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.

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

“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:

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.


“[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. . . .



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. (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:

    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:


    Ger­man media trea­son probe sparks major polit­i­cal rift


    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.”

    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.


    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). ”


    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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