What Can We Learn From the Pando / Intercept Divide?

INTRO

This is likely to be long and rambly. Mostly, I’m writing it to get my own thoughts organized so I can stop thinking about it. I’m not expecting kumbaya or anything similar. Nor am I seeking to stir up trouble or open any old wounds.

Probably there’s a lot of extraneous stuff in here as well. That’s because the big picture is important as is attempting to repair or redress this incredibly broken system those of us in the US have to deal with.

BACKGROUND

In 2010, the following three pieces were written. The second is a response to the first and the third a response to that response.

Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, “TSAstroturf: The Washington Lobbyists and Koch-Funded Libertarians Behind the TSA Scandal,” Nation, 23 November 2010:

http://www.thenation.com/article/tsastroturf-washington-lobbyists-and-koch-funded-libertarians-behind-tsa-scandal/

Glenn Greenwald, “Anatomy of a journalistic smear job,” Salon, 24 November 2010:

http://www.salon.com/2010/11/24/tyner/

Mark Ames and Yasha Levine, “A Response to Glenn Greenwald,” Nation, 25 November 2010:

http://www.thenation.com/article/response-glenn-greenwald/

{Note that some time has passed and perhaps some perspectives have changed a little. For example, Misters Ames and Levine now live in the US, while Mr. Greenwald now lives in Brazil. Given Rio’s reputation for having a very active CIA station, there must at least be a small piece of common ground. Additionally, I’m sure events such as transpired with the Guardian over the NSA/GCHQ documents, the detainment of Mr. Miranda in the UK, and the theft of a laptop made at least some forms of government harassment visceral for Mr. Greenwald. On the other hand, he makes mention of the possibility of government reprisals against Mr. Tyner in his response, so perhaps that was already in mind just over five years ago.}

The main question revolves around the backlash against TSA airport screening. The secondary question is about whether the backlash against it is a grassroots or “astroturf” {a movement that appears to be a grassroots movement or a spontaneous “will of the people” action and is in reality backed by a corporation, wealthy individuals, government, or some other powerful entity}. The third thing is about the treatment of one John Tyner in the first piece.

If there is indeed some reason for Koch and others to want to bash TSA {there is, privatization, which is, if climate change doesn’t get us first, going to be the principle reason for the decline of this country}, then this issue is also a bit of a chimera. On the one hand, we want our rights and dignity. On the other, we don’t want special business interests using infringement on either to result in handing over essential government services over to low-paid contractors who will provide worse service but receive less bad press for it just so rich assholes can make a buck.

Backing up a little, I recall back during the early healthcare reform debate that people like Keith Olberman suggested that the people, typically senior citizens, disrupting town hall meetings on the subject must have been paid Koch brothers plants. No such connections were ever found. Why? I’ll get to that in a minute. But in the meantime, compare the visions in our heads of what healthcare reform was going to be and what we got and ask yourself if it’s even worth discussing a past fight over something that fell so short of the promise.

I can easily see this chimera problem, by the way, as being what is behind a lot of the attention on the police shootings. By merely suggesting that there is a lot of media attention on these and that there might be a special business interest reason for it {privatization of police was a primary goal of Blackwater, as Mr. Scahill knows} it makes it sound like I’m callous to, mostly African-Americans, being gunned down by police. I am not. I am merely suggesting that the idea that we demand changes from our government will likely result in changes for the worse, not better, because that is Washington’s current and recent past track record. If they can find a way to make a buck, they will. We are to that point.

A brief anecdote: I saw petitions in Michigan to build another bridge to Canada in order to, I was told, alleviate traffic, provide competition, and some other things. Sounded good during the pitch. The real reason? So some wealthy man could make a bunch more money by owning a bridge subsidized by taxpayers. Framed as being in the public interest, sold to me by ordinary people who may not have even been aware of any ulterior motives, and it sounded like a good idea.

ARE WE BEING PLAYED?

So how do we wind up in these situations where it appears as if “the people” are speaking but are wittingly or probably more often unwittingly serving some other purpose?

Let me count the ways. For starters, here’s what FBI was able to accomplish in the 1950s and 1960s without any magical powers that I am aware of:

Groups and individuals have been harassed and disrupted because of their political views and their lifestyles. Investigations have been based upon vague standards whose breadth made excessive collection inevitable. Unsavory and vicious tactics have been employed–including anonymous attempts to break up marriages, break up meetings, ostracize persons from their professionals, and provoke target groups into rivalries that might result in deaths. Intelligence agencies have served the political and personal objectives of presidents and other high officials. While the agencies often committed excesses in response to pressure from high officials in the Executive branch and Congress, they also occasionally initiated improper activities on their own and then concealed them from officials whom they had a duty to inform.

{Citation here https://mccoyote.wordpress.com/coint/}.

Stop and think about that for a moment. Pit two groups or individuals against each other without either being aware that it was the FBI behind it. Destroyed marriages, got people ostracized from their professions. And CIA did/does this with entire nations.

Then there’s Cass Sunstein’s “cognitive infiltration” and Alex Jones’ very popular disinformation efforts. This latter is most likely connected to intelligence subcontractor Stratfor {Jones hired two people from Stratfor, was or perhaps still is a subscriber, and I.W. shared Stratfor’s IP address early in their creation} which in turn is most likely connected to CIA and/or one or more of the other US intelligence agencies. We are being fed info-crap by our own government.

Then, we have discovered more recently, that the Koch brothers do indeed have their own intelligence division that keeps an eye on protestors.

Then we have not only the JTRIG slides from the Snowden trove but also, after at first denying it, the Department of Defense {and again some indication of CIA involvement if only guilt by association} in controlling the kinds of stories that people see in their feeds on social media. This was billed as being part of preparing for civil breakdown, and yet was a response not to any kind of civil unrest but rather the financial shenanigans of too-big-too-fail banks.

At the same time, there’s this guilt-by-association or personal politics thing that, really, is at times overdoing it.

SWITCHING GEARS SLIGHTLY, BRIEFLY

I not only worked on the Ground Zero Mosque project in 2009 {which had clear connections to both the FBI and CIA, and was likely being used–illegally–as an election wedge issue to mobilize the bases of both major parties} but also a housing project in Almaty, Kazakstan. I ran across this gem just recently, even though the article is from months ago. I did read elsewhere that some soldiers alleged there is a US biological weapons base there in late 2013 or early 2014.

Sarah A. Topol, “Black Cat in a Dark Room: A Week in the Mysterious Sleeping Villages of Kazakhstan” BuzzFeed, 23 July 2015:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/sarahatopol/a-week-in-the-mysterious-sleeping-villages-of-kazakhstan

There are some bizarre similarities here with regards to hallucinations in Krasnogorsk, Kazakstan in 2010 with what transpired in Pont-St-Esprit, France in the 1950s. From the former:

When Lyuba woke up four days later, she didn’t remember anything. The nurse told her she’d had a stroke. Lyuba tried to stand. She put her legs down, but it was as if they didn’t exist — there was nothing under her. These legs aren’t mine, she thought.

Residents started noticing helicopters flying overhead — could they be spraying something? People saw ghosts. One woman saw UFOs, small red and blue orbs that hung a few feet above the earth; others swore they’d seen them too.

From the latter:

Eventually, the young man was tied down with thick leather straps, in a prone position on his back, onto a cot in a local jail cell. Within minutes, however, he had loosened one strap and chewed the others in pieces with such a frenzy and intensity that some of his teeth fell out of his bloody mouth. When he finally managed to break loose, he screamed that monsters were attacking him and he seized the metal bars of his cell, frantically trying to escape. With superhuman strength, he was able to bend them slightly, before he was again restrained.

Another young lad of about twelve years of age ran about the town screaming that dead people were rising up out of the ground at a nearby cemetery. “They’re coming to eat us, they’re coming to eat us alive,” warned the frantic boy….

{H.P. Albarelli, A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA’s Secret Cold War Experiments, Trine Day, 2011, p. 351}.

See also, Alex Pasternack, “Why the U.S. Is Building a High-Tech Bubonic Plague Lab in Kazakhstan,” Motherboard/VICE, 27 August 2013:

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/why-the-us-is-building-a-high-tech-plague-lab-in-kazakhstan

And, Jeffrey K. Silverman, “Secret Bio-War Program Discovered,” Veterans Today, 6 October 2013:

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/10/06/georgia-to-open-lugar-biolab-to-russian-experts/

{Scroll down for the Kazakhstan portion}.

BACK TO THE POINT

But I had no idea that any of my work was in any way connected to the intelligence community at the time that I worked on those projects. It was just work. Which means that if I didn’t see it then lots of other people don’t see it either.

AND THE BUTTON

I am indebted to Edward Snowden and the people who reported on what he revealed. It does little good to say that, because he leans Libertarian or because NSA is government and it doesn’t seem to directly damage companies like Palantir, Booz Allen Hamilton, HBGary Federal, etc. that we should then not concern ourselves with surveillance {and look again, more than that–GCHQ online PSYOP similar to what USDOD’s Minerva seems to want to accomplish} when NSA, CIA, FBI, etc. all protect these contractors from scrutiny and responsibility; when they actively abuse their powers perhaps just so our approximately 70% private intelligence community can be further privatized; when these gross violations of privacy are abused for both political and financial purposes. Government both hold the contracts and are charged with holding private contractors responsible for abuses. The buck has to go there.

At the same time I am indebted to Mark Ames for his reporting on both the sort of natural result of privatization and Reaganomics as it pertains to “going postal” {since my ‘marriage’ was destroyed by the government and I was ‘ostracized’ from my profession, resulting in my having to resort to being a security guard for a time just to survive financially as well as spending my small retirement fund} and the less naturally occurring version of that involving Lois Lang and her shooting of a CIA money man who became too flashy to allow to continue {since some of the newer, field instead of lab, techniques were likewise employed against me}.

Totally get that we need hard evidence. But also get that the situation is so dire, and the motives often so obvious, that it seems like losing a battle over principles against an opponent who has none, who is very practiced at lying, excuse-making, and hiding and protecting evidence from discovery, and most importantly manipulating people into doing what it wants.

That is all. Mind those chimeras; they are a bitch.

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