Thursday, July 1, 2010

11th Spy Gone On Walkabout, Afghans AWOL In US, New Round of Nuclear Proliferation

Gail Collins
Mark McKinnon

‘What do you want to do? You take back your country — and do what with it?’ - Lindsey Graham
“We don’t have a lot of Reagan-type leaders in our party. Remember Ronald Reagan Democrats? I want a Republican that can attract Democrats.” - Lindsey Graham
“Ronald Reagan would have a hard time getting elected as a Republican today.” - Lindsey Graham

We have been on a run of arrests in this country, of spies and homegrown terrorist suspects, and it gives us a sense of confidence that we are being protected, that our police and governmental agencies are doing a good job to prevent another 9/11. Because usually they suck at detection, and if it wasn't for advanced electronics, I doubt that even our benign suburban spy ring would have been caught, even if they were handed over on a silver platter. Case in point, the 11th member of the spy ring, who was supposed to have been arrested in Cyprus, has gone missing. Because he was on his way to Russia, supposedly never to return to the US, that was the reason the others were arrested. Christopher Metsos was arrested, had his passport confiscated, then set free to wander the island instead of keeping him in a cell: "The individual should have appeared between 6:00 and 8:00 pm to police. He did not appear by 8:00. Some additional time was given and until now he has not shown up," Michalis Katsounotos, a police spokesman, said. "Police then went to check his hotel and he could not be located. After that we requested a warrant for his arrest."

He later added that police have "no indications yet" that Metsos had left the island or crossed into its northern Turkish sector. Police are monitoring all exit points from the Mediterranean island and the line dividing the Turkish-held north from the Greek Cypriot south. The hotel's staff said Metsos was last seen at the reception on Tuesday evening and had paid for two weeks in advance with a credit card." Evidently, living in a hotel on Cyprus is considered punishment enough. And these people didn't think that he would do what any teenager could do, evade authorities and hotfoot it away from one of the oldest boat smuggling centers in the world...

The government maintains a list of 8000 individuals posted on its no-fly list, and as we all know, they can't even keep it up to date and communicated to other agencies and airports around the world. Plus, there are often people on the list who should not be on there, and have a hard time getting their name taken off, as there is never any explanation why a name is added in the first place. There are five businessmen who left the US on trips, had their names added to the no-fly list, and now can't return. Last week it was reported that a six year old girl was added, again with no explanation. She did get a cool story to tell her friends...

Proving that the phrase "military intelligence" is still an oxymoron, the Air Force announced that over the last four years, 17 Afghanistan officers who were attending the Defense Department's English Institute's classes at Lackland Air Force Base, had walked off and gone awol, and they were just getting around to telling us about it by: "putting out a notice to military police and local law enforcement personnel, warning them to be on the lookout for the missing Afghans, members of the American-backed army who had been issued military passes allowing them to enter bases in the United States."
“The Fort Hood shooting caused people to pay more attention to unaccounted-for people who have fort ID cards”   - a military intelligence guy
“They were all ones and twosies, it’s not as if there was a mass defection."  - military intelligence officer
Thousands of foreign students attend the English classes each year, "In 2010, there were 3,243 trainees who went to the school, including 228 Afghans." A certain percentage of them go missing every year, so there is an informal underground that gives information on how to stay in the US at Lackland, and the defections had been treated casually until after the Fort Hood shooting, when they began to count heads and passes on each base.

So far, only 4 of the 17 have remained unaccounted for: "... an Air Force spokeswoman, Capt. Rose Richeson, said all but 4 of the 17 men had been accounted for. She declined to say which four were still missing, or what the Air Force believed had happened to them.

Of the 13 found defectors, 4 had already been arrested by immigration officials and were being held in federal detention centers awaiting deportation, Captain Richeson said, adding that they were in custody long before the notice was issued. (One of the jailed men, Mohamed Fahim Faquier, 23, has married a woman in San Antonio and is seeking residency.)

Eight others had crossed into Canada, Captain Richeson said. Six had requested asylum and two had been granted permanent residency permits by Canadian authorities. One man has obtained legal residency status in the United States."

This reminded me of a more innocent experience, when Seagate, the manufacturer of computer hard drives, decided to bring groups of Thai girls to their Scotts Valley, CA facility for training to work in a plant they had opened in Thailand. They kept the girls as isolated as they could, put them up in a local motel, bussed them to and from work, even took them out on group activities like shopping and the movies. By the end of their training period of six weeks, about half of the girls were pregnant, which put and end to the program. It doesn't matter how much you try, once people from poorer situations get a taste of living in America, a few will do just about anything to stay. We can only hope that our new Afghan guests will enjoy good old fashioned American hospitality, you know, where we hunt them down and rough them up in jail so they don't get too comfortable...

$4 billion in aid to Afghanistan is being withheld until the corruption in the government can be demonstrably improved. Good luck with that...

Stock up on your jasmine rice. Because of the drought this year, rice production in Thailand and Vietnam is predicted to go way, way down. These two countries are the two largest exporters of rice, so this will affect the world market within the next few months.

I just couldn't find anything very funny today, sorry. In fact, I have to end on a scary note. Because the US and India have improved relations, with US and Canadian nuclear technology being sold to India despite the fact that it still hasn't signed on to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, Pakistan just announced that it is partnering with China to modernize their technology, and that China will build two new nuclear reactors in Pakistan. Yep, this sure will ease tensions in the area... and China is waiting for the US to leave Iraq before trying to get a contract to build reactors in Iraq, as Russia will build the ones in Iran. Yep, this is all just for civilian uses, like making medical isotopes that Iran is claiming to do... Sleep tight.


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