Monday, May 24, 2010

The Little Engine That Could

Okay this is a little offbeat but I think it's so damn cool. Two anecdotes from the Cold War that I picked up in Spy Class tonight..

1. The Office of Naval Intelligence had a unit whose sole purpose was to comb the Pacific-Northwest beaches from Washington to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska for junk. They collected all kinds of stuff from garbage, random scraps of metal to fully functioning Soviet Military equipment. The collectors would turn over whatever they found to the analysis group. The Analysis group would analyze the junk an determine which country it belonged to. Then it would analyze sea current charts and the location the junk was found to determine who's countries ships were operating off the coast. They also used this intelligence, by tracking back trash off the beach, to locate a hidden Soviet submarine base in Siberia!

2. In the 1970's the US was convinced that Russia had some secret nuclear development bases that they weren't disclosing during the disarmament talks. So someone in Military Intelligence got this crazy idea. First, they determined what foreign companies manufactured Soviet railway freight cars for the Trans-Siberian railroad. Then they intercepted one of these freight cars before it got delivered to the USSR. Military Intelligence built a hidden panel in the wall of the freight car and put in Geiger counters and other radiation detection gear all attached to a micro-computer and a burst transmitter. Then they let the train car get delivered to the USSR. The Soviets were none the wiser. The train car criss-crossed the entire length of the Soviet Empire back and forth for almost 15 years gathering Radiation intelligence and sending it back to the US in burst transmissions. The analysts used this intelligence to map out all the radioactivity spikes across the Soviet Union and then they compared it to all the "known" Soviet nuke facilities. This intel played a key part in most of the arms talks of the 70's and early 80's. The operation was betrayed by Aldritch Ames in 1985.

Originally posted on July 13, 2005 on Myspace.

So damn interesting!

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