“I don’t have one bit of concern”

New book reveals military code names

Some idiot named Bill Arkin has a new book coming out that reveals 3,000 military and intel code names, many of them with a clearance of “Top Secret”, with a brief description of the military or intel programs they represent.

Here’s a taste:

  • West Wing: Two remote air bases in Jordan used for invading Iraq and now for clandestine military counter-terror operations in the Middle East.
  • Oplan 4305: Contingency plan for the defense of Israel. Arkin also says the U.S. has quietly pre-positioned munitions and equipment on Israeli soil.
  • Conplan 8022: Top-secret pre-emptive plans to take out nuclear facilities and other threats in Iran, Syria and North Korea.

Mr. Arkin, a

former Army intelligence analyst and former senior Greenpeace researcher argues too much national-security information is hidden from the public and classified for political reasons rather than to guard vital secrets.

“It’s trivial secrecy. It’s bureaucratic secrecy,” says Arkin, who also works as a military analyst for NBC News. “These are bureaucrats trying to protect their turf. This is not national security. This is government gone wild.”

Fortunately, Mr. Arkin has no concerns about any issues the info in his book may raise. Say, for military personnel or intelligence agents. What’s the worst that could happen? Besides the death of US operatives or soldiers, the failure of vital operations, or defeat in the war, anyway?

“The American public needs to understand that when the President of the United States speaks about Iran, it’s not just rhetoric,” says Arkin.

Uh, Mr. Arkin? If anyone on the planet earth thinks that when the President of the United States talks tough about a country he’s just blowing hot air, they haven’t been paying attention for the past three years.

This man is a fool. The book publisher is a fool. The book sellers are fools.

It doesn’t really matter if many or most (or even all) the code names are known in some circles. We are at war and someone thought the information should be secret. If this information is as mundane as he claims, then there’s no reason to publish it. He’s simply looking for some attention and book sales.

But even mundane code names might be important.

In 1942, six months after Pearl Harbor and right after the battle of the Coral Sea, we intercepted coded Japanese Navy messages that indicated that the operation against “AF” would begin soon. We had broken much of the code, but even so, we didn’t know where “AF” was. Some thought Hawaii. Some thought the Aleutian Islands. Others thought Midway Island, or the West Coast, or even the Panama Canal.

We knew roughly when the operation would take place. We just didn’t know where. Fortunately, someone had a bright idea. Midway Island was instructed to transmit an uncoded radio message claiming that their water-purification system was broken-down. A few days later we intercepted a Japanese message stating that “AF” might be running low on fresh water.

So we sent everything but the kitchen sink to the area, and we ambushed the ambushers, sinking four Japanese carriers and dealing the Japanese military a blow from which they were never able to recover. If we had fallen into the Japanese trap, we may have not been able to recover for years, and it might have cost us Hawaii. And losing Hawaii would have cost us dearly.

Quick thinking and hard work managed to figure out what the Japanese meant by “AF”. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a book published by a Japanese writer who thought spilling a few “trivial”, “bureaucratic” secrets wouldn’t matter.

But maybe our enemies won’t have to work so hard.

UPDATE: And I didn’t even comment on the fact that Arkin is or was a “senior Greenpeace researcher”. I will let you decide whether that means anything or not, and whether it matters.

UPDATE 2: Part of a promotional blurb on the CODE NAMES website by Chuck Horner:

Code Names scares the hell out of me because Arkin dredged up so many secrets and turned them into a comprehensive tour of our national security efforts around the globe. This book lays out for the reader what China, Israel, France and Russia probably spent billions trying to find out.

I’m not exactly sure why that’s something that the publishers find admirable. Am I missing something here?

UPDATE 3: And my initial reaction was to call Bill Arkin just “some idiot”. This is probably not true. I’m not actually questioning his intelligence or the intelligence of the publishers and booksellers.

I’m questioning their wisdom.