COLUMN: Blown covert operation humiliating

Remember when you were little and you used to play hide and seek with walkie-talkies? It was even more fun if there were a bunch of people playing because you'd have to be more covert - whispering into the walkie-talkies trying to tell your friends where you were, but not realizing that the seekers could hear everything you were saying too.

Rather then spending the millions of dollars to bug the Boeing-767 that we "accessorized" for the Chinese, we should have just put a few people onboard with walkie-talkies. It would have cost less and might have been more fun. Just think: When the Chinese found someone, we could have scared them with a loud "BOO!" and then tried to hide again before they could tag or shoot us.

Espionage is a game, and oftentimes deadly. For some reason, the United States doesn't have the best of luck when it comes to covert operations. Someone almost always finds out and people either die or retaliation results.

Whether or not the government had any ties to the bugging of the Chinese plane hasn't yet been proved, but it doesn't matter. The Chinese and United States government do not implicitly trust one another, and one has to assume the plane would be swept when they got it back. Any American entity should have known that.

The bugs were found as anonymous sounds of static during a test flight, which provoked the search. There has to be a way we could have hid those bugs a little better then we did. Among the places the devices were found include the headboard of the Chinese president's bed and in his bathroom.

I bet the Chinese have come up with lots of secret plans that could have been useful to us when the Chinese were "dropping the bomb" in the bathroom of their plane. Picture it now: A few years down the road during a Congressional hearing, the material caught by the bugs is being used as evidence. The question arises, "What are those splashing noises coming from?"

Last spring when the Chinese wouldn't release our plane that had to make an emergency landing, damage was done to our relations. Less than a year later, we bug the Chinese equivalent of Air Force One. The situation probably won't improve much because of this incident.

With all the mistakes made from the United States and China, both countries are aware that neither one trusts the other. That being the case, rather than spending millions of dollars on trying to hide our activities, we should just do it out in the open. The Chinese know we spy on them, yet they don't do too much to stop us. Let's push the envelope and see how far we can get. It's just a thought.

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