Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #854 The Underground Reich and the Obverse Oswald: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

NSA Surveillance Map, leaked by Snowden prior to Obama's meeting with Merkel.

Introduction: In this program, we examine more of the fallout from L’Affaire Snowden. We call Edward Snowden the Obverse Oswald because, like Lee Harvey Oswald, he is a spook being trafficked around as the public face of an intelligence operation.

However, whereas Oswald was infiltrated into the U.S.S.R. and leftist organizations and branded a “Commie” prior to being framed for President Kennedy’s assassination and killed before being able to defend himself, Snowden was infiltrate into China and Russia and labeled a hero.

Germany’s behavior in connection with this “op” is noteworthy.  When it was announced that Germany and Brazil were upgrading their IT infrastructures because they were “shocked, shocked” that the NSA was conducting the activities “disclosed” by Snowden, we noted that it was ludicrous. Germany knew about this many years ago, as did the EU. The Germans were partners in the espionage!

In fact, far from being “shocked” about the event in which they had long been willing participants, Germany “wanted in” to the exclusive Five Eyes club. We wonder if the alleged compromising of U.S. and British spies as a result of the Snowden “op” might be a further attempt by Germany and the BND to gain access to the Five Eyes club. If American and British intel are compromised, it might strengthen the hand of the BND in this regard.

As we have noted in past updates on “The Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook,” American “Big Tech” is being targeted by the EU (“read Germany”). The EU is taking steps against Google that smack of protectionism.

L’Affaire Snowden was, and is, a “psy-op” designed to justiy a pre-determined industrial offensive against the U.S. and Silicon Valley! We also wonder if the EU’s “right to be forgotten,” like the other steps taken by Germany, is designed to protect the remarkable and deadly Bormann capital network about which we speak so often.

The Snowden “op” is being blamed in Britain for the compromising of British intelligence agents and the gigantic hack of the OPM is being blamed for compromising U.S. intel.

Note that the Snowden op, as discussed in FTR #762 was aimed at destabilizing the Obama administration, as well as poisoning relations between China and Russia. The OPM hack has further damaged relations with China, while making the Obama administration look weak. One of the contractors with “root” access to the OPM data is in Argentina, an epicenter of the Underground Reich.

It is being alleged that Russian and Chinese spies had access to the “encrypted” Snowden files, further poisoning relations with Russia. This is also consistent with what we presented in FTR #767.

After discussing the possibility that it was Citizen Greenwald’s computer files that were compromised, we highlight the fact that Micah Lee, the security expert hired to ramp up security on Greenwald’s computer not only was hired by the uber-reactionary Pierre Omidyar (who partially bankrolled the Ukrainian coup and the election of Hindu nationalist/fascist Narendra Modi) but came to the Omidyar empire via the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization with dubious credentials and numerous ties to the very elements that figure in the Snowden “op.”

We highlight the terrifying possibilities of cyber-terrorism against the U.S. and note that “Anonymous,” whoever they may be, foreshadowed problems at the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines and the Wall Street Journal’s web site. Although officially blamed on technical glitches, we suspect that the authorities are dissembling in order to avoid panic.

Program Highlights Include: The enigmatic career of EFF founder John Perry Barlow; EFF’s role in running interference for Big Tobacco; Glenn Greenwald’s role in running interference for Big Tobacco; a deadly attack in Tunisia that claimed the lives of a large number of British citizens; speculation about the Tunisia attack being linked to Germany’s attempts to gain access to the Five Eyes club; review of Tunisia as the beginning point of the “Arab Spring” and the appolation “the WikiLeaks revolution” that was applied to the overthrow of the Tunisian government; review of technocratic fascism–the infernal ideological glue that binds Snowden, WikiLeaks, Big Tech and the far right.

1. When it was announced that a new fiber-optics cable was going to be built connecting Europe to Brazil because Germany and the EU were “shocked, shocked” that the NSA was conducting the activities “disclosed” by Snowden, we noted that it was ludicrous. Germany knew about this many years ago, as did the EU. The Germans were partners in the espionage!

L’Affaire Snowden was, and is, a “psy-op” designed to justiy a pre-determined industrial offensive against the U.S. and Silicon Valley!

“Ger­man Intel­li­gence Agency Knew NSA Was Spy­ing on Euro­pean Lead­ers as Early as 2008” by Nathaniel Mott; Pando Daily; 4/24/2015.

Ger­many has been one of the harsh­est crit­ics of the National Secu­rity Agency sur­veil­lance pro­grams revealed by whistle­blower Edward Snow­den in 2013. Yet a new report from Der Spiegel indi­cates that the NSA spied on world lead­ers with the help of the country’s elec­tronic sur­veil­lance agency, the Ger­man BND.

This coop­er­a­tion was revealed as the result of a par­lia­men­tary inves­ti­ga­tion into the rela­tion­ship between the Ger­man BND and the NSA. The inquiry showed that the NSA asked the Ger­man BND to hand over infor­ma­tion about defense con­trac­tors, large com­pa­nies, and politi­cians from both Ger­many and France.

Another report from the Die Zeit news­pa­per indi­cates that the Ger­man BND knew it was hand­ing over sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion to the NSA, yet it didn’t end the part­ner­ship, or limit the data it shared with the Amer­i­can intel­li­gence agency. It was too wor­ried about the NSA retal­i­at­ing by lim­it­ing the infor­ma­tion it shares.

That wouldn’t be the last time Ger­many com­pro­mised its ideals to receive infor­ma­tion from the NSA. The Wash­ing­ton Post reported in Decem­ber 2014 that the coun­try pro­vided the NSA with the names, phone num­bers, and email addresses of sus­pected extrem­ists it feared would cause trou­ble in Europe.

These rev­e­la­tions make Germany’s objec­tions to the NSA sur­veil­lance pro­grams ring hol­low. Ger­man chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel was report­edly spied on (some have said there’s no said there’s no con­crete evi­dence of this alle­ga­tion) yet the Ger­man BND helped the NSA spy on other politi­cians across Europe. The coun­try has con­demned dig­i­tal sur­veil­lance, but it reaches out to the NSA when it needs to.

As I wrote when the Wash­ing­ton Post first revealed the recent data-sharing:

There’s an inher­ent con­flict between a citizenry’s desire to main­tain its pri­vacy and its government’s desire to defend against ter­ror­ist attacks. That’s why it’s been so hard for reform advo­cates to make any progress in the fear-mongering US Con­gress.

Bal­anc­ing the two com­pet­ing ideals is dif­fi­cult. The prob­lem is that Ger­many is try­ing to shield itself from any crit­i­cism for tip­ping the scales in favor of secu­rity by clos­ing its eyes, receiv­ing NSA help, then con­demn­ing the scale’s shift from privacy.

2. As we have noted in past updates on “The Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook,” American “Big Tech” is being targeted by the EU (“read Germany”).

“Europe’s Google Problem” by Joe Nocera; The New York Times; 4/28/2015.

Have you heard the term Gafa yet? It hasn’t caught on here in the United States — and I’m guessing it won’t — but in France, it has become so common that the newspapers hardly need to spell out its meaning. Everyone there already knows what Gafa stands for: Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon.

In America, we tend to think of these companies as four distinct entities that compete fiercely with each other. But, in Europe, which lacks a single Internet company of comparable size and stature, they “encapsulate America’s evil Internet empire,” as Gideon Rachman put it in The Financial Times on Monday. Nine out of 10 Internet searches in Europe use Google — a more commanding percentage than in the United States — to cite but one example of their utter dominance in the countries that make up the European Union.

Not surprisingly, this dominance breeds worry in Europe, however fairly it was achieved. The French fear (as the French always do) the imposition of American culture. The Germans fear the rise of an industry more efficient — and more profitable — than their own. Industry leaders, especially in publishing, telecommunications and even autos fear that the American Internet companies will disrupt their businesses and siphon away their profits. Europeans worry about the use of their private data by American companies, a worry that was only exacerbated by the Edward Snowden spying revelations. There is a palpable sense among many politicians, regulators and businesspeople in Europe that the Continent needs to develop its own Internet platforms — or, at the least, clip the wings of the big American Internet companies while there’s still time.

I bring this up in the wake of the decision by Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s relatively new (she took office in November) commissioner in charge of competition policy, to bring antitrust charges against Google, the culmination of a five-year investigation. The case revolves around whether Google took advantage of its dominance in search to favor its own comparison-shopping service over those of its rivals. Vestager also opened an inquiry into Google’s Android mobile operating system — and said the European Union would investigate other potential violations if need be.

Not long after announcing the charges, Vestager made a speech in Washington. “We have no grudge; we have no fight with Google,” she said. “In all our cases, we are indifferent to the nationality of the companies involved. Our responsibility is to make sure that any company with operations in the territory of the E.U. complies with our treaty rules.”

Well, maybe. But it is also true that, to an unusual degree, this investigation, especially in its latter stages, has been driven by politics. The political rhetoric around Google in Europe has been so heated that had Vestager decided not to bring a case, her political standing might have been weakened, “probably compromising her ability to pursue effectively other high-profile antitrust cases,” wrote Carlos Kirjner, an analyst with Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

Consider, for instance, what happened last year when Google was close to settling the case with Vestager’s predecessor, Joaquín Almunia. Google had agreed to make changes that it found cumbersome and intrusive, but it wanted to get the case behind it and move on. Instead, European politicians, especially in France and Germany, and prodded by Google’s competitors, complained that Almunía was being too accommodating to the company. “The offers by Google aren’t worthless, but they’re not nearly enough,” one such politician, Günther Oettinger of Germany, told The Wall Street Journal.

At the time, Oettinger was serving as the European Union’s energy commissioner, making him one of the 28 commissioners who would have to approve any settlement. By September, he had been nominated for a new job: commissioner for digital economy and society. At a hearing before a European Parliament committee, he took credit for blowing up the Google settlement.

As the digital commissioner, Oettinger has continued to advocate for what has become the German position on Google — namely that Google’s power must be reined in. In a speech two weeks ago, he essentially said that Europe should begin regulating Internet platforms in such a way as to allow homegrown companies to overtake the American Internet giants. And on Thursday, a document leaked from his office to The Wall Street Journal that outlined just such a plan, claiming that if nothing was done, the entire economy of Europe was “at risk” because of its dependency on American Internet companies. There have even been calls in Europe to break up Google.

Europe has every right to regulate any company and any sector it wants. And it can bring antitrust charges as it sees fit. But given the rhetoric surrounding Google and the other American Internet giants, suspicion of Europe’s real motives is justified.

From here, the European charges against Google look a lot like protectionism.

3. The EU has instituted “right to be forgotten” legislation. We suspect that this may be aimed at guarding the secrets of the Bormann capital network and the Underground Reich. We have similar suspicions about the Brazil/EU deal to develop fiber optic cables to evade NSA surveillance, this supposedly because of the “revelations” of Edward Snowden.

The EU/Brazil pretense is ludicrous on its surface, because Germany has known about this for many years. Indeed, most of the information has been on the public record for a long time.

” ‘Right to Be Forgotten’–Europe’s Censorship Overreach” by Ed Royce; San Francisco Chronicle; 7/9/2015.

. . . . If Orwell were alive today, what would this British author, who early on warned of the evil of the totalitarianism, make of recent actions by our European allies? A troubling legal movement named the “right to be forgotten” has been gathering steam over the past year, spurred by a May 2014 decision by Europe’s highest court.

This so-called “right” gives Europeans the legal ability to demand that Internet search engines, including Google, Bing and Yahoo, remove links to news articles about themselves that they do not like — deleting history in cyber form. . . .

. . . . But under the European court’s ruling, it does not even matter whether the news articles in question are factual; search engines can be forced to remove links to web pages that fit vague descriptions such as “no longer relevant” or “inadequate.”

Who gets to judge whether links to news articles exist in Europe? It’s left to the search engines, and ultimately the European courts. Since the ruling, Google alone already has reviewed almost 1 million links and removed hundreds of thousands.

It gets worse. On June 12, France’s data-protection regulator ordered Google to expand the so-called “right to be forgotten” to all its search engines, worldwide. This means that Europeans will get to decide what news articles you and I and every person around the world can find. The French regulator is not alone in its chilling view. EU data-protection chiefs have also urged the global removal of links. . . .

 4a. An interesting perspective on the OPM hack concerns the fact that an Argentine operator had total access to the information superstructure of the OPM. Argentina, of course, is a major epicenter of the Underground Reich. Argentina is, of course, an epicenter of the Underground Reich.

This hack had several effects:

 1. Exposed all US intelligence agents secrets making them prone to blackmail or infiltration.

2. Hurt US Chinese relations and US public opinion on China.

3. Further discredited the Obama Administration and Democrats especially, with National Security issues.

4. Had Ms. Katherine Archuleta discredited as being a competent Cabinet official – she is a female, hispanic.  This will play into the hands of racists and other people disgusted by EEOC and political correctness.

As will be seen below, it has also allegedly placed American spies at risk.

“Encryption “Would Not Have Helped” at OPM, Says DHS Official” by Sean Gallagher; Ars Technica; 6/16/2015.

. . . . Some of the contractors that have helped OPM with managing internal data have had security issues of their own—including potentially giving foreign governments direct access to data long before the recent reported breaches. A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People’s Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is ‘so what’s new?'” . . . .

4b. In an op-ed piece in the Financial Times, Gillian Tett presents some sobering information about America’s vulnerability to cyber-attacks.

“Prepare for the Coming Cyber Attacks on America” by Gillian Tett; Financial Times; 7/10/2015; p. 11.

Another week, another wave of cyber alarm in America. On Wednesday, the New York Stock Exchange and United Airlines suspended activity for several hours due to mysterious computing problems, while The Wall Street Journal’s website briefly went down. All three insisted that the outages reflected technical hitches, not malicious atack. But many are anxious after past assaults on mighty American companies and agencies.

In February, Anthem, an insurance company, revealed that cyber hackers had stolen information on 80m customers. The Washington-based Office of Personnel Management said cuber hackers hd taken data on millions of federal employees. Companies ranging from retailers to banks have been attacked, too.

On Wednesday–just as the NYSE ws frozen–Cambridge university and Lloyds insurance group released a report suggesting that if a cyber assault breached America’s electrical grid this could create $t trillion dollars of damage. A few minutes later, James Comey, the FBI director, told Congress that it is struggling to crack encryption tools used by jihadis. In May, Mr. Comey said Islamic terrorists were “waking up” to the idea of using malware to attack critical infrastructure. It is scary stuff.

The key issue that investors, politicians and voters need to onder is not simly who might be the next target, but whether Washington has the right system in place to handle these attacks. The answer is almost certainly no. . . .

5a. Accord­ing to the UK gov­ern­ment, the Snow­den cache of files (the ‘blue­print’ for the NSA as Gleen Green­wald char­ac­ter­ized it) may be in the hands of the Russ­ian and Chi­nese gov­ern­ments.

“Rus­sia and China ‘Broke into Snow­den Files to Iden­tify British and US spies’” by James Tapper; The Guardian; 6/13/2015.

 Down­ing Street believes that Russ­ian and Chi­nese intel­li­gence agen­cies have used doc­u­ments from whistle­blower Edward Snow­den to iden­tify British and US secret agents, accord­ing to a report in the Sun­day Times.

The news­pa­per says MI6, Britain’s Secret Intel­li­gence Ser­vice, has with­drawn agents from over­seas oper­a­tions because Russ­ian secu­rity ser­vices had bro­ken into encrypted files held by Amer­i­can com­puter ana­lyst Snowden.

Snow­den pro­vided the Guardian with top secret doc­u­ments from the US National Secu­rity Agency (NSA), which revealed that west­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies had been under­tak­ing mass sur­veil­lance of phone and inter­net use.

He fled to Hong Kong, then to Moscow, and the Sun­day Times claims that both Chi­nese and Russ­ian secu­rity offi­cials gained access to his files as a result.

The files held by Snow­den were encrypted, but now British offi­cials believe both coun­tries have hacked into the files, accord­ing to the report.

The news­pa­per quotes a series of anony­mous sources from Down­ing Street, the Home Office and British intel­li­gence say­ing that the doc­u­ments con­tained intel­li­gence tech­niques and infor­ma­tion that would enable for­eign pow­ers to iden­tify British and Amer­i­can spies.

The news­pa­per quoted a “senior Down­ing Street source” say­ing that “Rus­sians and Chi­nese have information”.

The source said “agents have had to be moved and that knowl­edge of how we oper­ate has stopped us get­ting vital infor­ma­tion”. The source said they had “no evi­dence” that any­one had been harmed.

A “senior Home Office source” was also quoted by the news­pa­per, say­ing: “Putin didn’t give him asy­lum for noth­ing. His doc­u­ments were encrypted but they weren’t com­pletely secure and we have now seen our agents and assets being targeted.”

The Sun­day Times also quoted a “British intel­li­gence source” say­ing that Russ­ian and Chi­nese offi­cials would be exam­in­ing Snowden’s mate­r­ial for “years to come”.

5b. Against the background of the allegations of British spies being compromised, a terrorist incident in Tunisia targeted British citizens.

“Cameron Vows a ‘Full’ Response to Attack” by Stephen Castle; The New York Times; 6/30/2015.

Shocked by the deadliest terrorist attack on Britons in a decade, Prime Minister David Cameron promised a “full spectrum” response on Monday to the assault, which killed 39 tourists at a resort in Sousse, Tunisia, on Friday. At least 18 of the victims, and possibly as many as 30, were British.

Mr. Cameron sent security officials and government ministers to the scene and promised to step up the fight against extremism in Britain. Theresa May, the home secretary, and Tobias Ellwood, a Foreign Office minister, went on Monday to Tunisia, where British officials are working with the local authorities to assess security at beach resorts frequented by European tourists.

In concrete policy terms, however, Mr. Cameron’s reaction was cautious, and he did not promise any immediate new antiterrorism measures at home or any increase in Britain’s military involvement in fighting Islamic State militants. . . .

5. Keep in mind that the giant hack of the US Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment (OPM) that just took place also poten­tially put the iden­ti­ties of US spies at risk.

“OPM Breach Just Put America’s Spies ‘At High Risk’” by Patrick TuckerDefense One; 6/12/2015.

Hack­ers may now have detailed bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion and a vir­tual phone­book of every United States intel­li­gence asset.

Stan­dard Form 86 — SF86 for short — is where cur­rent and prospec­tive mem­bers of the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity put the var­i­ous bits of infor­ma­tion the bureau­cracy requires of them: Social Secu­rity num­bers, names of fam­ily mem­bers, coun­tries vis­ited and why, etc. If hack­ers have got­ten away with those records, as the Asso­ci­ated Press reported Fri­day, America’s spies are in trouble.

Such a theft could yield a “vir­tual phone­book” of U.S. intel­li­gence assets around the world and a work­ing list of each one’s weak spot, said Patrick Skin­ner, for­mer CIA case offi­cer and direc­tor of spe­cial projects for the Soufan Group. He said such a vul­ner­a­bil­ity was unprecedented.

“The spy scan­dals we’ve had in the past … they gave up maybe a dozen for­eign spies. It was a big deal. This, basi­cally is beyond that,” Skin­ner said. “It’s not giv­ing up for­eign spies…it’s admin­is­tra­tion, sup­port, logis­tics. Basi­cally, It’s a phone book for the [intel­li­gence com­mu­nity]. It’s not like they have your credit card num­ber. They have your life.”

If there’s any good news about the dis­clo­sure, it’s that it could have been worse. Office of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment records don’t detail spe­cific covert iden­ti­ties or mis­sions, assign­ments, or oper­a­tions. Records of that type would be held by the intel­li­gence agen­cies them­selves. “I don’t think it’s going to blow people’s cover but it’s going to put them at a real high coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence risk,” said Skinner.

Skin­ner said some of the infor­ma­tion in SF86 records is exactly the sort of infor­ma­tion that he, as an intel­li­gence oper­a­tive, would look to get on peo­ple he was tar­get­ing. “At my old job, you would spend a lot of time try­ing to get that bio­graph­i­cal infor­ma­tion because it can tell you a lot,” he said. “It’s why mar­keters try to get that much infor­ma­tion from you. If you have somebody’s entire life his­tory and net­work you can craft a pitch to them that they don’t see coming.”

What can the intel­li­gence com­mu­nity do to repair the dam­age? “I don’t think they can,” Skin­ner said. SF86 “reveals so much about the per­son that it makes them incred­i­bly vul­ner­a­ble. You can’t erase your past. These are the things you can’t change about peo­ple: you can’t change your par­ents, your con­tacts, or your travel. For­eign con­tacts? That’s a huge deal.”

One thing that could change as a result of the hack: OPM may begin to encrypt the data in its data­base. It’s a sim­ple secu­rity pre­cau­tion that many in the tech­nol­ogy com­mu­nity say OPM should long since have had in place.

Cer­tainly Skin­ner was taken aback. “They spend so much time train­ing us to main­tain our cover and then they keep this infor­ma­tion in an unen­crypted data­base? I encrypt my hard drive; why don’t they?”

 6. So a trea­sure trove of US spy iden­ti­ties have just been lifted by some­one and just days later the UK starts reas­sign­ing all its agents while claim­ing the Snow­den cache was hacked. It’s quite a story, espe­cially for any spies work­ing in the media or other high pro­file areas.

Are the two events related? It’s very pos­si­ble. But also keep in mind that we really have no idea who has the encrypted cache.

Snowden’s Con­tin­gency: ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ Bor­rows From Cold War, WikiLeaks” by Kim Zetter; Wired; 7/6/2013.

The strat­egy employed by NSA whistle­blower Edward Snow­den to dis­cour­age a CIA hit job has been likened to a tac­tic employed by the U.S. and Russ­ian gov­ern­ments dur­ing the Cold War.

Snow­den, a for­mer sys­tems admin­is­tra­tor for the National Secu­rity Agency in Hawaii, took thou­sands of doc­u­ments from the agency’s net­works before flee­ing to Hong Kong in late May, where he passed them to Guardian colum­nist Glenn Green­wald and doc­u­men­tary film­maker Laura Poitras. The jour­nal­ists have han­dled them with great cau­tion. A story in the Ger­man pub­li­ca­tion Der Spie­gal, co-bylined by Poitras, claims the doc­u­ments include infor­ma­tion “that could endan­ger the lives of NSA work­ers,” and an Asso­ci­ated Press inter­view with Green­wald this last week­end asserts that they include blue­prints for the NSA’s sur­veil­lance sys­temsthat “would allow some­body who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that sur­veil­lance or repli­cate it.”

But Snow­den also report­edly passed encrypted copies of his cache to a num­ber of third par­ties who have a non-journalistic mis­sion: If Snow­den should suf­fer a mys­te­ri­ous, fatal acci­dent, these par­ties will find them­selves in pos­ses­sion of the decryp­tion key, and they can pub­lish the doc­u­ments to the world.

“The U.S. gov­ern­ment should be on its knees every day beg­ging that noth­ing hap­pen to Snow­den,” Green­wald said in a recent inter­view with the Argen­tinean paper La Nacion, that was high­lighted in a much-circulated Reuters story“because if some­thing does hap­pen to him, all the infor­ma­tion will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare.”

It’s not clear if Snow­den passed all of the doc­u­ments to these third par­ties or just some of them, since Green­wald says Snow­den made it clear that he doesn’t want the NSA blue­prints published.

Green­wald told the Asso­ci­ated Press that media descrip­tions of Snowden’s tac­tic have been over-simplified.

“It’s not just a mat­ter of, if he dies, things get released, it’s more nuanced than that,” he said. “It’s really just a way to pro­tect him­self against extremely rogue behav­ior on the part of the United States, by which I mean vio­lent actions toward him, designed to end his life, and it’s just a way to ensure that nobody feels incen­tivized to do that.”

The clas­sic appli­ca­tion of a dead man’s switch in the real world involves nuclear war­fare in which one nation tries to deter adver­saries from attack­ing by indi­cat­ing that if the gov­ern­ment com­mand author­ity is taken out, nuclear forces would launch automatically.

It has long been believed that Rus­sia estab­lished such a sys­tem for its nuclear forces in the mid-60s. Pra­dos says that under the Eisen­hower admin­is­tra­tion, the U.S. also pre-delegated author­ity to the North Amer­i­can Aero­space Defense Com­mand (NORAD), the Far East com­mand and the Mis­sile Defense Com­mand to use nuclear weapons if the national com­mand author­ity were taken out, though the process was not auto­matic. These author­i­ties would have per­mis­sion to deploy the weapons, but would have to make crit­i­cal deci­sions about whether that was the best strat­egy at the time.

Snowden’s case is not the first time this sce­nario has been used for infor­ma­tion dis­tri­b­u­tion instead of weapons. In 2010, Wik­ileaks pub­lished an encrypted “insur­ance file” on its web site in the wake of strong U.S. gov­ern­ment state­ments con­demn­ing the group’s pub­li­ca­tion of 77,000 Afghan War doc­u­ments that had been leaked to it by for­mer Army intel­li­gence ana­lyst Bradley Manning.

The huge file, posted on the Afghan War page at the Wik­iLeaks site, was 1.4 GB and was encrypted with AES256. The file was also posted on tor­rent down­load sites.

It’s not known what the file con­tains but it was pre­sumed to con­tain the bal­ance of doc­u­ments and data that Man­ning had leaked to the group before he was arrested in 2010 and that still had not been pub­lished at the time. This included a dif­fer­ent war log cache that con­tained 500,000 events from the Iraq War between 2004 and 2009, a video show­ing a deadly 2009 U.S. fire­fight near the Garani vil­lage in Afghanistan that local author­i­ties said killed 100 civil­ians, most of them chil­dren, as well as 260,000 U.S. State Depart­ment cables.

Wik­iLeaks has never dis­closed the con­tents of the insur­ance file, though most of the out­stand­ing doc­u­ments from Man­ning have since been pub­lished by the group.

6.  Could Snow­den have used an encryp­tion method vul­ner­a­bil­ity that he wasn’t aware of? That seems pos­si­ble, but there’s another way gov­ern­ments could also get their hands on the unen­crypted data: hack Green­wald and the jour­nal­ists work­ing with him or any­one else with access to the doc­u­ments. Micah Lee was enlisted by Pierre Omidyar’s First Look to see that Greenwald wasn’t hacked.

Omidyar helped bankroll the Ukrainian coup, and Hindu Nationalist/fascist Narendra Modi’s election in India. Omidyar’s footsoldiers are well positioned in the governments of both India and Ukraine.

Note that, before going to work for Citizen Omidyar, Micah Lee was the computer expert for the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Its founder was a fellow named John Perry Barlow. A former lyricist for the Grateful Dead, he was also Dick Cheney’s campaign manager and voted for George Wallace in 1968.

“Meet the Man Hired to Make Sure the Snow­den Docs Aren’t Hacked” by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai; Mash­able; 5/27/2014.

In early Jan­u­ary, Micah Lee wor­ried jour­nal­ist Glenn Greenwald’s com­puter would get hacked, per­haps by the NSA, per­haps by for­eign spies.

Green­wald was a tar­get, and he was vul­ner­a­ble. He was among the first to receive tens of thou­sands of top secret NSA doc­u­ments from for­mer con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den, a scoop that even­tu­ally helped win the most recent Pulitzer prize.

Though Green­wald took pre­cau­tions to han­dle the NSA doc­u­ments securely, his com­puter could still be hacked.

“Glenn isn’t a secu­rity per­son and he’s not a huge com­puter nerd,” Lee tells Mash­able. “He is basi­cally a nor­mal com­puter user, and over­all, nor­mal com­puter users are vulnerable.”

Lee, 28, is the tech­nol­o­gist hired in Novem­ber to make sure Green­wald and fel­low First Look Media employ­ees use state-of-the-art secu­rity mea­sures when han­dling the NSA doc­u­ments, or when exchang­ing emails and online chats with sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion. First Look was born in Octo­ber 2013, after eBay founder Pierre Omy­diar pledged to bankroll a new media web­site led by Green­wald, with doc­u­men­tary jour­nal­ists Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.

Essen­tially, Lee is First Look’s dig­i­tal body­guard, or as Green­wald puts it, “the mas­ter­mind” behind its secu­rity operations.

Lee’s posi­tion is rare in the media world. But in the age of secret-spilling and the gov­ern­ment clam­p­down on reporters’ sources, news orga­ni­za­tions are aim­ing to strengthen their dig­i­tal savvy with hires like him.

“Every news orga­ni­za­tion should have a Micah Lee on their staff,” Trevor Timm, exec­u­tive direc­tor and cofounder of Free­dom of the Press Foun­da­tion, tells Mashable.

Timm believes the Snow­den leaks have under­scored dig­i­tal secu­rity as a press free­dom issue: If you’re a jour­nal­ist, espe­cially report­ing on gov­ern­ment and national secu­rity, you can’t do jour­nal­ism and not worry about cybersecurity.

“News orga­ni­za­tions can no longer afford to ignore that they have to pro­tect their jour­nal­ists, their sources and even their read­ers,” Timm says.

Once hired, Lee needed to travel to Brazil imme­di­ately. First Look has an office in New York City, but Green­wald works from his house located in the out­skirts of Rio de Janeiro.

Unfor­tu­nately, the con­sulate in San Fran­cisco near where Lee lives didn’t have an open spot for a visa appoint­ment. It would be at least two months before he’d be able to leave for Brazil.

Unde­terred, Lee cre­ated a smart (and legal) hack — a script that con­stantly scraped the consulate’s visa cal­en­dar to check for can­cel­la­tions. If it found any, it would text Lee, giv­ing him the oppor­tu­nity to hop online and book.

In less than 48 hours, he scored an appoint­ment and flew to Rio within days.

“That’s what he does. He’s bril­liant at find­ing solu­tions for any kind of com­puter pro­gram­ming chal­lenge,” Green­wald tells Mash­able. It’s exactly the kind of indus­tri­ous ini­tia­tive Green­wald needed.

When he got to Rio, Lee spent one entire day strength­en­ing Greenwald’s com­puter, which at that point used Win­dows 8. Lee was wor­ried spy agen­cies could break in, so he replaced the oper­at­ing sys­tem with Linux, installed a fire­wall, disk encryp­tion and mis­cel­la­neous soft­ware to make it more secure.

The next day, Lee had a chance to do some­thing he’d been dream­ing of: peek at the trea­sure trove of NSA top secret doc­u­ments Snow­den had handed to Green­wald in Hong Kong.

Since the begin­ning, Green­wald had stored the files in a com­puter com­pletely dis­con­nected from the Inter­net, also known as “air-gapped” in hacker lingo. He let Lee put his hands on that com­puter and pore through the doc­u­ments. Iron­i­cally, Lee used soft­ware ini­tially designed for cops and pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tors to sift through the moun­tain of seized documents.

Lee spent hours read­ing and ana­lyz­ing a dozen doc­u­ments con­tain­ing once care­fully guarded secrets.

“I wasn’t actu­ally sur­prised. I was more like, ‘Wow, here’s evi­dence of this thing hap­pen­ing. This is crazy,’” he remem­bers. “At this point I kind of assume that all of this stuff is hap­pen­ing, but it’s excit­ing to find evi­dence about it.“
Sit­ting inside Greenwald’s house, famously full of dogs,

Dur­ing his two days in Rio, Lee wore two hats: the dig­i­tal body­guard who secures com­put­ers against hack­ers and spies, and the tech­nol­o­gist who helps reporters under­stand the com­plex NSA doc­u­ments in their pos­ses­sion. In addi­tion to Green­wald, he also worked with Poitras, the doc­u­men­tary film­maker who has pub­lished a series of sto­ries based on the Snow­den doc­u­ments as part of both The Guardian’s and The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Pulitzer-winning coverage.

For Green­wald, Lee’s skills, as well as his polit­i­cal back­ground (Lee is a long­time activist) make him the per­fect guy for the job.

“There’s a lot of really smart hack­ers and pro­gram­mers and com­puter experts,” Green­wald tells Mash­able. “But what dis­tin­guishes him is that he has a really sophis­ti­cated polit­i­cal frame­work where the right val­ues drive his com­puter work.”

J.P. Bar­low, founder of the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, where Lee used to work, agrees. There are two Lees, the activist and the hacker, he says. One couldn’t exist with­out the other.

“He acquired his tech­ni­cal skills in the ser­vice of his activism,” Bar­low tells Mash­able.

In some ways, Lee was des­tined to work on the Snow­den leaks. At Boston Uni­ver­sity in 2005, he was involved in envi­ron­men­tal and anti-Iraq War activism. His col­lege expe­ri­ence didn’t last long, though. After just one year he dropped out to pur­sue advo­cacy full-time.

“I had bet­ter things to do with my time than go to col­lege, because I wanted to try and stop the war. And it didn’t work,” Lee says.

Dur­ing that time, he worked as a free­lance web designer, despite no for­mal com­puter edu­ca­tion. He started teach­ing him­self the com­puter pro­gram­ming lan­guage C++ when he was around 14 or 15 years old, in order to make video games. (Alas, none of those games are avail­able anymore.)

Then in 2011, Lee was hired by the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, the dig­i­tal rights orga­ni­za­tion. “My dream job,” Lee says.

As an EFF tech­nol­o­gist, teach­ing secu­rity and crypto to novices was sec­ond nature for him. He was one of the peo­ple behind an ini­tia­tive in which tech­nol­o­gists taught dig­i­tal secu­rity to their fel­low employ­ees over lunchtime pizza. And as CTO of the Free­dom of the Press Foun­da­tion, he helped orga­nize “cryp­topar­ties” to teach encryp­tion tools to jour­nal­ists and activists.

Lee became a go-to source for reporters look­ing for com­puter secu­rity and encryp­tion answers. After the first NSA leaks were pub­lished in June 2013, many reporters, not only those work­ing on the Snow­den leak, knew they’d need to pro­tect their own com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Lack­ing tech­ni­cal knowl­edge, they turned to Lee for help.

He recalls, for exam­ple, that he helped reporters at NBC get started using encryp­tion. It was only when NBC News pub­lished a series of sto­ries based on the Snow­den doc­u­ments, with the con­tri­bu­tion of Glenn Green­wald, that Lee real­ized why they needed his guidance.

In early July 2013, he wrote what some con­sider one of the best intro­duc­tory texts about crypto, a 29-page white paper called “Encryp­tion Works.” Its title was inspired by an early inter­view with Snow­den — a Q&A on The Guardian’s site. The whistle­blower said,

“Encryp­tion works. Prop­erly imple­mented strong crypto sys­tems are one of the few things that you can rely on.”

Those words had a pro­found effect on Lee.

“That gave me a lot of hope, actu­ally, because I wasn’t sure if encryp­tion worked,” Lee says laugh­ing, his eyes bright­en­ing behind a pair of glasses. He is lanky in jeans and a t-shirt, behind a lap­top with stickers.

He’s a true hacker, but one who hap­pens to explain extremely com­pli­cated con­cepts in a way that’s easy to understand.

He was one of the first peo­ple Green­wald and Poitras, both on the Free­dom of the Press Foun­da­tion board, named for their “dream team,” Green­wald says — a group that would even­tu­ally cre­ate The Inter­cept, First Look Media’s first dig­i­tal mag­a­zine that would later be instru­men­tal in break­ing new NSA stories.

“He was top of my list,” Poitras tells Mash­able.

In the wake of the Snow­den leaks, which revealed the per­va­sive­ness of the NSA’s sur­veil­lance tech­niques, it seems no one, includ­ing jour­nal­ists, is safe. And it’s not just the NSA; other branches of the U.S. gov­ern­ment have pres­sured jour­nal­ists to reveal their sources and have aggres­sively inves­ti­gated infor­ma­tion leaks.

“Con­cern has grown in the news indus­try over the government’s sur­veil­lance of jour­nal­ists,” New York Times lawyer David McCraw wrote in a recent court fil­ing.

At The Inter­cept, Lee is work­ing to make sure nobody leaves any traces. Mak­ing web­sites encrypted, Lee says, “is the very bare min­i­mum basic of mak­ing it not really easy for sources to get compromised.”

All these prac­tices aim to pro­tect jour­nal­ists’ and sources’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions, but han­dling the Snow­den doc­u­ments, and mak­ing sure no one who has them gets hacked, is also key. Unfor­tu­nately, that’s not as easy as installing an antivirus or a firewall.

When exchang­ing doc­u­ments, jour­nal­ists at The Inter­cept use a com­pli­cated series of pre­cau­tions. First of all, Lee says, doc­u­ments are never stored on Internet-connected com­put­ers; they live in sep­a­rate com­put­ers dis­con­nected from the web. To add an extra layer of pre­cau­tion when log­ging in to air-gapped com­put­ers, jour­nal­ists must use secure oper­at­ing sys­tem Tails.

So, imag­ine two employ­ees at First Look Media (we’ll call them Alice and Bob) need to send each other Snow­den doc­u­ments. Alice goes to her air-gapped com­puter, picks the doc­u­ments, encrypts them and then burns them onto a CD. (It has to be a CD, Lee says, because thumb dri­ves are more vul­ner­a­ble to mal­ware.) Then Alice takes her CD to her Internet-connected com­puter, logs in and sends an encrypted email to Bob.

If you’re keep­ing score, the doc­u­ments are now pro­tected by two lay­ers of encryp­tion, “just in case,” Lee says, laughing.

Then Bob receives the email, decrypts it and burns the file on a CD. He moves it to his own air-gapped com­puter where he can finally remove the last layer of encryp­tion and read the orig­i­nal documents.

To pre­vent hack­ers from com­pro­mis­ing these air-gapped com­put­ers, Lee really doesn’t want to leave any stone unturned. That’s why First Look has started remov­ing wire­less and audio cards from air-gapped com­put­ers and lap­tops, to pro­tect against mal­ware that can the­o­ret­i­cally travel through air­waves. Secu­rity researchers have recently sug­gested it might be pos­si­ble to develop mal­ware that, instead of spread­ing through the Inter­net or via thumb dri­ves, could travel between two nearby com­put­ers over air­waves, effec­tively mak­ing air-gapped com­put­ers vul­ner­a­ble to hackers.

If this all sounds a lit­tle para­noid, Lee is the first to acknowl­edge it.

“The threat model is para­noid,” Lee tells Mash­able, only half-joking. But it’s not just the NSA they’re wor­ried about. (After all, the spy agency already has the doc­u­ments.) Other spies, how­ever, would love to get their hands on the intel.

“Any type of adver­sary could be out to get the Snow­den doc­u­ments. But specif­i­cally large spy agen­cies. And I actu­ally think that the NSA and GCHQ aren’t as much as a threat com­pared to other inter­na­tional ones,” Lee says. Apart from the NSA, Rus­sia and China are the real concerns.

“It’s not just this the­o­ret­i­cal prospect that maybe the gov­ern­ment is try­ing to read my emails or lis­tens to my phone calls,” Green­wald says. “I know for cer­tain that they are doing that.”

“I don’t think that the threat model is para­noid at all,” Poitras says, not want­ing to under­es­ti­mate their ene­mies. “We have to be care­ful in terms of dig­i­tal security.”

“All of the reporters who are work­ing on these sto­ries have a gigan­tic tar­get painted on their backs,” says Soghoian.

Every pre­cau­tion, in other words, is essen­tial, and makes it “much safer for us to oper­ate as adver­sar­ial jour­nal­ists,” says Lee.

Every lock on the door is nec­es­sary, and they should all be bolted. What’s more, every door should be under the con­trol of First Look itself.

 

7. The Electronic Frontier Foundation was co-founded by John Perry Barlow. A political chameleon, Barlow was a former lyriticist for the Grateful Dead and Dick Cheney’s former campaign manager. A perusal of his CV is revealing:

“John Perry Barlow;” Wikipedia.com 

. . . Weir and Barlow maintained contact throughout the years; a frequent visitor to Timothy Leary‘s facility in Millbrook, New York, Barlow introduced the musical group to Leary in 1967. . . .

. . . . He was engaged to Dr. Cynthia Horner, whom he met in 1993 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco while she was attending a psychiatry conference and Barlow was participating in a Steve Jobs comedy roast at a convention for the NeXT Computer. She died unexpectedly in 1994 while asleep on a flight from Los Angeles to New York, days before her 30th birthday, from a heart arrhythmia apparently caused by undetected viral cardiomyopathy.

. . .  Barlow had been a good friend of John F. Kennedy, Jr. ever since his mother Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis had made arrangements for her son to be a wrangler at the Bar Cross ranch for 6 months in 1978, and later the two men went on many double dates in New York City with Kennedy’s then-girlfriend Daryl Hannah[15] and Cynthia. . . .[16]

. . . . Barlow is a former chairman of the Sublette CountyRepublican Party and served as western Wyoming campaign coordinator for Dick Cheney during his 1978 Congressional campaign. . . .

. . . . By the early 2000s, Barlow was unable to reconcile his ardent libertarianism with the prevailing neoconservative movement and “didn’t feel tempted to vote for Bush”; after an arrest for possession of a small quantity of marijuana while traveling, he joined the Democratic Party and publicly committed himself to outright political activism for the first time since his spell with the Republican Party.[citation needed] Barlow has subsequently declared that he is a Republican, including during an appearance on The Colbert Report on March 26, 2007,[30][31] and also claimed on many occasions to be an anarchist.[32] . . .. .

 . . . . All of my presidential votes, whether for George Wallace, Dick Gregory, or John Hagelin, have been protest votes.” . . . .

. . . . Barlow currently serves as vice-chairman of the EFF‘s board of directors. The EFF was designed to mediate the “inevitable conflicts that have begun to occur on the border between Cyberspace and the physical world.”[34] They were trying to build a legal wall that would separate and protect the Internet from territorial government, and especially from the US government.[35]

In 2012, Barlow was one of the founders of the EFF-related organization the Freedom of the Press Foundation and also currently serves on its Board of Directors.[36] Barlow has had several public conversations via video conference with fellow Freedom of the Press Foundation Board of Directors member Edward Snowden,[37][38] and has appeared in interviews with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks touting Snowden as “a Hero.”[39] . . .

. . . . Barlow is a friend and former roommate[24] of entrepreneur Sean Parker, and attended Parker’s controversial 2013 wedding.[2. . . .

8. Both the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Citizen Greenwald are among those who have run interference for Big Tobacco. Greenwald worked for the powerful Wachtell Lipton law firm which helped to crush whistleblowers who could reveal the truth about Big Tobacco’s knowledge of the damage that they did.


“Shillers for Killers” by Mark Ames; Pando Daily; 7/7/2015.

Revealed: How the tobacco indus­try paid jour­nal­ists, sci­en­tists, activists and lawyers to cover up the most deadly crime in human history.

“Objec­tive No. 5: To prove that the cig­a­rette has been brought to trial by lynch law, engi­neered and fos­tered by unin­formed and irre­spon­si­ble peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions in order to induce and incite fear.”

—“Project Truth,” Brown & Williamson

If you want an unvar­nished, raw peek at the pig trough of cor­rup­tion and sleaze, it’s all there in the 88 million-plus pages of once-secret tobacco indus­try doc­u­ments, online and search­able in the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at San Francisco’s online tobacco library.

In my last arti­cle, I gave some back­ground on both the tobacco industry’s deadly con­spir­acy against human­ity and on UCSF’s new 3.0 ver­sionof its online search­able tobacco doc­u­ments library.

Now it’s time to look at some of the acces­sories to the great­est crime in human his­tory, which killed 100 mil­lion peo­ple last cen­tury and with one bil­lion expected to die this cen­tury from smok­ing. Every one of those deaths preventable.

To rack up this many human kills for so many tens of bil­lions of dol­lars in prof­its over so many decades and not wind up in prison, the tobacco indus­try has had to pay off an incred­i­ble num­ber of peo­ple and insti­tu­tions over the years.

As the doc­u­ments show (some embed­ded below), many of those peo­ple were paid under the table to bet­ter con­fuse, deceive, and con­tinue plun­der­ing the pub­lic. Those covert tobacco shills are eas­ily the worst and most offen­sive, because they com­mit fraud on a pub­lic that trusts them.

But even those whose finan­cial rela­tion­ships with Big Tobacco are above-board, such as tobacco-hired cor­po­rate law firms, have been denounced in judi­cial court deci­sions as acces­sories to RICO rack­e­teer­ing laws—essentially mob lawyers, co-conspirators in the great­est orga­nized mass murder-for-profit in human history.

In this arti­cle, I’m going to name names. Some are sur­pris­ing; some shock­ing; oth­ers down­right horrifying.

Let’s start with my col­leagues in the media and journalism.

Mal­colm Glad­well & the Third Party Advocates

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“The best PR ends up look­ing like news,” brags one pub­lic rela­tions exec­u­tive. “You never know when a PR agency is being effec­tive; you’ll just find your views slowly shifting.”

—Trust Us, We’re Experts

Three years ago, my col­league Yasha Levine dis­cov­eredMal­colm Gladwell’s name on a secret Philip Mor­ris doc­u­ment from the mid-1990s list­ing its top “Third Party” advocates—meaning advo­cates who Philip Mor­ris believes can be relied upon to pro­mote its agenda, while the pub­lic thinks they’re get­ting hon­est dis­in­ter­ested information.

In the mar­ket­ing world, “third party advo­cates” are con­sid­ered by far the most effec­tive medi­ums for push­ing out cor­po­rate messages—especially for a con­tro­ver­sial and unpop­u­lar client like a tobacco giant. The idea is simple—use some­one else, whom the pub­lic con­sid­ers inde­pen­dent, to tro­jan horse your mes­sage. In plain words, as a for­mer PR exec­u­tive at Porter Nov­elli explained Third Party advocacy:

“Put your words in some­one else’s mouth.”

In other words, fraud.

Glad­well had been trained at a tobacco-funded right-wing group called the “National Jour­nal­ism Center”—whose other alumniinclude Ann Coul­ter, Fox’s Greg Gut­feld, Tim Car­ney, and Deb­bie Schlus­sel. A con­fi­den­tial Philip Mor­ris memodescribes its rela­tion­ship with the National Jour­nal­ism Center’s alumni:

>
“As a direct result of our sup­port we have been able to work with alumni of this pro­gram…. about 15 years worth of jour­nal­ists at print and visual media through­out the country….to get across our side of the story….which has resulted in numer­ous pieces con­sis­tent with our point of view.” [ellipses original—M.A.]

An exam­ple of Glad­wellalign­ing with Philip Mor­ris mes­sag­ing: A Wash­ing­ton Post story in 1990, “Not Smok­ing Could Be Haz­ardous To Pen­sion Sys­tem,”in which Glad­well essen­tially rehashed a 1987 indus­try studycar­ried out by a Philip Morris-backedthink tank, the National Bureau of Eco­nomic Research (Levine dis­cov­ered a copy of this same 1987 study in the files of a top Philip Mor­ris com­mu­ni­ca­tions exec­u­tive, Vic­tor Han). Glad­well con­cludes his con­trar­ian attack on smok­ing reg­u­la­tions by quot­ing another undis­closed “third party advo­cate” on the tobacco industry’s pay­roll, Gio Gori, whom Glad­well rep­re­sents as a dis­in­ter­ested “econ­o­mist” rather than a paid tobacco indus­try pitch­man.

Other media names on Philip Mor­ris’ third party “mes­sage devel­op­ment” list reads like a who’s who of 1990s con­ser­v­a­tive pun­dits: Fred Barnes and Mort Kon­dracke (two-fifths of the orig­i­nal McLaugh­lin Group), Bill Kris­tol (whose mag­a­zine, Weekly Stan­dard, was owned by Rupert Mur­doch, a Philip Mor­ris board direc­tor), Bob Novak, Mona Charen, and George W. Bush press spokesman Tony Snow; poll­ster Scott Ras­mussen; fun­ny­men PJ O’Rourke and Dave Barry (whose “humor­ous” columns appear in the files of RJ ReynoldsPhilip Mor­ris, and the Tobacco Insti­tute); and even magi­cian Penn Jillette.

(Update: Dave Barry tells Pando that he is mys­ti­fied as to why his name appears on Philip Mor­ris’ third party list. He writes: “I’m stunned to see this; every­thing I ever wrote about the tobacco indus­try in gen­eral, and Philip Mor­ris in par­tic­u­lar, was neg­a­tive. I detest the tobacco indusry and I cer­tainly was never paid by it, or col­luded with it.”)

There are numer­ous covert tobacco spokes­men in Phillip Mor­ris’ secret files, from Mil­ton Fried­man and Mur­ray Roth­bard to just about every­one asso­ci­ated with the CATO Insti­tute, from its pres­i­dent and exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent down—and Rea­son mag­a­zine, includ­ing three edi­tors: Bob Poole, Jacob Sul­lum and Vir­ginia Postrel. The lib­er­tar­i­ans’ covert role in push­ing tobacco pro­pa­ganda is of course less surprising—UCSF’s tobacco inves­ti­ga­tors dis­cov­eredthat the Tea Party was cre­ated by an alliance between Big Tobacco and Koch broth­ers’ oil money.

Of all the tobacco indus­try media cutouts of the 1990s, the one who did them the biggest solid was Betsy McCaughey, whose 1994 arti­cles in the New Repub­lic blast­ing Clinton’s health care reforms won the National Mag­a­zine Award, and are cred­ited with killing HillaryCare. Later, after the dam­age was done and thou­sands went to their graves early from lack of access to health care, McCaughey’s report­ing was exposed by James Fal­lowsand oth­ers as a com­plete fraud, forc­ing the New Repub­lic to offi­cially apol­o­gizef f to its readers.

McCaughey, it turns out, was on Philip Mor­ris’ “Third Party Mes­sage Devel­op­ment Con­tact List” iden­ti­fied as a “senior fel­low” at the tobacco-funded Man­hat­tan Insti­tute. Another doc­u­ment revealshow Philip Mor­ris secretly edited and guided McCaughey’s arti­cles for the New Republic:

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Worked off-the-record with Man­hat­tan [Insti­tute] and writer Betsy McCaughey as part of the input to the three-part expose in The New Repub­lic on what the Clin­ton plan means to you. The first part detailed specifics of the plan. The sec­ond part, to be pub­lished immi­nently, will focus on the impact the Clin­ton bill will have on cities. She will explore why med­ical edu­ca­tion will decline, why teach­ing hos­pi­tals will be dri­ven out of busi­ness, why regional health alliances will shift the cost of car­ing for the poor off the fed­eral bud­get onto the backs of urban work­ers and their employ­ers, and why dis­con­tin­u­ing Med­ic­aid and enrolling the dis­ad­van­taged in HMO’s will fail.

The tobacco indus­try covertly led the fight against HillaryCare in 1994, in part because the law would hike cig­a­rette taxes to help pay for expand­ing health care cov­er­age. If you’re already killing close to half a mil­lion Amer­i­cans a year with tobacco, what’s another 50,000 or soextra deaths per year from lack of med­ical coverage?

Going back to the early 1950s, when the tobacco com­pany heads met in secret in the Plaza Hotel in Man­hat­tan to plot their con­spir­acy to fight sci­ence they knew had proven tobacco’s deadly effects, they set up a front group which came to be known as the Tobacco Insti­tute, and paid PR giant Hill & Knowl­ton to secretly run it. In its first year of oper­a­tion, Hill & Knowl­ton memos detailed how they started chang­ing mag­a­zine arti­cles. One memo reads:

“Advance knowl­edge was obtained of a story on smok­ing by Bob Con­si­dine for Cos­mopoli­tan mag­a­zine. Infor­ma­tion was sup­plied result­ing in seven revi­sions and five qual­i­fy­ing addi­tions to the story which was already in type.”

Hill & Knowl­ton also “con­tacted” a writer for TRUE mag­a­zine, Don­ald Coo­ley, as he pre­pared an arti­cle on smok­ing. Con­tact­ing him “entailed con­fer­ences with the author to work on fac­tual revisions.”

Even­tu­ally, with the tobacco industry’s direct help, Coo­ley and TRUE issued a 48-page pro-smoking book­let, “Smoke With­out Fear,”which had 350,000 copies dis­trib­uted by the tobacco indus­try to jour­nal­ists and oth­ers around the coun­try. The book­let begins:

IF you are a man or woman who smokes, relax and enjoy it. If you have tried to give up smok­ing a dozen times and failed, quit try­ing. If you have guilty feel­ings that you are weak-willed, immoral, and sui­ci­dal, begin anew to smoke with peace of mind.

They also suc­ceeded in sup­press­ing anti-tobacco jour­nal­ism, in part by using intel­li­gence gath­ered from their huge web of media con­tacts about upcom­ing arti­cles. A 1954 Hill & Knowl­ton report boasts of hav­ing taken a nation­wide infor­mal sur­vey on “arti­cles planned on the smok­ing con­tro­versy,” arti­cles which they were able to lean on:

“Twenty mag­a­zines of nation-wide cir­cu­la­tion were work­ing on pieces and con­tact was estab­lished with authors and edi­tors. Such reg­u­lar check­ing con­tin­ues as a stan­dard prac­tice, requir­ing numer­ous con­tacts weekly.”

They were espe­cially effec­tive in snuff­ing out any neg­a­tive jour­nal­ism on the new tele­vi­sion medium. An early 1950s memo reads:

“One neg­a­tively aimed pro­gram (WNBT) which was being sched­uled on the cig­a­rette con­tro­versy was post­poned after dis­cus­sion of [Tobacco Insti­tute] facts.”

“Another TV pro­gram (ABC-TV, Mar­tin Agron­sky), which did deal with the cig­a­rette con­tro­versy, ended on a favor­able note after con­fer­ences with pro­duc­ers and pre­sen­ta­tion of facts.”

And it’s not just the main­stream press that rolled over for tobacco pro­pa­ganda. An arti­clein the New Times, a 70s New Jour­nal­ism glossy, attacked the Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­ety and National Can­cer Insti­tute as “the can­cer estab­lish­ment” and a “self-perpetuating bureau­cracy” beholden to Big Med­i­cine against alter­na­tive can­cer ther­a­pies— “a net­work of vig­i­lantes pre­pared to pounce on any­one who pro­motes a can­cer ther­apy that runs against their sub­stan­tial prej­u­dices and profits.”

The Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­ety was a leader in the fight to expose cig­a­rettes as mass-killing devices. But the arti­cle, writ­ten by Ruth Rosen­baum, avoided any men­tion of tobacco. It was con­sid­ered mav­er­ick enough by the left-alt press that, even years later, it was included in a Project Cen­sored Top 20 Cen­sored sto­riescom­pi­la­tion put out two decades later, in 1997. Stan­ford his­tory pro­fes­sor Robert Proc­tor, author of “Golden Holo­caust,” explains what was wrong with this story:

Rosen­baum was fêted as a lefty mav­er­ick, but a search of the tobacco industry’s archives reveals a more sin­is­ter story.

Rosen­baum wrote her arti­cle with the help of Hill & Knowl­ton, the industry’s pub­lic rela­tions firm; she was also a per­sonal friend of Fred Panzer at the Tobacco Insti­tute and he, too, helped her with it. None of this was known to Jensen when he cel­e­brated Rosenbaum’s review for his Project Censored—nor, appar­ently, the fact that her arti­cles had earned her invi­ta­tions to work for the indus­try in litigation.

Sci­ence

“[O]ur medical/scientific wit­nesses will say what­ever we want them to say.”

—Gabriel DiMarco, RJ Reynolds vice pres­i­dent for research

One of the first things the tobacco car­tel chiefs agreed to in 1953 when they secretly met to coor­di­nate their anti-science strate­gies was to set up a fraudulent-science front called the Tobacco Indus­try Research Com­mit­tee, later renamed the Coun­cil on Tobacco Research (CTR).

Secret tobacco indus­try memos describe it as a “front” and a “shield.” The front group wound up fund­ing an enor­mous amount of med­ical research sup­pos­edly into links between tobacco and can­cer, and can­cer in gen­eral. The pur­pose was to steer can­cer research away from out­side causes like smok­ing, to focus instead on micro-level bio­chem­i­cal mech­a­nisms — for exam­ple, how some genes are turned on or off dur­ing car­cino­gen­e­sis. This way, sci­ence gets diverted, bought off, cor­rupted, and flooded with biases.

You can see this same strat­egy at work with the pow­er­ful Koch broth­ers’ large dona­tionsto can­cer research at Sloan-Kettering — the pur­pose is not just PR, but also to con­trol the direc­tion of the research, which invari­ably will lead away from causes like pol­lu­tion from petro­chem­i­cals pro­duced by the Kochs, and into other areas of research. (Sloan-Kettering was funded by tobacco com­pa­nies from the 1950s through the 1970s; its direc­tor, Frank Hors­fall, said he believed cig­a­rettes got “undue blame” for cancer.)

This sci­ence front group set up some­thing called “Spe­cial Projects”—hatchet jobs for pay, using schol­ars to assas­si­nate the cred­i­bil­ity of other schol­ars’ work.

Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity sta­tis­ti­cian George Saiger was paid$10,873 in 1966 (about $80,000 today) just to tes­tify before Con­gress deny­ing any link between cig­a­rettes and can­cer. The for­mer chair­man of Stanford’s Dept of Sta­tis­tics, Ingram Olkin, was paid $12,000 in 1976 ($50,000 today) to under­mine a National Heart Insti­tute report link­ing smok­ing to heart dis­ease. A Loril­lard memo approv­ing Olkin’s pay­ment demanded that he use “con­sid­er­a­tions other than prac­ti­cal sci­en­tific merit.”

In all, between 1966 and 1990, the tobacco com­pa­nies paid out more than $18 mil­lion into the secret “spe­cial projects” funds to schol­ars at top name insti­tu­tions— Alvan Fein­stein from Yale, Carl Seltzer from Har­vard, and the pres­i­dent of the Col­lege of Amer­i­can Pathol­o­gists, Vic­tor Buh­ler. At least 30 of these spe­cial projects shills tes­ti­fied before Con­gress or in courts with­out ever reveal­ing their covert finan­cial ties to the tobacco industry.

Civil Lib­er­tar­i­ans

“The most promi­nent and valu­able of our con­sti­tu­tional ad ban allies is the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union (ACLU).”

—Tobacco Insti­tute, 1987

“If John Gotti wanted to give $10,000, we would take it.”

Ira Glasser, ACLU exec­u­tive director

In 1987, as the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments were tak­ing up new laws ban­ning cig­a­rette ads, the tobacco indus­try began secretly pump­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars into the ACLU’s cof­fers. The tobacco indus­try spends an esti­mated $13 bil­lion a year mar­ket­ing its products—and as we’ve since learned, the com­pa­nies poured much of their efforts into hook­ing those most vul­ner­a­ble to becom­ing addicts until death—young teenagers, minori­ties, women, the poor, men­tally ill, home­less, drug addicts (see: RJ Reynolds’ “Project Scum”) and so on. Big Tobacco’s strat­egy was to frighten the pub­lic with the ol’ First Amend­ment slip­pery slope fal­lacy: today it might be ban­ning tobacco ads, tomor­row you’ll be banned and rounded up into FEMA con­cen­tra­tion camps.

To make this argu­ment seem cred­i­ble, they enlisted the ACLU as their “third party advo­cate.” Before the tobacco fund­ing began, the ACLU did not lobby against cig­a­rette adver­tis­ing bans; nor did it push for “smok­ers’ rights” in the work­place, against laws ban­ning smok­ing indoors. After the money started pour­ing in, the ACLU began aggres­sively lob­by­ing to block laws ban­ning cig­a­rette ads on “First Amend­ment” grounds. And as soon as sci­ence defin­i­tively proved that sec­ond­hand smoke causes can­cer and other diseases—killing 50,000 Amer­i­cans a year—the ACLU set up a spe­cial project, “ACLU Work­place Rights Project,” to fight against laws ban­ning indoor smoking.

The project was secretly fully funded by Philip Mor­ris and RJR Reynolds. The ACLU also set up a tobacco indus­try lobby frontcalled the National Task Force on Civil Lib­er­ties in the Work­place to help Big Tobacco keep prof­it­ing off the deaths of tens of thou­sands of peo­ple vic­tim­ized by indoor smokers.

In an ACLU fundrais­ing pro­posal to be “shared with RJR con­tacts,” the head of the ACLU’s National Task Force on Civil Lib­er­ties in the Work­place empha­sized the group’s value as a third party advo­cate in fight­ing new indoor smok­ing laws—or as the ACLU called them, “Lifestyle Dis­crim­i­na­tion Laws”:

The ACLU could make a much larger con­tri­bu­tion to the fight against lifestyle dis­crim­i­na­tion. The assets we would bring to this effort include:

Cred­i­bil­ity — The ACLU is uni­ver­sally known to stand on prin­ci­ple. Even our staunchest oppo­nents have never charged us with act­ing out of self-interest. This could be extremely valuable.

In that same memo, the ACLU exec­u­tive warned that democ­racy and free­dom were at stake in defend­ing the big tobacco com­pa­nies from laws ban­ning indoor smoking:

“If this trend con­tin­ues, smok­ers will soon encounter dis­crim­i­na­tion com­pa­ra­ble to that expe­ri­enced by racial minori­ties and women.”

In 1993, for­mer Wash­ing­ton Post reporter Mor­ton Mintz exposedthe dirty deal between the ACLU and Big Tobacco in a report backed by the Amer­i­can Heart Asso­ci­a­tion and the Amer­i­can Can­cer Soci­ety. The ACLU responded by send­ing their Direc­tor of Media Rela­tions, Phil Gutis, to Mintz’s press con­fer­ence (joined by Ralph Nader) on his ACLU-Tobacco exposé. The ACLU man took notes and reported back to his ACLU bosses:

“[Mintz] is a retired nut with too much time on his hands and a bug up his ass about cig­a­rettes… The fall­out on this thing should be rel­a­tively minor as long as we can dodge as many press calls as pos­si­ble while get­ting our side of the story out to the majors.”

The head of the ACLU at the time, Ira Glasser, went on the offen­sive attack­ing Mintz. (Glasser later led the ACLU’s sup­portfor the Cit­i­zens United decision—and, com­pletely unre­lated of course, the ACLU report­edly took $20 mil­lionfrom the Koch broth­ers, the biggest ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the Cit­i­zens United case.)

Not every­one was happy with Glasser’s sleazy sell­outs. The head of the ACLU’s pow­er­ful (and far more right­eous) South­ern Cal­i­for­nia chap­ter, Ramona Rip­ston, com­plained to Glasser about the ethics of tak­ing tobacco com­pany money and lob­by­ing for their “rights,” com­par­ing it to the ACLU tak­ing money from a com­pany that mar­keted toys harm­ful to chil­dren and then defend­ing the company’s “con­sti­tu­tional right” to adver­tise and mar­ket the deadly prod­ucts. Glasser waited six months before respond­ing in a froth­ing six-page single-spaced memo, telling Ripston,

“I am dis­turbed about the demo­niza­tion of com­pa­nies like Philip Mor­ris.”

Much of what we know about the ACLU’s covert rela­tion­ship came from Mintz’s inves­ti­ga­tions, and from leaks from a dis­gusted for­mer ACLU employee named John Fahs, author of, “Cig­a­rette Con­fi­den­tial.” Fahs calls the ACLU’s Big Tobacco tie-up a “con­flict of inter­est unpar­al­leled in the his­tory of the mod­ern civil rights move­ment,” and sums it up:

“The work the ACLU has under­taken on behalf of cig­a­rette man­u­fac­tur­ers has been under­taken in direct exchange for funding—a quid pro quo arrange­ment in direct con­flict with the institution’s sta­tus as a government-subsidized, tax-exempt, non­profit insti­tu­tion. To wit, the ACLU has suc­cess­fully mounted an ambi­tious nation­wide leg­isla­tive lob­by­ing cam­paign on behalf of cig­a­rette com­pa­nies in the areas of employ­ment pro­tec­tions for smok­ers, free­dom of speech pro­tec­tions for unre­stricted cig­a­rette adver­tise­ments, national health care reform leg­is­la­tion favor­ing smok­ers over non­smok­ers, and pro­tec­tion of smok­ers’ rights in parental cus­tody cases of asth­matic chil­dren.”

The tobacco library reveals other civil lib­er­ties and pri­vacy groups offer­ing their ser­vices to Big Tobacco. In 1994, an RJ Reynolds mar­ket­ing direc­tor wrote to the head of the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, Jerry Berman, send­ing him a list of top­ics they hoped to dis­cuss about pro­tect­ing tobacco adver­tis­ing on the Inter­net. Top­ics included:

* What will the sysop’s lia­bil­ity be for online ser­vices rel­a­tive to minors and tobacco/alcoholic bev­er­age com­mer­cial messages?

* Will com­mer­cial mes­sages deliv­ered via online services/interactive media sys­tems fall under FCC reg­u­la­tions, which pro­hibit alco­holic bev­er­age and tobacco adver­tis­ing? Or, will they fall under the pro­tec­tion of the Bill of Rights like print?

Five months later, at the end of 1994, the EFF’s exec­u­tive direc­tor wrote RJ Reynolds’s direct mar­ket­ing man­ager, Peter Michael­son, a pro­posal solic­it­ing tobacco money to fund an EFF project that would pro­tect Big Tobacco’s online mar­ket­ing, under the guise of First Amend­ment pro­tec­tions and Inter­net Free­dom. Titled “Project on the First Amend­ment and Con­tent Reg­u­la­tion in New Inter­ac­tive Media,” the EFF’s direc­tor explained that they opposed gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions on online speech—such as “com­mer­cial tobacco advertising”—because in the Inter­net age, the user has con­trol over con­tent, and can there­fore self-regulate to avoid smok­ing ads. The EFF called for using “con­tent block­ing” tech­nolo­gies, rather than “intru­sive” gov­ern­ment regulations.

The EFF head then laid out the strat­egy:

A. Phase I White Paper “New First Amend­ment Para­me­ters for Content-Based Reg­u­la­tion in Inter­ac­tive Media.”

Dur­ing the first six months of 1995, the Elec­tronic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion and the new pub­lic pol­icy group under my direc­tion, the Cen­ter for Democ­racy and Tech­nol­ogy, will pre­pare a White Paper…

[The] paper will out­line a reg­u­la­tory model for non-mass media inter­ac­tive ser­vices which (a) per­mits inter­ac­tive ser­vice providers to trans­mit, with­out lia­bil­ity, all law­ful con­tent, com­mer­cial or non-commercial, pro­vided that they (b) clearly iden­tify the nature of the pro­gram­ming (adult, tobacco spon­sored, gen­eral view­ing, etc) and pro­vide sub­scribers user-friendly means for mak­ing viewer choices for them­selves and their children.”

In “Phase III: Pub­lic Edu­ca­tion and Con­sen­sus Build­ing,” the EFF pro­posed work­ing with “civil lib­er­ties groups” as well as Newt Gingrich’s “Progress and Free­dom Foundation”—heavily sup­ported by Big Tobacco groups—to host meet­ings between the EFF, “the Cato Insti­tute, Her­itage Foun­da­tion, Cit­i­zens for a Sound Economy…”

Finally, the EFF head said it would cost $350,000 run­ning “1 and ½ pol­icy staff in 1995” to lobby against reg­u­lat­ing tobacco con­tent on the Inter­net, one-third of that com­ing from ISPs, and “100,000 for 1995 (payable in Decem­ber 1994 if pos­si­ble) and pos­si­bly an addi­tional $25,000 later in the year” from RJ Reynolds. At the end of the let­ter, Berman sug­gests another pos­si­bil­ity if RJ Reynolds finds this plan too complicated:

“We are also pre­pared to pur­sue a legal test of this alter­na­tive approach to reg­u­la­tion. For exam­ple, if MARC [RJR’s direct mar­keters] or RJR decided to put one or another spon­sored on-line ser­vice up on the Inter­net or via America-on-Line or other on-line ser­vice, the white paper could become the basis of a legal brief chal­leng­ing the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of any gov­ern­men­tal effort to block the pro­gram­ming on the basis of cur­rent adver­tis­ing bans in elec­tronic media. . . . We have not bud­geted for this alter­na­tive at this point.”

By 2005, Inter­net accounted for 14% of cig­a­rette sales, through hun­dreds of sites. Not only have the cig­a­rette com­pa­nies been able to avoid sales taxes and thus starve states of rev­enues needed to treat cigarette-induced health epi­demics, but a 2003 study pub­lished in JAMA (Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion) found that chil­dren as young as eleven were able to get cig­a­rettes through the Inter­net 90 per­cent of the times they tried.

It all sounds so awfully familiar—civil lib­er­tar­ian groups clutch­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion, sound­ing the alarm on behalf of causes that some­how seem to ben­e­fit huge com­mer­cial inter­ests, all in the name of free­dom and liberty…

Whistle­blow­ers, lawyers & Glenn Greenwald

“We learned of a tobacco insider who might know the whole story—who could tell us whether or not the tobacco indus­try has been lev­el­ing with the pub­lic. That exec­u­tive was for­merly a highly placed exec­u­tive with a tobacco com­pany. But we can­not broad­cast what crit­i­cal infor­ma­tion about tobacco, addic­tion, and pub­lic health he might be able to offer… if we were to broad­cast an inter­view with him, CBS could be faced with a multi­bil­lion dol­lar law­suit. The fact is we are not even allowed to men­tion his name, or the name of the com­pany he worked for. And of course, we can­not show you his face.”

“60 Min­utes”on tobacco whistle­blower Jef­frey Wigand

“The threats just scared me to death. I mean, they’re intimidating.”

—Jef­frey Wigand

This is the age of the whistle­blower, the leaker of secrets for the pub­lic good: Edward Snow­den, Chelsea Man­ning, Wik­iLeaks… While their leaks have helped expose ille­gal gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance and (in the case of Man­ning) pos­si­ble US col­lu­sion in war crimes in Iraq, Jef­frey Wigand, called “60 Min­utes Most Famous Whistle­blower,”helped expose a con­spir­acy that killed 100 mil­lion peo­ple in the 20th cen­tury, and will kill one bil­lion peo­ple, mostly from the devel­op­ing world, where the tobacco com­pa­nies now focus their mar­ket­ing efforts. There is no war, no weapon, no man made death machine that comes close to cig­a­rettes in terms of kills.

We know about it now, thanks in part to whistle­blow­erslike Wigand and a para­le­gal named Mer­rell Williams. But if the tobacco indus­try lawyers had their way, their names and the infor­ma­tion they exposed would likely still be secret.

Jef­frey Wigand, a top exec­u­tive at Brown & Williamson, was finally per­suaded by 60 Min­utes pro­duc­ers to go pub­lic with what he knew about how tobacco com­pa­nies know­ingly spiked their cig­a­rettes to hook smok­ers for life. Agree­ing to blow the whis­tle cost Wigand his upper-middle class life—his wife left him, he and his fam­ily came under such severe threats and harass­ment that CBS had to hire a coterie of for­mer Secret Ser­vice agents to pro­tect him round-the-clock, and he wound up going from top exec­u­tive liv­ing in a man­sion, to work­ing as a pub­lic high school chem­istry teacher.

And the worst of it was—when it came time to air his secrets, Wigand was cen­sored from the 60 Min­utes show due to threats of multi­bil­lion dol­lar law­suits..

Wigand’s name could not be men­tioned in the broad­cast; his face could not be shown. Per­haps even more chill­ing and bizarre is what hap­pened to the other big tobacco whistle­blower of the early 1990s, Mer­rell Williams, a para­le­gal at a tobacco law firm who was so appalled by what he read, he leaked thou­sands of pages of doc­u­ments that even­tu­ally wound up with UCSF’s Stan Glantz, who now runs the dig­i­tal tobacco doc­u­ments library.

In 1996, a judge in Mer­rell Williams’ home state of Ken­tucky put a gag order on the whistle­blower, legally bar­ring him from talk­ing not just to 60 Min­utes and other media, but, under threat of jail, from talk­ing about the leaked tobacco doc­u­ments to his own lawyer.

You can watch the famous episodeof 60 Min­utes show­ing how these whistle­blow­ers were gagged—by the power of pri­vate gov­ern­ments that are tobacco giants. Recall that the annual rev­enues of the top five tobacco com­pa­nies are larger than the GDP of about 80% of the coun­tries in the world. That is power—private gov­ern­ment power.

Here is some of the tran­script of Mike Wal­lace sit­ting before a gagged Mer­rell Williams and his lawyer:

WALLACE: You want to tell me any­thing, Mr. Williams, about these documents?

[CUT TO: Williams shown keep­ing his mouth shut and star­ing ahead]

WILLIAMS’ LAWYER: He can­not. He’s pro­hib­ited from mak­ing any pub­lic state­ments about the doc­u­ments, or his employ­ment, or any­thing he learned dur­ing his employ­ment, or any­thing he learned as a result of what he learned from the employment.

WALLACE: What would hap­pen to him if he talked to me now about those documents?

LAWYER: He very well could go to jail for six months.

WALLACE: Say this again?

LAWYER: There is presently pend­ing a motion by Brown & Williamson to hold Mer­rell in crim­i­nal con­tempt. And even under that cir­cum­stance, I’m still not allowed to talk to my client. [Mer­rell Williams shifts uncom­fort­ably in his seat, sighs, but keeps quiet.]

WALLACE: I don’t understand—you’re not allowed to talk to your client? You’re sit­ting with your client right now.

LAWYER: Uh-huh.

WALLACE: And you’re not per­mit­ted, despite the fact that you rep­re­sent him?

LAWYER: Oh I can ask him about the Reds and what he thought of the World Series and things like that.

WALLACE: But you cannot—

LAWYER: About the guts of the case. About the doc­u­ments. What did you do? Why did you do it? It’s been our posi­tion that if Jef­frey Dah­mer killed and ate people—

WALLACE: Killed and ate people—the ser­ial killer?

LAWYER: Cor­rect. And he had coun­sel. Com­plete access. Adrich Ames had sold our country’s national secu­rity secrets—he had coun­sel. The les­son to be learned here is that you can kill and eat peo­ple, you can sell national secu­rity stuff, and you’re enti­tled to coun­sel. But if you take Brown & Williamson’s doc­u­ments, your rights are suspended.

Add to that: Even Chelsea Man­ning has coun­sel; even Daniel Ells­berg had coun­sel; even Edward Snow­den would be granted counsel.

It’s hard to com­pre­hend how 60 Min­utes was so intim­i­dated, after decades of fear­lessly tak­ing on the power of every­thing from “The CIA’s Cocaine”to mass fore­clo­sure fraudto accus­ing the Viet­nam War’s top com­man­der, Gen­eral West­more­land, of lying about enemy troop strength to keep the war going. How not even the US mil­i­tary, CIA or the mort­gage indus­try power could intim­i­date 60 Min­utes into cen­sor­ship the way Big Tobacco could.

Front­line fol­lowed up the 60 Min­utes tobacco shocker with its own inves­ti­ga­tion, “Smoke In the Eye” (avail­able online). Host Daniel Schorr—who him­self had been dragged before Con­gress for leak­ing the sup­pressed 1976 Pike Com­mit­tee report on US intel­li­gence agency abuses—interviewed Wal­lace about the whistle­blower gag, and how Wal­lace was cowed by the most fear­some threat he’d ever faced as a journalist:

>
DANIEL SCHORR: Mike Wal­lace was forced to admit he was gag­ging his own whistle-blower on orders…. Wal­lace would later admit he had never encoun­tered any­thing quite like this.

MIKE WALLACE: Never before. Never before. From time to time, cor­po­ra­tions will make their dis­plea­sure known to the hon­chos at CBS News, but we’re always pro­tected from it. In this par­tic­u­lar case, it was the CBS lawyers who told us that if were we to go ahead, there was a good pos­si­bil­ity that the Brown & Williamson Tobacco cor­po­ra­tion would sue and sue for per­haps $10 bil­lion, $15 billion.

The rea­son Wal­lace and “60 Min­utes” had to take the threat seri­ously was because ABC-TV news had just been forced to set­tle a $10 bil­lion law­suit filed by Philip Mor­ris over an inves­tiga­tive story accus­ing them of spik­ing cig­a­rettes to hook smok­ers. ABC was right, of course—but the tobacco giant’s power-lawyers man­aged to break ABC-TV, right or wrong, forc­ing them to issue a hugely humil­i­at­ing (and dam­ag­ing) pub­lic apol­ogyin the mid­dle of a Mon­day Night Foot­ball game — an apol­ogy that Philip Mor­ris then reprinted in news­pa­per adsall across the coun­try. As part of the set­tle­ment, ABC-TV news also agreed to cover the $15 mil­lion legal bill.

A lot of peo­ple prob­a­bly for­got that broad­cast TV inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism once actu­ally took on power—private power, gov­ern­ment power. Inves­tiga­tive report­ing by TV broad­cast news really grew big in the 1970s dur­ing the Water­gate and CIA scan­dals, and was largely snuffed by the end of the 1990s after a num­ber of expen­sive, deadly lawsuits—by pow­er­ful cor­po­ra­tions, our pri­vate governments.

And there’s no doubt that the Philip Mor­ris law­suit, lit­i­gated by the power law firm Wachtell Lip­ton against ABC-TV, broke the back of adver­sar­ial TV inves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ism. And with huge con­se­quences. Thanks to Wachtell Lipton’s threats, ABC can­celed what would have been the next tobacco exposé—calling out, for the first time on TV, the huge shift in Philip Mor­ris’ and other tobacco com­pa­nies’ mar­ket­ing strate­gies to focus on sell­ing to poorer, more vul­ner­a­ble mar­kets in the devel­op­ing world. The pub­lic was never shown that episode; and since then, smok­ing rates have soared to cat­a­strophic lev­els, as mar­ket­ing and sales in devel­op­ing coun­tries con­tin­ues thanks to the lob­by­ing helpof the US Cham­ber of Commerce.

Between 2005 and 2030, about 176 mil­lion peo­plewill die from smoking—77 per­cent of them in devel­op­ing coun­tries, a mas­sive rever­sal from a few decades ear­lier. In Rus­sia, smok­ing rates for men and women tripled in just 15 years from 1985 to 2000—to two-thirds of men and one-third of women. In Mex­ico— where the rich­est man in the world (and New York Times owner) Car­los Slim aligned his cig­a­rette empire with Philip Morris—60,000 peo­ple die a year from cig­a­rettes. Com­pare tobacco’s legal death toll with the war on ille­gal drugs’ death toll—a total of 60,000 killedin the six worst years, 2006–2012. In other words, it took six years for the drug war in Mex­ico to kill as many as legal tobacco kills every year. That drug war is taper­ing off, while tobacco’s legal death toll is set to soar.

The ABC-TV exposé in 1994 on how the tobacco com­pa­nies were ramp­ing up sales and mar­ket­ing to vul­ner­a­ble devel­op­ing coun­tries was never shown. ABC-TV got a box full of secret Brown & Williamson files leaked by whistle­blower Mer­rell Williams shortly after air­ing their first con­tro­ver­sial show. But thanks to the Philip Mor­ris law­suit filed by Wachtell Lip­ton, ABC-TV’s lawyers pan­icked and imme­di­ately seized all the leaked files from their jour­nal­ists, seized the copies of those leaked files, seized and impounded their reporters’ hard dri­ves, and pro­hib­ited their reporters from talk­ing about “the sin­gle most impor­tant pieces of paper in the his­tory of tobacco ver­sus pub­lic health.”

When Frontline’s Daniel Schorr asked one of the ABC-TV reporters, Walt Bog­danich, if it was true that ABC had the Brown & Williamson leaks—and scoop—long before any­one else, Bog­danich, a Pulitzer Prize win­ner, answered:

“Well, there’s a lot I’d like to say about that topic. Unfor­tu­nately, I can’t. My com­pany has taken the posi­tion that no one is to speak about this and since I work for the com­pany, I’ve got to respect that.”

That was in 1996, mean­ing Bog­danich was still gagged more than two years after receiv­ing the leaks.

So it was thanks to Wachtell Lipton’s vicious and aggres­sive law­suit on behalf of Philip Mor­ris that TV jour­nal­ism was kneecapped, that 60 Min­utes was too fright­ened to take on tobacco, that a mass Amer­i­can audi­ence never learned of Big Tobacco’s plans to bring their mass-murder busi­ness to the more vul­ner­a­ble regions of the devel­op­ing world—and that the biggest whistle­blow­ers of the 1990s were gagged from show­ing their face or hav­ing their name men­tioned on the most pop­u­lar TV show in Amer­ica . . . even man­ag­ing to gag a whistle­blower from talk­ing to his own attor­ney, under threat of prison.

And this is where whistleblower-irony becomes so dense, it col­lapses on itself: Because one of Wachtell Lipton’s young asso­ciates work­ing on the Philip Mor­ris law­suit against ABC-TV was a lawyer by the name of…. Glenn Greenwald.

We know Green­wald worked at Wachtell Lipton’s New York office at the time of Wachtell’s law­suit because Green­wald him­self has talked about work­ing for Wachtell, begin­ning in 1993 as a sum­mer asso­ciate, then join­ing out of law school in 1994, and stay­ing on until the end of 1995.

But, of course, that isn’t nec­es­sar­ily evi­dence of hypocrisy. Per­haps Green­wald had no idea that the law firm he chose to work for was rep­re­sent­ing Philip Mor­ris in the most talked about case of 1994. That even though his own boss, Henry Wachtell, was a reg­u­lar on national TV newsdefend­ing their tobacco clients, he was still obliv­i­ous. Green­wald per­haps didn’t watch television.

Or read newspapers?

As the Wall Street Jour­nal reported at the time in an arti­cle titled “More Young Lawyers Want To Just Say No to Tobacco Indus­try”:

Unpop­u­lar clients have always posed prob­lems for lawyers, but the tobacco industry’s need for lit­i­ga­tors is ris­ing to unprece­dented lev­els just as anti­smok­ing sen­ti­ment, par­tic­u­larly among young lawyers, is reach­ing a crescendo. As a result, more firms are find­ing that tobacco work can cause prob­lems rang­ing from con­flicts with other clients to dif­fi­culty in hiring. […]

Wachtell, Lip­ton, Rosen & Katz is one exam­ple. The firm, which pre­vi­ously worked for tobacco com­pa­nies only on cor­po­rate mat­ters and secu­ri­ties lit­i­ga­tion, recently took the job of rep­re­sent­ing Philip Mor­ris in a high-profile libel law­suit against Cap­i­tal Cities/ABC. The New York law firm is now han­dling the No. 1 cig­a­rette maker’s law­suit seek­ing to pre­vent Mass­a­chu­setts from try­ing to recoup the costs of smoking-related illnesses.

It’s rea­son­able to assume Greenwald—ever the dili­gent researcher—must have joined Wachtell fully aware that they were help­ing gag whistle­blow­ers and threat­en­ing jour­nal­ists: Green­wald says that he chose to work for Wachtell in 1994 after being recruitedby over a dozen top law firms. But of course that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily mean he worked on the spe­cific Philip Mor­ris case.

Except that a billing ledger dis­cov­ered in the tobacco library shows Greenwald’s name in a Wachtell Lip­ton bill to Philip Morris….

Other Wachtell Lip­ton memos show Greenwald’s name promi­nently dis­played on the let­ter­head in aggres­sive, threat­en­ing let­ters against ABC-TV, against whistle­blower Jef­frey Wigand, and against whistle­blower Mer­rell Williams…

One Wachtell let­ter to ABC’s lawyers with Greenwald’s name up top, dated Decem­ber 14, 1995, warns that Wigand’s tes­ti­mony in a Mis­sis­sippi tobacco trial is “in direct defi­ance of a Ken­tucky Court order”— and demands that ABC turn over their source’s pri­vate tes­ti­mony to Wachtell Lip­ton. The pur­pose of course is to threaten Wigand and ABC and thus to muz­zle them.

Greenwald’s name appears on the Wachtell Lip­ton let­ter­head of threat­en­ing legal let­ter after letter—targeting ABC-TV and tobacco whistle­blow­ers . While it would be a stretch to say that Greenwald’s name appear­ing on the let­ter­head of so many Wachtell Philip Mor­ris legal threats means Green­wald was work­ing on that case right up through late 1995, one would have to stretch much fur­ther to believe that Green­wald was com­pletely unaware of what his own law firm was doing in the most famous legal case in the coun­try — a case he worked on.

The ques­tion isn’t that young Glenn Green­wald was a named player in the law­suits which destroyed broad­cast TV jour­nal­ism and gagged the most con­se­quen­tial whistle­blow­ers in his­tory; the ques­tion is, why has he never said peep about Wigand and Mer­rell Williams? Green­wald styles him­self as the most fear­less out­spo­ken defender of whistle­blow­ers today—and yet he has absolutely noth­ing to say about the most famous whistle­blow­ers of the 1990s, a case he worked on from the other side. . . . .

 

9. Fol­low­ing yesterday’s triplet of “glitches” that took down the New York Stock Exchange, United Air­lines, and the Wall Street Journal’s home page, a num­ber of peo­ple are scratch­ing their head and won­der­ing if Anonymous’s tweet the pre­vi­ous day, which sim­ply stated, “Won­der if tomor­row is going to be bad for Wall Street…. we can only hope,” was some­how related. Hmmm….

US offi­cials and the impacted com­pa­nies, how­ever, strongly deny that the tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties were any­thing other than coin­ci­den­tal.

“U.S. Denies Cyber-Attack Caused Tech­ni­cal Glitches at NYSE, United Air­lines and WSJ” by Oded Yaron; Haaretz; 7/08/2015.

Anony­mous hack­ers sug­gest they may be behind New York Stock Exchange fail; White House says no indi­ca­tion of mali­cious actors in tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties.

A series of tech­ni­cal glitches in the United States on Wednes­day morn­ing East­ern Time have sparked rumors of a coor­di­nated cyber-attack. The New York Stock Exchange was shut down and United Air­lines flights were grounded due to tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. In addi­tion, the home page of the Wall Street Journal’s web­site tem­porar­ily went down. Amer­i­can offi­cials, how­ever, denied any con­nec­tion between the events, insist­ing the United States was not under attack.

U.S. Home­land Secu­rity Sec­re­tary Jeh John­son said tech­ni­cal prob­lems reported by United and the NYSE were appar­ently not related to “nefar­i­ous” activity.

“I have spo­ken to the CEO of United, Jeff Smisek, myself. It appears from what we know at this stage that the mal­func­tions at United and the stock exchange were not the result of any nefar­i­ous actor,” John­son said dur­ing a speech at the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tional Stud­ies, a Wash­ing­ton think tank.

“We know less about the Wall Street Jour­nal at this point, except that their sys­tem is in fact up again,” he added.

On Tues­day, the Twit­ter account of the hacker group Anony­mous posted a Tweet that read, “Won­der if tomor­row is going to be bad for Wall Street…. we can only hope.” On Wednes­day after­noon, it tweeted, ” #YAN Suc­cess­fully pre­dicts @NYSE fail yes­ter­day. Hmmmm.”

United’s com­puter glitch prompted America’s Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Admin­is­tra­tion to ground all of the company’s depar­tures for almost two hours. Accord­ing to the air­line, more than 800 flights were delayed and about 60 were can­celed due to the prob­lem, which was later resolved.

In a state­ment, United said it had suf­fered from “a net­work con­nec­tiv­ity issue” and a spokes­woman for the com­pany said the glitch was caused by an inter­nal tech­nol­ogy issue and not an out­side threat.

The air­line, the sec­ond largest in the world, had a sim­i­lar issue on June 2, when it was forced to briefly halt all take­offs in the United States due to a prob­lem in its flight-dispatching system.

Just as United was bring­ing its sys­tems back on-line, trad­ing on the New York Stock Exchange came to a halt because of a tech­ni­cal prob­lem and the Wall Street Journal’s web­site expe­ri­enced errors.

The New York Stock Exchange sus­pended trad­ing in all secu­ri­ties on its plat­form shortly after 11:30 A.M. for what it called an inter­nal tech­ni­cal issue, and can­celed all open orders. The exchange, a unit of Inter­con­ti­nen­tal Exchange Inc (ICE.N) said the halt was not the result of a cyber-attack. “We chose to sus­pend trad­ing on NYSE to avoid prob­lems aris­ing from our tech­ni­cal issue,” the NYSE tweeted about one hour after trad­ing was sus­pended. Other exchanges were trad­ing normally.

A tech­ni­cal prob­lem at NYSE’s Arca exchange in March caused some of the most pop­u­lar exchange-traded funds to be tem­porar­ily unavail­able for trad­ing. And in August 2013, trad­ing of all Nasdaq-listed stocks was frozen for three hours, lead­ing U.S. Secu­ri­ties and Exchange Com­mis­sion Chair Mary Jo White to call for a meet­ing of Wall Street exec­u­tives to insure “con­tin­u­ous and orderly” func­tion­ing of the markets.

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednes­day that there was no indi­ca­tion of mali­cious actors involved in the tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties expe­ri­enced at the NYSE.

10. We conclude by re-examining one of the most important analytical articles in a long time, David Golumbia’s article in Uncomputing.org about technocrats and their fundamentally undemocratic outlook.

“Tor, Tech­noc­racy, Democracy” by David Golum­bia; Uncomputing.org; 4/23/2015.

What might be described as the thesis statement of this very important piece reads: “Such tech­no­cratic beliefs are wide­spread in our world today, espe­cially in the enclaves of dig­i­tal enthu­si­asts, whether or not they are part of the giant corporate-digital leviathanHack­ers (“civic,” “eth­i­cal,” “white” and “black” hat alike), hack­tivists, Wik­iLeaks fans [and Julian Assange et al–D. E.], Anony­mous “mem­bers,” even Edward Snow­den him­self walk hand-in-hand with Face­book and Google in telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it: the polit­i­cal world is bro­ken, they appear to think (rightly, at least in part), and the solu­tion to that, they think (wrongly, at least for the most part), is for pro­gram­mers to take polit­i­cal mat­ters into their own hands. . . First, [Tor co-creator] Din­gle­dine claimed that Tor must be sup­ported because it fol­lows directly from a fun­da­men­tal “right to pri­vacy.” Yet when pressed—and not that hard—he admits that what he means by “right to pri­vacy” is not what any human rights body or “par­tic­u­lar legal regime” has meant by it. Instead of talk­ing about how human rights are pro­tected, he asserts that human rights are nat­ural rights and that these nat­ural rights cre­ate nat­ural law that is prop­erly enforced by enti­ties above and out­side of demo­c­ra­tic poli­tiesWhere the UN’s Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion on Human Rights of 1948 is very clear that states and bod­ies like the UN to which states belong are the exclu­sive guar­an­tors of human rights, what­ever the ori­gin of those rights, Din­gle­dine asserts that a small group of soft­ware devel­op­ers can assign to them­selves that role, and that mem­bers of demo­c­ra­tic poli­ties have no choice but to accept them hav­ing that role. . . Fur­ther, it is hard not to notice that the appeal to nat­ural rights is today most often asso­ci­ated with the polit­i­cal right, for a vari­ety of rea­sons (ur-neocon Leo Strauss was one of the most promi­nent 20th cen­tury pro­po­nents of these views). We aren’t sup­posed to endorse Tor because we endorse the right: it’s sup­posed to be above the left/right dis­tinc­tion. But it isn’t. . . .

 

Discussion

4 comments for “FTR #854 The Underground Reich and the Obverse Oswald: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook”

  1. Pulmonary embolism at 35 years young – German member of parliament – supporter of Israel and the Jewish people.

    – – –

    Pro-Israel German MP dies at 35

    Netanyahu: Missfelder was ‘a friend of the Jewish people’

    PHILIPP MISSFELDER
    PHILIPP MISSFELDER. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)

    German MP Philipp Missfelder, widely considered to be Berlin’s most passionate political advocate for Israel’s security, died on Monday at the age of 35 due to a pulmonary embolism.

    “The far-too-early death of this member of the Bundestag was noted in Israel with deep sadness,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

    “Missfelder was a friend of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. And he never hesitated to express his friendship with a clear voice. We express our condolences to his family and colleagues in the German Bundestag.”

    Israeli Ambassador to Germany Yakov Hadas-Handelsman said: “The news of the far-too-early death of Philipp Missfelder has shocked all of us. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family. Philipp Missfelder was a great representative of modern German politics and society. His death is a great loss for Germany, but also for Israel. With his sensitive and at the same time decisive engagement, Philipp Missfelder formed, and tirelessly developed, a special relationship between Israel and Germany,” Hadas-Handelsman added.

    “He was a representative of the young German generation, which is engaged for Israel and the entire Jewish community, in equal measure for the meaning of the past and the future,” he continued. “We valued his attainments and we will commit ourselves that his accomplishments remain and that they are stood up for. We will keep Missfelder as a true friend in memory. I, personally, will miss our meetings and our regular conversations from world politics to football.”

    Missfelder was a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and served as the foreign policy spokesperson for the CDU and Christian Social Union parties in the Bundestag.

    A high-level official from the Jewish community in Washington told The Jerusalem Post that Missfelder’s death “is a huge loss for the friends of the Jewish people. He was one of the most dedicated European politicians on security matters and when it came to the defense of Israel, whether attacking UNHRC for its one-sided reports and resolutions against Israel, or the terror entity of Hezbollah, there is no one in Europe who was willing to take as a firm stand as Phillipp.”

    The European Friends of Israel wrote that Missfelder will be remembered as a “as a courageous, passionate and outspoken supporter of Israel, a warrior against anti-Semitism and peerless champion of the special Israel-Germany alliance.”

    Just last week, in reaction to a UN Human Rights Council report on Israel, Missfelder told the Post: “The Jewish state has the obligation and right to protect its territory and citizens.

    Although Hamas frequently used human shields, Israel’s military did everything to prevent losses among the Palestinians.

    Since the end of the operation, Israel has actively supported the rebuilding in Gaza. It would have been better in the UNHRC report to praise the rebuilding than to place blame.”

    Missfelder was the first German politician to demand a complete ban of all of Hezbollah’s organization in the Federal Republic. He is survived by his wife, a physician,

    Posted by participo | July 14, 2015, 9:57 am
  2. Back in April, the German digital rights news site, Netzpolitik.org, issued a rather explosive report: Germany’s domestic intelligence service was setting up a new domestic internet bulk surveillance program and Netzpolitik.org had the classified documents to prove it:

    Netzpolitik.org
    Classified Department: We Unveil the New Unit of the German Domestic Secret Service to Extend Internet Surveillance
    von Andre Meister am 15. April 2015, 20:10

    The German domestic secret service is setting up a new department to improve and extend its internet surveillance capabilities, investing several million Euros. We hereby publish the secret description for the new unit named „Extended Specialist Support Internet“. More than 75 spies are designated to monitor online chats and Facebook, create movement patterns and social network graphs and covertly „collect hidden information.“

    This is an English translation of the original German article. Translation by Anna Biselli.

    Extended Specialist Support Internet

    In June 2014 NDR, WDR and SZ and the newspaper Neues Deutschland reported about a new department at the German domestic security agency Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, BfV): The Extended Specialist Support Internet (Erweiterte Fachunterstützung Internet, EFI). In February 2015 we published an excerpt of the agency’s budget plan for „Bulk Data Analysis of Internet Content“. Hans-Christian Ströbele, Green member of Federal Parliament, followed up on our report and questioned the German Federal Government about it – calling this kind of internet surveillance „illegal“ and „unlawful“.

    Now we received the internal BfV concept document of the new unit labeled „confidential“, which we hereby publish in full: Concept for the implementation of department 3C „Extended Specialist Support Internet“ in the BfV.

    And while we’re on it, we also publish the human resources plan: Personnel Plan of department 3C „Extended Specialist Support Internet“ in the BfV.

    Extending internet surveillance

    This is what it’s all about:

    With the implementation of department 3C we aim at to improve and extend communication surveillance of internet-based individual communication within the scope of the G-10-law (Federal wiretap law similar to IPA in Britain and FISA in the USA). Unit 3C is also supposed to analyze all kinds of data obtained by the BfV from various sources. In the digital age, this data often cannot be analyzed manually anymore. Besides that, 3C will deal with new methods and measures for data analysis that require advanced technical expertise as well as a classification in a complex legal framework, without G-10 being relevant.

    Six units, 75 permanent positions

    The new department 3C is part of Section 3 Central Specialist Support and consists of six units:

    Unit 3C1: Policy, Strategy, Law
    Unit 3C2: Content and technical analysis of G-10 internet information (Cologne)
    Unit 3C3: Content and technical analysis of G-10 internet information (Berlin)
    Unit 3C4: Central data analysis (Cologne)
    Unit 3C5: Central data analysis (Berlin)
    Unit 3C6: IT operational measures, IT-forensic analysis

    Personnel requirements „amounting to 75 full-time positions“ is calculated. As a first step, an initial team tasked with establishing EFI was set up, consisting of 21 positions. An expansion to „51 permanent positions“ was already planned last year. A further increase to 75 positions with almost 100 tasks is likely taking place right now.

    What the domestic security agency is allowed to wiretap

    The German domestic security agency is authorized by G-10-law to derogate the fundamental right to privacy of correspondence, post and telecommunication. The same rules apply to the foreign and military intelligence agencies BND (Federal Intelligence Service) and MAD (Military Shielding Service). But unlike BND, the domestic security agency BfV has to restrict its communication surveillance to individual, suspicion-based cases. Nonetheless, BND collects data from „strategic“ mass surveillance and can legally share that with BfV.

    Furthermore, BfV is allowed to gather traffic and inventory data from data retention and inventory data collection.

    Finally there is also the covert usage of technical measures like eavesdropping with the help of microphones and cameras. BfV is developing new methods like „covert IT surveillance of online services.“

    Bulk analysis of internet content

    The domestic security agency emphasizes publicly that it only targets specific individuals. But as we have reported previously, the agency is spending 2.75 millions Euros to gather and analyze vast amounts of internet content:

    A system for the collection, processing and analysis of bulk internet data should be developed in cooperation with external partners. This shall enable BfV to analyze bulk data and combine relevant information. The aim is to detect previously unknown and hidden connections between relevant persons and groups on the internet.

    This is the task of the new department „Extended Specialist Support Internet“ (EFI).
    Surveillance system Perseus

    So that was interesting! And treason. Or might be treason. At least that was the view of Germany’s chief prosecutor, Harald Range, when he opened up a treason investigation against the two Netzpolitik.org reporters. It also still appeared to be Mr. Range’s views on the topic when he was forced to shutdown the investigation following a public uproar:

    AFP

    German media treason probe sparks major political rift

    8/4/2015

    Berlin (AFP) – A clash between Germany’s chief prosecutor and the justice minister burst into the open Tuesday, sparked by a treason probe into a blog that had published classified security agency files.

    Chief prosecutor Harald Range took the unusual step of openly accusing Justice Minister Heiko Maas of “an intolerable encroachment on the independence of the judiciary”.

    The case centres on the Netzpolitik.org (Net politics) blog, which earlier this year published documents on plans by Germany’s domestic security agency to expand its Internet surveillance.

    Last Thursday the blog revealed that Range’s office had launched a treason investigation into two of its writers — Germany’s first such probe against the media in over half a century.

    The news set off a storm of protest and expressions of solidarity from journalists, bloggers and politicians, who charged the treason case was an attempt to silence investigative reporters.

    On Twitter #Landesverrat (#treason) became a top trending topic and the case sparked a Berlin street rally and online petitions in support of Netzpolitik.

    Maas had also criticised the probe, which Range suspended on Friday, pending advice from an independent expert on whether the published documents were indeed “state secrets”.

    The controversy has flared amid persistent anger over the US National Security Agency’s mass surveillance activities revealed by fugitive intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, and questions about the extent of German cooperation.

    – ‘Chilling effect’ –

    Maas, the justice minister, has the backing of Chancellor Angela Merkel in the spat, her spokeswoman said, and some critics called on Range to step down.

    But on Tuesday the 67-year-old chief prosecutor shot back.

    He said the independent expert had agreed that the documents appeared to be state secrets, as asserted by domestic security agency chief Hans-Georg Maassen.

    Range said he had informed the justice minister of this but was told “to immediately stop” the process of commissioning outside advice.

    The chief prosecutor said he had complied, but he added angrily that “to exert influence on an investigation because its possible outcome may not be politically opportune represents an intolerable encroachment on the independence of the judiciary”.

    “I saw myself obliged to inform the public about this,” he added in a statement.

    On the broader Netzpolitik case, he said: “The freedom of the press and of expression is a valuable asset.

    “But this freedom, including on the Internet, is not limitless. It does not absolve journalists of the duty to comply with the law.”

    Netzpolitik founder Markus Beckedahl said Tuesday he saw the treason probe as an “attempt to intimidate” journalists and their sources to stop reporting on aspects of “the greatest surveillance scandal in the history of humanity”.

    The case also made waves abroad, when the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe urged the probe be stopped, in an open letter to Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

    “The threat of being charged with treason has a clear general chilling effect on journalists engaged in investigative reporting,” wrote OSCE media freedom representative Dunja Mijatovic.

    Note that Range has now been sacked. So it sounds like there’s no official opposition to acknowledging that Germany is setting up a new bulk collection internet surveillance unit. It seems like that would also be viewed as rather scandalous all things considered.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 4, 2015, 2:42 pm
  3. It’s worth noting that Julian Assange recently did an interview where he once again admits that original story about how Snowden ended up in Russia while en route to Ecuador as a result of his US passport getting revoked was a complete fabrication:

    The Guardian
    Julian Assange ‘told Edward Snowden not to seek asylum in Latin America’

    WikiLeaks founder says he told the NSA whistleblower he could be kidnapped or killed, and that he was better off sheltering in Russia despite ‘negative PR’

    Damien Gayle and agencies

    Saturday 29 August 2015 10.36 EDT

    Julian Assange has said he advised the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden against seeking asylum in Latin America because he could have been kidnapped and possibly killed there.

    The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief said he told Snowden to ignore concerns about the “negative PR consequences” of sheltering in Russia because it was one of the few places in the world where the CIA’s influence did not reach.

    In a wide-ranging interview with the Times, Assange also said he feared he would be assassinated if he was ever able to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he sought asylum in 2012 to avoid extradition.

    He accused US officials of breaking the law in their pursuit of him and his whistleblowing organisation, and in subjecting his connections to a campaign of harassment.

    WikiLeaks was intimately involved in the operation to help Snowden evade the US authorities in 2013 after he leaked his cache of intelligence documents to Glenn Greenwald, then a journalist with the Guardian.

    Assange sent one of his most senior staff members, Sarah Harrison, to be at Snowden’s side in Hong Kong, and helped to engineer his escape to Russia – despite his discomfort with the idea of fleeing to one of the US’s most powerful enemies.

    “Snowden was well aware of the spin that would be put on it if he took asylum in Russia,” Assange told the Times.

    “He preferred Latin America, but my advice was that he should take asylum in Russia despite the negative PR consequences, because my assessment is that he had a significant risk he could be kidnapped from Latin America on CIA orders. Kidnapped or possibly killed.”

    However, Assange’s story appears to be at odds with reports from the time, which detail a plan hatched to whisk Snowden from Russia, where he was stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after his US passport was revoked, and into political asylum in Ecuador.

    In a statement issued as the drama unfolded, WikiLeaks said of Snowden: “He is bound for the republic of Ecuador via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisers from WikiLeaks.”

    But the plan unravelled after Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, declared invalid a temporary travel document issued by his London consul – in collaboration with Assange – after other Ecuadorean diplomats said in leaked correspondence that the Wikileaks founder could be perceived as “running the show”.

    Correa went on to criticise the consul, Fidel Narvaez, telling the Associated Press that to have issued the document – which was thought to have been used by Snowden to travel from Hong Kong to Moscow – without consulting Quito was a serious error.

    “However, Assange’s story appears to be at odds with reports from the time, which detail a plan hatched to whisk Snowden from Russia, where he was stuck in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after his US passport was revoked, and into political asylum in Ecuador.”
    Yep.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 1, 2015, 2:44 pm
  4. Fascinating article by John Perry Barlow, can’t believe I haven’t seen this before. From Forbes in 2002. Can’t accuse Barlow of hiding his intel ties, he’ll tell you all about it! To me, this is practically a historical document, as it hints at the thinking that inevitably lead to Inqtel, Geofeedia, Palantir, Facebook, etc. Including whole article, but here are a few passages that jumped out at me.

    http://www.forbes.com/asap/2002/1007/042_print.html

    This part cracks me up: it’s “mystical superstition” to imagine that wires leaving a building are also wires ENTERING a building? Seriously? For a guy who never shuts up about networking, he should get that there is nothing “mystical” about such a notion. It’s exactly how attackers get in. If you are connected to the internet, you are not truly secure. Period.

    “All of their primitive networks had an “air wall,” or physical separation, from the Internet. They admitted that it might be even more dangerous to security to remain abstracted from the wealth of information that had already assembled itself there, but they had an almost mystical superstition that wires leaving the agency would also be wires entering it, a veritable superhighway for invading cyberspooks. ”

    Here, JPB brags about his connections and who he brought back to CIA. I’ve always had spooky feelings about Cerf, Dyson, and Kapor. Don’t know Rutkowski. But the other three are serious players, and Cerf and Kapor are heavily involved with EFF. You know, because the EFF is all about standing up for the little guy.

    “They told me they’d brought Steve Jobs in a few weeks before to indoctrinate them in modern information management. And they were delighted when I returned later, bringing with me a platoon of Internet gurus, including Esther Dyson, Mitch Kapor, Tony Rutkowski, and Vint Cerf. They sealed us into an electronically impenetrable room to discuss the radical possibility that a good first step in lifting their blackout would be for the CIA to put up a Web site”

    This next part SCREAMS of intel’s ties to the “social media explosion”. I think this passage is what qualifies Barlow’s article as a historical doc of some value.

    “Let’s create a process of information digestion in which inexpensive data are gathered from largely open sources and condensed, through an open process, into knowledge terse and insightful enough to inspire wisdom in our leaders.

    The entity I envision would be small, highly networked, and generally visible. It would be open to information from all available sources and would classify only information that arrived classified. It would rely heavily on the Internet, public media, the academic press, and an informal worldwide network of volunteers–a kind of global Neighborhood Watch–that would submit on-the-ground reports.

    It would use off-the-shelf technology, and use it less for gathering data than for collating and communicating them. Being off-the-shelf, it could deploy tools while they were still state-of-the-art.

    I imagine this entity staffed initially with librarians, journalists, linguists, scientists, technologists, philosophers, sociologists, cultural historians, theologians, economists, philosophers, and artists-a lot like the original CIA, the OSS, under “Wild Bill” Donovan. Its budget would be under the direct authority of the President, acting through the National Security Adviser. Congressional oversight would reside in the committees on science and technology (and not under the congressional Joint Committee on Intelligence). ”

    http://www.forbes.com/asap/2002/1007/042_2.html

    Why Spy?
    John Perry Barlow, 10.07.02

    If the spooks can’t analyze their own data, why call it intelligence?
    For more than a year now, there has been a deluge of stories and op-ed pieces about the failure of the American intelligence community to detect or prevent the September 11, 2001, massacre.

    Nearly all of these accounts have expressed astonishment at the apparent incompetence of America’s watchdogs.

    I’m astonished that anyone’s astonished.

    The visual impairment of our multitudinous spookhouses has long been the least secret of their secrets. Their shortcomings go back 50 years, when they were still presumably efficient but somehow failed to detect several million Chinese military “volunteers” heading south into Korea. The surprise attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were only the most recent oversight disasters. And for service like this we are paying between $30 billion and $50 billion a year. Talk about a faith-based initiative.

    After a decade of both fighting with and consulting to the intelligence community, I’ve concluded that the American intelligence system is broken beyond repair, self-protective beyond reform, and permanently fixated on a world that no longer exists.

    I was introduced to this world by a former spy named Robert Steele, who called me in the fall of 1992 and asked me to speak at a Washington conference that would be “attended primarily by intelligence professionals.” Steele seemed interesting, if unsettling. A former Marine intelligence officer, Steele moved to the CIA and served three overseas tours in clandestine intelligence, at least one of them “in a combat environment” in Central America.

    After nearly two decades of service in the shadows, Steele emerged with a lust for light and a belief in what he calls, in characteristic spook-speak, OSINT, or open source intelligence. Open source intelligence is assembled from what is publicly available, in media, public documents, the Net, wherever. It’s a given that such materials–and the technological tools for analyzing them–are growing exponentially these days. But while OSINT may be a timely notion, it’s not popular in a culture where the phrase “information is power” means something brutally concrete and where sources are “owned.”

    At that time, intelligence was awakening to the Internet, the ultimate open source. Steele’s conference was attended by about 600 members of the American and European intelligence establishment, including many of its senior leaders. For someone whose major claim to fame was hippie song-mongering, addressing such an audience made me feel as if I’d suddenly become a character in a Thomas Pynchon novel.

    Nonetheless, I sallied forth, confidently telling the gray throng that power lay not in concealing information but in distributing it, that the Internet would endow small groups of zealots with the capacity to wage credible assaults on nation-states, that young hackers could easily run circles around old spies.

    I didn’t expect a warm reception, but it wasn’t as if I was interviewing for a job.

    Or so I thought. When I came offstage, a group of calm, alert men awaited. They seemed eager, in their undemonstrative way, to pursue these issues further. Among them was Paul Wallner, the CIA’s open source coordinator. Wallner wanted to know if I would be willing to drop by, have a look around, and discuss my ideas with a few folks.

    A few weeks later, in early 1993, I passed through the gates of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, and entered a chilled silence, a zone of paralytic paranoia and obsessive secrecy, and a technological time capsule straight out of the early ’60s. The Cold War was officially over, but it seemed the news had yet to penetrate where I now found myself.

    If, in 1993, you wanted to see the Soviet Union still alive and well, you’d go to Langley, where it was preserved in the methods, assumptions, and architecture of the CIA.

    Where I expected to see computers, there were teletype machines. At the nerve core of The Company, five analysts sat around a large, wooden lazy Susan. Beside each of them was a teletype, chattering in uppercase. Whenever a message came in to, say, the Eastern Europe analyst that might be of interest to the one watching events in Latin America, he’d rip it out of the machine, put it on the turntable, and rotate it to the appropriate quadrant.

    The most distressing discovery of my first expedition was the nearly universal frustration of employees at the intransigence of the beast they inhabited. They felt forced into incompetence by information hoarding and noncommunication, both within the CIA and with other related agencies. They hated their primitive technology. They felt unappreciated, oppressed, demoralized. “Somehow, over the last 35 years, there was an information revolution,” one of them said bleakly, “and we missed it.”

    They were cut off. But at least they were trying. They told me they’d brought Steve Jobs in a few weeks before to indoctrinate them in modern information management. And they were delighted when I returned later, bringing with me a platoon of Internet gurus, including Esther Dyson, Mitch Kapor, Tony Rutkowski, and Vint Cerf. They sealed us into an electronically impenetrable room to discuss the radical possibility that a good first step in lifting their blackout would be for the CIA to put up a Web site.

    They didn’t see how this would be possible without compromising their security. All of their primitive networks had an “air wall,” or physical separation, from the Internet. They admitted that it might be even more dangerous to security to remain abstracted from the wealth of information that had already assembled itself there, but they had an almost mystical superstition that wires leaving the agency would also be wires entering it, a veritable superhighway for invading cyberspooks.

    We explained to them how easy it would be to have two networks, one connected to the Internet for gathering information from open sources and a separate intranet, one that would remain dedicated to classified data. We told them that information exchange was a barter system, and that to receive, one must also be willing to share. This was an alien notion to them. They weren’t even willing to share information among themselves, much less the world.

    In the end, they acquiesced. They put up a Web site, and I started to get email from people @cia.gov, indicating that the Internet had made it to Langley. But the cultural terror of releasing anything of value remains. Go to their Web site today and you will find a lot of press releases, as well as descriptions of maps and publications that you can acquire only by buying them in paper. The unofficial al Qaeda Web site, http://www.almuhajiroun.com, is considerably more revealing.

    This dogma of secrecy is probably the most persistently damaging fallout from “the Soviet factor” at the CIA and elsewhere in the intelligence “community.” Our spooks stared so long at what Churchill called “a mystery surrounded by a riddle wrapped in an enigma,” they became one themselves. They continue to be one, despite the evaporation of their old adversary, as well as a long series of efforts by elected authorities to loosen the white-knuckled grip on their secrets.

    The most recent of these was the 1997 Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, led by Senator Patrick Moynihan. The Moynihan Commission released a withering report charging intelligence agencies with excessive classification and citing a long list of adverse consequences ranging from public distrust to concealed (and therefore irremediable) organizational failures.

    That same year, Moynihan proposed a bill called the Government Secrecy Reform Act. Cosponsored by conservative Republicans Jesse Helms and Trent Lott, among others, this legislation was hardly out to gut American intelligence. But the spooks fought back effectively through the Clinton Administration and so weakened the bill that one of its cosponsors, Congressman Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), concluded that it would be better not to pass what remained.

    A few of its recommendations eventually were wrapped into the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2000. But of these, the only one with any operational force–a requirement that a public-interest declassification board be established to advise the Administration in these matters-has never been implemented. Thanks to the vigorous interventions of the Clinton White House, the cult of secrecy remained unmolested.

    One might be surprised to learn that Clintonians were so pro-secrecy. In fact, they weren’t. But they lacked the force to dominate their wily subordinates. Indeed, in 1994, one highly placed White House staffer told me that their incomprehensible crypto policies arose from being “afraid of the NSA.”

    In May 2000, I began to understand what they were up against. I was invited to speak to the Intelligence Community Collaboration Conference (a title that contained at least four ironies). The other primary speaker was Air Force Lt. General Mike Hayden, the newly appointed director of the NSA. He said he felt powerless, though he was determined not to remain that way.

    “I had been on the job for a while before I realized that I have no staff,” he complained. “Everything the agency does had been pushed down into the components…it’s all being managed several levels below me.” In other words, the NSA had developed an immune system against external intervention.

    Hayden recognized how excessive secrecy had damaged intelligence, and he was determined to fix it. “We were America’s information age enterprise in the industrial age. Now we have to do that same task in the information age, and we find ourselves less adept,” he said.

    He also vowed to diminish the CIA’s competitiveness with other agencies. (This is a problem that remains severe, even though it was first identified by the Hoover Commission in 1949.) Hayden decried “the stovepipe mentality” where information is passed vertically through many bureaucratic layers but rarely passes horizontally. “We are riddled with watertight information compartments,” he said. “At the massive agency level, if I had to ask, ‘Do we need blue gizmos?’ the only person I could ask was the person whose job security depended on there being more blue gizmos.”

    Like the CIA I encountered, Hayden’s NSA was also a lot like the Soviet Union; secretive unto itself, sullen, and grossly inefficient. The NSA was also, by his account, as technologically maladroit as its rival in Langley. Hayden wondered, for example, why the director of what was supposedly one of the most sophisticated agencies in the world would have four phones on his desk. Direct electronic contact between him and the consumers of his information–namely the President and National Security staff–was virtually nil. There were, he said, thousands of unlinked, internally generated operating systems inside the NSA, incapable of exchanging information with one another.

    Hayden recognized the importance of getting over the Cold War. “Our targets are no longer controlled by the technological limitations of the Soviet Union, a slow, primitive, underfunded foe. Now [our enemies] have access to state-of-the-art….In 40 years the world went from 5,000 stand-alone computers, many of which we owned, to 420 million computers, many of which are better than ours.”

    But there wasn’t much evidence that it was going to happen anytime soon. While Hayden spoke, the 200 or so high-ranking intelligence officials in the audience sat with their arms folded defensively across their chests. When I got up to essentially sing the same song in a different key, I asked them, as a favor, not to assume that posture while I was speaking. I then watched a Strangelovian spectacle when, during my talk, many arms crept up to cross involuntarily and were thrust back down to their sides by force of embarrassed will.

    That said, I draw a clear distinction between the institutions of intelligence and the folks who staff them.

    All of the actual people I’ve encountered in intelligence are, in fact, intelligent. They are dedicated and thoughtful. How then, can the institutional sum add up to so much less than the parts? Because another, much larger, combination of factors is also at work: bureaucracy and secrecy.

    Bureaucracies naturally use secrecy to immunize themselves against hostile investigation, from without or within. This tendency becomes an autoimmune disorder when the bureaucracy is actually designed to be secretive and is wholly focused on other, similar institutions. The counterproductive information hoarding, the technological backwardness, the unaccountability, the moral laxity, the suspicion of public information, the arrogance, the xenophobia (and resulting lack of cultural and linguistic sophistication), the risk aversion, the recruiting homogeneity, the inward-directedness, the preference for data acquisition over information dissemination, and the uselessness of what is disseminated-all are the natural, and now fully mature, whelps of bureaucracy and secrecy.

    Not surprisingly, people who work there believe that job security and power are defined by the amount of information one can stop from moving. You become more powerful based on your capacity to know things that no one else does. The same applies, in concentric circles of self-protection, to one’s team, department, section, and agency. How can data be digested into useful information in a system like that?

    How can we expect the CIA and FBI to share information with each other when they’re disinclined to share it within their own organizations? The resulting differences cut deep. One of the revelations of the House Report on Counterterrorism Intelligence Capabilities and Performance Prior to September 11 was that none of the responsible agencies even shared the same definition of terrorism. It’s hard to find something when you can’t agree on what you’re looking for.

    The information they do divulge is also flawed in a variety of ways. The “consumers” (as they generally call policymakers) are unable to determine the reliability of what they’re getting because the sources are concealed. Much of what they get is too undigested and voluminous to be useful to someone already suffering from information overload. And it comes with strings attached. As one general put it, “I don’t want information that requires three security officers and a safe to move it in around the battlefield.”

    As a result, the consumers are increasingly more inclined to get their information from public sources. Secretary of State Colin Powell says that he prefers “the Early Bird,” a compendium of daily newspaper stories, to the President’s Daily Brief (the CIA’s ultimate product).

    The same is apparently true within the agencies themselves. Although their finished products rarely make explicit use of what’s been gleaned from the media, analysts routinely turn there for information. On the day I first visited the CIA’s “mission control” room, the analysts around the lazy Susan often turned their attention to the giant video monitors overhead. Four of these were showing the same CNN feed.

    Secrecy also breeds technological stagnation. In the early ’90s, I was speaking to personnel from the Department of Energy nuclear labs about computer security. I told them I thought their emphasis on classification might be unnecessary because making a weapon was less a matter of information than of industrial capacity. The recipe for a nuclear bomb has been generally available since 1978, when John Aristotle Phillips published plans in The Progressive. What’s not so readily available is the plutonium and tritium, which require an entire nation to produce. Given that, I couldn’t see why they were being so secretive.

    The next speaker was Dr. Edward Teller, who surprised me by not only agreeing but pointing out both the role of open discourse in scientific progress, as well as the futility of most information security. “If we made an important nuclear discovery, the Russians were usually able to get it within a year,” he said. He went on: “After World War II we were ahead of the Soviets in nuclear technology and about even with them in electronics. We maintained a closed system for nuclear design while designing electronics in the open. Their systems were closed in both regards. After 40 years, we are at parity in nuclear science, whereas, thanks to our open system in the study of electronics, we are decades ahead of the Russians.”

    There is also the sticky matter of budgetary accountability. The director of Central Intelligence (DCI) is supposed to be in charge of all the functions of intelligence. In fact, he has control over less than 15% of the total budget, directing only the CIA. Several of the different intelligence-reform commissions that have been convened since 1949 have called for consolidating budgetary authority under the DCI, but it has never happened.

    With such hazy oversight, the intelligence agencies naturally become wasteful and redundant. They spent their money on toys like satellite-imaging systems and big-iron computers (often obsolete by the time they’re deployed) rather than developing the organizational capacity for analyzing all those snapshots from space, or training analysts in languages other than English and Russian, or infiltrating potentially dangerous groups, or investing in the resources necessary for good HUMINT (as they poetically call information gathered by humans operating on the ground).

    In fact, fewer than 10% of the millions of satellite photographs taken have ever been seen by anybody. Only one-third of the employees at the CIA speak any language besides English. Even if they do, it’s generally either Russian or some common European language. Of what use are the NSA’s humongous code-breaking computers if no one can read the plain text extracted from the encrypted stream?

    Another systemic deficit of intelligence lies, interestingly enough, in the area of good old-fashioned spying. Although its intentions were noble, the ’70s Church Committee had a devastating effect on this necessary part of intelligence work. It caught the CIA in a number of dubious covert operations and took the guilty to task.

    But rather than listen to the committee’s essential message that they should renounce the sorts of nefarious deeds the public would repudiate and limit secrecy to essential security considerations, the leadership responded by pulling most of its agents out of the field, aside from a few hired traitors.

    Despite all the efforts aimed at sharpening their tools, intelligence officials have only become progressively duller and more expensive. We enter an era of asymmetrical threats, distributed over the entire globe, against which our most effective weapon is understanding. Yet we are still protected by agencies geared to gazing on a single, centralized threat, using methods that optimize obfuscation. What is to be done?

    We might begin by asking what intelligence should do. The answer is simple: Intelligence exists to provide decision makers with an accurate, comprehensive, and unbiased understanding of what’s going on in the world. In other words, intelligence defines reality for those whose actions could alter it. “Given our basic mission,” one analyst said wearily, “we’d do better to study epistemology than missile emplacements.”

    If we are serious about defining reality, we might look at the system that defines reality for most of us: scientific discourse. The scientific method is straightforward. Theories are openly advanced for examination and trial by others in the field. Scientists toil to create systems to make all the information available to one immediately available to all. They don’t like secrets. They base their reputations on their ability to distribute their conclusions rather than the ability to conceal them. They recognize that “truth” is based on the widest possible consensus of perceptions. They are committed free marketeers in the commerce of thought. This method has worked fabulously well for 500 years. It might be worth a try in the field of intelligence.

    Intelligence has been focused on gathering information from expensive closed sources, such as satellites and clandestine agents. Let’s attempt to turn that proposition around. Let’s create a process of information digestion in which inexpensive data are gathered from largely open sources and condensed, through an open process, into knowledge terse and insightful enough to inspire wisdom in our leaders.

    The entity I envision would be small, highly networked, and generally visible. It would be open to information from all available sources and would classify only information that arrived classified. It would rely heavily on the Internet, public media, the academic press, and an informal worldwide network of volunteers–a kind of global Neighborhood Watch–that would submit on-the-ground reports.

    It would use off-the-shelf technology, and use it less for gathering data than for collating and communicating them. Being off-the-shelf, it could deploy tools while they were still state-of-the-art.

    I imagine this entity staffed initially with librarians, journalists, linguists, scientists, technologists, philosophers, sociologists, cultural historians, theologians, economists, philosophers, and artists-a lot like the original CIA, the OSS, under “Wild Bill” Donovan. Its budget would be under the direct authority of the President, acting through the National Security Adviser. Congressional oversight would reside in the committees on science and technology (and not under the congressional Joint Committee on Intelligence).

    There are, of course, problems with this proposal. First, it does not address the pressing need to reestablish clandestine human intelligence. Perhaps this new Open Intelligence Office (OIO) could also work closely with a Clandestine Intelligence Bureau, also separate from the traditional agencies, to direct infiltrators and moles who would report their observations to the OIO through a technological membrane that would strip their identities from their findings. The operatives would be legally restricted to gathering information, with harsh penalties attached to any engagement in covert operations.

    The other problem is the “Saturn” dilemma. Once this new entity begins to demonstrate its effectiveness in providing insight to policymakers that is concise, timely, and accurate (as I believe it would), almost certainly traditional agencies would try to haul it back into the mother ship and break it (as has happened to the Saturn division at General Motors). I don’t know how to deal with that one. It’s the nature of bureaucracies to crush competition. No one at the CIA would be happy to hear that the only thing the President and cabinet read every morning is the OIO report.

    But I think we can deal with that problem when we’re lucky enough to have it. Knowing that it’s likely to occur may be sufficient. A more immediate problem would be keeping existing agencies from aborting the OIO as soon as someone with the power to create it started thinking it might be a good idea. And, of course, there’s also the unlikelihood that anyone who thinks that the Department of Homeland Security is a good idea would ever entertain such a possibility.

    Right now, we have to do something, and preferably something useful. The U.S. has just taken its worst hit from the outside since 1941. Our existing systems for understanding the world are designed to understand a world that no longer exists. It’s time to try something that’s the right kind of crazy. It’s time to end the more traditional insanity of endlessly repeating the same futile efforts.

    John Perry Barlow is cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His last essay for Forbes ASAP was “The Pursuit of Emptiness,” in Big Issue VI: The Pursuit of Happiness.

    Posted by Tiffany Sunderson | October 18, 2016, 10:25 am

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