CIA's Family Jewels, Food Safety,
Domestic Special Operations
Revealing News Articles
July 5, 2007
Below are key excerpts of important news articles you may have missed. These articles include revealing information on the CIA's "Family Jewels", food safety, Special Operations in the U.S., 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.
Files on Illegal Spying Show C.I.A. Skeletons From Cold War
June 26, 2007, New York Times
Long-secret documents released Tuesday provide new details about how the Central Intelligence Agency illegally spied on Americans decades ago. Known inside the agency as the "family jewels," the 702 pages of documents released Tuesday catalog domestic wiretapping operations, failed assassination plots, mind-control experiments and spying on journalists from the early years of the C.I.A. The papers provide evidence of paranoia and occasional incompetence as the agency began a string of illegal spying operations in the 1960s and 1970s, often to hunt links between Communist governments and the domestic protests that roiled the nation in that period. Yet the long-awaited documents leave out a great deal. Large sections are censored, showing that the C.I.A. still cannot bring itself to expose all the skeletons in its closet. And many activities about overseas operations disclosed years ago by journalists, Congressional investigators and a presidential commission – which led to reforms of the nation's intelligence agencies – are not detailed in the papers. The 60-year-old agency has been under fire ... by critics [of] the secret prisons and harsh interrogation practices it has adopted since the Sept. 11 attacks. Some intelligence experts suggested ... that the release of the documents was intended to distract from the current controversies. And they and historians expressed disappointment that the documents were so heavily censored. Tom Blanton of the National Security Archive, the research group that filed the Freedom of Information request in 1992 that led to the documents' becoming public, said he was initially underwhelmed by them because they contained little about the agency's foreign operations. But Mr. Blanton said what was striking was the scope of the C.I.A's domestic spying efforts.
Note: The entire body of the CIA's "Family Jewels" documents have been posted online by the National Security Archives, and can be read by clicking here.
Agency's Strangeloves altered mind of a girl aged 4
June 28, 2007, The Australian (Australia's national daily newspaper)
Easily lost, on page 425, in the mass of the CIA's notorious "Family Jewels" files is a short paragraph outlining "potentially embarrassing Agency activities". "Experiments in influencing human behaviour through the administration of mind- or personality-altering drugs to unwitting subjects." Of all the heinous acts committed by the CIA in the name of national security, these experiments, done on the agency's behalf by prominent psychiatrists on innocent victims - including children as young as four - may be the darkest. "We have no answer to the moral issue," former director Richard Helms infamously said when asked about the nature of the projects. The release of the Family Jewels documents revealed the CIA handsomely funded these real-life Dr Strangeloves and engaged pharmaceutical companies to help its experiments. The agency appealed to Big Pharma to pass on any drugs that could not be marketed because of "unfavourable side effects" to be tested on mice and monkeys. Any drugs that passed muster would then be used ... on volunteer US soldiers. The Family Jewels files do not provide further detail into the numerous mind-control programs, such as MKULTRA, covertly propped up by the agency. In 1953, MKULTRA was given 6 per cent of the total CIA budget without any oversight. The nature of the experiments, gathered from government documents and testimony in numerous lawsuits brought against the CIA, is shocking, from testing LSD on children to implanting electrodes in victims' brains to deliberately poisoning people with uranium. "The CIA bought my services from my grandfather in 1952 starting at the tender age of four," wrote Carol Rutz of her experiences.
Note: The entire body of the CIA's "Family Jewels" documents have been posted online by the National Security Archives, and can be read by clicking here. And for a 10-page summary of Carol Rutz's riveting book on her experiences as a government-created Manchurian candidate, click here.
Fighting War Protesters
June 27, 2007, Washington Post
In the early 1970s, as Vietnam War-era protests swirled around the Washington area, local police borrowed riot equipment and received intelligence training from an unusual source: the CIA. The agency, which is barred from domestic law enforcement, provided gas masks, stun guns, searchlights and protective vests. CIA specialists trained more than 20 officers ... in surveillance photography, countersabotage and surreptitious entry. The CIA-local nexus was included in hundreds of pages of documents released yesterday by the agency that detailed a quarter-century of CIA history. The records said the agency recruited officers primarily to protect CIA facilities from attack by protesters. "A conscious decision was made . . . to utilize the services of local police to repel invaders in case of riot or dissension," a top CIA official wrote in May 1973. But the documents make it clear that the intelligence agency also wanted to keep tabs on the mammoth antiwar demonstrations in Washington from 1969 through 1971. The D.C. police department, for example, was given a communications system "to monitor major anti-Vietnam war demonstrations," the records said. The CIA aid also extended to basic law enforcement. Police officials in Montgomery County told The Post in 1973 that they received CIA surveillance training to combat street crime. The agency also gave Arlington and Alexandria a substance it had developed to detect whether someone had recently handled metallic objects, such as firearms.
Note: The entire body of the CIA's "Family Jewels" documents have been posted online by the National Security Archives, and can be read by clicking here.
Survey Finds Action on Information Requests Can Take Years
July 1, 2007, New York Times
The Freedom of Information Act requires a federal agency to provide an initial response to a request within 20 days and to provide the documents in a timely manner. But the oldest pending request uncovered in a new survey of 87 agencies and departments has been awaiting a response for 20 years, and 16 requesters have been waiting more than 15 years for results. The survey, to be released on Monday, is the latest proof of a fact well-known to historians and journalists who regularly seek government documents: Agencies often take months or years to respond to requests for information under the law, known as FOIA, which went into effect on July 4, 1967. "The law is 40 years old, and we're seeing 20 years of delay," said Thomas S. Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University. The survey will be posted at nsarchive.org. The survey found that 10 federal agencies had misrepresented their backlog of FOIA requests in annual reports to Congress, misstating the age of their oldest pending request. It found that the State Department accounted for most of the oldest unanswered requests, with 10 requests filed in 1991 or earlier still awaiting responses. The public interest in some aging government documents was vividly illustrated last week, when the Central Intelligence Agency released the so-called family jewels, papers that described illegal wiretaps, assassination plots and other agency misdeeds from the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. The papers were first requested by the National Security Archive in 1992, and a cover letter accompanying the C.I.A. release identified that request as the intelligence agency's oldest still pending.
Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency
June 24, 2007, Washington Post
Part One: 'A Different Understanding With the President': In less than an hour ... Cheney's proposal had become a military order from the commander in chief. Foreign terrorism suspects held by the United States were stripped of access to any court -- civilian or military, domestic or foreign. They could be confined indefinitely without charges and would be tried, if at all, in closed "military commissions." "What the hell just happened?" Secretary of State Colin L. Powell demanded ... when CNN announced the order that evening, Nov. 13, 2001. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice, incensed, sent an aide to find out. Even witnesses to the Oval Office signing said they did not know the vice president had played any part. "Angler," as the Secret Service code-named him, has approached the levers of power obliquely, skirting orderly lines of debate he once enforced as chief of staff to President Gerald R. Ford. He has battled a bureaucracy he saw as hostile, using intimate knowledge of its terrain. He has empowered aides to fight above their rank, taking on roles reserved in other times for a White House counsel or national security adviser. And he has found a ready patron in George W. Bush for edge-of-the-envelope views on executive supremacy that previous presidents did not assert. Over the past six years, Cheney has shaped his times as no vice president has before. [The] relationship [between Bush and Cheney] is opaque, a vital unknown in assessing Cheney's impact on events. Officials who see them together often, not all of them admirers of the vice president, detect a strong sense of mutual confidence that Cheney is serving Bush's aims.
Note: This is an important, in-depth investigation of the Cheney vice-presidency. It is highly revealing and well worth reading it its entirety.
Special Operations Prepared for Domestic Missions
June 22, 2007, washingtonpost.com
The U.S. Northern Command, the military command responsible for "homeland defense," has asked the Pentagon if it can establish its own special operations command for domestic missions. The request ... would establish a permanent sub-command for responses to incidents of domestic terrorism as well as other occasions where special operators may be necessary on American soil. The establishment of a domestic special operations mission, and the preparation of contingency plans to employ commandos in the United States, would upend decades of tradition. Military actions within the United States are the responsibility of state militias (the National Guard), and federal law enforcement is a function of the FBI. Employing special operations for domestic missions sounds very ominous, and NORTHCOM's request earlier this year should receive the closest possible Pentagon and congressional scrutiny. There's only one problem: NORTHCOM is already doing what it has requested permission to do. When NORTHCOM was established after 9/11 to be the military counterpart to the Department of Homeland Security, within its headquarters staff it established a Compartmented Planning and Operations Cell (CPOC) responsible for planning and directing a set of "compartmented" and "sensitive" operations on U.S., Canadian and Mexican soil. In other words, these are the very special operations that NORTHCOM is now formally asking the Pentagon to beef up into a public and acknowledged sub-command.
Psychiatrists Top List in Drug Maker Gifts
June 27, 2007, New York Times
As states begin to require that drug companies disclose their payments to doctors for lectures and other services, a pattern has emerged: psychiatrists earn more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty. How this money may be influencing psychiatrists and other doctors has become one of the most contentious issues in health care. For instance, the more psychiatrists have earned from drug makers, the more they have prescribed a new class of powerful medicines known as atypical antipsychotics to children, for whom the drugs are especially risky and mostly unapproved. Vermont officials disclosed Tuesday that drug company payments to psychiatrists in the state more than doubled last year, to an average of $45,692 each from $20,835 in 2005. Antipsychotic medicines are among the largest expenses for the state's Medicaid program. Over all last year, drug makers spent $2.25 million on marketing payments, fees and travel expenses to Vermont doctors, hospitals and universities, a 2.3 percent increase over the prior year, the state said. The number most likely represents a small fraction of drug makers' total marketing expenditures to doctors since it does not include the costs of free drug samples or the salaries of sales representatives and their staff members. According to their income statements, drug makers generally spend twice as much to market drugs as they do to research them. Endocrinologists received the second largest amount, according to the Vermont analysis, earning an average of $33,730. Since the state identified the specialties of only the top 100 earners, these averages represent the money earned by only some of the state's specialists. There were 11 psychiatrists and 5 endocrinologists in that top group of 100.
Note: For much more reliable, verifiable information on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
June 27, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Opponents of GE [genetically engineered] food ... say problems suggested in some health studies could take years to show up. Meanwhile, we're eating lots of GE foods anyway, whether we know it or not -- especially in processed foods, because corn, soy and canola are the Big 3 GE food crops." Since our government has refused to label these foods, how do we avoid buying and eating these foods?" asks [Andrew] Kimbrell, an attorney who heads the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Food Safety, a vocal opponent of GE foods. His new book, Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food ... answers that question. For conscious eaters, the heart of the book is a 14-page guide to your local supermarket. It tells you which foods are the most likely to contain GE ingredients (chips, snacks and baby formula), which aren't (fruits, vegetables, wheat), and how to read labels for "hidden ingredients" derived from corn, soy or canola (hint: look for high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin and canola oil). A passport-size version of the guide, small enough to slide into most pockets or purses, comes along with the book. "I wanted to give people a usable tool to avoid these foods so they don't feel so helpless," said Kimbrell. The book isn't intended to present the pros and cons of GE foods. Kimbrell is 100 percent against the technology and spends a lot of time in court fighting companies like Monsanto, to keep GE crops from spreading. The Center for Food Safety also opposes irradiation and food animal cloning, and has labored to keep industry from weakening federal organic standards. In fact, Kimbrell is the man who calls the current administration's efforts to protect food safety "Katrina on a plate."
Nonorganic ingredients get tentative OK
June 23, 2007, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. Department of Agriculture gave interim approval Friday to a controversial proposal to allow 38 nonorganic ingredients to be used in foods carrying the "USDA Organic" seal. Manufacturers of organic foods had pushed for the change, arguing that the 38 items are minor ingredients in their products and are difficult to find in organic form. But consumers opposed to the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, antibiotics and growth hormones in food production bombarded the USDA with more than 1,000 complaints last month. "If the label says organic, everything in that food should be organic," wrote Kimberly Wilson of Austin, Texas, in one typical comment. "If they put something in the food that isn't organic, they shouldn't be able to call it organic. No exception." The list approved Friday includes 19 food colorings, two starches, hops, sausage casings, fish oil, chipotle chili pepper, gelatin, celery powder, dill weed oil, frozen lemongrass, Wakame seaweed, Turkish bay leaves and whey protein concentrate. Manufacturers will be allowed to use conventionally grown versions of these ingredients in foods carrying the USDA seal, provided that they can't find organic equivalents and that nonorganics comprise no more than 5% of the product. A wide range of organic food could be affected, including cereal, sausage, bread, beer, pasta, candy and soup mixes. The Organic Consumers Assn. ... has led the opposition to the USDA proposal. Ronnie Cummins, executive director of the consumers group, said ... that the USDA was caving in to pressure from large food companies. USDA officials "don't seem to care what the public wants. They're just more interested in what's convenient for the big companies."
Report: Wasteful Government Spending at All-Time High
June 27, 2007, ABC
The U.S. government has committed to spend a record-high $1.1 trillion with companies holding government contracts "plagued by waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagement," according to a new report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The report blames the rise in bad spending on a sharp increase in noncompetitive contracting and a general increase in the use of private companies to perform government functions. More than $200 billion in taxpayer money was spent on projects for which only one or a handful of companies submitted bids, the committee found. That figure has more than tripled since 2000, according to the report, and now comprises more than half of all government spending outside of entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. "The numbers -- there's not an iota of justification for more than half of all contracts being no- or limited-bid contracts," said Keith Ashdown of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a non-partisan Washington, D.C.-based group which scrutinizes federal spending. According to the report, the committee based its findings on a federal database of government spending, and more than 700 reports by government auditing and investigations offices.
Former Marine Claims Illness From Mystery Vaccine
May 7, 2007, WLWT-TV (Cincinnati, Ohio's NBC affiliate)
An alarming number of U.S. troops are having severe reactions to some of the vaccines they receive in preparation for going overseas. "This is the worst cover-up in the history of the military," said an unidentified military health officer who fears for his job. A shot from a syringe is leaving some U.S. servicemen and women on the brink of death. Lance Corporal David Fey, 20, has dialysis three days a week. His kidneys are failing, his military career is over, and he feels like his country abandoned him. Fey said he loved every minute of boot camp and combat training at 29 Palms in California. But on Nov. 28, 2005, his life would change forever. Fey was one of a group of Marines who lined up for an undisclosed shot. "They asked us our name. We stood on these yellow footprints, and they gave us this shot, and we got the rest of the day off," he recalled. "After that shot, I started swelling up. I gained 30 pounds of water. My eyes swelled up where I couldn't see. I started snoring. I developed a rash on my hand." Three weeks later, Fey was back in Clermont County on his death bed at Clinton Memorial Hospital. His kidneys were failing, and his body was so swollen that it left stretch marks. Fey is one of a growing number of U.S. servicemen and women who are getting sick after receiving vaccines. And the ... Department of Defense medical officer who spoke with [WLWT] said that the number is up in the thousands. The symptoms range from joint aches and pains and arthritic symptoms to death. The officer said those who have claimed to have had adverse reactions to shots are treated like it is all in their heads. Asked whether servicemen and women are receiving experimental vaccines, the officer said, "I would hope to God not. But from what I've seen, I would have to say yes."
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CIA's Family Jewels, Food Safety, Domestic Special Operations