uss-arizona

Intelligence and the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor

The blame for the attack on Pearl Harbor cannot be laid solely on intelligence failures. The Pearl Harbor investigations affixed plenty of blame to faulty leadership, inflexible policies and procedures, and overall complacency after more than two decades of peace. These same investigations, however, called attention to the long overlooked concepts that intelligence work not only required expert personnel and continuity in time of peace, but that it also should be recognized as an essential function of command.

An Interview with Gene Discipio

The Lint Center’s John Thomas Wiseman interviews Gene Discipio.

John Thomas Wiseman: How would you define National Security and in what capacity have you been involved with United States National Security? How did you get involved?
Gene Discipio: National Security is the concept and the primary responsibility of the Federal Government to protect our physical state and people usually against foreign problems by whatever means possible, including military action, diplomacy and economic sanctions. I’ve been involved with National Security through my work as a Government employee in the Intelligence Community and now as a systems engineer with the MITRE Corporation working with various US Government agencies. I was hired by the CIA as an imagery analyst (now called a geospatial analyst). I held this position from November 1996 to January 2008. I’ve been at the MITRE Corporation since January 2008.

JTW: What is one of the more memorable or impactful experiences during your National Security Career?
GD: I authored several reports that were read by the Vice-President and Secretary of Defense.

JTW: Was there a particularly funny or comedic experience?
GD: There were no specific events that I would consider particularly funny, but I along with my co-workers, would always try to have fun at our jobs in the course of a normal workday.

JTW: What is one of the most valuable lessons you learned from your NS time?
GD: Be patient and verify everything. The answer to the problem you are working may take longer to find than you anticipated. Along with the quality assurance mechanisms that are in place, always coordinate your work with as many people as possible and solicit feedback.

JTW: What was one of the most difficult experiences you faced during your NS time?
GD: The only thing that I would say was difficult would be working nights, weekends and holidays at various times throughout my career.

JTW: What advice would you give new personnel thinking about starting a career in National Security?
GD: Research the agency that you would like to work for and study the area that they would be most interested in.

What? Oh, come on!!!!!

by Mule

One of my first para-military courses after joining the CIA was a small-arms familiarization course. I was given driving directions to a clandestine training facility out from Washington and arrived late one Sunday afternoon for a week’s indoctrination to pistols from around the world.

Guards at the front gate of the training facility checked the name on my driver’s license against a list of people expected, gave me a map of the installation and pointed out where the barracks were located. I arrived at the housing area, received military fatigues which had my training alias, PENDY, already sewn military-like above my shirt pocket. I changed into my military togs and joined other special operations new-hires at the installation bar. Very soon thereafter Jerry Falls emerged as the quickest and most clever among us. He was ex-Special Forces/Vietnam and naturally cunning, a lawyer by education.

He told me later that night after supper as we had lounged outside smoking a cigarette that he had grown up in a tough Catholic section of Philadelphia. When he was about ten his mother insisted he take special lessons at the local parish on how to “give confession.” At the conclusion, the class lined up in a side isle of the church to go into one of several booths for their first official, church sponsored, confession of sins.

Jerry was well back in the line, waiting for others to find the pitfalls in this exercise. He knew out on the streets kids didn’t squeal if they knew what was good for ‘um. Jerry wasn’t so sure this wasn’t a set-up, plus it was very dark in those booths and talking with extreme authority figures was not inviting. He saw that the boys ahead of him would go into one of the booths and he could faintly hear in a high pitched whisper from the boy’s side, “Forgive me, mumble, mumble, mumble.” And then on the father’s side of the booth, there would be a lower pitched, inaudible response. Except in the booth of Father O’Riley, who was hard of hearing. A young boy from the class would go in and there would be his whispered opening and then from the father’s side, loudly, “YOU DID WHAT? TO YOUR BROTHER, YOU SAID WHAT? WHAT? WHAT’S A BUGGER?” Jerry hoped that when he came to the head of the line that he would not have to go into the good Father O’Riley’s booth. The father responded loudly to every boy that went in, “YOU DID WHAT? YOU SAID WHAT?”

Jerry’s time came and he was sent to Father O’Riley’s booth.

Inside it was warm from the other youngster who had been in before. And it was dark. He could hear the Father breathing through the opening of the partition that separated them. He began, “Forgive me father for I have sinned,” he said and paused. The father said in an even tone. “Yes. And?” Jerry continued to sit quietly but then said, “Actually I haven’t sinned.” The Father yelled, “YOU WHAT? WHAT?” Everyone in the church could have heard. “YOU WHAT? DON’T WASTE GOD’S TIME.” Outside people walking by the church stopped when they heard the shouting.

This made an impression on him, he said, and he didn’t go into dark rooms with strange men ever again.

This guy was funny and I sought him out the next morning when we went to the pistol range.

The instructor, a former Special Forces NCO, had dozens of foreign handguns laid out on a long table and he spent an hour going over each weapon, discussing its country of origin, its caliber, what it could and couldn’t do, where they were being used around the world. We were then offered the opportunity to take any one of the weapons to the firing line and, on command, fire them at targets mounted in front of an earthen berm 50 feet away.

We had worked our way through several of the weapons – Jerry was at the firing port to my right – when one of the trainees in our group said something dumb about keeping up our proficiency with foreign weapons. Sort of a suck-up question, asked in a stupid way. Well that’s what Jerry noticed and he brought it to my attention. He suggested that the person needed a reality jolt. The morning sun was up and many of us had taken off our fatigue tops and were in T-shirts. Jerry suggested that we get the dumb questioner’s shirt, take it down range and put it behind our targets and shoot it full of holes. We’d put it back and no one would be the wiser, until the fellow went to get dressed for lunch.

So I walked over to the fellow’s area – he was distracted firing a weapon – picked up his shirt and walked back to my place on the firing line, next to Jerry. The next time we went down range to check our targets I took the shirt and placed it on the berm behind my target. When we got back on line I began to fire the foreign weapon I had at the time, through my target, into the shirt. Time and time again I fired. One magazine, two. Jerry had put his gun back and was beside me, watching, laughing and laughing and laughing. He fell to the ground and curled his knees up to his chest in the fetal position as he laughed. Tears were running down his cheeks, he was laughing so hard.

I started to have second thoughts about my new friend Jerry because this was funny, shooting the shirt and seeing it bounce around behind my target, but it wasn’t that funny. You don’t fall down laughing over this, do you?

The next time we were allowed to go down range and check our targets, I went down and found I had been shooting my own shirt. Even the PENDY nametag had bullet holes in it. Jerry had switched them on me. I had shot maybe 15 holes in my own shirt.

I had to wear it to the mess hall for lunch. An instructor came up and told me I looked stupid. Jerry laughed and laughed.


Story was originally published at: http://www.muleorations.com/blog/51-2


Background about the Author:    James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr

Many people dream of success and living a fulfilling life. This Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded veteran is one of the few people to ever actually achieve those dreams. Mr. James E. Parker, Jr. fought in Vietnam as a 2LT and eventually joined the CIA where he received two Certificates of Outstanding Service, a Certificate of Distinction and the Intelligence Medal. He has decided to share his insightful experiences and through stories on his website as well as in the books he has written which are listed below. The Lint Center for National Security Studies is thankful and proud that we are able to share some of his selected stories with you in our Virtual Archive.

Website:
http://muleorations.com/index.html

Books:
http://muleorations.com/books-for-sale.html

The Vietnam War Its Ownself (2015)
Kessler Country Homilies (2013)
Battle for Skyline Ridge (2013)
Covert Ops (1997)
Last Man Out (1996)
Codename Mule (1995)

War Stories

Retired from the clandestine service in the early 90s, I went back to work for the CIA after 9/11. One of my first jobs had me at the end of the day in a bay area with other retired CIA case officers. Occasionally a bottle of wine was opened.

Not that it was needed to get this particular group of old retired spies to talk about what they had seen and done over the years.

There was a certain one-upmanship involved in the story-telling along the lines of “Oh yea, well listen to this.”

Caused a natural tendency for grander and grander acc’ts of CIA field duty to the point that some of the stories there towards the end of the end-of-the-day sessions were hard to believe.

With that in mind here are three of those stories:

A) There was an up and coming firebrand of a case officer, who after three tours was made Chief of Station of a small 3rd world country. He had this piece of business that he was sure this one particularly busy larger station would want to know about.

So he wrote them a long involved message giving the background to this piece of business and where it stood now and how it might be of use to them.

He got no response.

A few days later he wrote again, referencing his first message, giving some minor details about how the situation had changed and asking the busy station to respond, at least to provide an expression of interest.

He got no response.

A few days later he wrote again, referencing his first two messages, and gave this large station a piece of his mind about professional courtesy.

The response from the busy station referenced his three messages and the text had only one word.

“Yawn.”

B) The Agency in its relatively short life has gone through several “riffs.” Good men have been let go, although most of the bottom quarter of the case officer corps have periodically been purged too.

Usually a panel of officers two grades over the grade under review would be convened and they would make the determination of who stayed and who was let go.

The Chief of Station in a significant geographical location was called to Hqs to sit on one of these panels. By all acc’ts he didn’t want to be there doing this distasteful work, and he was the most severe in his recommendations. The most damning.

When he got back to his station, finally, he found waiting for him, his own riff notice.

He sent a two word message to Hqs.

“Fuck you.”

C) An old experienced ops officer from Hqs flew out to a foreign station to pay off a long time asset.

Reasons why he was being paid off and terminated and his exact country of origin, isn’t part of the story.

The story told in that group of old case officer late one day was about the large amount of money the agent was to receive.

The officer coming from Headquarters had arranged to have the cash sent from Headquarters and it was awaiting him when he arrived at the CIA field station. He introduced himself around, picked up his package and found an empty desk. When he opened the package he found instructions on how the officer was to transport the money from station to the hotel room where he would meet and pay the agent.

An old hand, he didn’t feel the need for some Headquarters bean-counter to tell him how to do his business, so he put the instruction letter away and began counting the money slowly. When he finished he checked the total against the amount listed in the package and then checked the amount against the due amount in the agent’s file. All matched.

Looking around the desk he found a blank sheet of paper and listed the amount on it, with intentions of writing a receipt around that number for the agent to sign once they were together.

He checked that he had a pen in his shirt pocket and then took bundled money by the handfuls and placed them in different pockets of his suit coat and a newly purchased black wool overcoat.

On the way out he stopped by the Chief of Station’s office, an old contact. There was some re-introductory chit chat, and then the Hqs guy went over his plans for the afternoon, evening ahead. His comments were brief and to the point.

Station Chief made a few comments about security and ended by saying that the newcomer should be careful because of the threat of street crime, especially aimed at tourist. Pickpockets, street walkers and street thugs would be along his route to and from his destination. The Headquarters officer assured the Chief that he could look after himself and took his leave.

All went well for the Headquarters officer as he walked along the streets of this old city, passing through the crowds with his hands in his overcoat pockets. His coat collar turned up against the winter wind, he kept his head down and did not stand out from others rushing by. He had memorized his route and walked it casually, effortlessly taking note along the way that he wasn’t being followed.

Two hours he walked this way and that before going into a subway station, bought a ticket to a stop several beyond where he was going and waited in the shadows. The train arrived and the officer boarded. The trip to his destination stop was uneventful although the officer had a local newspaper up as if he was reading it and kept his attention on his surroundings in the noisy fast moving underground train.

When he reached his stop, he got up, folded the newspaper and waited for others to get off before he did. The last to leave, he stepped out on the platform and looked around.

Suddenly he was swarmed by young kids. Filthy, laughing, grabbing kids, yelling in some odd language. They were at his back, his front, his sides. Hands everywhere all at once. He tried to shoo them away by hitting them with his newspaper and his open hand. He grabbed a hand that was inside his overcoat pocket then turned around to stop a kid from pulling his wallet out and that took his focus, because he didn’t want to lose his documents. The kid – with unkempt hair, dark eyes and ratty clothes – was smiling but was biting his lip as he tugged at the wallet, yanking again and again to get it out of the man’s back pocket. The officer tried to slap the kid but he ducked and then there was sharp electronic “bing, bing” in the subway station and the kids were gone. Completely swarmed by youngsters one minute, the next, they had stopped yelling and leaped away. The man, getting his balance, looked up and saw a tall dark man standing in the door of the subway, holding it opened against the constant sounding door-ajar “bing, bing.” All the kids scampered by him, safely aboard. A few waved gleefully as the train left the station.

They had taken most of his money… almost every dollar of that enormous amount. In no more than a dozen seconds.

In the sudden quiet of the empty underground station, the agent collected himself and then carried on.

Hqs was not pleased when they got his report. Eventually he suffered career ending consequences.

The incident sent shivers down the spines of everyone in the local station, because they had to work on those streets every day. Gangs of young thieves – some coming from other countries – were a constant menace, targeting tourist and other foreigners primarily, but going after anyone who looked prosperous. They operated on plazas where tourist congregated and also near bus and subway stations. Everyone at the CIA station made renewed vows to be absolutely professional at all time on the street and to stay out of the grasps of the local young thieves. They also checked their wardrobes to make sure they dressed down to the common level of working people when they went out on the streets.

Late one Wednesday afternoon several months later, a CIA officer from the station went out to pay a local agent. Coincidentally he ended up at the same subway stop were the Headquarters officers was robbed. He was well aware of where he was and what had happened before. He buttoned his worn overcoat to the top and locked his arms around his chest, pulling the slack of the coat to the front, took a deep breath, put his head down and was quickly out the door as soon as they stopped.

He was immediately swarmed by kids, pushing him around, backing him toward the subway door. Yelling amongst themselves. Laughing.

The officer didn’t hesitate. He swung out both arms at the same time, catching one young boy on the temple who dropped to the platform floor. Turning he picked up another boy and used him as a bat against another youngster, screaming now as loud as he could.

As he was widening his stance ready to do more battle a large grown man dove in like a football player hitting the officer in the chest, knocking him to one side. He fought to keep his feet after stepping on one of the boys still down on the platform. But he was losing the battle – there were more men on him and he fell to the floor – so he sought to put his hands in his pockets, covering his money.

One of the angry men sitting on his chest asked in a very excited, very US mid western voice, “What are you doing? Are you crazy?”

The CIA officer had stepped off the subway train into the path of some US Boy Scouts on an international field trip rushing to make the train.

Sipping our wine there in that bay area, we all agreed that this CIA spy business is tough. You just never can be sure.

This was a late afternoon story… and some agreed later it was awfully cute to be true. But then who knows?


Story was originally published at: http://www.muleorations.com/blog/13-2


Background about the Author:    James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr. a.k.a. Mule

James E. Parker, Jr

Many people dream of success and living a fulfilling life. This Bronze Star and Purple Heart awarded veteran is one of the few people to ever actually achieve those dreams. Mr. James E. Parker, Jr. fought in Vietnam as a 2LT and eventually joined the CIA where he received two Certificates of Outstanding Service, a Certificate of Distinction and the Intelligence Medal. He has decided to share his insightful experiences and through stories on his website as well as in the books he has written which are listed below. The Lint Center for National Security Studies is thankful and proud that we are able to share some of his selected stories with you in our Virtual Archive.

Website:
http://muleorations.com/index.html

Books:
http://muleorations.com/books-for-sale.html

The Vietnam War Its Ownself (2015)
Kessler Country Homilies (2013)
Battle for Skyline Ridge (2013)
Covert Ops (1997)
Last Man Out (1996)
Codename Mule (1995)