Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Monkey Did It?

Last Sunday's naval encounter between U.S. and Iranian naval forces in the Strait of Hormuz has taken another strange turn. Reports in The New York Times, Navy Times and other publications suggest that a heckler may have been responsible for a threatening radio call, heard by American vessels as Iranian fast boats approached.

Pentagon officials tell Navy Times that the comments may have come from the "Filipino Monkey" a name given to mysterious--and profane--hecklers who often broadcast on VHF Channel 16, used for bridge-to-bridge communications in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere.

In recent years, American ships operating in the Middle East have had to contend with a mysterious but profane voice known by the ethnically insulting handle of “Filipino Monkey,” likely more than one person, who listens in on ship-to-ship radio traffic and then jumps on the net shouting insults and jabbering vile epithets.

Navy women — a helicopter pilot hailing a tanker, for example — who are overheard on the radio are said to suffer particularly degrading treatment.

Several Navy ship drivers interviewed by Navy Times are raising the possibility that the Monkey, or an imitator, was indeed featured in that video.

[snip]

Rick Hoffman, a retired captain who commanded the cruiser Hue City and spent many of his 17 years at sea in the Gulf was subject to the renegade radio talker repeatedly, often without pause during the so-called “Tanker Wars” of the late 1980s.

“For 25 years there’s been this mythical guy out there who, hour after hour, shouts obscenities and threats,” he said. “He could be tied up pierside somewhere or he could be on the bridge of a merchant ship.”

And the Monkey has stamina.

“He used to go all night long. The guy is crazy,” he said. “But who knows how many Filipino Monkeys there are? Could it have been a spurious transmission
? Absolutely.”

Captain Hoffman also noted that an atmospheric phenomenon in the region--known as ducting--allows signals to skip over great distances. In some instances, VHF radio calls from Bahrain could be heard in the southern gulf, hundreds of miles away.

However, the heckler theory only goes so far. If was an intruder that made those calls, he apparently had detailed knowledge of the tactical situation. The heckler's transmission--"I am coming to you. You will explode in a few minutes”--came at a critical moment in the encounter, as Iranian speedboats maneuvered dangerously close to U.S. warships.

The timing of that call suggests someone who was doing more than simply monitoring radio traffic on Channel 16. Under existing rules of engagement (ROE), American warships initiate radio contact well before approaching ships enter their inner defensive perimeter. Based solely on bridge-to-bridge communications, the intruder would have only a general idea of the vessels' location. His threatening call, at the height of the incident, seems hardly coincidental, and appears to have been based on more than VHF radio traffic.

By comparison, an IRGC command element, located on a nearby, Iranain-controlled island (or another naval vessel) would have detailed knowledge of the operational plan, and--with access to other communications channels, ELINT data and radar plots--an excellent idea of how the encounter was unfolding. With that information, it would be easy to make the radio call, at exactly the right moment.

It would also be relatively simple for Iranian linguists to mimic the well-known "monkey," creating plausible denial for their involvement. Tehran has used deceptive radio broadcasts in the past, to great effect. During the Iran-Iraq War, Iranian SIGINT units operated dummy radio networks, which passed bogus information that was intercepted by the Iraqis, causing them to deploy troops in the wrong areas. Given Iran's past proficiency in electronic deception, finding someone to imitate the heckler would be a piece of cake.

We may never know where that radio transmission came from. But put yourself in the shoes of those three U.S. warship commanders, transiting the Strait of Hormuz last Sunday. Iranian fast boats are closing fast and suddenly, you receive a radio call, threatening the destruction of your vessel. In the heat of that moment, you don't have time to debate the origin of a particular radio transmission--particularly in other Iranian radio nets are also active. You make the appropriate decision for your command, based on your training, experience, and assessment of the situation.

And by all accounts, the captains of those three vessels did just that.

19 comments:

The Buffalo In The Midst said...

From where I live in Central Coastal California I can talk on Single Sideband with CBers in Australia when conditions are good and the sunspot cycle is peaking.

Marine band is vhf, and the skipping of signals is not normal, but 'ducting' is. I've seen Hawaiian ham radio repeaters (50 watts +-) kick over the input of a local one here forcing them to tone-encode.

Listen... Everybody now knows the video shown by the U.S. government was a KNOWING fabrication with the audio 'punched in'.

Further, and to help pin down the source of the fabrication, you might note that no naval officer could POSSIBLY mistake comms on those bands for militarily related anything.

The U.S. Navy KNOWS the frequencies the IRG uses for their tactical comms... but SOMEONE didn't bother to use THOSE tapes.

That person or group of people intentionally tried to start a war, and all I have to say was said by George Monbiot a short time ago:

The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ruled that “to initiate a war of aggression … is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime”(3). the tribunal’s charter placed “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression”(4) at the top of the list of war crimes.

Source

davod said...

Post one. WTF are you talking about?

The Buffalo In The Midst said...

LOLTIH & ROTFLM M/F AO

Two words: Reading Comprehension.

Can you answer ONE point?

This one: "Everybody now knows the video shown by the U.S. government was a KNOWING fabrication with the audio 'punched in'."

Ken Prescott said...

This one: "Everybody now knows the video shown by the U.S. government was a KNOWING fabrication with the audio 'punched in'."

When someone says "everybody knows," it usually means "everybody in my intellectually incestuous circle-jerk and nobody outside thereof."

Kindly explain the comment about a "knowing fabrication." In detail. With evidence. Yes, I'm one of those evil patriarchal white males who insists on those things.

The Buffalo In The Midst said...

I guess everyone but you two:

The NYT reports,' The audio includes a statement that says, “I am coming to you,” and adds, “You will explode after a few minutes.” The voice was recorded from the internationally recognized channel for ship-to-ship communications, Navy officials have said. Naval and Pentagon officials have said that the video and audio were recorded separately, then combined. On Wednesday, Pentagon officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak officially, said they were still trying to determine if the transmission came from the speedboats or elsewhere."

Wouldn't it have been better to determine if the transmission came from the Iranian speedboats before super-imposing it on the videotape of the Iranian boats and then issuing it in such a way as to possibly foment a war?

A posting to the NYT "the Lede" blog page observed that the frequency used for ship communications in the Gulf is very busy and has lots of extraneous traffic, including the hurling of racial epithets against Filipinos & etc. The experienced former naval officer said, "My first thought was that the 'explode' comment might not have come from one of the Iranian craft, but some loser monitoring the events at a shore facility." Source

Only a moron couldn't tell they were lying:

“We’re saying that we cannot make a direct connection to the boats there,” “It could have come from the shore, from another ship passing by. However, it happened in the middle of all the very unusual activity, so as we assess the information and situation, we still put it in the total aggregate of what happened Sunday morning. I guess we’re not saying that it absolutely came from the boats, but we’re not saying it absolutely didn’t.”
-- U.S. Navy Spokesperson Practicing ‘Rumsfeldian circumlocution' In Re Alleged Threats Made By An Iranian Attack Craft Commander In The Gulf Of Hormuz

eatyourbeans said...

Not that I am uninterested in this voice, but voices don't sink ships. A swarm of speedboats can. Hey, you Navy guys, it is time to go back to WW1 technology, torpedo nets and smoke screens?

The Buffalo In The Midst said...

Follow up topic - warmongering cretin:

Cynical Outrage

Apparently last week, wasn't the first time Iranian boats harassed U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz. On Dec. 19, the Pentagon now says, the USS Whidbey Island fired warning shots after an Iranian boat approached at high speed. Three days later, the USS Carr blew warning whistles when it encountered three Iranian speedboats maneuvering within its safety zone.

In both cases, the Iranian boats retreated and further conflict was averted.

And the Pentagon kept quiet about both incidents - until the president happened to be visiting the Persian Gulf... Source: WaPo

Ken Prescott said...

"Wouldn't it have been better to determine if the transmission came from the Iranian speedboats before super-imposing it on the videotape of the Iranian boats and then issuing it in such a way as to possibly foment a war?"

The transmissions were being received at the time the video footage was being shot. They give valuable context to the videotape by allowing us to hear what was being said over the radio and what was being seen by the watchstanders.

In short, the video and audio give us what the watchstanders knew at the time--namely, that some IRGC speedboats were ass-hatting and that an asshat of of unknown provenance (possibly on one of the IRGC speedboats, possibly on shore, possibly some under-intelligent and over-bored merchie dipshit) was running his soup-cooler at the same time.

That said . . . the CO of the Port Royal (senior skipper present) must play one hell of a game of poker.

The Buffalo In The Midst said...

What annoys me the most is the US Navy, with the finest ECM and radio surveillance gear iin the world, knew EXACTLY which frequency the IRGC tactical comms were happening on, and most likely had/have a recording of their inter-craft comms. That's why I say it was an attempt at warmongering by SOME ELEMENT within the US government... Perhaps the State Departmental liaison with the Pentagon... (Where IS Doug Feith nowdays?) has a different agenda than the Pentagon and service branches.

Not news.

FWIW, I am in no way saying that any military personnel were directly involved in this apparent fabrication of a saber to rattle at Iran.

The Buffalo In The Midst said...

Case in point about differing agendas in re wars, and how America makes them:

January 14, 2008

Friday marked the sixth anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at the American GULAG constructed to house prisoners taken in the Bush Administration’s War on Terror in Guantánamo. Around the world, thousands gathered in public commemorations in London, Stockholm, Dublin, Brussels and Bahrain. More than twelve hundred parliamentarians signed a formal plea calling for the immediate closing of the base. The same plea had previously been issued by Pope Benedict, Chancellor Angela Merkel and more than two dozen other world leaders.

Indeed, quite remarkably, on Sunday Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff essentially joined in with the protestors.

“More than anything else it’s been the image — how Gitmo has become around the world, in terms of representing the United States. … I believe that from the standpoint of how it reflects on us that it’s been pretty damaging.”

Mullen went on to say that he wanted the facility shut down. Sources inside the Pentagon say that has been the view of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for several years now. Source: Harpers

gr8scott said...

Wow.

Me thinks BM needs a hobby. Of course, you can sum up his thinking by the first sentence of his first post... "I live in Central Coastal California"...

Says it all...

The Buffalo In The Midst said...

Right... I'll tell all the guys down at the Naval Post-Graduate School
you said hi.

Moron.

joe buz said...

Almost "Everybody now knows" that the squid on the deck with a hand held vid camera cant pick up radio transmission from any source much less the IRG on his CAMERA. Thus the need to "punch in" the audio from the comm sources that were being received at the time.

The Buffalo In The Midst said...

It's still forgery, or fraud, for people in a position to know where the audio came from not to make it eminently clear when they address the US public, and the people encharged with that responsibility WERE.

NOT the squid with the phonecam OR his CO.

The squids & others 'in the midst' are the ones who get killed in the long run due to this sort of fubar, thoughtless disingenuity.

Ken Prescott said...

What annoys me the most is the US Navy, with the finest ECM and radio surveillance gear iin the world, knew EXACTLY which frequency the IRGC tactical comms were happening on, and most likely had/have a recording of their inter-craft comms.

That annoys you? That we're listening in on the communications of the IRGC?

I think you've just managed to say a wee bit more than you wished to regarding your sympathies.

Let me guess: you have that same "Never been anything at all intimate with a member of the opposite sex" vibe that Adam Gadahn has . . .

The Buffalo In The Midst said...

Ken Prescott: That annoys you? That we're listening in on the communications of the IRGC?

No, what annoys me is that they weren't sure, at least about THAT unproven "punched in" one-way xmit, and proceeded to lie their way into another international diplomacy disaster.

...and that the disingenuity is putting sailors lives in jeopardy now and in the future.

Face it, you aren't going to get your war with Iran unless the cretins in power do it without the knowledge of the American populace, like they tried to when they "lost' (right...) those nuclear tipped cruise missiles mounted on a flight to the Azores... The staging area for the Middle East.

They've told too many lies already and only a moron would believe a word they say.

Ken Prescott said...

No, what annoys me is that they weren't sure, at least about THAT unproven "punched in" one-way xmit, and proceeded to lie their way into another international diplomacy disaster.

Oh, they lied about the presence of those speedboats? Or they lied about concurrently receiving a signal on bridge-to-bridge that expressed a threat during an already tense situation?

Where, exactly, is the "lie," the buffalo in the midst of eating his own fecal material?

...and that the disingenuity is putting sailors lives in jeopardy now and in the future.

How so? Again, be as precise as your no-doubt-recreational-pharmaceutically-saturated brain tissues allow.

Face it, you aren't going to get your war with Iran unless the cretins in power do it without the knowledge of the American populace, like they tried to when they "lost' (right...) those nuclear tipped cruise missiles mounted on a flight to the Azores... The staging area for the Middle East.

Jesus H. Christ in a chicken basket. Ignorance and insanity on full display in one convenient package.

Augurwell said...

"The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ruled that “to initiate a war of aggression … is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime”(3). the tribunal’s charter placed “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression”(4) at the top of the list of war crimes."

Sounds like what some in Iran are doing.

Old Salt said...

Let's not forget the U.S.S. Liberty:
Admiral Moorer, who as top legal council to the official investigation is in a position to know, agrees that Israel intended to sink the USS Liberty and blame Egypt for it, thus dragging the United States into a war on Israel's behalf. This seems to be a common trick of Israel. Starting with the Lavon affair, through the USS Liberty, to the fake radio transmitter that tricked Reagan into attacking Libya, to potentially 9-11 itself, Israel's game is to frame Arabs and set them up as targets for the United States.

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/ussliberty.html