Amédée Florence’s posthumous dispatches

In the Oregon standoff trial, the defense has presented evidence of FBI infiltration verging into entrapment:

Defense lawyers rested in the Oregon standoff case Monday after they called a witness who confirmed he was an informant for the FBI and acknowledged that he infiltrated the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and supervised the shooting range for several days.

That guy was only one of the “15 confidential informants who fed the FBI information about the occupiers” but he did not just “inform” but “said he was asked to oversee the shooting range” and “said he provided training on… proficient use of firearms to the occupiers.”

Defense investigators learned [Fabio] Minoggio was born in Switzerland and had served in the Swiss army for 20 years. He was trained in “psy-ops,” weaponry and martial arts…

A double-o-seven among the rednecks! Did he tell the good ole boys that “malheur” means “misfortune” in French?

I imagine the Swiss are very good at training special agents, so the man’s services must have cost an arm and a leg, generously donated by the American taxpayer.

But forget about it – for the sake of the best part: the Swiss knife-man first entered the stage as

[t]he man who occupiers initially knew only by his alias “John Killman”…

Il s’appellait Killman – now that’s sophisticated! The name is stoking my childhood memories. At ten or twelve, I read a Jules Verne novel that nobody seems to have heard of, much less read: L’étonnante aventure de la mission Barsac. “The amazing adventures of Barsac’s expedition,” although it’s usually rendered as The Barsac Mission. It was a Russian translation published as a paperback in 1958.

Why did the book get translated and published at all? A mystery. It turns out that Verne wasn’t even the author – his son Michel probably wrote the novel from his father’s ideas. Which, on the other hand, isn’t bad at all, for there are none of the interminable Vernean digressions in Barsac: it’s a clean, straightforward, patriotic desert thriller.

The core of the novel is a series of dispatches from a reporter called Amédée Florence to his Paris newspaper. Florence is a member of an exploration party venturing deep into the French West Africa in search of I don’t remember what. Incidentally, they discover a futuristic city in the desert – built, of course, by a French genius, a visionary engineer named Marcel Camaret, but run by an international gang of mostly Anglophone thugs, who keep Camaret hostage and viciously exploit the native people.

The city is called Blackland. Its dictator, a renegade Englishman, styles himself Harry Killer.

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