September 22, 2011
Alert Government Book Talk reader Deb Christmas tipped me off to this document which, although not the kind of thing I usually discuss here, has a couple of things going for it. First, what’s not to like about an American diplomatic memo outlining the special procedures required by the Nepalese government for those engaged in yeti-hunting expeditions? The diplomat involved may have wondered exactly how he wound up drafting such a memo, but I hope he derived some amusement from it. I also wonder how many intrepid explorers received this excellent advice prior to launching themselves into the high Himalayas. The other aspect of this little “Foreign Service Despatch” that stimulated what pass as my thought processes is the juxtaposition of an official, rather bureaucratic Government memo regarding a subject widely considered to be…well…paranormal. Since this blog already has discussed the possibly occult nature of the mysterious Voynich Manuscript, how could I pass up the opportunity to delve into such enigmatic realms again?
This brings me to the U.S. Air Force’s 1997 The Roswell Report: Case Closed. This study, written by Air Force Captain James McAndrew, “was to determine if the U.S. Air Force, or any otherU.S. government agency, possessed information on the alleged crash and recovery of an extraterrestrial vehicle and its alien occupants nearRoswell,N.M. in July 1947.” The conclusion? “…the predecessor to the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army Air Forces, recovered debris from an Army Air Forces balloon-borne research project code named MOGUL. Records located describing research carried out under the MOGUL project, most of which were never classified (and publicly available) were collected, provided to GAO, and published in one volume for ease of access for the general public.”
Jim McAndrew, whom I met in the course of GPO’s printing and selling The Roswell Report: Case Closed, was a sincere and enthusiastic disbeliever in the much-hyped Area 51 stories that circulated then and now, but I’m afraid that his conclusions haven’t had much influence on those with a will to believe in extraterrestrials, UFOs, etc. I try to keep an open mind about these things, feeling that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Based on this well-documented study, though, I think the official version holds up pretty well. (Those anthropomorphic test dummies are pretty creepy looking…)
You can read The Roswell Report: Case Closed here or find it in a library. The yeti memo? Look here. As far as is known, no yetis were shot at, testifying to its effectiveness.
September 28, 2010
“Terrorist Networks Are Organized + Terrorism Is a Crime = Terrorism Is Organized Crime”
That’s the formula that Blue Planet: Informal International Police Networks and National Intelligence presents to the reader, and author Michael D. Bayer makes a good case for it. Bayer, a former chief of the Department of State’s transnational criminal investigative office, takes the view that police around the world are better positioned to know what’s going on in their local areas, no matter how remote they seem from the wider world. Through informal contacts with colleagues in their own countries and abroad, they can gather and disseminate vital intelligence to detect and suppress “worldwide manifestations of destabilizing violence, often indiscriminately labeled ‘terrorism.’”
I found Blue Planet to be an intriguing read for a number of reasons. It presents a reasonable and clearly written case for greater involvement of the police in fighting terrorism, argues forcefully against the post-9/11 militarization of U.S. anti-terrorism effort, and cites a number of fascinating case studies of how informal international police networks, even including such relatively closed societies as Cuba and China, have worked effectively to apprehend criminals. (Some of these stories could be the basis for your next suspense novel!)
Blue Planet also makes the interesting point that both international criminal operations and terrorist networks often use the same illegal methods (smuggling, money laundering, drug trafficking), and who better to learn about those links than those already tracking organized crime? According to a recent RAND report cited in the book, “For terrorist groups that cannot or will not abandon terrorism, policing is likely to be the most effective strategy to destroy terrorist groups. The logic is straightforward: Police generally have better training and intelligence to penetrate and disrupt terrorist organizations. They are the primary arm of the government focused on internal security matters.”
Blue Planet is not just another policy report. It’s an insightful and intellectually stimulating book that also includes some terrific true crime stories. You can read it here on the National Defense Intelligence College Web site or track down your own copy here.