Earlier this month, the wife and I holidayed on NZ’s spectacular and affordable South Island. It’s also a long way away, and I don’t know if we’ll be able to get Bob Nolan to Queenstown, Te’Anau and Wanaka. But True Lies Nation predominately live in Asia, and if you’ve not been I really to do recommend New Zealand. We ended our short tour of the Antipodes with four days eating and drinking our way up to and through a Sydney wedding celebration.

I don’t write new fiction well away from home. I can blog, read and/or take notes, however, so I dug into ex-SEAL Team-6 member Chuck Pfarrer’s SEAL Target Geronimo, with four of his most controversial assertions explored below. In 2010, WikiLeaks published classified documents which showed that at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988, Iraq retained 21,000 warheads containing biological and chemical agents. Fifteen years later, Operation Iraqi Freedom launched to pre-empt the use of these weapons by Saddam’s forces. The problem was that in 2003, the allies didn’t find any WMD. But years afterwards, US and allied forces in Iraq destroyed over five hundred chemical and biological weapons. Pfarrer writes that the Republicans, Democrats and press conspired to downplay this as it was unflattering to all concerned. A bold accusation, so read Ready, Fire, Aim! and tell us what you think.

Back in Singapore, the West family has reunited while number one son is on Christmas break. I’m back to eating and drinking to excess, and writing when schedule and mental faculties allow. This last week was productive, though the hours spent on Pack of Lies were slender. Next week will likely be more of the same, but there’s lots of weird and wonderful action bubbling along waiting to be incorporated into the Nolan Sagas.

See you next year, and don’t forget to read a book every now and again!

 

Bradley West

Singapore

December 25, 2016

 

READY, FIRE, AIM!

 

I found SEAL Target Geronimo by Chuck Pfarrer (ex-SEAL Team-6 assault element commander) compulsive reading. The book mixes the narrative of Osama bin Laden’s (“UBL’s”) al Qaeda career with a modern history of Arab terrorism and the SEALs. As such it’s a great place for lovers of military history and/or conspiracies to spend a few hours. This book was a New York Times bestseller when it came out in the fall of 2011.

The author has little nice to write about the non-Special Forces arms of the intelligence services. In Pfarrer’s view, the CIA and FBI are both incompetent, politically-driven and to blame for 9/11. Along with the NSA, this trio comprise the Three Stooges. The Joint Special Operations Command (“JSOC”, jay-sock), in charge of the US’s top-tier Special Forces units, responded by creating its own intelligence capability to avoid relying on those three discredited bureaucracies. Pfarrer endorses this approach, but as an outsider I wonder at the inevitable waste, duplication and confusion. Couldn’t the US fix the CIA, FBI and NSA? (Never mind.)

seal-target-geronimo-book-cover-2016-dec

Source: www.chuckpfarrer.com, SEAL Target Geronimo cover

Pfarrer makes many controversial claims, but the focus here is on four:

  • There actually WERE weapons of mass destruction (“WMD”) in Iraq, but during the 2003 invasion the US forces didn’t find them. Later, the W. Bush presidency, the doubting Democrats, and liberal press downplayed their existence because to admit to WMDs years later was mutually embarrassing. I believe Pfarrer is correct inasmuch as the allies later found “thousands” and destroyed five hundred-plus WMD, plus foiled several al Qaeda plots using WMD, with some of the ingredients dating from Hussein’s reign. Nevertheless, I’m only partially persuaded that there was a cover-up orchestrated by both major parties and the mainstream press to downplay the WMD. That’s a blockbuster story that’s now over a decade old. Surely some young Bernstein or Woodward would have broken it by now?
  • Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (“ISI”) agency, actively shield Osama bin Laden (and number two Ayman Zawahiri plus senior Taliban leaders) from 2002-2011. Absolutely true, with only the scale of the support up for debate. There’s just no credible way to explain how Pakistan’s intelligence and military services couldn’t find bin Laden for almost ten years if they had been looking for him. After all, UBL was 6’5” (1.95m) and spoke Arabic (not Urdu) with the world’s most notorious face . . . it wasn’t like he was blending into the crowd.
  • Ayman Zawahiri, the al Qaeda number two, encouraged UBL to take needless risks both in combat and in respect of his own security in the hopes he’d be killed or captured, thereby elevating Zawahiri to the top of al Qaeda. My interpretation is that there were tensions between Zawahiri and bin Laden, but what got bin Laden caught was poor operational security rather than sabotage or betrayal.
  • The story of SEAL Team-6’s attack on bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound was misstated by the US government and press, including how bin Laden died and the circumstances surrounding the helicopter crash. Pfarrer’s version makes more sense than the US’s official story, plus jibes with local eyewitness accounts at the time. But the SEALs killed UBL over five years ago, so why haven’t any SEAL Team-6 operators come forward to corroborate Pfarrer’s version?

 

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

 

The case for Iraq having WMD

The “no WMDs in Iraq” myth persists because the UN was fooled before the invasion of 2003. “We didn’t find any weapons, so they must not exist,” was the conclusion of UN weapons inspector Hans Blix and ex-Bush National Security Council staffer Richard Clarke. But documents found in 2003 showed that Iraq stockpiled 21,000 chemical weapons after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1998. Fifteen years later, the Americans and Allies invaded. No WMD were found and the country ended in chaos. In Powell’s immortal words, “If you break it, you own it.” So the Republicans were embarrassed because the Bush administration didn’t find any WMD in the initial surge. The Democrats and the liberal press were mortified because they said WMD didn’t exist. Then on May 16, 2003 in Baghdad a 155 mm artillery shell filled with sarin (“GB”) and rigged as an IED was disarmed by two bomb techs. There was enough nerve gas to kill 10,000 people. The press deliberately buried this story because it ran counter to its steady mantra that, “Saddam Hussein didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction.” In fact, US forces found thousands of chemical weapons in Iraq, and the remainder of these weapons have ended up in Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. These WMD have been used against NATO troops dozens of times (p.137). The source of this information was the July, 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 492,000 classified US documents relating to the war in Afghanistan.

On April 26, 2004 Jordan foiled an al Qaeda plot under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to attack the US embassy in Amman as well as the headquarters of the Jordan Security Services and the offices of the prime minister. This attack would have involved multiple chemical weapons and sulfuric acid in vehicle explosions. If it had succeeded, 20,000 people could have been killed. The authorities were able to arrest several dozen plotters and trace the plot back to al-Zarqawi in Iraq.

US and coalition forces have destroyed 500 chemical weapons including VX sarin, tabun, cycloarin and mustard gas contained in 155 mm artillery shells, bombs, mortar shells, and sprayers. Pfarrer writes that we have to assume that all of these are also in al Qaeda’s hands.

 

Ayman Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s #2, was trying to get bin Laden killed or captured

The genesis of the world’s most infamous terrorist partnership was that Zawahiri needed money and bin Laden needed intellectual and religious justification for al Qaeda’s actions. The author detests Zawahiri, writing at various junctures:

  • “Unhinged by violence, this broken, emotionally crippled little man was a megalomaniacal sociopath bent on destroying the world.” (p.115)
  • “Almost all who met Zawahiri came away with the same impression—he was deeply troubled and unbalanced man, ruthless to his subordinates and obsequious to his patron, Osama.” (p.169)

Ayman Zawahiri had several advantages over his boss. Besides having an innate viciousness, Zawahiri could also speak and read English. He was an avid consumer of American news about al Qaeda.”

Kahuta Air Force base is Pakistan’s most heavily defended site and host to many nuclear munitions as well as nuclear-armed F-16s. 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (“KSM”) wanted to launch a raid to steal nukes. In late Feb, 2003 Zawahiri decided to torpedo the Kahuta attack by using a low-level al Qaeda defector to turn in KSM. The CIA in Islamabad almost bungled the job as they didn’t believe the man until he confirmed he was having dinner with him in Karachi. Pakistan commandos captured KSM on March 2, 2003.

Ayman Zawahiri traveled to a new safe house in South Waziristan on March 3, but it was only after KSM got captured that UBL moved to a new safe house in Pakistan’s Swat Valley (formerly in the North West Frontier Provinces).

Also in 2003, Zawahiri involved al Qaeda in a plot to assassinate Pervez Musharraf, the then-strong man. The attack failed and led to the capture of Faraj al-Libi, bin Laden’s director of logistics. This could have led to UBL being captured or killed. By 2004 Zawahiri and bin Laden’s final split was on the cards. UBL questioned Zawahiri’s handling of al Qaeda finances in Waziristan. From 2004-2011, UBL and Zawahiri corresponded about money a lot. In 2011 Zawahiri knew that bin Laden’s courier Abu al-Kuwaiti had been named as an al Qaeda operative, but never alerted UBL that he needed to change his security.

On May 11, 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she thought that UBL was hiding in Pakistan under the ISI’s protection. Zawahiri could have moved UBL, changed or tightened his security but instead did nothing. Pfarrer sees this as proof that Zawahiri wanted UBL dead, but it could equally be that Zawahiri thought that Pakistan would continue to shield them all, come what may.

Pfarrer contends that Zawahiri was trying to get rid of UBL via deliberately botching these plots. The SEALs killed UBL on May 2, 2011.  Zawahiri remains at large with a US$25 million bounty on his head.

 

Osama bin Laden lived in Pakistan under the ISI’s Protection

Pfarrer bases many of his controversial interpretations on the interviews given by retired Pakistan Brigadier General Shukat Qadir. He said he interviewed people—military and civilian—after the raid and visited the compound too. Pfarrer considers this report to be the most reliable one in circulation based on the four months Qadir spent speaking with hundreds of people. Qadir believes that lapses in al Qaeda’s security doomed UBL.

UBL settled in 2002 in Parachinar, Pakistan behind a walled compound only a dozen miles south of Tora Bora. This was the start of a pattern whereby UBL and Zawahiri would be hidden in plain sight, safe houses in medium-sized military towns fairly close to the Afghanistan border.

Only once in a decade was UBL in a remote rural area. The rest of the time his was in military cantonments where ISI handlers helped with logistics and communications. Being close to army units was thought to be a deterrent to the US launching an attack.

In Jan, 2002 UBL had a medical emergency and needed treatment. He went to Peshawar which is an army town, the divisional HQ of Pakistan’s XI Army Corps and home to 30,000 combat troops as well as an ISI, Military Intelligence and Frontier Forces outpost. No one saw him. UBL’s cover was that he was a wealthy Pashtun Afghan who had emigrated from Khost. This explained his bodyguards, inability to speak Urdu and why he had to live behind tall walls.

UBL moved into his purpose-built three-story home surrounded by ten- to twenty-foot high cinder-block walls on a triple lot in Bilal Town. It was only 800 meters from the Kakul Military Academy (Pakistan’s West Point equivalent). The house was the largest structure for miles around. It was an odd, lopsided home on two acres that really stood out.

Abbottabad is in the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains. It’s a non-Pashtun area, but there were a few wealthy Pashtuns living there behind walled compounds. There were outbuildings including a guest house, a media room, and a conference room, plus space for a few cows and chickens, plus vegetable gardens.

On Nov 13, 2008 al Qaeda operatives captured Hashmatullah Attarzadeh, Iran’s commercial attaché to the Iran consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan. His kidnappers kept the diplomat in South Waziristan in the Shkai Valley, on the Afghanistan border under the protection of the Haqqani terrorist network. In 2010, the swaps took place and Khairiah ended up in Pakistan after complex efforts to conceal her travel pattern. Her delivery to Abbottabad took another nine months such was UBL’s obsession with security.

People overestimate the role of Pashtun hospitality in protecting UBL, but with a US$25m bounty that wasn’t going to protect him forever. The real reason was that the ISI and Pakistan Army systematically provided him a safe haven. Pakistan saw UBL, Zawahiri and the Taliban leaders such as Mullah Omar as insurance policies. Pakistan didn’t want Afghanistan to become a peaceful, prosperous nation for fear that it could end up allied with India.

There was an ISI man based in Abbottabad who was nominally based at the Kakul Military Academy apparently responsible for UBL’s well-being. He was known only as “Colonel Jwad”. After the raid on May 2, Jwad called ISI head General Ahmad Shuja Pasha from the deceased al Qaeda leader’s compound.

 

The US Government lied about bin Laden’s killing and the circumstances of the helicopter crash

The lead Stealth Hawk was dubbed Razor 1, while the second helo was Razor 2. The second bird the on-the-ground leader Scott Kerr. Razors 1 and 2 each carried ten SEAL Team-6 members plus Razor 2 had an extra CIA-origin translator and a K-9 trained to sniff explosives.

According to Pfarrer, Razor 1 was to insert the first assault team onto the roof of UBL’s compound and fight down until they found him. As it happened, UBL was on the third floor sleeping with his fourth (and favorite) wife. One way or the other, he ended up shot in the head and chest, and his wife shot through the calf. In both Pfarrer’s and the government’s versions, the Command Bird, Razor 2, was to land outside the compound and then the team would blow open the main door to the street, enter the compound and neutralize all opposition on the ground.

In the official version, Razor 1 crashed on insertion with everyone on board (i.e., ten SEALs and two pilots), yet no one was hurt. Razor 1’s team then fought their way upstairs and killed bin Laden.

Controversially, but convincingly, author Pfarrer says that Razor 1 crashed after the pilots dropped the ten SEALs onto the roof of UBL’s compound. The pilots were shaken up, but no one else was on board which explains why there weren’t any other casualties. More importantly, landing on the roof would neutralize any anti-aircraft gun(s) or shoulder-fired missiles which might have been stored there.

To Pfarrer, the ‘crashed on insertion’ story never made tactical sense: if Razor 1 crashed full of SEALs, there would have been major casualties (instead of none). And the second chopper Razor 2 would have landed inside the compound to support the survivors. As it happened, it had already landed outside the twenty-foot high compound wall and UBL was already dead before the helo crashed.

The US Special Operations Command (“USSOCOM”) called Pfarrer’s assertion a lie, but he stands by his interpretation. I want to believe Pfarrer, but where is the corroboration from his former brothers in Team-6?

 

SEA OF LIES DELETED SCENE (III)

 

This is the third (and last) installment of Bert Nolan’s and Michael “Big Duck” McGirty’s covert trip from British Columbia down to Redding, California.

The drive from Tunkwa Lake to Kelowna was uneventful. Bob Nolan’s fishing lodge-owning buddy Al Poulton didn’t even see a police car. Bert and Big Duck kept their heads below window level just in case. Elaine had piled musty dog blankets onto the floor of the back seat. Bert’s nose was streaming from the dander. Outside the town proper, Al pulled up behind a warehouse. There stood a big boy toy of magnitude, a Mack Truck Titan prime mover, 620HP of raw power attached to a trailer with a 40’ container stacked on it. At the rear, a small fellow with a gray goatee and a Rainbow Lodge fishing hat was working a forklift. There were already three cubes of banded, plastic-wrapped birch flooring on the ground. Al shut off the engine and got out.

“Joe Bob! Good to see you.”

“Likewise, Albert.” Looking at Bert and Big Duck, he said, “Are these my passengers?”

“Yes, and they’ll be ready to roll when you are.”

“Hope so. Boys, come over here and let me explain the situation. Last night I loaded 18 pallets of flooring. I’m now re-arranging the load so that there’s a space for you two in the middle of the container. That’s where you’ll stay till we’re inside the US. Then I’ll bring you up front. It’s four hours from here to the border, plus the crossing takes up to another hour. So you’ll need to sit tight. I’ve got a couple of headlamps and books, plus water and a bag of jerky. There’s also a pee can. Don’t shit in my container, right?”

“We can pay you for your trouble,” Bert offered.

“Don’t worry about it. When I worked for Al, I played a lot of cards with your dad. He’s a helluva a gin rummy player. I got a PhD in gin at Bob Nolan university, and the tuition wasn’t too expensive. If someday you get caught and could leave my name out of your story, then I’ll consider us square. Why don’t you take a leak, grab the headlamps and books off the front seat, and climb inside. I’ll finish re-packing and we’re off.”

“Thanks very much, Mr. Clerk,” said Bert. Turning to Al, he said, “And thank Mrs. Poulton for us too, sir.” The two of them shook hands with Al.

Bert turned to his friend, “Don’t you even think about trying to make a call. I’m going to turn my phone on for thirty seconds to see if my Dad’s responded, and then I’m shutting it down and pulling the battery. We’ve got to stay invisible.”

Ten seconds later, Bert exclaimed, “Oh, shit!” as he looked at the screen.

“Anything wrong?” Al called out over his shoulder as he stood by his pickup.

“No, just that my dad mentioned that I might have to kidnap someone.”

“Never a dull moment in the Nolan family,” Big Duck offered.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

Bert’s and Big Duck’s ride south in the big box of birch flooring went well, with a spilled pee can their only hazard. They’d been travelling four hours and fifteen minutes. When the container door swung open they froze down low behind a pallet and hoped to hell there weren’t any urine-detecting dogs working. A minute of indistinct conversation punctuated by Joe Bob’s reedy tenor was followed with the door slamming shut. Five minutes later they were back on the road.

“We are back in the US of A my man. What do you think of that?” Bert asked.

“I think we’ll need a couple of protein shakes when we get out of this box.”

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

The FBI-RCMP joint hunt for Bert Nolan and Michael McGirty had escalated to where British Columbia-US border crossings were down to a trickle. The prints pulled from the Larson cabin confirmed that both Mei-Ling and Bert had been there recently, with a third set now a matching those taken out of McGirty’s and Nolan’s shared bedroom at the Kappa Sigma fraternity house. Canadian citizen Derrick Larson’s name was on the title. It had taken Special Agent in Charge Fillmore fifteen minutes to confirm that this was Bob Nolan. So they were looking at a family hideaway and maybe not even the only one. From their preliminary search, the entire Nolan family had dual identities as the Larsons. Owning a personal safe house wasn’t something an employee of the intelligence or security branches was supposed to do. Owning a full set of aliases for his family was downright disturbing.

But what was chapping his ass at this particular moment was Bert Nolan. If he’d been on his own, Fillmore figured that the ex-commando would have gone Rambo-style deep in the woods. But McGirty was a city slicker, and possibly injured as well. So if they’d their wits about them, they’d be looking to re-cross into the US where they’d have a better chance of disappearing.

Inspector Fox walked out of the cabin. “Special Agent Fillmore, take a look at this.” He had a wall calendar with a big fish photo for every month. It was open to March, and someone had circled at the bottom the phone number for the Tunkwa Lake Rainbow Lodge.

“Is it near?” Fillmore asked Fox.

“An hour or so by car. Let’s drive over. I’ll call ahead to get a cordon up. Do you want to send in a chopper ahead?”

“No, I want to take that sonofabitch myself. He’s wounded three Federal agents and killed one of our K-9s. It’s getting personal.”

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

The Mac truck’s 620 HP V-12 rumbled with authority as Joe Bob ran through the gears as he coaxed the rig back onto the pavement from the dirt pullout. Bert and Big Duck were now perched in the sleeper above and behind the cabin, a damned sight more comfortable than squatting in the dark in the back, dodging a sliding puddle of piss. Joe Bob’s taste in music seemed to begin and end with Shania Twain. Bert still felt enough gratitude that he decided to wait twenty miles before he demanded new tunes.

“You fellows want anything? I’ve got some whites and little wine up here. Depending on whether you need to sharpen your edge, or take a little off the blade.”

Joe Bob was the first Canadian redneck substance abuser he’d ever met. “No, sir. We don’t drink or take drugs. They’re bad for protein synthesis. We’re MMA fighters in training. My friend here wholesales pot, but he doesn’t actually smoke that evil weed.”

I’ve got $10,000 from the cabin, so we’re not short of dough. I’m going to give Mr. Clerk $5000, and then we’ll have $5,000 for the IDs and the next job.”

“I already toll you I don’t want your money, pardner. Just do me a good turn if the time ever comes. I’m just putting a couple more prayer beads into the karma bank.”

“Thanks, Mr. Clerk. We owe you big time. When we get to Redding, we’re going to need a doctor and a dentist. I can go online and find a couple of quacks or vets who work unauthorized MMA fights. They don’t ask questions and take cash. Then we’ll cut and dye our hair before taking new ID photos. We’ll lay low until the new IDs arrive.”

Big Duck chimed in. “That’s going to take a couple of days. So once we find a doctor, we’ll hole up in a motel near Redding in with a good movie channel.”

“Or we could steal a car, drive to Weaverville and kidnap the family of the fellow who is chasing my father.”

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

Goddamn, it was late. Bert’s butt was numb and he wasn’t even driving. True to his Ironman reputation, Joe Bob had motored down from the border with two stops for gas, plus another for a bag of Mexican food from a cantina in southern Oregon. Now they were on the outskirts of Redding and it was 3:30 in morning.

Joe Bob called out, “There’s a little place off the I-5 that still might have some food. I know that the bar will be open overnight because it’s payday, and there’s the Friday night high stakes poker game going in the back room.”

“Poker? Did you say poker Mr. Clerk? Why old Bert here is the Singapore Commando all-time poker champeen of the world.” McGirty was happy to be finally getting out of the truck for something other than furtive roadside excretion.

“Well, if you boys are gonna to get somethun ta’ eat, I might just try to pad out the bankroll,” Bert said in a pathetic John Wayne imitation.

Ten minutes later, Joe Bob shut off the engine and the three of them climbed down. The Sacramento River was somewhere in the black, hissing in the dark. There were maybe ten cars in front of the River City Saloon. A closed sign hung on the front door, but the lie was told by the light leaking from around the edges.

“Be careful, Duke. Der’s sharks in der dem waters. And a $1000 minimum buy-in, Hold’em only,” cautioned Joe Bob as he led the way inside.

“If you could send in a steak sandwich or a burger, I’d be much obliged.” Behind a wave of his good hand, Bert disappeared behind a door signed Private Function.

Joe Bob and McGirty took a seat at the bar and ordered drinks. They were going to be there awhile. Joe Bob caught the eye of the barkeep, a rough-but-attractive thirty-something with a neck tattoo and wearing an invisible sign that read Single mother looking to get out of here. “Brenda, been a long time. Can you get us three cheeseburgers medium rare with fresh fries?”

“Go fuck yourself Joe Bob. I remember the last time you came to town. Still married and hiding your ring?”

Dang! McGirty thought, I could have used a burger.

When Brenda brought their pale ales, McGirty played the sympathy card by letting her know that Joe Bob had carelessly hit him while opening a door and was the reason his upper lip looked like he’d been punched with a chainsaw.

That earned Bert and him decent, if greasy, cheeseburgers and fries. All it got Joe Bob was a scornful, “Figures! You asshole!” McGirty could see that she was still interested in Joe Bob given how hard she piled on the contempt, glaring at their driver once every thirty seconds.

Bert had emerged a short while ago with an empty plate and a hangdog look. “I’m down almost five grand. I can’t believe that SOB sheriff’s deputy flopped the ten of hearts and filled a flush. I had a three friggin’ queens. Give me another hour to win it back and then we’ll go.”

Joe Bob decided it was time for another round and some quiet time with Brenda down at the end of the bar. The place having cleared out, McGirty spotted the cook a draft beer. Cookie wrote down the contact details of a med school dropout with a codeine jones and a dentist who worked for cash-off-the books.

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

Damn it was late. Or maybe it was early given that sunlight was now filtering through the dusty drapes at the front of the tavern. McGirty must have dozed off, but the sound of a door bursting open had him wide awake. Joe Bob and Brenda jumped apart as if they’d been shot, but maybe it was about time as they’d been sucking face when he had last looked over an hour ago.

A half a dozen hapless souls lurched out of the back room, but no Bert. Shit! What had happened to his buddy? McGirty got up too fast and staggered a step to his right. Three beers, very limited sleep and a serious toothache will do that for ya, he thought. But where in the hell . . . .?

Bert bounced on the balls of his feet, a white plastic grocery bag tucked under his right armpit while in his left hand a set of keys swung around his index finger. He caught McGirty’s eye. “The last hour, the cards favored. Picked up a little cash and a new-to-you-used-car.” With panache he flipped the keys to his friend. “You’re driving.”

“What did you win?”

“A Chrysler Eagle Premier, 1991 model with 870,000 miles on the odometer plus or minus.”

“A what? I’ve never heard of an Eagle Premier.”

“Hey, it’s got four doors and it runs. Brown is the color and it’s out front somewhere. No insurance, not stolen according to the deputy, and there’s supposed to be a quarter tank of gas. Let’s settle up and say our goodbyes to Joe Bob . . . oh, I see he’s been busy. Then we can get some sleep and later today drive up to Weaverville see about a family.”

“Steady! I’ve got a name and an address of a quack who caps teeth, and another one who sets broken bones and writes scripts for pain meds. Before we do anything else, we go wake’em up.”

McGirty was left with the bill. He figured a hundred dollar bill pressed into Brenda’s palm would do the trick. A pair of hearty handshakes and half-assed man-hugs, and they were free to look for their new ride in a roadhouse parking lot at 6:30 a.m. Ain’t life grand, he mused.

 

At this point, the deleted scenes merge with the storyline in Sea of Lies so we’ll leave Bert and Big Duck in Redding on their way to the medics and a motel.

 

THE OTHER SIDE

 

As long as I stay a hermit, the ideas and phrases flow. Pack of Lies now exceeds 50,000 words, just over half the target word count of 97,000 (which in turn is half the predecessor’s 194,000 words). Our man Bob is in the Balochistan desert under house arrest. Meanwhile, an Iranian super hacker looks tracks Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal as it shuttles around the country in a deadly shell game. Travis Ryder is trying to come to the rescue. The corrupt Malaysia prime minister is still hanging on, Chumakov has nefarious new assignment, and Joanie Nolan is dating one of Bob’s old colleagues. It’s messy.

 

LOCKER ROOM MOTIVATION

 

Ex-SEAL Team-6 member, Hollywood screenwriter and author Chuck Pfarrer is good with the soundbites, with two of them being particularly quotable:

“The “global War on Terror” is actually a struggle not between Islam and Christianity, but between religious bigotry and Western secular liberalism.” (p.96)

*  *  *  *  *

“Since there were no Iraqi WMD, there couldn’t possibly be any al Qaeda WMD. Lest its own credibility be sullied, the press ignored one of the single greatest strategic threats ever faced by the United States.” (p.174)

Chuck Pfarrer

2011

SEAL Target Geronimo

 

HUE AND CRY

 

In the past two weeks, a blog entry from June, 2015 provoked two replies from Sai Lang Kham that made up for in emotion what they may have lacked in verifiability.

December 16, 2016:

The only accurate statement in this piece is, “I don’t know Burma well, having visited it only starting in 2014.” Otherwise it shows a total lack of understanding of Myanmar, its history and its peoples.

“The Shan States were part of Thailand until 1893 when the British claimed them for Burma.” I don’t know what you’ve been smoking but this is utter rubbish. You may be thinking, if you’re capable of that, of Mae Hong Son which was part of Mawkmai State but was ceded to Thailand by the British around that time. This was part of a quid pro quo.

“Approximately 150,000 ethnic Shan live in Chiang Mai, Thailand”… you are out by an order of magnitude. Where did you conjure this figure from?

“The first Burma constitution in 1948 gave the Shan princes the one-time right to opt out of the Burma union in 1958”. Rubbish! You clearly haven’t read “The Constitution of the Union of Burma 1947”. Articles 201 and 202 are the relevant parts.

As for continuing to call the country Burma, madness. The UN and Amnesty International have called it Myanmar for years. In so doing you insult the 40% of the population who make up the ethnic minorities in the country and who, for the past 60 years, have suffered murder, rape and pillage as instruments of Burmese (yes, it’s an ethnicity and a language) government policy.

Sai Lang Kham (yes, the clue is in the name)

 

Dec 19, 2016:

To add further fuel to the fire Burma, as a country, existed only from 1 April 1937 until 4 January 1948.

Sai Lang Kham

 

*  *  *  *  *

 

Dec 23, 2016:

The bibliography for the article appears at the bottom of the blog entry. If you’d like to make specific corrections to factual errors and can provide more credible sources, I’ll post them. But to take one example, “Burma” became “Myanmar” and “Rangoon” became “Yangon” in 1989 after the ruling junta killed thousands of people in response to popular dissent. (Source: BBC, “Who, What, Why: Should it be Burma or Myanmar?”,  http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-16000467). In this same article, the BBC notes that neither the UK nor the US recognizes the name change. US government employees’ cards in Rangoon describe them as employees of the “US Embassy Rangoon” (with their address listed as “Burma”). Bradley West.

 

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Let’s face it, one of the aspects of a failed state is that there are multiple competing ethnic groups/political parties/geographies fighting to have their sides of the story told. As I wrote below, if Sai Lang Kham can provide alternative sources to support a different point of view then I’ll publish it.

 

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Merry Christmas and a very Happy 2017 to the True Lies readers! May all your Cheez-Its be of the original flavor!

cheez-it-box

 

© 2016 Bradley A. West. All rights reserved.