Monday, August 19, 2013

Top Secret America

Reading Dana Priest and William Arkin's Top Secret America.  There's a lot of eye opening information in there.

A couple of things that stand out here in the early going for me have to do with, naturally, media control, and also the response to 9/11.

One of the big reactions to 9/11 justifying the Patriot Act and the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and all that crap, was supposed to be the paramount necessity for intelligence sharing among the agencies.  The authors say,
Thus, a post-9/11 goal of breaking down walls to give decision makers a broader analysis, all easily accessible online, was completely defeated.
 Also, at another point in the narrative, the reporters are trying to find out what agencies in what buildings are going to be connected by a private contractor's cable installation they had stumbled upon.  They found out where the cable was to be installed--between offices in different buildings--and then tried to divine what offices they were, and what they needed the connection for.

They offered up this tidbit along the way:
... Influence operations, as the name suggests, are aimed at secretly influencing or manipulating the opinions of foreign audiences, either on an actual battlefield--such as during a feint in a tactical battle--or within the civilian population, such as in undermining support for an existing government or terrorist group.  They are also deeply involved with broader efforts to sway international opinion in line with American interests.
Sometimes this involves ploys such as planted newspaper stories and political advertising campaigns for foreign leaders supported by the United States.  Other operations have involved intentionally passing disinformation to foreign leaders or spies in highly classified deception operations.  In most cases, American involvement is hidden."
Fun to digest.   So our super deluxe intelligence community has been manipulating public opinion in foreign countries for political reasons--planting false stories in the news (propaganda), and by "broader efforts" we are "deeply involved in."

Even more alarming, a lot of this work is now being carried out by contractors from private, for profit corporations.  In the shapeshifting of people passing through the revolving door from private contractor to government employee, who is monitoring these efforts to remain certain none of the disinformation or political manipulation techniques we find so useful abroad, do not sort of --just a little bit, maybe--get used in domestic operations by the private contractors--either in that guise or in their guise as government employees?

Who can prove that disinformation and public manipulation has not transpired in big stories like Saddam's weapons of mass destruction fabrication or all the mysterious details of the 9/11 highjackers and the collapse of the buildings at the World Trade Center--not to mention the attack on the Pentagon?

That's my surmising, anyway.  I can't wait to read the last 2/3 of this fascinating book about the National Security State, Top Secret America.

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