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Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014
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Altman: Ex-CIA officer welcomes Obama speech

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President Barack Obama’s speech Friday morning about how to change the way the National Security Agency collects data brought a smile to at least one old spook I know who I would not exactly call a flaming liberal.

“It was a good speech,” said Gene Poteat, a retired senior CIA scientific intelligence officer and now president of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO). “I didn’t expect it to be as good as it was.”

The speech, said Poteat, “was great” because it “did several things that were critical. He cited that from the Civil War to the present, intelligence has been critical to our national security. Then he completely defended the intelligence community, including the NSA, and he especially gave praise for dedicated people who work in the intelligence community. It was long overdue.”

I met Poteat last year at a monthly AFIO lunch at MacDill Air Force Base. To say that he is a genius is a bit of an understatement, as his bio attests.

He worked with U-2 and SR-71 spy planes as well as space and naval reconnaissance systems. He also managed the CIA’s worldwide network of monitoring sites. He holds patents on covert communications techniques. His CIA assignments included the Directorate of Science and Technology, the National Reconnaissance Office, Technical Director of the Navy’s Special Programs Office and executive director of the Intelligence Research and Development Council. He served abroad in London, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Asia. And he received the CIA’s Medal of Merit and the National Reconnaissance Office’s Meritorious Civilian Award for his technological innovations.

Obama, he said, “is typical of many past presidents who come into office, completely ignorant of intelligence and threats, then when they get into office, get their head inside the tent, it is wake-up call.”

But one thing that didn’t make Poteat happy was how Washington TV handled the speech.

“The thing that was most important, in many ways, is the fact that all the networks did not even let him finish his talk,” said Poteat. “In Washington, they cut him off before the end of his speech. They went to local news about the latest shootings in D.C., which are an every day occurrence.”

Pasco sheriff hiring

Are you a veteran looking for work or know one?

The Pasco Sheriff’s Office will be holding a sponsored corrections academy starting in March for detention deputy trainees.

Those candidates hired will be a full-time employee and offered benefits, including health, dental, and retirement.

The hourly rate is $9.23 but after completing the academy and passing the Florida state exam candidates will be a detention deputy and pay will increase to $17.91 hourly.

All applicants:

* Must be a United States citizen.

* Must be at least 19.

* Must possess a high school diploma or GED.

* Must have a valid Florida driver’s license.

The deadline to submit applications is Jan. 24. For more information, or to apply, click here.

New mystery about MacDill

There’s going to be a shooting at MacDill.

How do I know this?

I asked the perpetrator.

Well, really the author behind the perpetrator.

Diane Capri, a mystery writer who has penned a number of books about a fictional Army veteran named Jack Reacher and two FBI agents who trail him, is taking her series to the sprawling complex at the end of Dale Mabry Highway.

I must confess that the vast majority of my reading list is nonfiction, usually biographies and history. John Rizzo’s “Company Man,” about his career in the CIA, is currently on my nightstand.

But a great social media marketing campaign, engineered it turns by a former colleague Beth DeBevoise, caught my eye.

Capri explains the MacDill connection thusly: “Perhaps the most iconic character in crime fiction today, Jack Reacher is a fictional character written by Lee Childs,” says Capri. Reacher “was in the Army, then he left the Army and now he is traveling the country to have the opportunity to see it. Trouble finds him, he wipes the floor with bad guys and moves on. My series is about two FBI agents tasked with finding out what Reacher is doing all this time since leaving the Army. There is a complete dearth of records and they have to find people who knew or know him and fill in the blanks.”

In this book, which has yet to be titled, someone gets shot at MacDill.

“I don’t want to give away too many details,” says Capri, who splits her time between South Tampa and Michigan.

Capri, who hasn’t been on base for years, said she is planning a research visit in the near future.

The book is due out in March, she said, adding a caveat that “we are not as far along as we would like.”

Stay tuned.

Pie contest on base

Capri wasn’t sure when she will make it on base, but it probably won’t be in time for what is being billed as the “1st Annual MacDill Pie Contest.”

The event itself will be held Thursday at Seascapes Beach House on base between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The purpose, according to a flyer, is to start a MacDill cookbook.

All entries have to be submitted before midnight Tuesday.

The rules state that all entries must be dessert pies, presented on a round nine- or 12-inch pie tin or plate and accompanied by “an accurate recipe with all ingredients included (very important due to food allergies).”

Also, only one entry per person.

Entries will be judged on appearance, texture, flavor and uniqueness.

For more information on the contest, which is courtesy of ARAMARK, which runs Seascapes, call 813-840-1451 or email evers-dolores@aramark.com.

Three die in Afghanistan

The Pentagon announced the deaths of three soldiers in Afghanistan last week:

* Chief Warrant Officer Andrew L. McAdams, 27, of Cheyenne, Wyo., assigned to Detachment 53, Operational Support Airlift Command, Joint Force Headquarters, Wyoming Army National Guard, Cheyenne, Wyo., and Sgt. Drew M. Scobie, 25, of Kailua, Hawaii, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery, Wahiawa, Hawaii Army National Guard, Oahu, Hawaii, died Jan. 10, at Bagram Airfield, in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when the aircraft they were aboard crashed. The incident is under investigation.

* Sgt. Daniel T. Lee, 28, of Crossville, Tenn., died Jan. 15, in Parwan Province, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with small-arms fire during combat operations. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C.

There have now been 2,294 U.S. troop deaths in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the nation’s longest war.

haltman@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7629

@haltman

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