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Langley Long Gone

Intelligence designs at CIA. Leakproof intelligence, leakproof borders. A madman's missive. Driving costs overdrive. Plus much more.

5.16.06

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GOOGLE OBJECTS
Re: The Prowler's Internet Nationalization:

I'm writing to advise you that Google Inc. is not a financial supporter of MoveOn.org as your article of May 15 entitled "Internet Nationalization" asserts. As a result it is unequivocally incorrect to state that MoveOn has received "...more than $1 million from Google and its lobbyists..." I am requesting that your article be updated to reflect this.

It is wholly accurate to say that network neutrality is an issue of great importance to our users and to Google as a result. Broadband providers should not be permitted to use their market power to control what consumers see and do online. For 100 years telephone companies have been prohibited from telling consumers who they can call. For two decades Internet carriers have been prohibited from dictating what users do online. Broadband carriers should not now be allowed to pick winners and losers in the competitive Internet market.
-- Jon Murchinson
Google Corporate Communications

This disconnect between Republicans and their own self interest is precisely why the GOP is so often referred to as the "stupid party." I am, frankly, of the opinion that they will never learn.
-- Ken Shreve

PASSIVE NONAGGRESSION
Re: Jed Babbin's The Producers of Intelligence:

The real mystery here is the passivity of the Bush administration to the mutiny of the bureaucracy in the CIA. How, one wonders, can the administration consult with the CIA on whatever problems it is facing today?

After all, that is the provenance of the Wilson Plame Affair. There was a report circulated in Washington -- apparently from the Brits -- that Saddam had tried to buy uranium in Africa in 1999. What did Cheney do? What I hope anybody else on the reading list for that report would have done. He asked our guys "is this true?"

Except that our guys were so affronted at this request -- for reasons that are unclear to a civilian -- that either they undertook a grotesquely inadequate effort by sending a family-member out on a junket or developed an operation to damage the questioner.

Why this response to a request from the Vice President has not resulted in everyone in the CIA chain of command involved with processing this request being fired is a mystery to me. But it certainly makes it easy to understand why Rumsfeld wants his own intelligence agency.

Mission statement for the CIA: "We are the CIA -- recalcitrant, incompetent, mutinous. Ask us as for intelligence and we will finish your career."

The CIA lost its war on 9/11. Its job is to protect the country and it failed. Sheer luck for the CIA that the civilians on Flight 93 did their job for them or the Capitol would be gone. And that even more damaging weapons weren't used. About the attack itself, the CIA was clueless. Clueless. And after that failure, the CIA has the gall to send an amateur -- the husband of one of its officers -- on a mission to Africa to find out whether Saddam was trying to buy uranium. Hard to think of a better example of slackness and indifference.

The default position should be that people should go. Hayden's attitude to employees should be "convince me that you are not part of the failure here."
-- Greg Richards

Well, why is it nobody's willing or able to clean out the Augean Stables of Langley? Let us speculate.

The CIA is an institution whose business is collecting other peoples' closely-guarded secrets and screwing them. The Agency's charter, and the law of the land, define and delimit the Agency's domain of targets to what might broadly be called offshore entities, but wait -- CIA is, after all, an institution. Institutions have all those well-known tendencies to self-aggrandizement and self-preservation, do they not?

Well then -- we've built a survival machine, taught it to operate in secret, and asked it to collect other peoples' closely-guarded information and to screw them.

Next question, please.
-- Paul Kotik
Plantation, Florida

You are so right. The only way to stop the leaks is to send people to jail and SOON. This has gone on way too long without any action.

The porous border is another joke. Why should anyone stand in line for years to come here legally when all you have to do is come illegally and reap all the benefits, free schooling, health care, and welfare. There are good laws already on the books but no one is enforcing them. Go after employers that hire illegals and the jobs will dry up. Stop allowing children born to ILLEGALS to become citizens, stop all the freebies. Get some kind of voter card so only citizens will be able to vote, get tough on LAWBREAKERS. When Bush called the Minutemen vigilantes, it made me sick. Bush is in the pocket of big business that wants cheap slave labor and that is what the illegals give them. The INS should have been out at the protest making a list of employers that closed that day to know who to go after for illegal hiring and taking names of protesters checking for legal status.

I am mad as hell and not going to take it any more. If you feel this way sign up on www.numbersusa.com and send FREE faxes to the President and your members of Congress. We can do this -- we just have to work together.
-- Elaine Kyle

I think Mr. Babbin misses the point somewhat. The last few years have shown that expecting this President to fully explain and rationally defend his policies and actions is itself more than he is willing to do; actually expecting action seems more than we can hope for. Note to Secretary Chertoff: How's the disposition of all those trailers sitting in a field in Arkansas coming along?
-- Chuck Vail

Jed asks: "why should any conservatives respond favorably to yet more promises that aren't accompanied by decisive action?"

Bush, Rove, and other elected Republicans and their consultants have figured out (or think that they have) that all they need to do to keep conservative voters in line is to pat them on the head once in a while, and tell them what nice boys and girls that they are. Besides, we are so stupid that we will believe whatever bit of puffery George Bush utters. All the while, Bush is on the phone to Vicente Fox assuring him that all the tough border enforcement is only temporary and we will return to status quo ante in the blink of an eye, just as soon as he gets his stupid base voters calmed down. Oh, and Laura says that the polls showing low ratings for Dubya are not true, and she doesn't believe them.

Bush started on the wrong path when he ordered the Justice Department not to prosecute the Clinton White House staffers that trashed the place on their way out to the tune of many thousands of our tax dollars. There has been no meaningful prosecution of anyone in the Gingrich intercepted cell phone case. The so called prosecution of "Socks" Burger was a joke at best, and not a funny one. Additional examples are legion.

In the meantime, the Dems go after one effective Republican after another, and don't let up one iota until the person is out of office and professionally destroyed.

It has been written authoritatively that, when Hayden takes over at CIA, he will bring back as his number two man the very person that Porter Goss fought so hard to get rid of. Long story short the entrenched bureaucracy will be back in charge, with their compadres from the Department of State, under the auspices of Negroponte, standing with them against the DoD (and the American people). I seriously doubt that we will see Bush awarding any medals to Porter Goss like he did for Tenet and Bremer.

When will the GOP get serious and get in the game, and will we have any country left if and when they do?
-- Ken Shreve

I think Mr. Babbin has written a wonderful column. I've been asking the same questions. Why are there no indictments for these leaks? Is it okay to leak classified information if you're a Democrat? I'd like to learn more about what it is Mr. Gonzales actually does.

As for cleaning up the CIA as well as State, Justice, and other problem agencies I think you have to employ the correct tool. You need hatchets and hatchet men to use them. From the caterwauling I hear from generals I believe Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a good job. Secretary Rice is presiding over a pit of vipers at State and I hope she'll accomplish good things for her country. Gen. Hayden has a nasty job ahead of him. I hereby offer my services as loyal plain-speaking hatchet man.
-- Jeffrey Ring
Lorton, Virginia

I was amazed at the lack of humor displayed by uncomfortable and grumpy conservatives after the correspondents' dinner the other night. Now I'm further astounded by conservative anger at George Bush and the Republican-led Congress.

Having controlled both houses of Congress since 2002, and the White House since 2000, and also been at the forefront of intellectual discourse, the scope of change that the right could have initiated is only matched by the lack of action from spend-thrift Republicans. I personally put down the turning point of this administration with the disgraceful posturing of pro-life Republicans during the Schiavo "incident," but obscene deficit spending and the inability to curb illegal immigration, can also be seen as major problems for the Republicans.

What is the solution? Indict Democrats for "leaking" facts as a means to trump national security credibility of the left. Jed Babbin has showed why the right in America is squandering its well-earned position of dominance. It is ideological, stubborn, inflexible and unwilling to reach out in the spirit of bipartisanship to find common ground and make the country more united and less Red State/Blue State. Tax reform (with an aim to eradicate huge deficit), R&D into efficient fuels, immigration reform, highlighting a strong border security, are some of the policies that will benefit ALL Americans.
-- Nathan Maskiell

It is beginning to look like the CIA has become a branch of the Democratic Party.
-- Gerry Jackson
http://www.brookesnews.com

SPEAK NOW
Re: Christopher Orlet's Missive From a Madman:

Mr. Orlet does a wonderful deed by exposing the incoherence of the current president of Iran. It is too bad that the content of the letter is not widely known and published. It would appear that the EU has decided that they have done their part with "soft power" and now it is time for the U.S. to act "unilaterally" and make diplomatic overtures to Iran. Failure to resolve this contentious and dangerous issue will ultimately be laid at the door step of the U.S. There are hardliners in Europe, but they are few in number. More likely, the average European is satisfied with the EU "process" in dealing with Iran as opposed to results. The widespread public coverage of the letter to Bush might open some eyes as to what the world has to deal with and the obvious lack of common terms of reference not to mention mental processes. Finally, why is it that the efforts of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and director of the International Atomic Energy Agency have had no impact on the leadership in Tehran? Possibly, because "process" at the IAEA is more important than results.
-- WJM
Vienna, Austria

Well put, Mr. Orlet. One wonders exactly how much more direct this Iranian madman has to be before the left, the MSM, and the Democrats finally get it. Perhaps it's the lack of nuisance that has these elites confused. Surely this Ahmadinejad is saying something profound that registers with them that we rubes just can't quite figure out. As if that wasn't bad enough, their collective insanity gets worse and even more breathtaking, when they insist on bowing to their multi-cultural dogma and their anti-Western proclivities, in an attempt to find common ground with this 11th century religious fanatic. When fools like old Z Big from the Carter years, who helped create the "paper tiger" image of the U.S., with Carter's fecklessness and capitulation to Iran; and half-wits like Ms. Albright, of the equally feckless and impotent Clinton administration, admonish President Bush that he must see Ahmadinejad as a serious man with an equally serious message, one wonders if indeed these elites have a death wish for Western Civilization. It's that or they have forgotten their nursery rhymes and their Bible; the Emperor Ahmadinejad not only has no clothes, those horses he's riding are four in number and none too friendly.
-- A. DiPentima

ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE SAFE
Re: Ralph R. Reiland's You Never Can Tell:

Umm, good things to remember, Mr. Reiland.

Here's a prediction for you.

Monday night, the President supposedly will promise to place a military presence along the border with Mexico, ostensibly to secure it. Much may depend on the results of the Mexican general elections on July 2.

If Felipe Calderon, the PAN (party of Vicente Fox) presidential candidate wins, a token force may actually appear. Their first job will be to chase off the Minutemen, "We're here guys, you can go home, now!" Then, for a few months (until after the November elections in the U.S.), they will bivouac, sing songs, play cards, watch a few movies, maybe shoot a few jackrabbits, etc., while all the time, even more illegals will be crossing over the border without so much as a "Who goes there," except for a few showboating exceptions. The political base will commend him for finally taking direct action, he will have called the Minutemen's bluff, and Congress will have the cover it needs, a "now that the border is secure" news cycle, to facilitate passing his feckless immigration legislation.

If Calderon loses? Who knows... things might actually get serious.

I'm just glad I'm not a jackrabbit!
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

DUMB PEOPLE LIKE AUTHORITY
Re: Rev. C.J. McCloskey's All Roads Lead To...:

C.J. McCloskey raises several good points in his review of Exodus.

However, his hope that current trends in the U.S. will eventually lead to a resurgence of Catholicism is unrealistic and ignores some of the key psychological and sociological phenomena that are in play. People who are attracted to less doctrinaire religious observance are often aware that their need to belong to a religious organization has little or no connection with a need to believe in a Supreme Being. They may, for example, simply want inclusion in a local group that can offer support when they need it. On the other hand, people who are attracted to doctrinaire religious observance are more likely to crave order and tradition deriving either directly or indirectly from God. The majority of educated people fall within the former group, and are unlikely to change their behavior any time soon. Despite Pat Robertson's exhortations, God hasn't shown up recently, and most people know it.
-- Paul Dorell
Highland Park, Illinois

DO THE EXXON MATH
Re: Terry Druffel's letter (under "Ben's Oil") in Reader Mail's Life Can Be a Cadillac:

Terry Druffel's letter about the billions in profits made by oil companies leaves a wee bit out of the picture.

Exxon's net profit after income tax of $8,400 billion (in the first quarter 2006) is 9.44 percent of total sales. The net profit percent is the key to understanding that their net profit is not exorbitant.

For comparison (for fiscal year 2005), Citigroup's net profit was 18.8 percent of sales, General Electric's net profit was 10.4 percent of sales and Microsoft's net profit was 30.8 percent of sales. (Source: Fortune 500.)

Back to Exxon... Subtract the dividend paid to shareholders of $1,957 billion, and the earnings retained for future investment amounts to $6,443 billion, or 7.2 percent of sales.

Income taxes amounted to $7,059 billion, 7.9 percent of sales. Income taxes were also 45.7 percent of income before taxes. And, let's not forget taxes paid by shareholders on the dividend.

The government is the big winner in the oil companies improved profits.

We should all want to see lots more companies earning billions, paying billions to the government, paying billions to their suppliers, paying billions to their employees and paying billions to their shareholders.
-- Nelson Ward
Ribera, New Mexico

CONSERVING WELL
Re: Lawrence Henry's The Real Cost of Driving:

The problem with Lawrence Henry's numbers is that the cost of a Toyota Prius is NOT, as he says, $27,275. I bought mine in March 2005, and despite waitlists for the car, paid the list price of $21,725, to which I added an extended warranty and nothing else. That is only marginally more than I paid for my last car, a Ford Windstar van, in 1996. The deal was sweetened by a tax rebate, which was not part of my calculations as it was authorized after I purchased my car.

For the record, I easily average 45 mpg, even factoring in the refrigerator-cold winters of Rochester, N.Y. (all cars perform worse in cold weather). It takes a little while to learn to drive a Prius efficiently, but it isn't difficult. A year after purchasing it, I'm still enthusiastic about it.

What Lawrence Henry is really saying is that it's cheaper to drive a beater than a new car. That's so obvious that I'm surprised you bothered to print it. I agree with him that it doesn't make sense to trade a perfectly good used car for one which gets better mileage, because it takes a long time to recoup the purchase price.

I've driven my share of high mileage cars and I hate it. They creak and rattle, and break down in inauspicious places. The last 10,000 miles of my Windstar's life cost me more than payments on a new car would have. The interior lights had all died, a "check engine" light had become permanent, and it rode like the truck on Beverly Hillbillies. Sure, it was a cheap ride by that point -- and it felt like it.

Lawrence Henry "spots" us his replacement front end, but if he were honest with himself, he'd admit that suspension and steering replacements are a fact of life here in the northeast. I've never had a 60,000 miler which hasn't needed extensive front end work -- it's part of the cost of driving a used car.

When you drive cars for more than 100,000 miles, the initial purchase price is less important than the operating costs. I bought a new car because I blew my Windstar's engine at 142,000 miles. I looked at a number of cars and decided the Prius best fit my needs, which were good gas mileage, good pick-up, headroom, and room to stash my tools. I expect to drive my Prius at least 150,000 miles -- and given Toyota's track record, that's a reasonable expectation. (For the record, I'm 47 and this is my first non-Detroit car.)

There is a compelling, non-monetary reason to be concerned about gas consumption: national security. I wish I had a quarter for every SUV-driving liberal who's complained to me about "Bush's war for oil." I don't believe we're fighting for oil, but oil, of course, shapes our international policies. I'm not thrilled about supporting corrupt, anti-Israel, anti-western regimes with my gas money. Conservation is a free-market tool of international politics, and every consumer has the opportunity to use it.
-- Carol L. Douglas

While Mr. Henry's comparison seems compelling on the outset I am inclined to disagree with his bottom line analysis. Mr. Henry seems to feel that most people who purchase a new car do it by paying cash (the only reason I can think of why we don't see any interest charges in the debit column for the Prius and why he chose to use the entire purchase cost of the Prius in such a short period of time) and would get rid of the car after only two years of ownership. I feel this is incorrect, for the most part people today choose to finance their purchase through some sort of lending institution to spread the payments out across a period of time greater than two years (usually five years, but I've been seeing a lot of ads for 72 month or longer auto loans lately, suggesting that people are using those loan products).

Mr. Henry also neglected to include in the Prius column the federal tax credit of $2000 available to owners of hybrid vehicles.

Let's refigure the Prius column using some more realistic figures, shall we? We'll assume full price plus dealer markup for the Prius and the same number of miles driven and cost per gallon of fuel, but this time we'll use the actual costs the owner incurs based on no down payment, interest charges and federal tax credit (some owners may get the added benefit of a state credit as well, but since that's not universal we'll ignore it).

Prius payments made over two years based on a 10 percent interest rate (extortionate in today's economy) assuming $27,225 total cost and a 60-month note come out to $578.45/mo = $13882.80. Add in the fuel for $1,333 and you're up to $15,215.80. Figure in the federal tax credit of $2,000 and you're down to $13,215.80. That equals 66.1 cents per mile.

Quite a long way from $1.42 per mile, eh? I note that 66.1 cents per mile is measurably lower than the 70 cents it cost to own the Cadillac (a car that I do find it reasonable that an average person can own outright within the 24 months noted). Call it 4 cents per mile better. The difference becomes greater if you imagine gas at $4/gallon (and I don't think that takes very much imagination at all) -- you're up to 78 cents for the Caddy and 68 for the Prius.

Most people also drive significantly more than 10,000 miles per year. The cost difference becomes greater and greater the more you drive the two cars noted above.
-- Tim Doyle

PRAISE, NOT CRITICISM
Re: Ben Stein's Missed Tributes:

I would love to simplify this whole issue regarding the attitudes of those Hollywood film industry members that were present at the Academy Awards ceremony. These people are most often American citizens who have worked hard to get where they are. Not many of them were born into being what their current positions or roles. Most have worked very hard to get to the top. As American citizens, they are entitled to their opinion and to support whatever cause that they choose to align themselves with. They have earned that right because our system condones dissent.

I make less money than the Army Sergeant that you described and I served my country for over 13 years of my life. I am not complaining and I do not completely support what we are doing in the Middle East, but I do support the fact that we must do something about terrorism besides call each other names and place blame on those that support our cause or those that disagree.

Please put your considerable energy into asking for support and for representation for your position instead of wasting valuable energy complaining about those that you disagree with. Imagine if everyone with an idea, either positive or negative, with regard to a cause, put their energy into working toward world unity instead of constantly complaining about those that hold a contrary opinion. We may even be able to save the lives of one or two people that will be killed over the differences of opinion that currently exist in so many places in this world.
-- Concerned Citizen
Colorado

LIBERAL CODE TALKER
Re: Jed Babbin's The Yale Colonial Office:

I congratulate you on your ability to break the liberal "code." A sense of humor is a saving grace, and a sharp wit cuts clean and to the marrow. You have both, a sense of humor and a sharp wit.
-- Fred Edwards
Tucson, Arizona

FROM THE FIELD
Re: Ben Stein's Greetings From Rancho Mirage:

I would like to thank you for your kind and encouraging words of last month (Dear Sailors, marines, airmen, soldiers, etc.), the kind of words that my friends and I love to forward to each other.

I would also like to say how much I have appreciated the other messages you have sent out as well. May God Himself bless and keep you sir.
-- CPT Mark Andrews, ABE
1/34 BCT
Camp Adder, Iraq

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