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My War on Terror!™
The Covert Comic
John Alejandro King
The following chronology details the life of one CIA officer and his personal war on terror.
The kingdom of terror is within you.
Covertly materialized at 0402 hrs this morning in my cubicle, deep inside a dark and deserted CIA outbuilding, listening to techno-trance music on my headphones and surfing the classified Net.
… At virtually the same moment, noticed breaking news on my computer screen about a more horrific terrorist attack than usual in the Homeland.
Calmly removed the techno-trance file and queued up Life Is Life by Opus (or by Laibach, depending on your worldview). Unplugged the headphone attachment from my computer, turned the speaker volume up full blast, and let 'er rip.
Around the third verse, turned the volume down a little and checked the Web again. Noted that the story about the terrorist attack had been replaced by a controversial report on same-sex marriage.
Waited until the song was over, just to make sure. Reinserted the headphone attachment and resumed listening to techno-trance.
Dutifully logged successful execution of another covert operation in … My War on Terror!™
Danger is my hobby.
Checked out the latest Terror Alert on the Department of Homeland Security's web site, and reviewed their list of frequently asked questions. Was particularly amused by the following:
Why duct tape and plastic sheeting?
Also thought about terror.
The mightiest of weapons is truth. And everyone knows you're not permitted to bring a weapon into a government building.
Secret 6891.222. The difference between a Top Secret document, and a document marked For Official Use Only, is that the latter can be used as a doorstop in any US Government facility, while the former is only permitted to serve said function inside a secure US Government vault.
The term "holy war" isn't an oxymoron, it's a redundancy.
Following work this evening, sat around the house chatting with the wife and playing with the kids. Read an article in the newspaper about feminists calling for a "sex strike" by women to protest the war in Iraq. Was surprised to learn that women weren't on sex strike already.
Also thought about terror.
In America, we don't have suicide bombers, we have "successful people."
Secret 911.1906. Non-violence is better than no violence at all.
The International Spy Museum is located in Washington DC. The International Spy Zoo is located across the river in Langley, Virginia.
Disabled an IED (improvised explosive device) at CIA Headquarters this morning. The bomb, cleverly disguised as one of those small robotic lawnmowers, was moving toward the Kryptos sculpture in the Inner Courtyard when I noticed it on my way to CIA Cafeteria to get coffee and a pastry prior to attending an intelligence briefing. Disregarding my personal safety (i.e., my need for large doses of caffeine and sugar prior to 0900 HRS), I instinctively bolted out a side door, sprinted across the grass, and stomped the device into several dozen pieces before it could detonate.
Though I quickly left the scene so as not to be late for my meeting (and thus managed to purchase coffee and pastry, Alhamdulillah!), I heard afterwards that someone called CIA Security, who immediately launched an investigation into the incident. No doubt we'll learn that this attack was an Al Qaeda operation.
I don't consider myself a hero for having performed this action. On the contrary, I'd like to think that any Agency employee, seeing our beloved Kryptos sculpture in peril, would have responded in a similar manner.
Not that I for a single moment believe myself deserving, but in the event your humble spook is awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Cross for my actions today, I intend to respectfully decline the honor. For me it's reward enough knowing that I'm helping win small battles like this - battles in our war ... your war … My War on Terror!™
They say that unless you're the lead dog, the view never changes. Then again, if you're a dog you probably like that view.
Secret 9.22. On the other hand, it's now a statistical certainty that Al Qaeda has killed at least one mime.
Is the question "Is the glass half empty or half full?" semi-intelligent or semi-idiotic?
Secret 1.491031. When people really fear the
government, they get jobs there.
Secret 1.491031. When people really fear the government, they get jobs there.
Sometimes in my mind I can still see Grandma's old Bible, with its leathery cover, tattered spine and frayed edges. But then I think: wait, that's not Grandma's Bible, that's Grandma.
The famous marketing principle, "If you can't state your position in eight words or less, you don't have a position," can't be stated in eight words or less.
Secret 3291314. All the world's not a stage, it's a huge Cone of Silence.
At one point I seriously investigated the concept of "bio body armor." The basic idea: if an American soldier, intelligence officer or US Corporation serving overseas were attacked, highly contagious, totally debilitating organisms would be released from the body armor and infect his or her attackers.
Eventually I gave up on the project when I realized that this form of armor already exists, and is America itself.
It's not a blunt object, it's a differently edged entity.
Strolling through what I thought was a shopping mall late this morning, was telling a friend a joke about mega-churches … when suddenly I realized: I was in a mega-church.
To avoid seeming irreligious, quickly changed the subject of conversation to terror.
It's Sunday afternoon - the weekend's almost here! Think I'll have a drink or nine / eleven, and chat with the wife while the kids run around in the yard ... and/or chat with the kids while the wife runs around in the yard, following which activities your humble spook intends to turn in early this evening. Need to be well rested when I log in at work shortly after 0400 tomorrow morning, play Oh Happy Day by the Edwin Hawkins Singers at full volume on my computer, and thereby unleash another inspired offensive in … My War on Terror!™
Secret 121789. If you don't attend counterterrorism briefings for the donuts first and the intel second, the real terrorist is you.
Subdued a terrorist this morning who had seized a conference room at CIA Headquarters and was holding several CIA employees hostage. The terrorist, who was attempting to forcibly convert our society to his militant, extremist form of Islam, instantly collapsed in a heap when I smashed a window and tasered him.
I later confirmed, with the concurrence of multiple cleared Muslim CIA officers, that this individual's bizarre sect, known as "Maximize Productivity Through Brainstorming!" in no way represents the true Islamic faith, and is utterly rejected by modern, open minded, democratically inclined Muslims everywhere.
As for how this individual managed to slip through security, I can confirm that he was wearing a consultant badge and was professionally dressed – doubtless an agent from an Al Qaeda sleeper cell who'd planned this assault years, if not epochs, in advance.
Definitely a close call. But thanks to constant vigilance and decisive action, chalk up another victory in … My War on Terror!™
Is there a
patron saint of intelligence
officers? If not, I'm thinking St. Gabriel, the saint of diplomats,
communications, and remote sensing, would be the logical choice.
Is there a patron saint of intelligence officers? If not, I'm thinking St. Gabriel, the saint of diplomats, communications, and remote sensing, would be the logical choice.
Note on terminology: The phrase 'war on terror' refers to the fight against terror itself, not to making war on something else while seated upon, conveyed by means of, or otherwise supported by terror.
I'd like to teach the world to sing "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing in Perfect Harmony" in perfect harmony.
It isn't that my wife doesn't have a sex drive. It's just that she also has a sex neutral, a sex park, and a sex reverse.
Secret 969.166. Better a consultant who tap dances, than a consultant who does the moonwalk.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on you again.
Secret 807.1. Anything war can do, peace can do better. Especially kill people.
What's classified Top Secret in executive offices on the seventh floor of CIA Headquarters is common knowledge in clay huts on the sixth floor of CIA Headquarters.
Captured two terrorists this afternoon who were cleverly disguised in white short-sleeved business shirts with black ties, riding bicycles. An obvious attempt to infiltrate my home and forcibly convert me and my family to their obscure sect of extremist Islam.
They're tied up in our attic at the moment. Haven't decided what to do with these infidels just yet.
I read the Cannibal Manifesto. The part where it says they like eating people is on page 289.
When asked to comment on the report, a CIA spokesperson began trembling uncontrollably, then vanished, leaving behind a fist-sized cube of pale grainy material that crumbled easily when handled by journalists.
A second CIA spokesperson pleaded in terror not to be told about the report at all. –
My favorite Barry Goldwater quote isn't "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." It's the statement he made immediately afterward:
"… Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."
NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building is the world's largest structure – it's actually been known to rain inside it on occasion.
Today I was privileged to be taken on a tour of this storied facility as part of a US Intelligence Community delegation, and we experienced the phenomenon firsthand. The workers on the scaffolding far above us seemed unfazed by the conditions – we could actually hear them shouting and laughing about it "raining inside the building again."
Why won't people accept me for who I am? It's a perfectly fair trade.
Response to reader e-mail: I never said that the Pentagon is like a piñata. I said that the Pentagon is a piñata.
Isn't it neat the way home improvement stores will let you spend the whole day there practicing sawing lumber?
Went shopping with the wife and kids today. Reflected on how fortunate we are to live in a country where the local Burger King has a "God Bless America" banner hanging in front of the drive-thru.
Because otherwise we'd have no choice but to purchase our burgers and fries at the Al Qaeda's across the street.
What the CIA tells Congress it's doing, and what the CIA is really doing, are three different things.
The 9/11 Principle: The insightfulness of any quote about God, love, truth, freedom, justice, personal empowerment, America, quantum theory, black matter, the end times, etc. will be multiplied exponentially if the key word in that statement is replaced with the term "9/11."
For further information on this most classified of topics, please don't click HERE.
You're welcome, 9/11.
The best is the enemy of the good. The good is the enemy of the mediocre. And the enemy of an enemy is a friend.
Fundamental to the achievement of victory in the War on Terror is choosing the right weapons. As a fully cleared intelligence officer with a documented record of routing terrorism throughout the universe, I recommend the following armaments, which have proven their worth time and again to me and many other counter-terror professionals.
1. Be calm, optimistic, friendly, and cultivate a mildly cynical sense of humor.
2. Seek and attain truth, and believe in the Light.
3. When necessary, employ covert operations in order to induce extremists to 'neutralize' each other.
4. Calimocho de Cia.
For those not familiar with the intelligence world, a Calimocho de Cia is a non-lethal chemical agent that has been shown to be extremely effective against terror. To obtain a Calimocho de Cia (or "CC" for short), simply mix a single serving of Diet Coke - or any other well-caffeinated cola soft drink - with a very generous quantity of burgundy or other potent red wine; then add a small-to-medium-sized shot of 100 proof peppermint schnapps, 94.3 proof gin, or comparable booze. Be sure to deploy as cold as possible.
Repeat as not needed.
My very first job was at McDonalds. In that job I learned an important principle: When something goes wrong at work, blame the guy who gets killed.
Gave a counterproliferation briefing to a group of visiting foreign intelligence officers at HQS today. Got a big laugh when I told them: "Victims of biotoxin attack experience acute paralysis, lose control of bodily functions, and exhibit severe twitching and convulsions. You know, sort of like on your wedding night."
Also nudged terror and winked knowingly.
Is that a pistol in my pocket, or am I just glad to see me?
Once the chess match is finished, the king and the pawns go back in the same box (but the king, of course, has a special compartment).
I wouldn't mind that most men lead lives of quiet desperation, if they weren't so loud about it.
Drove the family to DC for a stroll along the Washington Mall this afternoon. Remained constantly on the alert for terror, but all I saw were several guys with machine guns.
Not to be judgmental, but one thing I frankly find offensive is people who stand on street corners shaking cups with coins in them.
... I mean, hey, I have money too, but you don't see me flaunting it in public like that.
Going to bed early tonight. Want to be rested and focused tomorrow morning when I play Bjork's It's Oh So Quiet on my computer at work (full volume, of course) hours before dawn. There's nothing like hearing that screeching Icelandic voice echo through the dark halls of a CIA building around 4:00 a.m. It's a most exhilarating way to begin a fresh work week, and invariably inspires great new operational concepts on behalf of ... My War on Terror!™
If it falls on me and pins me underneath it, does that count as seizing the day?
Rumor has it that there's a major reorganization in the works here at Langley.
I’m all for organizational shakeups at CIA, as long as we're not organizationally stirred.
Mauve isn't a color in the National Terrorism Advisory System – mauve is terror itself.
Are more people suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder these days, or are there just fewer things worth paying attention to?
As a conservative, while I oppose the invasion of privacy, I fully support the privatization of that invasion.
Received an e-mail from a military buddy serving in Iraq. He reports that your humble intel officer's counter-terror weapon of choice, the Calimocho de Cia, is enjoying growing popularity among US and Coalition forces there.
According to my source, the CC has significantly improved US and Coalition morale and combat effectiveness, and is starting to find favor among Iraqis fighting against terror as well.
Speaking of improved morale, this morning I submitted the following item to an increasingly popular and influential Intelligence Community periodical (cleared readers only, please).
A Shrapnel Ceiling?
Analysis of worldwide terrorist attacks reported over the last five years reveals that female suicide bombers inflict less than 30% of the casualties attributed to their male counterparts. Is this discrepancy the result of systematic inequalities in training and access to infrastructural support for female terrorists, or are the most lucrative terrorism targets being reserved primarily for suicide bombers who are men? Further research is needed, according to counterterrorism experts.
In space, if you bend down to pray, be careful or you'll go tumbling end over end through the cosmos for all eternity.
Chased away a terrorist I found crouching just above the sliding door on the deck of our townhome this evening. Judging from its large distended abdomen, I strongly suspect it was a female carrying an egg sack.
At first I was going to kill it, but in the end I just flicked it down from its perch with a stick and nudged it off our deck with my shoe.
Please don't get me wrong - I was not being soft on terror. On the contrary, by now I fully expect this particular terrorista has given birth, and is being eaten alive by her offspring even as we speak.
If you're not part of the solution, maybe you're the whole solution!
You be my suicide bomber, I'll be your bomb-sniffing dog.
Give us this day our Daily Brief.
Has there been a new terrorist attack? This evening at the shopping mall I noticed a lot more people who looked like they were dying from exposure to nerve agent than usual.
In Islam it's called a "fatwa." In the Christian religion it's referred to as a "Memorandum for the Record."
While attending an interagency briefing at State Department this morning, saw a copy of the Washington Post with a headline reporting the capture of a senior Al Qaida official. As a CIA officer, felt a deep sense of pride and vindication.
… I told that State Department analyst today was Tuesday!
Never attribute to Dallas that which is adequately explained by Corpus Christi.
Secret 6811330621. The term ‘weasel words’ may well constitute, or at least cannot be ruled out as constituting, a redundancy.
When they say "no preparation necessary," do they
mean to prepare isn't necessary, or that it's necessary to not prepare?
When they say "no preparation necessary," do they mean to prepare isn't necessary, or that it's necessary to not prepare?
James Michener said: "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might as well stay home."
The problem is, that's how I feel about my home.
There's a fine line between surrounding yourself with talented people and employing human shields.
CIA is the big wet friendly dog of international espionage.
Read some truly scary intelligence today regarding efforts by a Third World government to develop weapons of mass destruction.
… World. Talk about a terrifying concept.
The fact that you're a person of interest doesn't necessarily make you an interesting person.
Does each of us not sell his body to strangers for money?
… Because a lot of nights it seems like I'm the only person standing out here.
Secret 96919201. You're not really jacking off to pictures on the Internet, you're really jacking off to the Internet itself.
When you were a child, did you ever experience that moment of panic when walking down your street and suddenly realizing you couldn't find your house? And if so, do you remember the feeling you had when you finally found your house, and were back safe inside with your family? Remember how terrifying that feeling was?
That's "Great Satan" with a capital G and S, if you don't mind!
My wife is thinking about having another baby. As for me, I've got a few questions.
First of all, how many children do we have now?
Secret 0.9913211. If life is a box of chocolates, that definitely explains all the farting.
Let's Blow the Whole Thing Up (sung to the tune of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off")
You say Al Qaida, I say Al Qaeda
You say burkha, I say burqa
You say mujahedin, I say mujahideen
Let's blow the whole thing up
Well, it's officially not official: the CIA time satellite hasn't been rolled out and fired up for a genuine covert action.
Three days, maybe twelve hours of sleep. Maybe.
Sitting here at 0345 HRS in HQS supporting this major operation, which I do truly believe will help make the world a better (or at least a somewhat less crowded) place, I'm reminded of that highly classified intelligence estimate by Max De Pree: We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.
... The point being: once this op is successfully implemented, hopefully that statement won't be true anymore.
Chiasmus is a waste of time. But then, time is a waste of chiasmus.
I'm going to be honest: I have absolutely no idea what happened in the War on Terror today. Following the covert operation that officially didn't take place this weekend, your humble spook officially didn't spend the entire day in a state of unconsciousness.
Which in my opinion should itself constitute at least an implicit victory in ... My War on Terror!™
All things being equal, you'd never need to use this cliché.
Millions long for immorality, who don't know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
... What? It's 'immortality?'
The Australian flag is noteworthy in that, cosmologically speaking, it's becoming less accurate with each passing second. By contrast, the cosmological accuracy of the American flag is clearly increasing over time.
I read that children in US inner city schools confront death and hopelessness on a daily basis.
It's good to know that Existentialist philosophy is finally being taught in America's inner city schools.
Contrary to what Asimov says, the most exciting phrase in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' or 'That's funny…,' it's 'Your research grant has been approved.'
Read the following editorial comment in a major US news publication: "A CIA officer at Langley is paid a hundred thousand dollars a year to exchange e-mails with a semi-employed bureaucrat in Pakistan, and we call that intelligence???"
As a CIA officer, I know I sure do!
Secret 529121.5. It's always over before it's over.
My military buddy in Iraq wrote me another e-mail. He says that if I don't ship him numerous bottles of 100 proof peppermint schnapps so he can make many Calimochos de Cia, he'll request I be sent TDY to the Green Zone to provide training for nascent Iraqi defense and security forces.
In my reply I played his threat off as a joke. Just to be on the safe side, though, I'm looking into how to get an entire case of fire water sent over there asap.
Speaking of military matters, attended a Pentagon briefing today. During the break a DOD officer and avid Covert Comic reader came up and told me: "Your recent intelligence is pretty funny."
I said, “Thanks. Your recent defense isn't bad either.”
When written in English, the word "crisis" is composed of two word stems - one represents the word "cry," the other represents "to your sister."
My wife and I had our first fight last night. We pinned a couple from across the street two minutes into the third round.
The camouflage you admire doesn't deserve it.
Sometimes it feels like international terrorism is actually making my penis smaller.
On the other hand, if my penis gets small enough, maybe I'll be able to have multiple orgasms!
If she went to the same high school as you, how can she be an exotic dancer?
Perhaps the most alarming revelation in the wake of Monday's brutal repression of mass demonstrations against the president of Malawi, is that it turns out I'm the president of Malawi, and no one at CIA Headquarters bothered telling me.
I mean, I could have been seriously injured, people.
Come to think of it, who would you want to meet in a dark alley?
Secret 298141.6. It's a dog-lick-dog's-own-genitals world.
Post-traumatic stress disorder – otherwise known as "first day back from vacation."
I can neither confirm nor deny having spent the last couple of days at a well known US theme park (not CIA Headquarters by the way) - all expenses paid - with the wife and kids (a reward from my Division Chief for the work I officially didn't put in on behalf of that recent covert operation).
A minor blip occurred on our first night at the hotel, when my wife and I discovered to our absolute horror that our 10-month-old baby boy had eaten a terrorist.
Near as we can figure, our son discovered the poor hapless bastard crawling across the floor of our hotel kitchen. Although we managed to pry about a third of the extremist's lifeless body from his mouth, we were unable to retrieve the rest. No doubt the terrorist had it coming, but that's one fate I wouldn't wish on even the most vicious Al Qaeda member.
Good thing terrorists are basically made of protein, so there should be no significant health risk to our junior spook.
I bet it took years to design the Rubik's cube.
What should we avoid the
What should we avoid the
The term "grisly discovery" is a redundancy.
I read that a parking garage collapsed in New Jersey.
Which raises the question: how many other parts of New Jersey are there that still haven't collapsed yet?
In order to decrypt our COMINT, I need COMINT about our decryption.
They say when a person cuts himself, the cuts spell out the word "Help."
But to me, they look more like Roman numerals.
On the other hand, getting found in the shuffle isn't necessarily all that hot either.
¿Dónde está el Covert Comic?
Secret 59. Breasts spring eternal in human hope.
Heard a rumor at work this morning about a possible TDY, by your humble intel officer, to Iraq. This particular RUMINT has me going out to provide counterproliferation briefings with officially-non-legendary WMD contractor "Gary S."
Good ol' Gary S. owns the distinction of having been gassed with Sarin in the 1960's twice, and living (both times) to consult about it.
Gary's advice on surviving exposure to ultra-lethal nerve agent: "Just stay calm, stick the atropine injector in your leg like they showed you in training, breathe slowly, and try not to move around too much."
... By the way, except for the part about "staying calm," the above instructions pretty much sum up a typical day in the life of a CI officer.
On the other hand, let's not ooze to conclusions either.
I believe in the power of one. One person with a dream. One private ten-thousand-man army. One billion-dollar budget to fund that army.
Spy like no one's watching, undergo interrogation like it's never going to hurt.
Secret 21813221. A sinkhole is a pothole that read a self-help book.
It's true you can't go home again ... though evidently your relatives can show up at your house any time they want to.
While dutifully babysitting the kids and waiting to eat bird this afternoon, cruised around the Agency's public web site on the home PC. Noted that, according to the description on the site, the celebrated HQS sculpture Kryptos (you know, the one I heroically saved from terrorists only a few weeks ago) "incorporates native American materials such as wood and metal."
You can't make this stuff up, people. At least not without an official security clearance.
In the evening we had Thanksgiving dinner with various in-and-out-laws.
Thought about terror. Frequently.
Secret 4081312. Every bullet's magic if you've got a magic gun.
As hurt and angry as Gaia no doubt feels seeing her human children lay waste to our planet's biosphere, I bet deep down she feels proud too.
Lounged around the house with the wife and kids today, feasting on Thanksgiving leftovers and watching television.
At one point I heard a commentator state that Americans aren't a gullible people, and I just smiled.
... Americans not gullible: talk about wonderful news!
Must get to bed early. It's critical to America's national security that your humble spook rise, eons before dawn tomorrow, and play Have You Forgotten How to Love Yourself by the Red House Painters on my computer at CIA Headquarters, so as to already have fought and won, eons beforehand ... … My War on Terror!™
Secret 3691. There's nothing funny about waterboarding. Especially if you wipe out.
... Officially not speaking of which, delivered my quarterly status update on Operation UMMA [acronym classified] at HQS today. (Note: cleared Muslims only. شكرا)
Phase 1 Conversion of US populace to Islam. Status: ahead of schedule.
Phase 2 Removal of selected domestic and/or overseas Islamic militants and their supporters for blasphemy against Islam. Status: on schedule.
Phase 3 Establishment of the Islamic Republic of the United States as official custodian of Mecca. Status: well ahead of schedule.
Phase 4 Temporary confiscation and administration of sale of highly decomposed biomass, in the name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful. Status: infinitely ahead of schedule.
... Also provided a status update on terror.
Secret 602.2.2. If there wasn't a method to it, it wouldn't be madness.
As long as you're standing up for your
rights, why not do jumping jacks?
As long as you're standing up for your rights, why not do jumping jacks?
God does not play dice with the universe ... ever since the universe caught God cheating last week.
Interestingly, imitation is also the twelfth most insincere form of flattery.
Is it OK if I bite the hand
that doesn't feed me?
Is it OK if I bite the hand that doesn't feed me?
Albert Einstein: The grand aim of all science is to cover the greatest number of empirical facts by logical deduction from the smallest number of hypotheses or axioms.
Numerous jazz musicians, and the Covert Comic: Everything is everything.
In the interest of safety, shouldn't everything come with a self-destruct button?
Apparently some local imam (he leads weekly prayers in a house of worship behind the new Wal-Mart near my townhome development) heard about your humble spook's Operation UMMA briefing, got the religion completely wrong, and is now calling for a jihad against my web site on his web site.
Christ, what a hassle. Now I'll have to go find an imam to threaten to issue a fatwa against that first imam's web site on his web site.
The good news: I know a holy man over in Falls Church who's usually good for a fatwa when you need one. Alhamdulillah. And I mean that sincerely.
Carpam diem cras. (I'll seize the day tomorrow.)
On this date in 1941, the United States was attacked by Pearl Harbor.
Have you ever noticed how, approximately every fifty-nine years, nine months and four days (give or take several seconds), pretty much like clockwork, America is attacked by terrorists?
Which in turn raises the question: Who will attack America fifty-nine years, nine months and four days (give or take several seconds) from now?
... More to the point, what are we in the US Government doing today to prevent such an act from occurring?
As a fully cleared intelligence officer, I know what I'm officially not doing to counter such an eventuality.
That's right, America: I'm officially not going to bed. Need to get plenty of rest so I can officially not rise infinitely before dawn tomorrow, drive in surreptitiously to CIA Headquarters, log in and surf the Net in order to recruit appropriate techno trance music, and thereby resume preemptive covert operations in ... My War on Terror!™
Socialism, fascism, tourism – all the monolithic ideologies are basically the same.
It's officially not on!
Your humble spook is for the record not flying TDY to Baghdad in three weeks. I won't be there providing tutorials on the use of a couple of classified applications (officially not developed by my team) that don't enable identification and neutralization of weapons of mass destruction and/or their sympathizers. And yeah, the venerable Gary S., nerve agent survivor and counterproliferation consultant extraordinaire, officially won't be going out with me.
I'll readily admit that I'd been agonizing about whether or not I really wanted to undertake such a mission; but now that the decision hasn't been made for me, to be honest, I can't wait not to go!
When I don't go TDY to Iraq, I intend not to bring along plenty of burgundy, 100-proof peppermint schnapps, and Diet Coke for mixing my famed Calimochos de Cia. ... You know, on the off chance that one or more of these crucial ingredients might prove temporarily difficult to procure over in the 51st state (though reliable sources with excellent access assure that one can get absolutely anything in Iraq these days, even with the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party currently not in power.)
With a name like "Sunny Triangle," how unpleasant a place could it be???
If Mother Teresa had been a baseball player, I bet she would have been Yogi Berra. And not because Mother Teresa and Yogi Berra happen to bear an astonishing resemblance ... but because of the Yog's miraculous powers to heal the sick.
Golf owns the distinction of being the sport that's most similar when it's being played to when it isn't.
Golf owns the distinction of being the sport that's most similar when it's being played to when it isn't.
It bothers me to see so many people in our society today scared and stressed out. So this morning I hooked up a microphone and loudspeaker to my car, and at lunch I drove around Capitol Hill and Pennsylvania Avenue repeating the following phrase in an authoritative sounding voice:
“Please remain calm. Do not panic. The situation is under control.”
It did seem to have an effect on people. It certainly made me feel better.
How can a stick have a short
This morning I showed up five minutes early for a time management seminar.
The instructor gave me a certificate, shook my hand, and said: “There's nothing I can teach you now that you don't already know.”
I'm no longer flirting with
disaster – we're now formally engaged.
I'm no longer flirting with disaster – we're now formally engaged.
Secret 149,103.1. "America" pronounced backwards still sounds pretty close to "America."
When I was 22 I had a life changing experience. I suddenly found myself inside my body, nowhere near the presence of an all-knowing, all-loving Light, and with no idea what people around me were thinking or feeling. I would later learn that this phenomenon is referred to as an "out of college experience," and that no other person in the history of the universe had ever gone through this before me.
If you piss high enough, you'll make a rainbow.
Officially didn't drive over to State Department this morning to not pick up my dip passport for my non-TDY to Iraq. Afterwards I didn't go sit through a mandatory briefing/debriefing on counterterrorism at FBI. As a result, I can officially neither deny nor not confirm the veracity of that famous Langley truism:
All FBI agents are special.
Premature ejaculation?! I'll have you know I've been working toward this for years!
Helen Keller said that whenever one door closes, another door opens.
… Please God, don't let me start wondering how she discovered this concept.
I have everything I need to destroy my enemies in a manila envelope. Now if I can just figure out a way to get them in there.
Which speaks more deeply of America: the fact that the CIA's National Intelligence Daily once reported the score of a baseball game … or the fact that the score in question really did have implications for America's national security?
And yes, you will be tested on this question long before you ever signed up for the course.
I bet whoever said "The future is now!" feels like a total idiot today.
Speaking of which (I'm referring to the future, not to feeling like an idiot), tomorrow I'm getting read in for my Baghdad TDY. Think I'll go to bed early tonight, so that before the sun comes up I can materialize in my cubicle deep inside CIA Headquarters and prepare for the preparing by listening to River Man by Nick Drake on my computer.
I mean, talk about getting read in – the lyrics to that song are actually classified. I've sung too much already.
Not all who wander are lost ... unless of course they hesitate while wandering.
Got read in today on a couple of the organizations I'll officially not be working with in Iraq. Reasonably sensitive stuff, though nothing you can't figure out by watching TV news with the sound muted while listening to bass-heavy Middle Eastern-themed techno trance music.
Too bad I don't have time (and likely couldn't obtain approval in any case) to take some of the advanced personal security training courses (defensive driving, hand-to-hand combat, etc.) that regular ops officers receive in preparation for being sent overseas to Danger Pay posts. I mean, with the right knowledge and skills, just think of all the terror your humble spook could defeat in the future when seeking a parking spot at Tyson's Corner shopping mall during Christmas season (to cite merely one extremely National Security-relevant example).
Every theory is a conspiracy theory.
Right up there at the top of the list of things that are better than sex has got to be compiling and collating the list itself.
There is none so anosmic as he who will not smell.
"Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive."
I bet if you're a spider, you think this is just about the dumbest saying of all time.
As a CIA officer, if I look back and see a second set of footprints in the sand beside my own, I'm thinking maybe it's Jesus, or maybe it's our tech guys playing another one of their "jokes."
Got a pleasant surprise this Christmas morning. While the wife and kids were busy opening presents under the Yule tree, some terrorists dropped by our house to offer us season's greetings. They told me that, although technically at war with the United States and international Zionism (and therefore reserving the right to attack and kill us later in the week), they wanted to sincerely convey best wishes to me and my family. Feeling distinctly moved, I thanked the terrorists for their magnanimous gesture, and enthusiastically wished them the same.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if the holiday spirit could last all year long?
Secret 80539118. If you laughed slowly enough, you'd think you were being serious.
If a statue falls on me and breaks, do I get credit for being an iconoclast?
Before I was hired by CIA, I used to joke that a real central intelligence agency would have a gigantic brain located deep inside its headquarters building.
Now that I work here, I realize such jokes are foolish. And painful.
The saying "Curiosity killed the cat" isn't an argument for not being curious, it's an argument for not being a cat.
May your hopes never be dashed, but rather comma-delimited.
Secret 2. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you're not paranoid.
I bet invention wishes it was adopted.
I bet invention wishes it was adopted.
The last person in the world you should be sleeping with is still a person you should be sleeping with.
Whenever I hear people say "He died doing what he loved," I always think: He loved dying???
Wanna come over to my place and train to be a sleeper agent?
… Speaking of which, your humble spook officially doesn't fly out TDY to Baghdad next Thursday morning! Going to turn in early tonight. Need to get as much rest as possible in advance of the many harrowing battles I'm no doubt soon to fight in ... My War on Terror!™
Secret 4,691,112. All bedfellows are strange.
Talk about harrowing battles in my war on terror. This morning your humble spook had to go to the Office of Medical Services to receive shots and a butt probe.
Question: Is the probing of my anus really essential to our National Security?
… Who am I kidding? Everyone knows that a butt probe, and our National Security, are one and the same thing.
Secret 0.791727. Covert action isn't as covert action doesn't.
I've seen a thousand TV shows that teach a man fishing. But I've never seen a TV show where someone just gave a guy a fish.
Her lips said no, but her eye said yes.
Oh what the heck, the enemy of my enemy is my enemy too.
There are no passengers on spaceship Earth – we're all sky marshals.
Now I know how Mata Hari must have felt (assuming Mata Hari's luggage ever got lost when she was TDY).
Good thing I don't keep secret intel in my personal baggage (not counting those nude pictures of Mata Hari).
If these walls could stop talking, I'd really appreciate it.
Even if I knew the location of this room I just checked into, I wouldn't be permitted to disclose it.
At this moment every cell in my body is totally exhausted. I'm so tired I'm not even going to play Snoopy's Theme by Vince Guaraldi on my computer at full blast, which I had intended to do as a way of celebrating my arrival in the Green Zone. For now, that milestone will have to wait. I am turning in immediately, this very second, because, trust me people, your humble intelligence officer is smack dab in the middle of ... My War on Terror!™
Secret 0.761. If you can prepare for it, it isn't the worst.
Iraq TDY – Day One. Wouldn't you know it: I show up in Baghdad and they start killing liquor store owners.
Is there a message here? If so, I assume the message is: I should have brought a lot more liquor.
This morning, was briefly briefed by a briefer wearing (presumably) briefs. Subject of said briefing: briefees whom I'll briefly be briefing.
Following the briefing, caught a shuttle back to my quarters. While on the way, experienced a massive sand storm that reduced visibility to near zero and made any movement virtually impossible. Momentarily felt as if I were back at State Department HQS attending a conference on sustainable Third World socio-economic development.
After dinner had a drink or six with Gary S. Man, can that guy put 'em down. No wonder he survived multiple exposures to deadly WMDs – he's clearly built up an immunity.
Famous Secrets of Geography 0.98199. The world's largest mosque is located only one hundred meters from the Grand KFC of Mecca.
I think it's important that the American people understand: this war in Iraq isn't about oil. It's about the money you get from selling oil.
I'm confident that, once they know the truth, the American people will fully and actively support our participation in the Coalition of the Willing.
Or at least they'll be willing to.
Probably my biggest discovery about Iraq: most Iraqis are taking this whole Operation Iraqi Freedom thing pretty much in stride. For example, they joke about the fact that, post-Saddam, a lot of basic infrastructure (water, electricity, etc.), when available, is free … not because Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, but because half a year into Coalition rule nobody has figured out a way to consistently and reliably bill people for utilities.
Clearly, a lot of Iraqis have been winning their war on terror for quite some time now.
Oh, and by the way, I've definitely decided that my favorite smell is Kevlar. Unless Kevlar doesn't have a smell, in which case my favorite smell is me wearing Kevlar.
Secret 5181048. Good intelligence isn't distilled, it's detoxed.
More briefings. Tried a Saddam Burger at lunch today. Actually, it was a Kabab Iroog, but it kind of looked like a hamburger. Pretty tasty too. I almost relented to having a beer with it, but in the end decided to maintain my standards (your humble intel officer prefers wine and liquor if at all possible - not because I'm a snob, you understand, but because beer tends to make your humble spook fat, plus I get little or no buzz from it, thereby rendering its intelligence value at best questionable).
After work, watched American TV sitcoms in a US Green Zone lounge while hoards of US and Iraqi military and/or intel officers around me roared with laughter.
Also thought about terror.
War is glorious, until you see the man next to you get killed. Then war is only glorious if he was an asshole.
You want to know about real terrorism? I'll tell you about real terrorism. Real terrorism is when you fly half way around the world to a major war zone, check in to your room inside a massively guarded compound, carefully place your smuggled booze in the ice box, then later that evening after work, with the lights and the air conditioning and the Internet in your room all functioning perfectly, go to get your booze from the ice box … and it's warm. Because the ice box – and only the ice box – has stopped working.
Damn you, Al Qaeda!
Maybe our mistake in the Middle East was failing to realize that, when you "draw a line in the sand," within 24 hours a sand storm comes and blows it away.
A lot of folks would have said I was crazy for befriending the Iraqi street kid who stood in front of me waving a live hand grenade as I walked alone down a seedy Baghdad side street.
… I know I would have said this, which is why I threw a wad of twenty-dollar bills at him and got my ass out of there at a rate approaching light speed. Never again, people.
More briefings this morning and afternoon. In the evening, talked on the phone with my beautiful wife back home in Northern Virginiastan, in advance of my flying home this weekend. Just for kicks, told her I was getting lots of hot dates here in Baghdad. My intent was to make a pun about Iraq's leading cash crop. The problem: my beautiful wife is from Russia.
Language difficulties … and now, marital difficulties.
Not to worry. I'll smooth everything over when/if I get back home.
The good news: my ice box is once again functioning, and tomorrow is Saturday (no briefings)! The even better news: I've been working the only energy pipeline that really matters, and as a result may shortly succeed in scoring multiple units of 100 proof peppermint schnapps on behalf of various American military personnel here.
Talk about a potentially decisive stratagem in … My War on Terror!™
If it's really so all-loving, why doesn't the Light get off its lazy ass and come down the tunnel to see us???
Late this evening I received a strange transmission from the CIA time satellite. While additional details are pending, the gist of the communication is that, about a year from today, in the course of searching through intelligence archives in Langley, Virginia, your humble spook will come across a thin black folder containing several faded typewritten pages; the documents will appear to be notes of a cosmological nature, written by an unknown CIA officer around 1964. Reading further, I'll learn that this CIA official was undertaking classified research into fundamental properties of space-time, and their potential harnessing for intelligence purposes.
Ironically, the author of the notes in the small
black folder in question will be listed as one "John A. King."
Given that covert CIA employees are routinely assigned generic cover
names like this, I'll assume it's just a coincidence (your humble
intelligence officer, John Alejandro King, could not possibly have composed these documents in
1964, since that was the year, more or less, of my birth.)
was the year, more or less, of my birth.)
In any case, among the interesting entries I'll find within said black folder:
According to the principle of time dilation in the theory of relativity, if a conscious entity (whether a single being or an entire species) extends itself in space-time at a sufficient rate of acceleration (or, to use an alternative characterization, "blows itself up"), then from the perspective of an observer, that entity will never seem to get anywhere.
... In fact, from the standpoint of the observer, the entity in question will seem to disappear completely. But from the perspective of that conscious entity itself, it will increasingly be present in, and aware of, all things everywhere.
To be present in and aware of everything, yet to be physically undetectable: talk about the holy grail of intelligence. Not to mention, total victory in the war on terror!
The whole thing makes a spook wonder if perhaps there's a reason this ancient research project was quietly archived away and never pursued.
… That is, if the project was never pursued.
Of course, I fully acknowledge that tonight's transmission could be the Calimochos de Cia talking.
Then again, according to the theory of relativity, we are the Calimochos de Cia of the Light.
You are the Green Zone of my life.
Briefings completed. Regimes replaced. Bags packed in preparation for my trip home tomorrow, reflected at length on the following question:
Have I succeeded during this TDY of mine in fully exploring the inherent tension in this narrative, namely, that of terror and the war against it, a war that I, an intelligence officer (and by extension all intelligence officers) must necessarily wage as a basic condition of existence?
As for your humble spook's take on this question, I believe the following insight probably best summarizes my view:
I found fire water!!!
That's right folks. I'm talking real, 100 proof, red-hot-sweet, good ol' made-in-America schnapps. The encrypted key of encrypted keys.
Regarding how I managed – here in the Middle East of all places – to locate and acquire this most powerful Weapon of Mass Deliverance: such information must remain, now and likely forever, Top Secret.
By the way, this evening my beautiful wife called me from stateside. Seems she looked in the dictionary and figured out the "date" joke. Everything's fine now (not that it ever wasn't – but thanks for caring, America).
Allah of which reminds me:
Once this whole international terrorism thing calms down, I for one would like to see a bunch of us CIA officers get together with former Al Qaeda members ... you know, to have a few drinks, tell war stories (unclassified, of course), and just share some laughs at the craziness of life and terror generally.
Have any persons unknown to you handled your national security at any time?
Back home this morning, none the worse for terror.
… For the most part, that is. While details are classified, let's just say that what started out as a straightforward departing flight from Baghdad for points northwest two days ago (I think it was two days ago), culminated in a bus ride through Israel with several dozen just-released Palestinian militants (see photo above). Incredibly, this was the only available means of transportation to catch a connecting flight at Ben Gurion International Airport, after my original flight was thrice diverted due to security concerns.
I do have to admit that the guys on the bus were a reasonably fun bunch. They sang some pretty cool songs – especially one with "Shalom" in the chorus (though it's possible they were actually saying "Salam"; I couldn't tell for sure since I don't speak Arabic, Hebrew or Aramaic). The Israeli soldiers gave each of us bottled water and a small bag of salted pretzels (better than what I got on the El Al flight afterwards, I might add).
My boss has ordered me to take an entire week off before coming back to work. You know, so the jet lag won't mess with my sleep cycle and cause me to potentially do something weird like (to cite merely one possible example) get up at 0300 hrs and drive in to the office to fight terror.
… Allah forbid.
The kingdom of terror is within you.
Covertly materialized at 0401 hrs this morning in my cubicle, deep inside a dark and deserted CIA outbuilding, listening to trance-techno music on my headphones and surfing the classified Net.
… At virtually the same moment, noticed breaking news on my computer screen about a more horrific terrorist attack than usual in the Homeland.
Calmly removed the trance-techno file and queued up Life Is Life by Laibach (or by Opus, depending on your worldview). Unplugged the headphone attachment from my computer, turned the speaker volume up full blast, and let 'er rip.
Around the third verse, turned the volume down a little and checked the Web again. Noted that the story about the terrorist attack had been replaced by a controversial report on same-marriage sex.
Waited until the song was over, just to make sure. Reinserted the headphone attachment and resumed listening to trance-techno.
Dutifully logged successful execution of another covert operation in … My War on Terror!™
The Covert Comic.
Be not afraid. Be very not afraid.