"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

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Monday, May 02, 2011

"It DOESN'T!!!"...

...roared the CIA Records Keeper (Ernest Borgnine) to operative William Cooper (Karl Urban) in response to Cooper's observation, "I never knew this place even existed."

That's from the movie RED - See WANTED!!! -- For stealing these movies... to know what that's about.

In that movie, after an encounter with his target that did not go well at all, Cooper confronts his superior, "This is no retired analyst!  He's a very experienced field operative. What else have you been keeping from me?".

So he gets sent to meet the Records Keeper, in a vault deep in the bowels of CIA Headquarters, in which are kept what records exist of things that are never talked about because they simply never happened -- prompting Cooper's "I never knew..." statement.

In the Records Keeper's two-word response is the very essence of security.

Some of the coverage of Sunday's announcement about the death of Osama bin Laden had a lot of speculation about the U.S. Navy's SEAL Team Six, supposedly the ones who carried out and executed that attack (and bin Laden).

The very name of the outfit is a masterpiece of deception.  Supposedly, when the unit was first formed, there were only two SEAL teams (SEAL = SEa, Air, and Land) in existence, and the new commander (Richard Marcinko) supposedly named the unit as Team Six in order to confuse Soviet Intelligence as to just how many teams we had in operation.

It was to be one of two Tier One counter-terrorism and Special Mission Units.
(What's the other one?  The U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta -- better known as Delta Force).

In the late 80's, the team was supposedly dissolved and replaced by a new unit called Naval Special Warfare Development Group, sometimes shortened to DEVGRU, but still called SEAL Team Six (almost certainly for disinformation, or "confusion to the enemy" reasons).

You may have noticed that I've been using the word "supposedly" as frequently as Obama's economic team uses "unexpectedly" in their reports of how the economy is doing.

This reflects on how much (or how little) is actually known, vs rumor, speculation, and deliberately planted disinformation.  If something is big enough to make it impossible to be kept completely secret, then adding tons of bulls**t to the mix can frustrate those trying work out the details.

One common theme in speculation on how these units function is their being outside of the normal chain-of-command structure and rarely (if ever) keeping records of their activities.

That last part sounds as if it makes sense; to refuse to comply with a Senate Investigation Committee's request for documents risks a firestorm, and to destroy such documents is probably a felony.

But, what do you do if such records never exist in the first place?

Problem with that notion is that records are kept for very good reasons; CYA probably being chief among them, but also to keep track of what worked and what didn't, for future use.

Finally, for all the romantic speculation about these units being outside of the normal chain-of-command, they are still a part of the United States Navy and the United States Army (in the case of Delta Force); two of the mightiest bureaucracies on the planet.

A bureaucracy without records?  Right!!!

You wouldn't write that as fantasy, because even fantasy should be plausible on some level.
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