Archive for the Middle East Watch Category

CABLES CUT DELIBERATELY – WRONG MESSAGE SENT

Posted in Middle East Watch, Money Watch with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2008 by willthomasonline

Guess what?

The long awaited, much delayed Iran Oil Bourse has once again failed to open by its latest deadline after four vital undersea fiber optic cables linking much of the Middle East to Gulf states and the rest of the world were recently severed in five places.

The unprecedented Internet outages came just as Iran announced the discovery of a major gas field with “huge reserves” estimated at 11 trillion cubic feet off its Gulf coast. Already possessing the world’s second-largest proven gas reserves after Russia, the announcement seemed certain to kick-start the Iran’s petroleum trading exchange, announced by Teheran to open by February 10, 2008. [english.aljazeera.net Feb 02/08]

It didn’t happen.

According to a trusted, long-time source with contacts throughout the Middle East, the U.S. defense establishment and the Vatican, and with whom I have broken major stories over the past 16 years – my earlier posts speculating on deliberate U.S. sabotage to prevent the Iran Oil Bourse from opening were, as the say in the oil biz, “spot on.”

“I can confirm that the cables were cut,” Hank said. “The cables were cut to send a message: ‘Don’t do the bourse.’”

Just one week after George Bush’s quixotic Persian Gulf mission to somehow rally Arab nations around U.S. and Israeli plans of “confronting Iran’s nuclear program before it is too late,” Russia’s military chief of staff General Yuri Baluyevsky promised “to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia and its allies.”

The general then clarified, “Military forces will be used, including, preventively, the use of nuclear weapons.”

So much for the “maniac running around threatening everyone with a razor,” as Putin recently publicly described Bush.

Bush and Cheney’s plans to carpet bomb Iran were put on indefinite hold after General Baluyevsky added that although Russians have no plans of attacking anyone, they nevertheless “consider it necessary for everyone around the world community to clearly understand that” nuclear weapons will be used if the U.S. attacks Iran – where Russian oil and nuclear power investments were recently ante-upped with the first major delivery of Russian nuclear fuel to the Bushehr reactor. [liveleak.com; gather.com;americanfreepress.com]

Or maybe not.

ATTRACTING THE ENERGY THEY PUT OUT
Press TV, Iran is reporting: “Israel calls for shelter rooms to be set up in a bid to prepare the public for yet another war, this time, one of raining missiles.” This after retired general Udi Shani assured the nation, “The next war will see a massive use of ballistic weapons against the whole of Israeli territory.” [Global Research]

A pugnacious Putin has already dispatched a naval task force into the Mediterranean Sea and the North Atlantic. According to the Canadian analysis org, Global Research, “The flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva guided missile cruiser, joined up with Russian naval warships in the Mediterranean on January 18 to participate in the current maneuvers… The current operation is the first large-scale Russian Navy exercise in the Atlantic in 15 years. All combat ships and aircraft involved carry full combat ammunition loads. [Global Research]

France is also gearing up for major military maneuvers in the Straits of Hormuz, through which most of the world’s oil passes. Scheduled to take place from February 23 to March 5, 2008, Operation “Gulf Shield 01” will involve more than 5,300 French, Emirate and Qatari personnel operating a half-dozen warships, 40 aircraft, and dozens of armored vehicles in war games targeting oil platforms off the coast of Iran. [DefenseNews.com]

In yet another Alpha male “threat display” aimed at giving pause to any country aggrieved by attacks on its soil, the Aegis cruiser USS San Jacinto is now in Haifa, Israel showcasing its advanced ability to defend against counter-attacking Iranian aircraft, submarines – or missiles. According to Whitney, writing in Online Journal, “Bush is convinced that if he doesn’t confront Iran, then no one will. He also believes that if he doesn’t militarily defend the dollar, then America’s days as ‘the world’s only superpower’ will soon be over. [Online Journal Feb 6/08]

BUSTING THE BOURSE
If it had opened on schedule, the Iran Oil Bourse could have pushed GW Bush over the edge of the Armageddon abyss. Modeled after the French stock exchange in Paris – the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs – in June 2004 Iran’s Bourse Council was given the mullah’s go ahead to establishment of the first-ever oil, gas and petrochemical stock market in the Islamic Republic.

On July 11, 2005 the Bourse Council issued legal permits for the establishment of Oil Bourse and instructed the fractious Ministry of Petroleum to stop fighting internally for political position and make it happen.

The new euro-dominated bourse was to go head to head with London’s International Petroleum Exchange and the New York Mercantile Exchange. Both are owned by U.S. corporations and both oil exchanges trade in depreciating dollars. Since the European Union imports more oil from OPEC producers than does the USA, importing more than 45% of its oil from Middle East, trading for that increasingly valuable commodity in dollars makes sense. [strategytalk.org;muckraker.com]

But not for the United States, where a sudden seismic shift away from dollar-dominated foreign oil would force a massive overnight “restructuring” of that severely bankrupt economy.

The U.S. attack on Iraq months after its president shifted that country’s oil trade from dollars to euros is a lesson not lost on Teheran, which has repeatedly “postponed” opening of its own euro oil bourse in the face of Washington’s threats.

In March 2006, instead of commencing trading as previously announced a spokesman for the Iranian Oil Ministry raised eyebrows when he told the Russian press, “We have no information on opening an oil exchange in the free economic zone on Kish Island.” [RIA Novosti ; en.rian.ru Mar 20/06]

Soon after the surprise non-announcement, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting carried Iranian oil minister’s latest update. Iran, Vaziri Hamaneh re-affirmed, was ready to launch its oil bourse one week after the unexplained delay. Denying that he had previously stated that the Iran Oil Bourse will bring down the US economy, Hamaneh told reporters, “I don’t know who has speculated that. I’ve not talked about U.S. economy.” [raisethehammer.org]

It didn’t happen.

In October 2006, President Mahmud Ahmadinejad underlined the necessity to set up the Oil Bourse, regretting the delay. Most transactions were to be carried out through the Internet using a nexus of undersea fiber-optic cables [iranian.ws]

SILENCE IN THE WHIRLWIND
In February 2008 vital Internet cables were sabotaged to underline points made less than two weeks previously by GW Bush, who had called on Middle East nations to continue linking their oil to the dollar, or they were going to “sleep with the fishes,” as Middle East analyst Mike Whitney put it.

“For the last two months, a number of sheiks and finance ministers have been publicly groaning about the falling dollar – threatening to break from the so-called “dollar-peg” and covert to a basket of currencies. Bush’s trip appears to have rekindled the spirit of brotherly cooperation. The grumbling has stopped and everyone is back ‘onboard,’” Whitney observed.

Amazingly – with a panicked U.S. Federal Reserve slashing interest rates 125 basis points on $1 trillion in capital invested by the sheiks in US Treasuries and securities…

… with Reuters reporting inflation spiraling out of control in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates

… forcing governments there to intervene “directly in loans, property and commodity markets to offset rate cut” and “provide food subsidies for their people”… as well as massive wage increases for “some Emeriti federal government employees”

… as commercial property values double in the UAE since last year –

… as migrant workers riot in Dubai over price hikes

… and the Saudi riyal rockets to a 21-year peak, with another 8% rise in the dirham and riyal expected by April

Oh hum.

Or as Whitney remarks, after Bush’s series of one-on-ones, “regional leaders now seem less bothered by the fact that inflation is trashing their economies and driving food, labor, energy and housing through the roof.” [Online Journal Feb 6/08]

SOMETHING DIFFERENT THIS WAY COMES
With their inimitable inability to plan for contingencies coupled to an uncanny knack of turning opportunities for dialogue into deepening disasters, the fundamentalists in the Washington have once again “misunderestimated” an ancient, highly disciplined and desert-savvy culture. The business, government, medical and academic people I came to know as a reporter in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait operate a sophisticated tribal network and trading milieu so far beyond their ken, the White House might as well be dealing with severe time and comprehension delays while sending increasingly irrelevant directives from an oxygen-starved location somewhere on Mars.

In yet another marathon 10 hour interview , Hank updated our “Loose Nukes,” “Poppers” and “U.S. Drops Atomic Bombs On Iraq and Afghanistan,” and “Fatal Flaw” stories posted on willthomasonline.net.
As for cutting those cables and sending their usual insulting message to the noncompliant originators of trade, law and Western Civilization, the Bushwhackers “were looking at a financial change,” Hank explained. “They weren’t looking at the other end of things. They weren’t thinking of the other events as they unfolded. The message got across but not quite in the way they were hoping.”

Iran’s oil bourse, he explained, is “just one piece of a much bigger puzzle.”

Forget about it, he advised.

“They don’t do the bourse. It’s going to be something different.”

How different?

Quoting his Vatican source, Hank replied, “They are going to start a new bank.”

BREAKING THE BANK
“Remember the old Bank of England?” my informant urged. “Think Catholic, Bank of England – Pope.”

Consider how the Bank of England was able to consolidate its present grip on the world’s financial network through the ability of its “parent” – the Bank of Rome – to control money, resources and travel throughout the Olde World through the powerfully superstitious expedient of making all believers beholden to them for eventual passage into paradise. After baptizing them through its priestly agents, Rome can still excommunicate reluctant players and condemn them to hell, Hank pointed out. Turning to what could become a resurgent Middle East, he added, “Same thing with these guys.”

Except they have 2,000 years of technological advancement to install their own overland fiber-optic communications made from the finest signal-conducting sand on the planet. Also enough oil and incoming solar energy to power their economies, sophisticated management, their own Internet – and more than one billion highly spiritually-disciplined members who have not forgotten the scientific and academic achievements of Islam’s once-great civilization.

Or its Western betrayals.

“The oil bourse is a chip on the table in a big pile of chips,” Hank told me last night.

“Are we talking a single currency for the Gulf region?” I wanted to know.

“An Islamic currency,” Hank clarified. “They’re talking about making a hemisphere. This really is the New World.”

Though Washington’s sabotage of their undersea comm cables has confirmed the correctness of the sheiks’ vision, Hank said their ambitious plans – which include a massive ship canal now secretly under construction to bypass the Strait of Hormuz – will not be fast-tracked. Look for the financial world, as the West has come to dominate it, to turn upside down “in about a year.”

And don’t ask, What next?

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ARE UNDERSEA CABLE CUTS ESCALATING “U.S. ECONOMIC TERRORISM”?

Posted in Covert Ops, Middle East Watch, Oil Watch with tags , , , , , , on February 8, 2008 by willthomasonline

U.S. allies Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are helping to shield Iran’s banking system from Washington’s “financial terrorism,” the governor of Iran’s central bank, Tahmasb Mazaheri has declared.

Despite the Bush administration’s attempts to isolate Iran and cut that country’s access to the global financial system, “The pressure is not working because cultural, political and economic ties between Gulf oil producers are too strong,” MiddleEastOnline points out.

Speaking at the recent Islamic Finance Summit, Mazaheri pledged, “Neither us nor our neighbors will sacrifice our long-term interests because of the unilateral pressures.”

Teheran’s denials of having a nuclear weapons program were dramatically and independently confirmed by a U.S. Government National Intelligence Estimate leaked last December in which all U.S. intelligence agencies concurred that Iran had dropped all nuclear weapons development in 2003, and has not since resumed it.

MiddleEastOnline further points out, “Iran has long had close economic ties with Gulf states, especially in the UAE and Bahrain, Arab allies of Washington and home to the Middle East’s biggest financial centers. Even so, banks in the world’s top oil-exporting region have bowed to pressure from the United States to make doing business with the Islamic Republic more difficult.”

Bahrain’s Ahli United Bank is that country’s biggest lender. Under strong White House pressure, AUBB.BH, has “frozen” banking activity with its affiliate Future Bank inside Iran. Other UAE lenders have refrained from issuing new letters of credit to Iranian companies.

Foreign banks are also buckling, MiddleEastOnline reports: “France’s BNP Paribas and Calyon, the investment banking arm of Credit Agricole, stopped offering Letters of Credit on Iranian fuel imports because of pressure from Washington.”

“I call it kind of financial terrorism in the financial industry,” Mazaheri told reporters. “And it cannot be tolerated by the global financial system,”

Mazaheri insisted that Iran’s central bank is continuing to assist private and state-owned Iranian banks “regardless of the pressure on them.”

Iran is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. A recent major natural gas find has also secured its place as holder of the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas.

Iran officially says it is now retaliating against U.S. economic sanctions by diversifying its more than $72 billion of cash reserves from its natural gas and oil sales away from the rapidly weakening U.S. currency.

“We have tried to avoid keeping dollars,” Mazaheri explained, adding that the motivations for Iran’s central bank to diversify its cash-for-oil reserves away from the dollar were both “political and also because of the trend of the weakening dollar.” [Middle East Online Feb 7/08]

The debt-ridden dollar remains at record lows against the euro and a basket of major currencies.

It is the contention of this veteran investigative reporter, with personal experience in the U.S. Navy and the Middle East, that the recent furor over five cuts to four vital undersea fiber-optics cables in recent days could have been carried out by USS Jimmy Carter. A five-year, $1 billion refit at the Groton, Connecticut shipyard saw this purpose-built, fiber-optic cable spy sub outfitted with high-tech upgrades, including remotely operated robot submersibles, and a special detachable chamber for splicing into the deeply submerged fiber-optic cables that carry 95% of the world’s telephone and Internet traffic – including the Persian Gulf.

Instead of attempting to intercept that data stream, the sub, working alone or in concert with divers from other submarines, could be sending a clear signal to Teheran and other Gulf countries to “think twice” before opening a long-awaited Oil Bourse on the luxury island of Kish.

Set to open for trading by February 10, 2008 after repeated postponements in the face of U.S. threats, the innovative Iran Oil Bourse – or IOB – will allow oil buyers and sellers acting for their respective governments to bypass speculators and banks acting as costly “middlemen” to trade directly in oil – online. The Internet-dependent bourse is highly vulnerable to digital disruption. And Kish lies close to Dubai, where the most serious and unprecedented breaks occurred in two new cables. [Energy Bulletin Feb 3/08]

While the possibility of U.S. interference with this vital communications network remains speculative, the non-coincidental nature of five fiber-optic cable breaks in close succession, as well as the timing of the breaks, suggests a possible link with an impending euro-based bourse that threatens to push aside a U.S. dollar totally dependent on oil being traded in that currency.

Although the sailing times and tracks of U.S. nuclear submarines are classified, it would be interesting to know whether USS Jimmy Carter is currently in port or at sea.

A COMPELLING REASON TO MESS WITH THOSE UNDERSEA CABLES OFF DUBAI

Posted in Covert Ops, Middle East Watch with tags , , , , , , , on February 8, 2008 by willthomasonline

Iran’s long and nervously awaited oil bourse is once again set to open” imminently”. Iran’s Finance Minister Davoud Danesh-Jafari has just told the world press, “All preparations have been made to launch the bourse; it will open during the Ten-Day Dawn.”

The ceremonies, which mark the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, traditionally take place between February 1 and 11.

Many financial wizards expect that when the country holding one of the world’s largest remaining oil reserves begins demanding euros instead of dollars for its “black gold”, the greenback could crash dive. It’s a metaphor that brings to mind USS Jimmy Carter, a specially retrofitted U.S. nuclear submarine modified to tap into undersea fiber-optic cables that carry most of the Middle East’s telephone and Internet traffic. (See my previous blog, “Did Secret Sub Sever Cables?”) [MK/JG/RE/HAR, Iran Press TV, Energy Bulletin Feb 3/08]

Chris Cook, former director of the International Petroleum Exchange, says that oil is not priced in dollars.

Dollars are priced in oil.

“This is eerie,” comments the Energy Bulletin.

And dangerous. The U.S. economy’s weakness is that it is consumption and deficit based. “If proceeds from oil sales are not being invested in U.S. Treasury Bonds or other U.S. assets” – now increasingly seen by investors as liabilities – “then it makes it that much more difficult for the dollar to avoid further declines”, Cook comments. [Energy Bulletin Feb 3/08]

He should know. His Wimpole Consortium originated and drew up the blueprints for the Iran oil Bourse. Though Cook maintains, “The currency of the IOB contracts was never a consideration,” the Energy Bulletin notes that the Iranian Bourse “cuts out the dollar as a currency in which to trade oil. “

Oops!

The bourse’s launch has been again for years as three successive Iranian oil ministry officials failed to find hard-line political backing for a move that must have frightened the mullahs, who had seen Iraq brutally seized by invading U.S. troops soon after Saddam Hussein switched his country’s oil trading currency from dollars to euros.

Many observers see the Bush administration’s constant threats to attack Iran as intimidation aimed at scuttling the ever-impending oil bourse.

But when Chris Cook wrote directly to Iranian President Ahmadinejad, a drastic shake up of the Oil Ministry followed.

Once again, with his unfailing knack for turning opportunities into disaster, GW Bush had done it to Americans by using the U.S. Treasury Department to pressure international businesses to leave Iran. After the German Deutsche Bank’s closed its Teheran office, Treasury warned more than 40 other banks it would “follow a strict interpretation of U.S. and United Nations restrictions on doing business with Tehran.”

The Treasury Department also “bullied” two Iranian banks – Sepah and Saderat – “barring them access to the U.S. financial system for dollar transactions through third-party banks,” the Financial Times reported.

The highly controversial sanctions against Iran only slightly inconvenienced the regime, which simply switched from German and Swiss banks to Far Eastern banks, who were happy to take their business.

But as many predicted, the ill-considered move did succeed in sparking severe blowback.

The bourse was fast-tracked.

Though global oil prices are determined by supply and demand, Cook believes that the new Iranian Oil Bourse will “remove much of the current price volatility caused by a toxic combination of speculation by hedge funds and market manipulation by intermediary traders,” the Energy Bulletin reports.

But…

“The IOB’s scrapping the dollar, if not practically then psychologically is going to significantly embody a counterweight to dollar domination of the oil markets.”

If it works.

And there’s the rub-a-dub-dub.

Because the Iranian Oil Bourse for trading Middle East oil in euros (and other currencies) is Internet-dependent.

“The bourse will be trading on a concept that is new in the oil markets but which is already operating in other fields,” the Energy Bulletin explains. Just as in South America, where participating countries barter locally produced raw materials and for Venezuela’s oil, buyers and sellers in the Middle East and beyond will “connect via the Internet on a peer to peer market place.”

And this means…

“There won’t be any trading intermediaries such as investment banks as middlemen that are making hefty profits.”

The communications chokepoint of the vital undersea cable network serving the new Oil Bourse headquarters is the luxury Persian Gulf island of Kish, (pronounced “quiche”), close off Dubai. Travel brochures boast, “No headscarves here!”

And the diving is spectacular…

Demolishing the deficit-dollar by pricing oil in euros – and eliminating massive investment bank brokerage profits – is a threatened double-whammy Washington cannot ignore.

So why not use its fiber-optic tapping sub to mess with those undersea Internet cables off Dubai, while sea- and land-based electronic monitoring (ELINT) stations plot the “work-arounds” used by affected countries to reroute their Internet traffic for future targeting?

Nuking the U.S. deficit-dollar by pricing oil in euros – and eliminating massive investment bank brokerage profits – is a threatened double-whammy Washington cannot ignore.

So why not use its fiber-optic tapping sub to mess with those undersea Internet cables – while sea- and land-based electronic monitoring (ELINT) stations plot the “work-arounds” used by affected countries to reroute their Internet traffic – for future targeting?

Sheer speculation, of course.

But five cable breaks in the same region in less than two weeks is a bit too “coincidental” for comfort. And the timing of such significant Middle East Internet disruptions could also be sending another signal through those severed cables.

At the very least, spending $1 billion and five years’ shipyard downtime to retrofit a Seawolf-class attack sub with advanced tech capable of  splicing into underwater fiber optic cables shows the seriousness of US intentions to mess with crucial cable communications.

Put this technology, timing and events together and “Cable Gate” seems a
more likely explanation than interference from submerged space aliens worried about the IOB’s impact on currency exchange rates on Aldeberan.

Take your pick.

And watch for the bourse to surface.

DID SECRET SUB SEVER CABLES?

Posted in Covert Ops, Middle East Watch with tags , , , , on February 7, 2008 by willthomasonline
Underseacable -dailytech.comLike wounds inflicted on any neural network, the unprecedented cutting of four vital undersea communication cables within 10 days has sparked hysteria and concern across the Net. One of the principle companies hit, Flag Telecom has raised its own flags after seeing two of its brand new cables go down for the first time at the same time in the region.

The FALCON cable has been cut twice.

More than 95% of transoceanic telecoms and data traffic are carried by submarine cables. The new trans-Pacific fiber optic cable can carry the equivalent of 100 million simultaneous phone calls.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Pakistan and India all experiencing severe problems before rerouting their Internet traffic.

Egypt lost more than half its Internet capacity and did not expect services to be back to normal for at least 10 days.

India’s $11 billion outsourcing industry, which provides a range of services like insurance claims processing and customer support to overseas clients over the Internet not been hurt by the cable disruption due to back-up plans.

Loss of service in Iran sparked an instant Internet freakout as “quick-on-trigger” Slashdot speculated on a comms blackout as prelude to an American attack. In fact, Iran was not greatly affected. “Users in Iran have been able to connect to the internet without any atypical problem,” security tech expert Bruce Schneier wrote. “I manage a Persian-language website with many readers in Iran, so I have both the motivation and the resources to check into this. We’ve seen no decrease in traffic from within Iran. Iran is not disconnected from the Internet!” [schneier.com]

The problem was traced to pings to a single malfunctioning router. The outages in Iran did not exceed 20% of their total number of networks.

In the UAE, Qtel’s loss of capacity has been kept below 40% thanks to alternative routes for transmission after an undersea cable carrying Internet traffic was cut about 50 km off Dubai – the third loss of a line carrying Internet and telephone traffic in three days. Two of the damaged cables carry three-quarters of the international communications between Europe and the Middle East. UAE Internet and telephone services were largely back to normal after it used a terrestrial cable across Saudi Arabia to circumvent the problem. [omantribune.com]

The specter of lost ships “dropping anchor” toward seabeds that could not be reached with every bit of chain, rope and bedsheets onboard has been discounted. Egypt checked and found that no ships transited anywhere near the commutations “choke point” where the cables Sea Me We 4 and Europe-Asia are located. The entire region is a restricted area. [International Herald Tribune Feb 4/08]

But loss of service to five separate cables within days cannot be attributed to attrition, accident or seismic activity. Undersea cable owners still won’t speculate on cause of the continuing cable cuts.

If foul play occurred, who could have dunnit?

One guess.

The supersecret National Security Agency – otherwise known as the “No Such Agency” – used to intercept all the information it could handle by eavesdropping on satellite traffic. Today, international information mostly travels through fiber-optic cables containing eight or more strands of light-transmitting fibers.

Still in the business of minding everyone’s business, in early 1989, the NSA sequestered a special research team in their own classified labs at its Fort Meade, Maryland headquarters. Their mission: Find a way to get inside fiber-optic cables and hack the data streaming through them.

Congressional opposition was steamrollered under “national security” concerns. Ten years later, in 1998, Congress allocated funds to modify the nuclear submarine USS Jimmy Carter to accommodate what the Navy calls “advanced technology for naval special warfare and tactical surveillance.” In other words, phone tapping on a terabyte scale.

The five-year, $1 billion retrofit included the ability to tap undersea cables for the NSA. Launched in 2004, Jimmy Carter was equipped with “lock-out capability” to allow divers to leave and enter the sub via a separate undersea chamber. The sub also sported special thrusters and inertial navigation systems, allowing it to hover near the ocean floor for long periods without disrupting its tapping operation.

Other new technology allowed the sub to supply oxygen and power to the undersea chamber deployed and detached from the sub. According to naval intelligence expert, Norman Polmar, a length of cable is brought inside the special chamber, where crewmembers inside “then do the work” while the mother sub hovers nearby.

Assuming that the crew enters the chamber directly from the sub, it could be deployed a depths far beyond the survival capability of divers.

Surreptitiously tap of a live cable carrying 10,000 volts is still tricky, though! “Exposing that electricity to the water, or severing it at all, would shut down the entire system,” Polmar says. Such a shutdown would alert shoreside operators that something was wrong.
There are basically two ways to extract light – and the data it contains – from a fiber optic strands. Data thieves can attempt to bending the fiber so that some of its light shines through its thin polymer cladding for interception. But bending can easily kink the fiber. Splicing secondary fibers into each fiber in the strand is easier. This splits the same data into two identical streams.

But splice the line and you cut off the light. Even a second’s interruption will be noticed by the cable’s operators.

At least that’s the conventional wisdom. One retired NSA optical specialist insists that the NSA has devised a way to splice a fiber without being detected. [ZDNet News May 23/01]

Assuming five breaks in the same region during the same period are not coincidence, we must now descend as deep as a submarine into murky yet tantalizing speculation.

Was the U.S. Navy messing with those cables to place a tap through which information could be extracted – and PsyOps disinformation injected into the data flow?

But if its crew broke one, why didn’t the Navy or the NSA order the operation immediately halted?

Or was this a test aimed at deliberately disrupting communications so that the Navy and NSA could then trace and track the “work arounds” used by affected countries to reroute their data traffic?

If so, does re-routing around cable failures offer many randomly “organic” alternate nodes? Or are backup communications routes limited enough to now have been mapped for future targeting if an aggressor required the shut down of, say, blog, video and Internet links out of an area it meant to attack?

Stay tuned.

If you can.