CIA Cover Story Gives Birth to Deep Ocean Mining

K-129, surfaced-Azorian (top); Polymetallic Nodules (bottom, USGS)

Resting deep on the seabed of the Pacific are two symbols of oceanic politics, one decaying as time ticks by; the other slowly growing at a pace measured in millions of years.

The first symbol is the salvage site of Soviet submarine K-129. Once it prowled the seas with three nuclear missiles, but suddenly she and her crew were lost to the depths. After sinking mysteriously in 1968, the diesel-powered submarine became the object of an expensive and elaborate operation of the Cold War. The Central Intelligence Agency and Howard Hughes devised a cover story about deep-sea mining to recover it secretly. The operation, run by former CIA Director William Colby, was trying to determine the state of Soviet nuclear weapons prowess. After a string of near mishaps, the mission recovered only part of the sub.

The other symbol is a widespread deposit of potato-sized rocks rich in manganese and other minerals. Called polymetallic nodules, these rocks were the original fictitious prey of the CIA’s cover story. Continue reading CIA Cover Story Gives Birth to Deep Ocean Mining

Geologist Says Feds Made “Incredible Error” Ignoring Huge N.Y. Salt Cavern Roof Collapse

The salt and storage wells of the Watkins Glen brine field lie 2,000 feet below the network of small roads just north of the US Salt plant on Seneca Lake in New York. The Village of Watkins Glen is just outside the picture to the south.

In the 1960s, a 400,000-ton block of rock fell from the roof of an old salt cavern in the Finger Lakes region of New York — a cavity that new owners now want to reopen and use to store highly pressurized natural gas.

The Midwestern energy company that seeks a federal permit for the storage project has denied knowing the roof failure ever happened. And the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is poised to rule on the company’s permit application, has never publicly acknowledged the event.

But a Houston geologist hired by lawyers for opponents of the project characterized the omission by Arlington Storage Co. and FERC as “an incredible error” that heightens safety concerns about the project next to Seneca Lake, less than three miles from the Village of Watkins Glen, population 1,860.

“Clearly, Arlington’s application and FERC’s conclusions are compromised by this error,” H.C. Clark wrote in a Jan. 15 letter that is now part of FERC’s public record in the case. Continue reading Geologist Says Feds Made “Incredible Error” Ignoring Huge N.Y. Salt Cavern Roof Collapse

The Robert Levinson Case: The Cover-up Behind The Cover-up

Robert Levinson

The fate of missing former FBI agent and CIA contractor Robert Levinson is rooted in a secret history that is buried in distraction and misinformation. Levinson, who disappeared on the island of Kish off of Iran in March 2007, is like so many other failed CIA cases: rooted in a culture of secrecy and tinged with massive incompetence. Everyone who enters this “wilderness of mirrors” never seems to escape.

Levinson’s capture is a direct result of an amateur intelligence operation that no professional spy agency would ever authorize. But it is not a simple one-off mistake. It is a decades old tragedy that began in the 1950s with the CIA installing the shah of Iran on the Peacock Throne. The context of the Levinson case does not come into focus until the Carter administration. That is when two key events took place. First President Carter decided in October 1977 to “reform” the CIA by firing most of the Operations Directorate or the case officers who run the spies. Second, he did not directly intervene to keep the shah in power during the Iranian Revolution. As a result, the various intelligence services began operating in less clearly defined territory using whatever means necessary. It quickly became very messy. Continue reading The Robert Levinson Case: The Cover-up Behind The Cover-up

Ivy League University Votes To Dump Oil and Gas Investments

On Dec. 11, the Cornell University Faculty Senate adopted by a 43-13 vote a resolution calling for the school to divest by 2035 all its investments in the top 200 holding companies ranked by fossil fuel reserves. A similar resolution adopted by the Cornell Student Assembly in the spring had called for divestiture by 2020.

“These reserves already comprise three to five times more than the total amount of fossil fuels that can be burned before exceeding the 2°C rise in mean global temperature that scientists and governments have agreed is the threshold for dangerous climate change,” eight pro-divestment Cornell faculty members wrote in a letter to the student newspaper Dec. 4. “Nonetheless, these companies are financially committed to burning these reserves and continuing to explore for even more.” Continue reading Ivy League University Votes To Dump Oil and Gas Investments