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Book of U.S. Code Names Challenges Secrecy

• West Wing, which refers to two remote air bases in Jordan that the U.S. military has used extensively for Special Operations aircraft, including A-10s, and for the 1,400 Special Operations personnel who poured into the country before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. The bases have become the hubs for clandestine U.S. military counterterrorism operations in the Middle East, Arkin's book says.

A spokesman for the Jordanian Embassy said she could not comment on the matter.


Military analyst William M. Arkin is the author of "Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military, Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World." (Sarah L. Voisin -- The Washington Post)

• Titrant Ranger, which refers to a special access program -- among the most highly guarded types of programs -- for a counterterrorism unit operating on the clandestine side of the Special Operations Command. It was assigned in July 2002, Arkin writes, replacing Capacity Gear, which had replaced Grey Fox, which is known to have engaged in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

• Toolchest, the code name for the secret technical agreement between the United States and Germany regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons. Toy Chest is the name for the agreement with the Netherlands, Stone Ax for the one with Italy and Pine Cone for the one with Belgium.

• Power Geyser, the code name for a "continuity of government" plan that would be activated in the United States to keep the government functioning in a crisis.

"Code Names" is is best absorbed in small doses. For Arkin, it is a declaration of his love affair with the footnotes of appendices to obscure, jargon-laden documents he just cannot stop combing for data points.

"Collecting U.S. code names has been a multidecade labor of love," he writes in the book. He calls the book "an anatomy, a sort of DNA map of American national security."

His campaign of disclosure has attracted more than one government leak investigation. Most recently, the Defense Department launched a massive probe after he published a top-secret code word in a column he wrote for the Los Angeles Times in June 2002. Polo Step, he revealed, was used by the Pentagon to control access to contingency planning for Afghanistan and Iraq.

Even his leak investigation had a code name, and Arkin reveals that, too: Seven Seekers.


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