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Octafish's Journal
Octafish's Journal
March 29, 2014

What Ollie North's supporters never mention...

Know your BFEE: Oliver North, Drug Dealer

The man who wrote the following was a DEA agent, stationed in Central America. Celerino "Cele" Castillo witnessed Ollie North's people unloading guns and loading cocaine for the trip North (no pun intended). The testimony also shows why the pukes hate the guy who has the goods on them -- John Kerry.


By Celerino "Cele" Castillo, 3rd
Former Federal Drug Agent and Author of:
Powderburns- Cocaine, Contras & the Drug War


Several years ago, the extreme right arm of the Christian Coalition selected to support Oliver North for U.S. Senate. Their support backfired and North became one of two Republicans who lost the elections that year. During North's campaign, I traveled to the Virginia to educate concern citizens on Oliver North. I went out to "grassroots" communities, and educated them on the criminal activities that Oliver North had been involved in during the 1980s. I went as far as challenging North to a debate. Of course, he refused.

During his failed 1994 campaign, he frequently claimed that there was no basis for any charges of his complicity in drug running, because as he keeps saying, "I'm the most investigated man on this planet." The truth of the matter is that the Iran-Contra special prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, never investigated the drug trafficking allegations, because he did not consider it part of his mandate. The special prosecutor's original mandate from Congress was defined very narrowly, concentrating on the Iranian arms sales, the "diversion" of funds from the Iranian arms sales to the Contra operation, and on the Contra support operation as a violation of U.S. law.

During all the misdirected hoopla about Iran-Contra, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee (known as the "Kerry committee&quot continued its work. Jack Blum, an investigator for Senator Kerry, testified to the committee on Feb. 11, 1987 that the Contras move drugs "not by the pound, not by the bag, but by the ton, by the cargo planeloads."

In 1987, Henry Hyde, as a member of the congressional Iran-contra committee and a defense attorney, helped steer the panel away from any serious investigation of the contra-cocaine connection. His focus was to spare President Ronald Reagan and his vice president, George Bush from possible impeachment over the Iran-contra scandal and related drug crimes implicating the Nicaraguan contra army.


March 28, 2014

''Looking Forward'' not only cleared war criminals Bush and Cheney, but the Banksters, as well.

"My administration ... is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." -- President Barack Obama, March 27, 2009

On 3 April 2009, Politico bannered innocuously (and deceptively, given the shocking core that was buried here - Obama's statement), "Inside Obama's Bank CEOs Meeting." Eamon Javers reported Obama telling Wall Street's CEOs, inside the White House, "My administration ... is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." (This essentially secret meeting, and the comment itself, had occurred on 27 March 2009, but Javers failed to cite the date, which was indicated only under the accompanying AP wire photo of the CEOs coming out of this publicly unannounced event.) Obama's remark was implicitly analogizing here: he implied that he was protecting these people not from prosecutions for crimes (which he actually was), but instead from angry irrational mobs outside, who were driven by blind hatred (like the lynch mobs were in the Old South). Obama was metaphorically siding here with the plantation owners, not with the slaves; with the KKK, not with their victims. This elite Black was telling them that he would protect them from prosecution. He wasn't going to protect the public - which he here analogized to simply a hate-obsessed mob of bigots.

SOURCE: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-zuesse/obama-finally-lays-his-ca_b_3025743.html

Politico article referenced above: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0409/20871.html

"We're all in this together." -- Robert Gibbs, White House Press Secretary

The thirteen bankers, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, were:

Ken Chenault, American Express
Ken Lewis, Bank of America
Robert Kelly, Bank of New York Mellon
Vikram Pandit, Citigroup
John Koskinen, Freddie Mac
Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs
Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase
John Mack, Morgan Stanley
Rick Waddell, Northern Trust
James Rohr, PNC
Ronald Logue, State Street
Richard Davis, US Bank
John Stumpf, Wells Fargo

SOURCE: http://13bankers.com/title/

Why do I have a problem with that?

As a Democrat -- in every election since my first, 1976 -- I believe all people are created equal and no one is above the law, including the rich and powerful. For some reason, since Jimmy Carter left office in 1981, they get bailouts and We the People get called to pick up their tab.
March 28, 2014

Since 1991, when Poppy Doc Bush lied America into war on Iraq.

Annals of Government - (How the US Armed Iraq)

In the Loop: Bush's Secret Mission

By Murray Waas and Craig Unger
The New Yorker Magazine - Originally published November 2, 1992
Posted to the web November 14, 2002


This article, originally published in New Yorker Magazine, provides a clear picture of the direct involvement of the United States in arming Iraq, providing Saddam Hussein with technology, weapons, intelligence and funding - even in contravention of American law - enabling Iraq to amass the nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons that threaten the world. While the US does not openly acknowledge its role in arming Iraq, it now prepares to go to war against a monster of its own creation...

Since this article provides an excellent in-depth analysis of the US's dysfunctional Middle East policy dating back to the administrations of Presidents Reagan and Bush, it also provides the best perspective from which to view the Pollard case. As long as the US acknowledges no responsibility for its role in arming Iraq, Jonathan Pollard will continue to be buried alive in prison by successive American administrations fearing exposure and embarrassment.


In late July, 1986, William J. Casey, then the Director of Central Intelligence, sat down with George Bush, then the Vice-President of the United States, in an out-of-the-way study that Casey maintained on the third floor of the old Executive Office Building, the rococo structure adjoining the White House. Casey had something he wanted Bush to do.

For many years, both Bush and Casey had moved easily in the worlds of foreign policy and Republican politics, and Bush had once held Casey's job. But their relationship was never entirely comfortable. Casey, gruff and perpetually disheveled, was the product of public and parochial schools in Queens and on Long Island - his father was a Tammany Hall pension bureaucrat - and of Fordham. Bush, elaborately friendly in manner, was the offspring of Connecticut gentry. Like his father, an investment banker who served in the Senate, Bush attended Yale and was tapped for Skull and Bones. Casey made millions on his own as a stock speculator; Bush, with family help, grew moderately prosperous in the oil business before his political rise in Houston. Both men held high posts under Richard Nixon, but Nixon himself treated Casey as an equal and Bush condescendingly. It was under Gerald Ford that Bush was appointed to the job Casey now held.

The two men were different in more than background. Casey was part of the rising conservative movement, the historic antagonist of Bush and his ancestors within the Republican Party. In the Cold War, Casey believed not in containment but in what in the late forties and early fifties had been called rollback. He saw every stirring in every corner of the world through an unchanging ideological prism. Bush, by contrast, was a consummate pragmatist. As Casey knew, Bush was capable of rapidly adopting new positions if expediency or advancement seemed to demand it. He had done so on the issue of recognizing China under Nixon, and he had done so on abortion and on economic policy when he became Ronald Reagan's running mate. According to someone who knew both men, Casey had originally distrusted Bush's lack of conviction. Lately, however, he had begun to see Bush's pragmatism in a new light. Whatever vision the Vice-President might lack, he was a man of immense personal discipline, and he understood accommodation as a way to achieve goals. Moreover, during his service as permanent representative to the United Nations, as chief of the United States liaison office in China, and as director of the C.I.A., he had mastered the arts of compartmentalization and secrecy. "Casey knew there was nobody in government who could keep a secret better," a former high-level C.I.A. official who worked with Casey has told us. "He knew that Bush was someone who could keep his confidence and be trusted. Bush had the same capacity as Casey to receive a briefing and give no hint that he was in the know."

Now, in 1986, Casey, seventy-three years old and suffering from prostate cancer, said he needed Bush to run a covert errand. Iran was proving recalcitrant in secret negotiations to exchange arms for hostages who were being held in Beirut by terrorists with links to Iran, so Casey had dreamed up a scheme for forcing Iran's hand. It requires someone of authority to convey a message to Iran's enemy Saddam Hussein, the President of Iraq, indirectly and without leaving fingerprints. Vice-President Bush was the ideal courier. He was about to visit the capitals of countries in the Middle East in order to "advance the peace process" between Israelis and Arabs, as he told the New York Times. But if he accepted Casey's assignment he would also be there to advance the war process; that is, to heat up the war between Iran and Iraq, with an incendiary message from Washington to Baghdad - escalate the air war and escalate the bombing deep inside Iranian territory.

Casey's reasoning was that if Saddam Hussein could be induced to order his fastidiously cautious Air Force to attack Iran in strength, Iran would be forced to turn anew to the United States for missiles and other weapons of air defense. The United States would then use its enhanced leverage to get better terms from the Iranians for the release of the hostages. (Casey may have been particularly concerned about the plight of one of the hostages, the Lebanon C.I.A. station chief William A. Buckley.) And for Casey there was another enticement as well, according to two Reagan Administration officials whom he frequently confided in; by bringing off this scheme, he would be manipulating two rival policy factions in the Administration.



Empires Need Extractors
March 27, 2014

Obama Reluctance on Bush Prosecutions Affirms Culture of Impunity

Alfred McCoy explained why on Democracy Now, way back on May 1, 2009:

Historian Alfred McCoy: Obama Reluctance on Bush Prosecutions Affirms Culture of Impunity


AMY GOODMAN: Well, talk about President Obama’s approach, on the one hand, releasing the torture memos — and I’d like you to respond to specifically what’s in those torture memos —


AMY GOODMAN: — but then saying he will not be holding the interrogators responsible, people involved with it; we have to move forward, not move back.

ALFRED McCOY: Right. That’s exactly how you get impunity. That’s what’s happened every single time in the past. For example, in 1970, the House and Senate of the United States discovered that the Phoenix Program had been engaged in systematic torture, that they had killed through extraditial executions 46,000 South Vietnamese. That’s about the same number of American combat deaths in South Vietnam. Nothing was done. There was no punishment, and the policy of torture continued.

In 1994, for example, the US ratified the Convention Against Torture. There was no investigation of past practice. So, when that ratification went through, it was done in a way that in fact legalized psychological torture, because when we ratified that convention, we also, if you will, passed a reservation, which then got codified into US federal law, Section 2340 of the US Federal Code. In that code, we said that psychological torture, which is actually the main form of torture practiced by the United States since the 1950s, is basically not torture.

And we defined, very cleverly, under that code, what psychological torture is. We simply said it’s four things. It’s extreme physical pain, forced injection of drugs, threats against another, or doing that to a third party. OK? That’s all that psychological torture is. In other words, everything in those torture memos, all those techniques of belly slaps, face slaps, face grabbing, waterboarding, is, under US law, supposedly not torture, because when we — President Clinton ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, he didn’t look into the past, he didn’t discover what the nature of American torture was. And so, we’re now at a moment where if we don’t prosecute or don’t punish or don’t seriously investigate, that this will be repeated again.

Another thing that emerges from the memos is, in fact, that the Bush Justice Department is very well aware. If you read the May 2005 memo by the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury, he says, “Look, I can’t assure you that waterboarding is not torture. You know, the courts may find that it is torture. But don’t worry about it. Because you know what? The courts aren’t going to rule on this.” So in other words, don’t worry about the law, because the law doesn’t apply to you. The law will not be brought to bear. And that’s the problem of President Obama’s procedure. The men were assured that they could torture, because it wouldn’t come before the courts.

There’s another problem with those memos, as well. Those memos argue again and again that the most extreme of all the authorized CIA techniques, waterboarding, is not torture, because it does not violate that same Section 2340 of US Federal Code. But it does. Waterboarding is the most cruel, the most extremely cruel form of torture known to man, very simply because of this — and people don’t understand, I think, waterboarding. Amy, if you and I were riding in a car, and we went off a bridge in January here in Wisconsin and crashed through the ice and went down to the bottom of the Ohio River, within three minutes you and I would be dead from drowning. If there were an infant in a car seat behind us, that infant could survive for twenty minutes under water. A weak, fragile three-month-old infant could survive twenty minutes under water, be plucked by the rescue crew from the waters and suffer no brain damage, be perfectly fine. Alright? How can this happen? It’s the mammalian diving reflex. The human being is so afraid of death by drowning that we are hardwired into our biology, into our…

JUAN GONZALEZ: I want to —

ALFRED McCOY: — brains with this bizarre mammalian diving reflex. So, therefore, waterboarding, which induces this primal fear of death by drowning, is the most painful form of torture you can concoct. That’s why it’s existed for 500 years.



For whatever reason, President Obama has allowed Baby Doc Bush, Sneering Dick Cheney, and their fellow traitors get away with war crimes and who knows what else. McCoy's warned us that it's business-as-usual for Empire and it will happen again -- unless it's punished and those responsible held accountable.

March 26, 2014

Clearly he is the most powerful person ever.

Bamford helps explain why McCoy said that:

A four-star Army general, his authority extends across three domains: He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the US Cyber Command. As such, he has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army.

What McCoy said has to do with secrets accessed through cyberspace (around 16 min. mark):

In 2009, Obama established the U.S. Cyber Command, which declared that cyberspace to be a domain of military conflict, just like air, land and sea. And, he established the U.S. Cyber Command, then he appointed as the head of the U.S. Cyber Command, General Keith Alexander who's concurrently, of course, the head of the NSA. The man who has been walking around Congress, lobbying intensely against the amendment by Rep. Amash of Michigan; trying to stop Congress from cutting back NSA's right to unchecked surveillance. This is more power in the hands of a single man than anybody has ever had before.

TUCradio podcast of interview:


March 25, 2014

''Watch what you say.''

Where have we heard that before?

Oh, yeah:

Ari Fleischer, warning Americans to "watch what they say, watch what they do." Recorded at White House press briefing, Sept. 26, 2001.


BTW: That search function that turns up so many hits on DemocraticUnderground.com also is how DUers spread the word about news and information worth knowing from democratic and Democratic perspectives.


March 25, 2014

Justice Scalia Looks Forward to Hearing NSA Spying Case

By Paul M. Barrett
Bloomberg Businessweek March 24, 2014

Justice Antonin Scalia signaled during a law school talk on March 21 that the Supreme Court is very much aware that legal challenges to the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance programs are headed toward the high court—and he, for one, thinks the cases will be intriguing.

The court’s most voluble member, an unabashed entertainer who jokes that he wants to do “nasty conservative things,” seemed fascinated by a question he got from an audience member at an unusual session sponsored by Brooklyn Law School. In the context of controversy over the constitutionality of various NSA domestic spying initiatives, the questioner wondered whether Scalia considered data stored on computer drives to be the sort of “effects” covered by the Fourth Amendment’s protection against “unreasonable” government searches.

“Ooh,” Scalia responded, obviously tickled. “Ooh,” he repeated. The justice declined to elaborate, implying he didn’t want to prejudge the issue. His cryptic response, though, indicated admiration for the acuity of the inquiry. The American Civil Liberties Union, Senator Rand Paul, and others have filed a series of suits challenging NSA activities revealed by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. The suits invoke the Fourth Amendment, which states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Scalia addressed a wide range of topics during a 90-minute question-and-answer for Brooklyn Law School students and alumni. The symposium was orchestrated by Andrew Napolitano, a former New Jersey state court judge who serves as a legal analyst on the Fox News Channel, teaches at Brooklyn Law, and is a friend of Scalia’s. Among the justice’s other quips and observations:

+ He has “never discussed legal philosophy in any depth” with his colleagues on the Supreme Court. Scalia scorned the commonly held idea that the justices engage in heavy jurisprudential debates when they gather for their private weekly conferences. By the time they reach the high court, he added, justices are too set in their thinking to revisit basic questions of constitutional interpretation or philosophical outlook.



PS: Tony the Fixer helped get a whole world of dead cat into the picture.

March 25, 2014

You are correct, DeSwiss. It is old, like me.

And when I'm gone, it's my hope a few DUers and those of like mind will keep it going. I worry what happens if they go and the other side is left alone to tell the story their way.

None -- and I mean NONE -- of ABCNNBCBSFakeNoiseNutworks and the rest of Corporate McPravda cover the NSA story in anything but the most superficial terms. Without background and context, We the People could be led to believe that a new commission, say, and its recommendations will have solved everything.

But, not really, per Greenwald.

March 25, 2014

In the OP it's 'Bamford' and 'McCoy.'

Bramford and McCay are someone else.

Bamford, FTR, has been spot on-regarding NSA, since his first book on the NSA, "The Puzzle Palace."

Here's a profile on him from "The New Yorker":


The New Yorker

In 1982, long before most Americans ever had to think about warrantless eavesdropping, the journalist James Bamford published “The Puzzle Palace: A Report on N.S.A., America’s Most Secret Agency,” the first book to be written about the National Security Agency, which was started in 1952 by President Harry Truman to collect intelligence on foreign entities, and which we learned last week has been collecting the phone and Internet records of Americans and others. In the book, Bamford describes the agency as “free of legal restrictions” while wielding “technological capabilities for eavesdropping beyond imagination.” He concludes with an ominous warning: “Like an ever-widening sinkhole, N.S.A.’s surveillance technology will continue to expand, quietly pulling in more and more communications and gradually eliminating more and more privacy.” Three decades later, this pronouncement feels uncomfortably prescient: we were warned.

Bamford, who served in the Navy and studied law before becoming a journalist, published three more books after “The Puzzle Palace,” composing a tetralogy about the N.S.A.: “Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency” (2001); “A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America’s Intelligence Agencies” (2004); and “The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret N.S.A. from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America” (2008). As the progression of subtitles indicates, Bamford has become disenchanted with the agency that he knows probably better than any other outsider. Fellow investigative journalists regard him with what can broadly be described as admiration, though, as the Times reporter Scott Shane wrote, in 2008, “His relationship with the National Security Agency might be compared to a long and rocky romance, in which fascination with his quarry’s size and capabilities has alternated with horror at its power to invade privacy.”

The image of a troubled romance is one that Bamford readily summons. “I have a love-hate relationship with the N.S.A.,” Bamford joked when I spoke to him last week, in the wake of the revelation that the N.S.A. is gathering metadata from telecommunications and Internet companies. “I love them, and they hate me.” They have good reason. Bamford, who divides his time between Washington, D.C., and London, is a slightly mischievous character whose obvious persistence and curiosity have served him well. He talks with the relish of a child who has entered a forbidden room and knows that he will do so again. He decided to write about the N.S.A., which is believed to receive ten billion dollars in annual government funding and employ some forty thousand people, because no one had done it before—and because it was probably more fun than reading case law. While doing research at the Virginia Military Institute, he uncovered a load of N.S.A.-related documents from the files of the masterful Moldovan-born cryptographer William Friedman, as well as those of Marshall Carter, who headed the agency from 1965 to 1969. And, incredibly enough, the Department of Justice, under Jimmy Carter, complied with Bamford’s Freedom of Information Act requests, supplying him with secret documents related to the Church Committee, the Senate group that, in 1975, investigated American intelligence agencies for potential transgression of their mandates.


Bamford’s 1982 book is a reminder to anyone who thinks that domestic eavesdropping is a necessary part of a post-9/11 world that the N.S.A. has tested the bounds of the Fourth Amendment before. Project Shamrock, carried out after the Second World War, compelled companies like Western Union to hand over, on a daily basis, all telegraphs entering and leaving the United States. A younger sibling, Project Minaret, born in 1969, collected information on “individuals or organizations, involved in civil disturbances, antiwar movements/demonstrations and Military deserters involved in the antiwar movement.”


Bamford is generally kind to Michael Hayden. Yet after 9/11, which came only months after the book’s publication in the spring of 2001, the N.S.A. became both a scapegoat and one of the organizations charged with preventing further attacks. Part of this mission involved bolstering, along with the Central Intelligence Agency, the White House’s claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction—claims later shown to be largely false, as “Pretext for War” amply demonstrates. In that book, he also reports that the N.S.A. was told by the Bush Administration “to spy on the United Nations weapons inspectors and pressure undecided members of the UN Security Council to vote in favor of its go-to-war.”

Nor did Bamford know the worst of it. Once again, his book had come on the cusp of a cataclysm. On December 16, 2005, the Times published an article titled “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” alleging that the President “secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials”—a predecessor to the Prism program being unravelled today. Bamford felt betrayed. Though he had reported on the excesses of Shamrock and Minaret, he thought that the N.S.A., under Hayden’s leadership, was a more scrupulous outfit than it had been in the past. Bamford now considers the book much too generous toward Hayden.



The professor also pegged the gangsters a long while ago:

McCoy kicked CIA in the nuts with his book on the Company's role in the international drug trade.

Drug Fallout

by Alfred McCoy
Progressive magazine, August 1997

Throughout the forty years of the Cold War, the CIA joined with urban gangsters and rural warlords, many of them major drug dealers, to mount covert operations against communists around the globe. In one of history's accidents, the Iron Curtain fell along the border of the Asian opium zone, which stretches across 5,000 miles of mountains from Turkey to Thailand. In Burma during the 1950s, in Laos during the 1970s, and in Afghanistan during the 1980s, the CIA allied with highland warlords to mobilize tribal armies against the Soviet Union and China.

In each of these covert wars, Agency assets-local informants-used their alliance with the CIA to become major drug lords, expanding local opium production and shipping heroin to international markets, the United States included. Instead of stopping this drug dealing, the Agency tolerated it and, when necessary, blocked investigations. Since ruthless drug lords made effective anti-communist allies and opium amplified their power, CIA agents mounting delicate operations on their own, half a world from home, had no reason to complain. For the drug lords, it was an ideal arrangement. The CIA's major covert operations-often lasting a decade-provided them with de facto immunity within enforcement-free zones.

In Laos in the 1960s, the CIA battled local communists with a secret army of 30,000 Hmong-a tough highland tribe whose only cash crop was opium. A handful of CIA agents relied on tribal leaders to provide troops and Lao generals to protect their cover. When Hmong officers loaded opium on the ClA's proprietary carrier Air America, the Agency did nothing. And when the Lao army's commander, General Ouane Rattikone, opened what was probably the world's largest heroin laboratory, the Agency again failed to act.

"The past involvement of many of these officers in drugs is well known," the ClA's Inspector General said in a still-classified 1972 report, "yet their goodwill . . . considerably facilitates the military activities of Agency-supported irregulars."

Indeed, the CIA had a detailed know ledge of drug trafficking in the Golden Triangle-that remote, rugged corner of Southeast Asia where Burma, Thailand, and Laos converge. In June 1971, The New York Times published extracts from an other CIA report identifying twenty-one opium refineries in the Golden Triangle and stating that the "most important are located in the areas around Tachilek, Burma; Ban Houei Sai and Nam Keung in Laos; and Mae Salong in Thailand." Three of these areas were controlled by CIA allies: Nam Keung by the chief of CIA mercenaries for northwestern Laos; Ban Houei Sai by the commander of the Royal Lao Army; and Mae Salong by the Nationalist Chinese forces who had fought for the Agency in Burma. The CIA stated that the Ban Houei Sai laboratory, which was owned by General Ouane, was ' believed capable of processing 100 kilos of raw opium per day," or 3.6 tons of heroin a year-a vast output considering the total yearly U.S. consumption of heroin was then less than ten tons.

By 1971, 34 percent of all U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam were heroin addicts, according to a White House survey. There were more American heroin addicts in South Vietnam than in the entire United States-largely supplied from heroin laboratories operated by CIA allies, though the White House failed to acknowledge that unpleasant fact. Since there was no indigenous local market, Asian drug lords started shipping Golden Triangle heroin not consumed by the GIs to the United States, where it soon won a significant share of the illicit market.



The guard towers and triple rows of barbed wire surrounding We the People are invisible. They're made of secret information and analysis, gathered by technology intended to be turned on America's enemies instead of upon the politicians and citizens they are supposed to serve.
March 25, 2014

How NSA Surveillance Fits Into a Long History of American Global Political Strategy

by Alfred W. McCoy
Mother Jones on Fri. January 24, 2014 12:05 PM PDT


A Dream as Old as Ancient Rome

In the Obama years, the first signs have appeared that NSA surveillance will use the information gathered to traffic in scandal, much as Hoover's FBI once did. In September 2013, the New York Times reported that the NSA has, since 2010, applied sophisticated software to create "social network diagrams…, unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible…, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist's office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner."

Through the expenditure of $250 million annually under its Sigint Enabling Project, the NSA has stealthily penetrated all encryption designed to protect privacy. "In the future, superpowers will be made or broken based on the strength of their cryptanalytic programs," reads a 2007 NSA document. "It is the price of admission for the US to maintain unrestricted access to and use of cyberspace."

By collecting knowledge—routine, intimate, or scandalous—about foreign leaders, imperial proconsuls from ancient Rome to modern America have gained both the intelligence and aura of authority necessary for dominion over alien societies. The importance, and challenge, of controlling these local elites cannot be overstated. During its pacification of the Philippines after 1898, for instance, the US colonial regime subdued contentious Filipino leaders via pervasive policing that swept up both political intelligence and personal scandal. And that, of course, was just what J. Edgar Hoover was doing in Washington during the 1950s and 1960s.

Indeed, the mighty British Empire, like all empires, was a global tapestry woven out of political ties to local leaders or "subordinate elites"—from Malay sultans and Indian maharajas to Gulf sheiks and West African tribal chiefs. As historian Ronald Robinson once observed, the British Empire spread around the globe for two centuries through the collaboration of these local leaders and then unraveled, in just two decades, when that collaboration turned to "non-cooperation." After rapid decolonization during the 1960s transformed half-a-dozen European empires into 100 new nations, their national leaders soon found themselves the subordinate elites of a spreading American global imperium. Washington suddenly needed the sort of private information that could keep such figures in line.



PS: Read your excerpt, "None Dare Call It Treason." You are a remarkable scholar, Onyx Collie.

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