On April 4, 1997, U.S. Navy Lt. Jack Daly, an intelligence officer stationed at the Canadian Pacific Maritime Forces Command Base at Esquimalt, Victoria, British Columbia, and his liaison, Canadian Air Force pilot Capt. Patrick Barnes, were assigned to assess the activities of a Russian trawler long suspected of spying on U.S. naval shipping activities, off the coast of Washington state. By the end of day, both Daly and Barnes would suffer permanent partial blindness after what they and others have concluded was a laser attack, fired at their helicopter by the same trawler in a deliberate attempt to blind them and drive them out of the area so they could not observe the ship’s activities.
Rather than consider the attack an act of aggression, however, Daly has determined that the Clinton administration has opted to bury the incident indefinitely for political purposes, which he considers an egregious violation of national security.
Daly was invited to testify before a panel of the House Armed Services Committee Feb. 22, chaired by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-CA, where he provided specific details about the alleged attack 22 months ago. Daly said he believes the resultant investigation was conducted in a manner which “evidence was altered, ignored, omitted, and refuted.”
Daly testified that “numerous documented cases regarding the use of lasers against aircraft, civilians, and military personnel exist,” and pointed out that any such use against U.S. and allied military personnel constituted a violation of Protocol IV of the 1980 Certain Conventional Weapons Convention (CCWC), which the U.S. signed in 1995. He also told panel members that multiple reports of lasers being directed at commercial airliners during takeoff has led some to believe “this in fact may be a new form of terrorism.” While lasers “in and of themselves do not pose a threat,” he said, some uses for them certainly do.
Daly and Barnes were aboard a Canadian air force CH-124 helicopter tasked with conducting surveillance by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) against the Kapitan Man, a Russian trawler already suspected by the U.S. intelligence community as being a spy ship. On the day in question the trawler was anchored five nautical miles north of Port Angeles, Washington, in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. While overflying the ship, Daly said he believes the crew of the Kapitan Man aimed a Foresite laser at the helicopter in a deliberate attempt to blind its pilots — though he admits the “exact type of (laser) device is unknown,” and may even be a type not yet known by U.S. intelligence agencies.
Daly said he believes a Foresite laser was the likely weapon because of its applicability. One of the main functions of that kind of laser, he told the committee, is “to record the acoustic signature of the propeller” on nuclear submarines. That day, he said, the nuclear sub U.S.S. Ohio was steaming above water a short distance from the Kapitan Man, outbound from Port Angeles.
Furthermore, Daly told the committee, the Kapitan Man and other ships like it “transit the Puget Sound on a regular basis and are suspected by the intelligence community to be conducting surveillance against (U.S.) ballistic missile subs and the carrier battle groups operating out of Bangor (Maine) and Bremerton-Everett,” in Washington. He also told the panel that similar operations were being undertaken in Southern California and in the “vicinity of the Kings Bay, Georgia SSBN base and elsewhere.” He testified that the Kapitan Man was owned by the Far East Shipping Company — a cargo outfit based in Vladivostok, Russia with known ties to the Russian military.
As further evidence of the espionage being conducted by FESCO, a joint U.S.
Customs and Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) inspection of the Kapitan Man in April, 1993 found environmental data equipment used solely to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW). Daly told congressional investigators that the joint inspection team reported Sippican Corporation of Marion, Massachusetts, manufactured the equipment “for the sole purpose of improved sonar prediction in ASW and other military applications.” When questioned, Sippican said these devices “have no practical use aboard a cargo vessel,” and the company denied that it had ever sold any of the machines to Russia.
Daly said the incident was not reported to higher authority “until there was enough credible evidence to substantiate the claim of such an event.” But over the course of about 48 hours, the “combination of medical and photographic evidence proved impetus enough to say that a possible laser firing had occurred.” On Sunday, two days after the incident, Daly said both U.S. and Canadian military commands were told of the attack.
The Navy officer testified that before his departing on his Canada assignment, a senior analyst involved in monitoring the activities of the Kapitan Man and other vessels briefed him. “He said he had been told by Congress he must produce a ‘smoking gun’ regarding these vessels to be believed.”
Daly believes he and Capt. Barnes “were at the end of that ‘smoking gun.’”
Daly told the congressional panel that it became evident to him shortly after reporting the incident that “it would be determined at the highest levels of government no such ‘smoking gun’ would ever be found or established.” He testified that despite claims to the contrary, no formal or thorough investigation was ever conducted regarding his claims.
Within hours of receiving a formal report, he said, the Joint Chiefs of Staff turned over the investigation to the National Security Council (NSC) and the State Department “because of the sensitivity of the issue.”
“Documentation exists that reveals that Mr. Robert Bell of the NSC and then
Ambassador (designate) to Russia, James Collins, were involved in the decision-making process on how this incident was to be handled,” he said.
From there, other reports indicated that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright “may have played a key role” and that President Clinton was personally consulted and briefed “daily in the days immediately following the incident.”
Eventually, a decision was made “at these high levels” to notify the Russian embassy in Washington that U.S. officials were planning to board and search the trawler the next day to look for a laser device. Daly said this decision amounted to a 24-hour warning for the Russians, who promptly conveyed it to their Seattle consulate “which in turn notified the master of the vessel.” Worse, Daly testified, “additional reports indicate that initially the NSC and State Department wanted to allow the Kapitan Man to leave Tacoma, Washington (port facilities) without being searched at all.” Only at the insistence of the Pentagon was the departure delayed and a search carried out.
The State Department then directed the Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard, District 13 in Seattle, to have the combined Coast Guard/Naval intelligence team limit the actual search time to no more than two hours, and to confine it to “common areas” of the ship. No warning of the impending search was provided to Customs or INS whatsoever, further limiting it “by minimizing the jurisdictional benefits of these two organizations.”
The Department of Defense then assigned the investigation to (then) Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Ralston, who was named shortly thereafter as a candidate for the chairmanship of the JCS. But because of Ralston’s subsequent admission of marital impropriety, he was removed from consideration and the investigation was then passed to a navy oceanographer in the Operations Directorate of the JCS. Daly testified that this officer admitted he “had no expertise in this area and would rely entirely on the Office of Naval Intelligence’s findings.”
Daly said renowned experts in laser bio-effects from the U.S. Army Medical Research Detachment at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX examined his injuries and concluded that his eye injuries were indeed consistent with laser burns. But, he said, ONI “misrepresented and opposed” those findings in official investigative reports, even though no one at ONI had the appropriate or equivalent expertise and training to do so. In fact, Daly testified, “ONI’s single analyst with a background in lasers reported to his Air Force counterpart that he had been instructed to stay out of the investigation” while attempting to “unduly influence” the Air Force liaison to not publish a report on the incident.
“ONI altered and ignored evidence, failed to consult experts within and outside the organization, and then published false results of their findings,” he told the panel.
Furthermore, Daly said on two separate occasions and in front of witnesses, “two individuals from ONI (who were) knowledgeable of the investigation admitted to being influenced by senior officials within the organization to limit the extent of the investigation.” He said they “were instructed to deal only with the data available” — data that was incomplete — and that they told him their “hands were tied on this.”
Early on, Daly said one of them said he was being pressured “from above to sweep this under the rug.”
Undaunted, Daly continued to check on the progress of the investigation but finally realized little would come of it when a staff member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence told him the investigation was a “low priority.”
“He said, ‘Investigating if there are extra-terrestrials on earth and the truth behind Area 51 were more important.’”
Rep. Hunter was appalled by the testimony, and said he plans to pursue avenues that would enhance the security around U.S. naval bases and other sensitive military sites.
Harald Stavenas, spokesman for Rep. Hunter, told WorldNetDaily that both he and Hunter “found Daly to be very credible,” and they praised the Navy officer “for his good service to the country.”
“Congressman Hunter has also said he would follow this up with the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations to see that they treat this injury as a service-related incident,” Stavenas said.
Asked about the recent revelations regarding lapses in U.S. nuclear security and Chinese espionage activities, Stavenas said Hunter “has a lot of concerns with the way the national security is being handled at all levels.” He said Hunter, as chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Procurement, “has congressional oversight over the budgets of all U.S. nuclear weapons labs, including Los Alamos.” He added that Hunter “has said many times in the past we need to clamp down on security; things like unescorted visitors and the like.”
Specifically, Hunter intends to pursue legislation that would ban the Kapitan Man from docking at any U.S. ports and would prohibit the ship from coming into proximity with U.S. warships. Stavenas acknowledged that the Russians could shift the crew of the Kapitan Man to another vessel, where they could continue their spying efforts, but said that such legislation would send a clear message to Moscow that the United States is aware of Russian spy activities and “takes it very seriously.”
Hunter was primarily responsible for stopping the stationing of the China Ocean Shipping Co., COSCO, at a former naval base at Long Beach, California, over concerns that the Chinese would use the facility for espionage activities.
The Long Beach facility is in the 56th congressional district, where Hunter has been serving since 1980.