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Special Operations Sites Give a Glimpse of Cloak-and-Dagger World

 by Jon F. Merz


            I have always been amazed at the incredibly diverse information you can find on the Net.  All it takes is imagination, a lot of coffee, and a few hours of poring through the endless amount of adult sites that always seem to crop up no matter what I type into search engines.  And while it's comforting to know that someone actually has nude pictures of the Pythagorean Theorem, I'm hoping to relieve some of your own frustration by doing some of the legwork for you. This is the first in a series of columns exploring some of the obscure and often bizarre corners of the Web.

            After watching ``Delta Force 15:  The Search for Plot" in its direct-to-video and cable debut, I decided to see if there was something more concrete to this cloak-and-dagger stuff–if only to reacquire a firm grip on reality and not waste my afternoon counting how many Estes model rockets can be fired off the handlebars of a motorcycle before you have to reload.

            Tom Hunter's Special Operations Page is the finest creation of its kind on the Net.  Filled with first-hand knowledge and vast information on U.S. special operations units and foreign government units, this is the place to leap headlong into the world of elite covert operations.  Tom has everything nicely organized by branch of service, unit designations, equipment, weapons, tactics, recent declassified missions and more.  You can spend hours here poring over tons of information and surfing the abundant links to other spec-ops sites.

            The Special Air Service homepage is all about Britain's infamous SAS, considered by many experts to be the finest special operations unit in the world.  Tracing its origin back to David Stirling and his long-range North African desert patrols of World War II, the SAS has more experience in special operations and counter revolutionary warfare than any other unit in existence.  A wonderfully illustrated page filled with useful information including weapons and equipment, organization, recent events, links and even the official prayer.

            But how about some official pages for these units?  Do they exist?  To some extent, they do.  But their very nature makes them shun publicity so you will not find an official Delta Force homepage at, but you can find a host of peripheral links to sites that border these units.  You can start at Tom Hunter's page.  Or you can cruise over to the official homepage for the United States intelligence community , which houses all 14 components of the U.S. intelligence gathering apparatus.  Most of us only ever hear about the CIA, FBI, and NSA.  But there's also the DIA, DOE, NRO, AFIA, ONI and a host of others.  Is it any wonder why the whole thing is referred to as one big bowl of alphabet soup?  While most of the intelligence community sites don't offer a wealth of information, they do offer a glimpse into the workings of our national security and intelligence.  And if you're in the market for a new job, there are plenty of links here to get you started.

            So who are the bad guys these operators go after?  Where do they come from?  You will find watch lists of terrorist organizations and assorted rogues posted in the Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Resource Program.  Everything from backgrounds, attributable acts, to a spare mug shot or two.  Enough reading to keep you awake at night wondering about a dangerous world. Tons of information on over 300 separate groups, para-states, cells and cartels as well as many links are housed here.  Be sure to check out their national and international intelligence agency links as well.  It's a great page.

            Jumping back to the right side of the fence, you won't want to miss kim-soft:  a site about intelligence and counterintelligence.  It's an absolute smorgasbord of links to everything even vaguely related to the espionage/special operations topic.  You'll find information about private security, surveillance, national and international intelligence, special operations units, news links, articles and archives detailing some of the publicized aspects of this lifestyle and more.

            Still craving abundant raw intel?  Check out Jane's Intel Web from the same folks who publish Jane's military book series.  Subscribe to a year's worth of the Terrorism Watch Report or the Intelligence Watch Report.  They're pricey, each costing $325 a year, but you can pick up both for only $550 (use the $100 you save to buy a copy of ``The Assignment" with Donald Sutherland, Ben Kingsley and Aidan Quinn–it's got more good cloak and dagger stuff than all the ``Delta Force" movies put together!).  Excellent quality and top-notch information make these publications a leading source for private security agencies, corporate intelligence investigators and informed wealthy individuals.  Not sure you've got the dough?  You can always sign up for Jane's Platinum Visa card, perfect for charging that subscription cost.

            And finally, what would this column be without a visit to the fringe of reality.  Find it all and so much more at the Disinformation Page.  Filled with tons of conspiracy theories, hacker know-how, and assorted bits of amusing rants about Big Brother, it's well worth a look if not a laugh.  Now I know they take themselves seriously, and truthfully, you will find some good material here.  But after reading about how the National Security Agency scans emails looking for certain words including the phrase ``Bubba the Love Sponge," I was just a tad dubious.  Call me crazy, but somehow that phrase just doesn't conjure up gruesome images of destruction or threats to our national security.  Of course, given that the Air Force can spend three hundred bucks on a wrench and call it reasonable, who's to say there's not some active terrorist cell using such crazy code names?  After all, this is the wacky Web:  where true hyperlinks are stranger than fiction.


Jon F. Merz is a freelance writer working in Boston, Ma.  His nonfiction has been seen in Ura & Omote Journal, World Rhythm Magazine, and  He has also published more than two dozen short fiction pieces in various national and small press magazines.





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