Treason in high places?
Geoff Metcalf interviews Lt. Cmdr. Jack Daly, victim of Russian laser attack

By Geoff Metcalf

Russian spying, espionage and security skullduggery -- many believe that since the end of the Cold War, such activity no longer occurs. Lt. Cmdr. Jack Daly, however, vociferously disagrees. In 1997, Daly, a U.S. naval intelligence officer, was the victim of a Russian laser attack from a merchant ship within U.S. territorial waters. In an interview with WorldNetDaily writer and talk show host Geoff Metcalf, Daly recounts the incident and tells the story of what he believes was a concerted effort by the U.S. government to cover up the attack, malign his reputation and disregard related espionage activity.

Question: Please explain to our readers what happened on that fateful mission when you and Canadian Capt. Patrick Barnes were wounded?

Answer: The reason behind the mission was that the Kapitan Man, a Russian-flagged cargo vessel owned by the Far East Shipping Company out of Vladivostok, a number of other vessels also from the same company, and a number of fishing vessels under the Russian flag were highly suspect for national security reasons.

Q: Gee, you mean the Cold War is not over?

A: Only in the minds of a few, unfortunately -- the mainstream press and a few politicians. But to answer your question: No, I don't believe it is over. The games continue. They just have a little different makeup and costumes on these days. These ships were suspected of tracking our ballistic-missile submarines. The ballistic-missile submarine is one of the three legs of the strategic deterrence triad. The other two legs are long-range aircraft and our land-based missile systems.

Q: How do the subs fit into the force structure?

A: The ballistic-missile submarines' sole purpose in life is to go out to sea from their home ports and virtually disappear under the sea. We know now they were being tracked. A recent article by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times -- it was Bill who broke the story about this lasing incident -- indicates that the CIA has information indicating what I've been saying for the last three-and-a-half years regarding what the Russians have been up to. They were actually caught in the act. So, to put it succinctly: I told you so!

Q: So what was your mission?

A: We were tasked to photograph a number of these ships. The first one that provided us an opportunity to get updated imagery was the Kapitan Man. So, our mission that day was to overfly the Kapitan Man as it entered U.S. waters on its way to Tacoma, Wash., and get some updated pictures of it. Our files were old and we wanted to see if there had been any significant changes to it -- particularly in its antenna structure -- anything that might indicate to us that they have a new electronic eavesdropping capability or detection capability.

The flight went off like clockwork. It was a well-planned mission. It was blessed. It was blessed by the Office of Naval Intelligence, although they will say otherwise. I was representing them in Canada. I was the U.S. Navy's intelligence representative to the Canadian forces in Victoria. It went off like clockwork, like it was planned. We returned to the base, and it was hours later that we had our first suspicions come to light.

We had a U.S. Navy chief petty officer who I hand-picked to join me there in Victoria. He was one of the top imagery analysts in the Navy at the time. I handed my camera over to him after the mission was complete and I returned to the base.

About 30 minutes after handing him my camera, he walked into my office and he asked me two very critical questions. His first question was, "Are you experiencing any kind of eye discomfort?" I confirmed that yes, in fact, I was. My right eye was irritated. I thought maybe I had gotten something in it during the flight. He then asked me, "Are you having any kind of headache symptoms?" I confirmed that I was. I had an isolated headache just on the right side of my head. Based on those two responses, he laid on my desk a photograph. He said, "You took one of these photos of the port side of the vessel. But this running light, this navigation light, the signature of this light is wrong. I think you caught a laser beam in this photograph."

Q: What were the implications of that epiphany?

A: I knew immediately what the implications of that were.

Q: You had been shot at!

A: Yes. He said this ship had just fired on a Canadian aircraft in U.S. airspace, which was protected under U.S. laws -- meaning they had just committed an act of war.

Q: How did you respond?

A: To say the least, I was very, very cautious with him. I cautioned him not to say anything to anyone else until we had more information to go on at that point. But to err on the side of caution, we did notify the rest of the Canadian aircrew from the helicopter what our suspicions were and informed them that if anyone was having any eye problems whatsoever, to seek immediate medical attention.

Q: Did you talk to the pilot, Capt. Barnes?

A: I did not talk to Capt. Barnes directly that afternoon. We relayed the information to him through his command. Then I went back and grilled my chief for about two hours. Throughout those two hours, I was telling them what to do -- and I myself wasn't even following my own advice. I was very hesitant to go seek medical attention. My chief was very adamant that I seek such medical attention, and I said, "OK. If I'm having problems tomorrow morning, I'll go see somebody."

Q: You didn't have to wait that long, did you?

A: Before morning came, I was actually driving home. It was late on a Friday evening. It was about 7:30 in the evening when I was leaving the base. It was dark there in Victoria and the headlights from the cars coming at me from the opposite direction were blinding me -- something I had never experienced before. I never had any problems with my eyes and never had any difficulty driving. I thought maybe there was something to what the chief had told me, so I sought medical attention at Victoria General Hospital.

Q: What did the doctors say?

A: By all indications from their exams, there was something wrong with my eyes, something they had never seen before. But they had no idea what it was or what caused it. The following morning when I awoke, I walked into the bathroom to shave. I noticed when I looked in the mirror that I literally had a blob of blood in the lower half of my right eye -- the same area that the doctors had indicated there had been some abnormalities the night before. I still was not convinced, although the pain had increased.

Q: How long did you remain stubborn?

A: Not long. I thought it still could have been a piece of debris. Late that evening, Pat Barnes called me at home and asked me how I was doing. I said, "Well, I'm not sure. My eye's bothering me, but I'm not sure what it is." He said, "Jack, my eye is all screwed up." So I said, "OK, Pat, tell me what you're experiencing." He said, "Well, Jack, I woke up this morning and my eye hurt like the blazes. I looked in the mirror and I had a big blob of blood in the corner of my right eye."

At that point, I was convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that we had in fact been lased. I knew that this had happened in the past to other aircrews from Russian vessels, Russian aircraft. Their old long-range bombers had a laser device on them that they would fire at our fighter pilots when they tried to escort them away from any particular area or carrier battle group. So, this was nothing new. The use of blinding laser weapons was supposed to be banned under a treaty -- yet to be ratified by the U.S. Senate -- signed by the U.S. and Russia. There are a few nuances there that they are getting away with to this very day in producing these darn things.

Q: How did your command respond when they found out you had been lased by a Russian spy ship?

A: The initial response was disbelief. From the early moments when we first reported this, it continued to be disbelief, and all efforts by the Office of Naval Intelligence were to enhance and support that disbelief.

Q: There had been evidence in the past of the Russians doing this kind of thing. Why did they not want to be confused with facts that contradicted their preconceived opinions?

A: You said a very important term there -- "preconceived" opinion. It was the perception within the intelligence community, particularly in the Office of Naval Intelligence, that we had made a mistake on the photograph, that it was nothing more than a benign lightblub behind a very benign cranberry colored glass.

Q: And that was a benign bubble of blood in your eye, too, I suppose.

A: Yeah. Since I didn't have a picture of it, it didn't exist. I was told I punched myself in the eye with a stick or my finger or any other number of things.

Q: And Capt. Barnes did exactly the same thing in exactly the same place, right?

A: As a matter of fact, a doctor who examined him later on down the line even had the gall to say, "Well, how do we know you didn't poke yourself in the eye with a stick?"

If someone had pulled us aside and said, "Look guys, there's no doubt in our minds this is exactly what happened. This is exactly the way it went down as you have called it, but for national security reasons, we are not going to make a stink about this. However, we are going to take care of you guys." I would have stood tall, saluted and said, "Aye, aye, sir! I served my country. I took one for the home team." And I would be on my way; I did my duty.

But it turned out to be the exact opposite. It was readily apparent within the first 24 hours from the time we reported the incident that there was definitely something amiss here -- and we started being questioned. We started having our integrity and credibility come into question. My chief's technical prowess came into question. And then there were slow but very sure indicators that there was something very, very awry here when early in the morning on Monday -- this happened on Friday -- I got a phone call saying, "Look, we're going to board the Kapitan Man and we are going to do a full search of the ship. Do you know anybody who can augment the boarding team?" I sure did! I knew a guy who had been on the ship at least once, if not twice, and had found actual Soviet sonabouys used in the detection of U.S. submarines on his last trip onboard the Kapitan Man. So, I had an expert in my corner.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to us, they were busy on the other side. We got a call about 6 p.m. that indicated the search had been conducted and nothing was found. Suddenly, I realized something is wrong here. We were then medevaced to San Antonio, Texas, to a tri-service Army/Air Force/Navy group down there that are the world's experts for laser bio effects. We underwent a series of exams. One of the interesting things that we learned, in addition to the fact that we had indeed been lased, was that the president of the United States was being briefed each and every morning on the status of our exams. What we did not find out until after returning about two weeks later was that the ship had been searched and that they had been given a 24-hour "heads up" by the U.S. State Department that a search was pending. The Russians were also told that the U.S. was coming onboard to specifically look for a laser.

Q: They told them what they were coming onboard to look for?

A: Yes. The ambassador-designate to Moscow at that time, a fellow by the name of James Collins; Strobe Talbot at the State Department -- Bill Clinton's buddy, his Oxford pal, the journalist who got the coup on the Kruschev tapes in Moscow after being there for six months; Bob Bell, President Clinton's special adviser for national security affairs; Bill Steinberg, who was the executive director of the National Security Council; and Jan Lodal, who was a deputy secretary of defense for policy -- they were all determining in the wee hours of the morning, somewhere around 1:30 in the morning, how to "handle this incident."

Q: Cover it up!?

A: Cover it up, yes. And in the process, the decision was made that they could hang these two guys out to dry, Daly and Barnes. They're not going to make any kind of a stink out of this.

Q: Just before you and I recently met again in D.C., this recent revelation about Gore and Chernomyrdin and that side deal they cut came to light. The involvement of the Clinton administration with the Russians was pretty heavy. If it would have come out that a Russian spy ship in U.S. waters intentionally injured a U.S. naval officer, under normal circumstances, that would have been a real big deal.

A: This incident occurred April 4, 1997. On March 7, 1997, there was a meeting of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission. One of the issues discussed was the streamlining of the U.S. Customs inspection process for these very Russian ships that were coming from Vladivostok into Seattle and Tacoma. The deal that was negotiated was that the vice president would work with the U.S. Customs Service to try to streamline that process by allowing these ships to fax their cargo manifests in ahead of time, 10 days before they ever arrived in port, in the hopes that there would be no requirements for inspections.

Q: This sounds like a badly written movie of the week. I am increasingly annoyed that you were prepared to take a hit for the team if your superiors had done the right thing. They could have and should have done the right thing, but they didn't. What did happen, Jack?

A: I'm going to tell you one of the most ludicrous statements that was made over this whole incident. This was from a senior U.S. naval intelligence officer who said that because of all the press coverage of this incident -- the shows like yours and others I have done in the past and my appearance on "20/20" -- naval intelligence was now concerned that the Russians knew that we knew that they were spying on us.

There is something very, very wrong in that calculation. That's like saying we're concerned that the Japanese know that we know that they are going to attack, and we really don't want them to know that, so we're just going to let them do it -- which is what has turned out to be the case in this situation. This spying activity has not ceased. It was proved in Bill Gertz' recent article in the Washington Times. I can't comment specifically on the validity of the information because it is still classified information. I don't know how Bill gets a hold of that stuff. The fact of the matter is, it continues with absolute impunity. The intelligence community is scratching their heads trying to figure out, "Gee, are they really doing this or not? We don't know -- and we're really not ready to put our necks on the line and make a decision."

They are so reluctant because there are only two things that motivate them: their retirement checks and the ambassadorships they hope to get when they retire. It is a disgrace to have these types of people who will kowtow to this administration specifically -- I've seen it more in this administration than in any other. I'm sure that folks who have been in the military longer than I have and have been around awhile will attest to the same thing. I'd say they're running scared.

Q: Who was the guy who revealed the cover-up? Because, originally, the controller's plan for Jack Daly was, "Give him a bad efficiency report and get rid of him."

A: When I was being debriefed a few weeks after the incident, when all the medical exams had run their course, I was flown back to Washington, D.C. I insisted that my chief come along. They didn't want him to come back but I fought it and got him back there.

We got back and were being debriefed. During one debrief session, I got into an argument with a senior officer who used to be a friend who I had known for a number of years. I questioned his ability as an imagery analyst because I knew we got very little training as officers. That was left up to the experts -- the enlisted guys. During this heated argument, he blurted out, "You do not know the pressure I am under from above just to sweep this thing under the rug." It was like someone had just poured ice water through my veins. It said to me in bright flashing lights: "Cover-up, cover-up, cover-up!"

I have hesitated making this statement, but I am going to make this statement for the first time. According to the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 3, this cover-up was treason. Those five people I named -- Strobe Talbot, Jan Lodal, William Steinberg, Robert Bell, Ambassador James Collins -- committed treason. The nation does not have to be at war for treason to be committed according to the Constitution.

Q: Why have you been reluctant to accuse them of treason previously?

A: Because I did not have the proof, the so-called "smoking gun" to indicate that these Russian ships are without a doubt up to no good. They are, in fact, conducting espionage activities in our territorial waters within the United States. This is going on in our own ports, for Pete's sake. This isn't 12 miles out to sea or 100 miles out to sea. This is right in our own ports, in Puget Sound, specifically. This was a treasonous act. They stuck with the Russians on this. They provided them aid and comfort. They gave them an alibi. They gave them a warning of the search and they are allowing them to continue their spying activities -- as indicated in Bill Gertz's recent article -- with absolute utter impunity.

Q: Let me get this absolutely straight before we publish this in WorldNetDaily. You are accusing Strobe Talbot, James Collins, Robert Bell, James Steinberg and Jan Lodal of treason?

A: That is correct.

Q: Who was the officer who gave you the negative efficiency report?

A: Capt. Reagan Chambers, who came into the Office of Naval Intelligence and became my department head, so to speak, after the incident. It was a number of months after the incident -- due to the fact that my then-department head was fired from his job after the incident.

Q: Under normal circumstances, a bad fitness report would have ended your Navy career.

A: It sure set that in motion. Six months earlier, I had gotten the best performance evaluation of my career. In a six-month period, I suddenly became one of the worst officers in the Office of Naval Intelligence. I had gone from being in the top 10 percent to ranking last amongst all the officers in naval intelligence. That was all based on the fact that I had contacted members of Congress.

Q: You were accused of being disloyal!

A: I have been told I am an embarrassment to the United States Navy and that I am considered disloyal to the president of the United States. Two things: The United States Navy has had plenty more embarrassments than an officer doing his duty and being wounded in the line of duty. I didn't go to Tailhook. I wasn't the guy looking for young boys on the Internet. And as far as being disloyal to the president, loyalty is a two way street. The president has said on numerous occasions on television that "we take care of our own."

Q: How did you get that negative efficiency report overturned?

A: I had requested through the Navy inspector general's office that an investigation be conducted into the following three allegations: The first allegation was that the Office of Naval Intelligence was involved in a cover-up of the incident, that they were part and parcel of the cover-up. There is hard evidence of that fact, evidence that Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire has been asking for. He's been asking questions and getting answers that don't jibe with the facts from the Navy. The other issue is that there were Navy doctors who were also involved in the cover-up. My third allegation was that I had received this less than appropriate evaluation -- that had caused me to be passed over once for lieutenant commander -- and it looked like it was going to end my career for sure.

Q: So what did the IG do?

A: They overturned the bad report. I then got what is called a "re-look" for promotion. My records -- along with the records of the top five people that were picked and five that were not picked -- went in front of a special board. Word got back to me -- that was a little unusual -- that my records stood out head and shoulders above all the records that they reviewed. Therefore, it was decided I should be promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander.

Q: How did you get wind of the fact that there was, beyond your visceral reaction, an official cover-up in place here?

A: It was obvious from some of the reports I was reading. Then it was solidified when I saw Bill Gertz's first article, his May 14, 1997, article that included information I was not privy to, even though I had reviewed some of the files back there in Washington.

Q: Bill is good.

A: Bill is very good. One of the things that was on the president's agenda recently was this whistle-blower provision under the intelligence authorization bill.

Q: I called it "The Gertz Bill."

A: It was a Gertz bill. It was specifically targeted at Bill Gertz to try to get to his sources, figuring they could shut him down if they could shut down his sources. Thank God for that whistle-blower, whoever he or she was. I owe that individual a debt of gratitude that I will never be able to repay.

Q: You still have no idea who this individual is?

A: No, I have no idea whatsoever. This is beyond Jack Daly. This was a betrayal of our nation. This was a betrayal of all the sailors that I've served with that wear the same uniform I do -- because it is their safety, their security that has been put at risk. Without a doubt, their security has been compromised.