has a long established record of being able to break an anvil with a rubber mallet, and in this case, they want to create hard feelings, and win the day against those evil doers that embarrassed them! Sadly, knowing how the game is played, I can’t help but feel as though I’m watching a poorly written episode of a teenager angst show on Disney. ~ Michael S. Pauley
After the internet adventures Saturday, we kicked back Sunday and OD'd on pre-season baseball. We had DVR'd several games which either came on way past my bedtime or before I wanted to get up on a Sunday. So we watched them back to back. Just as well, since the weather was just rainy enough to preclude wanting to leave the house. Now back to the grind of the real world. Have a great week! ~ Michael S. Pauley
There was no update Saturday because the internet was out for many miles all around us. It was out for more than 12 hours, which caused much wailing and gnashing of teeth for those expecting to see the March Madness games. We were not as affected since both my bride and I had books to read. While we were not able to update this website or check e-mail, we kicked it old school by calling some people, reading, and watching old Godzilla flicks. It was a beautiful day, so some time was spent outside enjoying it before the rain moved back in today. We are old enough to remember LBI (life before Internet), but I did not realize how dependent I had become until I did not have it for a while! ~ Michael S. Pauley
Today is the first day of spring and that is always a cause for excitement. We can look forward to the weather warming up at some point in the future, daffodils are already blooming and robin redbreasts are in the yard. It is a time for new beginnings. With that in mind, I made a new start on the third book. It was already about three-fourths written, but I had set it aside for almost a year! Time to get back to it and finish what I started. Problem was, it had been so long, I had to re-read it to refresh my memory. I am now ready to take this new Spring energy and get to work! With all the celestial activities, like solar flares, eclipses, and Auroras, aliens just add to the wonders from the sky.
Happy Spring Equinox! ~ Michael S. Pauley
It doesn't seem to matter which news channel you watch, you still don't get much of anything unless you sit there reading the snippets that run across the bottom of the screen or spend part of your day digging through their websites. For example, while the talking heads were perseverating over missing e-mails and some rich guy who may or may not have killed his wife and friends, we weren't hearing much about events on the other side of the globe. For example, Putin is back and Russia's Northern Fleet is on full alert for snap combat drills in the Arctic region; their Baltic fleet, the Southern Military District, and the Airborne Forces have been put on high combat alert as part of large-scale drills. The Ukraine has set their military on full combat alert due to the situation in eastern Ukraine.
While we are inundated with 'reality' shows, reality is going on all around us and most of us are fairly clueless, not because we don't care or aren't interested, but because it takes so much time and effort to find the news and decipher what it might mean for us and the world. ~ Michael S. Pauley
One never knows how to dress at this time of year in the South. While we had forecasts for thunderstorms this weekend, it wasn't as bad as we'd feared. Temperatures were fairly comfortable. We are supposed to be in the 80's for the next few days, then, BAM, a 20-30 degree drop overnight to highs in the 50's and 60'S. My mother and my bride were saying that they have sweats, long pants, capris, and shorts, with appropriate tops, within easy reach and may wear them all in one day! I start out the day in so many layers I look like Ralphie's brother, Randy, only to spend the day stripping them off and putting them back on. Yet no one throws any dollars. Oh, well, at least I get my exercise wrestling with the sweaters and coats. ~ Michael S. Pauley
Today is Friday the 13th. While I am not onto that particular superstition, many are and I hope their day goes well. Let's also hope that all the St. Patrick's Day festivities do not suffer too much from the weather. Watching the weather reports, it looks like there is a forecast for scattered thunderstorms in/around Savannah, which is known for its St. Patrick's Day activities. Boston, home of another legendary St. Patrick's Day celebration, also has rain in their future. Although I don't think a bit of rain ever stopped the Irish, or those who are Irish for the day. The Chicago crowd will have sunshine and be in the 40's. Perfect for a parade and a wee drop'a. Slainte and Erin Go Bragh! ~ Michael S. Pauley
According to a report from Reuters, Russia, as of March 10, will no longer participate in a consulting group on the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. This effectively ends Russia's participation in the 1990 security treaty. Russia had already said, in 2007, it would pull out of the treaty. I guess that time is now. For those who follow the news and events in that region, this cannot leave a warm and fuzzy feeling. Shades of the Cold War. As the weather warms, let's hope events and tempers do not heat up,as well. ~Michael S. Pauley
Michael S. Pauley is a Navy brat and an old soldier who served in all three components of the United States Army. Living in Lexington, South Carolina, Michael is now a practicing attorney and member of the United States Naval Institute and the American Legion, Post 154, Tybee Island, Georgia.