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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Obama & Russia: Gulf of Tonkin, Redux?

Lots of excited tweets and press reporting about Russian "hacking," and Obama's "tough" actions against the Soviet Russian diplomatic presence in the USA. The State Department has ordered 35 Russian personnel out of the US, declaring them PNG, and shut down two large Russian owned compounds one on Long Island, New York, and the other in Centreville, Maryland. In its last three weeks in office, Obama's misadministration suddenly discovered that Russia spies on us, that many of Russia's diplomats are actually spies, and that those two compounds, owned by the USSR and Russia for decades, are used for "espionage." Ask the folks at Aberdeen Proving Grounds about that Maryland compound.

Wow! I guess Romney was right when he worried about the 1980's being back, eh?

There's a lot to say on all of this, but I will only say a bit--many others out there smarter than I are writing a lot about this. I am, however, just taken, really quite impressed, in fact, by how patriotic and national security conscious the Dems and the progs, in general, have suddenly become. Suddenly (there's that word, again) American security and sovereignty are at the top of prog and media concerns. They demand respect--Demand it, I tell you!--for the office of the President and his sole prerogative on foreign policy matters. We only have one President at a time, we are reminded whenever Trump's camp comments on anything having to do with foreign affairs. Those of us skeptical of some or much of the Russian "hacking" tale, get told that we have to believe the President and to stop siding with the evil Putin. I have to wonder if that will be the same line taken after January 20? Will Obama respect that admonition?

But, I digress, we have Commies Russkies to hunt down!

Re the "hacking," The Hill has published the FBI/DHS report on the matter. There are lots of people much better equipped than I to analyze it, BUT let me just note that on reading that report, I don't think it really makes the case. There are a lot of assertions but no real proof. Well, first it's not clear what the case is it is trying to make. Is it trying to convince us that Russia spies on the USA? Hey, Elmer, does the sun rise in the east? There are some interesting expositions on Soviet/Russian espionage techniques and history, and some flat assertions, but nothing that comes near being a smoking gun. Maybe that's in a more classified version of this investigation, and we will just have to wait, but for now, the "proof" is rather skimpy if the charge is the Russians "hacked" our elections in an effort to throw them to one side. As the report itself seems to indicate, access was gained to the DNC computers via an "old fashioned" phishing scheme that got a senior official (John Podesta, it seems) to give away his password and other information to "hackers" who then used his email account to gain access to the DNC. That's kind of a standard, run-of-the-mill Nigerian-Romanian-Chinese-Russian, etc. method. Anyhow, read the report; those more technically savvy than I can try to convince me that the proof is there for the accusation of Russian state "hacking" of our election.

As I have said MANY times, I am perfectly willing to accept, if for no other reason, on the basis of my own nearly 34 years in the Foreign Service, that Russian state actors engage in espionage and influence operations against and in the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, and elsewhere. I also am quite willing to believe that this administration has proven notably passive and inept in responding to Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Cuban, and North Korean penetrations of our computers and nets, both public and private. I also must wonder if all this "tough" response would be happening if Hillary had won the elections? Kinda doubt it.

One additional problem is that I am old enough to remember the actions of another Democratic President, the late LBJ, and the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which opened the door for our massive involvement in Vietnam, a place of no particular strategic or economic importance to us. There were a lot of creative accounts of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, not to say "lies" coming from the White House and Pentagon. I also recall many of the same people now demanding that we believe Obama as sitting in the front rows of the "Bush lied!" chorus when it came to our intervention in Iraq in search of WMDs. In that case, however, I would note that Bush did not lie; he relied on the intel provided him with great unanimity by agencies not just within our government but from around the world. Let's just agree that intel is not a settled science, it is subject to interpretation, and, of course, to political manipulation.

Let me note yet another problem I have: This particular administration is not known for truth-telling. The examples of outright lies by Obama and his people come tumbling out with the gentlest of pokes at the Great Prog Piñata: Obamacare, Benghazi, Iran Deal, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, job number reports, policy on Israel, etc. This is not a group of "folks" with an impressive record for telling the truth or for being concerned about our security and sovereignty. Suddenly they are doing both? Nah, still ain't buying it.

Happy New Year.


37 comments:

  1. Your list of lies would be enhanced by the addition of one name (other than Obama's, I mean): Ben Rhodes. Of course there are other liars, but he just up front admitted his deception.

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  2. I think this all boils down to the two competing oil/gas pipelines coming from the gulf and connecting to YipYap Erdogan's line to Europe. They converge on... wait for it...Syria, right where Russia has there military base.
    The Iranians are in Putin's back pocket and Soros has the line coming from Qatar.
    The Soros line would finance Open border socialism for 500 years. Hillary's loss really makes it harder for Soros to turn a profit on the line. (Seems YipYap has turned and is now colluding with the Russians. Maybe he is not too fond of Polonium 210 tea.)I think Obama tried to pay off the Iranians to get the Soros/Qatari line operational.
    I think you will see, in three weeks, that ISIS melts away when it becomes clear their mercenary skills are no longer needed. They tend to fight for the highest bidder.
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/03/soros-obama-merkel-erdogan-win-control-europe.html

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  3. Happy New Year to you and yours, Lewis! Thanks for another year of insight and anecdote.

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  4. My day job involves cyber intrusion and intel analysis. The Joint report released was fairly weak in terms of indicator quality. I certainly wouldn't use it as definitive proof based on that intel alone. Certainly more could be available at the classified level, but that doesn't help in the battle for the public's opinion.

    That said, there's a ton of open source intelligence out there regarding the 2 groups involving in the DNC hack (APT28 and APT29). One example would be https://www.threatconnect.com/blog/tapping-into-democratic-national-committee/ There's been some good research done on those groups and there are strong indications that they are backed by the Russian government.

    What should be done with that knowledge is another matter. Obama's response was weak, like many of his other foreign policy responses. It was telegraphed well in advance with his threats, and then ends up being a dud. Putin's counter was deft in terms of the battle for perception advantage. Obama is left looking impotent. Trump's respect for our worthy adversary Putin is not misplaced in my opinion.

    That doesn't mean Trump will be Putin's lap dog though, it just means that Trump sees another Alpha dog and knows that engaging with him directly could be bloody. Trump has a history of smoozing customers/executives/politicians, lulling them under his charm and getting them to lower their defenses. He appears to be practicing that at the international political level with Putin.

    Trump also seems to subscribe to the strategic concept of appearing to be chaotic and unstable to keep your opponents uncertain and to mask your true intentions. Trump is no fool and exploits that uncertainty by taking the initiative to drive the dominant narrative and keep his opponents on the defensive. We saw that in the election and we've been seeing it in the post election period.

    He has also been operating strategically by meeting with all leaders, not just conservative, but also progessives. This gives him the appearance of representing everyone and potentially unifying. It has also gives him great opportunities to gain insight into each progressive leader's point of view, lines of potential future attack, arguments, public positions, etc. He can leverage this gained insight for developing his open public positions and messages with foresight and forewarning of the other side's position. He will use this for maximum benefit to drive forward his agenda. His selections for the various department heads show his hand as far as his agenda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, that means a lot. My specialty is on the cyber side of the house, but I've been expanding into the geopolitical since that drives the cyber offensive game.

      Thank you also for taking the time out of life to share your insights and experiences thru your blog. Your posts, as well as your readers' comments, have been a great source of education to this Reader (maybe #8 ?). The fact that you all post without pundit babblings that say nothing, nor with politically correct BS that distort the hard realities of the geopolitical battlefield, has been a better education than I could get elsewhere.

      Please keep up the writing, it does make a difference. I hope to pass along a personal thanks one of these days if I cross paths with you during one of my weekly trips to PWG.

      Delete
    2. I think Putin might have supported Trump because he's rather deal with someone he can respect than someone he feels contempt for. If this is basically a game, it might be better if you had an opponent worthy of your steel. A genuinely stupid(*) opponent, like Obama and Kerry, might actually be more dangerous than someone who understood the game.

      I read the government report and my first reaction is it was unnecessarily vague. We know from open source news reports it was John Podesta who was attacked, and we know the unnamed party was the Democrats, so why not name them?

      Identifying the actors to the extent that I can, it seems like the accusation is that they got information from the attacks, gave it to reporters and caused it to be posted on WikiLeaks. So this entire operation was an attempt to manipulate the press. It has nothing to do with manipulating the vote or election results directly. Obtaining the information was done in an illegal way, but it doesn't look like disseminating it was abnormal in any way.

      Interesting that we are not told why they believe the operation was Russian. From how they describe it, it looks like it could have been done by almost anyone with access to fairly easily obtained tools.

      (*) I'm sure Obama and Kerry are intelligent men, but they are clearly out of their depth in these issues, and can be reasonably referred to as stupid.

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  5. "Trust us, we'll keep US networks safe... just like our network! Sincerely, The DNC"

    Thanks to the concerted media/democrat effort, the *lasting* impression of this fabricated crisis will be that Americans can't trust the DNC with anything of importance. While this is all positive for America and its patriots, outside of the US I believe this is called: "Own Goal!!!!"

    - reader #1482

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  6. Dear Diplomad

    I have never commented before on this blog, but I have read it faithfully since I learned about it. I know others who also read but do not comment. Hence, your readership may be bigger than you sometimes modestly indicate. Or if you know from tracking software, you may not realize how much we enjoy your blogs and how much credibility you have. Why never a career as a media pundit? Or, maybe now that I googled you, you have been banished by the left. Boy they hate you. Which means you may have been very effective in, or at least vocal about, protecting America's interests and opposing foreign communist or otherwise anti-American despots.

    This is just to say your blog is a great read and your opinions extraordinarily helpful and, imho, credible. The only time I question is with respect to guns. I have shot one, am pro-2nd Amendment but do not have enough experience with respect to gun owners to know when gun ownership is a healthy hobby and when it becomes somewhat excessive. But I do assume you are not a homidical lunatic, although the writers of some of the articles I read would seem to make you a happy supporter of torture of innocent women - nuns no less, and an opponent of any human rights everywhere. :) Thank you for so many terrific articles and Happy New Years.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your readership. I am not a homicidal maniac, and do not torture nuns. I am going to have a calling card with that on it. BTW, and sort of on today's topic, the journalist who most promoted that nun story about me was expelled from the US for being a Russian spy. Justice.

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    2. Nothing better than a bit of schadenfreude for those who would besmirch your integrity.

      Also remember, gun purchasing and ownership is never excessive as long as you can afford the equipment.

      BTW: I LOVE my .45's...

      Delete
    3. In case I comment again after this response to your response, which I might, my user name is msher (or as some software insists on putting it, Msher.)

      You really are one of my favorite reads. My question is why are you not better known and much more widely disseminated and referred to? That's a compliment, not a criticism.

      Also: Benghazi is a seaport. We were shipping arms to nice Syrian terrorist "rebels" out of Benghazi, right? Otherwise what were State personnel doing there as there are no American businesses or tourists there, as far as I can find out.

      One conspiracy theory which almost makes sense to me, but I have nothing for verification and as I will mention, a possible rebuttal: Amb. Stevens was privately objecting to the arms shipments to Syria, given how horrendous Libya turned out (and supposedly, he was a true champuon of the Libyan people). The Benghazi attack was actually an assassination of Stevens set up to look like a full-throttle terrorist attack. The rebuttal to that theory would be why the CIA annex too? Any thoughts you can share?


      Msher

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    4. Thanks for your kind words. I not very good at advertising this blog, either that or I am too goof at it, and the lack of readership confirms that. I don't think there was a CIA plot to kill Ambassador Stephens. That would have leaked by now. I think his death and that of the others in Benghazi was a result of an insane world view by the Obama administration. The Obama people were convinced that Obama was so loved by the world that nobody would do anything to us. There was a complete misreading of the Middle East and of Libya, and Stephens made some serious mistakes, e.g., being in unprotected Benghazi on 9/11.

      Delete
    5. Dip--good point about how if the killing of Amb. Stevens had been a CIA plot, it would've leaked by now. It seems that the only secret the USA can keep is the academic record of its supposedly most intelligent POTUS ever.

      BTW, over New Year's, I had the satisfaction of telling some liberal kin that if certain people who told me certain things ever got picked up by the Guo An Bu, Snowden and Assange would not be safe if they ever got within ten feet of me.

      BTW, I get another New Year's on the 27th! ;)

      Delete
    6. I didn't assume CIA plot - as, even for sake of making attack plausible as terrorist attack, I don't think CIA would take out their own. But note, someone didn't let overhead drone fire on terrorist mortar position at CIA annex, even though one of Seals had exposed his position. There is more than just CIA who can do dirty and wet work.

      But I just complimented you on being the expert, so I shouldn't turn around and argue with you. And I am only speculating about others' conspiracy theory anyway, not asserting a strongly held personal opinion.

      Have you contacted Drudge or Breitbart? If not, any interest in being picked up by Breitbart? I have one years long contact there who if he bothered, could get you noticed by management. No guarantees. He sometimes enthusiastically runs with the occasional things I send him/bring to his notice. And somethings ignores completely. But an email to him about your blog is easy enough to do. If you want me to take a shot.

      Msher

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    7. Diplomad

      Is Obama's world view merely insane? I notice it aligns pretty well with the Muslim Brotherhood, including I believe re Iran. And then there is the Abedin influence on Hillary. (How else did a teenage Chelsea end up carrying a Koran around with her for inspiration/guidance?)

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    8. Re: leakage. Recall that we (or maybe just me?) still don't know the identities or testimony of the 30+ other people who were present in Libya on 9/11-12/2012, and were evacuated.
      Who are they? Where are they? What were they threatened with to keep them quiet?

      Delete
    9. I think there's a chance to find out the truth about Benghazi once the Trumpeters take over.

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    10. Bingo Dip. I think there is a chance we can find out a few uncomfortable truths when Trump takes over and that is why this Russian thing is getting so much play. The whole ISIS/jihadi thing....Russia has the proof, but by the time Trump is sworn in, 1/2 the country won't buy a word he says.

      Delete
  7. Happy New Year!

    I've heard a rumor that the main source of the DNC leak was Podesta falling for a phishing scheme.

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    1. The New York Times has an article describing the series of DNC security failures including Podesta falling for a phishing email after their security guy said the email was "legitimate" instead of "illegitimate". Ref: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/13/us/politics/russia-hack-election-dnc.html

      It's worse than just that though. The FBI came reached out to the DNC to notify them that they were targeted in September 2015. This was when APT29 initially attacked the DNC. The DNC passed the FBI to their help desk and nothing was done to mitigate the attack.

      As the FBI got worse indications that the DNC had an active intrusion the DNC still didn't react adequately until later in March/April 2016 when they called in a security company. It took about 1-2 days for that company to identify that the DNC was hacked by APT28 and APT29. By then the adversary had been active for months, exfiltrating the trove of internal documents and emails.

      While the DNC's press comments to the NYT is that they didn't have enough resources, we all know there was money if it was a priority. The fact is that the culture of the organization didn't prioritize security very high on the list, much like Hillary Clinton's email (in)security situation.

      Delete
    2. Might have been a matter of hidebound self-consistency: "If we put a lot of money and effort into securing our email, that would suggest Hillary made a mistake as secretary of state... better not do that!"

      - reader #1482

      Delete
  8. I understand that Obama is recommending sanctions on Nigeria after Podesta did not receive a multimillion dollar wire transfer from a Nigerian prince. Even though he had followed all instructions.

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  9. I'm curious...what's up with the phishing eMail sent to and opened by John Podesta? Where is it?

    If I'm going to believe this story we're being told, I need to see that piece of evidence, at the very least. If this email is now classified, that actually weakens the case.

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    1. The phishing email was included in one of the Podesta related Wikileaks email dumps. CBS published it in an article back in October 2016:
      http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-phishing-email-that-hacked-the-account-of-john-podesta/

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  10. Just for fun, let's stipulate for the sake of discussion that the Russians indeed hacked the DNC and hoped thereby to influence the election.

    So now, as you noted, Sr. Diplomad, the Democrats are jumping around like their hair is on fire and claiming Moscow tried not just to influence, but to actively subvert the vote. (In reality, they and Obama are loudly implying that the election's outcome was indeed skewed, and they're also allowing the low-information sorts to conclude that the vote totals themselves were shifted in Trump's direction.)

    There's a supreme irony here that someone has probably already identified, although I haven't seen it yet:

    What we learned from the DNC and Podesta hacks is that the Democratic party itself was genuinely, deliberately subverting the election process by elbowing aside any potential rivals to Hillary for the nomination. No rivals, automatic coronation.

    But then some crazy old guy from Vermont came along to fill the vacuum, and he wouldn't be stiff-armed quite so easily.

    Were it not for Bernie, the Dems would have been the ones who truly subverted the election, at least on their side of the ballot.

    Returning to our original stipulation, who tried harder to rig the election -- the Democrats, who actively shut down internal opposition, or the Russians, who simply revealed the truth of the matter?

    The fact that neither succeeded illustrates how robust our system is.

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    1. Very, very good points, Harry--although I admit that I have no liking for Brooklyn Boynie.

      And I pray that Shrillary Shroooooooooo will discover the joys of grandparenting now that her presidential aspirations have fizzled.

      Delete
  11. Happy New Year to all and sundry.

    I am of the mind that the Russians actually did hack the DNC, and tried to hack the RNC. They and other foreign powers have been trying to hack a wide array of US government and private entities for a long time. But if Russian hacking of the DNC truly swayed the election for Trump, I seriously doubt it.

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  12. Naval History magazine, Feb 2008, volume 22, number 1, by Lieutenant Commander Pat Paterson, U.S. Navy

    "Questions about the Gulf of Tonkin incidents have persisted for more than 40 years. But once-classified documents and tapes released in the past several years, combined with previously uncovered facts, make clear that high government officials distorted facts and deceived the American public about events that led to full U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

    ... These new documents and tapes reveal what historians could not prove: There was not a second attack on U.S. Navy ships in the Tonkin Gulf in
    early August 1964. Furthermore, the evidence suggests a disturbing and deliberate attempt by Secretary of Defense McNamara to distort the evidence and mislead Congress.

    ... We may never know the whole truth behind the Tonkin events and the motivations of those involved. However, it is important to put what we do know into context. The administration's zeal for aggressive action, motivated by President Johnson's election worries, created an atmosphere of recklessness and overenthusiasm in which it became easy to draw
    conclusions based on scanty evidence and to overlook normally prudent precautionary measures. Without the full picture, Congress could not offer the checks and balances it was designed to provide. Subsequently,
    the White House carried the nation into the longest and one of the most costly conflicts in our nation's history."

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  13. "the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which opened the door for our massive involvement in Vietnam, a place of no particular strategic or economic importance to us. "

    “Indochina is devoid of decisive military objectives and the allocation of more than token US armed forces in Indochina would be a serious diversion of limited US capabilities” (Joint Chiefs of Staff, 26 May 1954).

    "The [Vietnam] war was only made possible through lies and deceptions aimed at the American public, Congress, and members of Lyndon Johnson’s own administration. Contrary to Robert McNamara’s claims of ignorance and overconfidence during the period 1963-1965, the record proves that he and others were men who not only should have known better, but who did know better. These men and the decisions they made during those crucial months mired the United States in a costly war that could not be won at a cost acceptable to the American public"
    - H.R. McMaster, author of “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam.” graduated from West Point in 1984. He has taught at West Point and received his Ph.D. in military history from the University of North Carolina in 1996 and is now a 2 star general in the United States Army, I believe.

    An excerpt from the U.S. Army War College Quarterly - Winter 1996-1997: "The leaders of the United States in the crucial years of the early and mid-1960s failed to come up with a strategy that would produce victory. Instead, they simply poured in more and more US troops and materiel into South Vietnam. They misled the public by insisting we were winning the war and thereby prepared the war for defeatism and demagoguery later on. The American people could not be expected to continue indefinitely to support a war in which they were told victory was around the corner, but which required greater and greater effort without any obvious signs of improvement.

    Bernard Brodie observed in the early 1970s that “it is now clear what we mean by calling the United States intervention in Vietnam a failure. We mean that at least as early as the beginning of 1968 even the most favorable outcome could not remotely be worth the price we would have paid for it.” End excerpt excerpt from the U.S. Army War College Quarterly - Winter 1996-1997.

    Congress basically gave authorization for the Vietnam War with the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, a resolution based on ‘events’, part of which were highly exaggerated and part of which never happened. 50,000 more Americans then went on to die pretty much for nothing, except to provide cover for politicians and a political secdef and political generals.

    "There is nothing new under the sun”.

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  14. Regarding the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Here is an account of the review process by Gene Poteat, the CIA scientist tasked with evaluating the reports of torpedo boat attacks.



    "In early August 1964 our group received an extraordinary,
    and prophetic, query. My boss handed me a copy
    of a message containing fragments from the radar
    operator’s log from the US destroyer Maddox, which
    was operating in the Gulf of Tonkin off the coast of
    North Vietnam. The operator’s log noted how the
    Maddox and another destroyer, Turner Joy, had been
    attacked for the second time by North Vietnamese torpedo
    boats — and that the attacking boats were seen
    only on the ships’ radar and heard by the ships’ sonar
    operators. That morning my boss said, “The people
    upstairs want to know if those torpedo boats were real,
    or could the Maddox’s radar have been spoofed electronically,
    the way you spoofed their radar?” A fast
    read of the Maddox log gave few clues, and I asked if
    there was any more information available or expected.
    I came up with a list of things I needed to know before
    giving a confident answer, such as: visibility in the Gulf
    at the time, weather and surface conditions, any reports
    of lightning or thunderstorms in the area, the speed of
    the torpedo boats if moving radially toward the
    Maddox, and the presence of other ships and aircraft
    in the area. My boss went away with these questions,
    but he returned shortly to say that nothing else would
    be forthcoming and that I was to do the best I could
    with the information I had — and soon.
    After a fretful hour, I concluded I would have to take
    the radar operator’s word that he saw boats, but added
    that with the answers to my questions, a positive answer
    would be quick and easy. The Washington Post
    headlines the next morning carried President Johnson’s
    authorization to start bombing North Vietnam in retaliation
    for the attacks. I learned later that the original
    query had come from the White House and that
    Secretary of Defense McNamara and others were there,
    along with Director of Central Intelligence John A.
    McCone [CA Α ’22]. I surmised that McCone was the
    likely source of the request because he knew about our
    Palladium project. I was now curious as to why the
    White House seemed not to want to hear what his intelligence
    experts had to say, so I tried for a period of
    time to obtain answers to my original question and to
    learn more about the situation in the Gulf of Tonkin
    that night. I did eventually learn that there indeed
    had been severe thunderstorms, rough seas, and most
    important, lightning. Ships’ surface-search radar is notoriously
    unreliable in rough and stormy seas, and sonar
    even more so. Furthermore, the blips on the ship’s
    Gulf of Tonkin Incident
    Important achievements
    Seeking Countermeasures
    26 THE BENT of Tau Beta Pi
    radar screen, that the operators thought were torpedo
    boats, never reflected solid tracks or tracks moving
    steadily or radially toward the destroyers, as would
    happen in an attack. I finally had my answer; there never
    were torpedo boats involved in an attack that night"

    https://www.tbp.org/pubs/Features/F99Poteat.pdf

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  15. Are you feeling earthquakes, Diplomad?

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  16. I love this line from Kurt Schlicter:

    Sure, I think the Russians’ truthful revelations of true stuff that showed the true depth of Democratic corruption in a true way hurt Hillary. I just think that the left is deluding itself when it tells normal people that they were somehow suckered by the Russians’ truthful revelations of true stuff that showed the true depth of Democratic corruption. “You flyover rubes are so stupid that you can be manipulated by the facts that we were too incompetent to effectively hide from you!” is probably not a great way to win hearts and minds, but hey progs, feel free to go with it.

    (article is at http://townhall.com/columnists/kurtschlichter/2017/01/02/for-democrats-2017-will-be-the-year-of-living-stupidly-n2265749)

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  17. An extract from a lecture to the student body of The Marine Amphibious Warfare School, Quantico, Virginia; delivered by Adm James Stockdale 18 April 1995.

    Let's go right to the old master, Clausewitz. He said: "War is an act of violence to compel the enemy to do your will." Your will, not his will. We are in the business of breaking people's wills. That's all there is to war; once you have done that, the war is over.
    And what is the most important weapon in breaking people's wills? This may surprise you, but I am convinced that holding the moral high ground is more important than firepower. For Clausewitz, war was not an activity governed by scientific laws, but a clash of wills, of moral forces. He wrote: "It is not the loss in men, horses, or guns, but in order, courage, confidence, cohesion and plan which come into consideration whether the engagement can still be continued; it is principally the moral forces which decide here." Moral forces! Conviction! Mind games!
    I had the wisdom of Clausewitz' stand on moral integrity demonstrated to me throughout a losing war as I sat on the sidelines in a Hanoi prison. To take a nation to war on the basis of any provocation that bears the smell of fraud is to risk losing national leadership's commitment when the going gets tough. When our soldiers' bodies start coming home in high numbers, and reverses in the field are discouraging, a guilty conscience in a top leader can become the Achilles heel of a whole country. Men of shame who know our road to war was not cricket, are seldom those we can count on to hold fast, stay the course.
    As some of you know, I led all three air actions in the Tonkin Gulf affair in the first week of August 1964. Moral corners were cut in Washington in our top leaders' interpretation of the events of August 4th at sea in order to get the Tonkin Gulf Resolution through Congress in a hurry. I was not only the sole eyewitness to all events, and leader of the American forces to boot; I was cognizant of classified message traffic pertaining thereto. I knew for sure that our moral forces were squandered for short-range goals; others in the know at least suspected as much.
    Mind games are important, and you have to play them honestly and seriously in this business. Clausewitz' battlefield enemy Napoleon not only agreed with his adversary, he made the same point of ethics in even more vivid terms. Napoleon said: "In war, the moral is to the physical as three is to one."

    Admiral Stockdale was in the air over and around the Turner Joy and Maddox that August night and reported that there was nothing in the water threatening the ships. His report was buried.

    A truly great man. When the commentariat, none of whom were worthy of holding his hat while he made a head call, sneered at his performance during the VP debate I understood the full import of the saying, 'A people get the government they deserve.'

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