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But a senior U.S. intelligence official said: “We’ve known for some time about advances in Chinese military technology, to include fighter aircraft. It would be wrong in the extreme for anyone to suggest otherwise.”

The official said U.S. intelligence for years followed Chinese military developments and “there’s absolutely no basis on which to define this as some kind of intelligence failure. That would be plain wrong.”

Michael Birmingham, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, said runway taxi tests and the first short flight of a the J-20 prototype aircraft “do not constitute an operational capability, which we project to be a number of years away.”

“The Intelligence Community has identified China’s pursuit of an advanced fighter aircraft …,” he said.

Defense Intelligence Agency spokesman Donald L. Black said “we disagree” with reports stating that intelligence agency’s underestimated the J-20 development.

Adm. Harvey’s past

The admiral who fired Navy Capt. Owen Honors for producing raunchy videos on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise is no stranger to wacky behavior himself.

Special correspondent Rowan Scarborough obtained a photograph of Adm. John C. Harvey as a young officer onboard the USS Bainbridge.

Adm. Harvey was relishing the tradition of “crossing the line” — the initiation of sailors who pass the equator for the first time.

The ceremony that day was a “pollywog” beauty contest narrated by Adm. Harvey, then a more junior ship’s company officer. (Pollywogs are people who have not crossed the equator; they become “shellbacks” after their first crossing.) The photo shows him in jeans, Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses, posing with a sailor in drag and another impersonating a dog.

Some in the naval community see other themes in the photo. They suggested to Inside the Ring that it shows the Navy’s hypocrisy in ditching Capt. Honors because a certain amount of hijinks occur on all ships.

Adm. Harvey attained four-star rank and now commands the U.S. Fleet Forces Command. He announced his decision Jan. 4 to relieve Capt. Honors of his Enterprise command. He also ordered an investigation into the making of the videos in 2006 and 2007, when Capt. Honors served as executive officer.

Cmdr. Chris Sims, the admiral’s spokesman, said what was tradition at the equator decades ago has been scaled back so as not to offend any shipmates. Ships no longer host pollywog beauty contests, for example.

“Today, participation in crossing-the-line ceremonies is voluntary,” he said in an e-mail. “Becoming a ‘shellback’ is something that many sailors strive to do while in the Navy. Some take jobs on specific ships because they know that one of the things that ship will be doing is crossing the equator.”

Capt. Honors’ firing has not sat well with all sailors. In a commander’s blog on Friday, Adm. Harvey acknowledged the controversy.

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