Chapter 3: Truth and Consequences of the ’05 Cal Guard Spy Scandal

In Chapter 2 of Truth & Consequences  of the ’05 Spy Scandal, I described how the Dynasty allegedly shaped the political climate,  railroaded, and ganged-up on their opposition. In Part III, I:

  • Relate my experience of their internal networking;
  • Share my observations of their Senate Hearing strategy; and
  • Recount how they homogenized their crony network.
  • I begin with…..

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On Point. Was California State Sen. Tom McClintock (Left) on point that Sen. Joe Dunn's California National Guard Spy scandal was a political show in 2005? Did the senate give whistle blowers too much weight during the July 18, 2005 Senate inquiry? Did the Cal Guard's political liaison's silence keep facts from the inquiry? (Flickr Photos).
On Point. Was California State Sen. Tom McClintock (Left) on point that Sen. Joe Dunn’s (Right) California National Guard Spy scandal was a political show in 2005? Did the senate give whistle blowers too much weight during the July 18, 2005 Senate inquiry? Did the Cal Guard’s political liaison’s silence keep facts from the inquiry? (Flickr Photos).

The Spy  Who  Loved Me

Perhaps the treatment for weaning a person addicted to Lucifer’s effect depends on support groups. But if support groups are to help a “Lucifer-holic ,” one must admit their addiction. Maybe the severity  of this addiction surfaced when Acting Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. John Alexander, convened his personal staff that included among others Hart, and Lt. Col Joseph Righello, and myself to discuss Dunn’s public accusations. Righello was the department’s legislative liaison and “go-to-man” for the Governor’s office.

I shared my estimation that the Mercury News was a communication barrier between the Department and Dunn. Locking eyes with Righello I said words to the effect that the state’s major newspapers didn’t appear to be pursuing this story. I was of the opinion that the state’s larger news outlets were picking up the spy story through the California Capitol Press Corps and Mercury News editions.

Since Dunn was imploring the senate to investigate the department, and a Senate inquiry appeared imminent,  I suggested we respond to the Mercury News accordingly, saying  it inappropriate to discuss details of Dunn’s inquiries until the Governor’s office and Dunn had opportunity to review requested information. At such time, I reasoned, we would release the information to all state media outlets encouraging them to compete for the story.

I said the larger news outlets have brigades of attorneys who  might aggressively pursue a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, if necessary, for the Army IG report absolving the Cal Guard of spying.  Such a tactic, I argued, would bust up the communication gridlock and give the public both sides of the controversy so they could draw their  own conclusions.

I recall looking at Righello and asking, “I’m sure the Governor’s office would consider this tactic, wouldn’t you agree Joe?” Righello was pensive and didn’t respond—until the next morning after my analysis apparently weaved its way through the Capitol Press Corps and my “live in age of terrorism ” quote magically appeared in the Sacramento Bee editorial.  As I passed Righello in the  headquarters the following morning, he laughed and asked, “Still think the big papers aren’t interested in the story, Stan?”

“Aren’t we on the same team?” I asked. The liaison officer fell silent, faded into his office, and prompted one observer—Col. Kevin Ellsworth– to later ask, “What was that about?” I briefly explained the previous day’s meeting, shared my suspicion that Righello might be working against us, then joked, “I think I met the spy who loves me.”

Senate Investigation: Mums the Word

 

Lt. Col. (California State Military Reserve) Joseph Righello represented the State Military Department at the July 18, 2005 State Senate inquiry into the CNG Spy Scandal, revealing Nothing. (CNG Grizzly Magazine Photo)
Lt. Col. (California State Military Reserve) Joseph Righello represented the State Military Department at the July 18, 2005 State Senate inquiry into the CNG Spy Scandal, revealing Nothing. (CNG Grizzly Magazine Photo)

Righello arguably played a “fall guy when he testified before Dunn’s Senate inquiry on July 18, 2005. His evasive answers to questions of whether the Guard spied and kept files on private citizens reportedly agitated lawmakers, aroused suspicions of a cover-up, and disputably publically convicted innocent people of collaborating on spying. Dunn  nonchalantly dismissed, and Righello didn’t mention, an official the U.S. Army IG investigation exonerating the Guard of neither spying on U.S.  citizens nor infiltrating Code Pink.

“After I saw the response today from the National Guard, I’m convinced this is an agency crying out for legislative attention,” said Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks). “I was truly taken aback by the evasive responses to simple questions.”

The San Jose Mercury News reported that prior to the hearing, McClintock thought Dunn’s inquiry was for “a political show.” But Dunn apparently swayed his naysayers and exposed senior Guard leadership to double jeopardy in the court of public opinion, so to speak. The senator threatened to expand his probe and subpoena senior CNG leaders to testify on the allegations of strong-arming filmmakers, retaliation, and misusing public funds.

Personally, I don’t think Dunn  had  the  guts to  subpoena officers with  official knowledge of the allegations–unless whistleblowers were allowed to stack the summons list. The Senator ran the risk of having to “handle the truth” and potentially facing an Army attorney who could challenge him with that unnerving McCarthy-question: “Have you no sense of decency, sir?”

But, I believe, there was neither a Joseph N. Welch to challenge Dunn legally nor an Edward R. Murrow to expose Dunn’s prejudices in the press at the July 18, 2005 hearings. So it was that whistle-blowers could arguably remain mum, minimizing risks of exposing their agenda. Debatably content with the  public illusion that a Cal Guard Spy Unit existed, they were willing to move on and sentence those wrongly implicated.

Perhaps outside observers sensed this internal turmoil and feared for incoming Adjutant General Maj. Gen. William Wade’s political and media prospects. “How in God’s name do you prepare any human being for that? ” asked retired adjutant general Maj. Gen. Robert C. Thrasher in a L.A. Times story. “When you get into that kind of dynamic, is he (Wade) able to handle it? Hell no—unless he has the support of the legislature, the governor, and the press.”

PMESII: Monopolizing Elements of Power

Maj. Gen. William Wade's legacy for commanding the hearts of the Cal Guard's rank and file is perhaps obscured by his agitators' influence with the legislature and media. (SSG Bob Pack, Grizzly Magazine 2004).
Maj. Gen. William Wade’s legacy for commanding the hearts of the Cal Guard’s rank and file is perhaps obscured by his agitators’ influence with the legislature and media. (SSG Bob Pack, Grizzly Magazine 2004).

Perhaps in an ingenious military maneuver, the Dynasty wrestled mastery of  gubernatorial, legislative, and press relations away from Wade. In military parlance, they’re called the elements of power, PMESII–or political, military, economic, social, informational, and infrastructure.

They arguably safeguarded their relationship with Governor’s office by ensuring Righello retained his legislative role, and elevated Col. David S. Baldwin to Director, Communications.  By permitting Baldwin to simultaneously retain directorship of  department’s operations, however, the executive branch unwittingly empowered the Dynasty to gain a foothold on all aspects of  PMESII.

The Dynasty debatably commandeered the department’s public relations functions by swapping out Hart’s public affairs office (PAO) with their own hand-picked, inexperienced, crew. Baldwin instructed me to assist the Dynasty’s incoming PAO team with revamping the department’s strategic communications plan.

Public relations, in my opinion, became information operations–or military systems designed to influence opinions through misinformation, deception, and rumors. The Dynasty tightened its grip on informational element of PMESII by limiting press accessibility. Unlike the characterization author Bob Aldridge paints on page 100 of his book America in Peril (2008), when he attributed Baldwin with saying, “Lieut. (sic) Zezotarski was told not to speak to the media anymore,” this is perhaps a  rare instance when the truth is more compelling than legend.

Baldwin ordered me to terminate my relationship with a pseudo military press corps of veteran reporters more likely to gag on spoon-fed news than swallow it—specifically the Sacramento Bee’s Steve Gibson and Sam Stanton; the Los Angeles Time’s H.G. Reza; KOVR-TV’s Jon Iander; and KCRA-TV’s Roy Stearns. In addition, troops were no longer permitted to communicate with the media and their elected leaders without the Dynasty’s permission–the legislature  later reprimanded Baldwin for this policy after he became the Adjutant General (TAG).

I was instructed to continue managing the Grizzly magazine–the Cal Guard’s news magazine for its 30,000 members, their families,  employers, and critical publics. But Baldwin’s team restructured two-way communication between the Guard’s grassroots to their adjutant general into a top down and scripted-up method. By capsizing this communication flow, the Dynasty debatably  censured the rank and file’s voice. The Dynasty now spoke for the troops with limited input from Guardsmen, families, and critical supporters.

This reversed a communication process initiated by Maj. Gen. Edmund Zysk, 40th Infantry Division, who in 1998 directed me to poll Guardsmen, generate marketing data, and start a commercially funded venture after the magazine was pruned from the budget. The private-public partnership made TAG accessible to troops, their families, retirees, veterans groups, employers, civilian media, and even legislative audiences via letters to the  editor, reader’s polls, and other venues. Something Monroe continued when he restored the publication to the  budget, and troop feedback Eres valued for writing his Grizzly column to the Guard family.

The Dynasty then allegedly socialized a story that the Domestic Watch unit was  “quietly” disbanded. Hart’s politically motivated reassignment was propagandized as his removal for alleged cover-up of the imaginary Guard Spy Unit. O’Neil’s sabbatical from his civilian job was hyped into “termination” for suspicion of leading the mythical clandestine intelligence network.

The movement of Eres’ personal staff was apparently spun into transfers from O’Neill’s “Domestic Watch” unit,” and advertised as “the right thing to do.” A story the San Jose Mercury News circulated through the Capitol press corps, and that Aldridge consumed with great relish in his account of the Errant National Guard Unit (pages 99- 102). The rumor arguably satisfied the Dynasty’s debt to Code Pink and created an illusion of military accountability and rebuke of subversives for Dunn and the California Legislature.

Although Baldwin’s transition group was hesitant of my recommendation to reform the SAD system and credit Dunn’s investigations for it, they were more accepting when I elaborated on the objective to persuade Dunn to end his civil liberty crusade against the state military. Reforming SAD was optional, I explained, although I advised that if they used this tactic that they follow-through to protect the organization’s integrity.

The Dynasty arguably used this tactic to solidify their legislative influence, but also make inroads into the military and infrastructure facets of PMESII. Wade honestly established a SAD reform committee to ameliorate flaws the Dynasty credited Dunn for exposing, but Dynasty members–whom Wade reportedly trusted–would disputably control  the reform  panel’s functions and dictate its reform measures.

With its monopoly of  PMESII, the Dynasty evolved into a powerful underground society with weapons at their disposal to penalize those they deemed unacceptable for SAD employment, hire and promote those they felt worthy of Dynasty membership, and to retaliate against those perceived as a threat to their empire–primarily the remnants of Monroe’s Joint Transition Team who, despite the scandal, conscientiously plugged modernization of the Cal Guard’s operating systems.

It was an underground network many  believed met openly, almost  daily, on the Military Department’s back patio,  smoking cigars, and audaciously discussing who would be included and excluded from the Dynasty’s SAD empire.

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In my Chapter 4,  I recount my impressions of how the Dynasty arguably infiltrated civilian command and control to allegedly generate financial windfalls to fund SAD positions,  and asserted themselves as the Cal Guard’s “Lords of Discipline.”

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