|It’s been a hell of a year-plus for D.C., first 9/11 — so many people tend not to connote the Pentagon crash in with the term – 9/11; but yes, that city took a heavy casualty list of good people. And then it was anthrax…now it’s this sniper. My friend Brenna asked me today whether I thought the sniper was a terrorist. I had to think about it, but yes, I think the sniper is a terrorist (Webster’s: somebody who uses violence or the threat of violence, especially bombing, kidnapping, and assassination, to intimidate, often for political purposes). What I don’t think is that he’s a person of color; not from the middle-east. All through our history of serial killers here in the states, a very small percentage (I think one) has been a person of color. It’s always crazy white guys without girlfriends. I guess it's all of those abnormal psychology courses I took in college thinking they'd give me a leg up on weeding through dating material.
Today NPR was doing some shows centering around forensics and such. Personally, I think the police may be focusing on the wrong thing…. After it was leaked out to the press that the guy tried to make calls to reach them (six of them where he listed specifics of whom he spoke to) and was hanged up on or disconnected, it kind of struck me that this guy probably knows nothing about the political system, or else he would have gotten one of those pay-by-the-minute disposable cell phones and called the mayor’s office. The guy has made 13 attempts, and killed 10 people. So why not concentrate on the forensics what caused the failures. I had an opportunity to interview Esther Williams (one of the first women engineers in this country, not the swimmer), she was brilliant at the forensics of failure — she used to say, “You want to know what went wrong? Be the failure, Sally. Then you have it.” She was one of five people whom Lockheed let stay on well after her retirement and she was brought in on the Hubble failure. So, figure out what went wrong on those three jobs where he wounded instead of killed, and you know the guy’s weaknesses. Know his weaknesses and you’ll find out what he’s overcompensating for. Know that, and you’ll know where he’s going to hit next. Or have I just been watching too much CSI?
Today the Washington Post stated, “Montgomery Police Chief Charles Moose also renewed his plea for possible witnesses to yesterday's attack in the Aspen Hill section of the county to come forward. Moose's plea was specifically directed toward the immigrant community, saying "immigration issues" should not deter anyone from coming forward. When pressed by reporters, however, Moose said he could not give "carte blanche" to anyone who might be in the country illegally.”
It’s rumored that he’s promising a “snitch visa,” nicknamed because of immunity given to a group of Thai women who were issued immunity after they turned against the pimps who had brought them into the US and turned them into prostitutes without benefits (don’t think independent Las Vegas high priced whores who are able to retire after a few years). This was right after they returned the aliens home whom they took into custody last week who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time in a white van….
The sniper is listening to the media because he is responding to it. He also seems to get worked up about things rather easily. One thing I have noticed is that he’s just been dubbed “The Sniper,” not the “DC Sniper,” or whatever. I have a feeling that if one day he woke up and found that someone had dubbed him, “The Cocksucking Sniper,” that he’d go ballistic and start making major mistakes. He’s playing the media (by causing them to be at odds and at the scrutiny of the local and fed authorities — all of his letters have said don’t tell the media). He seems to be as calm, cool and collected as an Arid commercial. What’s it going to take to catch this guy? My guess is he’s going to need to screw up pretty bad to compensate for the Three Stooges antics (cop giving a ticket right across the street from a scene, etc.) of the people tracking him. That means he needs to have a challenge to his balance, and from the three page letter he wrote about bad customer service on the “sniper tips line,” he does seem to have a cracking point.
You know, a satellite scan of persistent surveillance of the three counties could piece together who the killer is. As a sidebar, satellites have become pretty important as of the last decade, actually before that, but we’ll just think about the last decade because the rest of that is pretty much off record. For instance, four dozen satellites from nearly two dozen nations supported the 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) in southeastern Europe. It was the largest armada of spacecraft ever brought to bear on a single war in history; and most of you never knew it happened. The military action was in a region of Europe known as The Balkans; a place with extraordinary peaks and valleys. More than a dozen different kinds of American, British, French and NATO satellites gathered intelligence via photography, infrared and radar imaging, and radio and television intercepts; measured and reported weather conditions; communicated command and control messages and data; and pinpointed targets and located people on the ground. War machines have become so sophisticated that even the bombs dropped by B-2 bombers home in on their targets with signals from Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. Spysats were very important. The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) operated two radar-imaging satellites known as Lacrosse. Each weighing 15 tons, bigger than four SUVs, and orbit 400 miles above Earth's surface. Each Lacrosse crossed the Balkans twice a day showing commanders where to strike and what damage was caused. They could see objects as small as a foot across at night and in bad weather. Big objects on the ground, like tanks and surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, could be seen even if hidden in a woods. In addition, the NRO operates three digital-imaging satellites known as KH-11. They offered extremely high resolution pictures in visible light and infrared. They couldn't see through bushes, but had decent night vision in good weather. The KH-11 satellites hover in egg-shaped elliptical orbits ranging from 175 to 625 miles above Earth, and flew over the Balkans twice a day. In addition, there also were Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites.
How did satellite commanders get info to ground officers? NRO personnel from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA) packaged the data and sent it on via American command and control satellites to ground commanders on ships at sea, and at naval and air bases and army forts. Weather conditions in Europe vary wildly, which highlighted the importance of Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites, as well as other thinly veiled civilian weather satellites, used to read conditions in target areas. At least 10 American and European weather satellites delivered images of Balkan conditions. There were four DMSP satellites in polar orbits 500 miles above Earth. Additionally, there were four weather satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) flying in polar orbits. They are known as NOAA-10, -12, -14 and -15. Two European Meteosat satellites were in stationary orbit over the area. Meteosat-6 and -7 reported back continuously from the same place in the skies over Europe. How did commanders know where targets were? There were 24 Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites orbiting Earth, and cruise missiles and some smartbombs were guided by precise timing signals received directly from GPS satellites. Planes and ships navigated the globe with the same GPS signals, and troops and trucks located themselves with GPS receivers. The American spacecraft included the U.S. Defense Satellite Communications Systems (DSCS) satellites, the “UHF Follow-On” satellites, the Fleetsatcom satellites, and Milstar Satellite Communications System satellites. Communications satellites from other nations included Great Britain's Skynet satellite and France's Telesat Syracuse satellite. And the NATO-4 satellite was used. All of these coordinated land, sea and air forces. Russian spysats were not supporting NATO operations, but were peering down on the scene. The Russians had only one digital-image spysat and one radio-receiving sypsat in operation. All that said about that particular use of satellites, there were also some interesting uses for military and civilian satellites in Afghanistan.
BTW: On October 5 a Titan 4B rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base carrying an imaging spysat to a sun-synchronous Earth orbit. My guess is that the spysat payload probably was a Keyhole photo-electronic satellite. The new satellite, labeled USA-116, probably replaced a six-year-old Keyhole; a telescope pointed at Earth. It has vision powerful enough to see objects as small as four inches across in visible light. The satellite, crafted by Lockheed Martin and TRW, has infrared and thermal imaging capabilities, and probably resembles the Hubble Space Telescope with a lens barrel and solar wings. It’s also a propulsion module with engines and fuel for maneuvering in orbit.
So why can’t we get this USA-116 over D.C. for a few weeks? There are already a few NavStar systems nearby. Basically, when you have the first report of gunfire pinpoint the area with police cars with GPS and catch the guy fleeing the scene. My friend Carol’s sister lives just outside of D.C., she says her sister is ordering groceries off the Internet (buy Peapod stock!) and that she’s keeping her family off the road as much as possible. She was actually nearby the first gas station hit when it happened; I can clearly understand her caution.
In an attempt to get away from the news today, I went down to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, www.egyptianmuseum.org, and met with Lisa the knowledgeable and entertaining curator. I had heard a story last month on the news regarding the carbon dating of one of the mummies — the same mummy that had made me fall in love with archeology when I was in sixth grade (the year everyone from counties all over visit the museum via school fieldtrips). Maybe it was those visits to the museum that caused me to have the penchant I have for archeologists and paleontologists.… I remember with great fondness a few years ago a wonderful fling with a French archeologist who was out here as a visiting fellow at a local university — what a fun excursion that was! Anyhow, the mummy, one the museum had thought might be royalty, turned out to be a scribe (how cool is that, but I’ll save all this info for the story I’m currently writing). The mummy, originally acquired from Neiman Marcus back in the ’20s as one of their one-of-a-kind artifacts they offer on the cover from time to time. It was a his and her mummy set, and turned out to be a somewhat important find. It was a time when tomb raiding via American, British and French archeologists was taking place on a regular basis. Lisa told me the story of spinster sisters who has bought a mummy (that some think was one of the six missing kings) and took him on their boat going home, thought he smelled too much and dumped him over the side! Then another piece of history — back in the Victorian era, people would go to Egypt, acquire a mummy and bring it home for an “unwrapping” party, where they would give their guests scissors, probably with promises of finding hidden jewels in orifices, and they would get boozed up and cut in…. Anyhow, it’s creepy to say the least. The Mummy Road Show visited the museum and I saw a bit of the show, it seemed very cool and I wanted to talk to her myself. She’s a great curator who has a great passion for her work. I’ll be pitching the story this week…finally some fun stuff ; -)
Anyhow it was bleak today — the gateway to winter, or what I consider winter, and what easterners tease me about feeling is winter. I dropped by to see Jamis, www.buckswoodside.com, to see what he was up to. I had a 3:30 meeting scheduled there, and had to reschedule because he got World Series tickets at the last minute. I understand. Jake invited me to go see the game last night — something that I would not normally find very exciting, but the seats were great, the company was great — and I thought it might be a good experience. I hate sports (except Australian Rules Soccer, Stanford Men’s Basketball and The Big Game — the Olympics would be better served to have more of a Survival aspect to them…Joust Ice Skating…the Skeleton challenge, but with pies in the face or a pit of snakes at the end of the ride). Anyhow, last night’s game was like watching the Three Stooges commit water ballet. But, surprisingly enough some of those guys are pretty good looking, baseball guys have nice butts — for the most part. Not like football guys. I dated a guy in the minor leagues (baseball) awhile back — Tim; he was a funny guy. I used to go watch (sort of) him play, but I’d bring a book, which would annoy him to no end. What can I say? He had a great ass, but just about any sport bores me to tears…. I’m currently listening to the swish noises being made for the flashback plays on Fox, it sounds like someone who just learned PowerPoint…. Jake just shouted in that the game is close. We have tickets for Sunday — that I just found out we’ll have to fly out to. Maybe, since I have the Bridge Concert and my high school reunion on Saturday, I’ll sleep in on Sunday, and Jake can take another one of his friends with more enthusiasm to the game. I don’t particularly relish the thought of being in the land behind the Orange Curtain. I better go break the news to him.
Just heard Moose release a statement that he has a black man and his teenaged son now in the crosshairs of his investigation. My money is not on this lead, I just have a feeling it is a crazy white guy without a girlfriend. Anyone care for a friendly wager?