Lunch with c is always interesting, although five guys built like brick shithouses staring at me intently didn’t help my digestion. Obama’s pick of Leon Panetta as the agency’s new director was controversial because he didn’t come from an intelligence background, upsetting the career spooks at Langley to no end. But the president thought a resume that included 16 years as the Democratic congressman from Monterey, California, and stints as Clinton’s chief of staff and OMB Director, was good enough. So when Panetta passed through town on his way home to heavenly Carmel Valley, I thought I’d take advantage of my top secret clearance from my days at the old Atomic Energy Commission to catch a briefing. The long term outlook for supplies of food, natural resources, and energy is becoming so severe that the CIA is now viewing it as a national security threat. Some one third of emerging market urban populations are poor, or about 1.5 billion souls, and when they get hungry, angry, and politically or religiously inspired, Americans have to worry. This will be music to the ears of the readers who I have been stampeding into food, commodities, and energy all year. Panetta then went on to say that the current monstrous levels of borrowing by the Federal government abroad is also a security issue, especially if foreigners decide to turn the spigot off. I was stunned, not because this is true, but that it is finally understood at the top levels of the administration. Toss another hunk of red meat to my legions of carnivorous traders in the TBT, the ETF that profits from falling Treasury bond prices! Job one is to defeat Al Qaida, and the agency has had success in taking out several terrorist leaders in the tribal areas of Pakistan with satellite directed predator drones. The CIA could well win the war in Afghanistan covertly, as they did the last war there with their stinger missiles used against the Russians. The next goal is to prevent Al Qaida from retreating to other failed states like Yemen and Somalia. The agency is currently basking in the glow of its discovery of a second uranium processing plant in Iran, sparking international outrage. Cyber warfare is a huge new battlefront. Some 100 countries now have this capability, and they have stolen over $50 billion worth of intellectual property from the US in the past year. I thought Panetta was incredibly frank, telling me as much as he could without having to kill me afterwards. I have long been envious of the massive resources that the CIA deploys to research the same global markets that I have for most of my life. If I could only manage their pension fund with their information with a 1 percent/20 percent deal! The possibilities boggle the mind! Panetta’s final piece of advice: don’t make a cell phone call in Pakistan. Better take another look at the Market Vectors agricultural ETF (DBA), Freeport McMoRan (FCX), and the Oil Trust (USO).
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