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Interesting stories and anecdotes that reach into insights I have gained abroad.

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Meditation — May 11, 2016

Posted on Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

“I (Jesus) am no longer in the world, but they (His followers) are in the world, and I am coming to you. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine, and in them I am glorified. I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they be one like us.” John 17:11
I lost the ocean this morning, so thick was the fog; it was as if the ocean represented the future; I could hear the waves, sense its breadth, but had to be satisfied with the steps in the sand that I took down the beach. Keep me in the present Lord under Your guidance.
The Lord’s prayer is so clear, absent any fog—that they be one like us; and “they” includes you as well, though you are living two thousand years later and many thousands of miles distant from where Jesus first uttered these words. It is His encouraging prayer that you can hear in your heart as you try to penetrate the fog of life.
Consider the many graces you and loved ones have received to date, and continue to receive, as evidence of the power of Jesus’ prayer to the Father. Reflect upon family members and ancestors, and those for whom you pray even now, who have passed into eternity in His grip. Doesn’t the thought prompt you to see the circle of love that Jesus’ presence established for all of you?
Be filled with thanksgiving that Jesus prayed to the Father that you and all those who preceded and accompany you, and are to follow, be true to His name—and that they be one like us. Praise God!
All for this morning.

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About Iran . . .

Posted on Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
If someone were to ask me—no one has—if I thought the Iran’s highly touted Quds Force was behind the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the the Washington, D.C., I would ask the following questions of the inquirer so that he/she could answer the question to his/her own satisfaction, and not have to rely upon official government pronouncements:
1. Who or what interests are served by publicizing this purported plot, including those internal to the political infrastructure of Iran, to nations whose goals and national security interests would be well served by any U.S.’s response, and to the interests of those within the U.S. occupying positions of influence in political, business, and executive branch circles?
2. If one would undertake—even contemplate–such a bold and definitive action within the U.S., would an adversarial nation and its leadership depend upon untidy surrogates to undertake the action, or would they assume complete control of the operation, thus limiting knowledge of culpability—from choosing the target, the location, the timing, and the perpetrators—limiting the latter to the fewest, wholly reliable, professionals with a track record of success, and within their orbit of control?
3. Related to #2 above, would those responsible risk being blackmailed by those hired to undertake the assassination, i.e. additional compensation to hold their silence?
4. What would be the motive(s) of U.S. authorities—both at the highest political level and department level—to reveal purported evidence and to protest at the same time a conspiracy of such import on the world stage?
5. What is the experience of the Administration’s spokespersons in such clandestine operations, and similarly that of the “talking heads” and former senior government executives– that make themselves attractive and available to the media?
6. Why has the news of this purported planned assassination disappeared so suddenly from media coverage and government pronouncements/updates?
7. Has anyone in responsibility reviewed the history of similar operations planned and sometimes successfully executed by the Soviet KGB and GRU, Israel’s […]

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David Blee — A Tribute

Posted on Sunday, September 11th, 2011

Many have asked me when, or why I resigned from the C.I.A.; and recently, a close friend asked why I thought so highly of David Blee, and who was he. With those questions in mind, allow me to ramble—a trait that I hope only developed quite recently in a long and extending life.
To attempt to put his long life in perspective, David Blee left the room on August 6, 2000. Please refer to a fine obituary that appeared in the Guardian for a detailed scope of his influence and his career at the following link.
David Blee was an NE hand, that is, a member of the Near East Division in the CIA’s Clandestine Service when I first encountered him. He seemed to be almost remote. He spent years in India, headed up the NE division and did his best to identify the change agents under his control to ensure the legacy of the CIA he had come to cherish. Most of the time, his choices were spot on—though there were a few selections he identified for speedy promotion and responsibility that I have a suspicion he would have reconsidered in hindsight—but then again, maybe not.
Quite surprisingly—especially to the old Soviet hands in the late 1970’s—David Blee took command of the Soviet-Bloc Division with no experience—they would say—in Soviet realities. He had no background in the Soviet target—though if he were among us he would beg to differ. The Cold War warriors who grew up on the streets of Berlin after World War II and before the Wall was constructed, and even thereafter must have wondered what was happening to the Agency’s intelligence priorities—but I was too junior to catch the muted conversation held among them as I was serving in India at the time. For my part, I welcomed his appointment as a breath of fresh air to a crusty cadre of officers that were fixated in the past.
I met David Blee earlier in India when as chief of NE he travelled there; and later, […]

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Dalit Teachers and India

Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

I met my first Dalits when we arrived in Delhi and inherited a staff from my predecessor that included a Hindu bearer, Sadari-lal; two nannies, Kahn Debbie and Mary—both from the Kasai tribe of Assam, a chowkidar, or night watchman, and two outside sweepers. The latter were Dalits, Outcastes, or Untouchables, whatever term you prefer. They were responsible for sweeping clutter from our driveway and the path to our single-level home – six rooms or so – and the two storey servants quarters nestled in the rear, alongside the single car garage.
The Dalit outside sweepers were present daily, but we didn’t have much interaction. However, I remember once asking them through Sadari-lal to purchase wood for our fireplace in preparation for a dinner party that evening. They returned with a huge pile of dried water buffalo chips. Not confident what the smell of the chips burning in-doors would do, I decided not to risk the consequences and gave them the chips for their own fire. They were most appreciative and I always suspected that the selection of buffalo chips was deliberate, as was the expected result.
The next Dalit in my life was a priest at the small Indian church we attended, who informed me that his family was from the untouchable caste. At a time when the holy mass in the home was popular, that is, after Vatican II, he asked if we would be willing to host a mass at our home. I wondered aloud whether that was sensible since the poor folks attending would see a rather elegant home. Without a pause, he stated that it was important for poor to see that even the rich can be saved. We hosted the mass.
The next Dalits we encountered were those on the brink of death in Mother Teresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying. My wife and I participated in a church project to white wash the walls of this modest house that could accommodate six or so Dalits in the last six or […]

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Spies and Poetry

Posted on Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

I am not sure that studying literature contributed to my desire to write poetry. I think it had more to do with an inclination toward prayer. Because it was in prayer that I discovered that I was not to be defined by my height, weight, skin color, or volume of my voice. My earliest recollection of composing what some might call feeble attempts at poetry was in my senior year of college when I was employed as the night manager of the newly opened Yankee Stadium Motor Lodge. Though I took the position because I thought I could sleep or study and get paid for it, I discovered that the night activity of folks coming and going was a sufficient distraction from sleep. I remember once trying to catch some sleep sitting at the switchboard when a couple came in quite late. As I got up to register them and give them a key, I realized that my legs had fallen asleep. Making my way to the check-in counter, holding on to anything within reach, evoked a look of sympathy in the eyes of the amorous couple.
Perhaps, CIA training or simply living in The Bronx contributed to my ability to record observations – mentally or in writing. Surely, my experiences walking the streets and riding the subways, working in college as a soda-jerk at Schrafft’s – an upscale restaurant/tea room chain, going out with friends to bars to meet young ladies, as well as did those special times in prayer and meditation at a Jesuit spiritual retreat center in up-state New York all contributed to this attraction, if not facility. With no instruction, I could sit, stand, or walk, taking mental note of what I was experiencing or observing. In time such note taking found its way into reflective journals, letters, and expressive poetry, though for the CIA I limited such observations to the format required in operational and intelligence reporting. For the latter, poetry would simply not be accepted; though in my career […]

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