Archive for February, 2009

part 1 of a 2-part series

Immediately following this week’s DOD Bloggers Roundtable on the Coast Guard’s global anti-piracy efforts, I submitted a question to CAPT Chuck Michel, USCG, Chief, Office of Maritime and International Law, about the CG’s role in building legal capacity. My sincere appreciation to him for a thorough and informative response.

Readers of this blog know that law enforcement is one of our nation’s instruments of power. It is the “L” in DIMEFIL. CAPT Michel’s response is well worth reading since it outlines several USCG initiatives in support of the law enforcement instrument of power.

So here is my question and the response I received from CAPT Chuck Michel:

Q: What is the USCG’s role in building legal capacity of nations impacted by piracy?

Michel: The Coast Guard is working with our interagency partners to assist East and West African regional states and victim states in building the necessary capacity to deliver consequences to pirates. Counter-piracy operations are primarily a maritime law enforcement activity that the Coast Guard is trained and equipped to support. We are the competent authority for the U.S. government on more than 30 bilateral agreements with foreign partners that are key components in a wide range of Coast Guard operations including counter-drug, migrant interdiction, fisheries enforcement, and the Proliferation Security Initiative operations. The Coast Guard understands the domestic and international legal frameworks and the associated boarding and enforcement requirements necessary to ensure the successful negotiation and implementation of agreements to facilitate counter-piracy operations on the water and the delivery of legal consequences to the pirates ashore. A number of initiatives are underway:

1. Coast Guard attorneys were actively involved in the negotiation of the US/Kenya MOU on the transfer and prosecution of pirates that was signed on 16 January 2009. Discussions are ongoing for the development of implementing arrangements to ensure that the agreement functions properly. This will include a package of training and assistance for Kenyan prosecutors and law enforcement personnel, as well as for U.S. Navy and Coast Guard personnel.

2. In late January 2009, the Coast Guard led the U.S. delegation for final negotiations in Djibouti on regional cooperation to combat piracy. This agreement called the Djibouti Code of Conduct, signed by 9 regional nations so far, provides a legal framework for the interdiction and prosecution of pirates. It contains such practical measures as a shiprider program and the development of information sharing and operational coordination mechanisms.

3. The Coast Guard provides the Head of U.S. Delegation to International Maritime Organization (IMO) meetings and activities. IMO activities to combat the threat have included an IMO Assembly Resolution establishing a framework for international cooperation, work throughout the region to develop a cooperation agreement between stakeholder countries to create the legal and operational framework for regional States to combat the threat (resulting in the adoption of the Djibouti Code of Conduct), updated counter-piracy guidance to industry, and, perhaps most importantly, IMO provided technical cooperation to promote judicial consequence delivery mechanisms so that pirates, once caught, face meaningful and just punishment under the rule of law.

To be continued……

Initiatives 4-6 will be detailed in tomorrow’s post so be sure to check back.

There’s been some speculation out there about the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, the transformational catapult system the U.S. Navy is trying to put on the Ford Class Carrier. One of my fellow Navy bloggers is out there claiming EMALS is “a failure, and nobody is really sure what to do“.

That may well be the case, but since there’s precious little fact to be condensed from the RUMINT now flying around out in the blogosphere (read the comments), I figured it’d be nice to find some kind of official/semi-official statement–anything that might shed some light on the subject.

It just so happens that VADM Thomas J. Kilcline, Jr., Commander, Naval Air Forces, addressed EMALS a few days ago, and his view was…interesting. Read it! Here’s a rush transcript (errors are my own) of VADM Kilcline at WEST 2009:

“…The transformational aspects of CVN 78 and that class of aircraft carrier, one of the major parts of that transformation is our ability to generate sorties–a large number of sorties–and we find our catapult systems we have today are somewhat limited after they fire and fire and fire. Especially high-energy shots. High-energy shots are heavyweight aircraft that require either a lot more wind over the deck or a lot more power behind them.

So EMALS was a natural transformational move to “the next thing” in addition to the SPY-1 like radar system in the tower of the aircraft carrier, many more elevators to move things around, a smaller island to have more space for airplanes and to refuel and rearm, it was those catapults that were going to get us off the front end. 

EMALS is currently in Lakehurst, it’s in the ground, we brought a bunch of loads on it in a full-sized sim and it wor–not simulator but actually a generator running a load–now we’re putting it into the ground to how it’s going to work there.

I talked to somebody about this earlier, and see if you can follow me. We had 97 aircraft carriers after World War II, and in one of those 97 aircraft carriers we decided to cut a trough and put a hydraulic cat in so we could put 6 more airplanes on the fightdeck. That allowed us–because we didn’t have to do deck runs–to move airplanes a little farther forward.

We pumped a couple off and I’m sure the first guy who took the first hydraulic shot was kinda wondering what was going to happen, but he made it off the front end. Only one aircraft carrier had to be tested–one of 97. Fairly simple change, and then we have a catapult system. Came time for steam–God bless the Brits–they told us steam might work, they worked on it. They did the R&D for us. We had 20-30 aircraft carriers at the time, so we brought an aircraft carrier off-line, put an angled deck on it, and said, ahh…steam. First guy took a steam cat shot probably went “holy smokes,” but he made it off the front end. But the point I’m trying to make is that we were able to put S&T dollars–R&D into carriers because we had a lot of them or because somebody helped us

We have eleven aircraft carriers. Our S&T aircraft carrier (chuckles) I’m using S&T instead of R&D. Our S&T aircraft carrier is the next aircraft carrier. It’s a full-up round. The time from when it is commissioned until the time it goes on deployment is the same as the Bush which was just (stutters) commissioned. But its first in class with a lot of transformational capability and it makes people nervous. And the first person that takes a shot off that catapult is going to be somebody preparing for a deployment.

So you have to think about CVN 78 a little differently than you thought about the carrier that brought steam and hydraulics into the system. With that in mind, it’s a long pole in the tent. We’re not planning on flying STOVL aircraft for the entire airwing. We’re not going to be STOVL E-2s out there so we’re going to have to figure out that it’s going to work, that’s going to work the first time and we have to make sure that as a transformational piece of gear, Lakehurst works, we understand the generators, we understand the lash-up, moving a lot of electricity around, so you’d be amazed at the amount of work that’s gone into making sure this design is right.

But, as you would expect, including me, the closer I get the more I realize that until that catapult is in an aircraft carrier and those generators are lined up and it fires the first guy we’re all going to be a little nervous about is it going to work or not. I’ve given you the answer in that there’s still instability in the science and technology. And there’s a risk associated with moving forward. In transforming on your front line ship as it comes out is something that makes everybody a little antsy.

Do I think it’s going to work? I am convinced it’s going to work. And I’m convinced it’s going to make an operational difference in how we employ our aircraft carriers. Do I think we’re going to have to work through issues to get there? You’re darn right we are. Just like in anything that’s new like that. So I’ve given you kind of a long answer and I apologize for that but it’s a little more complicated than I think the question in that “how do l make this work.” Are there affordability issues? (Nods) Brand new system, never done before. The estimate process, is it going to get you what you need? Are there cost issues? Sure, estimates result in scheduling and cost issues. So what do they look like? I don’t know what they look like, I don’t even know what the magnitude will be.

The Secretary is engaged, the CNO is engaged, and I guarantee you I’m engaged. I care a lot about that system.”

If there’s something that will kill EMALS, it is, in my mind, the enormous potential risk of building this carrier before EMALS tech is mature. The prospect of investing billions in a vessel that may not work…is scary. Put bluntly, in the Ford, everything (from the engineering to the strategic justification) is wrapped around the new catapult/recovery system. It will be really difficult–if not catastrophic–to tolerate things like readjusting the carrier’s center of gravity to “refit to steam” in the event EMALS proves useless. We’ve built future strategy around immature platforms before, and it didn’t work well. We shouldn’t repeat the process.

VADM Kilcline reminded his audience at WEST 2009 that the CVN-68 carrier program gobbled up a mere $40 million in R&D dollars–for our entire 10 Nimitz Class carrier production run. The Ford Class is a totally different bird. And I’ll bet, in the present budget environment, that there are some budget-hunters out there who are eager to shoot it down.

But if EMALS runs into serious delays–or gets canceled–what are the consequences? If nobody is sure about what to do, can we speculate? Will an EMALS failure boost the fortunes of the F-35 STOVL? Save money by slowing carrier production? I dunno. But your ideas–even your un-sourced speculation–are most welcome. Given the risk, what is plan B?


Looks ugly, no? Go take a look at the bow, too. Could have been worse.

New details are emerging about the grounding. The vessel was grounded on a coral reef, rather than sand, and the amount of dumped “mainly salt water” sewage (sewage is, no matter how you cut it, mainly water) keeps growing (from zero to 5000 to 7000 gallons).

If these two pesky environmental issues were known during the incident and not disseminated, the failure to share that information constrained the options of others who might have been able to help. The sewage thing could have been avoided. And the reef issue, with a little advance notice, could have become a net positive. It does not do the U.S. Navy any good to have a clear and confident post-grounding motto “We’re working to protect the ship, crew and environment” crumble a week or so after the incident.

Ask yourselves: What looks better–the present round of ugly Port Royal headlines, or a similarly-timed wave of “here’s the Navy moving in to save the coral” news? For the sake of everything holy, it’s a ready-made “Animal Planet” feature. People love that sort of stuff. I mean, we’ve got Navy divers out there today, essentially gluing coral together right now! Yet the potential for garnering positive PR from that sort of recovery work is, given the late revelation about the reef, totally lost. Gone. And that’s a shame.

In other news, Pearl Harbor’s organic salvage assets are getting cut. Had those salvage assets gone away a few months earlier, I’ll dare to speculate the Port Royal would have been sitting on that reef far, far longer than she did. Is this neck-down of salvage assets wise? Discuss:


The below commentary came from the Boston Globe (10 February 09), and points to an potentially more serious issue in light of strongly suspected “narco-terrorism” connections between South American and Mexican cartels, Latin street gangs, and Al Qaeda. There has long been concern that the flow of drugs across our borders includes terrorist cells, weapons, fissile material, and possibly chem/bio agents.

US authorities are reporting a spike in killings, kidnappings, and home invasions connected to Mexico’s murderous cartels. And to some policymakers’ surprise, much of the violence is happening not in towns along the border, where it was assumed the bloodshed would spread, but a considerable distance away, in places such as Phoenix and Atlanta.

Investigators fear the violence could erupt elsewhere around the country because the Mexican cartels are believed to have set up drug-dealing operations all over the United States, in such far-flung places as Anchorage; Boston; and Sioux Falls, S.D.

“The violence follows the drugs,” said David Cuthbertson, agent in charge of El Paso’s FBI office. State and federal governments have sent millions of dollars to local law enforcement along the Mexican border to help fend off spillover drug crime. But investigators believe Arizona and Atlanta are seeing the worst of the violence because they are major drug distribution hubs thanks to their webs of interstate highways.

With an opportunistic, adaptive enemy (AQ) who does not need to share ideological goals with its criminal associates, is America facing a merging of the Global War on Terror (or whatever name it will be given in the new administration) and the decades-long War on Drugs? If so, America will be required to fight a fight firmly in that middle ground between national defense and law enforcement that we are so uncomfortable in.

The approach that terrorist suspects are a law enforcement matter has been proven entirely inadequate time and again. Yet, the universal treatment of those same suspects as wartime combatants, and illegal ones at that, is anathema to many who fear a precedent of impingement of civil rights.

What will be the role of our Armed Forces? We have maintained a strict prohibition against use of Title X forces in a police role since the end of Reconstruction. Is that about to change? If not, do police, as some fear, begin to take on paramilitary characteristics that go well beyond the traditional mantra of “Protect and Serve”?

For the purposes of this blog, we can also examine US Navy capabilities to influence the action in our own hemisphere. What are we equipped, trained, and allowed to do? I invite your comments.


Crew Rest?

February 2009


Okay, here’s weekend topic raised, in part, by a news article about a merchant ship running aground because the man on watch fell asleep (see also here).

It was my experience in the surface warfare world that there was a tendency for watch officers to “burn the candle at both ends” – usually a result of demands placed on them by work load, drills and the like. In fact, there has been a sort of perverse pride in long hours with little or no sleep.

In the aviation community, there is a certain amount of mandated “crew rest” after flying and before being eligible to fly again: OPNAVINST 3710.7T states : Flight Crew and Flight Support Personnel. Commanders should make available eight hours for sleep during every 24-hour period. Schedules will be made with due consideration for watch standing, collateral duties, training, and off-duty activities. Flight Crew. Ground time between flight operations should be sufficient to allow flight crew to eat and obtain at least 8 hours of uninterrupted rest. Flight crew should not be scheduled for continuous alert and/or flight duty (required awake) in excess of 18 hours. If it becomes necessary to exceed the 18-hour rule, 15 hours of continuous off-duty time shall be provided.

Now, here’s the question should similar rest requirements be put in place for shipboard watch standers, especially those on the bridge?

Let a thousand voices sing. The good Dr.’s points are fine for a pre-IT world – but the educated citizen can find out all they want now days via the intertubes. After awhile, those retired officers that only seem to chirp up during election cycles and then sound like a talking-point on loop lose their credibility. The marketplace of ideas can be efficient like that

The modern version of this came with retired Admiral William Crowe, who stood next to then Gov. Clinton in the middle of the the ’92 election and gave him the top cover he needed at the right point – got an appt. at the Court of St. James as a thanks and we were off to the races. Say what you want about the politics of it – and you know me and USNI, I would prefer if you didn’t – but at least ADM Crowe was a class act about it all. I don’t think you can say that about much of what we have seen this decade.

The key is for others to speak up in response as much as needed – and for other retired officers to counter the excess and call their peers to account. There was a lot of credibility lost in the last election – I think the excess will take care of itself as we go forward. The best antidote for speech you think is wrong is more speech; just be an adult about it.

There is also a line of thought that not all opinion is political – though it may go against a politician’s opinion.

To wander into my point – I will, ahem, form up with FOD on this one subject as I read Dr. Snider’s ‘lil paper as a discussion of a “Food Trough” problem; but I don’t think some pre-fall of the Berlin Wall central registry idea is the solution. Don’t make people qualify to keep their 1st Amendment rights; they earned it.

Now, a cooling off period of say 5 years after retirement for all GOFO or SES from working for any privately or publicly held company or subsidiary that conducts more than $500 million annually, adjusted yearly for inflation, with the DoD …. now were talking about sump’n!

Posted by CDRSalamander in Policy | 8 Comments

Remember the furor back in 2006 over the news that a Dubai-based company was going to buy a ship terminal operator in the United States?

Remember how all of a sudden many Americans decided against letting a foreign company operate cargo terminals inside the US, despite the fact that the same terminals were already being operated by a foreign corporation? (P&O Ports, UK)

Remember how nobody, including Congress, wanted to take a second and actually investigate what risks there were, if any, given that this purchase would not have changed the fact that the US Coast Guard would have remained in charge of Port Security and that US Customs would still have retained full control of inspecting incoming ships and cargo?

Nobody, especially Congress, bothered to look at any possible benefits this purchase could have brought to the US. This last issue is a shame, because there was a big intelligence benefit this purchase would have brought. An intelligence benefit that was sabotaged by our own Congress which was suffering from Dubai Port hysteria. (Over 30 bills were submitted to Congress over this issue.)

Instead of looking at the Dubai Ports World purchase as a threat, I saw it as a potential opportunity. Here was what I considered the best security reason for the approval of the attempted Dubai Ports World purchase of P&O Ports last year.

I suspect that the US also lost a huge intelligence treasure-trove. Everyone was running around, yelling about the possibility that someone might get access to something they should not see. Well that works both ways. What kind of intel might the US have gotten access to? Movement of cargo between two foreign ports making it easier to track WMD around the world? What would that have been worth?Why the UAE is so Important to the Navy and America

Dubai Ports World is a leader in shipping terminal operations. Part of the foundation of the company was built on their previous purchase of the American company CSX World Terminals, which at the time brought no security concerns whatsoever. But none of the facts mattered at the time this latest purchase was announced. Congress was out for blood, and their hatred of anything that President Bush approved of drove them to kill this deal, for no reason other than to overturn the White House on something. Anything. This combined with election hysteria, drove even Republican politicians to come out against this deal so as not to be accused of supporting this non-issue deal.

Only later did news bring confirmation that the Dubai Ports World purchase would have resulted in a potential treasure trove of intel data for the US:

Former Inside the Ring co-author Rowan Scarborough has written a new book revealing a key reason the Bush administration pressed hard for the 2006 deal for the United Arab Emirates-based Dubai Ports World to take over management of several U.S. ports.

According to Mr. Scarborough, the administration wanted the deal to go through because the UAE government had agreed to let the United States post agents inside its global port network who could report on world shipping.

Dubai Ports currently runs port facilities at key U.S. intelligence targets, including Venezuela, China, Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia.

“Dubai Ports, in essence, was going to become an agent of CIA,” Mr. Scarborough said in an interview. “The arrangement is helping us detect whether any kind of terror contraband was being moved around.”

The management deal to run ports at New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami was initially approved by the Treasury Department-run Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, but was eventually scuttled in 2006 after pressure from Congress. Both Republicans and Democrats raised concerns that the deal would affect U.S. port security since al Qaeda had used UAE as a major financial base for its terrorist network. – Washington Times

Congress killed the deal because the uninformed opinion in the street was against this deal and Certain Congressmen harnessed that opinion to kill the deal.

Not for anything, but guessing the intel possibility was a no-brainer for those in the shipping industry. (Despite this, I did not want to mention anything until the deal had fallen through). So great job Congress for sticking their noses into an issue they had no understanding of and no desire to understand the issue. It was easier to just make it go away. Worse, Congress has access to confidential information that the public does not. It is their job to do what is best, not what is considered popular given the information that they have access to, not what the general public has access to.

Really, if Dubai Ports operating a couple cargo terminals was such a threat to America’s security, why has Congress done nothing about the following port threat example that I note below? (Originally reported here “Try this Port threat on for Size“)

So, how much of a threat do you rate the following in comparison to the Dubai Ports World hysteria?

Take this:

Put it on this (NSCSA = National Shipping Company of Saudi Arabia):

Have it follow this route:

What can you get?

Here all these people are blabbing about what a threat it is for a UAE company to operate ports in the US. (Note: DPW has a number of Americans running it.) These same people have no clue that at the moment there are Saudi-Flag vessels, manned by Saudis carrying tens of thousands of containers into the US each year.

How valid a threat is this? Well according to this recent news story (Found at EagleSpeak) the Indians are very concerned:

Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta Wednesday said terrorists may use shipping containers for the movement of nuclear weapons and called for augmented safety measures at ports.

“Container is the most likely means for the terrorist organisations for illegal transporting of nuclear weapons. Hence, the serious concerns about container security,” Mehta told reporters at a seminar on “Port Sector – Developments and Security”. – Hindustan Times

Sure, the US is implementing 100% container screening. But keep in mind that not all containers on containerships in US ports are destined for the US. Not only that, but not all cargo coming into the US arrives inside containers or even on ships for that matter. And there is no need to hide a WMD inside a cargo shipment. Terrorists just need to hide the weapon somewhere onboard the ship.

Posted just to give everyone something to think about.


Personal Note: I an headed off to Finland for a couple weeks vacation. So I will not be around until the end of March and most likely will not be posting anything other than comments until vacation is over.


Posted by FFry in Maritime Security | 10 Comments
Chilean airmen examine a U.S. Air Force unmanned aerial system Oct. 29 at Quintero Air Base, Chile during an information exchange for Operation Southern Partner.

Chilean airmen examine a U.S. Air Force unmanned aerial system at Quintero Air Base, Chile during an information exchange for Operation Southern Partner.

3 out of a 3-part series. 

Today, USNI Blog concludes its interview with Lt. Gen. Seip.

Q: What are the costs of ignoring Soft Power?

Seip: Great question – and that’s the case AFSOUTH (and many other commands) have to make when proposing new initiatives or funding requests. The future costs of inaction can be quite high. Soft Power done correctly goes a long way towards keeping US forces out of a future Iraq or Afghanistan fight. Soft Power can also assist partner nations in seeking regional solutions to common issues before these problems grow in magnitude and evolve into a ‘must-act’ crisis.

One example is the Regional Aircraft Modernization Program. In short, RAMP is an initiative to assist Central American nations in recapitalizing aging aircraft fleets. Budgets, manpower and significant ongoing costs can quickly make these types of purchases out of reach for some of these militaries. By regionalizing the solution, participants are able to work together to pool their resources and purchase helicopters, airlifters and multi-role aircraft.

Maintenance operations, pilot training and procurement costs are shared among RAMP participants. (For example, one nation may house depot maintenance facilities, while another concentrates on pilot training – nations share these resources instead of building all required pieces from the ground-up.)

During a natural disaster such as hurricane relief efforts, these nations will be able to assist themselves and each other – responding together using common training and equipment. Once these professionals have the tools for success, they’ll unlock a host of sovereign options for their nation.

What would be the cost of inaction? If we were to allow these aircraft to deteriorate to a level where they’re unable to assist their citizens during a disaster, the USAF would become a surrogate Air Force for these nations. Partner nations have the skills and ability to assist themselves – in fact, many Latin American Air Forces are older than the US Air Force – but if we don’t work together to address issues today – these ‘cracks’ could turn into ‘fractures.’

Q: What soft power books are on your recommended reading list?


Why Air Forces Fail: The Anatomy of Defeat
By Robin Higham and Stephen Harris
By looking at how Air Forces have failed, we can help to put in place programs to assist our partner nations to address issues today – averting future catastrophes.

Charm Offensive: How China’s Soft Power Is Transforming the World
By Joshua Kurlantzick
The United States is not the only nation employing Soft Power – understanding the Soft Power operations of other influential nations is prudent.

The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America’s Power and Purpose
By General Anthony Zinni
General Zinni argues that working together with our partner nations is key to America’s future success. I couldn’t agree more.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Seip: Yes. It’s important to understand Soft Power is not a ‘silver bullet.’ Smart Power, the timely and well thought out employment of Soft Power combined with a nation’s diplomatic, economic, political, private sector and non-governmental orgs, as well as military capabilities, is the means by which our nation will be successful in engaging with partner nations across the globe.

By using Smart Power, the United States can help to address the regional and global emerging challenges of the future – averting a potential crisis years in advance. The men and women of Air Forces Southern are excited to be a part of these initiatives….they’re making a positive difference in Central, South America and the Caribbean every day.

The U.S. Air Force is indeed making a difference and I sure hope their soft power budgets are increased dramatically. I am talking about adding several zeroes to the end of whatever they spend today.

I plan on blogging extensively about Soft Power on these pages in the coming months especially about New Horizons, Operation Southern Partner, and Continuing Promise. I am biased but I feel Seip’s responses to my questions on this new mission are so thorough that they are indeed worthy of inclusion in any and all soft power textbooks! 

My sincere thanks to Lt. Gen Seip and Captain Nathan Broshear of his staff for making this interview happen. I suspect Lt. Gen. Seip won’t be a stranger to USNI Blog.

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Soft Power | 1 Comment

WWII Submarine Reports On Line

February 2009


Previously highly classified, and the source for much of the books out there. John Clear EMC (SS), USN (Ret.) and Dan Martini EMCM(SS) USN, (Ret.) are credited for providing the digits. Now they’re on line at the Historic Naval Ships Association website.

Posted by Chap in History, Navy | 4 Comments

Dr. Don M. Snider of the Army’s Strategic Studies Institute recently proposed a solution to a source of controversy over the last few years–the problems presented by retired flag and general officers commenting on official policies. The crux of the issue, in Dr. Snider’s mind, is this:

But it is not just the American people that the leaders of military professions serve. Under the long-standing norms of our civil-military relations, they also serve the civilian leaders elected or appointed over them, and they serve those officers and soldiers below them within the ranks. In particular, it is the younger professionals who watch so carefully and take their cues from their respected senior leaders, even after their retirement.

I see a key problem in this argument–none of these officers ever took an oath to serve elected or appointed individuals; they took an oath to support and defend the Constution. Personal and organizational loyalty is important, to be sure, but there’s a reason “U.S.” comes before “Navy” in this organization. And, to be honest, in my 22+ years in uniform I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m not going to support or execute this policy because Gen. Smith (Ret.) doesn’t like it”, so I’m not convinced the effect of a retired officer speaking out has much day-to-day effect on the devotion to duty of those currently serving.

To get back to Dr. Snider’s points, what he is proposing is for retired three- and four-star officers to voluntarily register their affiliations and political connections so listeners can better judge the things these retired officers say. While the plan is workable, I have doubts about whether anything would be revealed any good journalist (or blogger, for that matter) could dig up.

What say you?

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