Kapitan Man – Congressional Testimony

Statement of Lt. Jack Daly


Mr. Chairman, and esteemed members of the Committee, good afternoon. I would like to thank you for providing me this very rare opportunity to appear before this distinguished panel today. It is a great honor and truly a privilege to be included in a process that will determine our nations policies. I sincerely hope that my appearance here today will prevent what has happened to me from happening to any other service man or woman, I would not wish the pain I have experienced for the last 22 months on anyone.

This statement is submitted for inclusion in the Congressional Record of the 106th congress of the United States of America. The purpose of this statement is to provide evidence regarding the use of lasers as weapons by documenting the personal experience of Lieutenant Jack Daly, United States Navy, based on the facts surrounding the events of April 4th, 1997 and its aftermath. An effort will be made to show that notwithstanding current agreements and treaties, specifically “Protocol IV of the 1980 Certain Conventional Weapons Convention (CCWC)” agreed to in 1995 and entered into force July 30th, 1998; lasers still pose a significant threat as inhumane weapons.

Despite the fact that “Protocol IV of the CCWC” bans the use of blinding lasers, loopholes in the definition of the term “blinding laser” are being exploited. By definition a laser is only considered banned under the current treaty if it causes permanent blindness; however, lasers not included under this definition are still capable of causing serious injuries and unnecessary suffering as well as being potentially blinding. Some of the devices are considered as being designed for commercial vice military usage, yet when directed at a human being can cause indiscriminate effects which can result in permanent damage to the human eye. Laser devices labeled as “dazzlers” may in fact actually be blinding lasers in disguise designed with the intent of causing permanent blindness. Even the laser pointer, an inexpensive and popular briefing and presentation tool has become, in effect, a weapon, due to it’s injurious effects.

Numerous documented cases regarding the use of lasers against aircraft, civilians and military personnel exist, as well as does an all too lengthy list of the injuries that have resulted from the accidental and intentional misuse of the these devices. As a direct result of numerous reports of lasers being directed at commercial airliners during takeoff and landings, the concern has been raised that this in fact may be a new form of terrorism. Lasers are easily obtainable and can be self-manufactured weapons in the terrorist arsenal which essentially can effect a soft kill solution and leave virtually no detectable evidence.

Other laser systems are in fact very beneficial to society such as those that are used in industry and medicine. Some military applications have also proven their usefulness; in a defensive role as envisioned in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI); the development of laser guided precision munitions has aided in minimizing collateral damage, unnecessary injury and loss of life.

Lasers in and of themselves do not pose a threat. It is how they are employed that causes the greatest risk. Certain laser devices can and do represent a clear and present danger to not only military equipment and personnel but also to the civilian population as well. Ignoring these events serves no purpose other than increasing our vunerablity to them and promoting their continued development and use in an illegal manner. It is imperative that the United States take a firm stand against the proliferation of these hazardous, inhumane laser devices and protest their use as weapons.


My name is Lieutenant Jack Daly. I am an active duty regular U.S. Naval Intelligence Officer who, prior to my transfer to San Diego last year, was stationed at the Canadian Pacific Maritime Forces Command Base, Esquimalt, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. My intelligence liaison assignment with the Canadian Armed Forces was under the auspices of the Chief of Naval Operations/Intelligence Directorate (CNO/N2) Foreign Intelligence Liaison Officer (FILO) program, managed by the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI).

On 4 April 1997, I, along with a Canadian Air Force pilot, Captain Patrick Barnes, were wounded aboard a Canadian CH-124 helicopter when we were lazed (shot/targeted with a laser) while on an ONI tasked surveillance mission. This surveillance mission was tasked against the Russian merchant ship KAPITAN MAN, which was located five nautical miles north of Port Angeles, Washington in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. As a result of this lazing, both Captain Barnes and I suffered irreparable eye damage resulting in permanent retinal damage (see appendix A). Captain Barnes has been permanently grounded as a result of this incident and has lost all flight qualifications. He will never fly again. The statement that the Pentagon released to the press on June 26th, 1997, that our injuries were healed, was erroneous.

Both Capt. Barnes and I continue to suffer agonizing chronic pain 24 hours a day from this incident and our vision continues to deteriorate, with little expected relief since there is no known effective medical treatment. The pain symptoms we have experienced since the day of the incident have not diminished but have actually increased in severity. The burns to the retinas of both of my eyes have turned into scar tissue that continues to grow resulting in enlarging scotomas or spots in my field of vision.

It has been reported that the very intent behind the development of some of the lasers produced by the Russians is to create such spots or disturbances. In creating a spot in the field of vision of a fighter pilot it was hoped that these spots would interfere with sighting a distant target during a dogfight type engagement. Having had the experience of flying in just such a training scenario in a U.S. Navy F-14, I can attest to that fact that this would in fact create a problem.

Capt. Barnes did not exhibit any indication of burns or scotomas in his affected eye (right). This may be due in part, to the fact that he had his shaded (green) visor down, where I did not, the length of time his eyes were focused on the KAPITAN MAN was only momentary, vice mine, which was almost constant. As indicated in Appendix B, in order for the tissue of the retina to be burned the eye must actually be focused on a distant source, thus increasing by a factor of 100,000 times, the irradiance, or power concentrated on the retina as it passes through the lens. This can be compared to using a magnifying glass to concentrate the rays of the sun into a single beam in order to burn a hole through a piece of paper. Further, laser range finders have been developed by the Russians that will in fact cause damage to the retina; however, in less than 10 percent of the exposures will there be any detectable lesions. According to recent medical reports some lasers can damage eyes at the cellular level and leave no sign of tissue burn. Laser range finders used by the military that operate in the infrared range are particularly injurious because they can penetrate deeply into tissue without burning.

Since the day of the incident our eyes have been extremely sensitive to sunlight and light sources. Driving at night has become impossible because of the additional pain created by viewing the head and tail lights of other automobiles. I can no longer view a movie in a theater, nor can I watch a ball game under the lights because of the increased pain resulting from the changes and brightness of the lighting in these venues. The only form of even momentary relief that either one of us can rely on is sitting in the dark with our eyes closed, yet lately even that does not seem to help much. The possibility that one if not both of us will lose some degree of our vision or become totally blind does exist.

To make matters worse, the exact type of device that was used against us is still unknown. According to the expert analysis conducted by the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy tri-service group headed by the U.S. Army’s Medical Research Detachment (USAMRD) of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, at Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, it could have been one of two known devices, or possibly a device the United States has no knowledge of. Initially, based on the evidence exhibited through extensive testing and evaluation of the physical characteristics of the damage and changed function of our eyes, the possibility exists that the device may have been a Laser Range Finder (LRF) of the Neodymium-Yttrium Aluminum Garnet Crystal or Nd-YAG laser. The other possibility is that of a Fosterite laser which is used to record sound, i.e., the signature of the propeller of a surfaced submarine.

In essence, this incident left Capt. Barnes and I as victims of what could be argued was a hostile act in a undeclared war, an act of terrorism and, at minimum, a federal crime. The use of lasers that blind, whether immediately or years later, to ward off surveillance is in direct violation of “Protocol-IV” of the “Certain Conventional Weapons Convention.”

The intelligence community has evidence that the KAPITAN MAN and other vessels owned and operated by the Far East Shipping Company (FESCO) of Vladivostok, Russia are associated with the Russian military. As a direct result of this incident the policies of two nations (Canada and the U.S.) were influenced, insofar as all surveillance of this type was canceled, and precautionary measures had to be put into effect. Therefore, this incident can be considered an act of war and terrorism under Title 18, USC, Sec’s. 956, 1363 and 2332b, insofar that it was an assault, resulting in serious bodily injury or substantial risk of serious bodily injury, and that the victim was a member of the uniformed services of the United States, committed in the territorial sea of the United States (including the airspace above), in an effort to affect the conduct of the United States government by intimidation or coercion or in direct response to retaliate against government conduct. At a minimum this incident was a crime in direct violation of Title 18, USC, Sec. 113, insofar that it was an assault with a dangerous weapon, with intent to do serious bodily injury, without just cause or excuse, within the maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

It is entirely conceivable that someone onboard the Kapitan Man was using a Foresite (sic) laser designed to record the acoustic signature of the propeller on the USS Ohio which was outbound on the surface at the time. In previous documented instances of the use of lasers against surveillance the tactic was to aim the device at the pilot and/or the person with an optical aid such as binoculars or a camera. Therefore it is plausible to conclude that when we over-flew the KAPITAN MAN either this device, a laser range finder or another unknown type of laser was turned on us knowing that it would, in fact, cause harm.


By way of background, the Russian flagged ship, KAPITAN MAN, and others like her, sailing under the flags of China, Cyprus and Panama, et al, transit the Puget Sound on a regular basis, and are suspected by the intelligence community to be conducting surveillance against our Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN’s) and the Carrier Battle Groups operating out of Bangor and Bremerton/Everett, WA. Evidence exists in the intelligence community that indicates that the FESCO vessels actively support the Russian military. Further, since these vessels also conduct so-called trade in the southern hemisphere as well, ample opportunity exists for them to conduct intelligence collection against U.S Naval exercises and operations in the Southern California operating areas. Similar activity to that in the Pacific Northwest has also been reported in the vicinity of the Kings Bay, Georgia SSBN base, and elsewhere.

During the “Cold War” units of this nature were commonly referred to as AGI’s, sitting offshore at the 12 nautical mile limit, assigned to collect intelligence on U.S. naval forces operating near by. Since the end of the “Cold War” era, these vessels now freely transit our waters and enter our ports under the guise of commercial fishing and merchant shipping, and engage in a variety of criminal activities in addition to their intelligence collection role. The information amassed during my investigation into the activities of these vessels, and their affiliations, is far more complex, and the tentacles are spread over a far greater area. These activities include, but are not limited to, former KGB involvement; Russian Mafia/organized crime activity including extortion, murder and prostitution, as well as alien, drug, technology and weapons smuggling.

As further evidence of the espionage activities of FESCO and their ships, a joint U.S. Customs and I.N.S. inspection of the KAPITAN MAN in April, 1993 documented the discovery of devices known as Expendable Bathythermographs (XBT’s), designed to collect environmental data to assist in the conduct of antisubmarine warfare (ASW). The particular model found, a “T7,” was manufactured by Sippican Corporation of Marion, Massachusetts designed for the sole purpose of “…improved sonar prediction in ASW and other military applications,” (see Appendix C). Recent press reporting indicated that Sippican Corp. publicly stated that these devices “…have no practical use aboard a cargo vessel.” The company further stated that “it has never sold any to Russia.” Additionally, it has been learned that on a subsequent inspection of the KAPITAN MAN sonobouys had been discovered in an obscure compartment on board the vessel that had been “booby trapped” by spraying the bulkheads with dog repellent. Customs and I.N.S. reports substantiate previous incidents of this method of “booby trapping” and indicate that it is hazardous and thus poses a threat to drug detection dogs. What many fail to realize is that, despite apparent improvements in relations between Russia and the United States, a deadly game of illegal intelligence activity and Russian organized crime continues within our own borders. Based upon these facts alone it is reasonable to say that our National Security is in jeopardy and may in fact have been compromised.


The suspected laser incident during the surveillance of the KAPITAN MAN on April 4th, 1997 was not reported to higher authority until there was enough credible evidence to substantiate the claim of such an event. Over the course of the 48 hours immediately following the flight, the combination of medical and photographic evidence proved impetus enough to say that a possible laser firing had occurred. On Sunday, April 6th, 1997, in accordance with established procedures, both Canadian and U.S. military chains-of-command and National Command Authorities (NCA) in Ottawa and Washington DC were notified of the suspicion that a hostile act involving the use a laser against a Canadian military aircraft (supporting a U.S. mission) and it’s occupants, including a U.S. Naval Intelligence Officer, had occurred in U.S. territorial waters.

Prior to my transfer to Victoria, I was briefed by a senior analyst involved in monitoring the activities of the KAPITAN MAN and other vessels. He stated that he had been told by Congress he must produce a “smoking gun” regarding these vessels to be believed. On April 4th 1997, Captain Barnes and I were on the receiving end of that “smoking gun;” however, it would be determined at the highest levels of the United States government no such “smoking gun” would ever be acknowledged. What followed in the critical hours and months afterward guaranteed that no evidence or proof of this event would ever be found or established. Despite claims to the contrary, no formal or thorough investigation has ever been conducted into this series of events. As a direct result crimes went unpunished and further crimes were committed in direct violation of current U.S. Federal statutes.

In the hours following the receipt of the formal report of the incident to U.S. NCA, the Operations Directorate of the Joint Chiefs of Staff decided to turn over the reins to the National Security Council (NSC) and State Department because of the sensitivity of the issue. Documentation exists that reveals that Mr. Robert Bell of the NSC and then Ambassador (designate) to Russia, James Collins, were involved in the decision making process on how this incident was to be handled. Other reports indicate that Secretary of State Madeline Albright also may have played a key role. It was personally conveyed to me that President Clinton had been consulted and was being briefed daily in the days immediately following the incident. Documented results transpiring from these high level consultations indicate a decision was made to notify the Russian embassy in Washington DC, that Sunday evening, of the intention to board and search the KAPITAN MAN the following day in an effort to locate the laser device used. Thus, the Russian embassy notified it’s consulate office in Seattle which in turn notified the master of the vessel, providing almost 24 hours advance warning of the impending boarding and search. Additional reports indicate that initially the NSC and State Department wanted to allow the KAPITAN MAN to leave Tacoma, WA without being searched at all, but insistence by the Pentagon delayed the departure and forced a search.

Further compounding the initial investigation was the fact that the State Dept. directed Commander, Coast Guard District Thirteen, Seattle, WA to have the combined U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Naval intelligence team limit the actual time of the search to no more than two hours and further restricted it to “common areas” of KAPITAN MAN only. No warning was given to the local office of the U.S. Customs Service or the I.N.S. that such a boarding and search was to be conducted, further limiting the search by minimizing the jurisdictional benefits of these two law enforcement organizations.

What followed from this point forward was a coordinated effort conducted by select individuals to disprove that this incident had ever actually occurred. Evidence was altered, ignored, omitted and refuted. The subsequent so-called investigations and reports that followed served only to support the original intentions of a cover-up. Unfortunately, the evidence of the case remains an errata event which the cover-up cannot hide; both Captain Barnes and I have retinal damage from a lazing incident which occurred in the line of duty.

The Department of Defense undertook the investigation into this alleged incident and it’s handling. At the direction of Secretary of Defense, William Cohen, (then) Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), General Joseph Ralston, was tasked to investigate the incident, shortly before he was named as being considered for the Chairmanship of the JCS. A few days later he subsequently admitted to marital improprieties and withdrew from consideration for the post. As a result, the investigation was then passed down to a Navy Oceanographer in the Operations (J3) directorate (vice an Intel officer in J2) who admitted he had “no expertise in this area and would rely entirely on ONI’s (Office of Naval Intelligence) findings” from their investigation.

The factual findings, medical evidence and opinions of the world renowned experts in laser bio-effects from the U.S. Army Medical Research Detachment (USAMRD), Brooks Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX, were opposed and misrepresented by officials at ONI. None of the personnel at ONI involved in the “investigation” had the appropriate or equivalent expertise or training to undertake such a task. ONI’s single analyst with a background in lasers reported to his Air Force counterpart that he had been instructed to stay out of the investigation, and attempted to unduly influence her not to publish a report on the incident.

ONI altered and ignored evidence, failed to consult experts within and outside the organization and then published false results of their “investigation” which report was publicly released via the Internet and the press.

ONI also released information crucial to the investigation without obtaining Canada’s express permission.

On two separate occasions and in front of witnesses, two individuals from ONI, knowledgeable of the investigation, admitted to being influenced by senior officials within the organization to limit the extent of the investigation. Stating “we were instructed to deal only with the data available…our hands have been tied on this (investigation),” and very early on in the process one individual stated he was being pressured “from above to sweep it under the rug.”

The investigation conducted by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) staffers has also been less than accurate and complete. Official Congressional and Senatorial inquires as to the status of the investigation have been responded to with the statement that “the investigation is still open.” In January ‘98, one of the HPSCI staffers who had interviewed me in Canada in August ’97 , told me that no report from that interview had been drafted, since it was considered to be a “low priority,” and that “investigating if there are extra-terrestrials on earth and the truth behind Area 51 were more important.” In September ‘98 I again questioned the status of their investigation and was informed by the Minority Counsel that no further active investigation had been undertaken since the interview in August ’97. A press statement regarding the conclusions of this investigation was released and quoted in the Washington Times on October 16th, 1998 that turned out to be nothing more than a parroting of the report issued by ONI. The reason this investigation was not actively pursued further has yet to be explained.

I sent a letter, dated October 6th, 1998, to the Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno, outlining my concerns regarding this incident and it’s handling. To date I have received no reply. A follow-up phone call to the Attorney General’s office indicated that the letter had been passed on to the National Security division at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). After numerous phone calls to that office, I was informed that it had once again been passed on to the Washington, DC, field office. Repeated telephone calls to this office in order to ascertain the whereabouts and status of this letter have been futile, and numerous requests for a return call have been ignored. This is not surprising considering that in an interview with an FBI agent from the Seattle field office in April 1997, the statement was made to Capt. Barnes and I that “since no device was found during the search the case is considered open and shut.” Recent consultations with an Assistant United States Attorney revealed that this method of handling this incident is contrary to the norm under U.S. laws and enforcement thereof.


The fact remains, regardless of all other circumstances surrounding the incident of April 4th, 1997, that I, Lieutenant Jack Daly, United States Navy and Captain Patrick Barnes, Canadian Air Force, suffered permanent eye damage as a result of laser exposure(s) during the surveillance flight conducted against the Russian flagged motor vessel, KAPITAN MAN. Further, because of the lack of knowledge regarding the exact type of laser device that was employed against the aircraft, the extent and long term effects of this laser exposure(s) cannot be definitively diagnosed.

Despite current treaties banning the use of “blinding lasers,” other devices that can cause irreparable eye damage can be obtained, manufactured and employed as weapons against military and civilian personnel alike. The ease of which these lasers can be produced and their low cost increases the risk of proliferation to criminal elements, rogue states and terrorist organizations. Lasers that are injurious or are potentially injurious are clearly a present danger now and will continue to be a threat in the future. Recent incidents, such as described in detail in the aforementioned paragraphs and the November 1998 incident in Bosnia in which a U.S. Army helicopter crew was injured, support the demand for increased intelligence of other nations’ efforts regarding the development and employment of these laser devices. Additionally, it is necessary to continue to update and employ protective eye-wear and countermeasures that protect against the damaging effects of these devices. Because of the continued emphasis placed on the scientific development of lasers in nations like China, Russian and Serbia, amongst others, it is absolutely imperative that we continue our own efforts in research and development and adopt the philosophy of “thinking out of the box” to ensure we can combat these threats as they emerge. Laser weapons are here to stay, they are a current and elusive weapon of choice in dealing with pilots, surveillance and intelligence collection.

The political treatment of the KAPITAN MAN incident was an effort to minimize any detrimental impact that might result in jeopardizing relations with Moscow, agreements reached under the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission and (at the time) the upcoming Russia-NATO pact. This sent a very dangerous message not only to the crew of the ship and the Russians, but to anyone with an ax to grind with the United States who followed the story in the resulting press coverage. The message that came across was that you can commit a hostile act or crime within U.S. borders, injure U.S. service men and women, and, because of political sensitivities, you can not only get away with it, you will be assisted by the very government you have offended.

There will be those who will claim that this approach was taken “for National Security” reasons. However, it is our National Security that has been jeopardized and our nation which has been weakened. Considering the ever increasing instability around the world, particularly in Russia with it’s numerous nuclear weapons and instability, our National Security depends on increased vigilance now more than ever before.

In fulfilling my duty as a Naval Officer and while upholding the oath that I took to protect and defend the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, I was wounded in the line of duty. However, for some unknown reason, since April 4th, 1997 I have been accused of having fabricated the entire event and labeled a liar, a lunatic and a traitor. My loyalty to the United States Navy has been questioned and I have been passed over for promotion. I have even been accused of withholding intelligence from the U.S. on this issue.

The actual reasons why this incident was handled the way it was is unknown. However, the information provided today paints less that a “rosy” picture of the real relationship between Russia and the United States. My greatest fear is that our naďveté and ignorance will continue to foster complacency and a false sense of security that will prove to be our undoing.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to this honored body for providing me the opportunity to appear here today.

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