Weapon May 'Tag' Suspects, So There Is No Escape
Surge Played Only a Minor Role
By Jon Ponder on 9/12/2008, 5:01am PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

In an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" about his new book, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, Bob Woodward said that his reporting had uncovered a top-secret new weapon introduced by U.S forces into Iraq that is primarily responsible for the current period of stability there.

The Bush/McCain Surge is just one of four factors that have tamped down violence, according to Woodward. The other factors include the Anbar Awakening, in which the Sunnis rejected Al Qaeda's extremism; the stand-down of Muqtada al Sadr's Shiite militia; and this new top secret weapon:

BOB WOODWARD: The fourth [element] is very top secret. And that is a series of operations that have been developed that allow U.S. forces to locate targets and kill extremists, al Qaeda members and members of the insurgency.

On Friday [Sept. 5, 2008], the White House in responding to the book for the first time confirmed that there were "newly developed techniques and operations which helped the situation stabilize in Iraq."

TERRY GROSS: At the request of the military and the White House, you're not revealing any of the details you found about what these top-secret operations are. What can you tell us?

BW: That it's like any war. There's always something --- there's a game-changer, a new development. In the early 20th century, it was the tank or the airplane. World War II, the Manhattan Project and the development of the Atomic Bomb. These [new] operations and techniques are not something where you're going to see an explosion like an Atomic Bomb but they are incredibly effective. They are something that --- as Pres. Bush said to people that I quote in the book, "We are killing them all. We are killing all of the people who are the leaders." Now, it's not literally "all," but they are killing hundreds and hundreds of key people on the other side in this conflict.

So what could this new weapon be? Sharon Weinberger at Wired.com has a guess:

I believe he is talking about the much ballyhooed (in defense geek circles) "Tagging, Tracking and Locating" [TTL] program... These are newfangled technologies designed to track people from long distances, without the targeted people realizing they are being tracked. That can theoretically include thermal signatures, or some sort of "taggant" placed on a person. Think Will Smith in Enemy of the State. Well, not so many cameras, maybe.

Why do I think this is the technology Woodward is referring to? Well, first, because it pretty much fits the bill, in terms of the type of capability he appears to be talking about. It has involvement from a number of players, including the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and Special Operations Command. Also, the Defense Science Board has talked about this capability in similar terms, saying "the global war on terrorism cannot be won without a ‘Manhattan Project’-like TTL ... program."

Here's how an unclassified military document describes the weapon system:

  • The Ability to Locate, Track, and Identify Human Beings and Other Important Targets
  • Directly Supports DoD’s Ability to Prosecute the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT)
  • Forces Require an Ability to Apply and Monitor Tags
  • Detect and Identify Targets Based on Their Unique Observable Characteristics Without Undue Exposure of Personnel to Risks and With Devices That are Sufficiently Clandestine to be Effective

And:

  • Objective: Conduct a Collaborative Effort to Develop New Capabilities for Clandestine Tagging, Tracking, and Locating in Response to Priorities Established in a Quick-look Capability-based Assessment Conducted in Response to the Findings of the QDR
  • Approach: Transition Existing State-of-the-Art Technologies in Nanotechnology, Chemistry, and Biology to Operational Systems Through the USSOCOM Acquisition Process and Conduct RDT&E From Basic Research Through Prototyping to Provide Continuous Improvements in the CTTL Technology Available for Transition to the Operators. Specific Capability Projections Are Classified.

Sounds pretty effective, but there's a downside that ought to make every red-blooded American's blood run cold, and that is the thought of a weapon like this in the hands of crypto-fascists like George Bush and Dick Cheney, and their ideological clones, John McCain and Sarah Palin.