Seabrook Fire Hosts Touch a Truck

The Seabrook Fire Department held the annual Touch a Truck event at the Fire Station last week, and it was a great success. It was a fun family event that had lots of kids attending and looking over, and touching, some of the new equipment. It featured the new Ladder/Platform Truck, which is an amazing piece of equipment. Our thanks to Papa Gino’s for the generous donation of pizza for this event. Our thanks to the Board of Selectmen, who were all on hand to help with the event. Thanks to Chief Edwards, and Deputy Perkins, for all of their work!

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Seabrook United Takes on Opioid Abuse

On September 21, 2017 the Seabrook Police Department held a wide ranging program dealing with opioid misuse, with speakers from across the spectrum of approaches to this scourge impacting Seabrook, New Hampshire, and our nation. I am very appreciative of the efforts of Police Lieutenant Kevin Gelineau, who put the program together. Thanks to Police Chief Michael Gallagher, Fire Chief William Edwards, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, the Director of the N.H. Police Forensic Laboratory Tim Pifer, Lt. Joseph Ebert of the N.H. State Police, Special Agent Jon Delena of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, Doctor Cheryl Wilkie of the Farnum Center, Marty Boldin from the Office of Governor Chris Sununu, Kim Haney of Granite Pathways, Elizabeth Miller of Safe Harbor Recovery, and Olivia Dupell of the Seacoast Public Health Network. We had a special screening of the powerful film “Just the One Time” and we are so grateful that Jim and Jeanne Moser, who made the film about the loss of their son Adam were on hand to discuss the film, and the important lessons we can all take from their experience. (That film is below) Our sincere thanks to Deputy Commissioner of Public Safety in New Hampshire Robert Quinn, who gave so much of his time to make this night a success. The remarks by Senator Hassan are also below, and I will place additional video from the event in the days to come.

As we attack the misuse of opioids it is vital to remember that it is a complex societal issue, and that different approaches need to be made simultaneously to combat the problem. There are no easy solutions, and there is not a “one size fits all approach” that will bring victory.

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Seabrook Fire Alarm Operators Begin Work

The Seabrook Fire Department’s new Fire Alarm Operators have begun full time duties this week. They are Taryna Cody of Seabrook, Kassandra Lee of Amesbury, James Gettman of Seabrook, and Zach Annis of Exeter.

These four new employees are functioning in our Dispatch Center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, answering calls for from the public for the many services provided by the Seabrook Fire Department. This is the first time in our Department’s history that we’ve been able to offer complete 24 hour per day dispatch coverage, guaranteeing that someone will be available to answer all incoming calls from the public, and helping Seabrook Fire and EMS to ensure the quickest possible responses to those calls.
We would like to thank the Town Manager, William Manzi for his hard work in this endeavor. We would especially like to thank the Seabrook Board of Selectmen, Theresa Kyle, Ella Brown, and Aboul Khan for their support and their unanimous vote to authorize the hiring of these vital positions.

The Board authorized these four positions from the ambulance revolving fund, enabling Seabrook to fill a critical, and unmet public safety need while affording Seabrook taxpayers some relief. The ambulance revolving fund is financed through revenues raised by our ambulance service.
“We really appreciate the Board taking the time to hear our department’s needs and for working to close the gap in those needs. It’s great we are able to do this and not burden the tax payers with it.” Chief Bill Edwards

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Review of Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes”

Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIALegacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tim Weiner has put together a well researched history of the CIA that will be discouraging for those that think “the Agency” has a long and successful record of espionage and covert operations. Weiner tells the story of failure after failure, disaster after disaster. The book is really well researched, highlighting the very beginnings of the agency, tracing its growth, and bringing us some of the major figures of the CIA. Wild Bill Donovan, Allen Dulles, James Jesus Angleton, Richard Helms, Bob Gates, George H.W. Bush, John McCone, Bill Casey, and a host of characters that developed the Agency and ran it from its inception.

The book is very negative about the CIA, and many reviewers have cited that negativity as a criticism. No question on the negativity, but the record speaks for itself. Weiner reviews many failures, and the successes he highlights have the Agency exhibiting a moral decadence, and a willingness to act as a foreign policy rogue elephant, defying Presidents and Congress. He also shows us where the Agency tried very hard to please Presidents, even when Presidential demands were illegal, immoral, not achievable, and contrary to the long term interests of the country.

Despite the length of the book there was not a lot of time to look at some of the notable operations in great depth. Angelton’s lifelong search for a CIA mole as head of counter-intelligence, his disastrous handling of the Russian defectors Anatoliy Golitsyn and Yuri Nosenko, the tapping of the Russian below ground communication lines in Berlin in 1954, the operation that helped depose the Iranian government (installing the Shah and creating enmity that still exists today,) and the multitude of CIA Cuban operations, including the Bay of Pigs and the efforts to kill Castro. There is enough material to have supplied multiple volumes if the author had wanted to go down that road.

There is plenty to take out of the book, and not many who come off looking good. The Kennedy brothers are shown in a very negative light, with the author putting forward the strong insinuation that JFK was assassinated as a result of the attempts on Castro’s life by U.S. intelligence. He offers no conclusive proof, but makes a pretty strong argument. A Richard Helms observation from the book:

“Helms thought political assassination in peacetime was a moral aberration. But there were practical considerations as well. “If you become involved in the business of eliminating foreign leaders, and it is considered by governments more frequently than one likes to admit, there is always the question of who comes next,” he observed. “If you kill someone else’s leaders, why shouldn’t they kill yours?”

Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Kindle Locations 3316-3319). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

One person who manages to look good through this book is Kennedy CIA Director John McCone, who is shown as fairly prescient on a number of critical policy matters, including Vietnam and the potential for Soviet offensive weapons being placed into Cuba. McCone took over the agency after JFK cashiered Alan Dulles over the Bay of Pigs failure. The book shows him as understanding, and articulating, the real issues facing the U.S. in Vietnam at a very early stage, and warning JFK on the potential for Soviet offensive weaponry being placed into Cuba before they were detected.

“The director saw a greater danger ahead. He predicted that the Soviet Union was going to give Castro nuclear weapons—medium-range ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States. He had been worrying about that possibility for more than four months. He had no intelligence, nothing to go on save gut instinct. McCone was the only one who saw the threat clearly. “If I were Khrushchev,” he said, “I’d put offensive missiles in Cuba. Then I’d bang my shoe on the desk and say to the United States, ‘How do you like looking down the end of a gun barrel for a change? Now, let’s talk about Berlin and any other subject that I choose.’” No one seems to have believed him. “The experts unanimously and adamantly agreed that this was beyond the realm of possibility,” notes an agency history of McCone’s years. ‘He stood absolutely alone.’”

Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Kindle Locations 3372-3387). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 

On Vietnam McCone gave good counsel, but was ignored, eventually quitting in 1965.

“On April 2, 1965, John McCone quit for the last time, effective as soon as Lyndon Johnson selected a successor. He delivered a fateful prediction for the president: “With the passage of each day and each week, we can expect increasing pressure to stop the bombing,” he said. “This will come from various elements of the American public, from the press, the United Nations and world opinion. Therefore time will run against us in this operation and I think the North Vietnamese are counting on this.” One of his best analysts, Harold Ford, told him: “We are becoming progressively divorced from reality in Vietnam” and “proceeding with far more courage than wisdom.” McCone now understood that. He told McNamara that the nation was about to “drift into a combat situation where victory would be dubious.” His final warning to the President was blunt as it could be: “We will find ourselves mired down in combat in the jungle in a military effort that we cannot win, and from which we will have extreme difficulty extracting ourselves.”

Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Kindle Locations 4371-4379). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Any book on the CIA must deal with the politicization of intelligence and how intel has been “shaped” to meet the existing policy preferences of Presidents, and others. This did not start with the ridiculous efforts of the CIA on Iraq under George W. Bush and George Tenet, but had begun many years before. Honest CIA estimates on Vietnam were “scrubbed” by the military, and CIA analysts received the message, loud and clear. The first example below shows Maxwell Taylor scrubbing a CIA report on Vietnam that had some honest analysis in it. The second example shows George H.W. Bush, as CIA Director, letting an “alternate” analysis on Soviet capabilities get out of hand, and drive policy and ideas in Washington. That alternate analysis has been proven, over time, to have been false.

“Four days later, Lyndon Johnson lashed out. Dumb bombs, cluster bombs, and napalm bombs fell on Vietnam. The White House sent an urgent message to Saigon seeking the CIA’s best estimate of the situation. George W. Allen, the most experienced Vietnam intelligence analyst at the Saigon station, said the enemy would not be deterred by bombs. It was growing stronger. Its will was unbroken. But Ambassador Maxwell Taylor went over the report line by line, methodically deleting each pessimistic paragraph before sending it on to the president. The CIA’s men in Saigon took note that bad news was not welcome. The corruption of intelligence at the hands of political generals, civilian commanders, and the agency itself continued. There would not be a truly influential report from the CIA to the president on the subject of the war for three more years.”

Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Kindle Locations 4350-4356). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

“By the end of 1976, Bush was in bad odor with some of his former fans at the agency. He had made a baldly political decision to let a team of neoconservative ideologues—“howling right-wingers,” Dick Lehman called them—rewrite the CIA’s estimates of Soviet military forces. William J. Casey, the most vociferous member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, had been talking with some of his friends and associates in the intelligence community. They were convinced that the CIA was dangerously underestimating Soviet nuclear strength. Casey and his fellow members of the advisory board pressed President Ford to let an outside group write their own Soviet estimate. The team, whose members were deeply disenchanted with détente and handpicked by the Republican right, included General Daniel O. Graham, America’s leading advocate of missile defense, and Paul Wolfowitz, a disillusioned arms-control negotiator and a future deputy secretary of defense. In May 1976, Bush approved “Team B” with a cheery scribble: “Let her fly!! O.K. G.B.” The debate was highly technical, but it boiled down to a single question: what is Moscow up to? Team B portrayed a Soviet Union in the midst of a tremendous military buildup—when in fact it was cutting military spending. They dramatically overstated the accuracy of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles. They doubled the number of Backfire bombers the Soviet Union was building. They repeatedly warned of dangers that never materialized, threats that did not exist, technologies that were never created—and, most terrifying of all, the specter of a secret Soviet strategy to fight and win a nuclear war. Then, in December 1976, they selectively shared their findings with sympathetic reporters and opinion columnists. “The B Team was out of control,” Lehman said, “and they were leaking all over the place.” The uproar Team B created went on for years, fueled a huge increase in Pentagon weapons spending, and led directly to the rise of Ronald Reagan to the top of the list of front-runners for the 1980 Republican nomination. After the cold war was over, the agency put Team B’s findings to the test. Every one of them was wrong. It was the bomber gap and the missile gap all over again. “I feel like I have been had,” Bush told Ford, Kissinger, and Rumsfeld at the last National Security Council meeting of the outgoing administration. Intelligence analysis had become corrupted—another tool wielded for political advantage—and it would never recover its integrity. The CIA’s estimates had been blatantly politicized since 1969, when President Nixon forced the agency to change its views on the Soviets’ abilities to launch a nuclear first strike. “I look upon that as almost a turning point from which everything went down,” Abbot Smith, who ran the agency’s Office of National Estimates under Nixon, said in a CIA oral history interview.

The Nixon administration was really the first one in which intelligence was just another form of politics. And that was bound to be disastrous, and I think it was disastrous.” John Huizenga, who succeeded Smith in 1971, put it even more bluntly to the CIA’s historians, and his thoughts rang true in decades to come, into the twenty-first century: In retrospect, you see, I really do not believe that an intelligence organization in this government is able to deliver an honest analytical product without facing the risk of political contention. By and large, I think the tendency to treat intelligence politically increased over this whole period. And it’s mainly over issues like Southeast Asia and the growth of Soviet strategic forces that were extremely divisive politically. I think it’s probably naïve in retrospect to have believed what most of us believed at one time…that you could deliver an honest analytical product and have it taken at face value…. I think that intelligence has had relatively little impact on the policies that we’ve made over the years. Relatively none. In certain particular circumstances, perhaps insights and facts that were provided had an effect on what we did. But only in a very narrow range of circumstances. By and large, the intelligence effort did not alter the premises with which political leadership came to office. They brought their baggage and they more or less carried it along. Ideally, what had been supposed was that…serious intelligence analysis could…assist the policy side to reexamine premises, render policymaking more sophisticated, closer to the reality of the world. Those were the large ambitions which I think were never realized. “

Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Kindle Locations 6232-6238). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Weiner is especially down on the CIA “covert operations” arm, assigning to it much of the blame for the overall failures of the Agency. Can an organization like the CIA be successful in a democracy? Do American politicians, going back to JFK, only hear what they want to hear, shutting out everything that does not comport with the preconceived ideology and biases brought into office? This book covers a lot of ground, and is sourced very well. Despite the overall negative tenor towards the Agency this book is well worth a read if the real history of American intelligence gathering, and covert operations, is something you are interested in.

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Seabrook United Takes on Opioid Abuse on September 21, 2017

Please join us on Thursday September 21, 2017 at the Seabrook Community Center, 311 Lafayette Road in Seabrook, for a night of discussion on how to turn the tide on Opioid misuse. The event will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will feature a multitude of speakers, including Senator Maggie Hassan, Special Agent John Delena of the DEA, and Marty Boldin from the office of Governor Chris Sununu. The Seabrook Police Department, with the strong support of the Board of Selectmen, has organized this event, and Police Chief Gallagher and Lt. Gelineau will discuss the future of policing centered on addiction in Seabrook. We hope to have a productive, and informative, session. The program will end at 8:00 p.m. and will feature a short Q&A session at 7:50. We look forward to seeing you.

Media coverage of this event from the Hampton Union.

Media coverage of this event from the Newburyport News.

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Chris Isaak at Wilbur in Boston

Chris Isaak came into Boston, at the Wilbur, this month. He always puts on a terrific show, and seems to have a bit of fun while doing so. Great showman, and a terrific musician. Catch him if you can. You won’t be sorry. A couple of clips from the show are below.

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Review of “Devils Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency”

Devil's Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the PresidencyDevil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency by Joshua Green
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pretty good timing in picking up this book, with Trump firing Bannon just a short time ago. It was definitely worth the read, highlighting the role of Steve Bannon in the Trump campaign, even before he took on a formal role. The book allegedly drew the ire of the Donald himself, as it really does bestow much credit on Bannon for the ultimate success of the Trump campaign. In Trump world taking credit away from Donald Trump is a sure fire way to get dumped.

The book serves as a mini-biography of Bannon, giving us his background and world view, and how that fit into, and helped mold, the Trump campaign narrative. That viewpoint is the nationalist, anti-globalist views espoused by the Trump campaign.

“Everywhere Bannon looked in the modern world, he saw signs of collapse and an encroaching globalist order stamping out the last vestiges of the traditional. He saw it in governmental organizations such as the European Union and political leaders such as German chancellor Angela Merkel, who insisted that countries forfeit their sovereignty, and thus their ability to maintain their national character, to distant secular bureaucrats bent on erasing national borders. He saw it in the Roman Catholic Church, whose elevation of Pope Francis, “a liberal-theology Jesuit” and “pro-immigration globalist,” to replace Pope Benedict XVI so alarmed him that, in 2013, he established Breitbart Rome and took a Vatican meeting with Cardinal Raymond Burke in an effort to prop up Catholic traditionalists marginalized by the new Pope. More than anywhere else, Bannon saw evidence of Western collapse in the influx of Muslim refugees and migrants across Europe and the United States— what he pungently termed “civilizational jihad
personified by this migrant crisis.” Expounding on this view at a 2014 conference at the Vatican, Bannon knit together Guénon, Evola, and his own racial-religious panic to cast his beliefs in historical context. Citing the tens of millions of people killed in twentieth-century wars, he called mankind “children of that barbarity” whose present condition would one day be judged “a new Dark Age.” He added, “We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.” Bannon’s response to the rise of modernity was to set populist, right-wing nationalism against it. Wherever he could, he aligned himself with politicians and causes committed to tearing down its globalist edifice: archconservative Catholics such as Burke, Nigel Farage and UKIP, Marine Le Pen’s National Front, Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom, and Sarah Palin and the Tea Party. (When he got to the White House, he would also leverage U.S. trade policy to strengthen opponents of the EU.) This had a meaningful effect, even before Trump. “Bannon’s a political entrepreneur and a remarkable bloke,” Farage said. “Without the supportive voice of Breitbart London, I’m not sure we would have had a Brexit.”

Green, Joshua. Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency (p. 207). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Green, Joshua. Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency (pp. 206-207). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Bannon wanted to appeal to the white working class, and he wanted to fine tune the political effort to tear down Hillary Clinton. The book highlights how Bannon took a different strategic turn in the anti-Clinton war, looking to reach outside the conservative echo chamber to strike blows against her that would reach more mainstream sources, and achieve a penetration that would hurt her credibility outside of conservative circles. Bannon took lessons from the drubbing that President Bill Clinton gave to the right, and his anti-Hillary propaganda campaign stayed away from the errors Bannon felt the right had made in the first attempt to tear a Clinton down. Some good insight on the Bannon thought process, and how the book “Clinton Cash” played a significant role in his effort. 

Bannon, even though he has been deposed in the White House, was a truly key player in the campaign, representing, in my view, the key political mind that identified the dynamic that allowed Donald Trump to find the road to victory through the industrial Midwest. As Bannon surveyed the scene the morning after the election his thoughts were clear:

“But now, as the sun came up over Manhattan, he could see how everything had come together exactly according to script. “Hillary Clinton was the perfect foil for Trump’s message,” Bannon marveled to a reporter. “From her e-mail server, to her lavishly paid speeches to Wall Street bankers, to her FBI problems, she represented everything that middle-class Americans had had enough of.” The beauty of it was that no one had seen her downfall coming. “Their minds are totally blown,” he said, laughing. Clinton’s great mistake— the Democrats’ great mistake— was one he recognized all too well, since he’d watched Republicans commit it during their anti-Clinton witch hunts of the nineties: they’d become so intoxicated with the righteousness of their cause, so thoroughly convinced that a message built on identity politics would carry the day and drown out the ‘deplorables,’ that they became trapped in their own bubble and blind to the millions who disagreed with them—“ and that goes for you guys in the media, too,” he added.”

Green, Joshua. Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency (p. 236). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. Green, Joshua. Devil’s Bargain: Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency (p. 235). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

This is the second campaign book of this cycle that I have read, with each one accenting the separate campaigns. (“Shattered” by Jonathan Allen is the other.) The author had great access to Bannon, and for the most part wrote the narrative without betraying a bias. For many Democrats reading this book will be painful, but understanding the mindset, and tactics, of Steve Bannon is a necessary exercise if there is going to be a successful response in 2018 and beyond. The future of the Democratic Party depends on first understanding, and then effectively responding to the appeal that Bannon fashioned to some traditional members of the Democratic coalition.

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