Monday, September 8, 2008

Chauncey DeVega's World of Ghetto Nerds: Woodward's 60 Minutes Interview and Our "Secret" Military Capabilities

Bob Woodward, the noted journalist who has been instrumental in exposing the questionable judgment of the Bush administration in regards to 9-11, Iraq, and the War on Terror was interviewed Sunday on 60 Minutes.

Woodward is an amazingly thorough and insightful researcher: for The War Within he compiled 150 interviews with senior officials, administration officials, and contacts within the military. While much of the attention his book and the interview will receive will undoubtedly be focused on Bush's decision making, how "the surge" succeeded, our spying on the Iraqi prime minister, and the administration's suppression of information regarding how badly the U.S. was losing the war in Iraq, there is a buried gem of information in the 60 Minutes interview with Woodward. Apparently, the United States military has developed a new technology which is so revolutionary that it will change how wars are fought. Here is the relevant excerpt from the piece:

But beyond all of that, Woodward reports, for the first time, that there is a secret behind the success of the surge: a sophisticated and lethal special operations program.

"This is very sensitive and very top secret, but there are secret operational capabilities that have been developed by the military to locate, target, and kill leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq, insurgent leaders, renegade militia leaders. That is one of the true breakthroughs," Woodward told Pelley.

"But what are we talking about here? It's some kind of surveillance? Some kind of targeted way of taking out just the people that you're looking for? The leadership of the enemy?" Pelley asked.

"I'd love to go through the details, but I'm not going to," Woodward replied.

The details, Woodward says, would compromise the program.

"For a reporter, you don’t allow much," Pelley remarked.

"Well no, it’s with reluctance. From what I know about it, it's one of those things that go back to any war, World War I, World War II, the role of the tank, and the airplane. And it is the stuff of which military novels are written," Woodward said.

"Do you mean to say that this special capability is such an advance in military technique and technology that it reminds you of the advent of the tank and the airplane?" Pelley asked.

"Yeah," Woodward said. "If you were an al Qaeda leader or part of the insurgency in Iraq, or one of these renegade militias, and you knew about what they were able to do, you'd get your ass outta town."

Here are my thoughts on what this secret weapon could be:

1. Practical Invisibility. There have long been rumors of the United States possessing an ability to make camouflage which bends light in order to conceal the user. In fact, there have been public demonstrations of this technology which have demonstrated its viability and practicality. Could the U.S. military actually have this ability? Are U.S. special operators running around in Iraq a la Predator style and targeting Al-Qaeda and other bad guys?

2. Miniature Robots and/or Nanites. There has been research done by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration (in conjunction with private laboratories and universities like MIT) to develop extremely small (small as in the size of atomic particles) machines which are so tiny that they could potentially enter the human body through a hole the size of a pore. Adding further fuel to the speculation is DARPA's track record of success: the Internet; modern video game and computer technology; miniaturized electronics; microchips; etc.). Simply put, DARPA has helped to created the Information Revolution and much of the technology we use on a day to day basis. Could it be that DARPA has actually deployed nanites which are keyed to target certain individuals (perhaps based on their pheromones or other genetic markers?). Or has the U.S. military developed thinking robots? Small hunter-killers like those in the movie Screamers?

3. Remote Viewing. During the Cold War the United States and Soviets attempted to develop "psychic warriors." These individuals were trained to use paranormal and ESP techniques to locate and identify people, locations, and other targets of interest anywhere in the world. The United States ostensibly discontinued its research into remote viewing sometime in the mid 1990s, while the Russians are rumored to have continued with their own experiments. Has the CIA perfected remote viewing as a viable intelligence gathering technique? Are there teams of remote viewers in a dark recessed room at the National Security Agency visualizing the locations of terrorists and insurgents, and then directing American assets to destroy these targets?

4. Directed Energy Weapons. In other words: lasers, plasma beam weapons, or some combination thereof. Lasers have existed for decades. However, their large size has made them prohibitive as weapons (even the smallest lasers would have to be mounted on a large truck or large airliner). Given that the military has access to technology which is decades ahead of civilian technology, and generally much farther ahead of what is publicly admitted to--for example, the Stealth fighter was in service in the late 1970s before the Air Force publicly debuted it in the late 1980s. Has the U.S. military deployed these weapons in Iraq? Or are they space borne, on satellites in low orbit where they wait for an appropriate target which they will instantaneously incinerate or vaporize? Could the U.S., in combination with other assets, have deployed Special Forces teams with laser weapons, who then take the fight to the highest value targets in Iraq?

5. Smart Dust. An outgrowth of the technology used in nanites (or vica versa depending on how you look at it), this innovation consists of thousands of small sensors that can be sprayed over an area. These miniature devices can also be placed on clothing and other items. Smart dust, when activated, creates its own network which then broadcasts information to a central computer processing center. In short, imagine spreading thousands of granule sized particles in an area, particles which in turn attach themselves onto anyone in the vicinity. These people then spread the smart dust to anyone with whom they have contact. Ultimately, through smart dust you have the means to eavesdrop on an entire community. Yes, the more I think about it, the smart money is that the United States has used smart dust to monitor, identify, and target Al-Qaeda, unfriendly militia groups, and insurgents in Iraq. Frightening stuff isn't it? More so when one realizes that RFID's, the tags used by stores such as Walmart to track inventory, are cousins to Smart Dust technology...

What are your speculations (however serious or comedic) about what this weapon could be? And are you as nervous about what its capabilities are as I am? That as easily as it could be turned against the enemy of the moment, it could also be used against citizens at home?


Anonymous said...


I'm with ya on this one. I never drank the Kool-Aid that "the surge" was the main reason that allegedly violence was down in Iraq as far as Al-Qaieda was concerned. I always wanted to know what was the control and what was the variables in this test. There could have been a plethora of reasons as to why, allegedly, violence was down in Iraq.

Those potential "secret weapons" are more than plausible as to why we're at this particular stage in that conflict.

Lady Zora, Chauncey DeVega, and Gordon Gartrelle said...

This could be total disinformation. But, I would like to think I have a decent bs detector and Woodward's face seemed really sincere. What could be so powerful that it represents a total paradigm shift in warfare? And, what other goodies are we hiding? We were sitting here worried about the Chinese and as much as they have been innovating we certainly have some real surprises for them as well!