Your Local FBI, WVRC on May 3rd
PP BOB WESSLING started us off with the Pledge. PP JIM DOWNIE came forward, armed with his trusty harmonica, and took us through’ Take Me Out To The Ballpark”. ART HENRY provided the Invocation:
Winston Churchill, a man not liikely to be forgotten, because of his enduring political character. - it was this that made him Hitler's most effective enemy. ...Let us pray for God's help in remembering the greats of the past for it is in memory that we affirm who we are.
Thanks, ART - well done.
The District Conference took place at the Bahia Resort in San Diego, starting on April 26th, through the 29th. Those who attended included Prexy MIKE, PDG ANDY and PAT ANDERSON, Asst. Governor PETER MORE and SHIRLEY, PP DON NELSON and ROZ, PEGGY BLOOMFIELD, ANN SAMSON, PP JIM DOWNIE and MARGIE, and CHRIS BRADFORD and SHARON. Everyone had a good time, and our Friday Chili Night offering was well received. WVRC received a Presidential Citation, and PDG ANDY ANDERSON was inducted into the Rotary Hall of Fame - his selection was applauded at our meeting today. It was noted that PEGGY BLOOMFIELD won an auction item by bidding $2,500, apparently egged on by her WVRC seatmates. A number of the members stopped off on the way back at the SINGLETON’S lovely home in Carlsbad.
An Announcement and a Mea Culpa, If I May
There will be a luncheon honoring Paul Netzel at the Cathedral downtown on May 8th. Paul is a new Director of Rotary International, and you will recall that he served as President of LA 5 and as District Governor. My confession is that it really doesn’t help if I list events the week after our meeting on Thursday, since the Windmill usually does not come out before the middle of the week following. And thus the event will often have happened before the WM appears.
I also made an announcement One of the awards we present annually to the ROTC programs at UCLA will be presented at a dinner event on Friday, May 18th, to the Air Force recipient. It’s a dinner, starting at 6 pm and if you would like to be the Presenter, please let me know. A nice event, and it’s fun to see all these bright young cadets.
Prexy MIKE had a story about an employee asking for a day off. The employer began enumerating how few days the person actually worked, finally cutting it down to just ONE day. It was obvious that he couldn’t be given the one day remaining, so his request was not granted!
MIKE YOUSEM introduced our Speaker, Special Agent Peter Burst of the FBI. Special Agent Burst is the 2nd in command of the FBI in Los Angeles, with about seven hundred agents under his supervision. While MIKE doesn’t know exactly what Agent Brust does, one possible subject would be “how you get your wife to walk the dog”, but the more likely subject is the FBI and it’s response to National Security Issues.
Agent Burst began by briefly outlining his own credentials. He has been with the FBI for twenty one years. He holds a bachelor’s degree, plus a law degree, and has been married to his wife for twenty four years (and she likes to walk the dog) they have one daughter, just starting college. His title is Special Agent in Charge of Division Two, which is counter-intelligence and cyber, plus administrative and investigative support as needed. His division covers seven counties, from San Luis Obispo down to Orange County and east to Kern and San Bernardino Counties. There are about nineteen million people in this area.
From a historical standpoint, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attacks of 9/11 have a number of similarities. In both cases, there was lots of ‘traffic’ concerning what was going on, but there was no specific warning or date that was considered paramount before either event. The current mission is to be sure that such an event doesn’t happen again. He reminded us of 1999, when a man was intercepted with bomb-making equipment designated to be used at LAX, plus the “shoe bomber” who intended to blow up the aircraft he was on, over the Atlantic.
Looking further afield, in Spain and England, for example, you are seeing more and more home-grown terrorism. The FBI is partnering with about eighty different agencies, federal, state and local, all of who are on the lookout for terrorist activities plans. There are at least thirty different ethnic groups in our area, each of which might be capable of a terrorist attack. This surveillance is the number one priority in our area.
More about our area. There are some eight hundred defense contractors here, plus fourteen military bases, and all of these are subject to possible spying, to find out what our plans may be. Some of this is industrial espionage, but all such activity must be monitored. He gave another overseas example of the sudden, totally unexpected appearance of a Chinese submarine near one of our carriers in the south China Sea. Before it appeared, we had no knowledge that the Chinese were producing submarines. A trial in Orange County is about to conclude, with the defendant charged with espionage for China. Four more defendants will be tried after his trial.
Cyber intelligence (read, computers) are a major priority.. Note that computers are used not only by terrorists, but by ordinary criminals there is lots of traffic to monitor. AOL alone has six hundred million subscribers worldwide, for instance. Another example is the “Nigerian Scam” in which the reader is offered a huge amount of cash to ‘facilitate’ the cashing of a non-existent bond and a very few people do indeed continue to fall for this. Such prospecting doesn’t cost the initiator hardly anything, so it continues.
There was a brief Q&A. PP STEVE SCHERER asked if there was a direct connection between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and terrorism in Southern California. That’s a broad question, but the terrorists we face today are indeed a worldwide threat. SEAN McMILLAN asked if there are problems in prosecuting terrorists. Yes, if a trial comes to a point where the issue is between dropping a charge and revealing a sensitive source, the charge may be dropped. Note that in America, the burden of proof is on the prosecution, which isn’t true in some foreign societies. JACK HARRIS asked for an update on plans to build a one million square foot new FBI Building. Out side of some heckler suggesting they were going to build it next to JACK’s, Agent Burst admitted that the plans for WLA simply won’t happen.
Special Agent Peter Burst, we thank you for the update on our FBI.
YOE, Ernie Wolfe