“Show me somebody who is always smiling, always cheerful,
always optimistic, and I will show you somebody who hasn’t
the faintest idea what the heck is really going on.”
– Mike Royko, Chicago newspaper columnist
“When you talked to people outside the [anti-Vietnam War]
movement about what the FBI was doing, nobody wanted
to believe it.”
– Keith Forsyth, one of the activists who exposed
the original version of COINTELPRO
“COINTELPRO is alive and well.”
– Tom McNamara, CounterPunch magazine,
January 21, 2013
“Gang Stalking” is apparently a disinformation term created by U.S. intelligence agencies to refer to the intense, long-term, covert surveillance and harassment of a targeted individual. Such operations have nothing to do with criminal gangs. Official domestic counterintelligence operations of this type are perpetrated by federal agents and contractors, sometimes with the support of state and local law enforcement personnel. The goal of such operations – in the parlance of counterintelligence personnel – is to “subvert” or “neutralize” an individual deemed to be an enemy (or potential enemy). Arguably, the most accurate term for this form of harassment would be “counterintelligence stalking.”
Published news reports and other evidence cited on this website suggest that most of this stalking is probably done as part of a national program – perhaps by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The tactics are apparently also used against Americans in various particular operations by other U.S. intelligence agencies. In addition, news reports indicate that such stalking is sometimes used unofficially for personal and corporate vendettas by current and former members of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, including private investigators.
Since counterintelligence stalking goes far beyond surveillance – into the realm of psychological terrorism, it is essentially a form of extrajudicial punishment. As such, the harassment is illegal – even when done by the government. It clearly violates the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, for example – which guarantees the right to a trial. Such operations also violate similar fundamental rights defined by state constitutions. Stalking is also specifically prohibited by the criminal codes of every state in America.
Crimes against Americans at the hands of corrupt government agents and private security thugs have a long history in the U.S. The FBI’s COINTELPRO (“Counterintelligence Program”) scandal in the 1970s was the most notorious high-profile example, but similar abuses of power by “Red Squads” (state and local Law Enforcement Intelligence Units) and private detectives date back to the 19th century.
You can read a full explanation of counterintelligence stalking on the What is “Gang Stalking?” page of this site.
July 27, 2015
ACLU attorney raises questions about CIA’s domestic operations
This article, posted last month on the website of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), touches on some matters which should be of interest to victims of illegal covert harassment. Ashley Gorski, a member of the ACLU’s National Security Project, commented on some documents released several weeks earlier by the CIA in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. As Gorski makes clear, the CIA’s domestic operations is a subject about which there are far more questions than answers – even after the recent document release. Still, she suggests that we now have a better sense of the scope of the spy agency’s activities:
“While the documents that the CIA has released are heavily redacted, raising more questions than they answer, they strongly suggest that the agency’s domestic activities are extensive.”
Given the CIA’s history, an obvious case can be made for the possibility of some CIA involvement in some of the domestic psychological operations discussed in this website. Gorski’s article notes, for example, that the record of “illegal CIA activity” includes such things as “experimentation on non-consenting human subjects.” On the other hand, the various published news reports cited in this website, Fight Gang Stalking, suggest that cases of “gang stalking” are not limited to a single agency. Instead, they involve a set of tactics used by various intelligence and police agencies around the world. In addition, many of the tactics would no doubt be used in some cases by private security personnel – many of whom are former members of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In addition, some cases – perhaps most – would necessarily involve some cooperation between multiple agencies, as well as coordination, in some cases, between corporate employees and government agencies.
That said, it would be foolish to discount the significance of, for example, the apparent connections between the CIA and Red Squads (also called “Law Enforcement Intelligence Units), as documented in a 1976 article by journalist and former CIA employee George O’Toole (see the section of this website about the history of Red Squads).
To the deep frustration of individuals who report being intensely harassed and spied upon by illegal counterintelligence operations, the ACLU has never – to my knowledge – made any public statements about reports of “gang stalking.” They neither acknowledge nor deny that such activities are taking place. Such a position is easy to understand; the organization does not wish to risk damage to its credibility by associating itself with allegations that have not yet been proven by leaked official documents. In light of such concerns, the following statements in Ashley Gorski’s article, would seem to indicate an awareness by the ACLU that there might be some significant misdeeds that are happening under the radar.
“The documents indicate that the CIA engages in a wide array of domestic activity, often in conjunction with the FBI.”
“The current debate about government surveillance has largely overlooked the CIA, possibly because we know little about the agency’s activities within the United States.”
July 23, 2015
U.K. intelligence agency chief protected politician who raped kids
Any intellectually honest effort to evaluate claims about illegal stalking by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies must view such allegations in the context of known historical facts about the alleged perpetrators. In the case of U.S. intelligence agents, one fact which no one disputes is that they work closely with their counterparts in the U.K. Partly because of that relationship, this website features a number of published news reports which suggest that the same “organized stalking” tactics – what communist East Germany’s Stasi referred to as “Zersetzung” – are used in both the U.S. and the U.K. (as well as in Canada). Another reason Americans should take note of abuses of power by British spy agencies is that the agents who staff them appear to share the values of their American brethren.
Today The Daily Beast reported that during the government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the chief of the U.K. spy agency known as MI5, “protected a pedophile Member of Parliament.”
Some excerpts from the article:
Details of a written warning from Sir Antony Duff, the director general of MI5, to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet Secretary emerged on Wednesday night…
The head of Britain’s MI5 domestic intelligence service told the Thatcher government that a pedophile MP was operating in the House of Commons but suggested a plot to cover up his “penchant for small boys” in order to avoid political embarrassment.
Proof of the extraordinary cover-up in the 1980s was kept hidden in the Cabinet Office vaults for more than a quarter of a century despite an official inquiry last year…
As the article makes clear, the sex crimes perpetrated and covered up by very high-level officials were not limited to one MP:
[The incriminating documents were not revealed when the leaders of the inquiry] asked government departments to disclose any information in their archives related to allegations of a VIP pedophile ring operating at the heart of the British establishment [emphasis added].
There’s more. For example, another UK spy agency, MI6, allegedly acquiesced in the systemic rape of children in an orphanage in Northern Ireland for a quarter of a century, because they thought the information might be useful for blackmail purposes.
At least 29 boys were abused at the home between the late 1950s and the early 1980s. In 1981, three senior care staff were jailed for their part in the abuse. It is, however, alleged that MI6 knew about ongoing systemic abuse at the institution…but chose to allow it to continue because it gave them leverage against Northern Irish politicians who were abusing the boys.
In the U.S. – just as in the U.K – the spying industry (from federal agencies to private investigators) represents the interests of the political class and corporate executives. Its agents mainly target those who lack the resources to fight back, and they protect those who are well-connected. Many in their ranks are clearly sociopaths. No doubt, some are psychopaths.
In any case, it is a fair bet that in the absence of revelations such as those mentioned above, you would be dismissed as a conspiracy theory nut if you alleged that (a) the U.K.’s political class had a VIP child-raping club, and that (b), the spy agencies were covering it up.
July 16, 2015
Fight Gang Stalking has 1,000 official followers
A milestone of sorts was reached yesterday; this website now has a thousand official blog followers according to WordPress. For an anonymous site that began only 26 months ago, and has no commercial support (and which covers an obscure topic that is in the interests of the U.S. spying industry to suppress), that’s probably not
a bad result.
For context, it’s worth considering that the number of official followers certainly represents only a fraction of the total number of people who visit this website at least semi-regularly. Presumably, many people are reluctant to formally associate themselves – even via an anonymous email address – with a website about the deep corruption in the surveillance business. Indeed, a November 2013 survey of high-profile professional writers confirmed the existence of such fears. That survey found that many published writers in the U.S. reported that they self-censor on subjects such as military affairs, mass incarceration, drug policies, the Occupy movement, and criticism of the U.S. government.
That survey found that 40 percent of the writers polled had either curtailed their social media activities or seriously considered doing so. In addition, 33 percent reported deliberately avoiding certain topics – or at least seriously considered avoiding certain topics – in phone or email conversations. The survey also revealed that 28 percent had refrained – or seriously considered refraining – “from conducting Internet searches or visiting websites on topics that may be considered controversial or suspicious.”
Three quick points about this website’s reach:
(1) Every day, a significant portion – roughly 20 percent – of this site’s readers are in countries other than the U.S. Many of those readers are presumably people whose career interests are not tied to suppressing news of the criminality of the U.S. security industry. Those statistics vary from day to day, but they include many different nations.
(2) This website does not feature what website technicians sometimes refer to as a “dynamic” and social media-connected home page. That is to say, the page you’re viewing does not generate emails to followers about new posts, and it is not connected to, for example, a Facebook page. The audience of this site is growing in spite of such limitations.
(3) WordPress statistics reveal not only the number of official followers of a blog; they also show the number of times the pages within a particular website have been viewed since the site was created. For Fight Gang Stalking, that number is now over 300,000. Even allowing for visitors who are employed by America’s spying-and-lying industry – and foreign visitors – this suggests that at least a few Americans are now aware that illegal counterintelligence activities are still being conducted in the U.S. – 44 years after the exposure of the FBI’s original COINTELPRO operations.
Finally, thank you to the supporters of this website who have provided me with news tips and suggestions. It is a testament to your support – and to the scope of lawlessness in the U.S. intelligence industry and law enforcement industry – that I can only synthesize and post news about a small fraction of the scandalous activities of America’s version of the Stasi.
July 16, 2015
Police thug invades home in Arizona; terrorizes woman
Make of this TV news report – broadcast by a local ABC News station
in Denver on Thursday – what you will. The incident occurred during March, in Chandler, Arizona. My impression is that it should be very disturbing to anyone who lives in America and has to worry about the psychopaths in America’s law enforcement industry. Such predators have learned that they have few limits on their powers to terrorize citizens.
July 12, 2015
Intelligence agency chief continues defending rich crooks
Eric Holder, former head of the U.S. Department of Justice (one of the federal government’s 17 intelligence agencies), has been protecting wealthy criminals before, during, and after his recent tenure as U.S. Attorney General. A bureaucrat who thoroughly exploits the “revolving door” employment path to gain wealth and power, Holder is also a perfect example of the kind of people who infest the upper echelon of America’s security industry. Holder is a servant of white-collar criminals, just as perpetrators of counterintelligence stalking are the servants of people like Holder.
As David Dayen at Salon reports, the former Attorney General has returned to the corporate law firm Covington & Burling. Some excerpts from Dayen’s explanation of what that implies:
If we had a more aggressive media, this would be an enormous scandal (emphasis added)…
… practically no law firm has done more to protect Wall Street executives from the consequences of their criminal activities than Covington & Burling. Their roster of clients includes every mega-bank in America: JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Bank of America. Yet Holder has joined several of his ex-employees there, creating a shadow Justice Department and an unquestionable conflict of interest.
…As Deputy Attorney General under Bill Clinton in 1999, he wrote the infamous “collateral consequences” memo, arguing that prosecutors should take what might happen to ordinary workers into account when they decide to charge large corporations (of course, that doesn’t explain why DoJ doesn’t charge corporate officers). Then he went to work for corporations who used that memo as a shield. Then he rotated back to DoJ, where his actions on financial fraud spawned the phrase “too big to jail.” Now he’s back to aiding corporate executives on the other side of the negotiating table.
More good reporting on this scandal appeared on Wednesday’s broadcast of Democracy Now!, which featured an interview with journalist Matt Taibbi. Even for people who don’t normally follow news about the financial industry, the following is well-worth reading, because it explains exactly how the rodents at the top of the U.S. justice system operate. The interview also makes clear that the transgressions go beyond white-collar crime; some of the financial institutions involved have been caught laundering money for criminal groups which torture and murder people. Here are some of Taibbi’s comments:
“I think this is probably the single biggest example of the revolving door that we’ve ever had. …I mean, [Holder] spent six years essentially guiding all of these Wall Street firms, which many of them are clients of this company that he’s now working for—he guided them all back to profitability. He allowed bankers to escape prosecution. And now he’s going right back to that firm, where he’s going to enjoy a very lucrative partnership, whether he ever works again, you know, for the rest of his life.”
“Holder, in general, pioneered a number of different ways that essentially a lot of these too-big-to-fail companies were allowed to buy their way out of trouble. And one of the most notorious, I think, was that he concluded a number of the biggest settlement deals with banks like JPMorgan Chase in ways that were not reviewed by a judge. Because we did have some instances during this time period where pesky judges—I think one of the most infamous, in the eyes of Wall Street, was Jed Rakoff, who threw out a settlement with Citigroup because he thought it wasn’t harsh enough—well, to fix that problem, Holder just started striking deals and not submitting them for judicial review. So he did a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase where no judge signed off on the deal. The whole thing was done in secret. He essentially institutionalized the back room. This was just a deal where a bunch of bankers got together with a bunch of Justice Department officials, money changed hands, and that was it. The whole—all of their criminal problems went away.”
“…just to go back to some of the worst cases, HSBC admitted to laundering $880 million for a pair of Central and South American drug cartels, including the Sinaloa drug cartel, which is infamous all over the world for these torture videos. So, we have HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, is washing hundreds of millions of dollars for people who chop people’s heads off with chainsaws. That’s a crime. I mean, there’s no—that’s the worst crime that a bank can possibly commit. And anybody who thinks that Holder didn’t send people to jail because they didn’t commit crimes is not really paying attention to what went on during this time.”
So, one of the highest positions in America’s intelligence and law enforcement industry was recently held by someone who protected, among others, executives caught laundering money for violent drug cartels. Should it really surprise anyone that such people would acquiesce in the illegal counterintelligence stalking of Americans?
July 10, 2015
An activist who helped expose COINTELPRO looks back:
“What I learned from breaking the law”
In 1971, activists broke into an FBI office and stole secret documents which proved that the federal agency was secretly perpetrating crimes against Americans. The participants in that break-in are not easily categorized using the nouns most commonly associated with the exposure of government corruption. Unlike Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, and others, they were not employees of the agency whose crimes they were exposing, so they were not “whistle-blowers.” Nor were they simply practitioners of “civil disobedience,” as that term is normally understood; breaking into an FBI office and stealing secret documents is a far more serious matter, legally, than openly resisting a law whose violation only leads to a short jail sentence. Probably the best term for such persons is “heroes.”
One of those heroes, John Raines, has written an article for The Nation, in which he reflects upon what he learned from the experience. Although the article was published in March, it only just came to my attention – courtesy of a reader of this website. Raines’ insights are well-worth considering – especially for anyone who is personally affected by current forms of corrupt policing and spying, such as the counterintelligence crimes sometimes referred to by the disinformation term “gang stalking.”
In his article, Raines – a teacher of ethics in the Religion Department at Temple University – addresses some of the moral issues associated with civil disobedience. He also offers his analysis of the political context which enables the abuse of power by U.S. spy agencies. Just as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover exploited the fear of communism during the era of COINTELPRO, today’s spying and law enforcement industry thugs exploit the fear of terrorism for power and profit.
“The terrorists and the anti-terrorists are two foxes tied together by the tail. They sing the same music and dance the same dance. Both of them depend upon successfully making us feel afraid. Both run on the same gasoline—the endless black hole called fear.
…Think of all the pay checks, all the personal and institutional ambitions that depend upon us feeling afraid. It’s not just The National Security Agency or The Central Intelligence Agency or The Federal Bureau Of Investigation; it’s all those other intelligence units in the military, in local police departments, and the massive spread into private industry of profits made from intelligence work. They all drink at the well of fear, and the rest of us pay the price for that. The money that should be going into our schools, the money that should be repairing our old and broken infrastructure, the money that should go into developing sustainable sources of energy, and the money that could and should be used to end the practice of sending out our college graduates as indentured servants—all that money instead disappears into the endless and ill-defined land called fear.”
Raines also discusses the hopelessness experienced by Americans who seek to expose and clean up the deep corruption in America’s greedy, arrogant, and politically well-connected security industry. Based on his own experience, he believes that there are reasons to be hopeful:
“Significant change, precisely because it is significant always seems impossible, until in retrospect it appears inevitable. We learned, those many years ago, the truth about power and possibility, that there is always possibility beyond the reach of power to control. We learned that persistent resistance can make a way where there is no way.”
July 7, 2015
Keeping the sheep frightened
Adam Johnson at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) did an excellent job last week of exposing how the U.S. national security industry – and its credulous tools in the mainstream press – work to keep Americans in a perpetual state of fear. For the security industry, constant warnings provide political cover for any attacks which penetrate America’s massive security infrastructure; they also gin up fears to create the political basis for expanding the budgets and powers of those connected to that industry. For media outlets, the warnings are good for ratings.
The key to understanding the fearmongering game is this: the security industry cashes in no matter what happens – or does not happen. With the exception of media watchdog reports such as the one published by FAIR, few people in the national press call attention to how many times the boy cries “wolf!” Similarly, no one is held accountable for terrorist attacks which the industry fails to anticipate. Adam Johnson took a close look at the pattern of warnings and his summary is revealing.
On Monday, several mainstream media outlets repeated the latest press release by the FBI that [the] country was under a new “heightened terror alert” from “ISIL-inspired attacks” “leading up to the July 4th weekend.” One of the more sensational outlets, CNN, led with the breathless warning on several of its cable programs, complete with a special report by The Lead’s Jim Sciutto in primetime:
The threat was given extra credence when former CIA director—and consultant at DC PR firm Beacon Global Strategies—Michael Morell went on CBS This Morning (6/29/15) and scared the ever-living bejesus out of everyone by saying he “wouldn’t be surprised if we were sitting [in the studio] next week discussing an attack on the US.” The first piece of evidence Morell used to justify his apocalyptic posture, the “50 ISIS arrests,” was accompanied by a scary map on the CBS jumbotron showing “ISIS arrests” all throughout the US:
But one key detail is missing from this graphic: None of these “ISIS arrests” involved any actual members of ISIS, only members of the FBI—and their network of informants—posing as such.
Adam Johnson raised his objections, via Twitter, to the CNN reporter, Jim Sciutto:
Johnson: What news value does this have aside from propaganda? what is the average person supposed to do with this information exactly?
Sciutto: fair question, the point is about the wider threat, FBI encourages people to attend events but be vigilant
Johnson: vigilant” how? How is one supposed to be vigilant of threats that are, by definition, random? What does this even mean?
Sciutto: the phrase is “if you see something say something” general, yes, but it has helped law enforcement capture suspects before
Johnson: Its post 9-11 color chart all over again. Its at best FBI-ass covering & at worst war propaganda. Either way, it has no utility
July 5, 2015
Controlling the herd
Presumably, the neocons at The Weekly Standard are not entirely unhappy that Democratic Party front-runner Hillary Clinton is a shameless tool of the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex, the Israel lobby, the financial industry, and the U.S. spy agencies – just like almost all of the Republican candidates. Still, they would prefer to have an even more reliable puppet in the White House, such as Marco Rubio. Consequently, they are happy to publish images which put Clinton in a bad light. In any case, whatever their motivations, they are doing a public service by showing how America’s reporters are literally kept in their place.
July 5, 2015
America’s academic thought police
Americans of all political stripes should condemn the kind of thought-police bullshit criticized in this article at The Nation.
July 4, 2015
Summer reading about civil disobedience against fascism
The Fourth of July is a perfect day to give some thought to the role of civil disobedience in disrupting criminal activities of governments which have become drunk with power. Thanks to the insightful reader who called to my attention the following item.
In a recommended reading list posted yesterday at The Intercept, Betsy Reed praises a novel relevant to the subject of this website. I quote her review here in full:
“The most fascinating book I’ve read about surveillance and its crushing effect on political dissent is Hans Fallada’s Every Man Dies Alone. Based on the real story of a working-class German couple who left a trail of anonymous postcards throughout Berlin calling for civil disobedience against the Nazis, the book is a page-turning spy thriller, love story and moving testament to the human capacity for small acts of breathtaking courage in the face of relentless repression. The couple, Otto and Anna Quangel in the book, are tracked by Gestapo agents who come to believe they must represent a vast network of underground resistance. Far from sentimental, the novel shows the Quangels to be unsophisticated and even inept, though no less heroic for their flaws and the futility of their mission. The ending carries the full force of tragedy. Incredibly, Hans Fallada wrote the novel in 24 days after being released from a Nazi insane asylum. Beset with severe alcoholism, he died before it was published.”
How To Train Rats
Readers familiar with Fight Gang Stalking will know that I strongly advocate a version of the tactic used by the couple celebrated in the above book – namely, the anonymous distribution of flyers which expose the cowardly and illegal stalking of individuals by corrupt members of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and private security contractors. Here is an updated version of my advice on that topic, and a new flyer. Perpetrators of stalking crimes need to be “trained” to understand that their actions will have consequences over which they have no control.
If you are being “gang stalked” by corrupt federal, state, and local law enforcement and intelligence agency goons, security contractor parasites, and their various useful-idiot minions, this is what you should do: expose them. The vast majority of Americans do not belong to that secret rodent tribe, and they would strongly object to having the tactics of fascist and communist police states being used in their country if they knew it were happening. That is one of the reasons counterintelligence stalking is kept secret.
By far, the best way to expose illegal spying and harassment is by distributing flyers. Mailing flyers anonymously – or placing them on walkways and doorsteps of residences (or a combination of both mailing and hand-delivering) – is a legal, simple, cheap, effective way to expose the government-sponsored crime of organized stalking. Counterintelligence perps do not have a good way to suppress this particular form of communication. Also, this tactic circumvents the problem of cowardice and laziness in the mainstream corporate news media because it exposes information about corrupt policing directly to the American public.
Counterintelligence stalking is difficult to explain briefly, but you don’t need to worry about that; let the archive of published news reports at the Fight Gang Stalking website do that for you. When you are harassed, download and print the flyers, and distribute them. That will teach the rodents that they cannot operate in secret. You need to make them understand that illegally harassing you will result in exposure.
One of the best ways to exploit this tactic is to mail or hand-deliver the flyers to the residences and businesses of wealthy people. From the earliest days of “Red Squads” (police department intelligence units) to the surveillance and infiltration of the Occupy movement, America’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies have mainly served the interests of the rich. Neither cops, nor the political class, nor the news media, generally care about the harassment – or even murder – of average people at the hands of the government’s enforcers, but they do not want to upset people with money and power. You should exploit that. If wealthy people begin to complain about creepy flyers showing up in their mail – and in their front yards, that will create problems for the people who give the orders to the cowardly thugs who perpetrate “gang stalking.”
As with training any animals, an important element of the process is repetition. If you continue to be harassed, distribute more flyers. Repeat as needed. :)
The flyer below contains two references to California penal code sections. You can easily modify it for your own state as needed. (All of America’s states have laws against stalking.) This website conveniently lists the relevant criminal codes for each state.
Click on this link to download the flyer as a Word document (formatted to print two double-sided flyers per sheet of paper).
June 28, 2015
Recent U.S. police state news…
The Intercept on disinformation
On Monday The Intercept published secret documents from JTRIG – a unit of GCHQ, the UK’s signals intelligence agency (the equivalent of America’s NSA). The documents expose that agency’s “extensive use of propaganda methods and other online tactics of deceit and manipulation.”
Some excerpts from the article:
Among other things, the document lays out the tactics the agency uses to manipulate public opinion, its scientific and psychological research into how human thinking and behavior can be influenced, and the broad range of targets that are traditionally the province of law enforcement rather than intelligence agencies.
…Throughout this report, JTRIG’s heavy reliance on its use of behavioral science research (such as psychology) is emphasized as critical to its operations. That includes detailed discussions of how to foster “obedience” and “conformity…”
The comment thread below the article features some of the very sort of online disinformation described in the article. The comments – which are about “gang stalking” and “targeted individuals” – are typical of a phenomenon which has appeared frequently on The Intercept website since it was launched in February of last year. Predictably, the comments are a mixture of legitimate comments by victims of illegal counterintelligence harassment, and disinformation comments posted by U.S. intelligence personnel posing as delusional self-described victims. As is typical of all online discussions of that sort, some of the posts are in the grey area between apparently credible and obvious disinformation, which serves to muddy the waters and discourage even open-minded, intellectually-curious readers from trying to sort it out.
“A goon hiding behind a badge”
Whatever the exact organizational structure of the illegal counterintelligence harassment operations that are sometimes called “gang stalking,” they would not be happening without the knowledge and approval of the primary federal intelligence agency responsible for law enforcement: the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Consequently, anyone interested in understanding the phenomenon, should take note of the DOJ’s abuses of power in other areas as well. One of those areas is the attempt to intimidate free speech – for example, by spying on the phone records of the Associated Press.
As I discussed in my 20 June post below, a recent target of such intimidation was the libertarian journal, Reason. Here is a follow-up article from the original source of that story, which explains the legal principles involved. Ken White at Popehat describes the Assistant U.S. Attorney who issued the secret subpoena as “a goon hiding behind a badge.”
Facial recognition technology
This Intercept article highlights a good example of how Americans’ privacy is threatened not just by careerist authoritarians in the government, but also by greedy lobbyists for technology firms.
Bending the rule of law
Earlier this month, the New York Times published an article about the U.S. Navy’s special warfare unit, SEAL Team Six. Although most of the article is not relevant to domestic counterintelligence operations, one bit is. The excellent Privacy Matters blog of the ACLU of Massachusetts called attention to a quote in the article which reveals a common attitude in the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex:
The unit’s advocates express no doubts about the value of such invisible warriors. “If you want these forces to do things that occasionally bend the rules of international law,” said James G. Stavridis, a retired admiral and former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, referring to going into undeclared war zones, “you certainly don’t want that out in public.” Team 6, he added, “should continue to operate in the shadows.”
“Bend the rules of international law” is a euphemism for “commit war crimes.” The same attitude can be found in America’s law enforcement community; rules (laws and moral principles) are things which should be harshly imposed on others by the U.S. police state – and ignored (or “bent”) when applied to the police state itself.
Chris Hedges on “empty talk” and “junk politics”
In this four-minute video clip from a recent TV interview, journalist Chris Hedges captures the nature of the corporate news media coverage we can expect in the seemingly-endless U.S. presidential campaign.
“The press has largely become an echo chamber for the elite…”
The FBI now has its own air force
Earlier this month, the Associated Press, among other sources, reported that “Scores of low-flying planes circling American cities are part of a civilian air force operated by the FBI and obscured behind fictitious companies.”
“…The aircraft are equipped with high-tech cameras, and in rare circumstances, technology capable of tracking thousands of cellphones…”
Americans’ trust in the U.S. government reaches new low
This month The Daily Beast reported the following:
“…a poll released a few months ago found Americans’ trust in our government to do the “right thing” is at 13 percent, which is the lowest level in the 55 years of measuring that issue, even lower than in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.”
If – as noted above – Americans don’t trust their government, why do so many of them approve of all of the domestic spying? The short answer is this: cowardice. The fantasy of living in a world with no risks is enough of an incentive for many Americans to resign their freedoms. That attitude is exploited by the government and the news media. As Glenn Greenwald notes, if we are to believe what we are told, “It’s always the scariest time ever.”
Clearing your web browser’s history is now a serious crime
Earlier this month, The Nation reported that “the Feds can put you in prison for decades for deleting your browser history.” Seriously.
Cop of the Year charged with rape
This week, the Police Officer of the Year for Champaign, Illinois, Jerad Gale, was charged with sexual assault and domestic violence. His victims were two former girlfriends. A local news report notes that “a third woman accused Gale of sexual assault in 2007, but Gale was never charged for that.”
“Gang stalking” apparently sometimes makes use of current and former corrupt cops, as well as former criminals (“informants”), as stalkers. Jerad Gale will be perfectly qualified as a pawn for America’s Stasi after he serves his prison sentence.
June 26, 2015
The watchers are being watched
Agents and contractors in America’s bloated national security industry are normally the perpetrators of spying, rather than the targets, but sometimes they are on the receiving end of malevolent surveillance. Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that computer hackers gained access to “a database holding sensitive security clearance information on millions of federal employees and contractors.”
By definition, security clearance application files contain highly sensitive information. An article this week in The Daily Beast described the data breach this way:
“A senior U.S. official has confirmed that foreign hackers compromised the intimate personal details of an untold number of government workers. Likely included in the hackers’ haul: information about workers’ sexual partners, drug and alcohol abuse, debts, gambling compulsions, marital troubles, and any criminal activity.”
For those Americans – such as many readers of this website – who have first-hand knowledge of the deep corruption in America’s spying-and-lying industry, it is not clear that this data breach is necessarily a bad thing. On one hand, the potential for national security damage is obvious: US intelligence personnel could possibly be blackmailed into assisting foreign agents, for example. (U.S. officials allege that the hacking was done by the Chinese government – a charge which China denies). On the other hand, many of the people employed by the U.S. surveillance state are acquiescing in the degradation of Americans’ civil liberties. In some cases, as described in this website, they are perpetrating serious crimes against their fellow citizens.
My guess is that many of the victims of America’s domestic counterintelligence crimes and corrupt policing will not be entirely upset to learn that the cowardly predators who orchestrate their harassment now have to live with the knowledge that their own secret government files are in the hands of people who do not belong to their gang.
June 22, 2015
Orwell and Huxley on the decay of Western democracies
Over the weekend, CounterPunch published an analysis of two kinds of threats to individual liberty faced by citizens in democratic nations. Henry A. Giroux, a professor of English and cultural studies, compares the dystopian societies depicted by two classic novels: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (published in 1932) and George Orwell’s 1984 (published in 1949). As Giroux explains, the themes of both novels – although very different from each other – are both directly relevant to a pair of related threats Americans now face: the emerging surveillance state, and the passive attitude of many Americans to that development.
Giroux’s analysis is lengthy, but the core of it is captured in the passages below. As he concludes, both novelists correctly identified serious threats that are now being realized. As Orwell anticipated, we are increasingly spied upon and policed by an often secretive and militaristic security infrastructure that is not accountable to the public, and at the same time – as Huxley anticipated, citizens are often willing participants in a consumer culture which degrades their privacy and distracts them from recognizing serious abuses of power.
In spite of their differing perceptions of the architecture of the totalitarian superstate and how it exercised power and control over its residents, George Orwell and Aldus Huxley shared a fundamental conviction. They both argued that the established democracies of the West were moving quickly toward an historical moment when they would willingly relinquish the noble promises and ideals of liberal democracy and enter that menacing space where totalitarianism perverts the modern ideals of justice, freedom, and political emancipation. Both believed that Western democracies were devolving into pathological states…
…For Orwell, individual freedom was at risk under the heavy hand of state terrorism.
In Orwell’s world, individual freedom and privacy were under attack from outside forces. For Huxley, in contrast, freedom and privacy were willingly given up as part of the seductions of a soft authoritarianism, with its vast machinery of manufactured needs, desires, and identities. This new mode of persuasion seduced people into chasing commodities, and infantilized them through the mass production of easily digestible entertainment, disposable goods, and new scientific advances in which any viable sense of agency was undermined. The conditions for critical thought dissolved into the limited pleasures instant gratification wrought through the use of technologies and consuming practices that dampened, if not obliterated, the very possibility of thinking itself. Orwell’s dark image is the stuff of government oppression whereas Huxley’s is the stuff of distractions, diversions, and the transformation of privacy into a cheap and sensational performance for public display. Neil Postman, writing in a different time and worried about the destructive anti-intellectual influence of television sided with Huxley and believed that repression was now on the side of entertainment and the propensity of the American public to amuse themselves to death. His attempt to differentiate Huxley’s dystopian vision from Orwell’s is worth noting. He writes:
Orwell warns that we will be overcome by an externally imposed oppression. But in Huxley’s vision, no Big Brother is required to deprive people of their autonomy, maturity and history. As he saw it, people will come to love their oppression, to adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think. What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one.
June 20, 2015
Reason responds to the feds’ effort to intimidate its readers
As noted in the June 10 post below, an ambitious lawyer in the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently issued a subpoena to Reason seeking the identities of some of the readers who posted comments on its website which were hyperbolically disparaging of a federal judge. Apparently, DOJ bureaucrats had determined that the comments were threats – and therefore deserved to be investigated by a grand jury. Here is an example of one of the comments that the DOJ’s thought-police found so objectionable that its author needed to be identified by a federal subpoena:
“I hope there is a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.”
The comment – completely typical of online commentary – was a response to the judge’s imposition of a life sentence upon a defendant convicted of running an anonymous online marketplace on the dark web, known as “Silk Road.” Some of the other comments which attracted the DOJ’s attention were more harsh, but those were also not exceptional by the standards of Internet remarks. The problems were that the comments were directed at a member of the DOJ’s own tribe – a federal judge – and in connection with an issue that horrifies the authoritarians in the U.S. government: parts of the Internet that they cannot control.
If there is a political website that does not need to have its readers targeted by the neo-fascist thugs in the DOJ to appreciate the increasingly police state nature of America’s government, it is the libertarian journal, Reason. Yesterday, Reason’s editors, Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, responded to the whole matter here.
“…We decided, against the government’s request but well within our legal rights, to…notify and share the full subpoena with the six targeted commenters so that they would have a chance to assert their First Amendment rights to anonymity and defend themselves legally against the order.”
The subpoena was accompanied by a letter which asked that Reason keep silent about the investigation. That request for silence was later formally demanded by a gag order, which has since been lifted. In their published response, Gillespie and Welch sketched the political landscape in which the DOJ’s subpoena – and accompanying secrecy demands – were issued:
“Reason’s experience needs to be understood in a larger context. Especially since the 9/11 attacks, there has been a mounting conflict between the values of free speech and constitutional due process, with government making increasing demands–often under threat of punishment–for all sorts of information from innocent citizens. Coupled with the rise of a secretive and pervasive surveillance state, this tension means that Americans have no way of knowing just how unfree their speech really is.”
June 14, 2015
Interesting stuff that California’s corrupt cops do when they think that no one is watching them
Although it’s now common to see news about videos of bad cops in America perpetrating crimes, some of the reports, such as the one below, deserve to be highlighted. In much of the corporate news media – and certainly among most politicians – discussion of law enforcement and intelligence agencies is primarily shaped by careerist motivations and an authoritarian view of power. The default position of most news editors and political leaders is one of cowardice: they instinctively align themselves with those who have spying and law enforcement powers. When evidence emerges which undermines the credibility of spies and cops, the response is usually some version of the “a few bad apples” theory. At some point though, one has to acknowledge that if rotten apples seem to be common throughout the orchard, maybe there’s some pathology at work. Americans should also give some thought to the presumably large number of crimes by the government’s enforcers that escape attention simply because they are not captured on video.
Victims of counterintelligence stalking know first-hand about the predatory – often criminally predatory – nature of cops, intelligence agents, and security contractors in America. Fortunately, stories such as this Orange County Weekly report about a recent drug raid at a marijuana dispensary are helping to educate the rest of America’s population.
Cops in Santa Ana, California, donned ski masks to break and enter into a local medical marijuana dispensary, raiding it with guns drawn in a May 27 police action. They then proceeded to remove surveillance cameras and recording equipment, but they didn’t remove it all. Video from a camera they didn’t disable also caught the officers eating what appear to be marijuana edibles, then acting in a way to suggest they had become intoxicated, with one officer even joking that she’d love to kick a marijuana activist present at the raid, Marla James, an amputee, in the “nub.”
In comparison with some other recent news about police and intelligence agency crimes – which include things like beatings, torture, and murder, this story might not seem remarkable. It does, however, seem to capture the gang-like nature of American law enforcement personnel, many of whom clearly view themselves as being above the law.
Reason often features links to such news – and subversive comments by its readers in response. It’s no surprise that U.S. intelligence agencies such as the FBI and the Justice Department try to intimidate such people (see the post below, for example). Libertarians and progressives are particularly outraged by the frequent abuses of power and secrecy by the government’s enforcers. Consequently, such “subversives” are sometimes viewed as threats to the machine.
Most people are never seen as a threat. I borrow here from a reader’s comment recently posted on Truthdig by Ellen Hanson:
In Orwell’s 1984 a Party slogan is ‘Proles and animals are free’, where the proles are the working class and make up 85% of the population, and by ‘free’ it is meant that the methods of thought control are not necessary for proles and animals, [because] they don’t think.
June 10, 2015
The U.S. Justice Department tries to censor the Internet
Frequent visitors of political websites might notice varying degrees of freedom of speech in the comments forums. The neoconservative National Review, for example is an opinion journal founded by William F. Buckley, Jr. – someone who, to his credit, famously welcomed debates, but whose current readers and website moderators often react like frightened children when they encounter opinions at variance with their orthodoxy. (It doesn’t take much to get banned from commenting at the National Review Online website; trust me.) Similarly, the liberal Huffington Post tries to force its readers to log-in via Facebook or Google to post comments, instead of granting them anonymity.
One website which – not surprisingly – has been free of such restraints, is the libertarian journal, Reason. You can even use profanity in your comments there, if you feel that it’s warranted. Not everyone is pleased with such individual liberty online however. As reported by Motherboard, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a subpoena seeking the identities of individuals who posted comments on Reason which are disparaging of a federal judge. In the DOJ’s view, the comments are threats, although anyone familiar with the rhetoric of online commentary would recognize the posts as being fairly typical.
As the Motherboard article notes, Ken White of the blog Popehat – who obtained and reported on the grand jury subpoena – did not think the comments rose to the level of being actual threats:
…for what it’s worth, White wrote the comments are “very clearly not true threats.” But it’s clear the government is monitoring comments online, at least when they affect powerful federal judges.
June 10, 2015
A new article at CounterPunch about the recently-passed “USA Freedom Act” describes one of the ways an individual can be flagged as a potential target by bureaucrats in the U.S. surveillance state:
“… the screaming headlines about the cell phone spying ignored the most important and frightening aspect of the story: the coordination among the various capture programs. It is here that the weakness of the Freedom Act measures becomes obvious. The problem isn’t that everyone is targeted, the problem is who the real targets are.
For example, the government detects an email from you to someone in France that uses the word “protest”. You are now tagged and your data is put into a database for analysis: basically a quick review of what you’ve written. According to [NSA whistle-blower] Edward Snowden, the analyst decides whether the email is worth investigation and may then authorize a “data match” across all the programs of data-capture. The analyst then pulls all your stored files captured by a program like PRISM (which captures data from servers), all your search patterns from Google search and all the phone numbers you’ve called on your cell. There is a lot more the analyst can tap but that’s just a basic example.
If the analyst finds anything suspicious, your case will be kicked up to a senior analyst (like Snowden before he jumped sides) who determines whether an investigative file should be opened. If you are assigned a file, your information is shared among about 140 intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Most of the time, they do nothing with this information but they have it stored and organized: ready for use if you do something the government wants to stop.” [emphasis added]
The process Lopez describes is disturbing enough – including, for example, the huge number of government entities involved; however, that scenario is only one of the various ways a person can show up on Big Brother’s radar. A more sinister route involves someone with connections to the law enforcement and intelligence industry serving-up someone to be considered as a potential target, sometimes for a personal vendetta or corporate agenda. This scenario was mentioned in a February 2011 article for the Guardian. Investigative reporter James Ridgeway described how corporations target people with what is, in effect, a secret private law enforcement system:
“The private detective firms working for corporations can develop information against their own targets and find eager recipients among federal and local law enforcement agencies, some of whose employees end up retiring into private-sector detective work. The corporate spy business thus amounts to a shadow para-law enforcement system that basically can get around any of the safeguards set out in the American legal system; it ought to be subject first to transparency, and then to banning.”
Some of the accounts in the “Published News Reports” section of this website (on the What is “Gang Stalking?” page) allude to that kind of targeting. In the past two years I have also received – via this website – countless anecdotal reports of similar experiences.
Equally sinister is the well-documented secret targeting of individuals for research purposes – most notably, the CIA’s infamous “Program MKUltra,” and the targeting of individuals for political thought crimes and activism – most notably, the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations.
Finally, there are persons targeted in an apparent combination of punishment and experimentation, such as the case chronicled in the recently-published book CHAMELEO (the subject of my March 8 post).
Most of the discussion of the USA Freedom Act barely scratches the surface.
June 8, 2015
Librarians versus the FBI
This story was the subject of Friday’s broadcast of National Public Radio’s “On The Media,” and was also reported last month by The Nation. Dating back to the Vietnam War era, there has been tension between librarians – who, as a group, tend to favor freedom of speech and privacy, and FBI agents – who, as a group, tend to be lying fascists. The tension has increased since the USA Patriot Act was implemented. That act’s Kafkaesque “National Security Letters” – secret subpoenas – have been used to obtain the records of library patrons (to check whether they are committing any thought crimes).
At 8:55 into the NPR broadcast is a very interesting account of how the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was lying about its use of NSLs, and how that led to a lawsuit by the ACLU.
…in 2006 when the Patriot Act came up for renewal, Deputy Attorney General James Comey told librarians…“We’ve never used [section 215 of the Patriot Act] in connection with a library or a bookstore…”
The report features an executive of a library consortium describing how, just four weeks after Comey’s testimony, he had been served with an NSL by two FBI agents. At the time, he knew that the U.S. Justice Department was publicly claiming that they were not using NSLs to search library records, but he was legally prohibited from revealing that the government was lying because of the gag order which accompanied the NSL.
Incidentally, the U.S. Deputy Attorney General who was lying about NSLs, James Comey, is now the director of the FBI.
June 7, 2015
Glenn Greenwald excoriates the editors of the Los Angeles Times
A must-read column at The Intercept today seeks to educate – and shame – one of America’s largest newspapers on the difference between journalism and government propaganda. The piece is a response to an editorial by the newspaper calling for the prosecution of Edward Snowden, the whistle-blower who exposed (illegal) spying on Americans by the National Security Agency.
Here is a sample of Greenwald’s scathing critique:
“…the LA Times itself constantly publishes illegal leaks, though the ones it publishes usually come from top government officials. Indeed, for years it employed a national security reporter, Ken Dilanian, who specializes in stenographically disseminating the pro-government claims which government officials want him to convey…”
I’m guessing that the L.A. Times’ editors won’t be proposing a televised debate with Greenwald to address his criticisms.
June 7, 2015
Lipstick on a pig – the USA Freedom Act
The biggest surveillance state news of the past week was the passage by Congress of the “USA Freedom Act” (so named because, as an American, you have the “freedom” to be spied upon by the U.S. government). President Obama’s signing of the act was the culmination of several weeks of rhetorical and parliamentary procedural fights in Washington between a minority of legislators who believe in the Bill of Rights – such as Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), and establishment pols who believe in maximum power and secrecy for U.S. spy agencies, such as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (also a Republican from Kentucky).
For those who do not closely follow the machinations of Congress, it has been difficult to get a clear take on exactly what changes were – and were not – being proposed, fought over, and voted upon. Sonali Kolhatkar at truthdig put it this way:
For ordinary Americans who realize that the government is likely spying on us all but don’t understand the extent of the issue and what to do about it, the recent debate over the USA Patriot Act in Congress has been confusing.
Three key provisions of the Patriot Act expired Sunday: Section 215, which was used to legally justify the collection of mass telephone records; the so-called Lone-Wolf provision and the roving wiretap provision. Two days later, the Senate passed the USA Freedom Act, a reform bill that the House had already passed, which President Obama rushed to sign within hours.
…Activist groups like Demand Progress, Credo and Fight for the Future [signed] a statement that read, “The USA Freedom Act is a mass surveillance bill dressed up as a reform bill, and its passage will authorize unconstitutional surveillance practices.”
On one hand, it must be granted that NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden has been at least partly vindicated. Not only has a federal appeals court recently ruled that some of the mass surveillance being conducted against Americans is illegal, but there has been an effort to push back politically against the abuses of power by the feds. On the other hand, as the dust settles, a consensus seems to have emerged among defenders of civil liberties that this new legislative reform essentially leaves the secret powers of America’s emerging police state intact.
The Associated Press’s analysis basically echoes that assessment:
“… it’s practically inconsequential in the universe of the National Security Agency’s vast digital spying operations, a technical overhaul of a marginal counterterrorism program that some NSA officials wanted to jettison anyway.”
The AP article notes that groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are unimpressed:
“No one should mistake this bill for comprehensive reform,” said Jameel Jaffer, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “The bill leaves many of the government’s most intrusive and overbroad surveillance powers untouched…
Shane Harris at The Daily Beast had a similar take in a piece titled “It’s NSA 1, Rand Paul 0.” Harris reported that the House and Senate passed “a bill that will keep much of the Patriot Act intact.”
The new legislation does include (some) restoration of constitutional rights:
“The Freedom Act will put an end to the NSA’s collection of Americans’ phone records, which was first revealed in leaks by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. It will also inject new transparency measures into the secretive process by which the government obtains court orders to monitor the communications of Americans and foreigners.”
However, most of America’s spying programs remain untouched. This is so, because – as defenders of the surveillance state remind us – our entire country is apparently infested with terrorists:
“[Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas)] warned that the FBI has home-grown terrorism investigations open in every one of its 56 field offices, and that if surveillance authorities to monitor them weren’t reinstated, the nation would be at grave risk.”
June 6, 2015
The business of war: Israel’s U.S.-subsidized weapons industry
Alex Kane at The Intercept wrote an interesting piece on Israel’s arms business. An excerpt:
“Israel is among the world’s top arms exporters per capita. In fact, the U.S. effectively provides a subsidy to the Israeli weapons business: While about 75 percent of the $3.1 billion in U.S. military aid to Israel must be spent on American weapons, 25 percent can be spent on domestic Israeli arms makers — a situation unique to Israel. Even when Israel buys U.S. arms, it sometimes requests that those weapons be built with Israeli components.
The U.S. subsidy is helping to fuel the business of war in Israel. It’s a booming industry due in no small part to the ever-increasing frequency of the country’s battles with militant groups in neighboring Lebanon and Gaza, the coastal strip that Israel holds under a crippling air, land and sea blockade. In 2006, Israel went to war in Lebanon, killing at least 900 civilians. Two years later, Israel invaded Gaza in what a U.N. Human Rights report called “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.” Operation Cast Lead, as the 2008 – 2009 attack was called, killed 1,400 people, more than half of them civilians. In 2012, Israel bombed Gaza for about a week before a U.S. and Egyptian-brokered ceasefire went into effect. But the most devastating Israeli attack on the strip occurred last summer, when Israel waged a 50-day battle against Hamas that killed 2,200 people, the majority of them civilians.”
Make no mistake: the same dynamic is at work in the U.S., where military and police contractor firms sell spy gear to federal, state, and local law enforcement and intelligence agencies. All those corporations have an obvious incentive to lobby for an increase in domestic spying. Careerism and stupidity among politicians – and among reporters in the corporate news media – ensures that such interests are mostly ignored.
June 4, 2015
Book-signing event cancelled
Robert Guffey, author of CHAMELEO – a book about gang stalking, was scheduled to host a discussion and book-signing event at Book Soup in West Hollywood, California, tomorrow (June 5th). Unfortunately, that event has been cancelled. Here is the post about that on Robert Guffey’s blog, Cryptoscatology.
May 31, 2015
Edward Snowden on Privacy and Free Speech
The following comment by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden is receiving some attention on Twitter:
I’m as big a fan of Snowden as you will find anywhere, and I agree with his sentiment a hundred percent. I agree, for example, that the people who have raised this particular argument over the past two years have nothing insightful to say about this issue. And I certainly agree with his position in favor of free speech – which is the best thing about America. But the analogy is logically imperfect.
The destruction of privacy is relatively uncharted evil territory; even communist East Germany’s Stasi lacked the technology to spy on its subjects as invasively as the current U.S. government does. Also, attacks on privacy involve human rights violations that are distinct from free speech violations (although the two issues are equally serious and related). It’s hard to be simultaneously brief and accurate about such matters though, and I do hope that Snowden’s statement at least has some traction as political rhetoric.
May 31, 2015
Twice as many Americans killed by cops as what the FBI reports
Based on statistics reported by The Washington Post, the same federal government which is able to spy on all its citizens’ emails and phone calls is somehow unable to keep track of how many people the government kills.
“…at least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government…”
May 30, 2015
News media whores in the Operation Mockingbird era
Probably few readers of this website need to have their cynicism about the corporate news media – past and present – reinforced, but this document is worth a look.
One of the most prominent reporters on American politics in the 1960s was Theodore H. White, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist whose book The Making of the President sold four million copies. Scott Porch at Politico profiled him last month, and on Thursday, Jon Schwarz at The Intercept posted this summary of the essential point. In his published writings, White lavished praise upon members of the political class and the press. Privately, however, he admitted that they were all liars. Here is one of the excerpts from a previously-unreleased letter White sent to a close friend in 1960:
“…it is all fraudulent, all of it, everywhere, up and down, East and West. The movies, radio and state and books and TV — all of them are fraudulent; and the foundations and universities and scholars, they are all fraudulent too; and the executives and the financiers … and the Commissars and the Krushchevs and the Mao Tze-tungs, they are fraudulent equally; it is all a great game; and there are two dangers in this great game: first, the fraudulent people come to believe their own lies, they come to have faith in their fraud; and second, underneath it all, because people are fundamentally good, they come to realize that we live in lies and the people get angrier and angrier and they may explode.”
One of the reasons that the U.S. surveillance state – the FBI, NSA, CIA, DHS, and their army of private contractors and useful-idiot minions – keeps a close eye on Americans is to keep a lid on such anger.
May 29, 2015
The moral character of the architects of America’s police state
Former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), who was instrumental in enacting the abomination called the “USA Patriot Act,” has been indicted “for agreeing to pay $3.5 million in hush money to someone to keep silent about his prior misconduct.”
[The indictment] does not reveal the “misconduct” that Hastert was trying to conceal. The recipient of the money was a resident of Yorkville, Illinois, where Hastert taught high school and coached wrestling from 1965 to 1981.
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers
May 27, 2015
Blacklisting students who dare to criticize the political establishment
Harretz reports that college students who have the temerity to challenge the supremacy of the Israel Lobby will now risk having their thought crimes exposed on a new website called “Canary Mission.” The objective – which is defended by Israel Lobby apologist Daniel Pipes – is to intimidate students who might be contemplating political activism of the sort not approved of in Washington:
“Factually documenting who one’s adversaries are and making this information available is a perfectly legitimate undertaking,” Pipes wrote in an email. “Collecting information on students has particular value because it signals them that attacking Israel is serious business, not some inconsequential game, and that their actions can damage both Israel and their future careers.”
Not surprisingly, the people running the website do not wish to have their own identities made public:
“Despite its dedication to documenting the identities of pro-Palestinian activists, Canary Mission seems to have gone to great lengths to keep the identities of its own members and backers well hidden. There are no names of Canary Mission staff members, volunteers, donors or allies on the site.”
May 23, 2015
Senator Rand Paul on spy programs we don’t yet know about
In a ten-and-a half hour Senate speech on Wednesday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), made the case that it is time to push back against the U.S. intelligence community’s violations of Americans’ civil rights. He also said that he suspects that the abuses of power taking place go beyond what Americans – including U.S. senators – currently know about.
“There comes to a time in the history of nations when fear and complacency allow power to accumulate and liberty and privacy to suffer,” Paul started. “That time is now. And I will not let the Patriot Act, the most un-patriotic of acts, go unchallenged.”
“…we should be aware that this isn’t the only program. There’s probably a dozen programs. There’s probably another dozen we haven’t even heard of that they won’t tell any of us about,” Paul said. [emphasis added]
May 23, 2015
Los Angeles’s Red Squads
The May issue of Harper’s Magazine features a fascinating article, “Beyond the Broken Window,” about spying on Americans by the Los Angeles Police Department. The article explores modern Orwellian police state programs, such as the “Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (NSI)” and “iWATCH.” It deserves a serious look by anyone who has been personally mauled by the U.S. police state – or anyone who believes in the Bill of Rights.
Under [Police Chief] Bratton’s watch, Los Angeles became the first city to implement the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, a federal-local partnership program led by Homeland Security and the FBI. Suspicious Activity Reports, or SARs, have since been adopted by cities across the country and are now the primary means for documenting citizen behavior that might be construed as “preoperational planning related to terrorism or other criminal activity.” This vague standard means that behavior that is both protected by the First Amendment and entirely benign can be labeled as suspicious.
Also of interest is the article’s discussion of the history of Red Squads – also known as “Law Enforcement Intelligence Units” (LEIUs). As the author notes, efforts to eradicate these secret police gangs have been unsuccessful:
Police spying in Los Angeles goes back to the city’s Red Squads in the early twentieth century, when powerful trade organizations, seeking to thwart unionization efforts among the city’s working class, championed a broadly repressive agenda of police surveillance, wiretapping, and infiltration of organized labor by undercover agents. During the First World War, police in Los Angeles expanded their focus to include ideological subversion, hunting for radicals and “disloyal” people and groups. By the end of the Sixties, the successor to the LAPD’s Red Squad, the Public Disorder Intelligence Division, had gathered some 2 million secret files over the course of fifty years on all manner of legitimate dissenters, from the Wobblies to antipoverty groups to antiwar protesters. In 1970, the P.D.I.D. spied on students and professors at UCLA who were suspected of “conspiratorial activities,” and agents provocateurs infiltrated student demonstrations. The target list included political organizations as well as church and social-welfare groups and charities, categorizing suspect individuals as “controversial,” “agitator,” “anti-establishment,” “anti-police,” or “engaged in protest.” Dossiers were maintained on city-council members and the mayor. [emphasis added]
In 1976, after these programs came to light, the city’s Board of Police Commissioners, a civilian panel that supervises the LAPD, ordered the department to destroy its surveillance records, but in 1983 a grand jury found that officers had retained boxes of files and that the P.D.I.D. was still keeping tabs on more than 200 organizations, including the Coalition Against Police Abuse and Citizens Commission on Police Repression. These two groups were part of a civil suit the next year that resulted in a $1.8 million settlement from the city, which forced the LAPD to enter into a consent decree that curtailed some of the worst surveillance practices. After the grand-jury revelations, the P.D.I.D. was finally disbanded, but was immediately reconstituted as the Anti-Terrorist Division…
LAPD’s former police chief, William Bratton (who is now commissioner of the New York City Police Department) thoroughly embraces a policing philosophy that emphasizes keeping citizens under surveillance.
…By the time Bratton left the department, in 2009, Los Angeles had quietly become the most spied-on city in America and a proving ground for corporations to test out new surveillance technologies. [emphasis added]
…Hamid Khan, a former commercial-airline pilot who immigrated to California from Pakistan in his early twenties…has spent much of the past three decades as a social-justice activist. In 2011 he helped to found the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, one of the only organizations in the city dedicated to protesting urban surveillance. So far the issues have not provoked widespread public concern in Los Angeles—in part, Khan believes, because of the largely invisible footprint of the technology that is steadily collecting data on unsuspecting citizens. [emphasis added]
That invisibility, he says, makes strategies that merge counterterrorism with domestic policing all the more dangerous. “There has always been a law-enforcement mind-set against what is perceived as countercultural,” Khan told me. “What we’re seeing now is something more. We’re in a very critical moment where policies of social control are being legitimized as part of a national-security infrastructure.”
May 23, 2015
America’s Left and Right are both Suspicious
When – as happened today – the top headline on the conservative/libertarian Drudge Report links to an article about government secrecy posted on the left-leaning Daily Kos, it might be worth looking at. As the Washington political establishment tries to anally-rape America’s working class for its corporate clients, not everyone is confident about the process, which is shrouded in secrecy.
“The battle between organized labor, progressive Democrats and President Obama over the Trans Pacific Partnership continued on Thursday when U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Joe Machin filed the Trade Transparency Act, a bill requiring that the public and Congress have at least 60 days to review and debate any trade legislation before being moved to the floor for a vote. The move was intended to highlight the issue many Americans see with continuing to categorize trade negotiations as classified, especially when it effects the personal finances of millions of workers and business owners alike.
Senators are forced to go into a classified viewing room in order to read the full text of the document, but are not allowed to bring in key staff or take notes on what is included in the bill text. Not only this, but as you would assume for classified documents, elected officials are unable to speak to anyone without proper security clearance about the specific details of the trade negotiations without suffering potential criminal legal ramifications. This becomes a serious issue when dealing with complicated and technical negotiations regarding the largest trade deal in American history. It also raises serious questions about the legislative process and democracy generally when the public is unable to view the content of a bill introduced in Congress, but foreign government officials and private corporations are.” [emphasis added]
May 22, 2015
Is the CIA now suggesting that MK Ultra is a “conspiracy theory?”
By its own admission, the CIA destroyed most of its records of its infamous MK Ultra program – in which secret unethical mind control experiments were conducted on Americans and Canadians for about two decades. Nevertheless, a lot is known about MK Ultra – in part because it was among the scandals investigated by Congress during the 1970s. Consequently, it is interesting that when an anonymous source at the spy agency recently leaked information to a reporter at Buzzfeed, it apparently categorized the Senate’s report about MK Ultra among the “conspiracy theory books.” Marcy Wheeler, in an article at Salon, calls attention to the way the helpfully credulous Buzzfeed reporter, Rosie Gray, passed along information the CIA fed to her.
Buzzfeed, which got advance release of the materials, emphasized the “conspiracy” texts bin Laden had. It quoted someone to whom they bizarrely gave anonymity, saying, “‘Of the 38 full-length English-language books he had in his possession, about half of them were conspiracy theory books’ about the Illuminati, Freemasons, and other conspiracy topics.”
…The list also includes materials from congressional hearings about Project MK Ultra, the so-called “mind control” program conducted by the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s.
May 22, 2015
New Attorney General supports mass surveillance
In an interview on CBS this morning, the new U.S. Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, made clear that she has the same contempt for Americans’ privacy as her predecessor, Eric Holder. She wants to extend the provision of the Patriot Act which allows the federal government to gather information about the phone records of all Americans (the provision which was recently ruled illegal by a U.S. appeals court). This should surprise no one, of course; Lynch’s appointment to head the Justice Department was supported by both major political parties precisely because she holds extreme right-wing views about government power.
May 21, 2015
Big Brother’s ambitions
Tom Engelhardt’s new column examines some recurring patterns of deception, hubris, violence, and incompetence in the U.S. national security state. This passage – which is relevant to counterintelligence stalking – perfectly describes the security state’s quest: maximum power for itself and a minimum of oversight from the public whose interests it supposedly serves.
“…the American national security state, which has undergone an era of unprecedented expansion, is now remarkably unconstrained by any kind of serious oversight, the rule of law, or limits of almost any sort. It should be clear by now that the urge for ever more latitude and power has become part of its institutional DNA. It has already created a global surveillance system of a kind never before seen or imagined, not even by the totalitarian regimes of the last century. Its end goal is clearly to have access to everyone on the planet, Americans included, and every imaginable form of communication now in use. There was to be a sole exception to this blanket system of surveillance: the official denizens of the national security state itself. No one was to have the capacity to look at them. This helps explain why its top officials were so viscerally outraged by Edward Snowden and his revelations. When someone surveilled them as they did others, they felt violated and deeply offended.”
May 19, 2015
Our leaders and their friends
A New York Times article on Monday about Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal provides a good example of why Hillary Clinton tries so hard to avoid contact with real journalists.
After Washington’s war pigs (Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, et al.) supported the illegal invasion of Libya in 2011 – which destabilized that nation, some friends of the war pigs sought to cash in on the resulting chaos by exploiting their close connections to the woman who wants to be our next president.
“Much of the Libya intelligence that Mr. Blumenthal passed on to Mrs. Clinton appears to have come from a group of business associates he was advising as they sought to win contracts from the Libyan transitional government. The venture, which was ultimately unsuccessful, involved other Clinton friends, a private military contractor and one former C.I.A. spy seeking to get in on the ground floor of the new Libyan economy.”
May 17, 2015
Recent spying and policing news…
Public appearance by the author of a book on gang stalking
Robert Guffey, author of CHAMELEO, will be hosting a discussion and book-signing event at Book Soup in West Hollywood, California, on Friday, June 5th at 7 pm. The store is located at 8818 W. Sunset Blvd. The event will last about 90 minutes.
I recently posted information here about the book. I encourage anyone who can attend the event to do so. Guffey has interesting insights about this issue, as well as the writing skills needed to educate the public about this form of state-sponsored criminality.
Here is the description of CHAMELEO posted on Book Soup’s website:
“ A mesmerizing mix of Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, and Philip K. Dick, Chameleo is a true account of what happened in a seedy Southern California town when an enthusiastic and unrepentant heroin addict named Dion Fuller sheltered a U.S. Marine who’d stolen night vision goggles and perhaps a few top secret files from a nearby military base. Dion found himself arrested (under the ostensible auspices of The Patriot Act) for conspiring with international terrorists to smuggle Top Secret military equipment out of Camp Pendleton. The fact that Dion had absolutely nothing to do with international terrorists, smuggling, Top Secret military equipment, or Camp Pendleton didn’t seem to bother the military. He was released from jail after a six-day-long Abu-Ghraib-style interrogation. Subsequently, he believed himself under intense government scrutiny – and, he suspected, the subject of bizarre experimentation involving “cloaking”- electro-optical camouflage so extreme it renders observers practically invisible from a distance of some meters – by the Department of Homeland Security. Hallucination? Perhaps – except Robert Guffey, an English teacher and Dion’s friend, tracked down and interviewed one of the scientists behind the project codenamed “Chameleo,” experimental technology which appears to have been stolen by the U.S. Department of Defense and deployed on American soil. More shocking still, Guffey discovered that the DoD has been experimenting with its newest technologies on a number of American citizens.”
Oklahoma woman reports being stalked in a way which sounds very familiar
Robert Guffey (see the above post) calls attention to a breaking story which seems to involve exactly the types of harassment associated with “gang stalking” (although that term does not appear in the press coverage so far). The story has been reported by Salon and by The Oklahoman.
On Wednesday, Salon reported the following (drawing from the facts reported that same day by The Oklahoman):
“ An Oklahoma woman who works as a dancer at a “gentlemen’s club” has filed a protective order against Texas State Sen. Charles Perry…”
…According to the protective order request — of which Ortiz posted a photo on Twitter — Perry recruited acquaintances to help him keep tabs on the woman.
I could not go outside without one coming to watch especially if I was on the phone,” Ortiz’s request states. “A man in a brown truck would follow me everywhere I went.”
Ortiz also claims the lawmaker hacked her computer, interfered with her relationships and her work, vandalized her car and installed surveillance cameras in her home.
Perry’s office has denied each of her claims and taken to attacking Ortiz’s character, in addition to requesting that a judge dismiss the protective order.
Reportedly, the alleged perpetrator responded with the usual dismissal issued to discredit such allegations:
“She simply needs real help and treatment,” a Perry spokesperson said of Ortiz, calling her claims “completely false.”
The woman who is reporting being the victim of the stalking has, in turn, noted that the denial is of a familiar sort:
Ortiz has called Perry’s response to her claims “textbook.”
Robert Guffey poses the following question about all of this:
Question: In 21st century America, is it more reasonable to assume that A) a stripper in Oklahoma is suffering from acute paranoia or that B) a right-wing Christian Senator in Texas has access to a vast network of gang stalking perps who would not hesitate to plant covert surveillance cameras in the private residence of a U.S. citizen, vandalize said individual’s automobile, disrupt said individual’s relationships at work and elsewhere, and hack into said individual’s personal computer?
Lee Fang at The Intercept looks at who pays the police state’s shills.
A U.S. appeals court ruled that mass surveillance of telephone metadata by the National Security Agency (NSA) is illegal – providing further vindication of the actions and claims of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
A civil rights group recommended reforming a federal program of spying on mail because of a lack of oversight. Last year the New York Times reported that the program was used by an Arizona sheriff to spy on one of his critics. The woman successfully sued the county for nearly $1 million – a settlement which was upheld on appeal.
Associated Press reports that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), wants the NSA to increase its domestic surveillance. I have always maintained that the U.S. government should greatly expand its spying on Americans. Fortunately there are people in Congress who appreciate the threat posed by citizens who are not being constantly watched by the U.S. government.
ABC News reports that the FBI is reviewing cases to gauge “how many more targets should be placed under 24/7 surveillance.”
…officials told ABC News that agents have been ordered to review the cases of so-called “marginal” or “borderline” suspects…
They Know Everything About You is a recently-published book by Robert Scheer about the assault on Americans’ privacy by U.S. agencies and corporations. Scheer is a progressive journalist who was one of the editors of Ramparts in the 1960s. He worked as a journalist and columnist for nearly three decades at the Los Angeles Times, and is currently the editor of truthdig. Scheer is also one of the hosts of the weekly public radio program Left, Right & Center.
As noted in the Wikipedia entry linked above, Scheer was fired by the L.A. Times in 2005 – and replaced by right-wing columnists – apparently for daring to criticize President Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
This description of Scheer’s new book is from Amazon:
“…the erosion of privacy rights extends far beyond big government. Intelligence agencies such as the NSA and CIA are using Silicon Valley corporate partners as their data spies. Seemingly progressive tech companies are joining forces with snooping government agencies to create a brave new world of wired tyranny.”
Scheer is very familiar with the corruption in U.S. intelligence agencies. Going back to his days at Ramparts, he has been exposing crimes by the National Security Agency – as he explained in this speech he gave in March.
An article by Jeff Kaye posted at Firedoglake examines allegations that the CIA used mind-altering drugs on detainees at black site prisons. The CIA’s Inspector General looked into that issue and reported that no such abuse ever happened. And you can be sure that was a legitimate investigation because it was very thorough – apart from the fact that no one bothered to speak with any of the detainees about what happened.
“No CIA detainees were evidently ever
interviewed as part of the IG investigation.”
As reported by Democracy Now!, police torture victims in Chicago recently won a settlement.
“Earlier this month, the Chicago City Council approved a $5.5 million reparations fund for victims of police torture. More than 200 people, most of them African-American, were tortured under the reign of Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge from 1972 to 1991. Tactics included electric shocks and suffocation.”
On Thursday, TomDispatch posted this interesting analysis of the U.S. military-industrial complex by former U.S. Air Force officer William Astore. “The American Military Uncontained” explores how the MIC sought to exploit the space created by the fall of the Soviet Union.
Now was the time to go for broke. Now was the time to go “all in,” to borrow the title of Paula Broadwell’s fawning biography of her mentor and lover, General David Petraeus. Under the circumstances, peace dividends were for wimps. In 1993, Madeleine Albright, secretary of state under Bill Clinton, caught the coming post-Cold War mood of twenty-first-century America perfectly when she challenged Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell angrily over what she considered a too-cautious U.S. approach to the former Yugoslavia. “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about,” she asked, “if we can’t use it?”
… the military-industrial-congressional-complex that President Dwight Eisenhower first warned us about in 1961 remains in expansion mode more than half a century later, with its taste for business as usual (meaning, among other things, wildly expensive weapons systems). Above all, though, it’s an illustration of something far more disturbing: the failure of democratic America to seize the possibility of a less militarized world.
On Thursday, Pando Daily published an excellent piece by Mark Ames about efforts by establishment journalists to discredit Seymour Hersh’s recent reporting on the U.S. government’s apparent lying about the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Ames seems to be someone whose articles and tweets are worth following. Like most progressives, he obviously despises libertarians (who in turn, mostly despise progressives), but he is probably worth following. My own view is that the two groups should take the advice of Ralph Nader and unite against the neocon police state enthusiasts who dominate both of America’s major political parties. Here is a recent sample of Ames’ commentary on libertarianism though, which deserves a listen.
May 11, 2015
Chris Hedges: America is “a nation of snitches”
In his new column at truthdig, Chris Hedges discusses the role of informants in a police state. Since the “national security” industry has spread like mold in America’s basement, we should be thankful that some prominent intellectuals, such as Hedges, are calling attention to the parasites employed by that industry to watch us all.
“Tyranny is always welded together by subterranean networks of informants. These informants keep a populace in a state of fear. They perpetuate constant anxiety and enforce isolation through distrust. The state uses wholesale surveillance and spying to break down trust and deny us the privacy to think and speak freely.”
Victims of counterintelligence stalking will instantly recognize the type of people Hedges is describing. They are a subset of one’s neighbors, co-workers, and others who are recruited to function as the state’s rats. In “gang stalking” they sometimes perform a surveillance role, but more often they are perpetrating various acts of psychological harassment (overt stalking). Exposing such people – for example, by mailing and distributing flyers (as described on the Tactics page of this website) – is critical. Mold thrives in the dark.
As Hedges notes, one reason that snitches are a favorite weapon for governments with police state inclinations is that they can be used to circumvent the laws which are supposed to protect citizens’ rights:
“There are no rules in this dirty game. Police, like prison officials, can offer snitches deals that lack judicial oversight or control. (Deals sometimes involve something as trivial as allowing a prisoner access to food like cheeseburgers.) Snitches allow the state to skirt what is left of our legal protections. Snitches can obtain information for the authorities and do not have to give their targets a Miranda warning. And because of the desperation of most who are recruited to snitch, informants will do almost anything asked of them by authorities.”
In this column, Hedges uses the term “snitches” in its broadest sense – to refer not only to the traditional criminal informant types, but also to those who profit from direct employment by America’s huge surveillance infrastructure: “…these informants on the streets, in the prisons and manning our massive, government data-collection centers.” This is an accurate categorization from a moral perspective. Both types of snitches are self-serving, whatever their rationalizations. Careerists are just as pliant as criminal informants.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote about the harsh justice that was meted out to snitches in Josef Stalin’s gulags. Although Hedges quotes one of those accounts of snitches being killed in the prison camps, he makes it clear that he is not calling for such actions. He deserves credit for even daring to discuss that issue though; many columnists would be afraid to even mention it for fear of being accused of advocating violence against the government’s lackeys. Hedges does not shy away from the radical implications of the moral decay in the U.S. government and its corporate clients:
“Freedom demands the destruction of the security
and surveillance organs and the disempowering of
the millions of informants who work for the state.”
May 8, 2015
Independent activism versus participation in elections
As candidates from both major political parties announce their presidential aspirations, this is a good time to look at the case for ignoring all of them and seeking change outside our nation’s deeply rotten political system. Here are a couple of recent essays which make that point in a convincing way.
David Swanson has this to say in a piece published by CounterPunch:
“Yes, Bernie Sanders would be a far superior president to Hillary Clinton.
That requires a bit of elaboration. Something I just scraped off my shoe would be a far superior president to Hillary Clinton…
I’m not against elections. I think we should have one some day. At the presidential level we do not currently have elections. That office is not up for election; it is up for sale.”
Chris Hedges, in a piece published by truthdig, takes a similar position:
“It does not matter to the corporate rich who wins the presidential election. It does not matter who is elected to Congress. The rich have the power. They throw money at their favorites the way a gambler puts cash on his favorite horse. Money has replaced the vote. The wealthy can crush anyone who does not play by their rules. And the political elites—slobbering over the spoils provided by their corporate masters for selling us out—understand the game. Barack and Michelle Obama, as did the Clintons, will acquire many millions of dollars once they leave the White House. And your elected representative in the House or Senate, if not a multimillionaire already, will be one as soon as he or she retires from government and is handed seats on corporate boards or positions in lobbying firms. We do not live in a democracy. We live in a political system that has legalized bribery, exclusively serves corporate power and is awash in propaganda and lies.
If you want change you can believe in, destroy the system. And changing the system does not mean collaborating with it as Bernie Sanders is doing by playing by the cooked rules of the Democratic Party. Profound social and political transformation is acknowledged in legislatures and courts but never initiated there. Radical change always comes from below. As long as our gaze is turned upward to the powerful, as long as we invest hope in reforming the system of corporate power, we will remain enslaved. There may be good people within the system—Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are examples—but that is not the point. It is the system that is rotten. It must be replaced.”
Hedges is arguably the most important intellectual writing about politics in America today (Hedges cites Noam Chomsky as the person who deserves that honor). Anyone unfamiliar with Hedges – or who has not already seen or heard his speech “Wages of Rebellion” should take this one-hour ride through American history. The speech provides, among other things, the background of the current use of fascist enforcers to prop up America’s oligarchy. The central ideas of the speech are being published in a book by the same name to be released next week.
Beginning at 19:56 into his speech, Hedges explains the purpose of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI):
“Let’s not forget why the FBI was formed. The FBI was basically
a goon squad that was formed to break radical movements.”
May 2, 2015
David Brooks’ deep thoughts on the problems in Baltimore
Yesterday New York Times columnist David Brooks shared his insights about the nature of urban poverty in America, and how it relates to the recent events in Baltimore. Readers familiar with Brooks’ commentary will not be surprised that his column focuses on the sociology of poverty rather than on the criminality of America’s law enforcement officers; Brooks is apparently more comfortable discussing character defects of the poor than discussing the corruption of people in positions of power. Still, the column is outrageous in its vaguely-implied linkage of Freddie Gray’s death to the moral character of Gray – rather than to the moral character of the cops who are apparently responsible for his death (six officers have been charged).
The most charitable explanation of Brooks’ column is that it is just sloppy and lazy analysis. Perhaps Brooks wanted to write a column about poverty, and he also wanted to say something about what is happening in Baltimore, so he threw together some observations about both. On the other hand, it seems dishonest for Brooks to have discussed Freddie Gray’s background without explicitly saying whether he believes that any of the details mitigate – even slightly – the culpability of the police. It is unclear, for example, exactly what the reader should infer from this information:
“…his mother was a heroin addict who, in a deposition, said she couldn’t read. In one court filing, it was reported that Gray was four grade levels behind in reading. He was arrested more than a dozen times.”
Brooks is similarly vague when he quotes David Simon, creator of HBO’s series The Wire – the police show which was set in Baltimore:
“…he describes that, even in poorest Baltimore, there once were informal rules of behavior governing how cops interacted with citizens — when they’d drag them in and when they wouldn’t, what curse words you could say to a cop and what you couldn’t. But then the code dissolved. The informal guardrails of life were gone, and all was arbitrary harshness.”
Note the passive language – which Brooks makes no effort to clarify: “the code dissolved.” Is everyone to blame? Some people – such as police officials – have a lot more power and responsibility than others to enforce various codes – both the formal and informal kind. Brooks seems oblivious to that basic point.
Note also that, without providing more specific context, the quote suggests an equivalence between cursing a cop – which is rude, but legal – and taking someone into custody – something which legally must not involve violating a suspect’s civil rights.
Also note that Brooks completely fails to mention the drug war – which Brooks supports. If he is going to quote David Simon, he should at least note that Simon has long been an outspoken critic of America’s war on drugs. Simon has often spoken of the drug war’s devastating effects on the people of Baltimore – and upon exactly the sort of community-police relations being discussed in the quote which Brooks highlighted. Here, for example, is another quote from Simon from the same interview:
“The part that seems systemic and connected is that the drug war—which Baltimore waged as aggressively as any American city—was transforming in terms of police/community relations, in terms of trust, particularly between the black community and the police department. Probable cause was destroyed by the drug war. It happened in stages, but even in the time that I was a police reporter, which would have been the early 80s to the early 90s, the need for police officers to address the basic rights of the people they were policing in Baltimore was minimized. It was done almost as a plan by the local government, by police commissioners and mayors, and it not only made everybody in these poor communities vulnerable to the most arbitrary behavior on the part of the police officers, it taught police officers how not to distinguish in ways that they once did.”
The killing of Freddie Gray – a medical examiner report ruled that his death was a homicide – was not unconnected to his economic status (and race), but it was much more closely connected to the fact that the police officers he came in contact with were thugs. Unfortunately, such thugs are common in America’s law enforcement agencies, security contractor firms, and intelligence agencies. Professional apologists for the political establishment, such as David Brooks, are partly to blame for that.
America’s best editorial cartoonist, “Tom Tomorrow” (Dan Perkins), perfectly captured the right-wing’s response to Freddie Gray’s murder, and the related protests.
Click to enlarge.
May 1, 2015
Predatory policing leads to riots in Baltimore
Rioting in Baltimore late Monday night resulted in more than 200 arrests, injuries to at least 20 police officers, and the burning of approximately 20 businesses and 144 vehicles. The unrest began several hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died in police custody under suspicious circumstances.
On Wednesday night, The Washington Post published a report that was apparently leaked from the Baltimore Police Department. The report suggests that Freddie Gray – whose spine was fractured while he was being transported to jail – “was intentionally trying to injure himself.” That claim was viewed with deep skepticism by experts on spinal cord injuries, as reported by The Daily Beast:
…if Freddie Gray was trying to break his own spinal cord in the back of a van, according to experts in spinal trauma injuries, it might be the first self-inflicted injury of its kind.
“I have never seen it before. I’ve never seen somebody self-inflict a spinal cord injury in that way,” says Anand Veeravagu, a Stanford University Medical Center neurosurgeon who specializes in traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.
It has also been reported that Mr. Gray sustained a crushed larynx – an injury normally associated with blunt force trauma to the front of the neck.
News media coverage of the rioting has been a mix of the standard fare (repeat whatever the police officials say) and critical independent analysis. An example of the former was noted by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR):
For readers who turned to today’s New York Times site (4/28/15) this morning for news of the ongoing Baltimore protests following the death in police custody of Freddie Gray, they found a terrifying tale of rioters throwing cinder blocks at firefighters trying to put out arson fires, as the city was beset by people with “no regard for life.”
Whose tale was it, though? Here’s the first six citations from the Times story:
“police also reported”
“state and city officials said”
Not until the 12th paragraph does the paper get around to quoting someone who isn’t a police or government official. (UPDATE: At shortly after noon, the Times edited its story to include a quote near the top from a local resident cleaning up after the night’s violence. It still included no quotes from demonstrators or anyone else actually on the scene last night….)
An example of independent reporting is this observation by Mother Jones:
After Baltimore police and a crowd of teens clashed near the Mondawmin Mall in northwest Baltimore on Monday afternoon, news reports described the violence as a riot triggered by kids who had been itching for a fight all day. But in interviews with Mother Jones and other media outlets, teachers and parents maintain that police actions inflamed a tense-but-stable situation.
This should be said in defense of the New York Times – whose reporters covering law enforcement and national security issues have always ranged from first-rate journalists (Neil Sheehan, Chris Hedges, James Risen, et al.) to shills for a corrupt political establishment (Thomas Friedman, Judith Miller, et al.): they deserve credit for publishing an opinion piece by the writer D. Watkins about what happened to Freddie Gray. It included this:
“…I grew up in Baltimore, and I and everyone I know have similar stories, even if they happened to end a little differently. To us, the Baltimore Police Department is a group of terrorists, funded by our tax dollars, who beat on people in our community daily, almost never having to explain or pay for their actions.”
Time magazine, whose political orientation and reporting over the years is roughly comparable to that of the New York Times, also deserves credit for publishing a critical view of America’s law enforcement industry. This piece by Tavis Smiley looks at the recent events in Baltimore in a historical context. He notes that even though the explicit institutional racism of the past has been broken, we have deep systemic problems that are not being addressed despite lots of chatter. He also correctly notes that the nature of the threat today is more insidious – and is not about to go away. His use of the term “predatory policing” should resonate with anyone familiar with the tactics of the government’s criminal thugs who perpetrate “gang stalking.”
“Today, you don’t have the Klan, and you don’t have Emmett Tills or Medgar Everses, but it’s more insidious in that predatory policing is happening under the rule of law.
Sadly, when these incidents happen, we have a sort of fake and fleeting national conversation about police misconduct and race relations. And then we return to business as usual. Until it happens again.”
Whatever further information emerges about Freddie Gray’s death – and about the rioting which followed, the general explanation is that we are witnessing the results of two large trends. One is economic policies which greatly increase the disparities of wealth and political power, and the other is decades of secrecy and abuse of power associated with the cold war, the drug war, and the war on terrorism. Americans – non-wealthy Americans anyway – are largely viewed by the political class and its enforcers as potential threats who need to be kept under surveillance and control by an occupying force of militarized police, intelligence agencies, and private security corporations. The enforcers have generally been given free rein, and they behave accordingly.
April 30, 2015
Poisoning inmates at Rikers Island
As noted in an April 9 post here, Ramsey Orta, the man who was apparently stalked by the New York Police Department’s thugs because he filmed and exposed the killing of Eric Garner, said he was concerned about the possibility of being poisoned in jail. On Tuesday, the New York Daily News reported information which seems to suggest that his concerns were well-founded:
“A sample of the meatloaf preserved by plaintiff Reginald Dupree was analyzed at EMSL Analytical in New Jersey and found to contain Brodifacoum, an anti-coagulant that is marketed as rodenticide, according to the lab report provided to The Daily News.”
“…I grew up in Baltimore, and I and everyone I know have similar stories, even if they happened to end a little differently. To us, the Baltimore Police Department is a group of terrorists, funded by our tax dollars, who beat on people in our community daily, almost never having to explain or pay for their actions.”
April 23, 2015
Routine lying by the FBI exposed
The Washington Post reports that the FBI has been forced to admit that its agents and lab technicians gave false testimony in hundreds
of cases during the 1980s and ‘90s:
“The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000.
Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far…”
“The cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death. Of those, 14 have been executed or died in prison…”
April 23, 2015
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman: FBI not cooperating with investigation
The Washington Times reports that Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, accused the FBI of not cooperating with the Inspector General of the U.S. Justice Department in the investigation of the “Fast and Furious” gun-running scandal. The FBI is refusing to disclose grand jury testimony about the case, and “the FBI claimed it had the right to refuse to provide the IG information in over a dozen other categories as well.”
April 19, 2015
Former senator accuses FBI of “aggressive deception”
The New York Times reports that former Senator Bob Graham (D-Florida) is pressing for the release of “a secret section of a congressional review he helped write — one that, by many accounts, implicates Saudi citizens in helping the [9/11] hijackers.”
Graham – who is supporting a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department – said this of the FBI’s refusal to cooperate:
“…the F.B.I. has gone beyond just covering up, trying to avoid disclosure, into what I call aggressive deception.”
April 19, 2015
Blackwater reaps $569 million from the drug war racket in Afghanistan
Spencer Ackerman at The Guardian recently called attention to one
of the ways U.S. military contractors are enriching themselves from America’s enormous war industry. The infamous mercenary corporation formerly called Blackwater is among several contractors conducting counternarcotics operations in Afghanistan. Their take is $560 million (roughly half of the total amount the Pentagon has spent on the program since 2002). As usually occurs when the U.S. government throws a bunch of money at well-connected military contractors, the investment yielded impressive results:
“In a war full of failures, the US counternarcotics mission in
Afghanistan stands out: opiate production has climbed steadily over recent years to reach record-high levels last year.”
April 19, 2015
Stuff you won’t learn about from Fox News (or MSNBC,
The New York Times, etc.)
A report released last month by the Colombian government alleges that U.S. soldiers and U.S. military contractors sexually abused at least 54 children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007, and all of them escaped punishment. Even if the allegations are difficult or impossible to prove, the report itself is news that deserves coverage. Although most of America’s mainstream press ignored the story, it was picked up by several news outlets, such as this report by the U.K.’s Daily Mail.
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) discussed the U.S. news media’s silence about the report here.
April 9, 2015
Tell Congress to end mass spying on phone call records
The National Security Agency’s unconstitutional mass surveillance of Americans’ phone call records is being conducted under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. That section is set to expire on June 1, 2015 – unless Congress votes to extend the policy. Fight 215 – a group dedicated to ending this assault on privacy – has created a webpage which makes it as simple as possible for citizens to call their representatives and tell them to end this policy.
April 9, 2015
The feds are still trying to censor Barrett Brown
Journalist, humorist, and former unofficial spokesman for the Anonymous movement, Barrett Brown, is serving a prison sentence for actions related to his role in exposing the hacked emails of private security firms. Those emails revealed interesting things about the slimy practices of some of the players in America’s shadowy and very well-connected security industry. Not surprisingly, the feds made every effort to silence Brown – before and during his legal proceedings. Apparently, those efforts continue. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) – a subdivision of the U.S. Department of Justice – has reportedly suspended Brown’s email access for a year. Brown was not provided with a written explanation, however, as reported at Firedoglake, it appears that the move was likely made because Brown had contact with a journalist – Glenn Greenwald – about “potential wrongdoing” by the BOP:
“Journalist Glenn Greenwald had apparently contacted Brown before his email access was suddenly revoked. The two were discussing stories he might contribute to The Intercept. One wonders if the BOP has a system for alerting officials when prominent, award-winning investigative journalists like Greenwald contact inmates in prison.
Suspending Brown’s email access for ninety days or even six months would be harsh but a full year is very, very severe. It also suggests that Brown is in for more punitive action by the federal facility in Fort Worth, where he is confined.”
On Monday, editor of D Magazine, Tim Rogers, posted Barrett Brown’s statement about the matter.
April 9, 2015
COINTELPRO documentary, “1971,” to air on PBS next month
On May 18 at 10 pm, Independent Lens, the weekly independent documentary film series on PBS, will broadcast the film “1971,” an account of the burglary at the FBI office that year which led to the exposure of the federal agency’s illegal counterintelligence program. Laura Poitras, whose documentary on Edward Snowden, “CitizenFour,” won an Oscar, is an executive producer on the film.
Here is the description from the PBS website:
“The FBI was unaccountable and untouchable until 1971, when a group of citizens uncovered its illegal domestic spying programs. On March 8, 1971, The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, as they called themselves, broke into a small FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania, took every file, and shared them with the American public.
These actions exposed COINTELPRO, the FBI’s illegal surveillance program that involved the intimidation of law-abiding Americans and helped lead to the country’s first Congressional investigation of U.S. intelligence agencies.
Never caught, 43 years later, these previously anonymous Americans – parents, teachers and citizens – publicly reveal themselves for the first time and share their story in the documentary 1971.”
April 9, 2015
Witness who filmed Eric Garner’s death is being stalked by
New York cops
When an eyewitness’s video of the death of Eric Garner at the hands of New York police officers called national attention to that incident last year, the NYPD apparently decided that such video recordings were inconvenient. Shortly after the killing, the man who filmed the fatal chokehold, Ramsey Orta, reported that police began stalking him. The story is still in the news.
Yesterday The Daily Beast reported that the man – who is now in jail – is on a hunger strike because he fears that the retaliation might include poisoning him. Apparently, he is not alone in his concerns. In a complaint filed last month, 19 other inmates allege that the New York corrections officers have tainted their food with rat poison. Here is The Daily Beast’s review of the original allegations of retaliation for the video:
“The amateur videographer has stated he’s being targeted by law enforcement after his July 2014 footage of a policeman putting Garner in a deadly chokehold went viral, becoming a high-profile example of controversial police tactics. The Garner death, and a subsequent grand jury decision not to indict the officer involved, became a flashpoint for New York City and set off massive protests in December of last year. Orta claims that officers have been stalking and arresting him in retaliation for the video ever since it became public.” [emphasis added]
Today Democracy Now! reported on the case, and interviewed some of Orta’s relatives:
“…we look at what happened to the man who filmed Eric Garner’s fatal chokehold on Staten Island. While no police officers were indicted for Garner’s death, the man who filmed the attack, Ramsey Orta, is now locked up in jail after facing what he described as harassment by local police. Orta was first arrested on an unrelated gun charge the day after the Staten Island coroner declared Garner’s death to be a homicide. He was later arrested and jailed on a drug charge. His mother, brother and wife have all been arrested too. Supporters have accused the New York City Police Department of targeting Orta’s family for releasing the Garner video.” [emphasis added]
April 9, 2015
Killing and lying by South Carolina’s police
On Saturday a cop in South Carolina fatally shot 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as Mr. Scott was running away. As usual in such cases, the police department immediately circled the wagons and defended the officer. Here is an excerpt from the initial report in the main daily newspaper in Charleston, South Carolina, The Post And Courier:
“Police in a matter of hours declared the occurrence at the corner of Remount and Craig roads a traffic stop gone wrong, alleging the dead man fought with an officer over his Taser before deadly force was employed.”
Later an eyewitness’s video of the incident emerged, and the story changed a bit; the officer has now been charged with murder. One has to wonder how many crimes by police are routinely swept under the rug in the absence of irrefutable video evidence.
April 3, 2015
Fight Gang Stalking is mentioned on a national radio show
On March 20, the nationally syndicated radio show, The Thom Hartmann Program, featured a call from a listener who specifically mentioned this website, Fight Gang Stalking. The caller asked the show’s host if he was familiar with the current version of COINTELPRO known as “gang stalking.”
Hartmann said he was not familiar with the phenomenon. His reaction to the term “gang stalking” is no doubt typical of anyone hearing the expression for the first time. Clearly, the term was created by the feds as a piece of disinformation; it is designed to create confusion about the nature of the crime – which is government-sponsored and completely unrelated to gangs.
In any case, it is great that targets of illegal surveillance and stalking by corrupt U.S. intelligence agencies are fighting back by exposing what is happening.
Here is a recording of the broadcast. The call occurs 2 hours and 35 minutes into the show.
April 3, 2015
HBO’s new Scientology documentary discusses gang stalking tactics
Apparently, members of the Church of Scientology who leave that organization on bad terms are sometimes exposed to many of the same tactics used by U.S. government intelligence agencies in their counterintelligence stalking operations. A new documentary about the church which aired Sunday on HBO describes the intense retaliation against some former members. Targets of illegal harassment by U.S. homeland security contractors will recognize some of the methods.
The documentary, Going Clear, is based on a 2013 book by the same name, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright. In a radio interview on Wednesday, the film’s director, Alex Gibney, discussed some of the psychological operations tactics used by the church.
The relevant portion of the interview begins at 13:50. Gibney explains that one of the strategies is “disconnection” – isolating the victim from his or her friends and relatives. He also states that “other tactics are harassment, and, kind of brutal harassment at that.” Apparently, a former high-level official of the church who openly criticized Scientology became the target of overt stalking by multiple perpetrators:
“There were “people constantly in his face, constantly trying to provoke him to explode. They rented a house next to his house, and they were surveilling him 24/7…”
Other tactics included threats of blackmail. Gibney said that the man was “harassed and followed by private investigators.” As the documentary is about Scientology – rather than about stalking – it does not explore the interesting question of why private investigators in the U.S. are familiar with covert psychological operations tactics – or why such harassment methods can be used in America without fear of legal consequences for the perpetrators. Most private investigators in America have backgrounds in law enforcement, the military, or intelligence, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
March 15, 2015
British plaintiff claims that an ex-MI5 intelligence officer
confirms that gang stalking tactics are used by MI5
A legal case was filed in October of last year in the U.K. by a self-proclaimed target of what is often called “gang stalking.” When a friend of a criminal refused to assist the British intelligence agency MI5, its agents apparently decided to inflict years of extrajudicial punishment on that friend by stalking him. Here are some excerpts from an article about the case published in November 2014 in the
“A friend of notorious gangster Curtis Warren has reportedly claimed MI5 spies have planted secret microphones in his house and have trained birds to tap on his windows in an attempt to frighten him. Businessman Philip Kerr is seeking to win a High Court injunction against the intelligence agents, who he says have targeted him because he refused to co-operate with the security service. The 53-year-old says he has been subjected to a ‘campaign of harassment’ over the past 11 years, claiming agents have filled his houses in Wirral, Merseyside, and Thailand with hidden cameras and microphones.
….he also says in legal papers that spies have interfered with his phone, TV and radio…..
His legal papers were lodged at the High Court last month [October 2014], and he has hired lawyer and protection from harassment specialist Tim Lawson-Cruttenden, as well as seeking advice from ex-MI5 intelligence officer and whistleblower Annie Machon.
‘Annie confirmed to me that the things I am being subjected to are exactly the kinds of things MI5 do to get into your head. It is psychological warfare,’ he said.
Kerr’s barrister Anthony Barraclough, said: ‘A lot of it is hard to believe but when you sit down with Phil, it is incredible to hear what he has to say. This has taken his life away and had a major effect on his health.’
….MI5 said it would neither confirm nor deny the allegations in the High Court Claim.”
March 14, 2015
U.S. intelligence agents: drunk with power – and just drunk
The arrogance, stupidity, and dishonesty of U.S. intelligence agents was on display this week. Details emerged Thursday about an incident the week before: two senior U.S. Secret Service agents apparently drove an official vehicle while drunk, and smashed into a security barrier near the White House during an active investigation of a possible bomb. Then, in keeping with the U.S. national security industry’s code of ethics, a supervisor on duty tried to cover it up. The Washington Post reported:
“…a senior supervisor on duty that night…according to officials briefed on the incident, ordered Secret Service officers to let the agents go home without giving them sobriety tests.”
A rare legitimate book about gang stalking
From my perspective, nearly all books published (or self-published) on the subject of counterintelligence stalking are clearly pieces of U.S. government disinformation. At best, they are extremely vague and badly written – which is also the nature of U.S. government disinformation websites about gang stalking. A rare exception is the new book CHAMELEO by Robert Guffey. The book is the expanded version of an excellent magazine article by Guffey that was published in September 2013. The article and book describe how federal agents – apparently including members of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) – stalked and terrorized a man who was a casual acquaintance of a Marine who had stolen some military equipment and information. As with other cases of gang stalking, the process seems to have been a combination of surveillance, extrajudicial punishment, and psychological operations (“psyops”) experimentation by rogue U.S. intelligence agencies.
I encourage anyone interested in the U.S. government’s secret use of unconstitutional law enforcement methods to purchase this book. You can buy a copy of it here.
Here is an interview with the author, Robert Guffey, recorded about a year ago. The segment from minute 38 to 56 is specifically about gang stalking, but the entire interview is relevant because Guffey discusses issues such as disinformation, the promotion of fear as a means of social control, conspiracies, and dumbing-down the education process in ways which discourage independent thinking.
March 3, 2015
Some recent surveillance state news…
Time constraints – not a shortage of relevant news – have kept me from posting updates here in recent months about America’s police state business. Among the important developments which demand discussion is the U.S. Senate’s report on the CIA’s use of torture. I will try to address that issue at some length in the near future. For now, here are some of the other recent items that deserve attention.
“Citizenfour” wins an Oscar
On matters of civil rights, America is largely a nation of boiled frogs. Twenty-one months after Edward Snowden’s revelations about mass surveillance by the NSA, no serious reforms have been implemented, and nothing even remotely resembling a Church Committee-type investigation is being proposed by Congress to fully expose the abuses of power by U.S. intelligence agencies. Many Americans seem resigned to the notion that a secretive militaristic Big Brother-type government will be lording it over America forever (to keep us all safe, of course). If that’s our fate, no one can blame Laura Poitras. In addition to playing a critical role in receiving the encrypted information leaked by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden, she also made a documentary film about the whole affair. Oh, and the film she created was of a caliber that merited an Oscar.
For now at least, you can watch it here.
FBI issues approximately 60 National Security Letters per day
One of the various Orwellian legal weapons that is very likely used by the U.S. government against individuals targeted for counterintelligence stalking is something called a “National Security Letter (NSL).” Essentially, it is a substitute for a legitimate (i.e., constitutionally valid) search warrant. The letters can be issued by federal agents to command organizations or individuals to hand over information about someone. NSLs also contain a gag order which prohibits the recipients of the letters from ever telling anyone about the letter.
Over a year ago President Obama said that he was ordering the Justice Department to sharply limit the use of NSLs that never expire. As The Intercept reported recently, however, the FBI still issues approximately 60 NSLs per day.
“Despite the post-Snowden spotlight on mass surveillance, the intelligence community’s easiest end-run around the Fourth Amendment since 2001 has been something called a National Security Letter.
FBI agents can demand that an Internet service provider, telephone company or financial institution turn over its records on any number of people —without any judicial review whatsoever — simply by writing a letter that says the information is needed for national security purposes.”
Chicago cops take a page from the CIA’s playbook
Chicago’s police have a long history of abusing their powers, so they probably don’t need lessons from the feds about how to bend the laws. This latest scandal, however, suggests they might be borrowing tactics from the Central Intelligence Agency, which operates “black sites” for torturing prisoners.
A good summary of America’s massive security machine
Former FBI agent-turned whistle-blower, Mike German, wrote a good overview of the security infrastructure that keeps us all under the government’s thumb safe.
Virginia quietly expands “sneak and peek” warrants
It’s not just the feds who want to have secret unfettered access to your personal information. State politicians also want state and local cops to be able to search through your personal information without having to obtain a warrant, as noted by Watchdog.org.
“Bypassing the regular search warrant process, law-enforcement agencies could rifle through financial transactions, phone logs, computer records and other personal data without obtaining a judge’s approval.”
Note that only one legislator dissented from this proposal when it was approved by Virginia’s state house in January. Both major political parties in America are filled with cowards who will agree to almost anything the security industry demands. Probably the one stubborn patriot who voted against the bill is now on some sort of watch-list.
For some executives, generating fear is very good for business
For years, Carol Rose and Kade Crockford at the ACLU of Massachusetts have been doing a superb job of calling attention to the quiet expansion of the American police state. This post is a case in point.
“A new report issued on behalf of private business executives, and co-signed by former Boston Police Department Commissioner Ed Davis, asks America to build an even larger domestic spying apparatus to snoop on ordinary Americans. These recommendations fly in the face of evidence that such policies fail to keep us safe, while threatening fundamental liberties.
The report — funded by Business Executives for National Security — was signed by a group of current and past defense-industry executives, law enforcement officials and spies. It invokes the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2009 Fort Hood shootings and the Boston Marathon bombing to justify calls for increased public spending to engorge the already bloated national surveillance state.”
February 22, 2015
America’s fake news show gives a fake journalist a free pass
Unconstitutional counterintelligence operations by the U.S. government are made possible, in large part, by the failure of America’s corporate news media to report honestly about U.S. national security policies. Many of the worst offenders occupy the most high-profile positions in the news industry. A typical example is NBC News anchor Brian Williams, who was suspended earlier this month after being caught lying about an event in the Iraq War. He had falsely claimed that he was onboard a helicopter which was struck by enemy fire.
Although Williams’ lie was unrelated to his reporting on the military-industrial complex, the incident illustrates the kind of phony people who infest the highest echelons of the TV news business. Normally, such deception by a network news anchor would be handled as a pitch into the wheelhouse on “The Daily Show,” but Brian Williams is a friend of the host, Jon Stewart; consequently, Stewart did all he could to downplay the incident, as explained by Kyle Smith at the New York Post.
Far more serious than Williams’ effort at self-promotion by fabricating
a war story – or Jon Stewart’s failure to take him to task for it – is the problem of how people such as Brian Williams cover national security issues generally. Fortunately, this point was not lost on Democracy Now!, which featured this exchange about the matter:
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, Brian Williams was, of course, one of the many mass media spinners, not only for the invasion of Iraq, but later catastrophic interventions in Libya and elsewhere. This suspension story, the falsehood told by Brian Williams, is the kind of story that the mass corporate media absolutely love, because it’s about an individual personality, it’s not about structural power; it’s about a personal flaw or a misstatement or deception or lie, if you will, but not about constant streams of lies coming from institutions such as NBC News and many others that have billions of dollars of capital behind them.
AMY GOODMAN: Interestingly, Norm, on Tuesday, Williams’ former boss at NBC Universal, Bob Wright, defended Williams by pointing to his favorable coverage of the military, saying, quote, “He has been the strongest supporter of the military of any of the news players. He never comes back with negative stories, he wouldn’t question if we’re spending too much.” Your response to this?
NORMAN SOLOMON: Yeah, well, in the corridors of power, being a suck-up to the U.S. military is a high praise and qualification. And, in fact, those journalists who have challenged the escalation, the automatic support for whatever the president wants in terms of going to war, those folks hit a glass ceiling pretty quickly within the media establishment.
Although Solomon and Goodman were specifically referring to coverage of wars, the same values are at play when major networks and newspapers report – or fail to report – on the activities of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies. People like Brian Williams and his former boss are happy to function as shills for the security establishment if they believe it will benefit their careers.
January 25, 2015
Meeting one’s heroes
I had the privilege of meeting three people yesterday who should be viewed as heroes by anyone who was a victim of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operations (and by anyone who is a target of the contemporary version of that program – “organized stalking”). They should also be recognized as heroes by anyone else who believes that America should be a free society rather than a police state. Betty Medsger, the journalist who co-wrote the first news report about COINTELPRO, made a public appearance in Pasadena, California yesterday along with John and Bonnie Raines, who were among the eight activists who broke into an FBI office in March 1971 to obtain the secret documents which exposed J. Edgar Hoover’s infamous illegal counterintelligence operations.
Most people who read this website are probably well-acquainted with the main facts of the COINTELPRO scandal. Also, a section of this website addresses the subject in some detail, so I won’t attempt to review the many interesting elements of the story here. I would, however, like to direct readers to a superb summary of the whole matter in the current issue of the Pasadena Weekly, by that publication’s editor, Kevin Uhrich. As the article explains, yesterday’s appearance by Medsger and the Raineses was part of a “Lessons in Courage and Resistance Tour.” The events are partly a book tour for Medsger, whose book The Burglary has been highly praised. Whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, for example, described it as “astonishingly good….The best book I’ve read about either the antiwar movement or Hoover’s FBI; a masterpiece.”
More than 50 people attended the meeting yesterday, which was arranged with assistance from the ACLU. John Raines began the presentation with an eloquent defense of civil disobedience, and a description of the climate of fear which prevailed during Hoover’s reign as FBI director. Then, as now, most politicians feared the intelligence agencies in general, and the FBI in particular. Raines explained that the bureau’s arrogance actually helped the activists in their break-in at the FBI office because there had been minimal security measures in place; the FBI simply hadn’t considered the possibility that their victims would ever dare to use the same kind of tactics (such as illegal break-ins) that the FBI uses.
Bonnie Raines described her role in the burglary – which included helping to case the FBI office in advance by posing as a job applicant to get an inside look at the facility. Targets of counterintelligence crimes today would do well to try to emulate the courage – and cleverness – displayed by the activists who derailed Cointelpro.
Betty Medsger described her interesting perspective as a Washington Post reporter who unexpectedly received the extraordinary documents and realized that the FBI was engaged in politically-motivated efforts to destroy people – rather than in fighting crime. She made the decision to push for publishing the report about the FBI’s criminality. One of the things which stood out to her as she viewed the classified documents was that J. Edgar Hoover viewed all African-Americans as legitimate targets of government surveillance.
All three of the speakers had high praise for the man who concocted the plan for the break-in, the late Bill Davidon, the physicist and peace activist who died in November 2013. Ms. Medsger said that Davidon’s bold plan was partly a response to his perception that the anti-war movement activists who were being targeted by the FBI had felt that trying to fight the agency seemed hopeless.
Some of the audience’s questions and discussion at the end of the presentations last night centered on whether there is currently the political will among the public to challenge the abuses of power today by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies. John Raines spoke passionately about the necessity of rejecting “the politics of fear” which is prevalent today – just as it was during the Cointelpro era. During the Cold War, the fear of communism was the claimed excuse for granting unlimited power to the intelligence agencies; today the threat of terrorism is constantly cited by the cowards and opportunists in the government and the news media. Betty Medsger recommended this article in the current issue of the New Yorker as a good example of the lying by U.S. intelligence officials who seek to capitalize on fear. The piece examines the claim made by Michael Hayden, the former C.I.A. and N.S.A. director, that mass surveillance of Americans’ phone records had disrupted 54 terrorist plots. The claim fell apart like a cheap suit when it was closely examined.
To answer the inevitable question from readers of this website: yes,
I did share information with the three speakers about the ongoing counterintelligence crimes discussed in this website. Time constraints made it impossible to explore the subject in any detail, but I did convey some specific information.
Toward the end of the presentation, Mr. Raines offered this advice
to anyone who might be hesitant to push back against the corrupt government officials who trample on Americans’ civil rights: “Don’t you dare be afraid; be angry!”
If you can help expose the use of illegal counterintelligence operations against American citizens by U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies and their private contractors, please do so. America needs more patriots like Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, Russell Tice, William Binney, Ray McGovern, Thomas Drake, Frank Serpico, Thomas Tamm, Hugh Thompson, Jr., William C. Davidon, Bonnie Raines, John Raines, Keith Forsyth, Judi Feingold, and Bob Williamson.