Category Archives: Unconventional Weapons

Syrian Sarin Update: Khan Shaykhun à son goût

Here’s the telegraphic version, from PJ Media’s Bridget Johnson. It should answer some of your questions after Friday’s cruise-missile attack.

A “background briefing” is one in which the reporters can use the information but not attribute it by name to the individuals providing it. (There’s often a generic “source” specified, like this report’s “NSC Officials.” For those interested in the mechanics, there are several variations of source/reporter interaction, explained from the j-school point of view here).  In the instant case, Johnson reports..

An American View

NEWS: National Security Council officials just held a background briefing with reporters on the declassified intel assessment of last week’s chemical attack on Khan Shaykhun, Syria. Full story coming soon, but a few takeaways:

  • Sarin confirmed as the nerve agent used via testing on victims as well as symptoms. Secondary responders also suffered exposure symptoms.
  • Su-22s from Shayrat airfield dropped the sarin on Khan Shaykhun; conventional weapons were dropped about six hours later on hospital treating sarin victims – “no comment” from officials on if Russia did latter.
  • No ISIS or other terrorists in area have sarin (just mustard gas) – attack was “not a terrorist holding of sarin or a terrorist use of sarin”
  • WH official on if Russia, present at airfield, knew of sarin attack: “We don’t have information on that per se… still looking into that.” Adding: “We do think that it is a question worth asking” Russians how they were with Syrian forces at airfield “and did not have knowledge” of the attack in planning/prep stages.
  • “Leakage inconsistent” with Russians saying sarin came from opposition stocks on ground – “we don’t see a building with that chemical residue”
  • On Syria hoax conspiracy theories: Body of evidence “too massive” for anyone to fabricate. Official added that videos released of attack did correspond with that date, time, location.

A Russian View

So that’s the American spin. Opposed to that, we have the Russian propaganda outlet Anna News getting the Syrian spin on things, on the target airfield. Much of what reporter Sergei Bayduk has to say is bullshit, but the images are interesting. He identifies the same two a/c hulks we have seen as a MiG-23 (presumably the “monkey model” the Soviets furnished to allies) and an Su-22. Swing-wing jets of the 60s and 70s.

Bayduk makes the valid point that the attack did not close the airfield for long. The attack kicked off at oh-dark-thirty, lasted about a half an hour, and after the all clear they quickly repaired the airfield and were flying by daybreak. (Here, the rugged design of Soviet / Russian landing gear pays big dividends, as the planes are designed to land on completely unimproved surfaces, so there’s no problem landing and taking off on a runway that’s only had hasty repairs).

You have to wonder what the old Soviet authorities were thinking (back in the Brezhnev days) to transfer biological and chemical weapons to guys like Khadafy, Saddam Hussein and Assad père. They do realize that if these guys used these weapons on their enemy, Israel, the Israelis would most probably respond with their only WMD: nukes. But then again, in Brezhnev’s day they built the reactor at Chernobyl (he was dead and gone when it went FOOM).

We spent some time at a base in Uzbekistan that was, we discovered, contaminated with just about everything imaginable, including chemical weapons, biological toxins and spores, and ionizing radiation from two HASes in which aircraft had been blown up about like the ones you see here. There was a story the Uzbek AF officers told, but we didn’t know whether to credit it or not. There were also Soviet era crash sites all over the field… the first years of jet fighters look like they were just as unsafe in the Soviet Air Force as in its American counterpart.

Of course, Uzbekistan is a different matter, perhaps, as it was one of 15 Republics of the USSR, sovereign Soviet territory, when the A-VMF stockpiled WMDs there.

While the USSR sponsored some real bastards, the US in turn sponsored plenty of bastards of our own. Some of the places that were once dictatorships aren’t, now.

Returning to Syria, it sounds as if President Trump does not want to engage against Assad or make regime change his objective — the purpose of the strike was to send a message: chemical weapons are not OK.

We have our qualms about using the military for message-sending.

An Australian View

Every major nation has its own defense intellectuals, if not its own think tanks, and they often come at problems from new directions. For example, the Lowy Institute for International Policy (Sydney, Australia) has an interesting and deep analysis of the Khan Shaykhoun attack, which it calls out as very different from the attacks which have gone before. Here’s a taste:

Although chemical attacks against the Syrian population have continued over the past four years the Khan Sheikhoun attack is significantly different. After the August 2013 sarin attacks, Syria was compelled to join the Chemical Weapons Convention, declare all its chemical weapons and disarm. Chlorine barrel bombs were used after that, but their manufacture seemed makeshift and they were clearly not part of Syria’s former military chemical arsenal. Chlorine barrel bombs are a violation of the CWC but their possession does not indicate that Syria’s 2013 declaration of its chemical weapons was incorrect. Chlorine, if used for industrial reasons, is excluded.

Over the past few years CWC member states have expressed concern that Syria’s chemical declaration is inaccurate and incomplete. Indeed over the past two years the OPCW has held continuing discussions with Syria to resolve discrepancies, so far without success. Although the nature of these discussions is confidential, statements made by various delegates to the OPCW suggest that although the majority of Syria’s chemical holdings were disclosed, details are missing on a broad range of issues, including on munitions and manufacture.

The Khan Sheikhoun attack now appears to be demonstrable proof that Syria’s CWC declaration, the basis for its chemical disarmament, is inaccurate. At the very least, Syria has retained undeclared stocks of a nerve agent, possibly sarin in binary form, and the munitions to deliver it. What other chemical weapons may be undeclared can only be speculated on, but given the recent event it is reasonable to assume that some exist.

We strongly recommend anyone interested Read The Whole Thing™.  We can’t disagree with author Rod Barton’s conclusions:

[I]t is difficult to envisage what measures, political or military, the US could realistically take to bring Syria to account. In all probability, the abhorrent Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack is likely to be lost in the wider Syrian crisis, with its almost 5 million external refugees, its growing internal humanitarian needs and its political complexity.

As depressing and alarming as it is, the world may therefore expect that Syria will continue to use its remaining chemical weapons against its populace, whenever it chooses and with relative impunity.

Police as Oppressors: the Filipino Case

Flag of the Philippine 2nd (Collaborationist) Republic, 1943-5.

A few weeks ago, we mentioned in passing something we thought everybody always knew: that civil police were, in just about every case in history, just as willing to serve a totalitarian government as the republican one that preceded it; and that incidents of cops failing to fall in line, being, in effect “oath keepers,” were individual, idiosyncratic, and rare.

It turned out not everybody “always knew” this, and we tossed out a couple of references to German WWII practice, in which the rubber (truncheon) of the Final Solution met the road (Jews being herded into boxcars, or just shot into mass graves) at the hands of the conventional Ordnungspolizei or the Einsatzgruppen that were formed, largely, from reserve police formations. They were far from the only cops who were very far afield from police work in 1939-45. If you look, you will see that Weimar Republic plainclothesmen made the transition effortlessly to Gestapo and subsequently to Stasi in case after case.

But if we’re going to say this applies generally, we ought to provide more examples. So let’s consider the Philippines, a multi-island nation that was a sometimes restive American territory from 1898 to 1946, with a brutal Japanese occupation reigning from 1942-44.

Constabulary Special Agent badge, period unknown.

Prior to the outbreak of the war in December, 1941 (Philippine Islands targets were hit on 8 Dec 41), the United States had tried to build up native military forces, including very backward and primitive naval and air forces, and a large, modern, well-equipped and quasi-military national police force, the Philippine Constabulary. But after the war, the Constabulary per se was not reconstituted. Why not?

Because it went over, more or less in toto, to the Japanese occupation authorities and served them, against its own countrymen. In addition, many of the Filipino soldiers accepted Japanese parole to leave POW camps and join the Constabulary. Their tasks were not only normal police law-and-order duties, but also COIN and population control.

In July, 1946, the US and the new Republic of the Philippines together met their prewar schedule for Filipino independence. At that time, the islands were still recovering from the effect of the war, which included at least four separate devastations: direct damage done by Japanese occupation; economic ruin produced by the US naval (mostly submarine) interdiction and blockade during the occupation period; physical damage done by US bombing; and the broad swathes of destruction that attended the US campaign to defeat the Japanese occupation in 1944.

Immediately prior to Philippine Independence, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of the US Army Forces Western Pacific produced a Report on “P.I. Rehabilitation.”

Here is what the report says about law and order in the Philippine Islands, prewar:

Pre-War – Crime statistics for the Philippines before the liberation the Spring of 1945 are not available in the Philippines. As far as is known, records were destroyed during that war. However, it is generally agreed that the Philippines was a law-abiding nation before the war, with lawlessness of the present type mainly confined to the provinces of Sulu and Lanao in Mindanao. The national police force was the Philippine Constabulary, with cities such as Manila, Baguio and Zamboanga having their own police forces.

The Philippine Constabulary had been built for 50 years by the Americans — sometimes carefully, sometimes haphazardly. Sometimes the Americans mentored the Filipinos in their own image, and sometimes they dismissed them as primitive half-savages of a hopeless race, expecting little of them. As tension in the Pacific ramped up in the 1930s, American mentoring got more serious and more professional.

Americans were confident that the Filipino Army with the US Army elements in the islands could hold the islands against any likely Japanese attack. When they were proven wrong, they thought that at least those Filipinos from the Army and the Constabulary who had fought alongside the Americans — as Macarthur always called his troops during the campaign, the Filamerican Forces — would be loyal, and form a core of resistance.

They were wrong.

This Japanese Occupation badge is for the collaborationist Manila metro Constabulary. Most police had no problem switching badges.

During the war, the Japanese reorganized the Constabulary and it soon became infamous throughout the Philippines. The Constabulary was dissolved upon the liberation of the Philippines….

Not only that, but individual members of the Constabulary were called out for war crimes, and mere membership in the wartime occupation Constabulary has been found by US courts to constitute disloyalty to the degree that it erases any previous or subsequent honorable service. Here are some quotes from a 1994 appeal, rejecting a Filipino’s claim for veterans’ benefits:

In this case, the veteran was a member of the PC, also known as the Bureau of Constabulary, which was an organization established by the Imperial Japanese Government with their puppet Philippine Government to administer the Philippine Islands during the Japanese occupation in World War II. The veteran’s membership in the PC is clearly shown by the evidence of record, although he attempted to conceal such PC service in a March 1945 Philippine Scout affidavit. …. This March 1945 affidavit, however, is of no probative value, in light of the numerous subsequent statements and affidavits in the record, by and on behalf of the veteran, which indisputably establish the fact of the veteran’s sustained service with the PC during the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands.

Of record is a November 1945 Report of Proceedings of a Board of U.S. Military Officers (also referred to as a Philippine Scout Loyalty Board) convened to determine whether the veteran, a Philippine Scout, served under the Japanese or Japanese Puppet Government in any capacity. The veteran furnished sworn testimony to the effect that he began his service with the Japanese in mid-January 1943 in a constabulary academy, from which he graduated in early March. Thereafter, he was assigned the duties of a patrolman and was issued a rifle, serving in that capacity until he “escaped” in September 1944.

The board recommended that he be discharged from service without honor with a character rating of less than “good.” In January 1946, military authorities approved the findings of the board of officers….

For political reasons, the war crimes trials of the Constabulary men and leaders never happened… indeed, none of the Filipino collaborators was ever tried, and all were amnestied in 1948. There were several reasons for this, but one is that the cream of the Filipino native elite was disproportionately represented among the Quislings; the men and women of the resistance tended to be at the other end of the socioeconomic status scale.

In addition, it was hard to tease out who was who, because some patriots had pretended to collaborate in order to collect intelligence for the resistance; other, more cautious, types had had a foot in each camp for reasons of expedience, rather than espionage.

And a Macarthur postwar report noted, in a chapter on resistance activities, that the prewar Constabulary provided the cadre not only for the occupation Constabulary, but also for some guerrilla units; one type comprised:

…guerrilla units … of purely local origin, under the leadership of prominent civic personages or former Constabulary, which sprang up more or less spontaneously to combat the immediate threat of uncontrolled banditry.

The Constabulary men in resistance were widely outnumbered by those in collaboration. Still, with former Constabulary men in important roles on both sides, the peculiarly Filipino solution, where the organization was disbanded and the  individuals amnestied, was probably the most practical solution, even though it remains controversial. (The organization itself was re-established in 1959, and disbanded again in the 1990s).

Canoe U: Twilight of the Naval Academy

The US Naval Academy, bastion of 19th-Century traditions, producer of all our admirals for good or ill until after World War II, cradle of innumerable Navy and Marine heroes, has come to a milestone in its last decades of cultural decline: it recently threw an institutional wobbler over an opinion expressed by one of its most distinguished graduates of the Vietnam era.

An opinion he expressed in 1979, which for newspaper editors, Social Justice Warriors, this year’s USNA grads and other innumerates, was 38 years ago.

For the record, 38 years is more than double the amount of service the mean Academy graduate gives to the nation. And the Marine in question is still serving, albeit in a lesser capacity, as a United States Senator.

The individual in question was Jim Webb, United States Senator from Virginia, once (briefly: the high-strung Webb quit in a snit) Secretary of the Navy; once a bestselling novelist; and once, not long after graduation, a Marine platoon leader upon whom a grateful nation bestowed the Navy Cross, a decoration that used to be respected at the Academy. (Webb also has “lesser” decorations, including the Silver Star and two Purple Hearts). Unlike today’s Academy persons, Webb sought out combat, sought out the fight, and fought to win. It is the sort of person the Academy no longer respects.

Webb was to have been honored Friday as a “distinguished graduate” by the Naval Academy Alumni Association, but withdrew Tuesday evening: “I am being told that my presence at the ceremony would likely mar the otherwise celebratory nature of that special day. As a consequence, I find it necessary to decline the award.”

Better he should have spit in somebody’s eye — but once an officer and a gentleman, always an officer and a gentleman, one supposes.

At issue was a paper he wrote in 1979 objecting to the admission of women to the nation’s military academies on the even-then-unfashionable, but still-not-unreasonable, grounds that assignment of women to frontline combat roles is at best disruptive, and at worst dangerous. Perhaps lethally so.

No one talks about the changes that have come to the Academies since female integration. The cultural change is part of it. There is less direct and physical athletic competition, and more bureaucratic, social-climbing, and backstabbing competition. That suits the girls better. There is less focus on courage — as the Webb hecklers’ veto shows, it’s no longer a value — and more focus on careerism. That’s what the girls want. But even the curriculum has changed: the challenging, engineering-focused and math-heavy courses of yesteryear that provided a pressure all of their own have given way to touchy-feely verbal-games courses, because the girls all were channeling Math Is Hard Barbie.

The initial SJW entryist women were all about: “don’t change anything for us, we just want to compete on a level playing field.” And maybe they thought they meant it. But their successors have demanded more and more coddling and kid-glove treatment.

They promised a feminized Academy would just keep cranking out heroes, they just didn’t have to have Webb’s testosterone overload, or Arleigh Burke’s ability to run fuel consumption problems in his head. How’s that working out for us?

We give you the spirit of the Naval Academy, post-feminization: Holly Graf, a “pre-designated woman-in-command success story” who was relieved in well-deserved disgrace.

The spirit of the Naval Academy: small craft misnavigated into Iranian waters and then surrendered obsequiously.

The spirit of the Naval Academy: the wooly-headed, near-lunatic procurement of ships that have no business in harm’s way.

There are still fighters in the Academy, but would they claim to be the majority? There are still fighters in the Navy, but why feed a tail of half a million to field a few platoons of SEALs?

The Academy is by far the most expensive way to produce officers. If it does not produce superior officers, meaning combat leaders — and we would defy anyone to demonstrate that it does — why do we have it?

Now, Bob McManus touches the third rail of why the Naval Academy has declined to the point where a graduate (’68), who’s a certified no-$#!+ he-ro, is unfit to be recognized for a degree of service to Navy and nation. A lifetime of service, like him or not, that is almost certain not to be matched by any of the Unique and Special Snowflakes™ of the enervated Class of 2017.

Webb could have been dead wrong about all of it, of course, even if 40 years of experience with gender integration strongly indicates otherwise. The Navy’s ongoing shipboard pregnancy epidemic and the difficulty most women have coping with traditional infantry-training standards suggests that the debate is far from settled.

via Silencing an American hero: the shame of the Naval Academy | New York Post.

The Navy cannot demonstrate that Webb was wrong. History, instead, seems determined to prove him right. But the new catechism of American public religion stands not upon a doctrine nor on an ideal, but a slogan: Diversity Is Our Vibrancy™. It’s the Mein Ehre Heißt Treue of a new orthodoxy that Shall Not Be Questioned. It’s institutionalized admiration for the Emperor’s New Clothes.

It’s careerism, institutionalized.

The Naval Academy and its recent, participation-badge and proportionately distaff Alumni may be celebrating their unpersoning of Webb. But what that says to the rest of us, whose taxes fund the Anachronism in Annapolis, is that our money has been squandered in this, as in so many other Naval endeavors.

It’s time to pull the plug. And while we’re at it, let’s retire the Army and Air Force Academies. They, too, have become controlled by people whose mission is the institution, not the mission (as Conquest’s Laws predict). They are fully converged social justice institutions, and at best orthogonal, and worse directly opposed to the mission of a functional military.

The Naval Academy has had a good run, but its glories are in the past. It’s time for it to go.

Thanks Ever So Much… Jody

Consider the important part played in national defense by one often forgotten individual — Jody.

If you served, Jody needs no introduction. He’s the civilian guy who’s got your girl and gone while you were away at the drill faces (pun intended) of the salt mines. If you didn’t know, “Jody” is the much-reviled star of dozens of cadence calls, used to get trainees’ brain stems into sync so that they march in step, and their minds lose any grip on the fact that D&C is training for any of the wars of the eighteenth century.

But that’s the Army for you: centuries of tradition, untainted by progress.

Jody serves a valuable purpose, as hard as that is to bear in mind when you’re trying to talk PV2 Joe Tentpeg into putting down the .45 because Mary Sue Rottencrotch back on the block is not really worth particle-blasting the inside of one’s cranium with gunpowder over.

First, Jody polices up all the untended Mary Sues, keeping the dating market in balance back in Hometown, USA, when the boys run off and join up. He prevents them from suffering the girlish feelings that proceed from separation and loss, and gets them started on the womanly emotions that attend duplicity and backstabbing.

He also provides a great motivator than training NCOs can exploit to keep young soldiers and junior officers in a razor’s-edge state of fighting keenness.

These are some of the reasons that some unknown philanthropist has chosen to honor Jody with his first-ever motivational bumper sticker:

Consider one of Jody’s other accomplishments: he also peels off many unsatisfactory and unworthy former girlfriends and ex-wives, letting soldiers seek superior women, more suited to their higher status.

For all these reasons, considering what-all he’s done for the boys, why, Jody’s practically a veteran himself, by now.

He could even have PTSD from a decade of listening to Mary Sue complain.

And deep down inside, every soldier knows it: Jody? Sucks to be him.

Indian Intel on Pakistani Nukes

While we’re talking about Pakistan lately, there’s an interesting article at The Diplomat about the history of Indian analysis of the Pakistani nuke program. As we seldom get insights into Indian intelligence, it’s worth reading in depth. A taste:

India, for instance, has taken a keen interest in Pakistan’s pursuit of a nuclear device going back to the 1970s and even earlier. Based on newly declassified Indian documentation I was able to access, what follows is an account of what Indian external intelligence knew about Pakistan’s intentions between the 1970s leading up to the 1990s – the decade that would end with both countries coming out as the world’s sixth and seventh declared nuclear powers.

For Indian intelligence in the 1970s, the focus in Pakistan was about its reprocessing capacity and centrifuges. This shifted in the 1980s to focus on the capability to produce an explosive device, and, finally, in the 1990s, focused on the nascent Pakistani missile program routed through China, which was eventually outsourced by China to North Korea.

Soon after the 1998 tests by both countries, Indian intelligence was looking at supply chains for Pakistan’s Shaheen-II ballistic missile, almost four years ahead of its first test in 2004.There was already specific knowledge available with India on Shaheen-I, including on the hardware that was involved in steering the missile. Additionally, New Delhi was not entirely convinced that Pakistan would not use choose to use non-nuclear chemical warheads for its missiles

The author of the post, Vivek Prahladan, has a book-length exploration of these declassified Indian documents coming out. In his post, he also reveals discussions he had with Indian government officials that hinted at the degree to which India had eyes on the Pakistani weapons program. Further, it’s interesting to see how US officialdom at the highest levels (President Reagan and advisor Thomas Eagleburger) dismissed Indian concerns.

And then there’s the whole “Abdul Qadeer Khan ran a rogue operation” cover story, which most of the world pretends to believe.

Cyber: the DNC Hack

The DNC maintains a creepily-lighted shrine with their locked Watergate file cabinet and their unsecured, formerly internet-connected server. Not the same thing, genius.

There’s been a lot of noise about the Russians and the DNC hack — mostly, it’s Democrats and the press (but we repeat ourselves) trying to delegitimize the incoming administration, and mostly, it’s been conducted through the F-6 sources of press reports with anonymous sole sources, like the Washington Post report that the Post and its political fellow travelers call “the CIA report,” while actually it’s a sole anonymous source telling the Post what the CIA supposedly said. (The Post, you may remember, used a [probably nonexistent] sole anonymous source, without plausible access to tell the story of “Jessica Lynch, Amazon woman.” The author of that piece, Dana Priest, has never admitted fabricating the story but never produced a source, either, leading to the inescapable conclusion that Priest fabricated the story. She has never been held accountable).

An interesting dynamic happened in 2015. The FBI warned both parties that they were under attack. According to then-RNC head Reince Priebus on Meet The Democratic Press, the RNC then invited the FBI to work with its own geeks to secure the RNC servers, and the Republicans were not hacked.

According to the Times, the Democrats dumped the FBI call to a low-ranking, unskilled contractor — then they left him on his own to handle it. They left their server unsecure. Result, compromise.

When Special Agent Adrian Hawkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation called the Democratic National Committee in September 2015 to pass along some troubling news about its computer network, he was transferred, naturally, to the help desk.

His message was brief, if alarming. At least one computer system belonging to the D.N.C. had been compromised by hackers federal investigators had named “the Dukes,” a cyberespionage team linked to the Russian government.

Yared Tamene, the tech-support contractor at the D.N.C. who fielded the call, was no expert in cyberattacks.

OK, so what did he do, like a good DC Millennial? You got it, he googled, and then resumed slacking off.

His first moves were to check Google for “the Dukes” and conduct a cursory search of the D.N.C. computer system logs to look for hints of such a cyberintrusion.

No, serious slacking off.

By his own account, he did not look too hard even after Special Agent Hawkins called back repeatedly over the next several weeks — in part because he wasn’t certain the caller was a real F.B.I. agent and not an impostor.

“Like, how do I, like, know you’re a like real FBI agent, doooood? Thats what I tell girls in bars myself.”  Again, this loser is supposedly their cyber-D contractor. You know how to find out if somebody’s really from FBI? Ask for a meeting at the Field Office. Hey, even if you’re a plush-bottomed cyber Weeble unwilling to leave your Aeron chair, you can ask them to send you something from, and then check the headers to see if the address is forged. (If you don’t know how to forge a header and how to spot a forged header, you have no business within grenade range of a mail server).

From there, the Times story collapses into, mostly, the same unsourced stuff in the Post stories. If these guys make something up and repeat it to each other, they call that “corroboration.” That’s not how intelligence works.

It does come back to the tale of the incompetent Tamene and his incompetent 30-something supervisor, Andrew Brown. Tamene ran some over the counter tools — the DNC was not running an IDS, Intrusion Detection System — and thereafter decided that the FBI guy was a phony, lacking Tamene’s great wealth of knowledge, and wrote a couple of CYA memos, and quit taking calls.

Mr. Tamene’s initial scan of the D.N.C. system — using his less-than-optimal tools and incomplete targeting information from the F.B.I. — found nothing. So when Special Agent Hawkins called repeatedly in October, leaving voice mail messages for Mr. Tamene, urging him to call back, “I did not return his calls, as I had nothing to report,” Mr. Tamene explained in his memo.

In November, Special Agent Hawkins called with more ominous news. A D.N.C. computer was “calling home, where home meant Russia,” Mr. Tamene’s memo says, referring to software sending information to Moscow. “SA Hawkins added that the F.B.I. thinks that this calling home behavior could be the result of a state-sponsored attack.”

There are some Democrats quoted by name, generally about the bad feelz that resulted when their misconduct, lying, or biting the hands that fed them got aired in public.

For the people whose emails were stolen, this new form of political sabotage has left a trail of shock and professional damage. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a key Clinton supporter, recalls walking into the busy Clinton transition offices, humiliated to see her face on television screens as punditsdiscussed a leaked email in which she had called Mrs. Clinton’s instincts “suboptimal.”

“It was just a sucker punch to the gut every day,” Ms. Tanden said. “It was the worst professional experience of my life.”

Well, you should probably either work for people you can say positive things about, or take care to stifle your impulses to criticize your lords and masters. Because anything put in writing is at the mercy of anyone who finds it. And anything put on an unsecured server — and from Hawkins’s phone call, the DNC knew they were unsecure, and they kept writing the sort of two-faced stuff they’re now angry about seeing in print.

Bear in mind that no fewer than five New York Times reporters were exposed in Wikileaks, coordinating their stories with the DNC or the Clinton campaign; and one non-Times hack, Glenn Thrush of Politico, who repeatedly gave Democrats the chance to shape his reporting, was hired as a Times hack as of this week. That’s what they’re looking for — partisan subservience. They seem to believe they have a right to collude, lie and slant their stories, and the people who exposed them (even if they’re Russians) are the only villains. Had the US lost the Cold War, every one of those would be licking the boots of their masters in the Soviet Ministry of Propaganda. If they didn’t aim higher than boots. (Hell, those who were old enough to be around pre-1991 probably spent the 70s and 80s doing it already).


A British associate of Julian Assange says that it was not a hack, it was two separate insider leaks. Reported at ZeroHedge:

Update: David Swanson interviewed [Briton Craig] Murray today, and obtained  additional information. Specifically, Murray told Swanson that: (1) there were twoAmerican leakers … one for the emails of the Democratic National Committee and one for the emails of top Clinton aide John Podesta; (2) Murray met one of those leakers; and (3) both leakers are American insiders with the NSA and/or the DNC, with no known connections to Russia.

The US Intelligence services consider Assange to be under Russian control, so it’s anybody’s guess whether Murray’s statement is a Russian smokescreen, or absolute truth, and whether or not the leaker(s) exist. The effort to find them itself has risks — an organization can be rendered ineffective completely by a mole hunt. Where does security consciousness end, and paranoia begin? And don’t even paranoids have real enemies.

For your consideration: Russian cyber operators are laughing their asses off at the USA right now — whether or not they had anything to do with the hack, it’s a win for them.

To the Wall!

The Wall Gun, that is. This monster is up for sale in Rock Island’s December Premiere Auction.


The marlinspike looking thing was meant, they assume, to go into a socket in a fortress wall. (It appears to be well forward of the point of balance, for some reason). In most respects, this 5’2″ long, 33-lb .75 caliber rifle is just an overgrown percussion rifle-musket. A way big one.

How big is it? Here’s a snapshot.


And it’s also about the weight of three of those M1s.

It is a breech-loading(!) percussion gun, so was probably made between 1840 and 1870, but there are no guarantees. The sights resemble those used in the latter half of that period, as on an 1853 Enfield or 1861 Springfield. The unusual breech-loading mechanism is shown below.

Such guns may have been equipped with multiple removable chambers to promote rapid fire.

We also find the spring-steel pistol grip interesting. We do not recall having seen such a thing anywhere else in the world of firearms. Anybody?

This rifle comes from Belgium. Belgium has very little in the way of defensible positions on its borders. Accordingly, it has not only often been overrun itself, it has provided the unhappy battlefields for many a Great Power throwdown, from Waterloo to the Bulge. (Even earlier, Julius Caesar fought local Germanic tribes here).  Its defense in the First World War was armed neutrality, which failed spectacularly; after a postwar period of alliance with France and especially Britain, its strategy in the Second was ultimately the same (Belgium broke the alliances and declared neutrality in 1936, after the Anglo-French alliance didn’t react to Nazi repudiation of Versailles and militarization of the Rheinland), with an even more spectacular failure resulting. Fortresses were a major part of Belgian defense plans at all time of Belgian independence; some fortresses held out in World War I (think of Namur) but they were made irrelevant by technological and strategic advances by 1940 (consider the fate of Eben Emael and its brigade-sized garrison, defeated in detail by 78 gliderborne combat engineers).

In any event, fortress weapons were a Belgian specialty, one of several rational responses to the very difficult problem which is the defense of a small coastal nation from much larger neighbors.

RIA has relatively little information on the weapon, apart from what may be gained by inspecting it. It might reward European patent research. They do offer some general thoughts on the class of arms.

These guns can essentially be described as massive longarms. Initially designed as muskets, but developing into rifles as the technology became available, these guns are roughly the height of a man and accompanied by an appropriately large bore. If their size wasn’t enough to identify them on sight, the presence of a large hook or post on their bottom usually will. Used to help mitigate recoil, the use of such hooks can be traced back to the earliest of firearms, such as the arquebus and hand cannon. Posts or spikes (also called “oar locks”), as seen on the firearm featured in this article, are more indicative of the weapon’s placement at fixed positions in a fortification, as opposed to hooks which could be used on fences, bulwarks, trees, window sills, etc. While the post style may not be usable in as many locations as the hook, it would allow for easy swiveling and pivoting once in position. Not all wall guns have such devices.

Despite their many designs and firing mechanisms over the years, they were valued for pretty much three things: range, accuracy, and punch. Any one of those is a huge advantage should your opponent not have them, but all three is downright devastating. Though playing the intermediary role between small arms and artillery, these oversized longarms often served with artillery, and with notable success.

RIA doesn’t know of any tactical guidance for the employment of these monsters, but notes that it must have been highly limited and readily countered by a thinking, adapting enemy.  The US used them in the Revolutionary War (in flintlock, naturally) and that and a little more history is embedded in the Rock Island Auctions blog post. Read The Whole Thing™.

Large guns like this were often used as “punt guns” by market hunters, but those were even larger-bore smoothbores, used to take many waterfowl (usually, sitting waterfowl) in one shot. Four- and even two-bore punt guns exist, monsters even against this .75 in. rifle. Market hunting was once common, especially in the USA, but was outlawed even here in the 20th Century, after causing at least one species extinction (passenger pigeon).

If you’re looking for something a noodge more modern, we can recommend this article by Pete at TFB on a couple of catastrophic silencer failures… at least one of which turned out to be entirely exogenous.

Inland’s Repop of the Ithaca M37 Trench Gun

It’s become fashionable to resuscitate the names of old gun manufacturers, when the original firms have left the gun market or are tuning up their harps in the Great Beyond of corporate afterlife… pining for the fjords, as it were. One of the latest is Inland, originally a division of General Motors that was pressed into service making war materials, including firearms (notably M1, M1A1, M2 and M3 Carbines) during World War II. We’ve shown you the Inland carbines before. They’re nice enough, but are up against originals that are still available in quantity.


But another Inland repop is a bit surprising — the M37 military shotgun. To tell the truth, we didn’t know that the USG ever used the original M37 of the Ithaca Gun Company. We always had Winchesters (M12s, which were good, and M1200s, which weren’t) and in more recent years Remington 870s or Mossbergs which we think were COTS purchases, not from the regular procurement system. As far as the Ithaca M37 goes, we seem to recall seeing it in Vietnam photos of Marines.

We never found much use for a combat shotgun, although a running buddy in Afghanistan liked the high/low mix of M14 and sawn-off 870. The one time he fired the 870 around us, he was responding to an Afghan’s insistence that nobody in the village knew where the lock to the cave door was. (Yes, there is a such thing as a locked cave door in Afghanistan. Or there was before Bryan blew it to Kingdom Come. After which, the village elder remembered where he left his key ring, mirabile dictu. Allah truly does work in strange ways, habibi).



Anyway, Shawn at Loose Rounds shares Bryan’s fondness for the military 12-bore, and the new M37 spoke to him:

[W]hen I got to the NRA 2016  show… I wanted to see that M37 in the worst way. I was not let down.  After just a few minutes of handling it, I asked for a T&E sample.

Sample in hand, he took these atmospheric M37 pictures with Vietnam-era web gear and uniforms, including some things popular in SF, like the Bata boots and the Gerber Mk II fighting knife.


Then he traced the ancestry of the M37 from John Browning on down:

The Ithaca as a military “trench gun” is likely not as well known by many. The action of the shotgun would look familiar to a lot of hunters out there.  Though the first thing you may think when seeing its action is the Mossberg 500, it and the 500 are really a simplified version of the most excellent Remington Model 31  shotgun. The M31 itself an evolution from the M17. The Model 17 designed by no less than John Browning himself.

When Shawn gets a T&E sample, he doesn’t take a few pictures and send it back. He wrung this thing out for months. Some conclusions:

The short riot/trench shotgun is a pleasure to handle. It’s fast and easy to work with and the slick action is as fast as lightening. The original M37s would indeed “slam fire”  but this one will not. As I understand it, this was done at the request of Inland when having the guns put together for them by Ithaca prior to the converting to “trench gun.” I know some will gripe about this, but let it go. It’s a fact of modern America that lawyers and sue happy anti-gun activists would salivate at trying to prove the gun defective in court. For those who do not know,” slamfire” refers to the lack of a disconnector in the originals that lets the hammer fall as long as you hold the trigger back. Just like the M12 and M97 etc.

Do go to and Read The Whole Thing™. There are videos of the gun being fired, pictures of targets shot for accuracy, etc.


Will the US Air Force Sign Lloyd’s Open Form?

Once-classified image of a Mark IV nuclear bomb, a descendant of the WWII "Fat Man" plutonium bomb.

Once-classified image of a Mark IV nuclear bomb, a descendant of the WWII “Fat Man” plutonium bomb. Click to embiggen.

A Canadian diver, Sean Smyrichinsky, was harvesting sea cucumbers off British Columbia when he found something that Mother Nature didn’t put there. When he described it to locals, he got the surprise of his life: they think what he found was an atomic bomb missing since it was jettisoned from a struggling B-36 in 1950.

It’s not confirmed, yet, but the US and Canadian Navies are responding to the site. Quoth the Beeb:

The story of the lost nuke has plagued military historians for more than half a century. In 1950, American B-36 Bomber 075 crashed near British Columbia on its way to Carswell Air Force Base in Texas. The plane was on a secret mission to simulate a nuclear strike and had a real Mark IV nuclear bomb on board to see if it could carry the payload required.

Several hours into its flight, its engines caught fire and the crew had to parachute to safety. Out of a 17-person crew, five didn’t make it.

Map of where the lost nuclear bomb might have landedImage copyrightROYAL AVIATION MUSEUM OF WESTERN CANADA
Image captionPeople have been searching for the lost nuke for years

The American military says the bomb was filled with lead and TNT but no plutonium, so it wasn’t capable of a nuclear explosion. The crew put the plane on autopilot and set it to crash in the middle of the ocean, but three years later, its wreckage was found hundreds of kilometres inland.

Dirk Septer, an aviation historian from British Columbia, says the US government searched the wreckage but couldn’t find the weapon.

“It was a mystery to everyone,” he told the BBC. “It was the height of the Cold War and they were just paranoid that the Russians would get a hold of it.”

Crew members have said they dumped the bomb in the ocean first, fearing what the payload of TNT could do on its own if it were detonated.

Canoe near Haida GwaiiImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe Haida Gwaii islands are a remote area off the coast of British Columbia

A spokesperson for DND told the BBC the department had conferred with its American counterparts, and that the object the diver found could very well be the bomb. The American military do not believe the bomb is active or a threat to anyone, he said, but Canada is sending military ships to the site to make sure.

Quite a remarkable thing, if this really is found.

So the question becomes, will the USAF sign Lloyd’s Open Form? (That may be out of date, but it’s what shipowners and/or captains used to have to do to promise to pay rescuers/salvors). And what’s the salvage of a nuke worth?

Sources: BBC report, The Telegraph.

Can Cannon… Can’t

As you may recall, we were early adopters of the XProducts Can Cannon, which is great fun to fire. (We’re still waiting, by the way, for X Products to contact us about fixing it so we don’t have to use it only on a registered SBR lower). But it never occurred to us to fire it at anything. The guy at The Wound Channel on Yoot Oob is not like that:

And, as you’ll see, his Can Cannon is great at breaking cans, not so good at breaking anything else. A windshield, weakened by being taken out of its perimeter support structure of an automobile? For crying out loud, a pumpkin? 

Can’t almost anything smash a pumpkin? Well… watch the video. The Can Cannon can’t.

We suspect he’s using very light beer cans, not stout name-brand soda cans, which we’ve found best. But we haven’t tried busting stuff at point-blank range; it’s more fun trying to hit stuff at longer range, which is quite a challenge with unstable cans in the smoothbore Can Cannon.


While XProducts never contacted us, their website does describe how to get the Can Cannon legalized here. The original version is not legal, except on a registered (NFA MG or SBR) lower. We’ll have to do that when we’re back home, and then we can use it on whatever lower, not just an SBR one.