Latest read: Integrity

What can you learn from a Nixon staff lawyer who pleaded guilty to approving the break-in of Dr. Lewis Fielding’s office in 1971?  Plenty to my surprise.  Egil Krogh‘s Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices, and Life Lessons from the White House is a story of how ‘national security’ and political zeal triggered Watergate.  Krogh even closes the book with an open letter to W. Bush’s illegal wiretapping to demonstrate that our nation’s politicians and their staff have forgotten Watergate‘s 40th anniversary is just a couple years away….clearly the lesson has been forgotten as well.

Krogh joined Nixon’s White House team after working in a Seattle law firm with John Ehrlichman.  Ehrlichman served Nixon as a senior consultant in the 1968 Presidential campaign and was rewarded with the role as Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs. Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman dominated the Nixon White House like no other executive staff.

Krogh was responsible for approving the break-in at Fielding’s office in order to dig up damaging evidence against Daniel Ellsberg who had leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.  Ellsberg served on Kissinger’s staff.  This event was the first of many illegal break-ins designed by G. Gordon Liddy‘s Operation Gemstone.

Ellsberg wrote the introduction to Integrity.

Shortly thereafter Nixon’s men would invent a Special Investigative Unit, a Nixon/GOP “police force” known as “The Plumbers” to fix the leaking of government documents to the media.

It was not a total surprise to learn Liddy was willing to kill during the Fielding break-in.  Thankfully that did not happen but proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the zealots who were working for Nixon. Even Howard Hunt‘s team from Miami did not ask to be paid to break into Fielding’s office — they saw it as a patriotic act.

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OLPC XO-3: third time’s the charm?

With much lower fan fare OLPC has released it’s latest attempt to bring a educational computer to the world’s children.  The OLPC project has had a series of hits and misses.  The initial release known as the XO-1 was received as a minor success.  The expectations could not be higher — bring advanced computing to the world’s poorest students.

one-laptop-per-childThere is much advanced technologies in these devices.  The target goal is under $100 for the 3rd generation device which is projected to ship in 2012.

OLPC received much attention since its launch with the UN, but the release of the XO-2 was scene as a break through that never materialized.  With tough economic conditions and globalized part manufacturing I’m not sure OLPC will be able to ship a tablet device by 2012 but boy I would sure want them to succeed.

I believe OLPC and its supporting research groups have made a huge impact in the computing world.  Before OLPC there were no netbooks….Negroponte‘s vision has already created a new marketplace.

The one real miss was the Sugar OS.  Sugar was designed for children yet due to the marketplace and influence of Microsoft, OLPC has adopted Windows as a supported OS.  I will never be convinced that children need to learn Microsoft Windows in order to use a child-friendly learning device.

Tags: OLPC, $100 computer, XO-3, tablet, open source, globalization, trends

My latest read – American Spy

As most of the President’s men who served Nixon have released their own accounts of their roles in Wategate, Howard Hunt’s book American Spy: My Secret History in the CIA, Watergate and Beyond is no different.  Hunt spent his career in the CIA from the end of WWII to Watergate. I must admit Hunt lived quite a life.  He was also a respected writer having published over 45 books.

He will always be known for his role in the Bay of Pigs and his reported involvement in the assassination of President Kennedy however his book’s focus is Watergate.

I cannot honestly believe how stupid the Republicans were in dealing with Hunt’s team from Miami.  G. Gordon Liddy was the mastermind of Operation Gemstone and directed the overall planning with the White House while Hunt ran the team.   Its amusing to see the amount of detail Hunt provided regarding the planning to break into DNC offices in the Watergate building.

Many believe the break-in was a one time event.  In the last twenty years it has become accepted that Liddy directed four break-ins at the Watergate.

Why?  A member of Hunt’s Miami team, Virgilio Gonzàlez the lock picker actually forgot to bring the correct tools to break into the DNC office.  Hunt’s team had to cancel the operation while Gonzàlez actually fly back to Miami over a weekend to located a correct set of tools to successfully pick the lock.

This just proves how stupid Hunt and Liddy were regarding this group of clowns….the guy who is in charge of picking the lock to get you inside the DNC forgets to bring his lock picking tools?

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Latest read: Triple Cross

My understanding of the events leading up to 9/11 have been shaped by great authors and believe Triple Cross: How bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI–and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him by Peter Lance makes significant contributions to understanding the full breakdown of the US intelligence community.  Many elements of his research and interviews will should shock Americans.

Triple Cross: How bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI–and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop HimLance reveals Al Qaeda had a mole in the NYFD who was able to steal blue prints of the World Trade Center before the 1993 bombing and that US authorities had been tracking Al Qaeda for more than 10 years.

The book’s primary focus is the role of Al Qaeda master spy Ali Mohamed and his work as a mole within US Army intelligence, the CIA and the FBI.  Lance brings a number of key points that were overlooked or more appropriately ignored by the 9/11 Commission.

Patrick Fitzgerald, National Security Coordinator for the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York met multiple times with Ali Mohamed years before 9/11.  During this timeframe Ali Mohamed declared his loyalty to Osama bin Ladin and told Fitzgerald that he did not need a fatwà to attack America.  And yet Fitzgerald did nothing.

Ali Mohamed was identified by the US State Department as Osama bin Ladin‘s first security trainer and helped smuggle Al Qaeda’s co-leader Ayman al-Sawahiri into mosques located in California and North Carolina for recruiting and fund raising.  Lance reveals that even Bin Ladin recruited at mosques in Chicago in the late 1980s.
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