Links, originally from the NYT Missile Defense Board, posted on the Guardian-Talk board PSYCHWARFARE, CASABLANCA . . . AND TERROR on my relationship with William Casey, former Director of CIA/

rshowalter - 09:11pm Mar 27, 2002 BST (#273 of 331)  | 

rshowalter - 07:22am Jun 26, 2001 EST (#6057 of 7079) Robert Showalter

I say here that I knew Bill Casey a little.

And of course, everything's deniable - I'm not sure anybody has any records at all. Maybe I'm a literary figure -- call me Ishmael.

The story I like best about me, in this regard, is that I'm just a guy who got interested in logic, and military issues. A guy who got concerned about nuclear danger, and related military balances, and tried to do something about it. Based on what he knew - with no access to special information of any kind, he made an effort to keep the world from blowing up, using the best literary devices he could fashion, consistent with what he knew or could guess.

Let me go on with another story.

I don't think of Casey as a critter, a phrase Dawn used above -- though he was capable of almost any evil at all. In fact, though I have mixed feelings, some of those feelings for Casey are of great respect. In significant ways, Casey's sophistication and morality seem to me to much exceed the sophistication and morality of the leaders who succeeded him.

I didn't talk to Casey often, but during the '70's and 80's we had a number of meetings, each about 2 hours long, each at the Hotel Pierre in New York.

They were intense, careful, interesting meetings -- and I left them, every time, with a lot of respect for Casey's intelligence and sophistication. I also left with real feelings, but not unmixed ones, that Casey had a real and intense desire to act in good faith when he felt he could. I also left those meetings relieved. But still afraid, though not so afraid as I was when I went into them.

In my interaction with The New York Times , I've been doing just exactly what Casey coached me to do -- ordered me to do -- what I promised Casey I would do.

When I got a problem solved (really several problems solved) after giving people a chance to take me in through other channels -- I was to come in through The New York Times . Casey thought that was what was going to have to happen -- but thought it had to be a last resort .. I should try other things -- things I did try -- first. ... But Casey felt that the TIMES was a last resort that would work. The TIMES would have the connections, when the situation seemed right, to get things moving gracefully and well -- the way America, in Casey's view, and mine, was supposed to work.

When I figured out the "buried problem" in applied mathematics, and "figured out how to really talk to the Russians" -- and figured out what a stable stand-down of nuclear terror was to be like -- I was to come in. They wanted the answers, but weren't sure how they'd accomodate them, and would have to sort it out at the time.

Its been rougher than that, for reasons, I believe, that Casey might be ashamed of.

I've been doing my duty, I believe -- making decisions I've felt I had to. In this regard, a phrase that Casey used in an answer to me occurs. He said, with a twinkle in his eye -- but a menacing twinkle (people who knew Casey may remember such twinkles) that, under difficult circumstances "it was easier to get forgiveness, than it was to get permission."

I've often thought, writing on these forums, about whether I've been keeping faith with Bill Casey -- doing things that, on balance, he would have thought reasonable, and right, on balance, under the circumstances. So far, weighing what I've known and believed -- I've always judged that I have. I believe that now.

rshowalter - 09:12pm Mar 27, 2002 BST (#274 of 331)  | 

rshowalter - 07:23am Jun 26, 2001 EST (#6058 of 7079) Robert Showalter

I'm needing to weigh what to do - and while I do so, I'd like to post links to a Guardian thread where I've said many of the most important things I'd like people to know. Psychwarfare, Casablanca -- and terror rshowalter Tue 24/10/2000 21:57

including the key story, #13.. #23..

note #26 ... rshowalter Tue 24/10/2000 23:13 To see many references to this that thread, and to the movie Casablanca , search "casablanca" for this thread.

Here are some postings connected to the Casablanca story that interest me especially today.

MD3044 rshowalter 5/2/01 5:31pm .... MD3045 rshowalter 5/2/01 5:31pm MD3046 rshowalter 5/2/01 5:32pm ...

MD3831rshowalter 5/14/01 12:09pm .... MD3523 rshowalter 5/8/01 4:12pm

Summaries and links to this Missile Defense thread are set out from #153 in rshowalter Sun 11/03/2001 16:35 MD4778 rshowalter 6/11/01 7:31pm

gisterme , raises the threat that I'm committing treason. I think not. I also think that the people saying so have been in such violation of the real interests of the United States, for so long, that they may not know what treason is --- because they have come to embody it themselves.

They may have much good in them, too. The world is a complex place.

We shouldn't let the world blow up. As of now, it could.

And the world is far, far uglier than it needs to be, because people don't face up to facts, and deal, as responsible human beings, with things as they are.

Lies are dangerous. We need to deal with some of them, that keep the Cold War going, when we should put it behind us.

rshowalter - 09:13pm Mar 27, 2002 BST (#275 of 331)  | 

rshowalter - 07:19am Jul 1, 2001 EST (#6370 of 7079) Robert Showalter

Dawn, there were some important extenuating circumstances -- in many minds, including mine at the time -- about the way the US fought to Cold War -- ugly as it was. That is, there were before the fall of the Soviet Union.

Bill Casey felt passionate about this - agonized about this. Yes - it had been and was going to be necessary to do terrible, morally indefensible things. Yes, gross injustice had been and was going to be done to many people. Yes, it had been and was going to be necessary to subvert the Constitution, and many of the most dearly held values of the American people and our allies.

These things had been, and would continue to be necessary -- to fight the Cold War, against forces of totalitarianism that, Casey sincerely felt, had to be stopped at all costs - including both practical and moral costs.

Yes, it had been and was going to be necessary to lie and cheat and steal -- and kill innocent people beyond the ability of any individual human being to count.

Yes, it was ugly -- ugly beyond anything you could get in your head -- ugly beyond telling.

But the US, Casey felt, could do these things. Do them in secret, concealed in elaborate patterns of lies. With the secrecy and the lies justified, not only by expediency, but because there was a real desire to preserve the good things about America -- the kindness, the flexibility -- the opportunity -- the beauty. Preserve them by isolating them from the ugliness.

Bill Casey deserved, I believe, the same criticism as Kissinger and his colleagues and proteges deserve -- that he took positions that "made Machiavelli seem like one of the Sisters of Mercy."

And acted on them.

rshowalter - 09:14pm Mar 27, 2002 BST (#276 of 331)  | 

rshowalter - 07:19am Jul 1, 2001 EST (#6371 of 7079) Robert Showalter

HOWEVER, Bill Casey also not only respected -- he revered , the standards of decency, and openness, and flexibility -- that THE NEW YORK TIMES tries to stand for -- and usually does.

When I talked to Casey, he was very clear about the conflict -- and his sense of the terrible moral box he and others had gotten the United States into. When he talked to me, a special asset who, it had been provisionally decided, was not to be killed -- (at every meeting I had with Casey, I was sure he was re-evaluating that decision) -- what we talked about was finding an end game -- finding a way out of the horror .

Perhaps, if Casey hadn't had the brain tumor he had, and died in 1989, the terrible tragedy of the last decade might not have happened quite as it did. Perhaps some grace not found could have been found. I don't know. This happened.

When the Soviet Union fell, and everyone, on all sides, had so much hope, we didn't have an end game -- and the United States was so tied up with lies, that it could not sort out problems before it -- or help the Russians sort out their problems.

Now, the country (those Americans led by the current Administration) is slam-banging into disaster -- throwing every decency imaginable overboard, one by one, in a doomed attempt to avoid having to face what has been done.

If we faced it, as we must -- there'd be much hope.

As it is now, --- America is being degraded, besmirched, made ugly - betrayed -- by the people now in control of the Federal government -- with but very few people standing up at all.

Few are pointing to the obvious, pervasive lies that are so clearly before us.

There simply is no alternative but for us to put the Cold War behind us. And that means that some core facts - that must be clear, for any reasonable shaping of the future --- must be set out.

I think that this thread is part of that.

lunarchick - 07:48am Jul 1, 2001 EST (#6372 of 7079)

Interesting posts re Casey, Showalter. What you seem to be saying is that the US wanted to get rid of the 'Stalin' aspect of Russian communism - at any price. Even so, when it came to an end, had Cassey - the old critter, still been around, he would have still been looking for solutions to limit the pain and time-span of transition. (You're kinder to Casey than the Obituary comentator-links (above) seach Casey.

Putin must be working some magic over in Russia. The reports in the financial times are worth looking at today.

I know there's conflict here re the State taking more control, but, it seems to be a fight between State that may do things right for the people - if well lead, and the Russian Maffia types, who look after themselves.


. lunarchick - 08:07am Jul 1, 2001 EST (#6373 of 7079)

Russia is picking itself up off the floor .

rshowalter - 09:16pm Mar 27, 2002 BST (#277 of 331)  | 

rshowalter - 08:13pm Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7385 of 7435) Robert Showalter

MD6057 rshowalter 6/26/01 7:22am includes:

" I've often thought, writing on these forums, about whether I've been keeping faith with Bill Casey -- doing things that, on balance, he would have thought reasonable, and right, on balance, under the circumstances. So far, weighing what I've known and believed -- I've always judged that I have. I believe that now. These days, it seems to me that, if Bill Casey was looking down, he might be smiling. For one thing, I've had a helluva time, and knowing the old pirate, that might cheer him.

But more than that, there was an admonition, an order, that he repeated again and again, when we met. If I had to come in, and things were awkward in various ways, there was one thing, Casey felt, that I had to remember. That was to "preserve infrastructure."

He was very definite about what he meant by "preserving infrastructure." He meant that it was necessary to arrange actions, messages, and pacings, so that adjustments that needed to be made could be made, without unnecessary damage to people and institutions, with people moving at their own pace - in ways that worked for the human organizations, and the sunk investments, in place.

I was told to "come in through the TIMES ," and I've tried to do that, and done so making minimal waves -- just setting messages out, and letting people read them, think about them, and check them.

Has it been a waste? If only the past matters, not much but hope has been accumulated. But some things have been hopeful.

rshowalter - 08:14pm Jul 24, 2001 EST (#7386 of 7435) Robert Showalter

I was glad to be able to have a one day meeting on this thread with becq (who I thought at the time was Bill Clinton) on September 25, 2000 between MD266 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am and MD304 rshowalt 9/25/00 5:28pm . I still think the short suggestion MD266-269 rshowalt 9/25/00 7:32am makes human and practical sense, and the offer of rshowalt 9/25/00 5:28pm still stands. Did this accomplish anything? Maybe it sowed the seeds of some ideas.

Anyway, I think Casey would have approved. He wouldn't have known of the internet channel, dying when he did, but he would have liked it, and approved of the usages. "Outside of channels" in some ways, but plainly "through channels" in some others.

. . . . .

rshowalter - 09:19pm Mar 27, 2002 BST (#278 of 331)  | 

On my background:

rshowalter - 08:00am Jul 2, 2001 EST (#6397 of 7079) Robert Showalter

MD6376 lunarchick 7/1/01 8:23am . . . asked

I think so.

I don't think I'm doing US security any harm, or telling anyone anything very surprising, when I say that in the late 1950's and early 1960's, work at Fort Deitrich on biological warfare also included much work on "animal intelligence" -- especially as it related to guidance. How was it that birds or bats had so much greater ability to intercept moving tartgets than the best missiles? The idea crystalized - and it was an entirely reasonable idea, that there must be a gross mistake in the mathematics being used in our guidance systems -- the disparity between the clumsiness of manmade missiles, and the relatively fantastic grace and accuracy made this idea seem compelling. There were somewhat similar huge disparities involved in language processing and cryptography, as well. We had fast, powerful actuators, and plenty of speed and accelleration on our missiles -- but control was very problematic - and the instabilities encountered when tight control was attempted (a problem that was still central last year in MD experiments) were stunning and embarrassing, beside what animals such as bats could routinely do. It became clear that, if animal level control facility, or anything close to it, were achieved in our air to air missiles (or the Russian missiles) combat balances would shift radically. Then, as now, air to air missiles often missed. With good controls, they wouldn't.

The story I heard is that McGeorge Bundy got interested in finding ways to get breakthrough math, and one of his initiatives, very informal, was to have the Ford Foundation fund the Cornell Six Year Ph.D. Program -- which brought together a lot of high test score, high achievement kids. I was one of these.

In ways that were informal but highly disciplined I got recruited for a very unconventional, intense education. My impression was that I was told anything that I could use searching for answers people wanted, got all the instruction people could arrange for me, and was pushed as hard as they found it humanly possible to push me. My impression also was that my technical output earned my keep, from a fairly early stage. Kids are impressionable, and during this time, people found that the more they could tell me I was unusually smart, the more they could justify working me unmercifully, with my agreement. In many ways, I knew most of what was interesting before I came to Cornell -- I'd been deeply influenced by the Patent Office, by the process of invention, and by the questions involved in finding out how to do real, effective optimal invention, not in Edison's world, but in the much more complex and differently challenging, world of today.

Perhaps the only really unusual part of my training was that I was taught to identify and solve differential equations in my head, using the series method. It was arduous to do this - but it did give me an ability to spot mathematical structures, and classify problems, that was useful. I believe that, before 1972, I knew every mathematical stumper that the government knew about -- had a sense of most technical anxieties -- and knew in some detail why the problems mattered. I also solved some problems, and I believe more than earned my keep -- most of these problems I solved, I believe, mostly because of my patent training.

rshowalter - 08:00am Jul 2, 2001 EST (#6398 of 7079)

My intention was to work for the government for my lifetime, solving problems I was specialized to do, giving answers that other people could and would use, concentrating on problems of importance that were thought to be, in some sense (in retrospect, usually a social sense) "too hard" for others. People around me emphasized these problems were "Robert Showalter problems." I was to make breakthrough inventions, on call, of a stark analytical nature -- and hand off he solutions when other people could use them. That was something I wanted to do -- and still want to do.

I refused to lie, at a decisive time, on a matter connected to the discourse of the 1972 nuclear arms talks. I was to exaggerate how close I was to a solution of the tracking problem that made the difference between animal and human technical function on interception controls. I thought that do do so, in context, would be destabilizing.

. . . . .

Here's a snapshot of what I set out to do, with some encouragement and support, after stopping daily association with military matters. -- It is from a piece of writing I did some years ago. It gives a sense of what I knew at that time -- partly due to more-or-less formal education and work, partly due to attention to specific problems of concern to the government -- especially problems of system control and guidance, and partly due to an interest in inventions and patents that started when I was fourteen years old.

That's been my core interest -- and it relates to a special approach to doing problems referred to in MD6376 lunarchick 7/1/01 8:23am ... much of the detailed work I've done has related to issues discussed in references in MD6381rshowalter 7/1/01 12:05pm Some of that work has related to things of interest to the military, some not.

You can say that I've tried to find ways to invent in ways that have disciplined beauty, in the real, complex socio-technical world in which we live. By training (perhaps mistraining) I've tended to concentrate on problems that are large, and that have, in some clear sense, stumped a field of endeavor. I can talk about nuts and bolts of that sort of work.

rshowalter - 09:20pm Mar 27, 2002 BST (#279 of 331)  | 

rshowalter - 08:02am Jul 2, 2001 EST (#6400 of 7079) Robert Showalter

I think for this thread, it is more interest to talk of output I've gotten from this "optimal invention" approach that might offer examples of things that the military industrial complex might do, more profitable for all concerned than missile defense efforts that technically cannot work, and perhaps, for world peace, should not work.

Here are things that I believe can be achieved --

In my judgement, many other useful things could be done. -- and many of them would take the resources that the military industrial complex is now squandering on projects that barely work or cannot work.

These are just "back of the envelope" thoughts I have -- comparable in many ways to the "back of the envelope" designs DOD is now backing on Missile Defense. But there is a difference. These are all well within the realm of the possible, and subject to reasonable cost estimation, with information in the open literature.

I've suggested that the impossibility of the administration's missile defense proposals (which are far fetched indeed given what's known about signal resolutions and controls) be examined, in public, by setting out the b miracles that DOD would have to achieve, in the sense of very large advances on what could be done with established knowledge in the open literature.

The very same approach would show how possible -- in context, even easy, it would be to get global warming, human energy needs, and other basic human needs under far better control than they are now -- for less money than the administration is proposing to squander - to the reckless endangerment of the world, on missile defense programs that are, as I've used the phrase before, shucks .