America’s Mysterious Space Plane?

On March 5, 2011, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle was launched into low Earth orbit. The purpose of this unmanned space plane remains a mystery. What is the X-37B?

The X-37B – America’s Mysterious Space Plane?

As mentioned earlier, the exact purpose of the X-37B space plane remains shrouded in mystery. However, plenty of possibilities exist. Although no one knows for certain, some have speculated it’s an attempt to weaponize space or a spy satellite. Here’s more on the mysterious X-37b space plane from The Daily Mail:

The U.S Air Force’s highly secret unmanned space plane was supposed to stay in space for nine months, but it’s now been there for a year and three days – and no one knows what it’s doing. The experimental craft has been circling Earth at 17,000 miles per hour and was due to land in California in December. However the mission of the X-37B orbital test vehicle was extended – for unknown reasons…

…The Air Force said the second mission was to further test the technology but the ultimate purpose has largely remained a mystery…

(See The Daily Mail for more on the mysterious X-37B space plane)

The Hunt for Bin Laden’s Corpse: Part II

Did Osama Bin Laden really die in Pakistan? Was his corpse truly stuffed into a rubber-lined canvas body bag, weighed down with lead, and then buried in the North Arabian Sea?

Where is the Osama Bin Laden’s Corpse?

That was the subject of the second blog post ever at Guerrilla Explorer, way back on June 29, 2011. At the time, treasure hunter Bill Warren had declared his intention to recover Bin Laden’s body from the bottom of the Arabian Sea. It turns out that would probably be a huge waste of time, and not just for the obvious reasons.

Recently, WikiLeaks began publishing over 5 million emails from Stratfor, a “global intelligence” firm. Several of those emails contradict the official story about Bin Laden’s body, confirming what many of us had already suspected. That is, Bin Laden wasn’t buried at sea at all. Instead his body was transported to the United States. Here’s more on the mysterious fate of Osama Bin Laden from Business Insider:

At 5:26 a.m. on May 2, the morning after Barack Obama announced the successful raid on bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound, Stratfor CEO George Friedman sent an email with the subject “[alpha] OBL” that said: Reportedly, we took the body with us. Thank goodness.

Fred Burton, Stratfor’s vice president for intelligence, followed that up at 5:51 a.m. with an email titled “[alpha] Body bound for Dover, DE on CIA plane” that said: Than [sic] onward to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Bethesda…

(See Business Insider for more on the mysterious fate of Osama Bin Laden)

Charlie Chapin’s Secret Identity?

Charlie Chaplin is one of the most well-known comedic actors of all time. But was his name really Charlie Chaplin? And where did he come from?

The Mysterious Charlie Chaplin?

Back in 1952, during the height of McCarthyism, the U.S. government was convinced Charlie Chaplin was a communist. They asked the British Secret Service, MI5, to investigate his background. After sixty years, that MI5 file has finally been released to the public. By the way, that’s an impressive length of time to keep such a secret although in pales in comparison to the CIA’s epic protection of invisible ink secrets.

Anyway, it turns out there is no official record of Charlie Chaplin for the first 31 years of his life. As a result, the CIA believed he was really a Frenchman named Israel Thornstein. More recent evidence suggests another reason for the lack of records: Charlie Chaplin might’ve been born into a British gypsy family. Here’s more on Charlie Chaplin’s secret identity from The Telegraph:

MI5 investigated whether Charlie Chaplin was actually a Frenchman called Israel Thornstein, previously secret files on the Hollywood film star have revealed. Intelligence officers could find no trace of the actor’s birth in Britain despite Chaplin always claiming he was born in London in 1889.

The mystery surrounding his origins emerged when the US authorities asked MI5 to look into the comic actor’s background after he left America in 1952 under a cloud of suspicion over his communist links…

…British intelligence rejected American claims that Chaplin was a high-risk communist, concluding that while he may have been a “sympathiser” he was no more than a “progressive or radical”.

(See MI5 files: Was Chaplin really a Frenchman and called Thornstein? for the rest on Charlie Chaplin’s secret identity)

Cyborg Spy Cats?

In the 1960s, the CIA embarked on all sorts of strange espionage projects to spy on the Soviet Union. Perhaps there was none stranger than America’s first cyborg spy cat…the Acoustic Kitty.

The Acoustic Kitty Project?

The Acoustic Kitty project, which cost a whopping $25 million, wasn’t for the squeamish. Agents literally sliced open a cat, stuck batteries into him, and wired him up using the tail as an antenna. Then they dropped off the Acoustic Kitty in front of a facility believed to be used by Soviets. Unfortunately, the cat never got close enough for a proper test – it was wiped out by  a taxi driver almost as soon as it hit the ground. Here’s more on the bizarre Acoustic Kitty project from TBD:

As if the D.C. Taxicab Commission wasn’t already receiving enough heat from the Uber mess, let’s turn to a sadder piece of local taxi history — the tale of how our country’s multimillion-dollar CIA-trained cat spy died at the wheels of a D.C. taxicab. Today I’ve already talked about dogs (and about cabs and technology), so it’s only fair I bring up felines as well.

…Accounts of the CIA’s $25-million Acoustic Kitty project are available throughout the Internet, but one of the more detailed and fun couple pages come from Alan Bellows’ book Alien Hand Syndrome in a section called “Cyborg Spy Kitties.” He recounts a former CIA agent’s description: “They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity.”

(Thanks to The Birdman & see Metro history: A D.C. taxicab killed America’s premier CIA-trained cat spy for more on the Acoustic Kitty project)

The American Empire?

Is there really an American Empire?

The American Empire?

According to many people, the answer is yes…the American Empire is a very real thing. After all, the U.S. has somewhere between 700 to 1,000 military bases in dozens of countries around the world. About 500,000 troops are estimated to occupy these bases. Of course, those numbers are just estimates. Exact figures on the “American Empire” are impossible to determine.

“Whether the most accurate total is 900 bases, 1,000 bases or 1,100 posts in foreign lands, what’s undeniable is that the US military maintains, in Johnson’s famous phrase, an empire of bases so large and shadowy that no one – not even at the Pentagon – really knows its full size and scope.” ~ Nick Turse

For a better look at the American Empire, check out this very interesting graphic from Lew Rockwell (original credit to the National Post). It shows the global extent of the American military. Does it constitute an American Empire? You decide…

The Anti-Conspiracy Conspiracy Theory

The Internet has given a voice to millions of people, allowing for a Golden Age of information that is unprecedented in history. But not everyone likes an unregulated marketplace of ideas. Is there a conspiracy to control the Internet and thus, rid the world of conspiracy theories?

The Conspiracy to Control the Internet?

The answer, at least in certain quarters, is yes. For several years now, various high-profile academics, government employees, and reporters have called for the U.S. government to control the Internet by regulating or assuming control over its information. But how does one control the Internet? Some people call for indirect measures. For example, Cass Sunstein, the current Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, once recommended that government agents go undercover on the Internet and raise doubts about conspiracy theories and the like.

Some individuals call for more direct measures to control the Internet. The other day, Evgeny Morozov published an article on Slate complaining about sites that “undermine scientific consensus, overturn well-established facts, and promote conspiracy theories.” He wants browsers to mark “disputed information” in red (danger alert!). He also suggests Google manipulate search results so people won’t be able to find “sites run by pseudoscientists and conspiracy theorists.”

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Wow.

Whenever someone wants to limit your options on what to think, look out. At the core of Morozov’s paranoia is the collectivist idea that individuals are incapable of thinking for themselves since they might arrive at so-called wrong conclusions. Thus, we need a guiding hand (presumably, belonging to the government) to help us sort out right from wrong. And to do that, government must control the Internet.

Of course it’s all bunk. Sometimes consensus science gets overturned, well-established facts get called into question, and conspiracy theories are shown to be true. That’s the brilliance of the Internet. It’s the greatest marketplace of ideas ever invented. We would be wise to keep it free.

You can read Morozov’s bizarre thoughts on government’s so-called responsibility to control the Internet here:

[The Internet] has been tremendously useful, giving us Wikipedia and Twitter. But it has also spawned thousands of sites that undermine scientific consensus, overturn well-established facts, and promote conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, the move toward social search may further insulate regular visitors to such sites; discovering even more links found by their equally paranoid friends will hardly enlighten them. Is it time for some kind of a quality control system?

People who deny global warming, oppose the Darwinian account of evolution, refuse to see the causal link between HIV and AIDS, and think that 9/11 was an inside job have put the Internet to great use. Initially, the Internet helped them find and recruit like-minded individuals and promote events and petitions favorable to their causes. However, as so much of our public life has shifted online, they have branched out into manipulating search engines, editing Wikipedia entries, harassing scientists who oppose whatever pet theory they happen to believe in, and amassing digitized scraps of “evidence” that they proudly present to potential recruits…

(See more on government’s so-called responsibility to control the Internet here)

Eddie Slovik: Execution of an American Deserter

On January 31, 1945, twelve soldiers raised their rifles, pointed them, and fired. Fifteen minutes later, private Eddie Slovik was dead. He remains the only U.S. soldier executed solely for desertion since the Civil War, when it was a disturbingly common punishment. Why did Slovik suffer this fate?

Desertion during World War II?

“The person that is not willing to fight and die, if need be, for his country has no right to life.” ~ Colonel James E. Rudder

While armchair historians often tout World War II as “the Last Good War,” not every combatant agreed. Back in those days, service in the U.S. military wasn’t voluntary…it was mandatory. Even worse, those who went AWOL from a war they’d been forced into fighting risked the maximum punishment…death. Although exact AWOL numbers remain unknown, more than 21,000 people were sentenced for desertion during World War II. 49 of those individuals were given the death sentence. Out of those 49 people, a single person was executed…Eddie Slovik.

The Execution of Private Eddie Slovik?

Prior to the war, Slovik was “a small-time thief and ex-convict who was originally classified as unfit for military service.” But he was drafted anyway and in August 1944, found himself in France. During the horrific Battle of Hürtgen Forest, the U.S. Army suffered 33,000 casualties. Eddie Slovik barely managed to survive and afterward, decided he “wasn’t cut out for combat.” He requested a reassignment away from the front lines. His request was denied so he deserted, along with hundreds if not thousands of other Americans. After being caught, he refused to return to his unit. Summarily, he was convicted of desertion and sentenced to death. Shocked by the severity of the punishment, he appealed to General Eisenhower for clemency. But Eisenhower refused and on January 31, 1945, Eddie Slovik was executed via firing squad.

“They’re not shooting me for deserting the United States Army, thousands of guys have done that. They just need to make an example out of somebody and I’m it because I’m an ex-con. I used to steal things when I was a kid, and that’s what they are shooting me for. They’re shooting me for the bread and chewing gum I stole when I was 12 years old.” ~ Eddie Slovik

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

35 American soldiers were executed during World War I, all for the crimes of rape and/or murder. 102 American soldiers were executed for the same reasons during World War II. But Eddie Slovik remains the only soldier in either war (or in any military engagement since the Civil War) to be executed for the sole crime of desertion. But why?

Clearly, General Eisenhower and other military leaders decided to make an example out of Slovik. American soldiers were dying in terrifying numbers in hotly-contested France. As such, mass desertions had become a major problem. Eisenhower apparently believed the execution of Eddie Slovik would be enough to make soldiers think twice before deserting their units. Of course, the execution had little to no impact and desertions continued for the duration of the war. Incidentally, desertions continue today as well with roughly 40,000 members of the U.S. military going AWOL between 2000 and 2006).

In the end, Slovik’s offer to serve in a noncombatant capacity was denied. Thus, he was murdered for refusing to fight in a war that he’d never wanted any part of in the first place. As Bernard Calka said in 1987 when bringing Slovik’s remains home from France, “The man didn’t refuse to serve, he refused to kill.”

The Drug War’s Strange Origins?

Today, the Drug War is a part of American life, just like the War on Terror, the War on Poverty, and any other number of “Wars on Concepts.” But how did the Drug War originate?

The Origin’s of America’s Drug War?

Few people realize the Drug War is a very new invention, launched in 1914 with the highly-questionable Harrison Narcotics Tax Act. Here’s more on the dubious and racist origins of the Drug War from Jacob H. Huebert over at Lew Rockwell

Bigotry and xenophobia were another major factor leading to drug prohibition. Chinese immigrants were partly responsible for spreading opium use in America, so prohibitionists found a receptive audience among whites who feared the prospect of their daughters being lured into the Chinaman’s opium den. Early anti-opium laws in western states explicitly discriminated against Chinese immigrants.

Absurd fears about cocaine-crazed blacks fueled support for cocaine prohibition. Dr. Hamilton Wright, the leading anti-drug crusader during the Theodore Roosevelt Administration, told Congress that cocaine “is often the direct incentive to the crime of rape by the Negroes,” despite a lack of evidence for this or even for the proposition that blacks used cocaine more than whites. Still, Southern Senators especially bought into the widespread myth that black men on cocaine essentially became crazed zombies who were – yes, some people believed this – invulnerable to .32 caliber bullets.

Professional and industry groups, most notably the American Pharmacological Association, also helped enact drug prohibition. Big pharmaceutical companies did not like competition from patent medications, and pharmacists did not like it that people other than themselves could sell drugs. Regulation of drug distribution, even if it imposed costs on pharmaceutical companies and pharmacists to some extent, could be worthwhile to them if they could bear the costs while their smaller, less diversified competitors could not.

(See the rest on the Drug War and its strange origins at Lew Rockwell)

The Largest Mass Execution in American History?

On August 17, 1862, four Sioux Indians attacked and killed five white settlers while on a hunting expedition in Minnesota. A series of attacks known as the Dakota War followed until the U.S. Army quelled the unrest. In the aftermath, President Abraham Lincoln approved the largest mass execution in U.S. history, a record that still stands today. But why did the Sioux launch the Dakota War in the first place?

The Dakota War?

The origins of the Dakota War can be traced back to 1851 when the U.S. government forced the Sioux Indians to sign the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux and the Treaty of Mendota. These agreements required the Sioux to give up large parcels of land and move onto an Indian reservation near the Minnesota River. In exchange, the Sioux were given $1.4 million of money and goods. This amounted to about $0.03 per acre and the U.S. government profited handsomely by selling the land to white settlers for $1.25 per acre. In fact, it profited even more than you might expect since most of the promised compensation was never paid, was stolen by the corrupt Bureau of Indian Affairs, or was otherwise “lost.”

As the 1850s rolled on, the U.S. government continuously violated the two treaties and failed to make payments to the Sioux. The Sioux fell into a state of permanent debt with local traders and thus, the few payments that were made often went directly to the traders. At the same time, crop failure made the Sioux increasingly dependent on the payments. Hungry and angry about the very real possibility that they were being cheated by the Bureau and the traders, the Sioux demanded that the payments be made directly to them. But the Bureau of Indian Affairs agent refused to provide food or supplies under that condition.

Two days later, a Sioux hunting party attacked and killed five white settlers while on a hunting expedition. That night, the Sioux council effectively declared the Dakota War on the settlers. A series of attacks followed. After a few setbacks to U.S. forces, President Lincoln sent General John Pope to lead the counterattack.

“It is my purpose utterly to exterminate the Sioux if I have the power to do so and even if it requires a campaign lasting the whole of next year. Destroy everything belonging to them and force them out to the plains, unless, as I suggest, you can capture them. They are to be treated as maniacs or wild beasts, and by no means as people with whom treaties or compromises can be made.” ~ General John Pope

The Dakota War Ends…& Trials Begin

By December, the short-lived Dakota War was over. At least 500 U.S. soldiers and white settlers perished in the Dakota War. Sioux casualties are estimated about 70 to 100. In the aftermath, General Pope subjected hundreds of men, women, and children to five-minute military trials. 303 Indians were found guilty of rape and/or murder and sentenced to death. However, they were not given the opportunity to defend themselves and in any case, were condemned for participation in the Dakota War rather than for specific crimes.

President Lincoln Approves the Largest Mass Execution in History

General Pope and Minnesota’s representatives urged President Lincoln to approve the execution. However, Lincoln was still in the midst of the Civil War and was concerned that an execution of that size, based on no evidence and a heavily biased military tribunal, might anger European nations who would then throw their support to the Confederate States of America. So, he pared down the list to 39 names. In order to appease disgruntled settlers and Minnesota operatives, he promised to eventually kill or remove all Indians from Minnesota and offered $2 million in federal funds compensation.

On December 26, 1862, 38 Sioux Indians were hanged, marking the largest one-day execution in American history (one Sioux was granted a reprieve). Within the course of a year, Lincoln made good on his promise, driving the remaining Sioux out of Minnesota and into Nebraska and South Dakota.

Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis

Thanks to the politically-motivated Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln might just be the biggest sacred cow in all of U.S. history. Even this mass execution is viewed favorably by many Lincoln scholars, as they point out that he spared the lives of over 260 Sioux Indians. But the fact remains that he ordered the execution of 38 individuals, despite knowing that their individual guilt in the Dakota War could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

Unfortunately, their deaths didn’t bring an end to the violence. After the Civil War ended, General Sherman waged war against the Plains Indians, designed to bring about “the final solution of the Indian problem.” By 1890, his dream had become a reality – all of the Plains Indians had either been killed or placed on a reservation.

 

Guerrilla Explorer’s Wild West Coverage

President Obama’s War on Civil Rights

For civil libertarians, it appears that “Hope and Change” means more of the same. Last week, President Obama announced his intention to sign into law a bill that “would deny suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens seized within the nation’s borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention.”

President Obama’s War on Civil Rights?

Human Rights Watch summed it up pretty well when it stated that “President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.” Not surprisingly, the only presidential candidate who’s voiced disagreement is Ron Paul, who recently pointed out that the bill is “literally legalizing martial law.” Here’s Glenn Greenwald for more on this sinister development:

In one of the least surprising developments imaginable, President Obama – after spending months threatening to veto the Levin/McCain detention bill – yesterday announced that he would instead sign it into law (this is the same individual, of course, who unequivocally vowed when seeking the Democratic nomination to support a filibuster of “any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecom[s],” only to turn around – once he had the nomination secure — and not only vote against such a filibuster, but to vote in favor of the underlying bill itself, so this is perfectly consistent with his past conduct). As a result, the final version of the Levin/McCain bill will be enshrined as law this week as part of the the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I wrote about the primary provisions and implications of this bill last week, and won’t repeat those points here.

The ACLU said last night that the bill contains “harmful provisions that some legislators have said could authorize the U.S. military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians, including American citizens, anywhere in the world” and added: “if President Obama signs this bill, it will damage his legacy.” Human Rights Watch said that Obama’s decision “does enormous damage to the rule of law both in the US and abroad” and that “President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.”

(See Obama to sign indefinite detention bill into law for the rest)