Monthly Archives: May 2014

Memorial Day Thoughts

We haven’t many, actually. And those that we have, the most important ones, we prefer to keep private. We hope you don’t mind.

Please don’t use today to thank a veteran. We’re not hugely comfortable with it on any day, but today belongs to the storied dead, whether or not their stories are still told in the world of living men.

We don’t join the ruck of veterans who have a beef with people enjoying themselves and their families on this day. Frankly, we couldn’t imagine a better memorial than for the day to be a celebration of freedom, with everyone doing what he wants with his own loved ones.

Sure, a moment of consideration for the meaning of the day would be welcome. But, well, each of us who lives has our own particular memories of those who party today in the Halls of Valhalla. They roister, they call, but ultimately, they wait in patience. For they know. 

We will join that band in due course, and all will be well. Until then, we live for their memories by living the joys and sorrows of each day.

May today bring you and yours a thousand joys to every one of the sorrows.


This is an example of doing it wrong: the President, bride at every wedding, stopped at Arlington today, his security phalanx pushing back the mere widows and children of the men buried there. He spoke in tribute to himself. The speech he read in mock-portentous half-sentences as it scrolled across his TelePrompTer was just enough about the fallen we memorialize this day to get listeners to swallow the pill: damage control for the still-expanding VA scandal. The speech wasn’t all bogus: he singled out several fallen vets by name as examples of what we celebrate on Memorial Day. But then, “You’ll never walk alone,” he promised surviving vets, which is either an empty promise — or a guarantee that each of us will carry the weight of Washington’s ineffectual and self-serving bureaucrats for life.

Colt AR15 and M16 Serial Numbers, 1960-1972

Colt GX-5857

This memo’s been around as a scanned, non-OCR’d .pdf for a long time. We’ve OCR’d the PDF, and double-checked the numbers against the original data. The PDF is here:M16 Serial Number List OCR[.pdf].

The complete text is below this editorial comment. We would add the following remarks:

  • The first few Colt serial numbers (001-100) were toolroom prototypes and mules, and numbers were reused, and some were built on unnumbered receivers. Most of these were destroyed.
  • The first ~15,000 guns were, as the memo notes, marked as “Armalite AR-15” and these weapons went to the USAF for Security Police use and for testing by the services, including the Project AGILE tests and Vietnam tests by USSF.
  • The Model 03 Army Rifle was rollmarked XM16E1 until the rifle was type standardized as M16A1 on 28 Feb 1967. (The nature of mass production being what it is, this rollmark change took place over a period of months, and is uncorrelated with any physical change to the rifle).
  • The Model 04 Air Force Rifle is rollmarked M16.
  • The 10,000 guns in the 900k range are believed to include most experimental GX guns and all XM177/E1/E2 guns. We have observed GX’s outside this range. GX’s are tool-room prototypes with a four digit number which is reportedly their master drawing. We believe that there are multiple GXs with the same number. There are also GXs that also have a serial number as well as the GX number. A lot of the GXs have serial numbers in the 14xxx range. Prior to 1969 some mil experimentals were made with no serial numbers, and there are duplicate serial numbers in this area as well.
  • The British contract guns were originally intended for special operations forces including the SAS and SBS.
  • The number that Mr Northrop did not calculate, total military Colt AR-15s and M16s plus AR-15 SP1 Sporters to the date of whenever his data cutoff was, comes to 2,778,586.

We hope this document is of use to collectors and historians. For a look at a serial number list that draws on multiple sources, see this thread at ARFCOM.–Eds.

To: W. H. Craven

From:  B. Northrop

Subject: M16 Serial Numbers

Date: February 2, 1973

In December of 1960 we started roll marking AR15 rifles. The following is a general breakdown by serial number of major types model 03, 04, SMG, model 613 and Lebanon rifles.

Starting S/N 101 through 14,484. For General Curtis LeMay (AR15).

14,500 through 14,916 for S.A.W.S. Contract (AR15)

15,000 through 99,999 for Air Force — Model 04

100,000 through 199,999 for Army — Model 03

200,000 through 202,426 for British Contract

202,447 through 379,353 for Air Force — Model 03

400,000 through 407,297 for Air Force — Model 03

500,001 through 701,100 for Army — Model 04

703,278 through 749,999 for Army — Model 04

750,000 through 752,443 for Heavy Barrel Assault

760,001 through 899,999 for Army — Model 03

900,000 through 909,999 for Commando SMG

910,000 through 1,999,999 for Army — Model 03

4,000,001 through 4,060,000 for Air Force — Model 04

4,060,001 through 4,221,800 for Army — Model 03

4,221,801 through 4,265,400 for Air Force — Model 04

4,285,401 through 4,521,000 for Army — Model 03

4,521,001 through 4,521,850 for Air Force — Model 04

4,521,851 through 4,638,400 for Army — Model 03

4,638,401 through 4,643,400 Model 613 for Malasia (5000)

4,643,401 through 4,701,400 for Army — Model 03

4,701,401 through 4,701,900. for Model 613 Commd (500)

4.781,001 through 4,844,400 for Army — Model 03

4,844,401 through 4,849,400 Model 613 for Taiwan (5000)

4,849,401 through 4,926,00 for Army — Model 03

4,926,001 through 4,928,00 Model 613 for Phillipines (2000)

4,928,000 through 4,936,400 — Model 03 Army

Serial numbers 2,000,000 – 2,999,999 were set aside for Harrington & Richardson. This company produced approximately 240,000 guns, serial numbers 2,000,000 – 2,240,000.

Serial numbers 3,000,000 – 3,999,999 were reserved for General Motors, Hydromatic Division. They produced approximately 480,000 rifles, serial numbers 3,000,000 – 3,480,000.

Colt Summary:

Model 03 Army 2,300,171
Model04 Air Force 394,855
British 2,427
AR15 (Early) 14,801
Model 613 12,500
Commando SMG 10,000
Lebanon 14,014
Others (approx.) 1,600
Heavy Barrel 2,444
Total (mil) 2,752,812
Sporters 25,774

B. Northrop


Sunday… Duty

Death is lighter than a feather, but duty is heavier than a mountain.

— Japanese saying from the age of Bushido.

Today’s duty is a dire one, but it must be done. It’s a drive to an unpleasant city in an unpleasant state, to visit an elderly aunt (the family relationship is vaguer than that, but she fits that slot in the pantheon of relatives, more or less. The womenfolk understand it. We need not).

But it’s not a social visit, exactly. She is unlikely to know us. She is in hospice care, suffering dementia, and expected to check out soon. She has been non compos mentis for some years, and may have had a local attorney take advantage of her — at the expense of her heirs, who are not any of her American relatives, but nieces and nephews overseas. So we’re disinterested in that, apart from the principle of the thing.

We hate the way the bad and crooked lawyers ruin it for the other three percent, but we digress.

We have a great storehouse of memories of this warm and wonderful woman, and her ox-strong husband, laid low these twenty years by cancer. We would be content to remember her as she was, and as far as the lawyer goes, perhaps our information is wrong, and if it is not, he’ll get his in the end. They always do, and there’s no percentage in us intruding in the process.

So why are we going, on a visit we dread making, to see someone who will not see us back? Primarily, because duty is heavier than a mountain. She may not know us, but she may; and regardless, a prayer can never be wasted.

May you all have your wits about you till the end.

Note: in all the Memorial Weekend drama, this was not posted on Sunday as scheduled, but has been posted and backdated appropriately. We regret the error. –Eds.

Saturday Matinee 2014 21: Guns: The Evolution of Firearms (2013, TV)

guns-the evolution of firearmsWhat we’re talking about here is a documentary, or rather a series of television documentaries. Guns is a seven part documentary series the traces the history of firearms from the matchlock to today’s modern weapons. It does this by combining narration with historical footage (where available), still images (where film is not, for instance of the Revolutionary War), reenactments, and historic weapons displayed by museum curators.

It’s some four hours of good quality, generally accurate television. The focus is almost entirely on the guns, almost entirely on long guns, and entirely on military weapons; there’s little on, say, police guns or sporting arms.

Acting and Production

The acting is minimal, in the reenactor scenes and by voice actors reading contemporary letters in the style made famous by Ken Burns. The production is generally good, albeit repetitive at times. To get to a modern aspect ratio with old films, they use a sort of picture-in-the-same-picture-stretched-and-blurred effect which gets old rapidly. They did find a large number of rare old films and photographs; it’s not just all the same stale old pictures you’ve seen 1000 times.  There is a slight tendency to hang on tight to a good snippet of footage and reuse it several times back to back, which can get old rapidly.

Unlike some quickie exploitation TV documentaries, the DVD has decent image quality and professional splash-screen graphics.

Screenshot 2014-05-25 01.00.02

Accuracy and Weapons

The guns are, of course, the theme and the focus of Guns, so you would expect them to take great care on accuracy, and they generally do. Despite that, there are some errors, usually the sort where the narration and the image have gone separate ways in the editing booth. And there are a few bungled terms: the Lewis “drumpan” magazine, for one.

Some are more directly wrong. Not every video has a clinker in it, but most do, and the World War I episode (the episodes are divided by war, basically) doubles down on fail when discussing the Colt 1911, then the standard US service pistol. After a fairly good introduction to the adoption of the 1911, the camera zooms in close.

On a 1911A1. D’oh! 

Screenshot 2014-05-25 01.12.00

But wait, we’re not done. The camera then lovingly pans over another 1911, only it isn’t: it’s a Ballester Molina. Zug.

Ballester Molina

Reenactor footage includes some shooting blank, and some shooting live. It also includes very unrealistic scenes of “good guys” and “bad guys” blazing away at each other from five yards apart, and some where the machine gun sound is dubbed in, and the “gunner” is shaking the gun, with the belt not moving. Zug.

That said, the choice of guns is defensible, and the individual guns displayed are often rare, historic pieces, and in remarkable condition. Most of them come from the NRA Museum in Fairfax, Virginia, or the Army Reserve Museum (a little-known but high-quality museum in a basement setting in downtown DC). The curators handle them with cotton gloves on. You would, too.

The bottom line

Guns: The Evolution of Firearms will keep your interest and teach you something you didn’t know, if only because nobody can be an expert in all the gun trends in the last four plus centuries. Its flaws exist, but they’re easily excusable. This is a great set of videos for someone new to historic arms and helps newbies understand where different collector arms fit in the timeline of history. The running time of the whole set is 4:40, but it’s in seven parts on two discs.

For more information

These sites relate to this particular film.

  • DVD page (it’s cheap, and also available in Blu-Ray, overkill for a documentary):

  • IMDB page:

  • IMFDB page: none.
  • Rotten Tomatoes review page: none
  • Wikipedia  page: none


When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have fists

librado cenaWelcome to the National Capital Area, where being the right race gets you a discount on your charges when you kill someone with your bare hands. In this case, road-rage murderer Librado Cena is pretty much getting a pass for beating a guy to death.

Cena will stand trial Monday in a case that began as so many run-ins do on the Washington area’s congested roads but that turned improbably tragic. That blow has divided the families of the popular and well-respected men from Fairfax City over the legal conundrum at the heart of the case: Was it murder?

A medical examiner ruled [William] O’Brien’s death a homicide, but Cena stands accused of misdemeanor assault and battery. That contradiction points to the extraordinary circumstances of O’Brien’s death and the little-known and sometimes fatal issue with a popular anti-stroke drug that made him vulnerable to a single punch.

via Anger on the roads led to a single deadly punch in Fairfax City – The Washington Post.

The case is a homicide, so why’s it undercharged? Commonwealth Attorney Raymond Morrogh presented a variety of light misdemeanors and one bottom-level felony to the grand jury. He says the case is complex and didn’t deserve a homicide charge, but it looks like he’s holding off for the Great White Defendant. Then, he recharged the case with a lighter misdemeanor.

The whole article is a model of Washington Post eeew the violence “happened” narrative management, all the while burying the questions of who started the altercation, who struck the first blow, and who struck the fatal blow. (There’s a video that helpfully answers them: Cena, Cena and Cena). Both story and video are there for you to check out if you Read The Whole Thing™.


This story was drafted way back in February; Cena was soon thereafter convicted of misdemeanor assaultbecause that’s what prosecutors charged him with, dropping a low-level felony charge of malicious wounding when the media, particularly the Post, took Cena, the murderer’s, side. The judge capped any possible sentence at three months in local jail, but in the meantime, Cena’s free as a bird, and laughing at his victim — and the justice system.

Cena’s final sentencing was supposed to be May 9, but there have been no reports that it actually happened. It’s possible that the judge and Morrogh — whose life is an illustration of the basic fact that a prosecutor is a larval form of politician — have decided even three months is too much for their happy murderer.


Look at these two yahoos. And we use the term in the sense in which Swift originally coined it.


Note the emptiness of the restaurant behind them. Gee, where is everybody? Hell, where would you be if these two clowns strutted in?

Here’s the story, if you haven’t seen it: these two subnormals carried into a Texas restaurant in order to, as nearly as we can fathom their reasoning, “normalize open carry.”

This is wrong on a number of levels. First, if you look pretty abnormal like Mutt and Jeff here, one with an M4gery and one with a tacticool’d-out SKS of all things, you’re not going to normalize a damn thing. You’re just going to scare people.

Gee, where is everybody?

Even cops don’t get this. I’ve just been catching up about an incident on Marathon in the Florida Keys. A young guy flew a small plane there from Opa-Locka (near Miami) for a lunch date with a local girl. Bored agents from Customs and Border Patrol decided to use the couple and their airplane as training aids, in the usual cop fashion: M4s were brandished, the suggestion was made that he copulated with his mother, the young woman was hit on with the line, “Wouldn’t you rather have a real man?”

Real original there, Agent Lothario. Who writes your material, Ron Burgundy?

(Side question: is there a higher-education bubble? Shortest proof: CBP requires a bachelor’s degree to apply. QED.)

The CBP guys and their managers do not think they did anything wrong. They’re adamant they didn’t point the guns, and while they might have gotten a little rude verbally, “stick and stones,” right?

They are now saying that there was a typo on the guy’s flight plan, and therefore he might have been a smuggler, and so the long guns and aggressive, ‘roid-rage, fangs-out approach was necessary for “officer safety.” This is a retrojustification, and it’s not meant to assuage the press or the public, merely give the agency plausible deniability so it can keep on trucking.

They can’t see how it looked from the other side of the badge: a bunch of guys with automatic weapons and Nazi helmets, screaming and yelling.

Likewise, Mutt and Jeff can’t see how it looks from the other side of their little demonstration. If you want to normalize open carry, weird-looking nerds  with scary-looking guns are not going to do it.

(It gets better, or maybe that’s “worse”: one of them turns out to be a doper: just the ambassador the gun culture needs to send to the mainstream!)

Of course, they didn’t get the effect they wanted. Instead, the restaurant chain went full Victim Disarmament Zone, deciding it’s better to risk a massacre, an event of black swan rarity, than have women and little kids scared witless by the likes of Mutt and Jeff.

The amazing thing is that the Customs and Border Patrol agents have no problem seeing the errors that Mutt and Jeff made in their approach to winning hearts and minds for open carry. And Mutt and Jeff have no problem seeing where the CBP agents went wrong. But neither sees themselves as having a problem.

And yet, the differences between what the two sets of gun-toters did are of lower frequency and amplitude than the similarities.

And in both cases, they’re counterproductive. Far from giving it up to Agent Lothario (at gunpoint! WTF was he thinking?), that young woman is never likely to be a vote for the issues Customs agents care about. Right about now, she’d rather have her wedding catered by Fear Factor than ever speak to Customs again. And the long-gun wielding of Mutt and Jeff outfits (they’re representatives of Open Carry Texas, but their ilk are legion and universal) has, so far, driven Applebee’s, Chipotle, Jack-in-the-Box, Starbucks, and Wendy’s into the anti-gun camp.

If you want to strut around with an M4, a guy can join up. Of course, Mutt would have to lose about 100 lbs, and Jeff would have to go a year or more without his beloved weed. Or they could try for CBP — looks like they’re about that speed.

USMC Door Gun, Afghanistan

Marine Aircraft Group- Afghanistan helps retrograde last of personnel, equipment from Sangin ValleyThis is a great photo by a Marine photographer, taken this month in the sky above our forgotten expeditionary force in Afghanistan. Official caption below; we want to say a few words about the helicopter, and the gun.

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Ghibaudi performs a weapons check from inside a UH-1Y Huey helicopter before providing aerial assault support for ground convoys in Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 3, 2014. Ghibaudi, a crew chief, is assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Frances Johnson

We came to this via BLACKFIVE.

The Aircraft: UH-1Y ‘Venom’

The Marines are the only service still flying the 1950s-vintage H-1 Huey and 1960s-vintage H-46. But their Hueys have been rebuilt, zero-timed in fact; the airframes born as UH-1Ns were a twin engines (the Sea Services always wanted this for over-water reliability) version, unlike the Army’s old single-turboshaft H-1s (the Army equivalent being the UH-1D/H). Supposedly, 100 or so of the Y models are rebuilt Ns but the Marines have found it more economical to buy all-new airframes than to pay for Bell to disassemble, evaluate, repair and restore clapped-out N airframes, so a lot of these are all-new birds.

The UH-1Y and its sister, the AH-1Z, also have a fully articulating all-composite four-blade rotor system in place of the much simpler two-blade teetering rotor of the H-1, which inherited its rotor system, conceptually at least, from the 1940s-vintage Bell 47. The new rotor eliminates some of the low-G limitations and safety issues (look up “mast bumping”) of the original Huey rotor system. The old bird was safe within its flight envelope, mind; the new one just has a larger envelope.

In the ones based on old airframes, the airframe is gone through, of course, to ensure that it is safe for many more strenuous combat hours, and the powerplant is something a Vietnam Huey driver can only envy.

The Gun: M3M/GAU-21/A

The gun is also an update of an old classic — the John Browning .50 machine gun. The “old” door gun was the M60D, and rather than go to the M240 the Marines stepped up and used the latest version of the WWII- and Korean-vintage ANM3 aerial gun. Gun guys in all services have long known that the parts of M2 and M3 Brownings, and aerial and ground Brownings, have a high interchangeability, making almost all imaginable crossbreeds, variations, and Frankenguns real possibilities — at least, once you get into the war zone and away from the ordnance and supply clerks.

The M3  was an improvement over the Browning M2 (blasphemy!) for aerial and counter-air use. The M3 made a number of changes to allow operation at much higher rates of fire than the M2 in its aerial or ground versions; these changes included a lighter bolt and recoiling parts, much larger and oil-less buffer, relocation of the depressors from the backplate to the sideplates, and an improved, and more positive, feed mechanism that grabs the round front and rear, and can accept belts or chutes. The nominal rate of fire for the WWII ANM3 was 1200 r/min — really rocking for a closed-bolt-firing machine gun. It was available in a flexible model and (more commonly) in a fixed model, where it armed aircraft like the P/F-51 Mustang, the P/F-80 Shooting Star, and the F-86 Sabrejet.

Sole-sourced from FNH USA, the M3M, or GAU-21/A as the Navy terms it, adds a sophisticated soft-mount for the gun and numerous improvements. It replaced an M2-derived gun, the XM218 or GAU-16/A, which had evolved towards the M3 and had a mount of its own. There are many small improvements in the gun, but the big one is that it fires from an open bolt, eliminating cooking off as a potential hazard. The barrel life is claimed to be 10,000 rounds. The  M3M soft-mount also recovers the fired brass, eliminating any risk of foreign object damage, and can be fitted with night vision equipment. The spade grips are attached not to the unsprung gun, but to the buffered mount, making the gun easier to control. The improvements of the M3M seem subtle over the XM218, but they add up to a far more effective weapons system. There is also a fixed version (the M3P) for use in gun pods; these pods are commonly mounted on, among other things, SOF H-60s.

The Rocket Pod: LAU-68

The UH-1Y in the photo also is armed with LAU-68 rocket pods. Each pod carries 7 70mm FFAR (Folding Fin Aerial Rocket) unguided rockets. This rocket, originally known in Imperial units as the 2.75″ Mighty Mouse, has an interesting history of its own, as it originally was intended as an air-to-air weapon for 1950s jet interceptors (F-86D, F-89, F-94, homely and forgotten things, generally) hunting large formations of large Soviet bombers. But it long outlived the Tu-4 threat. Sine then, several generations of 70mm rocket and pod have been used by the US and its allies. A very wide range of rockets are available for helicopter and fast-mover use, and guided rockets are in the final stages of RDT&E. The LAU-68 allows ripple or single fire, but probably will need to be updated or replaced to support guided rockets, if they’re ever actually fielded. And for those occasions where you need to talk to a crowd, and fear that seven rockets may not get your message across, there’s the LAU-61, with 19 of the little beggars to show how much you care.

The Cyberdefense Consequences of Policy Weakness

Spy-vs-Spy-fullThis one’s been sitting around since March, unfinished, but we still have the jaws about it, and events this week compelled us to update and hit “send.”

Always opposed to US defense, the Administration managed at once to leak the secrets from the F-22 and F-35 secrets to China, while canceling the former and slow-walking production of the latter, ensuring that America’s future, smaller, land forces won’t be protected by American air superiority.


The F-22 cancellation was the second backstab, the F-35 delays the third, but the first and greatest backstab of them all has been to leak the secrets of those under-purchased planes to a potential competitor.

The Pentagon’s Defense Science Board revealed earlier this year that system design information on the F-35 was obtained from cyber attacks.

The new Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile systems and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile defenses, along with many other systems, were compromised through cyber espionage, the board said in a report.

Most details of the Chinese cyber espionage campaign to obtain F-35 technology remain secret.

However, the Chinese probably obtained the F-35 secrets from Lockheed Martin, its subcontractors, or U.S. allies involved in the development program. Allies that took part in the F-35 program include the United Kingdom, Israel, Italy, Australia, Canada, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

A Chinese Academy of Military Sciences official, Du Wenlong, told Chinese state television on Feb. 20 that the new J-20’s shortened exhaust nozzles, along with tail and vertical fin modifications, are designed to reduce radar detection.

Du also said that a “revolutionary” breakthrough allowed the twin engines to increase both power and reliability.

China’s inability to manufacture quality jet engines has been a weakness of its aircraft manufacturing programs.

Du also said that the electro-optical targeting system provides better surveillance and strike capabilities against both land and sea targets.

The J-20 also has a larger weapons bay than the U.S. F-22, which allows it to carry more powerful missiles that can be used against “aircraft carrier and foreign AEGIS ships,” Du said.

U.S. officials said the new J-20 had undergone ground tests, but it had not been flight tested as of early March.

Richard Fisher, a specialist on Chinese weapon systems, said the new J-20 was flight tested on March 1 and demonstrated the enhanced fifth generation jet fighter features.

Fisher, with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said it is “very curious” that the new J-20 featured its new electronic targeting system under its nose. That location increased its field of view and is similar to the targeting system on the F-35.

“This targeting system and a set of distributed high-power infrared sensors give the F-35 a previously unrivaled ‘situational awareness,’ but the now it is clear that the J-20 will have a similar targeting system and its own set of distributed sensors,” Fisher said.

“If as part of their espionage, China had also gained engineering insights into the F-35′s very advanced sensor systems, that could prove disastrous to its combat potential barring a rapid redesign and improvements before entering service,” Fisher added.

Advanced sensors on the F-35 were intended as insurance for the jet not having the best capabilities for maneuvering in flight, he said.

“But if the Chinese, via cyberespionage, have gained insights into its sensor system, then it is to be expected that China is also working on ways to jam or otherwise degrade its advantage,” Fisher said.

The J-20 targeting system indicates that the Chinese plan to use the jet for ground attack and air superiority missions like the F-35, he said, adding that it now appears the J-20 will be comparable to the more capable F-22.

“We can be assured that J-20 production will significantly exceed that of the 187 F-22 fighters cut off by the Obama Administration in 2010,” he said.

China’s Communist Party-affiliated Global Times reported Jan. 20 that China obtained key technologies from the F-35 and incorporated them into the J-20

The newspaper did not admit stealing the technology, but stated that China “completely obtained the six key technologies” from the F-35.

Those features include the electro-optical targeting system and a diverterless supersonic inlet, a thrust-vectoring jet nozzle, and a fire-control array radar system.

via F-35 secrets now showing up in China’s stealth fighter – Washington Times.

There have been previous revelations of Chinese penetrations of the F-22 and F-35 projects. As far back as 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that:

In the case of the fighter-jet program, the intruders were able to copy and siphon off several terabytes of data related to design and electronics systems, officials say, potentially making it easier to defend against the craft.

Accused cyber spy Sun Kailang

Accused lead cyber spy Sun Kailiang.

And the espionage continues, and it isn’t just military information that is targeted. Just this week (19 May 14) the US indicted five Chinese officers for a variety of cybercrimes. ABC News:

Monday’s prosecution was announced on the heels of a separate worldwide operation over the weekend that resulted in the arrests of 97 people in 16 countries who are suspected of developing, distributing or using malicious software called BlackShades. Holder said the two cases illustrate an increased emphasis on cyber threats.

The criminal charges underscore a longtime Obama administration goal to prosecute state-sponsored cyberthreats, which U.S. officials say they have grappled with for years. One government report said more than 40 Pentagon weapons programs and nearly 30 other defense technologies have been compromised by cyber intrusions from China. And the cybersecurity firm Mandiant issued a report last year alleging links between a secret Chinese military unit and years of cyberattacks against U.S. companies.

Wang Dong's wanted posted (excerpt). The whole gang is at FBI's Most Wanted Cyber Criminals.

Wang Dong’s wanted posted (excerpt). The whole gang is at FBI’s Most Wanted Cyber Criminals.

The indictments  (summarized at DOJ; full indictment at DOJ [.pdf]) name the Chinese official hackers, one of whom has the pungent name (or nym) of Wang Dong, although he goes online by CyberGorilla. Wang, or Dong,  has his own FBI Wanted Poster now. The others are Sun Kailiang, Wen Xinyu, Huang Zhenyu, and Gu Chunhui. Wang, Sun and Wen are alleged hackers and Huang and Gu support officers assigned to Unit 61398 of the Third Department of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. All of the suspects are charged with 31 assorted cybercrimes; if they were convicted and got maxed on all counts, they’d be liable for 187 years each (the 6 identity theft charges, if proven, must have consecutive sentences under the law). These particular spooks were engaged in economic, not military, technology theft.

You can put a nerd in uniform, but he's still a nerd: accused spy Gu Chunhui

You can put a nerd in uniform, but he’s still a nerd: accused spy Gu Chunhui

The case may have a rough time ahead in US courts, which seldom take espionage seriously, and defense attorneys are already floating a tu quoque defense suggesting that the Chinese collection is an understandable reaction to massive American collection.

In any event, we can’t try them if we don’t have them, and if you were a Chinese official, how would you react to the US trying to extradite a couple of your, not only nationals, but military officers? Various expressions of mirth come to mind. So why indict these guys now?

Apparently, a Deputy Attorney General at DOJ is upset that the Chinese spies didn’t stop when the American President used his magic powers of speech to persuade his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, to rein in the cyberspooks last year. Sure enough, the White House’s policy was led by this forceful step: “Convey concern.”  The other steps all involve speaking, talking, or, as a last resort, “increasing public awareness.” Ooooh. That’s powerful.


And yet, all this conveying and concerning and consciousness-raising made no impact on the behavior of the boys of 61398.

It’s almost as if they don’t respect him, or something, and it’s totally hard to understand how they’d come to that position.

Meanwhile, MIT Technology Review interviews an internet security CTO about possible American countermeasures. Oddly enough, he doesn’t suggest another stirring speech.

An excellent overview of Military Unit Cover Designator 61398 can be found at Kevin Mandia’s Yes, 61398 is the Chinese cyberattack entity formerly known to defenders, and outed by Mandiant to the world, as APT 1 (Advanced Persistent Threat 1). Mandiant’s blog is also on point if this sort of thing interests — or simply frightens — you.

When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have… eeewww.

bernard_marsonekMeet Bernard Marsonek. Marsonek’s in a spot of trouble, not least for having a gun and ammunition when the police searched his house, because he’s already a convicted felon. He also had eight “large” pitbulls (what, there’s another size?).

Now, there’s nothing wrong with pitbulls per se. Like guns, a lot depends on what you do with them. And it’s what Bernard was doing with one of the pitbulls, that brought him to the attention of the Tampa rozzers:

According to Tampa Police, officers were flagged down by the man’s neighbors on N. Marks Street Tuesday afternoon.

“When officers arrived on scene, they were greeted by a small crowd of residents who were disturbed by their neighbor’s activity with the dog,” a police spokeswoman explained. “Several of the witnesses stated that they yelled at the suspect to stop, but he ignored their commands.”

We don’t need to try you a picture of Marsonek’s “activity” with the pitbull, do we? Hey, it’s a free country, and who are we to stand between a man and his, er, loved one? It’s all part of the diverse and vibrant fabric of modern society. You don’t want to be labeled a “H8R” and sent off to the stocks and pillory with that assclown Sterling, do you?

After a brief investigation, the Tampa Police relocated Marsonek to a new temporary location, and Animal Services did the same for the eight pitbulls. Difference is, the pits are not going to have to stand trial, which is the good news. The bad news: if nobody wants them, they’ll be put down. Unfortunately the same option is not available for Marsonek.

No word on whether the cops who had to respond to this scene are out on disability, self-medicating with lots of brain bleach. Couldn’t blame ’em.

Ex-DOD Spox: Med Care in Gitmo Sure Beats VA

VA-veterans-affairsIf you’re a combat vet of Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Korea or Vietnam, there’s a way to get around the treatment delays, indifference, and incompetence of the VA: join Al-Qaeda, declare jihad on your countrymen, and get your hiney sent to Guantanamo Bay. There, the DOD takes pride in extending to mass murderers and terrorists, better care than American soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines can get.

Meanwhile, the vet who goes to the VA gets the septic end of the stick. Former Pentagon spokesman JD Gordon explains:

Here’s another secret the White House doesn’t want you to know about the VA. Al Qaeda detainees get better medical treatment than our veterans.

Say what?

Yes, it’s true. I know because I served as a Pentagon spokesman from 2005-2009 and visited Guantanamo Bay Naval Base over 30 times during those years.

Despite the fact that Al Qaeda terrorists carried out the Sept. 11 terror attacks, killing 3,000 people in America, the admitted co-conspirators and their roughly 150 fellow jihadists at Gitmo have approximately 100 doctors, nurses and health care personnel assigned to them.

Doctors and medical personnel are at their beck and call.  Got a cold, a fever, a toothache, a tumor, chest or back pain, mental health issues, PTSD?  No problem, come right on in. Military doctors are waiting to see you.

The VA and Gitmo eligible patient-to-health care provider ratios speak volumes.

While the Gitmo ratio is 1.5 to 1, for America’s 9 million veterans receiving VA health care and 267,930 VA employees, the ratio is 35 to 1.

via Al Qaeda terrorists at Guantanamo treated better than our vets | Fox News.

Bear in mind, too, the medical caregivers at Guantanamo are predominantly medical caregivers. The VA staff is predominantly administrators and bureaucrats — over 200,000 of that 268k total. Take that into account, and the vet-to-indifferent-healthcare-professional ratio at VA is more like 130 to 1, almost 100 times worse than what the same .gov bureaucracy gives terrorists.

If you’re wondering what your combat service is worth to the Political Class in Washington, there’s a succinct answer: about 1% of the concern they have for the health and comfort of the guys who spent the last dozen years trying to kill you.

The waste, too, is “real money,” even at the nosebleed altitudes typical of government spending.

The VA is a classic example of big government gone wild. It is America’s second largest cabinet agency after the Defense Department. Since civil service promotions are traditionally based more on seniority than performance, and it’s near impossible to fire anyone, there’s a punch-the-clock mentality that’s pervasive. Not surprisingly, there’s little to no sense of urgency. So to instill incentives, the VA shells out high salaries and bonuses, deserved or not.

According to a Fox News report, Phoenix VA hospital paid staff up to $357,000 for doctor executives and $147,000 for nursing staff. On average, doctors and nurses in Phoenix make just over half those figures.

Meanwhile, the gardening budget at Phoenix VA hospital was over $180,000 in 2013. The facility also spent $211,000 on interior design over the past three years.

Reread the second to last paragraph. The heartless barbers at the Phoenix VA, who thought only of their money as neglecyed vets died in waitlist limbo every pay period, are paid twice the prevailing rate for doctors and nurses in their metro area, and they still don’t think that’s enough — they’re so greedy they cheerfully consign vets to death for their fat bonuses.

A bill that would give the Secretary the power to fire these people passed the House with bipartisan support. It is unlikely to reach the floor in the Senate, as some Senators are keenly aware that their constituency is typified by the unionized, unfireable, callous and incompetent VA worker, and not the veteran VA patient.

It goes without saying that these malfeasors should not only be fired, they should lose their licenses. (And the failed Secretary should be propelled out the door before the wake turbulence of the ousted barbers and quacks dies down). But remember the one true law of government agencies:

The One True Law of Any Government Agency:

It Operates for the Benefit of its Own Insiders, Not its Stated Purpose.


Does that, or does than not, explain the sheer routine banality of this scandal?

Somewhere in a cage in Guantanamo’s Camp Seven, a man who wants us all dead  is laughing.