Executive Secrecy, CIA Disclosures,
Revealing News Articles
June 28, 2007
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on secrecy within the U.S. Executive Branch, CIA disclosures, preparations for cyberwarfare, and more. Each excerpt is taken verbatim from the major media website listed at the link provided. If any link fails to function, click here. Key sentences are highlighted for those with limited time. By choosing to educate ourselves and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.
Stung by Harper's In a Web Of Deceit
June 25, 2007, Washington Post
Ken Silverstein says he lied, deceived and fabricated to get the story. But it was worth it, he insists. Those on the receiving end don't agree. As Washington editor of Harper's magazine, Silverstein posed as Kenneth Case, a London-based executive with the fictional Maldon Group, claiming to represent the government of Turkmenistan. He had fake business cards printed, bought a London cellphone number and created a bogus Web site -- all to persuade Beltway lobbying firms to pitch him on representing Turkmenistan. "For me to deny, or try to shade the fact that I tricked them would be stupid," Silverstein says. "Obviously we did. If our readers feel uncomfortable, they're free to dismiss the findings of the story." Says Harper's Editor Roger Hodge: "The big question in our mind was whether anybody was going to fall for it." They did. According to Harper's, executives at the Washington firm APCO Worldwide laid out a communications plan that included lobbying policymakers -- possibly including a trip for members of Congress -- and generating "news items." Senior Vice President Barry Schumacher told Silverstein the firm could drum up positive op-ed pieces by utilizing certain think tank experts. The proposed fee: $40,000 a month. Another Washington firm, Cassidy & Associates, asked for at least $1.2 million a year and touted a proposed trip to Turkmenistan for journalists and think tank analysts. Hodge says the caper is part of "a long history of sting operations" by journalists. But that undercover tradition has faded in recent years. No newspaper today would do what the Chicago Sun-Times did in the 1970s, setting up a bar to entrap crooked politicians. Fewer television programs are doing what ABC did in the 1990s, having producers lie to get jobs at a supermarket chain to expose unsanitary practices.
Note: To read the hard-hitting, in-depth article in Harper's magazine, click here.
White House of Mirrors
June 24, 2007, New York Times
President Bush has turned the executive branch into a two-way mirror. They get to see everything Americans do: our telephone calls, e-mail, and all manner of personal information. And we get to see nothing about what they do. Everyone knows this administration has disdained openness and accountability since its first days. That is about the only thing it does not hide. But recent weeks have produced disturbing disclosures about just how far Mr. Bush's team is willing to go to keep lawmakers and the public in the dark. That applies to big issues – like the C.I.A.'s secret prisons – and to things that would seem too small-bore to order up a cover-up. Vice President Dick Cheney sets the gold standard, placing himself not just above Congress and the courts but above Mr. Bush himself. For the last four years, he has been defying a presidential order requiring executive branch agencies to account for the classified information they handle. When the agency that enforces this rule tried to do its job, Mr. Cheney proposed abolishing the agency. Since the 9/11 attacks, Mr. Bush has tried to excuse his administration's obsession with secrecy by saying that dangerous times require greater discretion. He rammed the Patriot Act through Congress with a promise that national security agencies would make sure the new powers were not abused. But on June 14, The Washington Post reported that the [FBI] potentially broke the law or its own rules several thousand times over the past five years when it used the Patriot Act to snoop on domestic phone calls, e-mail and financial transactions of ordinary Americans.
When Computers Attack
June 24, 2007, New York Times
Anyone who follows technology or military affairs has heard the predictions for more than a decade. Cyberwar is coming. Although the long-announced, long-awaited computer-based conflict has yet to occur, the forecast grows more ominous with every telling: an onslaught is brought by a warring nation, backed by its brains and computing resources; banks and other businesses in the enemy states are destroyed; governments grind to a halt; telephones disconnect. Industrial remote-control technologies known as Scada systems, for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition ... allow remote monitoring and control of operations like manufacturing production lines and civil works projects like dams. So security experts envision terrorists at a keyboard remotely shutting down factory floors or opening a dam's floodgates to devastate cities downstream. But how bad would a cyberwar really be – especially when compared with the blood-and-guts genuine article? And is there really a chance it would happen at all? Whatever the answer, governments are readying themselves for the Big One. The United States is arming up. Robert Elder, commander of the Air Force Cyberspace Command, told reporters ... that his newly formed command, which defends military data, communications and control networks, is learning how to disable an opponent's computer networks and crash its databases. "We want to go in and knock them out in the first round," he said, as reported on Military.com.
White House Defends Cheney's Refusal of Oversight
June 23, 2007, Washington Post
The White House defended Vice President Cheney yesterday in a dispute over his office's refusal to comply with an executive order regulating the handling of classified information as Democrats and other critics assailed him for disregarding rules that others follow. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Cheney is not obligated to submit to oversight by an office that safeguards classified information, as other members and parts of the executive branch are. Cheney's office has contended that it does not have to comply because the vice president serves as president of the Senate, which means that his office is not an "entity within the executive branch." Cheney is not subject to the executive order, she said, "because the president gets to decide whether or not he should be treated separately, and he's decided that he should." Democratic critics said Cheney is distorting the plain meaning of the executive order. "Vice President Cheney is expanding the administration's policy on torture to include tortured logic," said Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.). "In the end, neither Mr. Cheney or his staff is above the law or the Constitution." The dispute stems from an executive order ... establishing a uniform, government-wide system for protecting classified information. Cheney's office, like its predecessor, filed reports about its handling of classified information to the National Archives and Records Administration oversight office in 2001 and 2002 but has refused to do so since. His office also blocked an on-site inspection to examine its handling of classified data.
Bush claims oversight exemption too
June 23, 2007, Los Angeles Times
The White House said ... that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information. An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 ... requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said. From the start, Bush considered his office and Cheney's exempt from the reporting requirements, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. Those two offices have access to the most highly classified information. Fratto conceded that the lengthy directive, technically an amendment to an existing executive order, did not specifically exempt the president's or vice president's offices. Instead, it refers to "agencies" as being subject to the requirements, which Fratto said did not include the two executive offices. "It does take a little bit of inference," Fratto said. Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' government secrecy project, disputed the White House explanation of the executive order. He noted that the order defines "agency" as any executive agency, military department and "any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information" – which, he said, includes Bush's and Cheney's offices.
CIA to Air Decades of Its Dirty Laundry
June 22, 2007, Washington Post
The CIA will declassify hundreds of pages of long-secret records detailing some of the intelligence agency's worst illegal abuses -- the so-called "family jewels" documenting a quarter-century of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying, kidnapping and infiltration of leftist groups ... CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said yesterday. The documents ... also include accounts of break-ins and theft, the agency's opening of private mail to and from China and the Soviet Union, wiretaps and surveillance of journalists, and a series of "unwitting" tests on U.S. civilians, including the use of drugs. The documents have been sought for decades by historians, journalists and conspiracy theorists and have been the subject of many fruitless Freedom of Information Act requests. In anticipation of the CIA's release, the National Security Archive at George Washington University yesterday published a separate set of documents from January 1975 detailing internal government discussions of the abuses. Those documents portray a rising sense of panic within the administration of President Gerald R. Ford that what then-CIA Director William E. Colby called "skeletons" in the CIA's closet had begun to be revealed in news accounts. "It's surely part of [Hayden's] program now to draw a bright line with the past," said National Security Archive Director Thomas S. Blanton. "But it's uncanny how the government keeps dipping into the black bag." Newly revealed details of ancient CIA operations, Blanton said, "are pretty resonant today."
C.I.A. Chief Tries Preaching a Culture of More Openness
June 22, 2007, New York Times
William E. Colby faced an uneasy decision in late 1973 when he took over the Central Intelligence Agency: whether to make public the agency's internal accounting, then being compiled, of its domestic spying, assassination plots and other misdeeds since its founding nearly three decades earlier. Mr. Colby decided to keep the so-called family jewels a secret, and wrote in his memoir in 1978 that he believed the agency's already sullied reputation ... could not have withstood a public airing of all its dirty laundry. So why, at a time when the agency has again been besieged by criticism, this time for its program of secret detentions and interrogations since the Sept. 11 attacks, would the current director, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, decide to declassify the same documents that Mr. Colby chose to keep secret? General Hayden said it was essential for the C.I.A. ... to be as open as possible in order to build public trust and dispel myths surrounding its operations. The more that the agency can tell the public, he said, the less chance that misinformation among the public will "fill the vacuum." It was this outlook that General Hayden, whose public relations skills are well known in Washington, brought to an earlier job. There, as director of the National Security Agency, he tried to overhaul the N.S.A.'s public image – that of the shadowy, menacing organization portrayed in the movie "Enemy of the State" – by inviting reporters to briefings and authorizing its officials to speak to the author James Bamford for his book on the agency, "Body of Secrets."
Note: For a brief summary of and links to further information about James Bamford's important book on the NSA, Body of Secrets, click here.
Osama Flight Shocker
June 21, 2007, New York Post
Osama bin Laden was suspected of chartering a plane that carried his family and other Saudis from the United States shortly after 9/11, according to FBI documents released yesterday. One FBI document referred to a Ryan Air 727 plane that left Los Angeles on Sept. 19, 2001, carrying Saudi nationals. "The plane was chartered either by the Saudi Arabian royal family or Osama bin Laden," according to the document obtained by Judicial Watch. The flight made stops in Orlando, Washington, D.C. and Boston, and terminated in Paris. Asked about the documents' assertion, an FBI spokesman said, "There is no new information here. Osama bin Laden did not charter a flight out of the U.S."
Note: To read an excellent article on the implications of this brief report, click here.
Extraordinary Kiwis: Saving the World
June 23, 2007, TVNZ.co.nz (New Zealand's leading TV station)
A garage in an Auckland suburb is an unlikely laboratory for a 57-year-old millionaire with a passion to change the world. But Ray Avery is anything but typical. A charismatic Kiwi ... he's taken a horrific childhood, combined it with a passion and prodigious aptitude for science and turned it into a motivation to change the world. Ray now runs Medicine Mondiale, a non-profit aid organisation dedicated to doing things differently. Medicine Mondiale is based from his home ... and his garage has been converted into high tech lab. Here Ray works designing and developing simple and sustainable medical solutions for the many health problems in the developing world. He enlists the help of other scientists and experts to work on specific projects with him. Ray dragged himself up by the bootstraps, from a childhood in orphanages and on the streets of London, to become a scientist, businessman and self-made millionaire. After coming to New Zealand, a chance meeting with Fred Hollows (world renowned eye surgeon) set him on a path to Eritrea and Nepal to build lens factories for the Fred Hollows Foundation. Exposure to the raw and real shortcomings of heath care in these regions made him determined to use his knowledge of pharmaceuticals, science, project management, design and development to tackle the issues at a very practical level.
Key Articles From Years Past
Rwandan Genocide Survivor Recalls Horror
November 30, 2006, CBS News
The genocide in Rwanda 12 years ago was the most efficient ever carried out. 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days. One incredible and inspiring survivor's tale has come to light only recently. It took Immaculee Ilibagiza, a college-educated young woman from a remote village, many years before she could confront the horrors she lived through. She is speaking out now, she says, to prevent further atrocities. It was extremely low tech ... just machetes, spears and knives, wielded by Hutus, the majority tribe as they tried to wipe out the minority Tutsis. [They] were slaughtered in their tracks, wherever they were found. When it was over, three out of every four Tutsis in Rwanda had been killed. When it began, Immaculee's father told her to run to a minister's house three miles away, and to beg him to hide her. The minister was a Hutu. [He] put Immaculee and six other women in a tiny, rarely used bathroom in a remote corner of the house. Seven women were huddled in a bathroom measuring three feet by four feet, for 91 days. They took turns standing and stretching. "They were searching. They were there all the time," Immaculee remembers. She lost 40 pounds – one third of herself. What prompted the genocide? The Hutus had long-standing resentments against the Tutsis, who formed the nation's elite. There are things you can point to, but ... what could possibly explain what happened? Immaculee knows Rwandans can never forget but believes they must forgive. Revenge ... only prolongs the pain. Now she's a woman on a mission to spread the story ... hoping it can prevent future atrocities. She has giving lectures; she has written a book; and she is determined to stop the inevitable revisionists who claim the genocide never happened.
Note: An intense video clip of this story is available at the CBS link above. This article fails to mention the key fact that top officials in developing nations knew very well of the mass murder as it was happening, yet refused to send help. This is graphically portrayed in the powerful movie Hotel Rwanda. Immacullee's amazing book, Left to Tell, has been an huge inspiration to many people around the world.
State take from corporate income falls
April 15, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Individual Californians are shouldering an increasing percentage of the state's general fund, while the share of revenue from corporate income taxes has declined, according to a new analysis by a think tank in Sacramento. "Over time, the burden of paying for public services has, in a fairly dramatic way, shifted from businesses to individuals,'' said Jean Ross, director of the nonprofit California Budget Project in Sacramento. Ross went back more than 40 years to track how much the state derived from its three main revenue sources: personal income tax, sales tax and corporate income tax. Over time, income taxes paid by individuals have risen to fill half of the state's coffers, while corporate income taxes have fallen to about 10 percent of the take. Dan Bucks, executive director of the Multistate Tax Commission, said the decline in corporate taxes as a share of state coffers is occurring in all 47 states that levy some form of business or corporate tax. "Our data indicate that ... corporate income taxes were 9.7 percent of state revenues in 1980 and 4.9 percent in 2002,'' he said. Personal income taxes -- levied in more than 40 states -- have also risen nationwide "in a virtually straight line,'' he said. Corporations have gotten better at sheltering income from both federal and state taxes. For instance, the General Accounting Office, watchdog agency of Congress, recently reported that more than 60 percent of U.S. corporations paid no federal taxes from 1996 through 2000.
Shooting the messenger: Report on layoffs killed
January 3, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
The Bush administration ... has quietly killed off a Labor Department program that tracked mass layoffs by U.S. companies. The statistic ... comprised an easy-to-understand overview of which industries are in the greatest distress and which workers are bearing the brunt of the turmoil. Sharon Brown oversaw compilation of the mass-layoffs number at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington. "This was a high-quality program, producing timely information on important developments in the labor market," Brown said. The $6.6 million in annual funding for the mass-layoffs program ... was channeled through the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration. When that agency decided it needed more cash ... the Bureau of Labor Statistics was told to look elsewhere for its budget needs. Apparently no extra money was to be found anywhere within the Labor Department, which had a total budget of $44.4 billion last year, up from $39.2 billion in 2001. The same conclusion was reached in 1992 when the first President Bush canceled the Mass-Layoffs Statistics program. Now Bush the younger is following in his father's footsteps, once again deciding that the American people have no real need to know how many mass layoffs are made each month.
July 1, 1974, Time Magazine
The experiment looks like some ingenious test of mental telepathy. Seated inside a small isolation booth with wires trailing from the helmet on her head, the subject seems deep in concentration. She does not speak or move. Suddenly, a little white dot hovering in the center of the screen comes to life. It sweeps to the top of the screen, then it reverses itself and comes back down. After a pause, it veers to the right, stops, moves to the left, momentarily speeds up and finally halts – almost as if it were under the control of some external intelligence. In fact, it is. The unusual experiment, conducted at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif., is a graphic display of one of the newest and most dazzling breakthroughs in cybernetics. It shows that a computer can, in a very real sense, read human minds. Although the dot's gyrations were directed by a computer, the machine was only carrying out the orders of the test subject. She, in turn, did nothing more than think about what the dot's movements should be. Brainchild of S.R.I. Researcher Lawrence Pinneo, a ... neurophysiologist and electronics engineer, the computer mind-reading technique is far more than a laboratory stunt. The key to his scheme: the electroencephalograph, a device used by medical researchers to pick up electrical currents from various parts of the brain. If he could learn to identify brain waves generated by specific thoughts or commands ... he might be able to teach the same skill to a computer. Pinneo does not worry that mind-reading computers might be abused by Big Brotherly governments or overly zealous police trying to ferret out the innermost thoughts of citizens.
Note: This research conducted in 1974 shows that the capability for computers to respond to human thought was developed decades ago. The subject was classified top secret and continued to be developed secretly by the military and government, but kept well-hidden from public view. For more on this important topic, click here.
Special Note: To see an astounding 7-minute clip from CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) on mind control, click here.
Inspiration Note: For a recent three-minute news clip seen by millions on Challenge Day, a powerfully transformative program for teenagers, click here. For an amazing 15-minute clip from an Emmy award winning documentary on the incredibly inspiring Challenge Day program, click here.
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Executive Secrecy, CIA Disclosures, Cyberwarfare