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An Inside Joker
By Linton Weeks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 28, 1999

  The Navigator

This article contains links which take you outside washingtonpost.com.

Every day, folks are finding new uses for the Internet – to buy something at an auction, to trade photos with a loved one, to land a new job and now, to lose an old one.

A man who says his name is John Alejandro King and who works for the Central Intelligence Agency, believes he's losing his job there because of the Web site he has created.

Called the Covert Comic, King's site pokes fun at the CIA. Here's one of his jokes: As a CIA employee, whenever I hear that the Agency is programming people's minds, I have to laugh. I don't want to laugh when I hear this, but I have to because that's the way the CIA programmed my mind.

Here's another: The two criticisms we at CIA hear most frequently are, first, that CIA intelligence is inaccurate, and second, that CIA officers are selling CIA intelligence to foreign spy agencies . . . So what's the problem?

The site also provides a spooky spoof of a CIA briefing, a wacky resume and several bizarre and off-color essays. There's a strange story about the Agency, written by someone named Jim Beetel, that King says is essentially true. It's an intriguing site. Some parts are laugh-out-loud funny, others are not. There is much self-parody. King says he is fully aware that he's brought all of his troubles on himself.

The CIA, he says, conjured up allegations against him. The most substantive one, according to King, is that he gave unclassified software to another U.S. government agency.

CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield declined to comment on King's case, citing "the CIA's policy of not discussing employment at the agency or specific personnel matters." But an intelligence source said that the man who calls himself King has worked for the agency and that his present status is not related to the Web page, nor is it related to the software issue. "That said," the source insisted, "his jokes are not funny and, in many cases, tasteless."

King, 40, grew up in California and entered the CIA as a career trainee. He's had various jobs there. He says that he's a GS-14, earned two perfect scores on his last two performance evaluations, received expert technical training and built databases on chemical-biological weapons. "I've protected civilians from dangerous stuff," he says.

The Covert Comic has been online "for months and months" King says. He launched it because "I have an eccentric personality," and "I always enjoyed intel jokes."

He adds, "I would never reveal anything classified."

So what's next? "I'm getting the big freeze out," says King, who lives in Fairfax County. "We may be near closure. Here's the problem: If they take away your clearances, you've got no reason to work there."

Asked about his future, King says, "My plan is to work on this Web site and devote my life to helping the poor by telling them about covert intelligence."

Linton Weeks can be reached at weeksl@washpost.com

mouse CLICK: Curious George and the High-Tension Power Line     Remember Curious George, the trouble-prone primate who lived with The Man in the Yellow Hat? Whatever happened to the wretched little fellow? If the illustrated Web book "Curious George and the High-Tension Power Line" is any clue, curiosity finally got to the evil simian. (Parents: This is one fractured fairy tale you won't want to bring to bed time). Dan Pacheco

Surfing
Perturbations, pleasures and predicaments on the I-way

SO HOW LONG DO I HAVE?
Is there a car accident in the near future? Might I be kidnapped? How much time do I have left on this earth? Not knowing this kind of information makes planning difficult. Now we have the Web – a medium that knows all. A Wisconsin-based insurance company offers "The Longevity Game" to help you gauge how much more time you have. I get points for not drinking more than three bourbons a day, but lose for some other hobbies and end up croaking at 78.

But what if before then somebody decides to kidnap or murder me? The Nashville police gave me a risk assessment. I'd never much thought about a cop drawing a chalk outline around my corpse. But my odds ended up being surprisingly high. Still, at least now I know.— JAKE TAPPER

A MAJOR MEDICAL FIRST
You can try it on the Web, but don't try it at home. Seems there was this fellow, Matt Scott, who lost his dominant left hand to a fireworks explosion in 1985. On Sunday Scott, now 37, received the first successful hand transplant in the United States. The team at the Jewish Hospital at the Louisville Medical Center are demonstrating their, ahem, handiwork with Web explanations, photos and streaming video.

The pictures of the complex job – especially the high resolution shot of the beginning of the attachment – do a better job of passing the breakfast test than you might at first expect.

ROBERT THOMASON


Found something intriguing, improbable, insane or especially useful on the Net? Write it up and send it to Joel Garreau or Robert Thomason.
   
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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