Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

"When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies... We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge."
- Robert Kennedy

"I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it."
- Edith Sitwell

"There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect."
- Ronald Reagan 

2. Guerrilla Attacks Signal Rising Resistance to Russian Occupation
3. Chinese D-Day Ranger Who Fought on Omaha Beach Set to Receive Second Congressional Gold Medal
4. Stop calling Switchblades ‘drones’ — it’s causing policy confusion
5. Top US general: Ukraine will keep getting ‘significant’ support
6. Fewer devices, more automation and a better interface would help fight ‘alert fatigue’
7. US Army veteran volunteers to train and fight with Ukrainians: 'These people inspire me every day'
8. China secretly building PLA naval facility in Cambodia, Western officials say
10. Analysis of IAEA Iran Verification and Monitoring Report - May 2022
11. An ex-member of one of the world's most dangerous mercenary groups has gone public
12. China Fears Wind Is Blowing Covid Virus in From North Korea
13. Thayer Leadership Announces Dan Rice, President, Was Recently Named as Special Advisor to Ukrainian Armed Forces
14. Move over ACLU, FIRE is the New Champion of Free Speech
15. Yoon Suk-yeol picks envoys to Japan, China, Russia, UN
16.  The 2022 War on the Rocks Summer Fiction Reading List
17. ‘The occupier should never feel safe’: rise in partisan attacks in Ukraine
18. Assassinations Become Weapon of Choice for Guerrilla Groups in Myanmar
19. The Surreal Case of a C.I.A. Hacker’s Revenge
20.  Flowers for Joyce (Useful Fiction)


Jun 6, 2022 - Press ISW

Karolina Hird, Mason Clark, and George Barros
June 6, 7:15 pm ET
Click here to see ISW's interactive map of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This map is updated daily alongside the static maps present in this report.
The nature of urban combat in Severodonetsk is likely obfuscating reports of control of terrain within the city, though Russian forces likely retain control over much of the city. Head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai claimed on June 5 that Ukrainian forces managed to retake large parts of Severodonetsk and push Russian forces to the outskirts of the city during successful urban counterattacks.[1] Ukrainian journalist Yuri Butusov, however, denied Haidai’s claims on June 5 and claimed that Ukrainian forces only control the Azot industrial sector of Severodonetsk. Haidai amended his claims on June 6 and reported that the situation in Severodonetsk has deteriorated significantly, adding that Ukrainian forces were indeed fighting within the Azot industrial site on June 6.[2] The reason for Haidai and Butusov’s conflicting reports is unclear, and heavy urban fighting is ongoing in the city.
Ukrainian naval forces are challenging Russian dominance over the northwestern part of the Black Sea and claimed to be preventing Russian warships from operating close to the shoreline. The Ukrainian Navy reported on June 6 that they had succeeded in pushing a grouping of the Russian Black Sea Fleet more than 100 km away from the Ukrainian coast but did not specify a timeframe for this statement.[3] The report additionally stated that Russian naval forces have subsequently had to change their tactics in the Black Sea and are relying more heavily on Bal and Bastion coastal defense systems in occupied Kherson and Crimea rather than seaborne air defenses. The UK Ministry of Defense claimed that Russian forces have been strengthening their air defense assets on Snake Island, and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense reported that Russian forces deployed additional S-300 air defense battalions to Crimea.[4] Taken together, these reports suggest that Ukrainian naval pressure and anti-ship missiles—likely including those provided by the UK and other states—have forced the Russian grouping in the northwestern Black Sea to rely more on coastal and air defense as they are pushed away from the Ukrainian shoreline. Ukraine will likely attempt to leverage these successes to alleviate the economic pressure of the Russian blockade on Ukraine’s ports and seek additional economic support from the west, including possibly opening up new routes for international aid to Ukraine.
Key Takeaways
  • Russian forces likely retain control over most of Severodonetsk as of June 6, though the exact situation in the city remains unclear. Control of terrain is likely changing hands frequently.
  • Russian forces in the Izyum area did not make any confirmed advances, while forces advancing west from Lyman secured minor gains.
  • Russian forces continued unsuccessful attempts to sever Ukrainian lines of communication northeast of Bakhmut.
  • Limited and localized Ukrainian counterattacks on June 5 forced Russian troops to focus on holding defensive lines north of Kharkiv City on June 6.
  • Russian occupation authorities are advancing efforts to issue Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens and cement their control over occupied territories.
  • The Ukrainian Navy claimed to have pushed the Russian Black Sea Fleet more than 100 km from the Ukrainian coast, likely to reduce the pressure of the Russian blockade on Ukraine’s southern ports.

We do not report in detail on Russian war crimes because those activities are well-covered in Western media and do not directly affect the military operations we are assessing and forecasting. We will continue to evaluate and report on the effects of these criminal activities on the Ukrainian military and population and specifically on combat in Ukrainian urban areas. We utterly condemn these Russian violations of the laws of armed conflict, Geneva Conventions, and humanity even though we do not describe them in these reports.
  • Main effort—Eastern Ukraine (comprised of one subordinate and three supporting efforts);
  • Subordinate main effort- Encirclement of Ukrainian troops in the cauldron between Izyum and Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts
  • Supporting effort 1—Kharkiv City;
  • Supporting effort 2—Southern Axis;
  • Activities in Russian-occupied areas
Main Effort—Eastern Ukraine
Subordinate Main Effort—Southern Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk Oblasts (Russian objective: Encircle Ukrainian forces in Eastern Ukraine and capture the entirety of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, the claimed territory of Russia’s proxies in Donbas)
Russian forces continued attempts to advance southeast of Izyum toward Slovyansk but did not make any confirmed advances on June 6.[5] Russian State Duma Deputy Alexander Borodai reportedly traveled to Dovhenke (about 20 km south of Izyum) to storm the village with the Donbas Volunteer Union, a Russian proxy unit.[6] The Ukrainian General Staff reported that Russian forces continued to assault Dovhenke unsuccessfully and that Russian forces fired on various settlements to the southwest and southeast of Izyum, including Velyka Komyshuvakha, Virnopillya, Dibrivne, Nova Dmytrivka, and Kurulka.[7] Russian forces additionally made incremental advances to the west of Lyman in Shchurove and Staryi Karavan and reportedly are “clearing” Sviatohirsk (meaning they are likely engaged in urban combat within the city) with the intention of advancing southward toward Slovyansk across the Siverskyi Donets River.[8]

Russian forces likely retain control over most of Severodonetsk as of June 6, despite Head of the Luhansk Regional State Administration Serhiy Haidai’s June 5 claims that Ukrainian counterattacks retook considerable ground and drove Russian troops to the eastern outskirts of the city.[9] Haidai issued another statement on June 6 expanding on his previous statement and said that the situation had “deteriorated” and that Ukrainian troops are fighting in the industrial zone of the Azot plant.[10] Ukrainian journalist Yuri Butusov additionally reported on June 5 that claims of Ukrainian counterattacks were untrue and that Ukrainian forces only hold the Azot plant and surrounding neighborhoods.[11] The reason for the conflicting reports on June 5 is unclear and ISW cannot independently confirm if Ukrainian forces did indeed retake large parts of Severodonetsk at the time of Haidai’s statement and subsequently lost the terrain by June 6, or if Ukrainian forces did not make these counterattacks at all. The information environment in Severodonetsk remains dynamic and control of terrain is likely changing hands frequently as Ukrainian and Russian troops are locked in close-quarters urban combat.[12] Haidai cited intercepted information that Russian forces have been tasked with completing the capture of Severodonetsk by June 10, though no other sources have reported this deadline and ISW cannot confirm it at this time.[13]
Russian forces escalated their pace of fire against Severodonetsk, Lysychansk, and the surrounding settlements of Metolkine, Borivske, Ustynivka, Toshkivka, Privillya, Zolote, Vrubivka, Hirkske, and Orikhove.[14] The Russian escalation in artillery fire in and around Severodonetsk is likely intended to support Russian operations within the city itself and interdict Ukrainian forces from effectively deploying reserves and conducting resupply efforts in areas under heavy fire.
Russian forces continued mortar, artillery, rocket, air, and ground attacks east of Bakhmut on June 6.[15] Russian troops unsuccessfully attempted to advance westwards toward Bakhmut from Bilohorivka, Komyshuvakha, Berestove, and Mykailivka with the intention of cutting across roadways to the northeast of Bakmut.[16] Territorial defense forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) reportedly made incremental advances in the Donetsk City-Avdiivka area and reportedly pushed Ukrainian forces away from Avdiivka, established positions in Kamyanka (5 km northeast of Avdiivka), and took control of Zelenyi Hai and Petrivske (both within 70 km southwest of Avdiivka).[17] Advances to the southwest of Avdiivka are likely intended to gain access to the H20 highway to drive northward to support operations in Avdiivka, which in turn is a likely attempt to drive up the H20 highway toward the Kramatorsk-Slovyansk area.

Supporting Effort #1—Kharkiv City (Russian objective: Withdraw forces to the north and defend ground lines of communication (GLOCs) to Izyum)
Limited and localized Ukrainian counterattacks on June 5 forced Russian troops to focus on holding defensive lines north of Kharkiv City on June 6.[18] Spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense Oleksandr Motuzyanyk reported that unspecified elements of the Russian 6th Combined Arms Army, Baltic Fleet, and 1st Army Corps of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) are operating in northern Kharkiv Oblast to prevent Ukrainian advances toward the Russian border.[19] A Russian Telegram channel reported that fighting is occurring in Tsupivka, Velyki Prokhody, and Ternova as a result of Ukrainian counterattacks.[20] ISW cannot confirm the current status of control of these settlements and it is likely that the frontline northeast of Kharkiv City remains highly contested. Russian forces additionally continued to fire on the Saltivka and Slobidskyi districts of Kharkiv City, Balakliya, Chuhuiv, and Cherkaska Lozova.[21]

Supporting Effort #2—Southern Axis (Objective: Defend Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts against Ukrainian counterattacks)
Russian forces continued to hold their defensive positions and fire along the line of contact of the Southern Axis on June 6.[22] Russian forces continued combat in northwestern Kherson Oblast along the Kherson-Mykolaiv Oblast border near Vysokopillya and Kochubeivka but did not secure any confirmed advances in this area on June 6.[23] Control of positions along the Inhulets River near the Kherson-Mykolaiv border is likely still contested following a limited Ukrainian counterattack south of Davydiv Brid on May 29.[24] Russian forces are reportedly continuing to accumulate forces in eastern Zaporizhia Oblast near the border with Donetsk Oblast around Orikhiv, Huliapole, Vasylivka, and Velyka Novoselivka.[25] Russian forces additionally fired at Ukrainian positions throughout Kherson, Zaporizhia, and Mykolaiv Oblasts.[26]

Activity in Russian-occupied Areas (Russian objective: consolidate administrative control of occupied areas; set conditions for potential annexation into the Russian Federation or some other future political arrangement of Moscow’s choosing)
Russian occupation elements continued efforts to strengthen economic, political, and social control of occupied areas. Advisor to the Mayor of Mariupol Petro Andryushchenko stated that the occupation authority in Mariupol is continuing to fail to provide basic social services and that, as a result, the city is dealing with sanitation issues and citizens do not have reliable access to food.[27]
Occupation elements additionally continue to push for “passportization” processes in occupied areas.[28] Andryushchenko claimed that Russian authorities in Novoaskovsk, a city east of Mariupol near the Russian border, have begun accepting documentation for Russian passports from citizens of Mariupol.[29] The Ukrainian Resistance Center reported that occupation authorities in Kherson Oblast are offering Ukrainians 10,000 rubles (approximately USD 163) to get a Russian passport and support an unspecified referendum (likely regarding annexation into the Russian Federation or the creation of a nominally-independent proxy republic).[30]
Russian occupation administrators are setting conditions for economic control of occupied areas. Russian forces are reportedly coercing Ukrainian farmers and entrepreneurs to set prices and conduct business in rubles.[31] The use of Russian currency as a form of control is a notable effort to integrate occupied areas into the Russian economy that will also complicate those areas’ reintegration into Ukraine.
Occupation authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) are using the trials of three foreign mercenaries who were captured fighting for Ukraine to support Kremlin information campaigns.[32] Russian war reporter Evgeny Podubbny stated that the DNR Prosecutor General’s Office is trying British nationals Sean Pinner and Aiden Aslin and Moroccan national Saadun Brahim for the “commission of a crime by a group of persons,” “forcible seizure of power or forcible retention of power,” “mercenary activity,” and “training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities.”[33] The DNR Prosecutor General’s Office is reportedly seeking the death penalty for all three.[34] These trials are likely a response to recent (legitimate) Ukrainian war crimes trials of Russian servicemen and an attempt to consolidate informational control over the political environment in the DNR to support Kremlin narratives of a Western plot to use mercenaries to destroy the DNR and LNR, a key Kremlin disinformation campaign to justify the war.
[30] dot ua/2022/06/06/na-khersonshchyni-okupanty-vzhe-hotovi-platyty-za-otrymannia-rosiiskoho-pasporta/

2. Guerrilla Attacks Signal Rising Resistance to Russian Occupation

To echo and paraphrase John Paul Jones - "we have only just begun to fight." This iw. where the Ukrainians are going to show us how it is done and what a people committed to freedom are willing to do. This is going to get bloody and brutal because of the likely Russian response of draconian population and resources control measures to try to quash the resistance. We will see how prior training and implementation of the resistance operating concept over the past 8 years will pay off.  

Some thoughts on guerrilla warfare.

“A trained and disciplined guerrilla is much more than a patriotic peasant, workman, or student armed with an antiquated fowling-piece and home-made bomb. His endoctrination begins even before he is taught to shoot accurately, and it is unceasing. The end product is an intensely loyal and politically alert fighting man.” Brig Gen S.B. Griffith in the Introduction to Mao’s On Guerrilla Warfare, 1961.

“The general of a large army may be defeated, but you cannot defeat the mind of a peasant.” Confucius, 551-478, B.C. (change the name from peasant to "freedom loving people")

“You will kill ten of our men, and we will kill one of yours, and in the end it will be you who tires of it” Ho Chi Minh (1969)

“Guerrilla war must have a friendly population, not actively friendly, but sympathetic to the point of not betraying rebel movements to the enemy. Rebellions can be made by 2 percent active in a striking force and 98 percent passively sympathetic.” T.E. Lawrence, The Science of Guerrilla Warfare

“Guerrilla Strategy is the only strategy possible for an oppressed people.” Kao Kang (quoted in Mao’s On Guerrilla Warfare)

“Guerrilla war is a kind of war waged by the few but dependent on the support of the many.” B.H. Liddel Hart

“If historical experience teaches us anything about revolutionary guerrilla war, it is that military measures alone will not suffice.” Brig Gen S.B. Griffith in the Introduction to Mao’s On Guerrilla Warfare, 1961

“Guerrilla warfare is not dependent for success on the efficient operation of complex mechanical devices, highly organized logistical systems, or the accuracy of electronic computers. It can be conducted in any terrain, in any climate, in any weather; in swamps, in mountains, in farmed fields; its basic element is man and man is more complex than any of his machines.” Brig Gen S.B. Griffith in the Introduction to Mao’s On Guerrilla Warfare, 1961.

“The advantages are nearly all on the side of the guerrilla in that he is bound by no rules, tied to no transport, hampered by no drill-books, while the soldier is bound by many things, not the least of which is his expectation of a full meal every so many hours. The soldier usually wins in the long run but very expensively.” Sir A.P. Wavell: Critique on a counter-guerrilla exercise, Blackdown, 1932.

“Guerrillas never win wars but their adversaries often lose them.” Charles Thayer: Guerrilla, 1963.

“Many people think it is impossible for guerrillas to exist for a long time in the enemy’s rear. Such a belief reveals a lack of comprehension of the relationship that should exist between the people and the troops. The former may be likened to water and the latter to the fish who inhabit it.” Mao Tse tung, On Guerrilla Warfare, 1961

Guerrilla Attacks Signal Rising Resistance to Russian Occupation
The New York Times · by Marc Santora · June 6, 2022
June 6, 2022, 12:26 p.m. ET

A photograph taken during a trip organized by the Russian military showed a Russian serviceman near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in Enerhodar, Ukraine, last month.Credit...Sergei Ilnitsky/EPA, via Shutterstock
The Kremlin-backed mayor of the Ukrainian town of Enerhodar was standing on his mother’s porch when a powerful blast struck, leaving him critically wounded. A week later, about 75 miles away, a car packed with explosives rocked the office of another Russian-appointed official in the occupied southern city of Melitopol.
In a rarity, both Ukrainian and Russian officials confirmed the blasts, which struck deep inside Russian-controlled territory. And both explosions appeared to be the work of what analysts say is a growing partisan resistance movement — one fueled by increasingly brutal Russian repression and worsening humanitarian conditions.
By their very nature, the clandestine activities of any insurgency are murky and often impossible to verify independently. It is as much in the interest of Ukrainians to play up talk of rebellion as it is for Russians to play it down.
But the explosion that injured the Enerhodar mayor, Andrei Shevchik, is one of more than a dozen high-profile attacks in recent weeks that analysts say indicate increased partisan activity aimed at Russian occupation forces in the Kherson and Zaporizka regions of southern Ukraine.
Stretching tens of thousands of square miles from eastern Ukraine to Russian-occupied Crimea and into Russia itself, those regions were among the first to fall under Russian control following the invasion of Ukraine in late February. Many of their towns and cities were spared the wholesale destruction unleashed by Russian forces elsewhere. In recent days, Ukrainian forces have launched a series of counterattacks in the regions.
In the past month, Ukrainian partisans claim, insurgents have attacked Russian trains and killed dozens of Russian soldiers, as well as supporting the Ukrainian military's counterattacks. Their claims are impossible to independently verify. The partisans also have established a virtual Center of National Resistance, which features instructions for things like setting up ambushes and what to do if arrested.
Alexander Motyl, a historian and Ukraine expert at Rutgers University, has scoured publicly available statements about possible insurgent activity. He said that the data suggests it is growing.
“It is, of course, possible that Ukrainian special forces may have been involved in some of these actions; it is also likely that the data are incomplete,” he wrote for the online journal 1945. “Even so, the number of guerrilla actions is impressive and bespeaks a trend toward ever-greater partisan activity.”
The explosion in Enerhodar and the intrigue that has followed illustrate how Russian efforts to combat insurgency might be deepening the resolve of the partisans.
Enerhodar had a population of 50,000 before the war and was home to many of the people who work at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest. Residents erected wooden barricades on the road leading into the town in the first week of the war but they proved no match for Russian tanks. Russia took control of the town and named Mr. Shevchik mayor.
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments
Card 1 of 3
Military aid. Britain said that it would join the United States in providing long-range rocket systems to help Ukraine hold off Russia’s assault in the east. The announcement came a day after President Vladimir V. Putin threatened to attack new targets if Western nations supplied Ukraine with the weapons.
On the ground. The seesaw battle for Sievierodonetsk, a city that is key to controlling the entire eastern region of Donbas, continues as the Russians ramped up artillery attacks and erased some of the Ukrainians’ gains. Ukrainian forces had clawed back ground in recent days in pitched street-by-street battles.
Grain exports. Russia is trying to sell stolen Ukrainian grain to countries in Africa, American officials warned. Western leaders have accused Russia of holding up food supplies in order to weaponize them; many countries across Africa and the Middle East have been facing alarming levels of hunger and starvation as a result of the blockade.
Then came the blast, which Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported on May 22, citing an emergency services source in the city. Ukrainian officials confirmed the incident from their own sources and said that it appeared that the mayor was targeted.
Dmytro Orlov, whom Ukraine recognizes as the legitimate mayor of Enerhodar, wrote on Telegram that Russians are trying to tackle the budding insurgency by targeting regular civilians. He said that “the number of abductions of locals has increased significantly” since the explosion involving Mr. Shevchik, and that the humanitarian crisis has worsened.
There is almost no Ukrainian currency left in Enerhodar, Mr. Orlov said, adding that since the occupied forces are trying to make Russia’s ruble the only currency, prices for everyday household products have climbed “sky-high.” Reports of Russian soldiers looting mostly abandoned homes are on the rise, while communications in and out of the city have been severed, he said.
All this, Mr. Orlov said, will cause the ranks of the partisans to grow.
“Even those citizens who had a neutral attitude to the invaders in the beginning are starting to show dissatisfaction with the Russian occupation,” he said.
It appears Mr. Orlov is not alone in thinking that partisans will continue to pose a threat to Russia’s proxies.
Mr. Shevchik’s Russia-appointed replacement, Ruslan Kirpichov erected concrete blast walls outside the hotel where he is living, according to Energoatom, the Ukrainian state enterprise responsible for operating the town’s power stations. It posted a photo of the barricades on its Telegram channel.
The New York Times · by Marc Santora · June 6, 2022

3. Chinese D-Day Ranger Who Fought on Omaha Beach Set to Receive Second Congressional Gold Medal
Our immigrants are such an inspiration. 

Chinese D-Day Ranger Who Fought on Omaha Beach Set to Receive Second Congressional Gold Medal · by Richard Sisk · June 6, 2022
Former Private 1st Class Randall Ching was with the 5th Ranger Battalion in the hellscape that was Omaha Beach during the June 6, 1944, D-Day landings in Normandy. At 97 years old, he is about to receive his second Congressional Gold Medal.
Ching, the only person of Chinese descent among the nearly 7,000 Rangers who served in that war, received the medal for the first time when President Donald Trump in 2018 signed the Chinese-American World War II Veteran Congressional Gold Medal Act to honor the estimated 20,000 Chinese American men and women who served in all of the military branches.
"At the time, it never occurred to me that I was the only Chinese Ranger but, looking back now, I'm very proud," Ching would later tell the Marin Independent Journal in California.
His second medal -- one of the highest honors from Congress -- will be bestowed this week when President Joe Biden is expected to sign a bill sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., designed to honor the Army Rangers of World War II.
On Omaha Beach 78 years ago, Ching's 5th Ranger Battalion was among the units pinned down under such withering fire that then-Maj. Gen. Omar Bradley at one point considered ordering a withdrawal.
The battalion would play a pivotal role in taking the heights above the beach to get at the German guns raking the landing area and would inspire the motto: "Rangers lead the way." (In Ranger-speak, it's just "RLTW.")
For his actions that day, Ching would receive a meritorious Bronze Star for "active ground combat against the enemy on 6 June 1944 while serving with the 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion in France," his citation said.
Ching, who was known for his skill with a knife, would receive a second Bronze Star with combat "V" device for his actions on Sept. 2, 1944, in France wiping out a German position. "As a member of a reconnaissance patrol, Private First Class Ching assured the success of its mission by knifing all the occupants of a fortified position," the citation said.
Ching, born in San Francisco in 1924, came to the Army and the all-volunteer Rangers by an unlikely route. His family moved back to China during the Great Depression of the 1930s, but the better life they sought there fell apart when Japan invaded beginning in 1937.
At the urging of his family, Ching returned to the U.S. in 1941, joined the Army in 1943 and then volunteered for the Rangers, said Bonnie Ching Louie, his daughter.
In an interview last Friday, Louie said her father was "very much aware" that he'll be the recipient of a second Congressional Gold Medal, but he's hard of hearing and doesn't like to do interviews.
"He's really proud that he served with that elite [Ranger] group," she said, and equally proud to be a U.S. citizen. From the time she, her two sisters and her brother were kids, "My dad would tell us, 'You are so damn lucky you're living here in America,'" Louie said.
"It will mean a lot to my dad" to receive the second medal, said his son, retired Navy Capt. Carl Ching. His father "has never been a rah-rah guy," boasting of his record, and like so many WWII veterans was reluctant for many years to talk about what he had done and where he had been, the son said in an interview.
Carl Ching recalled that he and his sisters were playing one day and found a cardboard box containing his father's medals. When they asked him about it, he said, "Oh, that's just some ribbons," Carl Ching said.
His father never pressed him to join the military, Carl Ching said, but he initially went into the Navy as an enlisted sailor and served in "Brown Water Navy" patrol boats in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War; he later became an officer. "I wanted to make my dad proud," he said.
The Ching family tradition of service was carried on by a grandson, former Marine Sgt. Alan Chin, who served two tours in Iraq, Carl Ching said.
The Congressional Gold Medal is considered the highest honor Congress can bestow and is awarded to individuals or groups, whether military or civilian, "who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture." Ching will be receiving his second award of the medal as a member of an honored group -- Chinese-American veterans and now WWII Rangers.
Only four individuals -- Gen. Winfield Scott, Gen. and President Zachary Taylor, polar explorer Lincoln Ellsworth and Adm. Hyman G. Rickover -- have received two Congressional Gold Medals, according to the History, Art and Archives section of the House of Representatives.
The "United States Army Rangers Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act," sponsored by Ernst and Crow, passed the Senate last October and the House in May, and now awaits Biden's signature.
In a May floor speech, Crow, a former Ranger captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, cited the advanced age of the living WWII Rangers in urging that the bill be signed into law quickly.
When Crow spoke, there were only 15 living Rangers from WWII, and that number decreased to 14 with the death in late May at age 99 of Ranger Thomas "Tommy" Mascari, who fought in Italy, was captured by the Germans, and escaped by leaping from a prison train.
Once Biden signs the bill, the lengthy process of designing and minting the medal will begin; in the past, it has taken anywhere from six months to more than a year.
A single gold medal will be placed at the Smithsonian Institution and duplicates in bronze will be presented to the living WWII Rangers and made available upon request to families, but the details on how to apply for a duplicate have yet to be worked out.
For Randall Ching, the second award will be a point of pride to mark his service with the Ranger units that set the standard for special operations in the military.
After the war, Ching worked as a stock clerk manager in San Francisco's Chinatown while attending night school to become a certified electronics technician. He then became a maintenance manager until his retirement.
In a virtual ceremony in December 2020 to honor the Chinese Americans receiving the Congressional Gold Medal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who represents San Francisco, said, "We take great pride in our city's Chinese American veterans, including U.S. Army Ranger Randall Ching, the only Ranger of Chinese descent to fight in World War II.
"His valor on D-Day and throughout the war earned him a Bronze Star with 'V' device," Pelosi said, and he "inspired his family, motivating his son to serve in the Navy in Vietnam and his grandson with the Marines in Iraq -- a family legacy of proud service."
"In learning of this congressional recognition, Randall said, 'I am very proud. It's about time,'" Pelosi said. "We agree, Randall. It is time."
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at · by Richard Sisk · June 6, 2022

4. Stop calling Switchblades ‘drones’ — it’s causing policy confusion

Words have meaning as they say.  

"Once a wrong idea about reality has been formed, it becomes more difficult to discover the truth."
— Unknown

"Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience."
- Hyman Rickover

Stop calling Switchblades ‘drones’ — it’s causing policy confusion
Defense News · by Heather Penney · June 6, 2022
Words matter, especially when it comes to understanding and overseeing new military technologies. That is why it is especially important to be deliberate and precise in how we talk about a new class of aerial munitions, like the Switchblade loitering munition, which many, including government leaders, are inaccurately referring to as unmanned aerial vehicles.
Defense media immediately picked up on the description. References to UAVs were rapidly dumbed down to “drones” — or even “suicide drones” or “kamikaze drones.” While such sensational language may drive clicks by tapping into fears of dystopian technology, misleading descriptions do not help leaders make smart policy decisions. We now have a situation where highly sophisticated UAVs, which are mission aircraft by any traditional definition, are being lumped together with a new generation of aerial weapons.
This ignorance needs to be corrected.
Here is the problem: Defense technologies are overseen and regulated based how they are classified. When incorrect terminology is used and accepted, national security leaders risk making bad policy based on misperceptions. Given how advanced aerial systems, guidance, data links and weapons have proliferated, these lines will become blurred if we are not mindful about how we classify them and reference them.
A sloppy approach will see us unintentionally limit the options available to future leaders because application of rules will diverge from original intent. Given the rapid technological evolution of UAVs and munition technologies, we must become more precise in our language so that we can be more effective in considering our policy solutions.
Want proof? Consider how words are undercutting our ability to export UAVs to our allies and partners, driving them into the arms of our adversaries. Current U.S. policy treats larger UAVs like they were weapons themselves — more specifically, like they were nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles or cruise missiles. That occurred because UAVs in the modern sense had not been invented when the governing policy, the Missile Technology Control Regime, was created.
The MTCR is a nonbinding political agreement that restricts the export of missile technology to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Leaders failed to update the lexicon and differentiate technical categorization of mission aircraft UAVs from the weapons the MTCR was designed to govern. Consequently, the U.S. State Department takes a “strong presumption of denial” to the export of any UAV — because they treat these aircraft like weapons.
This makes it is exceedingly difficult to share UAV technologies with our allies and partners — all because of confusion in the classification of these capabilities. Put that in the context of a fight like Ukraine, and the consequences are severe.
On the other hand, the Switchblade is a weapon, not a UAV or what most people think about as a drone. Yes, it flies and can be guided in real time, but it was clearly designed and intended to be used as a weapon. When clear of the launch tube, its folded wings pop out and electric engine powers up, allowing the weapon to fly up to 25 miles from its launch point. The operator controls the Switchblade remotely by data link, using the camera in the weapon’s nose to navigate to the target area. Once the target is designated by the operator, the weapon automatically guides and crashes itself into the target, detonating the explosive warhead.
Nor is this kind of weapon the only example of this new mission class and technical capability. Even if a munition can be recovered in the event that no target is found, what matters is the intent of employment: target destruction through self-destruction.
Contrast this to remotely piloted aircraft, which may deliver independent munitions, but are intended to be recovered and flown again and again just like a manned aircraft. The key differentiator is the intention behind how these respective technologies are used. This repeated reuse — similar to a manned aircraft — is what distinguishes UAVs from loitering munitions like the Switchblade.
However, with this new class of weapon now entering broad public discourse, we will likely see further confusion between these two different tools. That is why it is more important than ever to use the appropriate and accurate set of terms, categorizations and standards in referring to these highly effective class of aerial munitions. Poor definitions in agreements like the MTCR are fundamentally undercutting options U.S. leaders need to exercise to best net desired goals. It will only get worse as technology evolution blurs what were once far simpler lanes.
We will know when things are on the right track when there is a clear distinction between a munition, like a Switchblade or cruise missile, and a UAV.
The differentiator is obvious: Munitions are designed to achieve kinetic effects through self-destruction. UAVs, on the other hand, are designed for reuse. We also need to look to longstanding agreements, like MTCR, and clean up what has been too long confused.
This kind of clarity is needed if we are to continue to develop UAVs that can be exported to our coalition partners. The diminishing force size of our Air Force is driving the need to rely further on our coalition partners. That will only work if we use proper and accurate terms in defining the weapons so that we can arm them effectively. That ties back to policy and definitions. If we do not get our language right, neither will we be operating with the right policy.
Heather Penney is a senior resident fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. She spent about a decade working for defense companies, including Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, and served for more than 20 years in the U.S. Air Force.
5. Top US general: Ukraine will keep getting ‘significant’ support

Significant or all that they need to fight and win? Of course the chairman must choose his words carefully.

Top US general: Ukraine will keep getting ‘significant’ support · by Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press · June 6, 2022
COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France (AP) — The United States and its allies will keep providing “significant” support to Ukraine out of respect for the legacy of D-Day soldiers, whose victory over the Nazis helped lead to a new world order and a “better peace,” Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Monday.
In an interview with The Associated Press overlooking Omaha Beach in Normandy, Milley said Russia’s war on Ukraine undermines the rules established by Allied countries after the end of World War II. He spoke on the 78th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Allied troops onto the beaches of France, which led to the overthrow of Nazi Germany’s occupation.
One fundamental rule of the”global rules-based order” is that “countries cannot attack other countries with their military forces in acts of aggression unless it’s an act of pure self-defense,” he stressed. “But that’s not what’s happened here in Ukraine. What’s happened here is an open, unambiguous act of aggression.”
“It is widely considered to undermine the rules that these dead — here at Omaha Beach and at the cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer — have died for. They died for something. They died for that order to be put in place so that we would have a better peace,” Milley said, speaking at the American Cemetery overlooking the shore in the northwestern French village at Colleville-sur-Mer.

World War II reenactor put roses and flowers at dawn on Omaha Beach, in Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer, Normandy, France Monday, June 6, 2022, the day of 78th anniversary of the assault that helped bring an end to World War II. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
That’s why “the nations of Europe, the nations of NATO, are supporting Ukraine with lethal and nonlethal support in order to make sure that that rule set is underwritten and supported,” Milley explained.
Dozens of veterans — now all in their 90s, from the U.S., Britain, Canada and elsewhere — were taking part in poignant D-Day ceremonies Monday.
On June 6, 1944, Allied troops landed on French beaches code-named Omaha, Utah, Juno, Sword and Gold, carried by 7,000 boats. On that single day, 4,414 Allied soldiers lost their lives, 2,501 of them Americans. More than 5,000 were wounded. On the German side, several thousand were killed or wounded. The massive invasion helped lead to Hitler’s defeat and the end of World War II.
Asked about whether Ukraine gets enough support, Milley noted “there’s a very, very significant battle going on in the Donbas,” in reference to Ukraine’s heavily contested eastern industrial region bordering Russia. “But Kyiv (the capital) was protected and successfully defended against. The Russians had to shift their forces to the south in the Donbas. And we’ll see how this plays out.”
“I think that the United States and the allied countries are providing a significant amount of support to Ukraine, and that will continue,” he said. He didn’t elaborate.
Milley also had strong words about Ukraine at the ceremony at the American Cemetery, attended by over 20 World War II veterans and several thousand spectators.
“Kiev may be 2,000 kilometers away from here, they too, right now, today, are experiencing the same horrors as the French citizens experienced in World War II at the hands of the Nazi invader,” Milley said in his speech. “Let’s not those only here be the last witnesses to a time when our Allies come together to defeat tyranny.”
Milley’s parents served during World War II and his uncle was in the Navy off Normandy’s coast on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord.
That generation of soldiers “fought and sacrificed for all of us... And I have a very, very special bond with them. And I’m very respectful of what they’ve done. And I think we all — all of us today — need to carry on the legacy that they fought and died for,” Milley said.

6. Fewer devices, more automation and a better interface would help fight ‘alert fatigue’
Funny thing is that younger people entering the military are going to be much more adept at dealing with "screens" than us former action guys and really old people. Perhaps it is time for people over 50 or so (or perhaps even younger) to get out of the way.

We should consider how old members of our acquisition corps and R&D organizations are. We should not be developing technology that works for "us" but instead what works for the up and coming generations.

Fewer devices, more automation and a better interface would help fight ‘alert fatigue’
Defense News · by Todd South · June 6, 2022
TAMPA, Fla. — Special operations communicators receive so much information that they’re beginning to experience what one expert calls “alert fatigue,” putting them in danger of making fatal mistakes.
In response, U.S. Special Operations Command is asking industry for more capabilities that involve less gear and simpler user interfaces.
Cyber, computing and communications experts spoke May 19 at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Florida, echoing concerns over the flood of information coming at special forces and calling for solutions.
In some ways, the “alert fatigue” is a byproduct of technological development and mass data gathering techniques, said Mark Taylor, who serves as the command’s chief technical officer.
But there’s a cost.
“We cannot put these people in jeopardy of alert fatigue in which case they now get one of another 100 blips that might have been the one that tells them they need to hit this house and not that one,” Taylor said.
That means less gear, fewer processes, more automation and a simpler user interface, experts agreed.
“I think as technology grows, our communicators get more and more inundated with more technology,” said Army Sgt. Maj. Matthew Jacobs, the senior enlisted adviser to SOCOM J6.
He and others noted that automating some of the many tasks of a special ops communicator could reduce that mental burden, and that less gear would reduce the physical burden.
“I think weight is a huge issue,” he said. “It all goes on somebody’s back.”
In a separate panel, Art Coon, deputy program executive officer for SOCOM’s command, control, communications and computers office, provided an example of that physical burden.
Under their tactical communications portfolio alone, just taking into account radio technology, operators carry the legacy hand-held, man-packable radio, another hand-held radio device for specific frequency work, and the next-generation high-frequency hand-held, man-packable radio.

Air Force special tactics operators discuss airfield operations during Emerald Warrior 22.1 at Eglin Range, Fla., on May 3, 2022. (Staff Sgt. Ridge Shan/U.S. Air Force)
But there’s been progress, Coon noted: A capability once provided by a 78-pound radio system and carried by the AH-63 Apache helicopter is now available via a tactical hand-held device.
To ease the cognitive load, operators need a way to effectively use multiple waveforms and data systems. A radio integration system allows for one tactical operations center to merge line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight devices, talk to all systems, and push data over a single network using broadband satellite communications, Coon said.
That’s supported by satellite-deployable nodes, or broadband satellite communication terminals that can connect with the tactical local area network, connecting commanders at a major installation or in the United States directly to an operational network in the field.
And for contested environments, Coon said, a system called SCAMPI serves as “our version of an [internet service provider].”
SOCOM has those devices “scattered globally” to move data to forward-deployed troops, he added.
Operators must also have the ability to quickly grab and go with their hardware and data, Coon said. “I should be able to pick up my laptop or my workstation in the garrison environment, jump on a plane, fly to wherever, get off that plane, and have the connectivity on the services I need wherever I’m at.”

A soldier navigates through an augmented reality lab at the Center for Applied Brain and Cognitive Sciences, a cooperative research initiative between Tufts University School of Engineering and Combat Capabilities Development Command's Soldier Center. (David Kamm/U.S. Army)
But the secret and unclassified systems don’t work as well together as they should. SOCOM’s chief information officer, Joe Tragakis, said that’s because there are too many machines to do a basic task.
He’s currently looking for a way to allow an analyst to simultaneously search for data on both the classified and unclassified networks on a single machine, “as opposed to the current practice of getting four, five or six different machines to do it.”
About Todd South
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness 

7. US Army veteran volunteers to train and fight with Ukrainians: 'These people inspire me every day'
Ukraine: more than 300 years of resistance history. It is in the Ukrainian DNA. While we can help we should remember that the expertise is within the Ukrainian population. We need to check our hubris at the door.

 4. Assessment - must conduct continuous assessment to gain understanding - tactical, operational, and strategic.  Assessments are key to developing strategy and campaign plans and anticipating potential conflict. Assessments allow you to challenge assumptions and determine if a rebalance of ways and means with the acceptable, durable, political arrangement  is required. Understand the indigenous way of war and adapt to it.   Do not force the US way of war upon indigenous forces if it is counter to their history, customs, traditions, and abilities.

7.  Learn how to operate without being in charge.  If we usurp the mission indigenous forces will never be successful on their own.  You cannot pay lip service to advising and assisting.  This is why operations in Colombia and the Philippines achieve some level of success. This is not “leading from behind.”  This is the appropriate understanding of the relationship between USSF/SOF and indigenous forces in a sovereign nation or indigenous forces seeking self-determination of government.

US Army veteran volunteers to train and fight with Ukrainians: 'These people inspire me every day' · by Michael Lee | Fox News
Lt. Col. Danny Davis weighs in as Russian forces ramp up their assault against the Ukrainian resistance.
NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq is now volunteering in Ukraine’s fight against Russia, training troops before they head to the front lines in defense of their country.
"These are ordinary civilians who, 1776 style, have decided to answer their nation’s call to duty," the Army veteran, who talked to Fox News on condition of anonymity due to concerns for his safety, said. "They’re willing to die for the land that they inhabit. They truly believe that the direction is towards a classically liberal, democratic society integrated with western values.

A U.S. Army veteran poses for a group photo with members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense force. (Fox News)
The Army veteran was a member of the Army’s Military Police Corps between 2006-2011 and was deployed to Iraq in 2009-2010. He also worked as a security contractor in Afghanistan after his time in the Army.
But now the American finds himself close to the front lines of a different war, choosing to voluntarily travel to Ukraine to train their forces before potentially joining them on the front lines of the war against Russia.
"I am a fan of the culture and people of Ukraine," the American said of his motivation for wanting to help the Ukrainian war effort. "They have rejected their communist past and they love our country more than some of our own people."
He also noted that the war’s outcome will have a dramatic effect on the U.S. and its allies, arguing he "stands at the last outpost of western society."
"If Russia is able to control major port cities and swaths of agricultural land, along with maintaining influence on American allies through pretropolitics, our transatlantic alliances and businesses will collapse," he argued. "The resulting food crisis will affect the developing world and cause more migrants to flood into Europe and disrupt the political systems."
The Army veteran, who has paid for his own travel, clothing, and gear in order to volunteer, has spent most of his time getting Ukrainian forces up to speed on combat first aid and basic tactics, skills they will need in a conflict that has claimed thousands of casualties on both sides.

Ukraine military first aid training blur 2 Ukrainian Territorial Defense receive first aid training from a U.S. Army veteran of the Iraq war.
The people he is training have volunteered with Ukraine’s Territorial Defense force, which he compared to an American National Guard or Reserve unit being activated for a combat deployment.
He noted that the people volunteering have come from all walks of life, including "veterinarians, dancers, and photographers," who all took "various paths in civilian life" but decided to pick up arms and defend Ukraine.
"These people are engineers and programmers," he said. "These people are intelligent and craftful people who have been answering their national call to duty due to a fascist invader.
"They’re defending their sovereignty from tyranny and slavery from Russia, and to me this is the most inspiring thing," he continued.

A U.S. Army veteran is providing combat life saver training to Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces.
The American credited his time in the U.S. military and as a security contractor for giving him the tools he needed to take on the new fight, though he noted several differences between his previous combat experience and the fight in Ukraine.
"The American military, we have amazing air superiority, the best technology," he said." So now I am forced to understand almost what is essentially like an insurgency in some respects. They’re the underdogs. I understand the tactics of an underdog having fought the underdog while being the superior power.
"The sense of hardness that you develop from being on a combat deployment and training and being in this operational mindset prepares you, but it doesn’t prepare you for the level of intensity of combat" currently going on in Ukraine, he said.
But the Army veteran noted the morale and will of the Ukrainian people to fight for their country makes up for what some of them lack in basic combat skills and experience.

A U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq trains Ukrainian forces in combatives as the country's war with Russia continues.
"They’ve built up this national identity of who they are so quickly and it has become so united," he said. "The Ukrainian Army doesn’t lack motivation to fight… hundreds of thousands of people are being brought to service."
He noted a lot of the people volunteering for service have "major gaps" in their knowledge of basic military tactics and "usage of modern combat tourniquets and casualty treatment."
But their motivation to fight against a Russian invasion makes them ideal to train.
"They keep asking questions and they want deeper knowledge," he said.
"They’re willing to fight to the last man," he continued. "These people will fight to the last man and these people inspire me every day."
The American noted that he will at some point be bound for the front lines himself, where he hopes people back home in the U.S. will continue to be supportive of the Ukrainian war effort.
"The fact that Americans back Ukraine, to them, is the deepest sentiment," he said. "You walk the streets of Ukraine and ask them ‘what do you think of Americans?’ These people will say ‘we love Americans.’ We never got this type of love in Afghanistan, we never got this type of love in Iraq. We’ve never gotten this degree of appreciation from any country."
"It is imperative that Americans remain engaged in this conflict," he continued. "There needs to be continuous ongoing support."
Michael Lee is a writer at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee · by Michael Lee | Fox News

8. China secretly building PLA naval facility in Cambodia, Western officials say
As an aside, I was at a conference pre-COVID and a speaker discussed how China was "infiltrating" Cambodia to influence the society and government. According to the speaker Cambodia has a very simple and fast citizenship process. Chinese citizens who move to Cambodia can apply for citizenship after only a short period of residency. Apparently large numbers of Chinese are doing this so they can participate in the political process and influence the Cambodian leadership. I wonder if this base is a result of such influence?

China secretly building PLA naval facility in Cambodia, Western officials say
The Washington Post · by Ellen Nakashima · June 6, 2022
China is secretly building a naval facility in Cambodia for the exclusive use of its military, with both countries denying that is the case and taking extraordinary measures to conceal the operation, Western officials said.
The military presence will be on the northern portion of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base on the Gulf of Thailand, which is slated to be the site of a groundbreaking ceremony this week, according to the officials, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
The establishment of a Chinese naval base in Cambodia — only its second such overseas outpost and its first in the strategically significant Indo-Pacific region — is part of Beijing’s strategy to build a network of military facilities around the world in support of its aspirations to become a true global power, the officials said.
China’s only other foreign military base right now is a naval facility in the East African country of Djibouti. Having a facility capable of hosting large naval vessels to the west of the South China Sea would be an important element of China’s ambition to expand its influence in the region and would strengthen its presence near key Southeast Asian sea lanes, officials and analysts said.
“We assess that the Indo-Pacific is an important piece for China’s leaders, who see the Indo-Pacific as China’s rightful and historic sphere of influence,” one Western official said. “They view China’s rise there as part of a global trend toward a multipolar world where major powers more forcefully assert their interests in their perceived sphere of influence.”
Beijing, the official said, is banking on the region being “unwilling or unable to challenge China’s core interests,” and through a combination of coercion, punishment and inducements in the diplomatic, economic and military realms, believes it can get countries to bend to its interests. “Essentially, China wants to become so powerful that the region will give in to China’s leadership rather than face the consequences [for not doing so],” the official said.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that China had signed a secret agreement to allow its military to use the base, citing U.S. and allied officials familiar with the matter. Beijing and Phnom Penh denied the report, with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen denouncing it as “fake news.” A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman at the time also denounced what it called “rumors” and said China had merely been helping with military training and logistical equipment.
Over the weekend, however, a Chinese official in Beijing confirmed to The Washington Post that “a portion of the base” will be used by “the Chinese military.” The official denied it was for “exclusive” use by the military, saying that scientists would also use the facility. The official added that the Chinese are not involved in any activities on the Cambodian portion of the base.
The official said the groundbreaking, scheduled for Thursday, was taking place and that Chinese officials would attend. The Chinese ambassador to Cambodia is expected to be present.
Asked for comment, the Cambodian Embassy in Washington said in a statement that it “strongly disagrees with the content and meaning of the report as it is a baseless accusation motivated to negatively frame Cambodia’s image.” It added that Cambodia “firmly adheres” to the nation’s constitution, which does not permit foreign military bases or presence on Cambodian soil. “The renovation of the base serves solely to strengthen the Cambodian naval capacities to protect its maritime integrity and combat maritime crimes including illegal fishing,” the statement said.
China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry did not reply to a request for comment.
The Western officials said they expect there will be an acknowledgment at the ceremony of Chinese involvement in financing and construction of the expansion of Ream Naval Base, but not of plans for its use by the People’s Liberation Army. The expansion plans were finalized in 2020, and, significantly, called for the Chinese military to have “exclusive use of the northern portion of the base, while their presence would remain concealed,” a second official said.
The two governments have taken pains to mask the presence of the Chinese military at Ream, the official said. For instance, foreign delegations visiting the base are permitted access only to preapproved locations. During these visits, Chinese military personnel at the base wear uniforms similar to their Cambodian counterparts’ or no uniform at all to avoid suspicion from outside observers, the official said. When Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman visited the base during a trip to the region last year, her movements were “very heavily circumscribed,” the official said.
While she was in Cambodia, Sherman sought clarification over Cambodia’s razing in 2020 of two U.S.-funded facilities on Ream Naval Base, according to a State Department news release. The demolition took place after Cambodia declined a U.S. offer to pay to renovate one of them, according to a Pentagon report on Chinese military developments last year. That move, the report said, “suggests that Cambodia may have instead accepted assistance from the [People’s Republic of China] to develop the base.”
“What we’ve seen is over time is a very clear and consistent pattern of trying to obfuscate and hide both the end goal as well as the extent of Chinese military involvement,” the second official said. “The key thing here is the [PLA’s] exclusive use of the facility and having a unilateral military base in another country.”
Last year, the “Joint Vietnamese Friendship” building, a facility built by the Vietnamese, was relocated off Ream Naval Base to avert conflicts with Chinese military personnel, the officials said. China and Vietnam have long had a tense relationship, with Hanoi and Beijing clashing over competing territorial claims in the South China Sea for half a century.
The secrecy around the base appears to be driven primarily by Cambodian sensitivities and concern about a domestic backlash, the second official said. There is strong domestic opposition to the idea of a foreign military base, said the official, noting the constitutional ban on the presence of foreign military in the country. As the chair of the 10-member regional Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, Cambodia is keen to avoid the perception it is, as the second official said, “a pawn” of Beijing.
Cambodia has been walking a fine line between accommodating and distancing itself from Beijing. It was an “enthusiastic supporter” of the U.S.-ASEAN special summit in Washington last month, the second official said. In March, it joined 140 other countries in voting at the U.N. General Assembly to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Beijing abstained from the vote and has publicly affirmed a “no limits” partnership with Moscow that includes opposing further NATO enlargement. At the same time, Chinese influence in Cambodia has grown rapidly in recent years, with China providing substantial aid and investment, a trend that has also caused some concern in Phnom Penh about overreliance on Beijing.
Beyond its base in Djibouti, opened in 2017, Beijing is pursuing military facilities to support “naval, air, ground, cyber, and space power projection,” the Pentagon report said. It has “likely considered a number of countries,” it said, listing more than a dozen, including Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates. A global network could “both interfere with U.S. military operations and support offensive operations against the United States,” the report said.
The report also said that Chinese military academics have asserted that such bases can enable deployment of military forces in theater, and intelligence monitoring of the U.S. military.
The Chinese official told The Post that ground station technology for a BeiDou navigation satellite system was located at the Chinese portion of Ream Naval Base. BeiDou is China’s homegrown alternative to the U.S. Space Force-managed Global Positioning System, and has military uses including missile guidance. The official did not have direct knowledge of how this system was being used.
China’s military uses BeiDou’s high-accuracy positioning and navigation services to facilitate force movements and precision-guided munitions delivery, according to a March report by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency.
China’s global basing effort is “not just about power projection but about global tracking and space assets,” said a third Western official. Cambodia’s Ream is “one of their most ambitious efforts to date.”
China’s navy is already the world’s largest by numbers of vessels. The U.S. Navy has 297 battle-force ships — carriers, destroyers, submarines, etc. — according to the Congressional Research Service, while China has 355 and is projected to have 460 by 2030, according to last year’s Pentagon report.
But, said Andrew Erickson, research director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the Naval War College, “as impressive as those numbers are, without a significant network of robust overseas facilities, their ability to use them falls off rapidly with distance from China.”
China is nowhere close to matching the network of military bases the United States has around the world, a major U.S. military and strategic advantage, said Richard Fontaine, chief executive of the Center for a New American Security. But, he said, a base in Cambodia “gives them a force-projection capability that they would otherwise not have in the region. That’s intrinsic to the Chinese aspiration of having a more dominant military presence throughout the Asian rimland and in the South China Sea, allowing Beijing to hold at risk — and have political influence over — countries quite far from the Chinese shore.”
Djibouti was a logical first step for a military outpost in that it is in a region far from China in which Beijing wants to have a presence, in this case to secure its growing Middle Eastern energy interests, Erickson said. Also, the United States, France and Japan have long had military bases there, he noted. “The question then becomes, how do you start filling out the board?”
Cambodia is “a no-brainer” in that Hun Sen, prime minister since 1985, is “extremely amenable,” Erickson said, noting that the Cambodian leader has had a long strategic partnership with Beijing.
“But the problem is Cambodia is a small country in a tough spot,” he said. “It’s trying to have it both ways: maximum strategic collaboration with China with minimum regional pushback. That contradiction is going to be exposed by the undeniable development of this facility.”
China also has reportedly sought to establish a facility in the UAE. Last year, U.S. intelligence agencies learned that Beijing was secretly building a military installation at a port in near the Emirati capital of Abu Dhabi, the Wall Street Journal reported. After meetings and visits by U.S. officials, construction was halted, the Journal reported. The current status of the project is unclear.
China’s secret building of a Cambodian base “resembles the playbook” it used in reclaiming and militarizing the Spratly Islands in the disputed South China Sea beginning in 2015, said Eric Sayers, a former adviser to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command who is now a nonresident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “It started quietly,” he said, “with Beijing claiming its building of artificial islands on coral reefs and atolls was for peaceful purposes and promising the features would not be militarized. Then when it was far too late, we saw permanent and irreversible militarization.”
He said he expected to see the trend also play out in the Solomon Islands, a South Pacific nation that recently signed a security agreement with China. In April, after a draft copy of the agreement was leaked on social media, Beijing confirmed the pact, which neither government has released. According to the leaked copy, China will be permitted to send armed police and military personnel to the Solomon Islands to help maintain order. The government there has denied it would lead to China establishing a military base.
But Western officials are skeptical. “There’s evidence that China is developing plans and has sent technical teams to the Solomons to explore possibilities for basing facilities that would contradict some of the assurances that the government has made to allied governments,” a third Western official said.
The Solomons agreement is part of a broader Chinese effort — not always successful — to build influence in the region. Last week, China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, completed a 10-day tour of the South Pacific but failed to achieve a desired 11-nation pact on security and development. Instead of repeating the Solomons diplomatic coup, China’s proposal was shelved at a meeting in Fiji, after some countries questioned whether the deal would spark greater confrontation between China and rivals in the region.
But it would be a mistake to take the rebuff of Wang as a sign that Beijing’s influence is waning, the third official said. “There is a relentless quality to what the Chinese are involved in and they’re just going to keep coming. So anyone who thinks this is a signal that they’ve been blunted or blocked, that’s not accurate.”
Alice Crites in Washington and Eva Dou in Shenzhen, China, contributed to this report.
The Washington Post · by Ellen Nakashima · June 6, 2022


Amb. Jackie Wolcott, former U.S. representative to the IAEA, to serve as Program chair · June 6, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2022 – The nonpartisan Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) today announced the launch of a new Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program to counter the possession and development of nuclear, chemical, radiological, and biological weapons—and the means to deliver them—by America’s adversaries.
The program is led by FDD Senior Fellow Anthony Ruggiero, former deputy assistant to the president for national security affairs and National Security Council (NSC) senior director for Counterproliferation and Biodefense (2019-2021), who will serve as senior director; and FDD Research Fellow and nonproliferation expert Andrea Stricker, who will serve as deputy director.
Amb. Jackie Wolcott, former U.S. representative to the United Nations in Vienna and the U.S. representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (2018-2021), serves as program chair. Amb. Wolcott and Ruggiero most recently authored “The U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Must Censure Iran” (The Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2022).
“Restoring the international standard of zero chemical weapons use and countering the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are nonpartisan goals,” said FDD Founder and President Clifford D. May. “Amb. Wolcott, Anthony, Andrea, and their team of experts will use their expertise to work tirelessly toward this crucial objective, while countering the flawed narratives and policies that have placed the world in the precarious situation in which it finds itself today.”
Harnessing FDD’s approach of producing actionable research and policy options, the program will focus on four pillars:
  1. Biodefense and pandemic preparedness;
  2. Nuclear nonproliferation;
  3. Zero chemical weapons; and
  4. Deterring and devaluing WMD-delivery vehicles and conventional long-range strike capabilities.
“The United States and its allies seek to prevent the rise of additional nuclear weapon states in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,” said FDD chief executive Mark Dubowitz. “The experts in this program will conduct rigorous research in support of that effort. And while nonproliferation efforts have focused on deterring and preparing for biological weapons use, the COVID-19 pandemic reinforces the need for a flexible U.S. biodefense policy that can simultaneously detect and prepare for the next pandemic.”
FDD’s Nonproliferation and Biodefense Program will work closely with each of FDD’s programs and centers, including FDD’s Center on Military and Political PowerFDD’s Center on Economic and Financial PowerFDD’s International Organizations Program, and FDD’s Iran Program.
To contact FDD media relations, please email [email protected].
About the Foundation for Defense of Democracies:
FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan policy institute focusing on national security and foreign policy. Connect with FDD on TwitterFacebook, and YouTube. · June 6, 2022

10. Analysis of IAEA Iran Verification and Monitoring Report - May 2022

Analysis of IAEA Iran Verification and Monitoring Report - May 2022
by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Andrea Stricker [1]
June 6, 2022
This report summarizes and assesses information in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) quarterly safeguards report for May 30, 2022, Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), including Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The IAEA’s latest report details Iran’s rapidly advancing nuclear activities and inspectors’ diminished ability to detect Iranian diversion of assets to undeclared facilities.
Highlights and Breakout Estimate
  • Due to the growth of Iran’s 60 percent enriched uranium stocks, Iran has crossed a dangerous new threshold: its breakout timeline is now at zero. It has enough 60 percent enriched uranium, or highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the form of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) to be assured it could fashion directly a nuclear explosive. If Iran wanted to further enrich its 60 percent HEU up to 90 percent HEU, typically called weapon-grade uranium (WGU), used in Iran’s known nuclear weapons designs, it could do so within weeks utilizing only a few advanced centrifuge cascades. In parallel, within a month, including a setup period, Iran could produce enough WGU for a second nuclear explosive from its existing stock of near 20 percent enriched uranium. Whether or not Iran enriches its HEU up to 90 percent, it can have enough HEU for two nuclear weapons within one month after starting breakout.
  • Within 1.5 months after starting breakout, Iran could accumulate enough WGU for a third nuclear weapon, using its remaining near 20 percent enriched uranium and some of its 4.5 percent enriched uranium. In 2.75 months after starting breakout, it could have a fourth quantity by further enriching 4.5 percent enriched uranium up to 90 percent. At six months, it could have produced a fifth quantity by further enriching both 4.5 percent enriched uranium and natural uranium.
  • In essence, Iran has effectively broken out slowly by accumulating 60 percent enriched uranium. As of May 15, Iran had a stock of 43.1 kilograms (kg) (in uranium mass or U mass) of near 60 percent enriched uranium in UF6 form, or 63.8 kg (in hexafluoride mass or hex mass). Iran also has 2 kg of 60 percent HEU in chemical forms other than UF6.
  • Iran has moved 90 percent of its stock of 60 percent HEU to the Esfahan site, where it maintains a capability to make enriched uranium metal. Although Iran has stated that it is using the HEU to make targets for irradiation in the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), it has converted only a small fraction of its HEU into targets – about 2.1 kg – and is unlikely to convert much more.
  • Iran’s current production rate of 60 percent enriched uranium is 4.3 kg per month (U mass) using two advanced centrifuge cascades and up to 5 percent low enriched uranium (LEU) as feed.
  • Iran is learning important lessons in breaking out to nuclear weapons, including by experimenting with skipping typical enrichment steps as it enriches up to 60 percent uranium-235 and building and testing equipment to feed 20 percent enriched uranium and withdraw HEU. It is starting from a level below 5 percent LEU and enriching directly to near 60 percent in one cascade, rather than using two steps in between, a slower process entailing the intermediate production of 20 percent enriched uranium. It has used temporary feed and withdrawal setups to produce HEU from near 20 percent enriched uranium feed. Iran is also implementing a plan to allow IR-6 cascades to switch more easily from the production of 5 percent enriched uranium to 20 percent enriched uranium. As such, Iran is experimenting with multi-step enrichment while seeking to shortcut the process.
  • Iran is currently not enriching uranium to 20 percent in one cascade of IR-6 centrifuges at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP), a cascade that was active during prior reporting periods. Iran has installed a second cascade of 166 IR-6 centrifuges at the FFEP, but still has not yet fed it with UF6. It also has six IR-1 cascades (three sets of two interconnected cascades) that were already producing 20 percent enriched uranium. The installation of advanced centrifuges at the FFEP enhances Iran’s ability to break out using a declared but highly fortified facility.
  • The production rate of 20 percent enriched uranium at the FFEP remained fairly steady at 19.9 kg (U mass) per month or 29.4 kg (hex mass) per month.
  • As of May 15, Iran had an IAEA-estimated stock of 238.4 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium (U mass and in the form of UF6), an increase over the previous reporting period’s 182.1 kg. Iran also has an additional stock of 35.9 kg (U mass) of 20 percent uranium in other chemical forms.
  • As with the previous reporting period, Iran has not produced any uranium metal.
  • At the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP), Iran has installed 36 cascades of IR-1 centrifuges, six cascades of IR-2m centrifuges, and two cascades of IR-4 centrifuges. Of those, 31 IR-1 cascades, six IR-2m cascades, and one IR-4 cascade were being fed with uranium. A third IR-4 cascade was being installed.
  • Iran’s current, total operating enrichment capability is estimated to be about 12,600 separative work units (SWU) per year, compared to 13,400 SWU per year at the end of the last reporting period.
  • Average daily production of 5 percent LEU remained steady at the FEP, but Iran’s total usable stock of below 5 percent LEU continued to decrease, due to the increased rate of its use as feedstock at the PFEP and FFEP.
  • Iran’s overall reported stockpile of LEU increased due to a significant increase in Iran’s stock of up to 2 percent enriched uranium, much of which was produced as tails in the production of 20 percent and 60 percent enriched uranium.
  • In its latest report, the IAEA states that “prior to the end of March 2022, the Agency replaced all of the storage media in JCPOA-related cameras,” including those at Iran’s new or temporary centrifuge manufacturing and assembly facilities. The IAEA will not have access to video recordings and data, which Iran claims it will keep in its custody, until it receives relief from sanctions. The IAEA, for more than one year, has not been able to monitor Iran’s production of advanced centrifuges, particularly rotors and bellows, per JCPOA monitoring provisions, and faces a difficult challenge in reconstructing events should Iran turn over these data.
  • The IAEA also faces a gap in knowledge about Iran’s advanced centrifuge manufacturing activities from June 2021 until January 2022, raising doubt about its ability to ascertain whether Iran may have diverted centrifuge components.
  • Combined with Iran’s refusal to resolve outstanding safeguards violations, the IAEA has a significantly reduced ability to monitor Iran’s complex and growing nuclear program, which notably has unresolved nuclear weapons dimensions. The IAEA’s ability to detect diversion of nuclear materials, equipment, and other capabilities to undeclared facilities remains greatly diminished.
Read the full report here.

11. An ex-member of one of the world's most dangerous mercenary groups has gone public

Interesting story. A lot of new information to me.


The only way to fight the Wagner Group is to expose what they are doing, says Limonier. But it can be dangerous. Three Russian journalists working with an investigative media outlet run by exiled, anti-Kremlin Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky were killed in an ambush in 2018 while trying to cover Wagner's operations in the Central African Republic.
"Wagner is organized by people who grew up in a post-Soviet society, where violence and death just don't have the same meaning as they have in our Western societies," says Limonier.
Gabidullin says when you're part of Wagner, you more or less fend for yourself, because your job doesn't exist in the real world.
"A person who is part of this group exists in a legal vacuum," he says. "So whatever happens to him, happens." The company isn't registered in Russia or anywhere else.
But that also means, Gabidullin says, that soldiers are relieved of any consequences for their behavior — a person who "doesn't exist" can do anything.
Gabidullin says he left Wagner because he became morally exhausted in Syria, fighting for a corrupt government that was hated by its own citizens. He says he was asked to fight in Ukraine but refused.

An ex-member of one of the world's most dangerous mercenary groups has gone public
NPR · by Eleanor Beardsley · June 6, 2022

Marat Gabidullin, a former Russian mercenary of the Wagner Group, poses during a photo session on May 11 in Paris. Stephane de Sakutin/AFP via Getty Images
PARIS — Marat Gabidullin's face is lined from years of exposure to the elements, and his hair is thinning. But at 56, he has the trim physique and muscular arms of a man 30 years younger. He wears a chunky ring bearing the image of a skull.
The skull is the symbol of the Wagner Group — a private Russian mercenary force believed to be financed by an oligarch with close ties to President Vladimir Putin. The group is fighting alongside the Russian army in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. And it's widely believed that at least some of the "little green men" — well-trained fighters who wore fatigues without insignia or markings — who took over part of eastern Ukraine in 2014 were Wagner Group soldiers.
This week, Ukraine accused at least two Wagner Group members of war crimes.
But Wagner Group activities aren't limited to Ukraine. The organization has also been active across Africa in recent years — Libya, Sudan, Mozambique, Mali and the Central African Republic. Today there are thought to be some 10,000 Wagner Group members.

Gabidullin, who lives in France, where he has asked for asylum, is the first former Wagner soldier to speak publicly. A French publisher, Michel Lafon, has released his book about his experiences, Moi Marat, ex-Commandant de l'armee Wagner (I Marat, ex-Commander in the Wagner Army). The book was published last year in Russian but has yet to appear in English.
Born in the Soviet region of Bashkirskaya, in today's central Russia, Gabidullin served 10 years as an officer in the Soviet army before being laid off. In 2015, he found himself unemployed and at a low point in his life.
"I was depressed and a friend told me about this private military company that I could qualify for because of my military background," he says.
The Wagner Group first came to public attention in 2014
The Wagner Group is often called "Putin's shadow army," though the Kremlin has always denied responsibility for, or even knowledge of, its activities. The group is believed to have been founded in 2014 by a Russian veteran of the Chechen war who so admired Hitler he named the group after Richard Wagner, the führer's favorite composer.
The organization first came to the world's attention in 2014, fighting alongside Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

The U.S. government has called Wagner a "proxy force" of Russia's defense ministry. Gabidullin says in many ways, the group is similar to the Russian army — with many former officers in the corps. But it's also very different.
"It's very flexible and can change structure quickly, depending on the circumstances," he says. "It's a small military that's equipped with everything. And what we do depends on our client."
Those clients are known to range from the junta governing Mali to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Gabidullin served three years in Syria.
"In Syria, one goal was to quickly achieve victory," he says. "But the second goal that was just as important, was to hide the number of losses that the Russian military had in that campaign. Because we wanted to create an image of a strong Russian military that achieved victory at a small cost."
But it was all deception, he says. The cost was huge, but no one will ever know the real numbers. In fact, experts say, often it's Wagner Group soldiers on the front lines — so their losses are higher than the regular army's, and private armies go uncounted.
The group is known for spreading disinformation as well as mercenaries
Kevin Limonier, a Wagner Group specialist who teaches geopolitics at the University of Paris 8, says Wagner is not a group, it's a brand, and very much unlike the Russian army. "It does not exist as an official structure," he says.
That, Limonier says, makes Wagner different from private military companies like the notorious — and very public — U.S. company Blackwater, which made billions during U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before changing hands and renaming itself. Limonier calls the Wagner Group "a galaxy of organizations with different names that are hard to trace."
Western governments and analysts who study the group believe the Wagner Group is financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the same oligarch still wanted by the FBI for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Limonier says Pregozhin has an empire based on three types of activities.
"The first type of activity is, of course, mercenary and the security business," he says. "The second type is the disinformation business and information warfare, and the third is the exploitation of natural resources in Africa."
This expert says Wagner's earnings have grown tremendously in recent years because of its operations in Africa.
A recent documentary that aired on the France 2 public television network shows how these three activities intersect to — as the documentary puts it — prop up corrupt regimes, terrorize local populations and spin lies.
Wagner has gotten attention in France in recent years because of its presence in former French colonies, notably the Central African Republic and Mali. France had a 5,000-strong force fighting terrorism in Mali from 2013 until January of this year.
When those forces entered Mali, they were widely welcomed and pushed back a jihadist offensive. But local hostilities mounted over the years, which Limonier says were stoked by the Wagner Group.
"Because Mali is a former French colony, relations with Paris can be complicated," he says. "A French presence can be viewed as the continuity of the colonial authority."
Limonier says the Wagner Group amplified this narrative, accusing the French forces of stirring up violence in the region, and pushing the message in disinformation campaigns.
In April, the French army released imagery from drone cameras that showed Wagner Group soldiers laying out dead bodies in the sand near a French army base in Mali after the French withdrew. The images made the rounds of social media with the statement, "look what the French army left behind."
A May 30 United Nations report documents a rise in violence in Mali – summary executions, forced disappearances and torture — since its military began partnering with the Russian mercenaries in January. The U.N. says the number of civilians killed in Mali rose by 324% compared to last year, and human rights abuses rose by 150%. The Malian army's role in these acts was up by 932% in just the first three months of 2022, according to the report.
Wagner Group mercenaries exist "in a legal vacuum"
The only way to fight the Wagner Group is to expose what they are doing, says Limonier. But it can be dangerous. Three Russian journalists working with an investigative media outlet run by exiled, anti-Kremlin Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky were killed in an ambush in 2018 while trying to cover Wagner's operations in the Central African Republic.
"Wagner is organized by people who grew up in a post-Soviet society, where violence and death just don't have the same meaning as they have in our Western societies," says Limonier.
Gabidullin says when you're part of Wagner, you more or less fend for yourself, because your job doesn't exist in the real world.
"A person who is part of this group exists in a legal vacuum," he says. "So whatever happens to him, happens." The company isn't registered in Russia or anywhere else.
But that also means, Gabidullin says, that soldiers are relieved of any consequences for their behavior — a person who "doesn't exist" can do anything.
Gabidullin says he left Wagner because he became morally exhausted in Syria, fighting for a corrupt government that was hated by its own citizens. He says he was asked to fight in Ukraine but refused.
He says he wrote his book because he wants the Russian people to know the truth about Syria, their country's wars and the lies of their government.
NPR · by Eleanor Beardsley · June 6, 2022
12. China Fears Wind Is Blowing Covid Virus in From North Korea

This is from Bloomberg and not the Onion or the Duffelblog.

China Fears Wind Is Blowing Covid Virus in From North Korea
Bloomberg News
June 7, 2022, 4:20 AM EDT

Officials in a Chinese city on the border with North Korea say they can’t figure out where persistent new Covid-19 infections are coming from -- and suspect the wind blowing in from their secretive neighbor. 
Despite being locked down since the end of April, daily cases have been trending up in Dandong, a city of 2.19 million. Most of the infected people found in the community during the past week hadn’t been outside of their housing compounds for at least four days prior to their diagnosis, according to the city’s Center for Disease Control.

While the virus is flaring elsewhere in China, including in its northern regions, officials say they’re unable to establish a chain of transmission. Their suspicions have instead settled northward, with authorities urging residents living by the Yalu River that runs between the two countries to close their windows on days with southerly winds, according to a government notice. They’re also being asked to go for more frequent testing, said a Dandong resident, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal.
Residents suspect authorities are considering the possibility that the virus is being carried through the air from North Korea, the person said. The isolated nation is experiencing a full-blown crisis with suspected cases topping 4 million since late April, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Representatives from the Dandong and Liaoning CDCs said they had no details about the virus spreading through the air when reached by phone. 
Not everyone is convinced about the risks from North Korea. Many Chinese social media users said that the suggestion that the coronavirus can travel in the air for hundreds of meters is unscientific. Research shows that infections through airborne transmission is unlikely over long distances, particularly in outdoor settings without repeated exposure.  
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The mysterious flareup underscores the challenges China faces in adhering to its Covid Zero goal as the virus becomes ever more transmissible and contact tracing breaks down. China’s border towns have been subject to some of the harshest containment measures of the pandemic as the virus persistently seeps in. Ruili, a city on China’s border with Myanmar, has been in lockdown intermittently for more than 160 days, according to local media reports.
North Korea and China share a porous 1,300 kilometer (807 mile) border, in some areas separated by the Yalu River that is less than one kilometer wide in parts of Dandong. 
The city is a key trading hub for the two countries. Around 70% of North Korea’s foreign trade went through Dandong prior to the pandemic. Rail freight between Dandong and neighboring Sinuiju city in North Korea has been suspended for much of the pandemic. 
— With assistance by Linda Lew, Luz Ding, Colum Murphy, and Dong Lyu

13. Thayer Leadership Announces Dan Rice, President, Was Recently Named as Special Advisor to Ukrainian Armed Forces

Dan Rice recently published this essay: "The Untold Story of the Battle for Kyiv"

Thayer Leadership Announces Dan Rice, President, Was Recently Named as Special Advisor to Ukrainian Armed Forces

Dan Rice, President of Thayer Leadership at West Point, was recently named Special Advisor to General Valeriy Zaluzhnyy, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces after a recent visit to Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo: Business Wire)
June 06, 2022 10:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time
WEST POINT, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Thayer Leadership at West Point announces Dan Rice, President of Thayer, was recently named Special Advisor to General Valeriy Zaluzhnyy, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This was first announced by Ukrinform, the national news agency of Ukraine, on May 19, 2022, in an exclusive interview with Dan Rice.
Upon the personal invitation of General Zaluzhnyy, Rice visited the cities of Lviv and Kyiv, Ukraine in May 2022 to directly learn about the leadership and leader development transformation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces since 2014 to present. Ever since Russia invaded and occupied the Crimea and Donbas regions in 2014, Ukraine has been on a wartime footing – both civilians and military. The US government has provided support through financial aid and sending U.S. Army Green Berets to train over 26,000 Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers. Through insurmountable odds, Ukraine has successfully pushed back the Russian invaders while still maintaining their values and ethics, while inspiring the world.
Dan Rice is a leadership and learning expert. As a combat veteran, graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and corporate leader of a top-ranked leader development company, he is uniquely qualified to provide direct guidance to Ukraine in support of the war fighting effort against a superior enemy – Russia. “The Ukrainian military commanders and front-line soldiers have displayed unique ingenuity in tough situations, having been trusted and empowered by General Zaluzhnny to defend Ukraine by whatever means possible and to fight until the last man or woman for their freedom. It is an incredible story about how honor and leadership at all levels has saved their country,” said Dan Rice. “The Ukrainian Armed Forces has Western values and is fighting the Russians on behalf of Western civilization.”
The visit to Ukraine and interviews with General Zaluzhnyy and his battlefield commanders will be leveraged to publish multiple articles in leading publications that aid in civilian and military understanding of the combat leadership environment in Ukraine before and during the current Russian invasion. Dan Rice is also scheduled to speak about his experience in Ukraine and lessons learned on numerous national television networks in June 2022. He is available for other press opportunities, as well. Rice has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Small Wars Journal, and Chief Executive magazine, plus appeared frequently on various news networks including CNN, FOX News, FOX & Friends, Bloomberg TV, NBC, MSNBC, and The Today Show.
Allison F. Capozza

14. Move over ACLU, FIRE is the New Champion of Free Speech

Keep up the FIRE?

Move over ACLU, FIRE is the New Champion of Free Speech
The expansion of the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education marks the end of an era, when free speech issues were the sole province of American liberalism
13 hr ago · by Matt Taibbi
FIRE CEO and President Greg Lukianoff
After years of planning, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, better known as FIREannounced a major expansion Monday, moving “beyond college campuses to protect free speech — for all Americans.”
FIRE was the brainchild of University of Pennsylvania history professor Alan Charles Kors and Boston civil liberties lawyer Harvey A. Silverglate, who co-authored the 1999 book, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses. To the modern reader the book reads like a collection of eccentric cases of students and teachers caught up in speech code issues, most (but not all) being conservative.
To take just one of countless nut-bar examples, Kors and Silverglate told the story of a professor in San Bernardino reprimanded for violating sexual harassment policies because, among other things, “he assigns provocative essays such as Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal,” as the court case later put it. This was apparently the “cannibalism” portion of the accusation that he delved into such subjects as “obscenity, cannibalism, and consensual sex with children.”
The book triggered such an overwhelming number of responses from other faculty members and students that the pair decided to set up an organization to defend people who found themselves in tricky speech controversies on campuses. They soon found they had plenty of work and, by 2022, enough of a mandate to expand beyond colleges and universities into America at large. According to FIRE CEO Greg Lukianoff, as quoted in a Politico story, the group has already raised over $28 million toward a $75 million “litigation, opinion research and public education campaign aimed at boosting and solidifying support for free-speech values.”
As noted in another story I put out today, FIRE will be doing a lot of stepping into a role semi-vacated by the American Civil Liberties Union. I spoke with Nico Perrino of FIRE, producer and co-director of the excellent documentary about former ACLU chief Ira Glasser (see review here), to ask what the expansion would entail:
Matt: What was the genesis of FIRE and how has it evolved?
Nico: FIRE was founded in 1999 by two Princeton classmates Harvey Silverglate, a left-leaning, civil liberties attorney out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a conservative-leaning professor, Alan Charles Kors, who teaches the Enlightenment, or taught the Enlightenment, at the University of Pennsylvania. They enjoyed their college experience, but were dismayed by the rise of speech codes in the 1980s and ‘90s, so they wrote a book called The Shadow University.
After they published that book, they were flooded with requests from students and faculty members for help to help defend their free speech, due process, and free assembly rights.
The first case was at the University of Pennsylvania. This was even before FIRE was founded, but it’s the case that inspired The Shadow University and therefore inspired FIRE. There was a student, named Eden Jacobowitz, who was studying in his dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania. There was a group of students outside making loud noises, it was dark out, and he screamed out his window, “Shut up, you Water Buffalo!” It became known as the Water Buffalo case. The students outside ended up being black students, and the accusation against Eden was that he was shouting a racial slur. It turns out that he was Israeli, or devoutly Jewish, and “water buffalo” was a translation of a word, which in Hebrew means a loud or unruly person. Kors, our co-founder, came to his defense and became a cause célèbre across the United States and vindicating the rights. That set the stage for what we were going to do at FIRE more generally.

Over the years, we’ve defended all sorts of speakers. As you can imagine, popular speakers don’t need free speech protections, so we often defended speakers at the margins. People like Ward Churchill, for example. [Editor’s Note: Churchill wrote a book, Some People Push Back, that described the 9/11 hijackings as “counterattacks” to “genocide,” the victims being “little Eichmanns.”]

We defended a student at Valdosta State University, for example, who criticized his University president’s effort to build a parking garage on campus. A Buddhist environmentalist student who thought the president shouldn’t be encouraging more parking on campus, or more driving on campus, and should invest rather in public transportation. He created a collage that described a “Ronald Zaccari Memorial Parking Garage.” Well, Zaccari was the name of the president, who thought it was a threat, the idea being that the “Memorial” in the collage meant that he was going to die.

Matt: He thought “Memorial” was referencing his future non-existence?

Nico: Yes.

Matt: Amazing.
Nico: He placed an expulsion note under Hayden Barnes’ dorm room door, and told him he needed to be out of the dorms. If you think someone’s actually a threat, you probably don’t slip a note under their door. We ended up defending Hayden Barnes, this is 2007, and taking his case to court and winning a $900,000 judgment in that case.
Matt: Didn’t you also do that crazy case in Indiana, about the janitor reading the book about Notre Dame and the Klan?
Nico: Yes. We defended the case of Keith John Sampson, a janitor at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, who was reading a book called Notre Dame vs. the Klan during his lunch break. He was working his way through school as a janitor. Someone saw, on the cover of the book, burning crosses and reported him to the University administration who found him guilty of racial harassment. The book, of course, was about how Notre Dame defeated the Klan when they marched on the campus. The Klan, people often forget, also hated Catholics, in addition to hating blacks. Someone literally judged the book by its cover. The University found him guilty of racial harassment for reading it. Funny thing is — well, the maybe not so funny thing is — the book was found in the University’s own library.
Matt: Functionally, what is this change going to mean?

Nico: Functionally, we’re getting a lot bigger. This is a $75 million expansion into off campus programming. We’ve already raised $28.5 million of that through a three year fundraising effort. We will be litigating and finding cases off campus. Some of those first cases should be coming down the pipe here shortly. Right now, as of this morning, people will start seeing ads defending a culture of free expression on television. You watch CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, you’ll see our ads start running with a high degree of regularity. We’re requesting $10 million in ads through the remainder of the year. Also, there will be billboards across the country in major cities. You’ll see free speech messaging out there. The big thing that we haven’t seen is people out there advocating for a culture of free expression in a visible way. We want to create an organization that people can rally around when threats to free speech exists.

That’s what this effort is about and we want to do so in an unapologetic way. Too often, there’s a lot of throat-clearing before for the defense of free speech. A lot of apologies, it almost comes off as apology for free expression. We’re genuflecting before other values before we can say anything about what we believe is a fundamental human right. FIRE doesn’t take a position on the content of speech. You won’t see us condemn speakers, even the most vile, racist, or offensive of them. For us, it’s enough that the speech is protected or should be protected. We’ll defend it. We’ll argue on first principles. That’s what’s necessary to win.

Matt: This question may be a little uncomfortable: isn’t that what the ACLU is for? Don’t we already have an ACLU?

Nico: The ACLU has 19 different issues in values and defense. It’s necessarily going to be a little bit more difficult for them to determine how they prioritize their work and where it directs its limited resources. Ben Wizner, who runs the ACLU’s Free Speech Project, acknowledged as much in Michael Powell’s New York Times article last year. He said, “FIRE does not have the same tensions.” He said that for the ACLU, free speech is one of 12 or 15 different values.

We don’t have a racial justice program. We don’t have a reproductive rights program. We don’t have a trans rights program. We have a free speech program. We’re not having to deal with the tensions that may or may not exist with free speech and other values. FIRE believes fundamentally that free speech is supportive of all those values, so we’ll make those arguments where necessary, but no, there’s no other values that we have to defend, which makes our work a little bit easier and more focused.

Matt: Last question. Thirty or forty years ago, when George H. W. Bush pointed at Mike Dukakis and called him a card-carrying member of the ACLU, it was pretty firmly understood that speech was primarily a left liberal concern. Is that still true? And if not, is there a perception now that this has become a conservative fixation?

Nico: My sense is that freedom of expression should be core to every political belief. Our ability to express our political beliefs, whole stop, is the thing that makes debate and discussion about all these other issues possible.
I was in a debate with a professor at George Washington University recently, and he was arguing essentially that free speech, all the conversations that you’re seeing in the media about free speech: that speech doesn’t rate when you have, as he was putting it, abortion rights being restricted all over the country, crackdowns on immigration, things of that nature. I said to him, “The only reason those other issues can rate is because we have our free speech right to discuss them.” So freedom of speech is the first right. It’s the matrix. It’s the indispensable condition of nearly every other form of freedom.

As far as whether liberals have retreated from the idea? To a certain extent, yes. I think that’s apparent. All you need to do is look at who’s going after Dave Chappelle. Look at the response to Elon Musk’s decision to purchase Twitter. Netflix CEO, Ted Sarandos, I think, told the New York Times recently, that it’s an interesting time that we live in because free speech used to be a very liberal value, but that was when the censorship was coming from conservatives against Black Panthers, against Lenny Bruce, against anti-war protestors, against civil rights marchers, against —

Matt: Twisted Sister and Frank Zappa…

Nico: Ruth Bader Ginsburg said America is nothing if not a pendulum. When it swings one direction, it always has a tendency to swing back. For a lot of America’s history in the 20th century, it was liberals who were being censored, so they care deeply about free speech. Now conservatives see that they’re being censored or at least feel like they can’t speak. So they are more vocal in support of free expression.
Now, whether they’re consistently supportive of the principle is another discussion, as we’ve seen with what’s happened in Republican legislatures across the country. I think the suggestion is they’re supportive of the principle when it’s convenient for them, but that’s why we need a nonpartisan free speech advocate in this country. An organization that is going to, as Norman Siegel, who was featured in my documentary Mighty Ira, once said, “If I’m going to have anything tattooed on my chest, it’s going to be ‘neutral principles.’” That’s really what we’re advocating for here, that freedom of speech is an insurance policy for us. If we don’t defend the rights of speakers with whom we disagree with, how can we expect our rights to be protected?
Matt: Excellent. Congratulations and good luck.
Nico: Thank you. · by Matt Taibbi

​15. Yoon Suk-yeol picks envoys to Japan, China, Russia, UN

June 7, 2022

Yoon Suk-yeol picks envoys to Japan, China, Russia, UN

From left: Hwang Joon-kook, Yun Duk-min, Chung Jae-ho and Chang Ho-jin
President Yoon Suk-yeol named Korea's ambassadors to Japan, China, Russia and the United Nations Tuesday, filling his top envoy posts.  
International politics expert Yun Duk-min, former head of the state-run Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA) and professor at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, was named ambassador to Japan, according to Yoon's presidential office. 

Yun, who specializes in Korea-Japan relations, North Korea issues and East Asia security, was a professor at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security (Ifans) at the KNDA for over 20 years. He served as KNDA's chancellor, a vice minister-level position, from 2013 to 2017 during the Park Geun-hye administration. 
Yun helped Yoon with foreign policy during his presidential campaign. During the presidential transition period, he was a part a delegation that visited Tokyo in late April to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. 
He received a bachelors' degree in political science from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, a masters' degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a doctorate in international politics from Keio University in Japan.
As Seoul's ambassador to Tokyo, Yun is expected to handle the delicate job of improving bilateral relations which have deteriorated over historical issues such as compensation for wartime forced laborers, as Washington pushes for closer trilateral cooperation with its East Asian allies.  
Chung Jae-ho, a professor of international relations at Seoul National University (SNU) and director of SNU's Program on U.S.-China Relations, was named ambassador to China. 
An expert on Chinese political economy, Chung authored numerous books on China. Chung received SNU's Best Researcher Award in 2009, the Korean Association for International Studies' Best Book Award in 2012 and the American Library Association's Choice Award in 2017.
Earlier in his career, he was an assistant professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and a visiting professor at Renmin University of China. He previously served as director of SNU's Institute for International Studies and Institute for China Studies.
A native of Busan, Chung earned his bachelors' degree in Korean language education from SNU, a masters' degree in history from Brown University and a doctorate in political science at the University of Michigan. He is a high school colleague of Yoon. 
During the transition period, Chung was a member of a policy consultation group that visited the United States in April and has been a key foreign policy adviser on China policy and diplomatic strategy for the new administration.
Chang Ho-jin, a former ambassador to Cambodia and a professor of global studies at the Korea Maritime & Ocean University, was named ambassador to Russia. 
After graduating SNU with a degree in diplomacy, Chang passed the foreign service exam in 1982. As a career diplomat, Chang served in various posts including political councilor at the Korean Embassy in Moscow. He is also well-versed in U.S. affairs and the North Korea nuclear issue and served as director-general of North American bureau. Chang was appointed ambassador to Cambodia in 2010.
He served as a presidential foreign affairs secretary in the Lee Myung-bak administration and as a foreign affairs aide to former Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn in the Park Geun-hye administration. 
Chang's appointment comes at a critical period considering Russia's war on Ukraine. He was also a member of Yoon's delegation to Japan last month. 
Hwang Joon-kook, a career diplomat and expert on the North Korea nuclear issue, was named ambassador to the United Nations. 
Hwang, a former ambassador to Britain, is well-versed in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy having served as Seoul's chief nuclear envoy and negotiator for the bilateral defense cost-sharing deal with Washington. 
After passing the foreign service exam in 1982, Hwang served in Korea's embassies in Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United States and the UN headquarters.
He served as Seoul's special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, which doubles as chief negotiator for the now defunct six-party talks to denuclearize Pyongyang. He also served as Seoul's negotiator for 9th Special Measures Agreement (SMA) on defense burden-sharing with Washington, which was signed in 2014. After his retirement in 2018, he was a visiting professor at Hallym University and Yonsei University's Graduate School of International Studies.
In 2009, Hwang led a government inspection team to North Korea to to discuss the purchase of unused nuclear fuel rods and toured the Yongbyon nuclear complex.
Hwang worked as a fundraising manager for Yoon's presidential campaign. He also had a working relationship with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, serving as a deputy chief of mission and political affairs minister at the Korean Embassy in Washington when Han was ambassador. 
Hwang earned his bachelors' degree in economics from Seoul National University and a masters' degree in public affairs from Princeton University. 
One month into office, Yoon has filled the positions for envoys to the four major powers – China, Japan, Russia and the United States – as well as the United Nations. Yoon tapped former Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yong, a lawmaker from the People Power Party (PPP), as his ambassador to Washington on May 17.
Instead of filling the ambassador posts of major countries with politicians who contributed to his presidential campaign or close allies, Yoon generally tapped career diplomats and scholars. 
A presidential official told reporters, "Our government's principle in personnel appointments is to make efforts to find the best person and dispatch competent people to the right posts."
The appointments came as Yoon shapes his early foreign policy, after signaling he plans to strengthen the South Korea-U.S. alliance and improve frayed bilateral relations with Japan. He will also have to navigate Korea's position in unstable global affairs, dealing with rising Sino-U.S. rivalry, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.  


​16. The 2022 War on the Rocks Summer Fiction Reading List

My two recommendations are below.​ (Focused on Special Operations and Korea of course)​

The 2022 War on the Rocks Summer Fiction Reading List - War on the Rocks · by WOTR Staff · June 7, 2022
If you’re like us, you probably spend much of the year reading strategy, history, biography, and commentary. Summer is a good time to reinvigorate your mind with some fiction. To that end, each year we ask the senior editors and board members of War on the Rocks and the Texas National Security Review for reading recommendations. We hope you find something to sink into and savor.
Kerry Anderson
Resistance Women, Jennifer Chiaverini. A novel based on the life of Mildred Fish Harnack, an American woman at the center of an anti-Nazi resistance group in Berlin. The book is based on extensive historical research and true stories of brave men and women.
A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles. So well written and engaging! It’s one of my top five favorite novels.
Emma Ashford
The Bridgerton Series, Julia Quinn. It’s been a pretty rough couple of years, and I can’t be the only one who’s enjoyed a little light escapism with Netflix’s adaptation of the Bridgerton books. The books are, if anything, even less intellectually stimulating than the show, and that makes them the perfect mindless escape from realitxay. Who wouldn’t want to spend some time in a world where true love exists, most problems can be solved by a well-crafted invitation or a new ballgown, and any villains or loose threads are always neatly disposed of by the time the star-crossed couple says “I do”?
Night Watch, Terry Pratchett. The Discworld series is set on a flat world that rides through space on the back of a turtle, and plays host to trolls, dwarves, goblins, and dragons. But you shouldn’t let that fool you: the fantasy is just cover for some seriously good satire and political commentary. Night Watch is arguably the best of the late British author’s satirical works, featuring a hard-bitten cop who must wrestle with revolution, and the question of whether he serves the law, the government, or the people. And like all of Pratchett’s works, you’ll leave it with the unsettling notion that people are people everywhere — often cynical and conniving, sometimes brave and selfless — even when the people in question are trolls and vampires.
Mary Kate Aylward
Kristin Lavransdatter, Sigrid Undset. Turn your back firmly on the concept of the “beach read” with this thousand-page tale of passion, faith, struggle, and political intrigue in medieval Norway. Undset’s knowledge of daily life in the 1300s is so complete that it’s unobtrusive, and you may find yourself surprised at how contemporary the characters and their concerns seem. The sort of book you live inside while you’re reading it. (Make sure you pick up Tina Nunnally’s excellent translation.)
The Garden Party and Other Stories, Katherine Mansfield. Something long, something short. Bloomsbury Group afficionados, Anglophiles of all persuasions, and plenty of others will enjoy these short stories, which are reminiscent of Virginia Woolf’s work, though a little darker on the whole. Woolf, in fact, wrote that Mansfield’s was “the only writing I have ever been jealous of.”
David Barno
Bruno, Chief of Police: A Mystery of the French Countryside, Martin Walker. Recovering from Covid last month gave me the rare opportunity to binge read detective fiction, one of my too rarely indulged in reading treats. Among my varied menu, I most delighted in returning to my old friend, Bruno, Chief of Police. Set in the French Perigord, a region famed for its country culinary delights, these wonderful novels by Martin Walker not only deliver intriguing mysteries set in a lesser known corner of rural France, but weave in a mouth-watering collection of delicious meals and local wines prepared by Bruno and his friends. My favorites this year were numbers 10 and 12 in the series,The Templar’s Last Secret and The Body in the Castle Well. A true joy for mind and palate!
Nora Bensahel
The Matchmaker: A Spy in Berlin, Paul Vidich. Earlier this year I enjoyed two spy novels that pleasantly departed from the time-worn formula of men chasing each other around Europe during the Cold War. The Matchmaker sounds like it would fall in that category, but in an interesting twist, it starts in the spring of 1989. After an American woman’s East German husband disappears, the CIA presses her to help them find a senior Stasi agent before he defects to Moscow. The suspense builds since we, unlike the protagonists, know that their world is about to change dramatically — and the fall of the Wall becomes a key part of the story’s resolution.
Northern Spy, Flynn Berry. Northern Spy is a tale of two sisters and the contemporary IRA. BBC producer and new mother Tessa is reporting on an IRA attack when security footage shows her masked sister running away from the site. The police believe her sister has joined the IRA; Tessa maintains that her sister must have been coerced. As she gets drawn further into the investigation, she wrestles with balancing her responsibilities to her sister and those to her infant son. My (co-ed) book group unanimously agreed that the book is a lovely meditation on motherhood that happens to be told through the lens of terrorism and spying, which for me at least was a welcome change from more traditional geopolitical thrillers.
Claude Berube
A Bell for Adano, John Hersey. I read this 1945 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction about the waning days of WW2 while on deployment. It’s short, no line is wasted. The author’s colorful prose puts you in the middle of each scene. Its various messages still resonate today like the town’s bell – you can make a difference to people in a short time.
Advice and Consent, Allen Drury. I wish I had read this 1960 Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction earlier in my career. In this story of an embattled nominee before the U.S. Senate, readers will find much in the public debate that is familiar. Having worked twice in the Senate, I think fellow current and former staffers will recognize and appreciate the imagery and processes and what really happens behind the scenes. Politics: plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
Tami Biddle
Crossing to Safety, Wallace Stegner. This is an achingly beautiful, memorable novel about academic life, written in breathtaking prose by Pulitzer Prize-winner Wallace Stegner. Tracing the intertwined lives of two couples, it creates indelible scenes and offers wise insights into friendship, marriage, rivalry, and competition. Above all, it reveals the ways that we come to cherish one another as we move through the unpredictable seasons of our lives.
The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien. I read this novel soon after it was published, and I was simply awestruck by the searing, fresh, and fearless writing. It is a series of stories about the Vietnam war, and even though it is not light summer reading, each short story can stand on its own and be read at one’s leisure. I used several stories in my classroom teaching for a course called “Warfare in the 20th Century,” and they always produced amazing seminar discussions. In particular, do not miss “On the Rainy River,” “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,” and “The Things They Carried.”
Brad Carson
Mrs. Bridge, Evan Connell.
Beyond the Bedroom Wall, Larry Woiwode. Both of these books are ones I recently saw declared as among the best of the twentieth century. Mrs. Bridge is the tale of a Kansas City housewife, whose life of paralyzing prosperity is well-told. Beyond the Bedroom Wall is an epic tale of the Great Plains. Woiwode, who recently died, was a prodigy who gave up his New York literary fame to spend his life as a small farmer in North Dakota. You have to admire that!
Annika Culver
Harlem Shuffle, Colson Whitehead. As the latest book from Colson Whitehead, the same Pulitzer Prize-winning author who wrote The Nickel Boys, a sobering glimpse into a fictionalized boy’s reform school, Harlem Shuffle features similarly brilliant characters but instead plunges readers into a brighter world where creative endeavors and new forms of commerce arise amidst parallel worlds in the ecosystems of Harlem and Manhattan punctuated by both light and darkness. The book is a compelling read about a well-educated, highly respectable, and sometimes too-generous furniture store owner who just barely manages to scrape by in his profession while helping members of his community to achieve the comfortable living rooms they deserve. Hence, Ray Carney accepts an occasional side hustle to keep his business afloat, courtesy of his cousin Freddie, who provides a slow stream of resalable commodities that may or may not have “fallen off a truck,” with an occasional piece of jewelry thrown in for good measure. After he is shafted by one of Harlem’s most esteemed lawyers gatekeeping a prestigious social club and Freddie’s associate Miami Jim is killed, Ray takes matters into his own hands and learns the jewelry trade from a master in the diamond district. Amidst a backdrop of social change, Colson’s characters provide an entertaining glimpse into the enterprising strategies and hard-scrabble lives of individuals working hard to attain “respectability,” but ironically, who must rely on disreputable means to maintain it.
With Teeth, Kristen Arnett. With Teeth is a darkly comic account, and scathingly funny read by best-selling Florida author Kristen Arnett. In a voyeuristic glimpse into the life of Samandra Carlisle (née Thomas), who is raising an athletically-gifted, smart, and thoroughly exasperating toddler, young boy, and then teen, we watch her navigate the vicissitudes of marriage and child-rearing amidst the backdrop of a society which does not fully accept her or her son, who is on the spectrum. We follow her as she attempts to make good choices, usually preceded by copious amounts of wine or booze, and handle the stresses of life as a queer woman whose marriage is falling apart — which she addresses by fantasizing about her therapist and dating other women who look just like her ex. Notably, readers receive welcome context every chapter by a snippet of another character’s perspective. Absolutely hilarious, and with a stunning, shocking, and thoroughly over-the-top conclusion worthy of Florida tabloid headlines!
Nick Danforth
The Confidence-Man, Herman Melville. More Melville. Having thoroughly covered whales, the great American author decided to tackle another great American subject … riverboat swindlers.
The Torqued Man, Peter Mann. A needlessly complex, occasionally ridiculous, and thoroughly enjoyable spy novel following an Irish double agent and his ambivalent handler in Nazi Berlin.
Richard Fontaine
The Lonely Polygamist, Brady Udall. Have a look at the novel’s first line: “To put it as simply as possible, this is the story of a polygamist who has an affair.” Read on.
The Flashman Papers, George MacDonald Fraser. This is not one novel but rather a set of twelve, in which cowardly British soldier Harry Flashman finds himself at the center of 19th-century historical events. Flashman survives the retreat from Kabul, duels with Otto von Bismarck, meets Rani Lakshmibai, swaps stories with Abraham Lincoln, and much, much more. The books are light, fascinating, profane, and hilarious.
Jason Fritz
A Dance to the Music of Time, Anthony Powell. Often described as the English Proust, this story follows the inner and outer life of Nick Jenkins in boarding school, as an officer during World War II, and the complex patterns of mid-century London society. Powell’s writing is exquisite, and the story is immersive. Consisting of four “movements” of three volumes each, it is a book to savor slowly because the experience of reading it is so enjoyable.
Doyle Hodges
The Letter Writer, Dan Fesperman. Set in New York City during World War II, Fesperman weaves together a narrative of espionage, Nazi sympathizers, prejudice, corruption, suspicion, and decency. The hard-boiled protagonist, Woodrow Cain, is a detective from North Carolina hired by the NYPD to fill wartime vacancies. Injured in an incident in North Carolina (the details of which are revealed as the story unfolds) Cain is unable to serve in the military and is determined to prove his worth through his police work instead. While investigating a body found floating in the Hudson River (this is a detective novel set in New York, after all–it is legally required to have a body floating in the Hudson River), Cain meets a man named Danziger. Danziger is an immigrant from Europe who writes letters back to relatives in the old country for clients who are illiterate or simply lack a way with words. Danziger serves as a sort of guide for Cain as he pursues an investigation that takes him through communities of Jewish immigrants, politicians, Nazi agents, and gangsters. The characters are engaging, the plot has plenty of twists and turns, and the flaws of the characters and of the city they populate seem to echo in today’s headlines. A diverting noir summer read.
Conclave, Robert Harris. I’m a big fan of Harris’ historical and alternative-historical fiction (e.g. An Officer and a Spy, Fatherland). This novel is a bit different but written with the same characteristic eye for detail and process that makes his historical work so enjoyable. When a reforming Pope passes away under murky circumstances, the papal conclave to choose his successor becomes a struggle between factions vying to control the direction of the Catholic church. The protagonist, Cardinal Lomeli is tasked with organizing and running the conclave, while at the same time investigating the Pope’s death. Part murder mystery, part political thriller, part psychological thriller, the novel highlights the incredible tensions when the human caretakers of the church struggle with their fallibility, ambition, responsibility, and faith.
Dave Johnson
Grizzly Killer, Lane R. Warenski. This is the first novel in a 15-book series. I read them all during the Covid pandemic while I was home on medical leave. The books follow a young mountain man who went into the Rockies in the 1830s with his father to trap beaver and live the life of a mountain man. When his father is killed by a grizzly, which the son Zach Connors dispatches. Zach, henceforth called Grizzly Killer by Native Americans, stays on in the mountains. The books are a chronological account of his life as he learns the ways of the mountains and the Native American tribes who range the region. I find the depictions of everyday life and its contingent nature fascinating. There is more than one grizzly in those mountains! Fun and surprisingly educational reading.
David Maxwell
A Question of Time, James Stejskal. A story of special operations and intelligence in the Cold War and the cat and mouse game played against a communist nemesis. Although fiction, the author is a former special operator and intelligence officer who has experienced and written extensively about operations in Berlin, so the fiction is quite historical.
Red Phoenix Burning, Larry Bond and Chris Carlson. This is a follow-up to the Korean War novel Red Phoenix in 1989 (read it first, as there are connections much like Top Gun and Top Gun:Maverick). It portrays a third conflict on the Korean peninsula and is a fast-paced story told from multiple perspectives (tactical to strategic, allied, North Korean, and Chinese). It offers some insight into what could be challenges and problems should conflict reignite in Northeast Asia.
Bryan McGrath
Persuasion, Jane Austen. Most nights this summer, Catherine and I will close the day with a few minutes of Jane Austen to ease our minds. We’re making our way slowly through “Persuasion,” which I find to be every bit as good as anything else she’s written. This tale of second chances also features several prominent naval officers, something that adds great value to any work of literature.
Douglas Ollivant
The Fire Dream: The Epic Novel of Vietnam, Franklin Allen Leib. Written in 1989, and arguably the best work of fiction set in Vietnam before Matterhorn would redefine the genre two decades later. Leib was much temporally closer to the culture wars of the 60s and early 70s, and the book is as much about American society — race, class, education — as the war.
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle. LaValle revives the Eldritch universe of H.P. Lovecraft. Set in the New York of the 1920s, the short novel follows the journey of the title character as he ascends from street hustler to sorcerer. Written in a crisp style that merges Lovecraft with Spillane or Hammett. Hat tip to Spencer Ackerman for insisting I read it.
Megan Oprea
Cash, Johnny Cash. While technically not a work of fiction, Johnny Cash’s autobiography deserves a spot on your summer reading list nevertheless. It’s an amazing story told like only Johnny Cash can tell it, and it reads like a novel. You’ll be totally engrossed in the voice and story of one of America’s great singer-songwriters.
The Secret History, Donna Tartt. Easier reading than some of my past recommendations (like George Eliot’s Middlemarch), Donna Tartt’s first novel is just pure easy fun. It’s a tale of murder most foul set in a small New England college. A young Californian decides to head east and ends up falling in with the bad crowd — an insular group of classics students. Sound sinister?
Michael Pietrucha
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein. Heinlein’s book is a classic of revolutionary warfare, envisioning advanced cyber warfare 40 years before the Internet.
Borders of Infinity, Lois McMaster Bujold. Bujold’s novelette is a story of a rescue mission inside an impregnable P.O.W. camp.
Kori Schake
Black Cloud Rising, David Wright Faladé. Black Cloud Rising is the story of formerly enslaved Black Union soldiers hunting down confederate guerrillas at the end of the Civil War. It’s based on the life of Sergeant Richard Etheridge, the child of an enslaved mother and her owner. Being on the base renaming commission underscored for me the importance of telling the stories of slavery and the long shadows it casts into our lives — but this is also a war story, a beautiful novel about freedom and its costs. And it’s gorgeously written: “Her silences spoke louder than her words, and the one that followed merely reprised what I already knew without providing any connecting bits to help me make a song of the scattered verses.”
Slow Horses, Mick Herron. The AppleTV series is so, so good — but it’s infuriating that streaming services have become 1970s TV, apportioning out episodes weekly. Oppose that tyranny by reading the book, which is also outstanding. And then read the nine other books in the series, which cohere wonderfully. Here’s a great exchange between Lamb and Taverner from the most recent (just released this month):
“De Greer, it turns out, is like you. She might be a backstabbing spider-minded vampire, but she’s not stupid enough to piss on her own sausages.”
“Is there a compliment in there?”
“Christ, I hope not.”
Herron doesn’t hesitate to kill his major characters, the plots are imaginative and taut, secrets that shape characters are parceled out slowly and to great effect, and watching the tradecraft is such fun. There’s no substituting for Kristen Scott Thomas in the tv series, though, so relent and watch that, too.
Iskander Rehman
Lost Illusions, Honoré de Balzac. Bored and bleary-eyed on a recent flight, I found myself whiling away the hours by watching — and thoroughly enjoying — the sumptuous and mordantly funny 2021 movie adaptation of Balzac’s great classic. While observing the sparkling banter and increasingly awkward social contortions of the egoists on screen, I was reminded of how genuinely incisive and timeless this nineteenth-century masterpiece is, both in its startlingly modern portrayal of shallow punditry, disinformation, and political cronyism–and in its biting portrayals of a certain breed of social striver with whom each and every D.C.-dweller will (unfortunately) be intimately familiar. Like many, no doubt, I last read this tale of a talented literary journalist devoured by his own hubris in high school, and only somewhat grudgingly, being too young to fully appreciate Balzac’s puckish genius. Picking it up now is a far more intellectually and morally rewarding endeavor–it’s impossible not to be in awe of the rotund novelist’s wry wit, masterful prose, and penetrating psychological acumen. It’s no surprise that a figure such as Stefan Zweig, who admired the earthy humanism of Montaigne, found himself equally susceptible to the charms of Balzac’s exuberant intellect, opting to write (excellent) biographical studies of both literary titans.
The Khan Dynasty Series, Conn Iggulden. For those WOTR readers who, like this author, also happen to be inveterate fans of historical fiction, I highly recommend this quintet on the two great Mongolian Khans, the sanguinary Genghis Khan, and his equally ferocious grandson and successor Kublai Khan. This series has all the requisite ingredients for good historical fiction: strong character development, propulsive plots, epic battle scenes, and (reasonably) sound background research. The first book in the series (Genghis: Birth of an Empire) is particularly enjoyable, and deeply atmospheric and immersive–fully driving home the harsh, unforgiving nature of tribal warfare on the steppe. You’ll most certainly come away with a much greater sense of gratitude for various features of modern life ranging from antibiotics to central heating. For those with an interest in knowing more about the Eurasia-spanning Mongol Empire, I suggest pairing this rip-roaring quintet of beach-reads with a more serious, but no less enjoyable, book: Marie Favereau’s award-winning historical study, The Horde: How the Mongols Changed the World.
Sarah Snyder
Valentine, Elizabeth Whitmore. This powerful and timely novel captures the impact on seven women of a violent assault in west Texas. · by WOTR Staff · June 7, 2022

​17. ‘The occupier should never feel safe’: rise in partisan attacks in Ukraine

The underground. For those who would like to understand what the underground is all about please peruse these references from the ARIS project at USASOC.

Human Factors Considerations of Undergrounds in Insurgencies

Undergrounds in Insurgent, Revolutionary and Resistance Warfare

‘The occupier should never feel safe’: rise in partisan attacks in Ukraine
Underground efforts appearing to spread, say analysts, after reports of explosions and attacks on Russian border guards
The Guardian · by Peter Beaumont · June 6, 2022
Ukrainian partisans in occupied areas of the country are increasing attacks and sabotage efforts on Russian forces and their local collaborators, with organised underground efforts appearing to spread.
Six Russian border guarders were reportedly killed last week when their position came under fire near the Zernovo border checkpoint in Ukraine’s north. Two days later an explosion struck close to the office of Yevgeny Balitsky, a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian official in Melitopol.
The increase in partisan warfare, particularly in the country’s south around Kherson, follows warnings at the outset of Russia’s war against Ukraine that any area under occupation was likely to see the emergence of guerrilla warfare.
The subject is one of the murkiest of the war in Ukraine. Both sides have an interest in exaggerating its prevalence: the Russians to justify crackdowns in areas they occupy and the Ukrainians to demoralise Russian troops.
Also complicating the issue is assessing the extent to which attacks are being carried out by Ukrainian military sabotage groups or homegrown resistance groups.
Partisans are usually defined as members of an armed group formed to fight secretly against an occupying force, for instance in Nazi-occupied Europe. The term holds more positive connotations than insurgent.
The Melitopol incident, involving a car packed full of explosives, was significant enough to focus renewed attention on a phenomenon that has been occurring since almost the beginning of the war.
Some analysts believe they are seeing evidence that partisan activity in Ukraine is escalating. Among them is Alexander Motyl, a historian and Ukraine expert at Rutgers University.
Writing for the defence-focused website 1945 last week, Motyl noted: “I gathered the data from Ukrainian websites that explicitly identified the perpetrators of these actions as partisans.
“It is, of course, possible that Ukrainian special forces may have been involved in some of these actions; it is also likely that the data are incomplete, inasmuch as some actions probably went unreported.
“Even so, the number of guerrilla actions is impressive and bespeaks a trend toward ever-greater partisan activity.”
Commenting on the Melitopol explosion, pro-Kremlin authorities in the city explicitly blamed Ukrainian partisans. Russia’s Investigative Committee blamed it on “Ukrainian saboteurs”.
The attack in Melitopol came just days after a reported assassination attempt on Andriy Shevchyk, a pro-Kremlin and self-proclaimed mayor of Enerhodar, in the Zaporizhzhia region, who was badly injured in an explosion.
In other incidents, railway lines in Russian-occupied areas have been damaged while leaflets have circulated threatening Russian troops and collaborators.
The Institute for the Study of War, a US thinktank, suggested that Russian authorities in Luhansk oblast – which has been the scene of the heaviest recent fighting – were gearing up for an increase in partisan attacks in the area.
“Russian authorities are likely anticipating Ukrainian partisan pressure in Luhansk,” it suggested in its 1 June update on the fighting.
“The Main Ukrainian Intelligence Directorate (GUR) announced on 1 June the launch of the “Luhansk partisan” project to galvanize resistance to Russian attempts to consolidate control of Luhansk oblast.
“A Russian Telegram channel reported that the Russian Internal Ministry is sending a special detachment of its employees on “leave” to the [self-styled separatist] Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR), which is a likely attempt to reinforce Russian administrative presence in the LNR in the face of growing internal and partisan discontent.”
Some of the claimed incidents in recent months involving partisans are probably fanciful disinformation, in the same vein as the nonexistent fighter pilot ace “the Ghost of Kyiv” – who it turned out was a carefully constructed fiction.
While claims Russian soldiers fed poisoned pies are impossible to verify, there have been credible reports of collaborators and Russian soldiers killed or disappeared. Some claims suggest the number of soldiers killed by partisans so far could be in the low hundreds.
What is clear is that the plan for partisan warfare was long and well prepared.
Ukrainian partisan forces started being trained after Russia’s intervention in 2014 but they became part of Ukraine’s state structures last summer, according to Serhii Kuzan, head of the Ukrainian Center for Security and Cooperation, a Ukrainian thinktank that specialises in military analysis.
Partisan forces, along with Ukraine’s territorial army, were part of new self-defence measures introduced across the country, said Kuzan.
While thousands had joined the territorial army, hundreds had also volunteered to be trained as Ukrainian partisans, said Kuzan. Both forces are made up of people from a given region.
The Ukrainian partisan forces were trained to be an underground resistance movement in the event their region became occupied, said Kuzan. Their task is to build networks of informants, launch information campaigns against the occupiers, pass information back to the Ukrainian authorities, and to kill high-level political collaborators and the occupying commanders, said Kuzan.
Ukrainian partisans were led and trained by Ukrainian special forces, who were responsible for carrying out the higher-level acts of subversion, said Kuzan.
“The idea is for the occupier to always feel the presence of the partisans and for them never to feel safe,” said Kuzan. “Recently, the partisan forces in Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions carried out a coordinated sticker and flyer campaign against the so-called Russian world.”
As Ukrainian partisan fighters are legally part of Ukraine’s defence forces, the Ukrainian state is obliged to look after them. The families of most of the partisans were evacuated from areas that could be occupied before or just after the invasion, said Kuzan.
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Ukrainian partisans operated only in occupied Ukraine and did not stray across borders because that would be seen as a pretence for escalation by Russia, said Kuzan.
But it’s clear that some subversive activity is being carried out on the other side of the border. As well as the claimed attack on the border guards, Russian oil storage facilities, railway lines, and Russian ministry of defence buildings, near the Ukrainian border, appear to have been targeted since the war started in February.
“We all understand that oil depots and military bases in Russia have been blowing up over the last few months,” said Kuzan. “But the Ukrainian official response is ‘someone was smoking in the wrong place and they must have done it themselves’. They joke about it and make it clear that it’s no one’s business.”
The Guardian · by Peter Beaumont · June 6, 2022

18. Assassinations Become Weapon of Choice for Guerrilla Groups in Myanmar

Assassinations Become Weapon of Choice for Guerrilla Groups in Myanmar
The New York Times · by Richard C. Paddock · June 6, 2022
A movement to restore democracy has evolved into deadly warfare between a ruthless military and a resistance force with limited weaponry.
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Members of the People’s Defense Force, the armed wing of the civilian National Unity Government opposed to Myanmar’s ruling military regime, taking part in training at a camp near the Myanmar-Thai border last year.

June 6, 2022
The gunman entered the small government office in central Myanmar, walked up to the man in charge and shot him four times in the head. “You are the ward administrator!” the gunman shouted, according to a brief video clip that captured part of the shooting.
U San Mu, the military-appointed ward administrator of Kyakan village, fell dead at his desk as the assassin and an accomplice fled by motorbike. Hours later, a resistance group known as Nga Pyae Ma claimed responsibility for the killing, posting the video clip on Facebook and Telegram.
A spokesman for Nga Pyae Ma said in an interview that the group targeted Mr. San Mu because he had collaborated with the military regime that seized power in Myanmar last year.
“Local people were unjustly arrested and tortured by the military because of him,” said the spokesman, who uses the nom de guerre Bo Nga Khu. He added that he took the video and drove the getaway motorbike. “He was warned several times before being killed, but his actions did not stop.”
Across Myanmar, assassinations have become a regular tool of the resistance. More than 400 local armed groups like the Nga Pyae Ma have formed since the coup; many carry out targeted killings for which they later claim responsibility. The assassinations come as the movement to restore democracy has evolved into deadly warfare between a ruthless, well-supplied military known as the Tatmadaw and a resistance movement that has broad public support but limited weaponry.
The shadow National Unity Government, which was formed by ousted elected officials and some ethnic leaders, says it is waging a revolutionary war against the regime. The conflict has taken a huge toll on the civilian population. Nearly a million people have been displaced, the economy has contracted sharply and the health care system is in crisis, even as the military blocks delivery of humanitarian aid.
U Naing Htoo Aung, the unity government’s defense ministry secretary, said that ward administrators are legitimate targets because they engage in “the surveillance and coercion of the public” and are essential to the regime’s “dictatorial control of the country.”
The unity government’s People’s Defense Force has more than 60,000 fighters organized into battalions, he said, and a similar number make up local resistance groups such as the Nga Pyae Ma. The organized battalions are mainly engaged in fighting the Tatmadaw in the jungles, while the resistance groups operate in towns and cities, where they carry out guerrilla attacks.
The aftermath of fire in Mwe Tone village, in the Sagaing region of Myanmar, in February. Residents and Myanmar news outlets said it was burned down by soldiers thought to be looking for members of an armed militia opposed to the military government.Credit...Associated Press
Although Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has overshadowed the fighting in Myanmar, clashes between the Tatmadaw and resistance forces take place daily. The National Unity Government says it now controls half the country’s territory, although most of that is in the hands of armed ethnic groups that have long battled the military in remote borderlands.
The unity government claims that at least 14,890 regime soldiers have died in the fighting, while it has lost just 1,000 fighters. The regime refuses to discuss casualty figures. But earlier this year, the junta acknowledged that military-appointed ward administrators were being killed at a rate of more than one a day. Nearly as many have been wounded. Many were shot in their homes or offices; one resistance group claimed responsibility for gunning down a ward administrator while he was flying a kite.
“We are witnessing the people’s revolution in which everyone takes part, collectively making history,” Duwa Lashi La, the unity government’s acting president, said last month.
Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington, said the People’s Defense Force has done surprisingly well on the battlefield and has upgraded its arsenal by capturing weapons.
As the war in Ukraine continues to drain Moscow’s resources, he said, the Tatmadaw will find it harder to get weapons, ammunition and replacement parts from Russia, a major supplier. Unable to contain the rebel forces, the Tatmadaw has mounted continuing attacks on the civilian population, Mr. Abuza said, including torching villages and waging a relentless bombing campaign.
“The reliance on arson, indiscriminate artillery fire and air attacks is indicative of a loss of control on the ground,” he said. “The Tatmadaw is experiencing an unprecedented degree of casualties and defections. They are now having to fight and defend supply lines in places that were previously secure.”
He added, “I think we are looking at a long stalemate.”
Local resistance units are not the only ones carrying out assassinations. In recent weeks, armed groups tied to the regime have stepped up their own campaign of targeted killings. According to the National League for Democracy, which shared power with the military before the coup, at least 18 of its members and supporters have been killed by regime-sponsored groups since late April.
Another village that residents say was destroyed by fire started by the Myanmar military, also in February. Credit...Reuters
Family members said the victims were taken from their homes and driven away in military and police vehicles. Their bodies were found the next day, dumped by roadsides.
The military began replacing thousands of locally elected ward administrators with regime supporters soon after the coup on Feb. 1, 2021. Many of its appointees were quickly accused of being informers, known as dalan, who handed suspected rebels over to the security forces to be imprisoned and tortured.
One such ward administrator was U Tun Naing Oo, from a district near Mandalay, the second-largest city in Myanmar. He was shot dead in the street in January by a local resistance group calling itself the Zarmani Guerrilla Force. The group claimed responsibility for the assassination on Facebook in slang meant to circumvent censors, saying he was “taken to the dog’s path,” meaning killed, “by four lipsticks,” or bullets.
A neighbor, Ko Than Soe, said the targeted official had been the local leader of a pro-Tatmadaw militia and had informed on resistance fighters. “He more than deserves to be dead,” said Mr. Than Soe. “Even though he is dead, I would say he is lucky because his family is still safe.”
No one has been arrested or charged in the killings of ward administrators.
Perhaps the resistance groups’ most prominent target is the deputy governor of the Central Bank, Daw Than Than Swe, who was shot and wounded by a gunman in April at her Yangon home. A local resistance force claimed responsibility.
But such guerrilla warfare tactics, with the risk of mistaken killings, can sometimes backfire, alienating people previously sympathetic to the rebel cause.
In February, attackers from the rebel group Zero Guerrilla Force in central Myanmar shot and killed a retired government employee, saying he was dalan and a militia leader supporting the Tatmadaw.
Friends and family members said the victim, U Myint San, 65, was a literature lover who started a library with his own money and encouraged children to read. He had also donated money to a local resistance group, his son said.
“U Myint San was a good person who did good for the community,” said Ko Si Thu, the leader of a local activist group, suggesting he may have been set up by someone with a grudge. “He was not dalan. He has been active in the revolution since the coup.”
The Zero Guerrilla Force leader, U Thet Naing Aung, said the group acted on information from another local rebel group in assassinating U Myint San. “If he was killed by mistake, we will apologize only after the revolution,” he said. “Now I want to focus on the revolution.”
The New York Times · by Richard C. Paddock · June 6, 2022
19. The Surreal Case of a C.I.A. Hacker’s Revenge

A fascinating and troubling story.


When you consider the powerful forces arrayed against him—and the balance of probabilities that he is guilty—Schulte’s decision to represent himself seems reckless. But, for the C.I.A. and the Justice Department, he remains a formidable adversary, because he is bent on destroying them, he has little to lose, and his head is full of classified information. “Lawyers are bound,” Shroff told me. “There are certain things we can’t argue, certain arguments we can’t make. But if you’re pro se ”—representing yourself—“you can make all the motions you want. You can really try your case.”
The government does not bring a lawsuit every time it identifies somebody who has inappropriately leaked classified information. On the contrary, a decision is often made to settle the matter quietly, rather than risk further exposure of secrets in a public trial. Schulte might well attempt to force the disclosure of so many secrets that the authorities will feel compelled to drop the charges against him or to offer an attractive plea deal. There may be some threshold of disclosure beyond which the C.I.A. will not venture. Deanna Schulte told me that one reason her son had elected to serve as his own counsel is that he wants to “put it all out there.”
In a June 2nd court filing, Schulte suggested, with a menacing flourish, that if the government goes to trial with the child-pornography charges he plans to make it maximally painful for the C.I.A. His defense, he promised, will incorporate extensive testimony about agency “operations and assets,” and will potentially require courtroom appearances from “9 covert officers, 17 overt officers, and at least 1 asset.”
In a contest between the dictates of official secrecy and the imperatives of justice, odds are that secrecy will win. Schulte knows this, and that may be his greatest advantage. He has said of the Vault 7 case, “I expect a not guilty verdict on all counts, and anything less will be an utter failure.” Shroff told me of her client, “He’s hopeful now.” Roger Schulte said the same thing, assuring me that Josh has learned a lot about the legal process, and that he isn’t giving up. “He seems to be holding pretty strong,” Roger said. “He’s a fighter.” 

The Surreal Case of a C.I.A. Hacker’s Revenge

A hot-headed coder is accused of exposing the agency’s hacking arsenal. Did he betray his country because he was pissed off at his colleagues?
By Patrick Radden Keefe
The New Yorker · by By Patrick Radden Keefe
The Surreal Case of a C.I.A. Hacker’s Revenge | The New Yorker
Nestled west of Washington, D.C., amid the bland northern Virginia suburbs, are generic-looking office parks that hide secret government installations in plain sight. Employees in civilian dress get out of their cars, clutching their Starbucks, and disappear into the buildings. To the casual observer, they resemble anonymous corporate drones. In fact, they hold Top Secret clearances and work in defense and intelligence. One of these buildings, at an address that is itself a secret, houses the cyberintelligence division of the Central Intelligence Agency. The facility is surrounded by a high fence and monitored by guards armed with military-grade weapons. When employees enter the building, they must badge in and pass through a full-body turnstile. Inside, on the ninth floor, through another door that requires badge access, is a C.I.A. office with an ostentatiously bland name: the Operations Support Branch. It is the agency’s secret hacker unit, in which a cadre of élite engineers create cyberweapons.
“O.S.B. was focussed on what we referred to as ‘physical-access operations,’ ” a senior developer from the unit, Jeremy Weber—a pseudonym—explained. This is not dragnet mass surveillance of the kind more often associated with the National Security Agency. These are hacks, or “exploits,” designed for individual targets. Sometimes a foreign terrorist or a finance minister is too sophisticated to be hacked remotely, and so the agency is obliged to seek “physical access” to that person’s devices. Such operations are incredibly dangerous: a C.I.A. officer or an asset recruited to work secretly for the agency—a courier for the terrorist; the finance minister’s personal chef—must surreptitiously implant the malware by hand. “It could be somebody who was willing to type on a keyboard for us,” Weber said. “It often was somebody who was willing to plug a thumb drive into the machine.” In this manner, human spies, armed with the secret digital payloads designed by the Operations Support Branch, have been able to compromise smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even TVs: when Samsung developed a set that responded to voice commands, the wizards at the O.S.B. exploited a software vulnerability that turned it into a listening device.
The members of the O.S.B. “built quick-reaction tools,” Anthony Leonis, the chief of another cyberintelligence unit of the C.I.A., said. “That branch was really good at taking ideas and prototypes and turning them into tools that could be used in the mission, very quickly.” According to the man who supervised the O.S.B., Sean, the unit could be “a high-stress environment,” because it was supporting life-or-death operations. (With a few exceptions, this piece refers to agency employees by pseudonyms or by their first names.)
But, while these jobs were cutting edge and—at least vicariously—dangerous, the O.S.B. was, in other respects, just like any office. There was a bullpen of cubicle workstations. A dozen or so people clocked in every day. “We were kind of known as the social branch,” another O.S.B. employee, Frank Stedman, recalled. The experience of O.S.B. engineers bore some resemblance to the Apple TV+ drama “Severance,” in that each morning they entered a milieu with its own customs and camaraderie—one sealed off from the rest of their lives. Because of national-security concerns, they couldn’t take work home, or talk with anyone on the outside about what they did all day. Their office was a classified sanctum, a locked vault. Like the crew of a submarine, they forged strong bonds—and strong antagonisms.
There was banter, plenty of it, much of it jocular, some of it juvenile. The coders were mostly young men, and they came up with nicknames for one another. One unit member, who got braces as an adult, became known as Train Tracks. When another brought food into the office one day, but didn’t share it with some members of the team, his colleagues bestowed a new handle: Dick Move. The group’s ultimate manager was a more senior C.I.A. official, named Karen, who acknowledged that the members could get “boisterous,” adding, “Folks could get a little loud, a little bit back and forth.” Some O.S.B. guys brought Nerf guns to work—not mere pistols but big, colorful machine guns—and they would occasionally shoot darts at one another from their desks. Sometimes people got carried away, and work was paused for some sustained bombardment. But Silicon Valley was known for tricking out offices with foosball tables and climbing walls, and it’s likely that the C.I.A. wanted to foster a loose culture on the hacking team, to help engineers remain innovative and, when necessary, blow off steam.
One of the Nerf gunfighters was Joshua Schulte—his real name. A skinny Texan in his twenties, he had a goatee and a shaved head. In what may have been a preëmptive gambit, Schulte gave himself the nickname Bad Ass, going so far as to make a fake nameplate and stick it on his cubicle. But others in the office called him Voldemort—a reference to the hairless villain in the Harry Potter books. Schulte and his colleagues worked on sophisticated malware with such code names as AngerQuake and Brutal Kangaroo. The hackers christened their exploits with names that reflected personal enthusiasms. Several programs were named for brands of whiskey: there was Wild Turkey, and Ardbeg, and Laphroaig. One was called McNugget. Though there was something dissonantly adolescent about naming highly classified digital hacking tools in such a fashion, it seemed harmless enough: if the tools worked as planned, none of the code would ever be detected. And, if the target of an operation did discover that some nasty bit of malware had infiltrated her device, a silly name would offer no clue that it had been created by the United States government. Deniability was central to what the O.S.B. did.
On March 7, 2017, the Web site WikiLeaks launched a series of disclosures that were catastrophic for the C.I.A. As much as thirty-four terabytes of data—more than two billion pages’ worth—had been stolen from the agency. The trove, billed as Vault 7, represented the single largest leak of classified information in the agency’s history. Along with a subsequent installment known as Vault 8, it exposed the C.I.A.’s hacking methods, including the tools that had been developed in secret by the O.S.B., complete with some of the source code. “This extraordinary collection . . . gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the C.I.A.,” WikiLeaks announced. The leak dumped out the C.I.A.’s toolbox: the custom-made techniques that it had used to compromise Wi-Fi networks, Skype, antivirus software. It exposed Brutal Kangaroo and AngerQuake. It even exposed McNugget.
In the days after this colossal breach became public, the C.I.A. declined to comment on the “authenticity or content of purported intelligence documents.” Internally, however, there was a grim realization that the agency’s secrets had been laid bare. “I was sick to my stomach,” Karen, the O.S.B. supervisor, later recalled. “That information getting out into a forum like that can hurt people and impact our mission. It’s a huge loss to the organization.” Malicious code that had originated at the C.I.A. could now be attributed to the agency. And the potential fallout extended beyond the digital realm: a foreign target who had been hacked might now be able to identify the malware, determine when it had been placed on a device, and even deduce which trusted member of the inner circle had engaged in betrayal. In the estimation of another senior C.I.A. official, Sean Roche, the leak amounted to “a digital Pearl Harbor.”
But who could have stolen the data? In a statement, WikiLeaks suggested that the person who shared the intelligence wished “to initiate a public debate” about the use of cyberweapons. But WikiLeaks had also shown, quite recently, a willingness to be a mouthpiece for foreign intelligence services: in 2016, the site had released e-mails from the Democratic National Committee which had been stolen by hackers working on behalf of the Kremlin. Vault 7, some observers speculated, might also be the work of a hostile government. James Lewis, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Times, “A foreign power is much more likely the source of these documents than a conscience-stricken C.I.A. whistle-blower.” Perhaps Russia was again the culprit. Or might it be Iran?
Given that the software exposed in Vault 7 had been maintained on a proprietary C.I.A. computer network that was not connected to the Internet, the spectre of espionage raised another alarming possibility. Might a foreign adversary have obtained “physical access”—smuggling a tainted thumb drive into the C.I.A.? Had the agency’s own modus operandi been used against it?
As the intelligence community mobilized to identify the source of the leak, the federal government found itself in an awkward position—because Donald Trump, shortly before being elected President, had celebrated the hacking of Democratic officials, declaring, “I love WikiLeaks.” Nevertheless, this new breach was perceived as such an egregious affront to U.S. national security that the Administration was determined to get to the bottom of it. The F.B.I. began an investigation, and agents worked around the clock. But an atmosphere of paranoia enshrouded the inquiry. One F.B.I. agent described how a C.I.A. officer who was approached for an interview reacted with reflexive suspicion, pointing out that anyone “can say they’re an F.B.I. agent.”
The Bureau was pursuing what it calls an “unsub”—or “unknown subject”—investigation. “A crime had been committed; we didn’t yet know who had committed it,” one of the lead investigators, Richard Evanchec, later testified. Fairly quickly, the agents ruled out a foreign power as the culprit, deciding that the unsub must be a C.I.A. insider. They zeroed in on the classified computer network from which the data had been stolen—and on the agency employees who had access to that network. Among those who did were the O.S.B. hackers on the ninth floor of the agency’s secret cyber installation in Virginia.
This was a befuddling prospect: the O.S.B. engineers devoted their professional lives to concocting clandestine digital weapons. Making public the source code would render their inventions useless. Why destroy your own work? As the F.B.I. interviewed members of the team, a suspect came into focus: Joshua Schulte. Voldemort. He had left the agency in November, 2016, and was said to have been disgruntled. He now lived in Manhattan, where he worked as a software engineer at Bloomberg. As Schulte was leaving the office one evening, Evanchec and another F.B.I. agent intercepted him. When they explained that they were investigating the leak, he agreed to talk. They went to a nearby restaurant, Pershing Square, opposite Grand Central Terminal. Schulte may not have realized it, but the other patrons seated around them were actually plainclothes F.B.I. agents, who were there to monitor the situation—and to intervene if he made any sudden moves. Schulte was amiable and chatty. But, when Evanchec looked down, he noticed that Schulte’s hands were shaking.
Schulte was born in 1988 and grew up in Lubbock, Texas. He was the oldest of four boys; his father, Roger, is a financial adviser; his mother, Deanna, is a high-school guidance counsellor. Schulte was a bright child, and in elementary school he was fascinated when one of his teachers took apart a computer in front of the class. By the time he was in high school, his parents told me, he was building computers himself. “Some people are born with certain talents,” Deanna said. While Schulte was studying engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, he did an internship at I.B.M., and another at the N.S.A. On a blog that he maintained in college, he espoused libertarian views. He was a devotee of Ayn Rand, and came to believe that, as he put it, “there is nothing evil about rational selfishness.” He also had a certain intellectual arrogance. “Most Americans, most people in general, are idiots,” he wrote in 2008.
“I don’t want a ‘Big Brother’ constantly looking over my shoulder,” Schulte once wrote, and his libertarianism might have seemed difficult to square with a career in intelligence. Kavi Patel, who knew Schulte in junior high and became close friends with him in high school, recalled, “He was always a huge Ron Paul guy,” adding that Schulte was drawn to “the people who say the government is infringing on our rights.” Nevertheless, according to Schulte’s parents, his dream was to work for the government. “He never talked about the private sector at all,” Deanna told me, explaining that he was motivated by patriotism. “I think he was very proud to serve his country.” In a blog post, Schulte argued that “privacy and individual security are antithetical,” and that “increasing one ultimately decreases the other.” By the time he finished college, in 2011, he had been hired by the C.I.A. Many people regarded the N.S.A. as the premier government employer for coders and hackers, but the C.I.A.’s hacking unit may have offered more palpable proximity to exciting operations on foreign soil. Schulte wanted to fight terrorists.
Like drone pilots who destroy villages in Afghanistan from an air-conditioned trailer in Nevada, the engineers of the O.S.B. experienced an uncanny incongruity between the safety of their surroundings and the knowledge that their work supported high-stakes covert operations abroad. “We were very mission-focussed,” Jeremy Weber recalled. “But, you know, we had fun at work, too.” Schulte proved to be a capable programmer, and in 2015 he was granted a special distinction when he was made a system administrator for the C.I.A.’s developer network, or DevLAN. Now he could control which employees had access to the network that held the source code for the group’s many projects. Being a system administrator was regarded, Weber said, as “a privileged position.” Schulte made good friends at work; he became particularly close with another member of the O.S.B. team, named Michael. They played video games together after hours, or went to the gym.
But Schulte could also be abrasive. “Josh was very opinionated on the way things should be done,” Weber observed. “So he had some rough edges.” In particular, if Schulte felt wronged in some way, he had a pronounced tendency to overreact. One day at work, he shot a rubber band at Michael, and Michael returned fire. “This went back and forth until late at night,” Michael recalled. “He trashed my desk, I trashed his desk.” The conflict escalated until both men were throwing punches.
Schulte could get “a little off the hinge,” Sean remembered. At one point, agency officials decided to assign a contractor a project, Almost Meat, that was based in part on Schulte’s code. “Josh was offended,” Weber recalled. He protested that his hard work would be handed to a third party, then sold back to the government at a markup. He threatened to file a complaint with the C.I.A.’s inspector general, claiming “fraud, waste, and abuse.” Frank Stedman, who worked on Almost Meat, felt that the episode illustrated Schulte’s tendency to react with a “disproportionate response.” The man known as Bad Ass and Voldemort accrued another office nickname: the Nuclear Option.
Schulte using a contraband cell phone while incarcerated at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, in Manhattan.
Schulte had been on the job for about three years when a new programmer named Amol joined the O.S.B. He sat near Schulte, and they were partnered on a project code-named Drifting Deadline. According to Weber, Amol and Schulte “didn’t get along, and from the get-go.” Initially, people ribbed Amol because he behaved in a professional manner that was at odds with the prevailing frat-house vibe. Schulte liked to shoot Amol with his Nerf gun. As Amol grew more accustomed to the O.S.B.’s raucous culture, he started fighting back. He would collect Schulte’s Nerf darts and stash them behind his desk. He began trolling others in the office, maligning their skills as coders and devising his own cruel nicknames. He referred to Schulte as Bald Asshole. Amol was heavy, and Schulte reciprocated by making fun of his weight. Their bickering intensified.
In October, 2015, Amol complained to Sean, the hacking-unit supervisor. “I have had enough of Schulte and his childish behavior,” he wrote. “Last night, he shot me in the face with his nerf gun and it could have easily hit me in the eye.” Schulte also wrote to Sean, saying that Amol was “very derogatory and abusive to everyone.” According to Schulte, Amol had told him, “I wish you were dead,” “I want to piss on your grave,” and “I wish you’d die in a fiery car crash.” Such rhetoric, Schulte noted, “does little to foster collaboration.”
Weber subsequently confirmed that Amol had indeed said some of these things. But he pointed out that Amol had done so only after protracted arguments with Schulte, and that the attritional verbal combat Schulte seemed to favor could “exhaust” a person. In March, 2016, the discord between the two hackers reached a new level, when Schulte lodged a formal complaint with security officials at the C.I.A., reporting that Amol had told him, “I wish you were dead, and that’s not a threat, it’s a fucking promise.” Schulte characterized this as a credible death threat that had left him fearing for his life. He suggested that Amol was “upset and unstable,” and possibly bipolar.
Schulte felt that his superiors weren’t taking his accusations seriously. He neither liked nor respected Karen, his ultimate boss, referring to her as a “dumb bitch.” One C.I.A. security official responded to the dispute by saying that he couldn’t play “high school counselor,” which only exacerbated Schulte’s anger. Schulte escalated the matter by complaining to the director of the cyberintelligence division, Bonnie Stith—an agency veteran who oversaw several thousand employees. One might suppose that she had more pressing matters to contend with, but she offered to sit down with Schulte and Amol and try to broker peace. Initially, Schulte refused, saying that he was afraid to be in the same room with Amol. But she insisted, and at the meeting she urged both men to consider the “honor” of being C.I.A. employees, and to remember their obligations to their country. Amol, she thought, seemed embarrassed to have been hauled before the school principal. Stith decided that the coders should be physically separated. “Our nation depended on us,” she pointed out later. “I needed them to be focussed.”
Schulte was furious to learn that he had to switch desks. He said that he would relocate only if his managers issued the directive in writing. So they did. Even then, he refused to fully move. He didn’t like the new location. It had no window. It was an “intern desk,” he scoffed; Amol, meanwhile, had been “ ‘promoted’ to a better desk,” leaving Schulte “exposed to questions and ridicule about why I was demoted.”
Up to this point, though Schulte could be vexing and obstreperous, he was working within the broad bureaucratic parameters of the agency. Others might have found his vendetta against Amol irrational, but he had confined it to traditional channels, pushing his appeal up the chain of command. Now he embarked on a more decisive escalation, concluding, as he later explained, that “since the Agency wouldn’t help me, perhaps the state would.” Citing fears for his safety, Schulte filed for a restraining order against Amol in Virginia state court.
This was a startling departure from normal conduct for the C.I.A. The agency has an estimated twenty thousand employees, and, because of the sensitivity of its work, it enjoys remarkable autonomy within the federal government, sometimes appearing to operate as a self-governing fief. The notion of allowing an internal squabble to spill into the unclassified realm was anathema. “It was so unusual to have agency employees in a local court,” Stith later said.
Amol was obliged to appear at an open hearing at a Loudoun County courthouse. Inside the agency, a security organ known as the Threat Management Unit was activated, and a decision was made to separate the warring O.S.B. programmers even further, moving Schulte to a different branch altogether, on the eighth floor. Schulte fired off an intemperate e-mail: “I just want to confirm this punishment of removal from my current branch is for reporting to security an incident in which my life was threatened.” Of course, it was also possible to read this relocation as a logical bureaucratic response to the restraining order that Schulte had obtained, which compelled Amol to avoid any contact with him—even crossing paths in the hallway.
Leonard Small, an official from the agency’s Office of Security, later said that “Josh’s escalating behavior” kept “going on and on.” In an e-mail to Small, Schulte threatened to go public, saying that a lawyer he had spoken to had suggested, “An article titled ‘c.i.a. punishes employee for reporting office death threats’ would be an article that the media would be very interested in.” Schulte hadn’t yet “proceeded with this option,” he said, because he was “hoping there is an alternative.”
Others in the O.S.B. expressed frustration with Schulte’s refusal to drop the matter. At one point, Stedman observed, “The boy needs to learn how to take his medicine.” Nobody believed that Amol had posed a genuine threat to Schulte’s life. Stedman later declared that “the whole writeup is bullshit and exaggerated,” and read like “a fictional narrative.” As an intelligence professional trained in the art of threat assessment, he considered it “insulting” that Schulte thought any of them might fall for such a ruse.
Next, Schulte appealed to several of the most senior officials at the C.I.A., including Meroë Park, the executive director. “I know you don’t deal with personnel issues and likely won’t spend much time on this, but management’s abuse of power and consistent retaliation against me has forced me to resign,” he wrote, on June 28, 2016. Schulte hung on a little longer, but by November he was gone. At Bloomberg, he would make more than two hundred thousand dollars a year—a significant increase from his government salary. Though he was legally bound to protect the confidentiality of his C.I.A. work, he could tell people he had been at the agency, and he discovered that in the private sector this conferred a certain cachet. Reflecting on Schulte’s good fortune, Stedman noted that sometimes “good things happen to bad people.”
Before Schulte’s departure, there had been one final fracas. Schulte was, in his own telling, trying “to make the best of my situation and move forward,” but after relocating to the eighth floor he attempted to work on Brutal Kangaroo—only to find that his access had been denied. “Imagine my shock,” he later recalled, noting that Brutal Kangaroo had been his project; he felt a huge proprietary investment in the program. Schulte consulted the audit logs on the system, and determined that Weber had stripped him of his access. Weber later explained that his reasoning had been simple: in Schulte’s new branch, he “was going to be working on new projects,” and therefore wouldn’t need access to the old ones. But Schulte saw it as retribution. He had developed a special resentment for Weber. At the Loudoun County court hearing on the restraining order, Weber had shown up—as a show of solidarity with Amol. Schulte regarded Weber as a bureaucratic toady, Karen’s “loyal pawn.” Weber, he felt, “had played politics to overthrow me from my own project.”
And so Schulte, without asking for authorization, reassigned himself access to his old project. When his managers learned of this, they were so alarmed that they stripped Schulte of his administrator privileges. Weber later said of Schulte’s transgression, “The agency exists in a world of trust. We are granted access to classified information, and we are trusted to only use that information for the expressed reasons we’re given access to it.” If you can’t “trust the person that you’re working with,” he pointed out, you’re in trouble. (Schulte has disputed Weber’s account of these events.)
Official secrecy is a slippery phenomenon. Organizations such as WikiLeaks espouse an absolutist commitment to transparency, but, in a world where genuinely bad actors exist and the interests of nation-states don’t always align, most Americans would acknowledge the need for some degree of secrecy, as a prerogative of statecraft and national defense. Nevertheless, the U.S. system of classification has grown wildly out of control. In 1989, Erwin Griswold, who had argued the Pentagon Papers case on behalf of the government—and was therefore hardly a friend to leakers—published an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he maintained that there were too many state secrets. Classification had evolved into a bureaucratic reflex, he pointed out, and “the principal concern of the classifiers is not with national security, but rather with governmental embarrassment.” More recently, the 9/11 Commission concluded that overclassification, far from keeping the country safer, actually jeopardizes national security, by inhibiting the sharing of information among government agencies.
Before Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, in 1971, he had photocopied seven thousand pages by hand. (He enlisted his teen-age son to help.) Digital technology has allowed such leakers as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning to purloin much vaster reams of data with significantly greater ease. “I would come in with music on a CD-RW labelled with something like ‘Lady Gaga,’ erase the music then write a compressed split file,” Manning once boasted, recalling how she lip-synched to Gaga’s “Telephone” while “exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history.”
Snowden and Manning were not seeking to blow the whistle on any one particular policy, in the manner that Ellsberg was; theirs was a more generalized disaffection, and the troves of data that they exposed were indiscriminate, comprising not just instances in which U.S. authorities had engaged in appalling, illegal conduct but also instances in which they had behaved appropriately. One could debate whether the term “whistle-blower” is adequate to describe someone who leaks gigabytes of data. But it’s clear that these wholesale digital disclosures are themselves an unintended consequence of overclassification. The number of Americans who possess a security clearance has swelled to more than five million, because classification has swathed in secrecy so many functions of defense and intelligence work. Given the expanding universe of classified documents, the widening pool of professionals with access to them, and the increasing ease with which data can be downloaded and filched, further jumbo leaks appear inevitable.
Unlike other prominent digital leakers, Schulte did not seem like an ideological whistle-blower. Ayn Rand fanboys are not exactly famous for their doctrinal consistency, and Schulte’s concerns about “Big Brother” don’t appear to have occasioned much soul-searching in the years he spent building surveillance weapons for a spy agency. On an anonymous Twitter account that Schulte maintained, he reportedly expressed the view (in a since-deleted tweet) that Chelsea Manning should be executed. Weber recalled Schulte saying that Snowden deserved the same. Could it be that Schulte had leaked the C.I.A.’s digital arsenal not because of any principled opposition to the policies of the U.S. government but because he was pissed off at his colleagues? There are prior examples of C.I.A. employees who have been driven to betray their country out of a sense of professional grievance: after an agency officer named Edward Lee Howard was fired, in 1983, because he had lied about drug use and other minor transgressions during a polygraph exam, he began feeding the K.G.B. sensitive intelligence; when the agency discovered the breach, Howard fled to Russia, where he lived until his death, in 2002. After Ellsberg made the moral decision to leak the Pentagon Papers, it took him weeks of complicated work to make good on that objective. But with digital technology the window between impulse and consummation shrinks considerably, and, as everyone who worked with Josh Schulte knew all too well, when he was mad he had poor impulse control.
Even as F.B.I. investigators pinpointed Schulte as the prime suspect, their work was frustrated by the pageantry of overclassification. WikiLeaks had posted the Vault 7 tools on the Web, where anyone could see them, but officially the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. maintained that the documents remained classified. As a result, only investigators who held the necessary security clearances were permitted even to access WikiLeaks to see what had been stolen. F.B.I. officials were so nervous about visiting the Web site using Bureau computers or Internet connections (thereby possibly exposing their own networks to a cyber intrusion) that they dispatched an agent to purchase a new laptop and visit the Web site from the safety of a Starbucks. Once the Vault 7 materials had been downloaded from the Internet, the laptop itself became officially classified, and had to be stored in a secure location. But the evidence locker normally used by agents, which held drugs and other seized evidence, wouldn’t do, because it was classified only up to the Secret level. Instead, the investigators stored the laptop in a supervisor’s office, in a special safe that had been certified to hold Top Secret documents—even though anyone could go to the Internet to see the materials that were on it.
Soon after the F.B.I. began its investigation, agents placed Schulte under surveillance, and they learned that he was about to leave for Mexico. Edward Snowden had fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he remains, beyond the reach of U.S. authorities. Faced with the possibility that Schulte might abscond in similar fashion, investigators made their move, with Agent Evanchec stopping him as he left work at Bloomberg and taking him to Pershing Square. It had emerged that when Schulte left the C.I.A. he had not returned his special black government passport, which assured the holder official status when travelling abroad. Schulte eventually acknowledged that he still had the passport, but maintained that the trip to Mexico was simply a spring-break excursion with his brother. (Roger Schulte told me that the brothers had purchased round-trip tickets for a short visit to Cancún.)
The investigators had a warrant to search Schulte’s apartment, so they all went together to his building, on Thirty-ninth Street. It was full of computer equipment. When F.B.I. agents obtained a warrant for Schulte’s search history from Google, they discovered that, starting in August, 2016—when he was preparing to leave the C.I.A.—he had conducted thirty-nine searches related to WikiLeaks. In the hours after WikiLeaks posted Vault 7, he searched for “F.B.I.,” and read articles with such titles as “F.B.I. Joins C.I.A. in Hunt for Leaker.” For a guy who was a supposed expert in information warfare, Schulte seemed shockingly sloppy when it came to his own operational security. Even so, the F.B.I. hadn’t found a smoking gun. It had amassed circumstantial evidence tying Schulte to the Vault 7 leak, but it hadn’t found any record of him transmitting data to WikiLeaks—or, indeed, any proof that the secret files had ever been in his possession.
Schulte was not under arrest, so he got a room at a hotel while the search of his apartment continued. The F.B.I. seized his computer hardware, for forensic analysis. When computer scientists at the Bureau examined Schulte’s desktop, they discovered a “virtual machine”—an entire operating system nested within the computer’s standard operating system. The virtual machine was locked with strong encryption, meaning that, unless they could break the code or get the key from Schulte—both of which seemed unlikely—they couldn’t access it. But they also had Schulte’s cell phone, and when they checked it they discovered another startling lapse in operational security: he had stored a bunch of passwords on his phone.
One of the passwords let the investigators bypass the encryption on the virtual machine. Inside, they found a home directory—also encrypted. They consulted Schulte’s phone again, and, sure enough, another stored password unlocked the directory. Next, they found an encrypted digital lockbox—a third line of defense. But, using encryption software and the same password that had unlocked the virtual machine, they managed to access the contents. Inside was a series of folders. When the investigators opened them, they found an enormous trove of child pornography.
When the news broke that Schulte was a suspect in the Vault 7 leak, Chrissy Covington, a d.j. and a radio personality in Lubbock who had attended junior high school with him, took to Facebook to express her surprise. “The gravity of his crimes? OMG. Y’all,” she wrote, in a group chat with several classmates who had also known Schulte. Covington and Schulte had been friendly; as teen-agers, they chatted on AOL Instant Messenger. She was surprised to learn not only that he might be the leaker but also that the C.I.A. had given him a job in the first place. “How could you hire Josh Schulte?” she said when I spoke to her recently. “007 he’s not.” Schulte had always struck Covington as an “oddball,” but mostly harmless. On Facebook, however, she started to hear from classmates who shared unpleasant memories of Schulte crossing boundaries and making others uncomfortable. Several former classmates recalled to me that Schulte was infamous for drawing swastikas in school, and that, on at least one occasion, he did so on the yearbook of a Jewish student.
Other classmates recalled sexually inappropriate behavior. One woman told me that he had repeatedly exposed his penis to students when they were both in the junior-high band. “He would try and touch people, or get people to touch him—that was a daily occurrence,” she said. She loved music, but she was so intent on getting away from Schulte that she asked her parents to let her quit the band. She was too uncomfortable to explain to her parents exactly what had transpired. “It’s hard to put it into words,” she recalled. “You’re twelve. It’s just ‘Hey, this kid is super gross, and it makes me want to not be part of this school right now.’ ” Her parents, not grasping the gravity of what had happened, insisted that she remain in the band. “I was traumatized,” she told me. I also spoke to a friend of the woman, who remembered her recounting this behavior by Schulte at the time. A third woman told me that Schulte and some of his friends got in trouble at school after trying to stick their hands into her pants while she slept on the bus during a field trip. Schulte, she said, took revenge by sending her an AOL message loaded with a virus, destroying her computer. He boasted about the hack afterward, the woman said.
Schulte’s friend Kavi Patel acknowledged that Schulte would “draw swastikas all over the place.” He wasn’t anti-Semitic, Patel contended; he just relished getting a rise out of people. He recalled Schulte telling him, “I don’t really care one way or the other, but it’s fun to see the shock on people’s faces.” Patel was also in the junior-high band. When I asked him if he remembered Schulte exposing himself, he said that he never witnessed it, but had heard about it happening “two or three times.” According to Patel, Schulte seemed to confirm it to him on one occasion: “I was, like, ‘Dude, did you do this?’ And he was, like, ‘Heh, heh.’ ” Patel added, “It’s not something that’s out of his character. At all.” (Presented with these allegations, several attorneys who have represented Schulte had no comment. Deanna recalled learning that Joshua had drawn a swastika in his notes for a lesson on the Second World War, but she and Roger said that they were not aware of other incidents involving swastikas or the junior-high band. They dispute the classmate’s recollection of the incident on the school bus.)
When Schulte was in college, he argued on his blog that pornography is a form of free expression which “is not degrading to women” and “does not incite violence.” He went on, “Porn stars obviously enjoy what they do, and they make quite a bit of money off it.” Of course, some women are coerced into pornography, and if you mistake the simulated enjoyment in a porn performance for the real thing then you don’t understand much about the industry. But more to the point: child pornography is not free expression; it’s a crime. After Schulte realized that the illicit archive had been discovered, he claimed that the collection—more than ten thousand images and videos—didn’t belong to him. In college, he had maintained a server on which friends and acquaintances could store whatever they wanted. Unbeknownst to him, he contended, people had used the server to hide contraband. He “had so many people accessing it he didn’t care what people put on it,” Roger Schulte told the Times.
But, according to the F.B.I., as agents gathered more evidence they unearthed chat logs in which Schulte conversed about child pornography with fellow-enthusiasts. “Where does one get kiddie porn anyways?” Schulte asked, in a 2009 exchange. This was another instance in which Schulte seemed recklessly disinclined to cover his tracks. His Google search history revealed numerous queries about images of underage sex. In the chat logs, people seeking or discussing child pornography tended to use pseudonyms. One person Schulte interacted with went by “hbp.” Another went by “Sturm.” Josh’s username was “Josh.” At one point, he volunteered to grant his new friends access to the child-porn archive on his server. He had titled it /home/josh/http/porn. Sturm, taken aback, warned Schulte to “rename these things for god’s sake.”
When F.B.I. investigators searched Schulte’s phone, they found something especially alarming: a photograph that looked as though it had been taken inside the house in Sterling, Virginia, where he had lived while working for the C.I.A. The photograph was of a woman who looked like she was passed out on the bathroom floor. Her underwear appeared to have been removed and the hand of an unseen person was touching her genitals. State investigators in Loudoun County subsequently identified the woman and interviewed her. She has not been publicly named, but she told them that she had been Schulte’s roommate and had passed out one night, with no memory of what had happened. The encounter in the photograph was not consensual, she assured them. According to subsequent legal filings, the investigators concluded, after consulting the victim, that the hand in the photograph belonged to Schulte.
On August 24, 2017, at 5:30 a.m., a dozen armed federal agents hammered on the door of his apartment in Manhattan, startling him awake. Once inside, they bellowed, “Turn around and put your hands behind your back!” According to an account written by Schulte, he was led “like a prized dog” into the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, where he was cuffed and shackled, then turned over to the U.S. Marshals. At this point, the F.B.I. and federal prosecutors had been investigating Schulte’s possible role in the Vault 7 leak for five months, but they still hadn’t indicted him. Instead, they now charged him with “receipt, possession, and transportation” of child pornography. Schulte pleaded not guilty. When he heard that the government was pushing to keep him detained pending trial, his stomach dropped. “The crime I am charged with is in fact a non-violent, victimless crime,” he objected, displaying an obdurate heedlessness when it comes to how child pornography is made. (In a recent court filing, Schulte asserted that he has been “falsely accused” of acquiring child pornography.)
A judge ultimately ruled that Schulte could be released on bail, on the ground that he posed no immediate threat to society. But his release came with stringent conditions. He would be under house arrest, unable to leave his apartment except for court dates. And he could not access the Internet. Schulte bridled at this, observing, “Today, everything is done online so it’s incredibly difficult.” Never one to meekly adhere to a directive that he found objectionable, Schulte chose to ignore the condition. In December, the government presented evidence that he had defied court orders by going online, and on several occasions had even logged on to the Internet using Tor—a system that enables users to access Web sites anonymously. Meanwhile, authorities in Virginia charged him with sexual assault, citing as evidence the photograph discovered on his phone. Schulte was taken into custody once again and locked up at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, in Manhattan. He was still there in the summer of 2018, when the government filed a superseding indictment with ten new counts and charged him with leaking Vault 7.
“I finally meet my new celly,” Schulte wrote, in a prison diary. “He’s in for bankruptcy. He’s a nice guy who is on medication for a mental illness.” Schulte hated confinement (“If you try to shower without purchasing shower shoes then you will almost certainly contract MRSA or some other skin-eating staph bacteria”), but he appears to have found ways to keep his temper under control, having observed that it was necessary to exercise basic diplomacy, given that some members of his new cohort were convicted murderers. He was fascinated by the innovative ways that inmates gamed prison regulations, noticing that many people “claim to be Muslim or Jewish” because doing so entitled them to supposedly better food. And he made some friends on the floor where he was housed, including Omar Amanat, a Wharton-educated financier who was facing charges related to conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and Carlos Luna, a seasoned drug trafficker. Schulte reflected, “I’ve lost my job, health insurance, friends, my reputation, and an entire year of my life—and this is only the beginning.” But he vowed to go down swinging and “bring this ‘justice’ system crumbling to its knees.”
First, he would need a phone. At the prison, he could make calls on pay phones—but they were monitored and did not offer Internet access. Luckily, black-market smartphones were easy to come by: Luna had a sideline in smuggling them into the facility. According to a former inmate who did time at the M.C.C. alongside Schulte, the going rate there for a contraband smartphone was several thousand dollars. Schulte figured out a way to hot-wire a light switch in his cell so that it worked as a cell-phone charger. (The person who knew Schulte during this period praised his innovation, saying, “After that, all M.C.C. phones were charged that way.”) Schulte and Amanat, who had also obtained a phone, would meet in the cell of a guy named Chino, and Luna would serve as lookout while the others used their clandestine devices. On an encrypted Samsung phone, Schulte created an anonymous Facebook page called John Galt’s Legal Defense Fund and posted some of his prison writings. He set up a Twitter account, @FreeJasonBourne, and, in a drafts folder, he saved a tweet that said, “The @Department of Justice arrested the wrong man for Vault 7. I personally know exactly what happened, as do many others. Why are they covering it up?” Schulte also contacted Shane Harris, a journalist at the Washington Post. In messages to Harris, Schulte pretended to be other people—a cousin, or one of his three brothers—and promised to share explosive information. In this sock-puppet guise, he sent Harris what the government alleges was classified information about his case.
Astonishingly, it appears that Schulte may have even made contact with WikiLeaks during this period. In a Twitter post on June 19, 2018, WikiLeaks released seven installments of Schulte’s prison writings, billing them as an account in which the “Alleged CIA #Vault7 whistleblower” would finally speak out in “his own words.” Schulte seems to have envisaged these essays, which combined diaristic accounts of prison life with a broader critique of the criminal-justice system, as a sort of “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” He titled them “Presumption of Innocence.” Perhaps WikiLeaks simply stumbled on the Facebook page where these essays appeared—or perhaps it was in touch with Schulte. If indeed Schulte managed to contact WikiLeaks from prison, he was adopting a curious strategy: it would be pathologically self-sabotaging to counter allegations that he had shared a set of documents with WikiLeaks by sharing another set of documents with WikiLeaks.
In one of these jailhouse meditations, Schulte wrote that, in prison, it is prudent not to discuss your case with anyone, because “people are vultures and will do anything to help their own situation”—including barter your information for a better deal. “Any scenario that encourages disloyalty, dissention, and ‘snitching’ is a powerful psychological tool,” he warned. But Schulte may not have appreciated quite how true this was, because at a certain point his trusty lookout, Carlos Luna, informed prison authorities that Schulte had a cell phone.
When this news reached the F.B.I., officials panicked: if Schulte could surreptitiously make calls and access the Internet, there was a danger that he was continuing to leak. “There was a great deal of urgency to find the phone,” one Bureau official later acknowledged. One day in October, 2018, no fewer than fifty agents descended on the Metropolitan Correctional Center, accompanied by a cell-phone-sniffing dog. After they recovered the device, investigators found that it was encrypted—but also that Schulte, true to form, had written the password down in one of his notebooks. He was placed in solitary confinement.
The criminal trial of Joshua Schulte, which commenced on February 4, 2020, at the federal courthouse in Manhattan, was unlike any other in U.S. history. A decision had been made to postpone the child-pornography indictment and the Virginia sexual-assault charge; both cases could be pursued at a later date. For now, the government focussed on Vault 7, issuing ten charges, ranging from lying to the F.B.I. to illegal transmission of classified information. It had taken federal prosecutors three years to assemble the evidence that they would present in court, in part because of the official secrecy involved and in part because they intended to summon more than a dozen C.I.A. officers to testify, under oath, about Schulte’s tenure at the O.S.B. This was a delicate and highly unusual strategy. To speak in public about what happens on the job is to violate one of the signature prohibitions of an agency career. It was an indication of how seriously C.I.A. officials took Schulte’s alleged offenses that they were prepared to forgo this traditional reticence for the purposes of a trial.
As the proceedings got under way, the theatre of secrecy was conspicuous: most of the C.I.A. witnesses would appear using pseudonyms, or would be identified only by their first names. (The agency declined to comment for this story, or to make any of the relevant officials available; much of this account is drawn from their trial testimony.) Agency witnesses further avoided scrutiny by using a special elevator; during their testimony, the courtroom was closed to the public. These precautions seemed somewhat excessive. After all, the witnesses were not covert operatives with assumed names, or highly placed U.S. assets in treacherous circumstances abroad. They were, by and large, just like Josh Schulte: E-ZPass warriors who lived in the D.C. suburbs and commuted to an office park. It was a stretch to suggest that the very fact of their employment at the C.I.A. amounted to a grand state secret.
One member of Schulte’s defense team was Sabrina Shroff, a feisty and tenacious federal public defender who grew up in Islamabad. “You’re going to have to take this as a given—I don’t dwell on Mr. Schulte’s shortcomings,” she said, when I asked her about his volatility. “He’s my client.” We met at a coffee shop near Gramercy Park. Shroff is diminutive and intense, and quick to chuckle at the Kafkaesque predicaments of this case. But she was also severely constrained in what she could say to me. “We don’t have the ability to cross-examine the classification authority,” she pointed out; when the government designates something Secret, she cannot appeal the decision. Before the trial began, Shroff already possessed a Top Secret security clearance—she had needed one to defend other clients facing national-security charges—but in order to represent Schulte she had to be “read in” to even higher levels of fetishistically compartmentalized secrecy. All the classified material she would need to consult could be accessed only in a room on the ninth floor of the courthouse—a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or scif, designed to house classified information. The defense team felt hamstrung in its efforts to represent its client. Normally, defense attorneys receive the names of prosecution witnesses in advance, and can research their backgrounds while preparing for cross-examination. When Shroff and her fellow-attorneys got the names, however, they were prohibited from performing any Google searches that might in any way link these individuals to the C.I.A. Because some witnesses had common names, and Shroff and her team could not add the letters “C.I.A.” to their search terms, it was occasionally impossible to gather any information. “These are shadows to us,” one of Shroff’s partners, Edward Zas, protested to the judge in the case, Paul Crotty. “We are completely blind.”
Every day of the trial, a small posse of blond women in professional garb arrived and sat together, observing. They kept to themselves and didn’t speak to anyone else, but it was generally understood that they were lawyers or officials from the C.I.A. Their facial expressions uniformly unrevealing, they came and went in lockstep, like Stepford Wives, but they radiated muted power.
The parade of witnesses from the C.I.A. offered a rare glimpse of the office dynamics in a Top Secret unit. It was sobering. The descriptions of Schulte’s workplace called to mind not the steely competence of “The Bourne Identity” but, rather, the tiresome high jinks and petty scheming of “Office Space.” This was the paradox of the proceedings: there was no way for the C.I.A. to exact retribution against Schulte without, in the process, revealing a great deal of unflattering information about itself. Jurors would be told the story of an élite national-security division that had become consumed by juvenile name-calling and recrimination; senior C.I.A. officials would have to submit to cross-examination about the frequency and the severity of Nerf-gun fights, or about the lax security that had made the breach possible. Schulte’s former colleagues portrayed him as thin-skinned and volcanically malicious, and this proved to be the core of the government’s case. “He’s not some kind of whistle-blower,” one of the prosecutors, David Denton, told the jury. “He did it out of spite. He did it because he was angry and disgruntled at work.”
But Shroff’s defense strategy rested on a sly pivot: she readily conceded that Schulte was an asshole. “He antagonized his colleagues,” she said. “He antagonized management. He really was a difficult employee.” Nevertheless, she added, “being a difficult employee does not make you a criminal.”
Shroff further suggested that the story of Vault 7 was a parable not about the rash decision of one traitor but about the systemic ineptitude of the C.I.A. The agency didn’t even realize that it had been robbed, she pointed out, until WikiLeaks began posting the disclosures. “For God’s sakes,” Shroff said in court. “They went a whole year without knowing that their super-secure system had been hacked.” Then the agency embarked on a witch hunt, she continued, and quickly settled on an “easy target”: Schulte. Within this narrative, the string of prosecution witnesses recounting horror stories about Schulte’s workplace behavior almost seemed to play in Shroff’s favor. Her client was a scapegoat, she insisted—the guy nobody liked.
The government had amassed a powerful case indicating that Schulte was the leaker. It was abundantly clear that he had motivations for taking revenge on the C.I.A. The professional biography that emerged at trial was so damning that a decision to leak terabytes of classified data seemed almost like a logical dénouement: the final explosion of a man whose nickname was literally the Nuclear Option. Schulte’s incriminating Google searches further deepened his appearance of guilt. And, on the sixth day of the trial, prosecutors laid out what they regarded as a coup de grâce—the digital equivalent of fingerprints at a crime scene. Even after Schulte was stripped of his administrative privileges, he had secretly retained the ability to access the O.S.B. network through a back door, by using a special key that he had set up. The password was KingJosh3000. The government contended that on April 20, 2016, Schulte had used his key to enter the system. The files were backed up every day, and while he was logged on Schulte accessed one particular backup—not from that day but from six weeks earlier, on March 3rd. The O.S.B. files released by WikiLeaks were identical to the backup from March 3, 2016. As Denton told the jurors, it was the “exact backup, the exact secrets, put out by WikiLeaks.”
But all this was quite a complex fact pattern to present to a jury, involving virtual machines and administrative privileges and backups and logs; much of the expert testimony presented by the prosecutors was bewilderingly technical. Shroff, meanwhile, insisted that Schulte hadn’t stolen the data. Perhaps someone else in the office—or at the agency—had done it. The real outrage was that a crucial C.I.A. computer network, DevLAN, had been unprotected. Hundreds of people had access to DevLAN, including not just C.I.A. employees but contractors. The C.I.A.’s hackers appear to have disregarded even the kinds of elementary information-security protocols that any civilian worker bee can recite from mandatory corporate training. Coders exchanged passwords with one another, and sometimes shared sensitive details on Post-it notes. They used passwords that were laughably weak, including 123ABCdef. (A classified damage assessment conducted by the C.I.A. after the Vault 7 exposure concluded that security procedures had indeed been “woefully lax,” and that the agency’s hackers “prioritized building cyber weapons at the expense of securing their own systems.”)
Nevertheless, the prosecutors presented striking circumstantial evidence indicating that Schulte had probably transmitted the material to WikiLeaks. On April 24th, he downloaded Tails, an operating system that WikiLeaks recommends for submitting data to the organization; on April 30th, he stayed up all night, frequently checking his computer, and at 3:21 a.m. he consulted a Web page that offered guidance on how to make sure that a terabyte of data has been “transferred correctly.” That evening, he also searched for tips on how to wipe a device of its contents. What the government could not prove was any direct communication between Schulte and WikiLeaks.
Hovering over the proceedings was a dark question: how much harm had been caused by the leak? When Shroff cross-examined Sean Roche, the C.I.A. official who described Vault 7 as a “digital Pearl Harbor,” she asked, “How many people died in Pearl Harbor?”
“More than three thousand,” Roche replied.
How many people died as a result of Vault 7? she asked.
“I don’t have an answer to that,” Roche said.
“In fact, none, correct?” Shroff said.
Roche was probably being hyperbolic. But this may have been an instance in which the secrecy surrounding the case put the government at a disadvantage. After China uncovered a network of U.S. intelligence assets operating inside its borders in 2010, authorities in Beijing systematically rounded up a dozen people who had secretly been working for the C.I.A. and murdered them, crippling American espionage efforts in the country for years to come. That deadly purge did not become public knowledge until it was reported in the press, in 2017. Given that the O.S.B. hacks often required human assistance to install, it seems possible that foreign powers penetrated by such exploits could have leveraged the leak to identify American assets and seek retribution in a manner similar to what occurred in China. If any countries did—or if they do so in the future—that is information that the C.I.A. would be unlikely to publicize.
One morning in March, 2020, the jurors in the Schulte case entered the courtroom to discover a giant bottle of Purell on a table. The attorneys had been so consumed by the case that they had hardly noticed the pandemic barrelling toward them. Meanwhile, one of the jurors ended up being removed from the case, because, much like Schulte himself, she couldn’t stay off the Internet. (The normal prohibition on jurors reading press coverage was particularly acute in this instance, because, if the jury knew that Schulte had also been charged with sexual assault and possession of child pornography, it could prejudice the verdict.) The juror seemed only too happy to be cut loose, telling the Post, “Sitting in that chair for five weeks was like punishment for my ass.” After Shroff delivered an emphatic closing argument in the case, she visited the bathroom, where she crossed paths with one of the Stepford Wives. Up to this point, none of these C.I.A. women had uttered a word to her. “Nice job,” the woman said, crisply, and walked out.
As the jurors began deliberations, they sent out a series of notes with questions that seemed to indicate some genuine confusion about the technical aspects of the government’s case. On March 9th, they convicted Schulte of two lesser charges—contempt of court and lying to the F.B.I.—but hung on the eight more serious counts, including those accusing him of transmitting national-security secrets to WikiLeaks. Judge Crotty declared a mistrial.
The prosecution had clearly blundered by getting so mired in technical minutiae, and Shroff had ably defended her client. But it was also tempting to wonder whether in the years since WikiLeaks was established, in 2006, public attitudes toward both the intelligence community and the act of leaking itself might have shifted. Endless revelations concerning warrantless wiretapping, the use of torture, and extrajudicial killing have done little to enhance the prestige or the moral standing of America’s defense and intelligence establishment. And many people consider Snowden and Manning, along with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, to be heroes. Of course, in Schulte’s case there did not appear to be any moral imperative driving the leak. If he did it, he wasn’t blowing the whistle but seeking payback. And he continued to deny that he did it. Edward Lee Howard, the disgruntled C.I.A. officer who handed secrets to the Soviets, went to his death denying that he had done so. The person who served time with Schulte in the M.C.C. said, “What Josh told me is that he thinks Amol set him up.”
The mistrial was a devastating turn for the government, but Schulte’s father, who came from Texas with Deanna to attend the proceedings and staunchly believed in his innocence, was disappointed. Roger Schulte, who didn’t know what a hung jury was, asked Shroff, “You mean he wasn’t acquitted?” The child-pornography and sexual-assault cases have still not been resolved. When I asked Roger and Deanna about those charges, they said that, though they believe in Josh’s innocence, they haven’t spoken to him about the particulars of either case, or examined the available evidence themselves, so they were not in a position to offer any preview of his defense. But the U.S. government, rather than push forward with these other cases—which might have resulted in an easier conviction—instead announced that it would put Schulte on trial again for Vault 7.
Schulte currently resides at the Metropolitan Detention Center, in Brooklyn, where he has been preparing for his new trial. Most observers of the case agree that Schulte is fortunate to have a lawyer like Shroff, but he doesn’t necessarily share this view; after the government announced that it would retry him, he dismissed her and opted to represent himself. Shroff has stayed on, however, as standby counsel. “I’ve been with Mr. Schulte for five years,” she said. “We went through a pandemic together, we went through a trial together—most marriages don’t survive this kind of trauma.” Shroff told me that she and Schulte spend hours on end in the scif, where he is formulating his new defense, along with another lawyer, Deborah Colson, and a paralegal. For security reasons, they can’t take garbage out of the room, so trash accumulates among the boxes of highly classified documents. The lawyers used to bring Schulte snacks (gummy bears, Dr Pepper) before the Marshals banned food in the scif. “He’s such a persnickety eater,” Shroff said, with affectionate exasperation. “If I go to Chipotle, it has to be white rice and only black beans.” In prison, Schulte has grown an impressive beard.
To nobody’s surprise, Schulte has tangled with his prison guards, and in repeated filings to the new judge in his case, Jesse M. Furman, he has singled out individual guards and suggested that they should be facing criminal charges. Schulte has filed more than sixty official challenges to the conditions of his confinement. In prolix memos, many of them handwritten, he has condemned the Justice Department, the C.I.A., the F.B.I., and the Bureau of Prisons. He refers to his cell as a “torture cage,” and maintains that his living conditions are “below that of impoverished persons living in third world countries.” One of his complaints is that the guards do not give him adequate bathroom breaks during the hours he spends preparing his case in the prison law library. And so, lately, Schulte has taken to urinating in the law library. He has also converted to Islam. When I mentioned this to Kavi Patel, he burst out laughing. “He’s manipulative,” Patel said. “I don’t know how else to say it.” One might question whether this conversion is simply a ploy to get better food. But many people discover faith behind bars, and Schulte recently observed a month of daytime fasting during Ramadan.
The new trial is scheduled to begin on June 13th. The government seems unlikely to present quite as much evidence of Schulte’s antisocial behavior this time. It may abbreviate the technical evidence, too. The proceedings, however, will remain blanketed in secrecy: Matthew Russell Lee, an independent journalist who covered the first trial, recently filed an objection to the government’s motion to seal the courtroom during testimony from C.I.A. officers, but it appears that that condition will again apply. Schulte, meanwhile, has sought to call no fewer than forty-eight current or former C.I.A. employees as witnesses. One of the people he has tried to summon is Amol. At a recent hearing, Schulte suggested that, if the evidence he requests is too sensitive to transport to the scif, perhaps “they should take me to the C.I.A.” Judge Furman responded flatly, “You are not going to the C.I.A.”
We live in an era that has been profoundly warped by the headstrong impulses of men who are technically sophisticated but emotionally immature. From the whoopie-cushion antics of Elon Musk to the Panglossian implacability of Mark Zuckerberg, a particular personality profile dominates these times: the boy emperor. While reporting this article, I often wondered how the C.I.A. could have missed the obvious combustibility of this profile when it hired Schulte and gave him a security clearance. In order to get an agency job, Schulte had been subjected to a battery of tests—but, when his lawyers tried to obtain the psychological profile that the agency had produced on him, the C.I.A. would not turn it over. Perhaps, as the agency took up digital spying and sought to bolster its hacking capability, it deëmphasized qualities like emotional stability and sang-froid, and turned a blind eye to the sorts of erratic or antisocial tendencies that are widely accepted in Silicon Valley (and even embraced as the price of genius). The agency may have been blinkered about Schulte’s destructive potential because it had concluded that this was simply how coders behave. I sometimes found myself wondering whether Schulte was more idiot or savant.
When you consider the powerful forces arrayed against him—and the balance of probabilities that he is guilty—Schulte’s decision to represent himself seems reckless. But, for the C.I.A. and the Justice Department, he remains a formidable adversary, because he is bent on destroying them, he has little to lose, and his head is full of classified information. “Lawyers are bound,” Shroff told me. “There are certain things we can’t argue, certain arguments we can’t make. But if you’re pro se ”—representing yourself—“you can make all the motions you want. You can really try your case.”
The government does not bring a lawsuit every time it identifies somebody who has inappropriately leaked classified information. On the contrary, a decision is often made to settle the matter quietly, rather than risk further exposure of secrets in a public trial. Schulte might well attempt to force the disclosure of so many secrets that the authorities will feel compelled to drop the charges against him or to offer an attractive plea deal. There may be some threshold of disclosure beyond which the C.I.A. will not venture. Deanna Schulte told me that one reason her son had elected to serve as his own counsel is that he wants to “put it all out there.”
In a June 2nd court filing, Schulte suggested, with a menacing flourish, that if the government goes to trial with the child-pornography charges he plans to make it maximally painful for the C.I.A. His defense, he promised, will incorporate extensive testimony about agency “operations and assets,” and will potentially require courtroom appearances from “9 covert officers, 17 overt officers, and at least 1 asset.”
In a contest between the dictates of official secrecy and the imperatives of justice, odds are that secrecy will win. Schulte knows this, and that may be his greatest advantage. He has said of the Vault 7 case, “I expect a not guilty verdict on all counts, and anything less will be an utter failure.” Shroff told me of her client, “He’s hopeful now.” Roger Schulte said the same thing, assuring me that Josh has learned a lot about the legal process, and that he isn’t giving up. “He seems to be holding pretty strong,” Roger said. “He’s a fighter.” 
The New Yorker · by By Patrick Radden Keefe

20. Flowers for Joyce (Useful Fiction)

Useful fiction. I think we are familiar with the concept but I have not seen this title used before.

Flowers for Joyce
She has all these tools to help. Why doesn't she feel helped? · by Lt. Col. Phoenix L. Torrijos
Useful Fiction is a new approach to sharing research and analysis through using the oldest communications technology of all: story. Sometimes called FICINT or Fictional Intelligence, it fuses real data and insight with narrative scenarios. The goal is not to replace the white paper or journal article, but to provide a new means to share insights, in a form that audiences are more likely to read, but also more likely to act upon. If science fiction and technothrillers are like a milkshake, and strategy papers and trend reports are like vitamins or kale, think of this as the equivalent to a breakfast smoothie for policymakers that blends education and entertainment with a purpose. This FICINT essay was produced through an initiative undertaken with the U.S. Air Force's “Blue Horizons” futures team.
* * *
“God, I look like shit.”
The harsh halogen lights above the bathroom mirror paints my face in the most unattractive way. Splotchy lavender colors the bags under my eyes. Deep creases appear on my forehead as I raise my eyebrows in a failed attempt to smooth out the bottom of my face.
Bob’s warm voice recaps the last eight hours of my life: “Last night, you experienced thirty-eight minutes of REM sleep, and four hours of total rest. Your recovery level is red, at nineteen percent.”
“What I would give to get into yellow,” I respond.
Despite doubling up on Ambien—my therapist Dr. Reddy prescribed it—sleep was elusive these days. I haven’t had a real night’s rest since Nick left. Out of nowhere he said he wanted to talk, something about needing space and my depression, but I didn’t really listen. I just stared at the small suitcase by the front door.
“Your blood pressure is 108 over 78—slightly elevated. Do you require assistance?”
“I’m fine, Bob,” I sigh. “Really.”
You can lie to yourself, but you can’t lie to your virtual assistant.
I force myself to take five deep breaths, imagining the gentle rush of that lush tropical waterfall in Kalihi. The combination of the poor sleep plus the elevated heart rate will probably draw attention. One fucking off-day and now I can’t even cry without the whole world knowing.
I shuffle to the kitchen in my pajamas and bunny slippers and pry open the cat-shaped coffee jar. The words “fucking perfect” echo around the empty vessel.
I trudge over to the refrigerator and tap the screen to add coffee to the next delivery. Bob intones, “Based on your consumption, you should also add limes, olives, soda water, and bacon.”
Great. So, I’m short of garnishes aaaaaannd salted pork. Then again, these days I usually have my dinner in an up glass with blue-cheese olives.
I tap the screen to re-order my Kauai Coffee. Nick and I took our honeymoon in Hawaii. Seven beautiful days that smelled of coconut oil and plumeria, and the nights were filled with passion and whispered intimacies. It was the best time of my life. Returning to Arlington and the cacophony of the D.C. rat race was like being buried by a ton of bricks. Nick returned to the bank, and I continued my job as a financial manager for the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office in the Pentagon.
As corny as it sounds, we had bonded over finance. But while I enjoyed the solitude and meticulous productivity of spreadsheets and quarterly close-outs, Nick loved the social thrill of closing a deal. I loathed his group dinners—all the contrived rapport and fake conversation made me feel dirty. Nick always resented that I couldn’t just play along, and eventually just stopped asking me to join. It was like a splinter in our relationship, an irritating wedge just underneath the surface that never quite healed.
“Your blood pressure is 115 over 79—slightly elevated. Do you require assistance?”
“I’m still fine, Bob.” OK, so this was definitely going to earn me a surprise session.
I turn back to the refrigerator screen, double-check my order for blue cheese olives, limes, Fever Tree soda water, peppered bacon, and Kauai Coffee, and tap “purchase and deliver.”
Settling for a mug of hot water and English breakfast tea, I wake my desktop and open the files for the Air Force Research Lab Small Business Innovation fund. Second-quarter isn’t going to obligate itself.
* * *
A deep growl in my stomach drags me from my accountant’s trance. A glance at my phone and I realize that it is early afternoon. I stretch and stand up—into a cloud of tiny stars. I steady myself against the desk.
Whoa, I need to get something to eat.
After grabbing the last yogurt in the refrigerator, I settle back into my office chair. Although I should be finishing up the Project ROCKET account, instead I open my Amazon page. The items in my basket stare back at me, each a complementary part of my post-Nick life: melatonin, eucalyptus stress-relief candles, moisturizing socks, and a self-help book titled “The Heaviest Heart.” I navigate to the checkout, but for some reason the transaction won’t close. I press and repress the mouse button, as if the webpage will magically process my purchase on the fourth try. Instead, an error notice pops up: “This account has been deactivated.”
What the fuck is going on?
Did I not pay my credit card? Is it still linked to Nick’s? Is he fucking with me? Did I do something stupid while I was drinking?
The buzz of my smartwatch shocked me, pulling me up from my spiral.
The first time I cut myself, Nick forced me to register for the Thera-net before I was released from inpatient treatment. “For a more holistic approach to mental health self-care,” as Dr. Reddy cheerfully told me. Now the Thera-net knows everything. The combination of my blood pressure, sleep recovery, refrigerator contents, those stupid fucking clothing biotags, and now my rising panic was cuing my watch to snap me out of whatever was happening. It’s like a socially acceptable electric shock collar, except that I’m not a goddamn dog.
I sigh and roll my eyes. Dr. Reddy would probably be holo-calling in the next hour or so.
I return to Amazon, press the “back” button and refresh the page--the error message persists.
A harp melody distracts me from losing my shit on Amazon. Dr. Reddy’s theme music echoes through the house, alerting me to her incoming holo-call. I debate ignoring her, but instead walk over to the living room and plop myself down on the coach.
Her bust materializes above the holo-puck on the living room table. She is a picture-perfect therapist: lush brown hair, soft knowing smile, inquisitive eyes shielded by horned-rimmed glasses that give her that pretty-but-smart look we women all strive for. I want to punch her in the face.
“Good afternoon, Joyce. How is your day going?”
“OK. A little light on sleep,” I say nonchalantly. Dr. Reddy raises an arched brow at my answer. I see her triaging me with her eyes.
“I noticed some moments of frustration today, plus changes in your sleep cycles. When was the last time you went out on a walk?”
She knows damn well the last time I exercised. She has access to everything that comes off of the Thera-net. Nick thought it would be the best way for us to move forward, that we could start over. I tried to take my strap and ring off once, and Nick got a text alert on his phone.
“…Joyce, are you listening to me?”
“Uh, yeah…everything is good. I’m just slammed at work,” I say.
“Joyce, I’m concerned about you. TRICARE only covers your Thera-net program for six months, but there are still some self-care skills we need to work on. Are you thinking about hurting yourself?” Dr. Reddy tilts her head to elicit a response. She looks like a dog watching TV.
Yes. “No, of course not.”
“So you can stay safe today? Do you have a plan to hurt yourself today?”
“No, I am of sound mind and have many wonderful things to live for.” I feel like a trained monkey.
“Will you come into the office tomorrow to meet with me?”
“Yeah, that should be fine.” It’s a minor miracle that I squeak that out without rolling my eyes.
“OK, noon at my office. I’ll check up on you later this evening.”
The holo-call flickers off. My chest heaves with a sigh that bottoms out for a moment. Sometimes I wish the next inhale wouldn’t come. My hand rises to my chest, as if I could just put pressure on my sucking heart ache to make it go away.
The grumble in my stomach stops me from spiraling into another bout of self-loathing. Instead, I walk to the refrigerator to grab a yogurt. Shit, I forgot I ate the last one for lunch. If I order it now, maybe it can just be an add-on to this morning’s order. My fingers dance across the refrigerator touch screen and eventually land on the “buy now” button, but the order still does not process. I scroll down to access this morning’s order. Blinking next to the order number is the words “cancelled – error 10-56.”
“What in the hell is going on?”
I want to call Nick.
“Your vocal tones indicate emotional distress. Do you require assistance?”
“FuckingstopBob! I don’t need your goddamned help!” I scream. I sound like a crazy lady. I don’t understand what is going on with all of my accounts. My grocery delivery, my Amazon account? Maybe there’ll be something on the news about another internet outage or some big activist hacker attack.
I glance at my phone: 16:39, Wednesday, December 14. Not too early for a drink. I walk to the kitchen and pull out an etched rocks glass, fill it with five ice cubes and Ketel One from the freezer, and squeeze two pre-sliced limes over my drink in a practiced fashion. The first sip is to my lips in under 60 seconds.
* * *
Ding dong.
The doorbell chimes, and a delivery person drops a package and walks away. I check my phone: 19:17. The room rotates off axis as I stand. Oops, I must have enjoyed a couple of drinks. I make my way to the front door in a fairly dignified fashion and find a charming yellow, orange, and green floral arrangement. It must be from Nick. I tear off the card in giddy excitement.
“Nick, we are so sorry for your loss. Joyce was a lovely lady. Here if you need us. Jay and Kate.”
The room spins, and I can only focus on my name. What in God’s name is going on? I’m right here. Am I dead? This is so fucking stupid.
I walk back to the living room, grab my phone and dial Nick’s number. No response, not even a ring. I look at the top right corner of my phone screen and there are no cell service bars. Is this a joke?
Wait a second. I’m freaking out and Bob doesn’t care.
“Bob?” I call out. Nothing. Bob’s always there. Always.
The elevated blood pressure, sleeplessness, diet, lack of exercise, my pathetic Amazon purchase history. Is the Thera-net slowly deleting me? I strip off my ring and watch. Won’t need these any more if I’m already dead. I listen intently for Bob to remind me that I’ve misplaced my bio-sensors, but hear nothing.
I bound over to the kitchen counter and fill a giant cocktail glass with ice-cold vodka and down the whole thing. The burning sensation cauterizes my insides and makes my limbs feel heavy in a lovely way. I couldn’t even call for help if I needed it now. The thought makes me giggle.
My gaze wanders the room, resting on the Hawaiian beaded leis on the bookshelf, then on the arm chair that we argued over in the Fairfax antique shop, and finally settle my eyes on the delivered condolence arrangement. There is something perverse but logical in its presence—it belongs here. And maybe I do not.
I pour another vodka and grab a several of prescription bottles from the cabinet. Ambien, Xanax, and Diazepam and glass in tow, I plop down on the coach and begin opening bottles. A handful of pills slide down my throat with a gulp of vodka. My head rests blissfully on the back of the couch. In moments, I feel my limbs melting into the leather. The euphoria of finally being completely independent after all of these monitored moments washes over me in waves of masochistic satisfaction. It’s like I haven’t been allowed to have a genuine feeling in months.
I wonder, did the Thera-net corral me to this moment, or would I have chosen today? The thought rattles around my head as my eyelids grow heavy. Flickers of red and blue flashing lights encroach on my narrowing vision, and then I hear him.
Nick’s voice is calling my name, “Joyce!”
* * *
In Loving Memory of Joyce
Joyce Caroline Ambrose née Belford—daughter, wife, friend, patriot—died on December 14, 2029, at her home in Arlington, Virginia. She was 39 years old.
Born on January 25, 1990, to Harold and Wanda Belford, both life-long Defense Department civilian employees, Joyce was known for her thoughtful deliberations and love of mathematics. She matriculated with cum laude honors from George Mason University and immediately followed her parents into civil service, eventually serving at both the Pentagon and government offices near Chantilly, Virginia. She met Nicholas Ambrose, classmate and love of her life, while studying for her Master’s Degree in Public Policy at Georgetown University.
Joyce’s kind heart and heightened sense of duty often weighed heavily on her, and she fought ferociously with the specter of depression. Targeted during the recent wave of cyberattacks on U.S. government employees, Joyce became a tragic casualty of adversaries exploiting our increasingly networked society.
She is survived by her parents, and her beloved husband Nicholas. She is predeceased by her maternal grandfather, Carl, and her paternal grandmother, Laura.
Funeral services will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia, on December 22, 2029. In lieu of flowers, the family requests support for the Joyce Ambrose Act, Proposed Senate Bill 1056, which provides additional cyber security protections to national security professionals and their families. The petition can be signed here. · by Lt. Col. Phoenix L. Torrijos

De Oppresso Liber,
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Senior Fellow, Global Peace Foundation
Senior Advisor, Center for Asia Pacific Strategy
Editor, Small Wars Journal
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
Phone: 202-573-8647

David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email:
Web Site:
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
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FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

If you do not read anything else in the 2017 National Security Strategy read this on page 14:

"A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation. For generations, our society has protected free press, free speech, and free thought. Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data. The American public and private sectors must recognize this and work together to defend our way of life. No external threat can be allowed to shake our shared commitment to our values, undermine our system of government, or divide our Nation."
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