Monday, May 7, 2007

Operation Coin-Op, Part 2: "What a Fool Believes"

Several months ago - January 12/07 to be exact, Rocketradio was the first alternative media outlet to investigate and fully resolve the U.S. government's wildly paranoid claim that "sum kinda newfangled spy teknolergy" was embedded into Canadian coins.

Read Rocketradio's exclusive report of CSIS memo explaining the whole crazy misunderstanding.

And yet today, four months later, Associated Press finally releases this article about the "surprise explanation" from U.S. Defense officials.... please remember people - Rocketradio wants you to know about ruling class incompetence as it happens. If you're looking for cover-ups and lame excuses long after the fact, go right ahead and watch your beloved "mainstream" media.

Mon May 7, 2:21 AM
By Ted Bridis
original source with full text: Canadian Press/Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) - The surprise explanation behind the U.S. government's sensational but false warnings about mysterious Canadian spy coins is the harmless poppy quarter, the world's first colourized coin.

They were so unfamiliar to suspicious U.S. army contractors travelling in Canada that they filed confidential espionage accounts about them.

The worried contractors described the coins as "anomalous" and "filled with something man-made that looked like nano-technology," said once-classified U.S. government reports and e-mails.

The 25-cent piece features the red image of a poppy inlaid over a maple leaf. The quarter is identical to the coins pictured and described as suspicious in the contractors' accounts.

The supposed nano-technology actually was a conventional protective coating the Royal Canadian Mint applied to prevent the poppy's red colour from rubbing off. The mint produced nearly 30 million such quarters in 2004 commemorating Canada's 117,000 war dead.

"It did not appear to be electronic (analog) in nature or have a power source," wrote one U.S. contractor, who discovered the coin in the cup holder of a rental car.

"Under high-power microscope, it appeared to be complex consisting of several layers of clear but different material, with a wire like mesh suspended on top."

The confidential accounts led to a sensational warning from the U.S. Defence Security Service, an agency of the Defence Department, that mysterious coins with radio frequency transmitters were found planted on U.S. contractors with classified security clearances on at least three separate occasions between October 2005 and January 2006 as the contractors travelled through Canada.

One contractor believed someone had placed two of the quarters in an outer coat pocket after the contractor had emptied the pocket hours earlier.

"Coat pockets were empty that morning and I was keeping all of my coins in a plastic bag in my inner coat pocket," the contractor wrote.

Meanwhile, in Canada, senior intelligence officials expressed annoyance with the U.S. spy-coin warnings as they tried to learn more about the oddball claims.
"That story about Canadians planting coins in the pockets of defence contractors will not go away," Luc Portelance, now deputy director for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, wrote in a January e-mail to a subordinate.

"Could someone tell me more? Where do we stand and what's the story on this?"
Others in Canada's spy service also were searching for answers. "We would be very interested in any more detail you may have on the validity of the comment related to the use of Canadian coins in this manner," another intelligence official wrote in an e-mail.

Intelligence and technology experts were flabbergasted by the warning when it was first publicized earlier this year. The warning suggested such transmitters could be used surreptitiously to track the movements of people carrying the coins.

"I thought the whole thing was preposterous, to think you could tag an individual with a coin and think they wouldn't give it away or spend it," said H. Keith Melton, a leading intelligence historian.

But Melton said the army contractors properly reported their suspicions.
"You want contractors or any government personnel to report anything suspicious," he said. "You can't have the potential target evaluating whether this was an organized attack or a fluke."

The Defence Security Service disavowed its warning about spy coins after an international furore but until now it has never disclosed the details behind the embarrassing episode. The United States said it never substantiated the contractors' claims and performed an internal review to determine how the false information was included in a 29-page published report about espionage concerns.
The Defence Security Service never examined the suspicious coins, spokeswoman Cindy McGovern said.

"We know where we made the mistake," she said.

"The information wasn't properly vetted. While these coins aroused suspicion, there ultimately was nothing there."

Some of the U.S. documents the AP obtained were classified "Secret/Noforn," meaning they were never supposed to be viewed by foreigners, even the closest U.S. allies. The government censored parts of the files, citing national security reasons, before turning over copies under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Nothing in the documents - except the reference to nanotechnology - explained how the contractors' accounts evolved into a full-blown warning about spy coins with radio frequency transmitters. Many passages were censored, including the names of contractors and details about where they worked and their projects.

But there were indications the accounts should have been taken lightly.
Next to one blacked-out sentence was this warning: "This has not been confirmed as of yet."

The Canadian intelligence documents, which also were censored, were turned over for $5 under the Access to Information Act. Canada cited rules for protecting against subversive or hostile activities to explain why it censored the papers.
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I have three suggestions for the the U.S. Department of Defense that may help them avoid such incredible embarassment in future international incidents:

1) Try to lay off the doobies during the work week. Your natural propensity toward extreme paranoia has been charming up until now, but you've been all creepy lately. You're just not the same country I feel in love with years ago. Your unbearable stupidity is tearing our world apart. Literally.

2) Hire that Melton guy! A man who understands defense history is probably less likely to repeat it.

3) Instead of freaking out about colourful money (I know it's some crazy shit, but we've had coloured money for years, so try to get over it), how about focusing your "intelligence" on the really-super-duper-crazy-shit? Like: finding geriatric terrorists in caves and trying to prevent wars you can't win. Okay, yeah - I know it's way more fun to start wars on false pretenses, but that's so 2002! This summer, peace in the Middle East is like, totally back in style!

16 comments:

pistols at dawn said...

I am rather depressed that it took our government months to realize that there was no threat at all. Then again, as mentioned, we still hold out hope for some WMDs. They could turn up any day now, possibly in the wash.

But really, all this proves is that we can no longer allow Canada to mint currency. Prepare yourself, ma'am: we'll be there shortly, bringing oddly orangey pictures of Andrew Jackson with us.

katrocket said...

Q-Tan Jackson might be a welcome change from the Queen, and John A MacDonald (our 1st PM - and soooo unfortunate looking, even for a dude from the 1860s).

The truth that makes this whole situation so damn funny: the red paint on those funky little quarters never stayed put. The embossing is permanent, but the colour rubs off pretty easy, rendering the colour experiment at the Mint an overall faliure. And your gov't thinks we possess the technology to BUG our money? Maybe it's the thought that counts.

The Guv'ner said...

OMG this depresses me to the hilt to think that these people are in charge of our security. Any person with murderous intent and a grudge can find a way into the States but they'll waste precious time and effort worrying about pretty money.

Although, these are the same people who asked me on my green card application if I planned to commit an act of genocide in the U.S. I really want to know, has anyone EVER answered in the affirmative to that question? Is it a test to weed out stupid people?

pistols at dawn said...

Also, why are we worried about Canada spying on us? Are you guys secretly powerful and plotting our doom?

I hope you'll answer that, though it's as dumb as the genocide question. I took a job test at Best Buy once, and roughly half the questions were variants of "would you steal from us?" "Would you help someone steal from us?"

I thought that was incredibly stupid, but I didn't get the job, so what does that say about me?

katrocket said...

Guv: Most of the "official applications" I've filled out in my lifetime contain some kind of trick question, so I would LOVE to get my hands on the final data to see what kind of foolish, incriminating responses they get.

And yes, we all should be worried about security. Both our countries have thousands of tough looking bouncers guarding the front door with rabid dogs, while the big barn door out back has been left wide open for air... and people who enjoy blowing up stuff.

Pistols: Of course we're secretly powerful. Two words: Bill Shatner. I've already said too much.

But I think we're far too polite (myself not included) to plot anyone's doom. Besides, we enjoy your fine, high-quality TV shows, your battered & twice-fried meat on sticks, and the way you make us seem smarter and less offensive on the world stage, even though we're just as evil in so many ways.

pistols at dawn said...

We are amazingly ahead of the world in food on a stick technology. And you all can do almost anything on the world stage unnoticed thanks to our loud boorishness. You may have already taken over the Falklands and the world wouldn't even notice. You could be like deaf people, signing your secret plots in the open because the world isn't paying you any attention...

Just remember that we took Jim Carrey off your hands.

Chris said...

Jim Carey is Canadian? I don't believe it. If he were Canadian I would have seen him on the Red Green Show at last once.

But it he is, can we send him back?

steakbellie said...

Surely this is the 'feel good' story of the year. We R Dum.

I think intitially they thought it was the Chinese using Canadian Coins.

pistols at dawn said...

Jim Carrey, the actor, is indeed a Canuck. Jim Carey, however, I believe is a U.S.-born former NHL goalie.

We should send them both back.

katrocket said...

hi Steakbellie! "we r dum" is too harsh, because you're not. This is about what happens to a "free nation" when it's government doesn't make any efforts to understand the cultures (and in this case, everyday objects) of other countries, and instead purposely generates a constant state of fear, panic and paranoia in order to keep up support for unpopular security measures and foreign policies. It happens sometimes - Germany, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, China. I guess I'm wondering if we're becoming more like our enemies in our efforts to claim victory over them.

Perhaps Jim Carrey is the ultimate secret weapon? Send that guy to Bagdad, and then wait for all the white flags to pop up.

Bert Bananas said...

The super-patriotism of the people who worried about nano-technology is to be commended. Right now nano-technology is a buzzword of incredible sensitivity.

The human race has a fascination with nano-technology dating back to when the first microscopes got a look at spermatoza...

The Guv'ner said...

And may I just thank you for the link/plug, Celine? Your heart really does go on (and on and on and on).

pistols at dawn said...

Kat: I would have listened to that cogent summation of our current problems if I wasn't so busy fearing your non-U.S.-ness. Instead, I just heard, "Communist plan communist plan bomb Winnipeg."

First the Jets leave, now this.

katrocket said...

Guv: I enjoy plugging things that light me up.

Pistols: I specifically used the word "we" because first world nations like Canada, US, Britain, and the EU are fucking up the planet for everyone. It's too bad you think my sentiments are anti-American, because that was not my intention... and it certainly doesn't make me a communist. Unless you believe that anyone who criticizes America must be "red"? Or maybe you were making a joke?

Keep the Jets. They always sucked.

pistols at dawn said...

There's a reason the highest threat level we have is "red" - it tests well with audiences. And the U.S. believes in certain aspects of communism, like a liberal redistribution of our fists to other people's faces.

Also, Lichtenstein is hardly a first world power, and only received its invitation to the EU because the EU's policy is that everyone in their class must be invited (see my white paper, "Lichtenstein: Why Don't They Collectively Go Eat It?" which - at the risk of bragging - continues to be the seminal policy paper on U.S.-Lichtensteinian relations).

And besides, Kat, we don't really use Communism as the enemy anymore. Now, it's "do you support our troops?"

And yes, of course I was making a joke, comrade. I am going to make a new font named Sarcasm and I will write almost everything I say in it.

katrocket said...

Lichtenstein is still around? I thought he died in the 90s. He was ├╝bertalented!