Did Bush’s Terrorist Surveillance Program Really Focus on American
BY Scott Horton  /  January 22, 2009

For the last several weeks, Michael Hayden, the former CIA director
who previously led the NSA, has been sweating bullets. In recent press
meetings he was a bundle of worries, regularly expressing worries
about “prosecutions.” Fear of the consequences of criminal acts has
been a steady theme for Hayden. In her book The Dark Side, Jane Mayer
reports that in 2004 Deputy Attorney General James Comey was “taken
aback” by Hayden’s comments when he was let in on the details of the
program that Hayden ran at NSA. “I’m glad you’re joining me, because I
won’t have to be lonely, sitting all by myself at the witness table,
in the administration of John Kerry.”

Last night on MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” we learned
that Hayden is concerned about more than just allegations that
detainees in CIA custody were tortured. Former NSA analyst Russell
Tice, a source for the New York Times disclosure of details of the
program, appears to offer further details on the program. He reports
that under Hayden the NSA was looking at “everyone’s” communications—
telephone conversations, emails, faxes, IMs—and that in addition to
suspect terrorists, the NSA was carefully culling data from Internet
and phone lines to track the communications of U.S. journalists. This
was done under the pretense of pulling out a control group that was
not suspect. But Tice reports that when he started asking questions
about why journalists were sorted out for special scrutiny, he found
that he himself came under close scrutiny and was removed from
involvement in the program. He found that he had come under intense
FBI surveillance and his communications in all forms were being
monitored. After expressing severe doubts about the operations of the
NSA program, both Deputy Attorney General Comey and former Assistant
Attorney General Jack Goldsmith both believe they also came under
intense surveillance. Both decided to leave the Bush Administration
after these developments.

If Tice’s allegations are correct, then Hayden managed a program which
was in essence a massive felony, violating strict federal criminal
statutes that limit the NSA’s domestic surveillance operations. While
a number of media outlets reported that Hayden’s activities were
“vindicated” by a recent FISA court ruling approving the NSA
surveillance program, that view is completely incorrect. The FISA
court ruling dealt only with the implementation of a program under the
newly amended FISA following Hayden’s departure.

NSA Whistleblower: Grill the CEOs on Illegal Spying
BY Kim Zetter  /  January 26, 2009

Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice shed new light on
the Bush administration’s warrantless domestic spying last week when
he told MSNBC that the NSA blended credit card transaction records
with wiretap data to keep tabs on thousands of Americans.

But Tice didn’t say where the credit card information, and other
financial data, came from. Did the agency scoop it in as part of its
surveillance of U.S. communications backbones, or did financial
companies give up your records in bulk to the NSA?

The distinction is significant. Telecommunication companies, such as
AT&T and Verizon, are embroiled in lawsuits over their alleged
cooperation with the government’s warrantless surveillance. If credit
card companies and banks also provided information without a warrant,
it’s conceivable they could face a courtroom challenge as well.

I spoke with Tice extensively in the spring of 2006. With Bush still
in power, the whistleblower was considerably more taciturn than on
television last week. But looking back through the transcript of my
interviews now, in the context of his new revelations, it seems clear
that Tice was saying that credit card companies and banks gave the
same kind of cooperation to the government that phone companies did.

“To get at what’s really going on here, the CEOs of these telecom
companies, and also of the banking and credit card companies, and any
other company where you have big databases, those are the people you
have to haul in to Congress and tell them you better tell the truth,”
he said at the time. “Because anyone in the government is going to
claim executive privilege.”

The New York Times broke the story in 2006 that the NSA obtained
access to financial records in the international SWIFT database. But
that database mostly involves wire transfers of money in and out of
the U.S., not domestic transactions. Tice’s comments reveal that the
agency may have obtained bulk data on domestic credit card
transactions as well from U.S. financial institutions — all without a

I spoke with Tice for a story about a secret room at an AT&T facility
in Bridgeton, Missouri that had the earmarks of an NSA data mining

Shortly after Mark Klein, a retired AT&T employee in San Francisco,
came forward with information about a secret room in a San Francisco
building that appeared to be providing the NSA with a real-time data
feed, two sources who once worked for the company told me about a
similar room in the company’s Bridgeton facility that appeared to be
doing the same kind of data mining at a much greater level. Bridgeton
is the network operations center for AT&Ts broadband services.

I turned to Tice for more details. Tice had already publicly
identified himself as one of the sources the New York Times had used
for its 2005 story on the government’s warrantless wiretapping. Tice
warned me at the start of our conversation that he believed our phone
call was being monitored by the FBI and that there were a lot of
things he wouldn’t be able to discuss, on the advice of his lawyer.

Tice had been in the intelligence community since 1985. He entered the
Air Force after finishing college, and went to work in signals
intelligence. After leaving the military, he worked as an intelligence
contractor, then was employed by the Defense Intelligence Agency
before taking a job with the NSA.

His unclassified resume hides all of this history. “[It says] I deal
with space systems. Space communications, all kinds of space weenie
stuff. If it deals with outer space I’m your man,” he said.

Do you have any connection to outer space stuff? I asked.

“I watch Buck Rogers.”

What follows are excerpts from my interviews with Tice, beginning with
his explanation of one way the NSA’s data mining could operate.

Tice: Say you’re pretty sure you’re looking for terrorists, and you’re
pretty sure that the percentage of women terrorists as opposed to men
is pretty [small]. So you just filter out all female voices. And
there’s a way to determine whether the signature of the voice is male
or female. So, boom, you get rid of 50 percent of your information
just by filtering there. Then from your intelligence work you realize
that most terrorists never talk more than two minutes. So any
conversation more than two minutes, you immediately filter that out.
You start winnowing down what you’re looking for.

Q: Without really knowing what it is you’re looking for?

Tice: Right. And if you can develop a machine to look for the needle
in the haystack and what you come out with from having the machine
sift through the haystack is a box of straw, where maybe the needle’s
in there and maybe a few bonus needles, then that’s a whole lot better
than having humans try to sift through a haystack.

Secretroom1_f_2 Q: Presuming that the NSA is collecting data in San
Francisco or data mining, what happens to the data after it’s
collected? If they find actionable material in the data does the NSA
pass it on to the FBI?

Tice: The NSA avoids sending anything to the FBI if they can help it.
If there is a criminal element or activity in the data it has to be
determined whether it’s passed to the FBI, or Homeland Security, as it
happens to be these days. When I was in the business, we all knew that
the FBI leaked like a sieve. So we were very hesitant to take
advantage of the FBI on anything because you were liable to see it on
the news the next day. The FBI will compromise anything to get a
conviction. But in the intelligence community you don’t think that
way. We’re more than willing to let a criminal go to protect
classified information. . . .

Q: But would the info be passed to the FBI if it involved terrorists
and national security?

Tice: Yes, they would. And if it’s some big mob thing, they would also
give it to the FBI, but tell them to come up with some other way as to
how they got the information.

Q: Why would the agency need to be so secretive about the AT&T rooms?

Tice: The big reason why they would put the San Francisco operation at
such a high classification level is to hide the fact that they’re
breaking the law and to hide the fact that they’re breaking the NSA’s
own policy. It should be [the sort of project] that any NSA analyst
should be able to walk in and have access to. But to cloister it away
where only a few people know about it means that it’s something they
don’t want anyone to know about. …

Say we’re doing that same sort of deal overseas against a
foreigner. … More than likely anyone in NSA could potentially have
access to that information. It wouldn’t be compartmentalized. So if we
set up that same scenario, even covertly in some frame room in
Bucharest or something, anyone at NSA with a TS/SCI clearance could
potentially look at intelligence reports from information garnered
from that particular collection point. So all of a sudden that same
thing is being used here in the states and it’s being put into a
special SAP program — Special Access Program. … They’re extremely
closely held programs that are super-duper clearance nonsense. It’s
what I specialized for the last eleven years or whatever.

Q: So you’re saying that San Francisco and this other room [in
Bridgeton] reek of “super-duper” secrecy?

Tice: Yes, it reeks of SAP. Potentially. For NSA to do what they
did … it means that they knew that it was illegal and the reason
they put this super high clearance on it was because they were
protecting their own hides to keep anyone within NSA from finding out
that it was going on. …

Let me tell you, the biggest sweat that happened at NSA happened when
John Kerry almost got elected president [in 2004], because they were
concerned they were all going to be thrown in jail. They were all
wiping sweat off their forehead when he lost. That’s the scuttlebutt.

Q: Is it correct to say that, if the NSA is doing what Mark Klein says
they are doing, that this would be a departure from the NSAs mission?
Meaning that this would be the first time since 1978 or so when FISA
was passed that it was engaging in this kind of activity?

Tice: That’s correct. This would be an entirely new business for them,
especially since FISA.

If you look at USSID 18, the NSA’s bible on how it operates, the
number one commandment of the NSAs ten commandments is You Shall Not
Spy on Americans. So when this was brought up, I assume by [former NSA
Director Michael] Hayden, he knew that what he was proposing was a
violation of the fourth amendment and of USSID 18. And everyone at NSA
knows this, too, because it’s drilled into our heads over and over

To get at what’s really going on here, the CEOs of these telecom
companies, and also of the banking and credit card companies and any
other company where you have big databases, those are the people you
have to haul in to Congress and tell them you better tell the truth.
Because anyone in the government is going to claim executive

I just hope in the long run that … at some point that the American
people wake up and that this stuff is dealt with. Right now … do you
know the adage about the frog in the water? That’s what we’re dealing
with here. The American people are the frog in the tepid water, and
the temperature is slowly being turned up. And we’re about to become
frog soup, and the American people don’t know what’s happening.

Aristotle said that the biggest danger to democracy is not insurgency,
it’s apathy. And I think that’s what we’re seeing right now. To a
large extent it’s politicians doing CYA and doing everything they can
to make sure that people don’t know what’s going on. But to another
extent, it’s the populace who is more concerned about Janet Jackson’s
breast jumping out of her dress at the Super Bowl as opposed to what’s
really important in this world. Who cares about Britney Spears having
her baby on her lap or all that nonsense that you see on TV?

I’ve done my constitutional duty. I’ve done what I had to do. That’s
all I’ll say. Let the chips fall where they may. I’m out of the game.
I’ve fallen on my sword.




In a New History of NSA, Its Spies’ Successes Are [Redacted]
BY Siobhan Gorman  /  November 14, 2008

For much of its history, the government’s most-secretive intelligence
agency sought to conceal its very existence. So it was a surprise last
year when university researchers persuaded the National Security
Agency to hand over a top-secret, 1,000-page account of its Cold War

George Washington University plans to release the report today, giving
historians a rare look inside the agency that gathers intelligence
through eavesdropping. But one thing appears to be missing: Many of
its biggest successes.

Not wanting to reveal too much, NSA blanked out sensitive chunks of
the account that, according to intelligence experts, appear to
chronicle espionage breakthroughs. What remains makes it appear that
the world’s largest ear has been a bit deaf.

According to the declassified report, government eavesdroppers
generated half of their intelligence reports just after World War II
from listening in on the French. Code breakers missed a key tip-off in
the Cuban Missile Crisis. The report also suggests that, for the most
part, the government couldn’t crack high-grade Soviet communications
codes between World War II and the 1970s.

“This was a perfect opportunity for NSA to put its best foot forward,”
says Matthew Aid, an intelligence historian who pressed the agency to
release the report and plans to publish his own NSA history next year.
“Instead what you’re left with is a fair to middling picture of this

The report’s author, Thomas R. Johnson, declined to say how the edited
history compares with the original version. But intelligence experts
say it’s common for failures to become more public than successes
because such breakthroughs can be too good to reveal. Even making
older successes public may reveal sources, hint at continuing
intelligence efforts, or hurt diplomatic relations. When NSA
declassified the government’s World War II code-breaking activities,
it faced criticism from State Department colleagues who were upset the
U.S. had spied on allies, says Mr. Aid, a visiting fellow at the
National Security Archive at George Washington University.

NSA, once dubbed “No Such Agency,” was created in a secret executive
order in 1952 to intercept electronic communications through
eavesdropping. It wasn’t until 16 years later that its power to
eavesdrop on foreigners was established in public law.

On three separate occasions, the agency set out to write its history,
but it aborted each effort because it was too overwhelming. In 1992,
NSA tapped Mr. Johnson to take another crack at it. “Even when I came
to the agency in 1964, there was this culture that we were so secret
that no one would ever get into our affairs,” Mr. Johnson said in an
interview that NSA officials arranged and attended.

He spent more than six years writing the report, divided into four
intelligence eras, that draws on his 34 years in government
eavesdropping around the world. When friends asked him when they would
read it, the 68-year-old would say: “We’ll all be dead before this is

In 1998, he completed the report before retiring from NSA the next
year. All of its pages were stamped “TOP SECRET UMBRA,” using agency
jargon that signified it was particularly sensitive.

The most revealing portions of the history hint at U.S. failures to
crack Soviet communications after a day in 1948 the agency dubbed
“Black Friday,” when the Soviets changed their communications codes.
The following year, the NSA’s predecessor, the Armed Forces Security
Agency, inherited from the military services “a Soviet problem that
was in miserable shape,” Mr. Johnson wrote, in reference to cracking
Soviet codes.

U.S. intelligence agencies were surprised to discover the Soviets
exploded a nuclear device in September 1949, the history says. They
were again caught off guard four years later when the Soviets
detonated a hydrogen bomb. Some government officials believed the
effort to decode Soviet communications “was hopeless and should not be
funded,” Mr. Johnson wrote.

NSA also fought internecine battles with its sister agencies,
especially the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA didn’t inform NSA
Director Lt. Gen. Ralph J. Canine about its effort in the mid-1950s to
tap East German and Soviet cables, dubbed the Berlin Tunnel, the
history says.

In a photo from 2006, a workstation bears the National Security Agency
logo inside the Threat Operations Center inside the Washington suburb
of Fort Meade, Md.

In the lead-up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, NSA and military spies
missed the Soviets transferring a battery of offensive missiles to
Cuba. That “marked the most significant failure” by government
eavesdroppers to warn national leaders since World War II, Mr. Johnson

Bobby Ray Inman, a retired admiral and former director of NSA during
the late 1970s, says the history doesn’t acknowledge the successful
tracking of Soviet ships that were heading toward Cuba. During the
late 1970s, “there were several access breakthroughs that provided
some extraordinary insights,” he says.

Hinting at those successes, the declassified history says that as NSA
entered that period, it made significant advances in unlikely
circumstances. “Even with decreased money, cryptology was yielding the
best information that it had produced since World War II” by that
time, Mr. Johnson wrote.

In 1979, NSA successfully warned of the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan, and White House postmortems called it an intelligence
success. In the 1980s, he wrote, the NSA used “lots of shiny new toys
to very telling effect.

“After years of struggle, it was now possible to predict with some
clarity and speed the intentions of the major antagonist. It had been
a long walk from Pearl Harbor,” the history says.

The report also offers a glimpse inside the offices of the mysterious
agency. In 1954, at its unairconditioned and overcrowded headquarters,
then in Arlington, Va., NSA had a hot-weather policy that allowed
employees to leave work “when conditions became fairly unbearable,”
Mr. Johnson wrote. The agency drew a chart listing the heat and
humidity combinations that permitted employees to leave, starting at
95 degrees. In colder months, employees’ metal badges proved “ideal
for scraping ice off windshields,” he wrote.

After Mr. Johnson turned in the report, it remained under wraps at the
NSA. He mentioned it to Mr. Aid, the historian, after meeting him at
an intelligence conference in Canada.

In 2006, Mr. Aid joined forces with George Washington University’s
National Security Archive and filed a request to get the report. The
agency handed over Mr. Johnson’s first three volumes the following
year, except for about 75 to 100 pages that it deemed too sensitive.
“I was stunned,” Mr. Aid says. “Clearly this history was meant for
internal consumption only.”

Eager to get a copy after it was handed over to the university, Mr.
Johnson called a friend at NSA. But she wouldn’t give it to him. “She
said, ‘I’m not sure we want to do that because then you’ll be talking
on the record about this, so I’m looking into it,’ ” Mr. Johnson says.
He didn’t hear back and ended up getting a copy from Mr. Aid.

Historians are working to get their hands on a fourth volume that Mr.
Johnson wrote about the NSA. Mr. Johnson says it includes “a couple of
instances” during the 1980s where “somebody really made a bad error
here and should have been fired. “I hope it will come out,” he says
about the fourth volume. “It’s still classified.”

Secret Agency Man
The new NSA is decentralized, privatized, and coming to a “data
center” near you. Author James Bamford catches up with his old nemesis
BY Lee Gardner  /  11/5/2008

Not long after U.S. Air Force Major General* Michael Hayden learned he
was going to be named the director of the National Security Agency in
1998, he and his wife went out on a date. The Haydens lived in Seoul,
South Korea, where he was stationed with the United Nations Command,
and they decided to take in a movie at the local U.S. army base. The
feature presentation that evening happened to be Enemy of the State, a
then-new Hollywood thriller that depicted the highly secret, enigmatic
NSA as a ruthless organization that used its array of electronic
surveillance devices to peer into every corner of the private lives of
Americans and murdered those who stood in its way, including a

As Hayden told journalist James Bamford during an interview in 2000,
“Other than the affront to truthfulness, it was an entertaining
movie.” Hayden went on to explain that he appreciated Enemy of the
State for its deeper message: “the evils of secrecy and power.”

Hayden’s words came back to Bamford in 2005 after the New York Times
broke the story that the NSA under Hayden had been conducting
widespread eavesdropping on the conversations of Americans
communicating overseas, a practice expressly outlawed by the 1978
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act but controversially put in
motion by the Bush Administration in the wake of the terrorist attacks
of September 11.

Bamford was, and remains, very likely the person who knows the most
about the NSA outside the NSA itself. He is the author of 1982’s best-
selling The Puzzle Palace, the first extensive investigation into the
electronic-spying agency headquartered at Fort Meade, Maryland; when
he interviewed Hayden he was working on a best-selling sequel, 2001’s
Body of Secrets. As Bamford notes during a recent telephone
conversation, he had no plans to write a third book about the NSA. But
when the Times’ “warrantless eavesdropping” story broke, he got back
to work.

Bamford’s new book, The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11
to the Eavesdropping on America (Doubleday), presents an account of
the drastic and ominous shift in the agency’s mission and tactics over
the past seven years. After detailing the NSA’s failure to follow up
on the clues it had about the September 11 terrorists entering the
United States, Bamford recounts Hayden’s quick capitulation to the
Bush Administration’s request for an illegal surveillance dragnet and
the fallout from the Times story, including persistent attempts to
continue the program and indemnify the participants that were only
resolved with the passage of the FISA Amendments Act this past July.
(Hayden left the NSA in 2005; he is currently the director of the
Central Intelligence Agency.)

The revelations don’t stop there. The Shadow Factory discusses the
National Business Park, a complex near Fort Meade that’s crammed with
private companies that now earn millions to do much of the NSA’s
highly classified work. Among the private companies winning contracts
with the agency are Narus and Verint, firms with ties to Israeli
intelligence that sell surveillance equipment to the NSA, and also to
countries such as Vietnam and China, which use it to crack down on
dissidents. Bamford wraps up with the agency’s growing interest in
gathering and mining communications data, which includes building a
massive new 470,000-square-foot “data warehouse” in San Antonio that,
as Bamford observes, “may eventually be able to hold all the
information in the world.”

Low-key but voluble, 62-year-old Bamford spoke with the Current’s
Times-Shamrock sister publication, Baltimore City Paper, from his home
in Washington, D.C.

Q: How did you first get interested in the NSA and start writing about
A: I was in the Navy for three years, and then [thanks to] the GI Bill
I went to college and law school. After graduating from law school, I
wasn’t that interested in practicing law. I wanted to get into
writing, and one of the areas I was kind of interested in was
intelligence. There had been lots of books written about the CIA, and
there wasn’t really much I could contribute, but no one had ever done
a book on NSA, which I’d heard about but didn’t really know too much
about. I thought that might be something I could do that no one else
had done.

Q: When you started writing your book in 1979, wasn’t the NSA’s
existence still more or less officially unacknowledged by the
A: It was officially acknowledged in the late ’50s, early ’60s as the
result of a couple of spy scandals, but for a number of years they
[used] a cover story in terms of what they did — this sort of
gobbledygook double-talk about “keeping America’s communications
secure.” They didn’t really talk about their eavesdropping or code-
breaking role. That started coming out later on in the ‘60s, but by
the time I began writing about them in the late ’70s, they were still
pretty much in the closet. There had been a couple of articles about
them, but not really very much. It was sort of like exploring a lost
continent, since very few people had gone some of the places I went in
terms of finding documents or finding people or finding information
about the agency.

Q: Did you get any pushback from the agency when you started writing
about it? After all, it’s supposed to be top secret.
A: I had a difficult time. My advance was fairly small, I was living
in Massachusetts, I didn’t really know anyone in intelligence, and I
hadn’t written anything before. And I was going up against NSA.

One of the things I was good at in law school was research, so I
thought maybe I’d try using the Freedom of Information Act. The
problem with that was, NSA is really the only agency excluded from the
act. If you sent them an FOI request, they would just send you a
letter back saying under [Section 6 of the National Security Act] we
don’t have to give you anything, even if it’s unclassified.

But I found this place, the George C. Marshall Research Library in
Lexington, Virginia, and William F. Friedman, one of the founders of
the NSA, had left all his papers there. When I got down there, I found
the NSA had gotten there just before me and gone through all of his
papers, and taken a lot his papers out and put them in a vault down
there and ordered the archivist to keep them under lock and key. And I
convinced the archivist that that wasn’t what Friedman wanted, and he
took the documents out and let me take a look at them.

Among the documents was an NSA newsletter. These are things the NSA
puts out once a month. They’re fairly chatty, but if you read them
closely enough you can pick up some pretty good information about the
agency. … When I was reading one of the newsletters, there was a
paragraph that said, “The contents of this newsletter must be kept
within the small circle of NSA employees and their families.” And I
thought about it for a little bit, and I thought, hmm, they just
waived their protections on that newsletter — if that’s on every
single newsletter then I’ve got a pretty good case against them. If
you’re going to open it up to family members, with no clearance, who
don’t work for the agency, then I have every right to it. That was a
long battle, but I won it, and they gave me over 5,000 pages worth of
NSA newsletters going back to the very beginning. That was the first
time anyone ever got a lot of information out of NSA.

We made this agreement where I could come down and spend a week at
NSA, and they gave me a little room where I could go over the
newsletters and pick the ones I wanted. So I got all that information
and spent about a week at NSA. And finally they really wanted to
delete some names and faces, and I said you can do that, but there
ought to be some kind of quid pro quo. The quid pro quo was that I get
to interview senior officials and take a tour of the agency. And that
was what really opened it up.

It wasn’t the NSA you see today — it was much different. They just
thought no one would ever try to write about NSA, and they didn’t
think I would have any luck, because who am I? I’m just some guy up in
Massachusetts with no track record.

Q: What was the agency’s reaction once the books came out?
A: They threatened me with prosecution twice when the first book came
out. And then when the sequel came out in 2001, they went to the
opposite extreme and had a book-signing there. Body of Secrets was
fairly favorable, because they had changed their ways after ’78 — they
weren’t doing domestic eavesdropping anymore. It seemed like they’d
learned their lesson and were obeying the law.

That phase of my relationship with NSA ended on December 16, 2005.
That’s when the New York Times broke the story about their domestic
eavesdropping. I had been telling people [the NSA is] obeying the law
now and they would never go back on that, and here they were the whole
time, doing that ever since 2001. And that’s when the ACLU asked me to
join their class-action lawsuit as a plaintiff against NSA. So I went
from getting dinner invitations to the director’s house and Christmas-
party invitations to being on the other side of a lawsuit. It’s a love-
hate relationship, and it’s been going on a long time.

Q: When I told people I was going to be interviewing you about the
NSA, some of them made jokes about the agency listening in on the
phone call. I think a lot of Americans, correctly or not, halfway
believe that the agency actually does such things. Do you?
A: I never claimed that NSA eavesdrops on domestic-to-domestic
communications, so I wouldn’t worry too much about this [call]. As I
point out in the book — and this comes from a number of people on the
front lines with the earphones and all that — after 9/11 and the
warrantless eavesdropping program got started, they have been
eavesdropping on Americans calling Americans [overseas, or to or from

One of the people I talked to worked four years before 9/11 in the
same place, and she was saying [before 9/11] when they came across an
American they would immediately turn off the computer and move on to
the next call. It’s called “minimization” — you don’t keep a record of
it, you don’t transcribe it, you don’t record it, unless you have a
warrant from the Foreign Intelligence court. But after 9/11 she says
they weren’t doing any minimization. They’d pick up Americans calling
Americans and they’d actually listen to those conversations, they’d
transcribe some of them, and they’d all be recorded and stored — for
eternity for all I know.

Q: So people’s paranoia about the NSA listening in on phone calls, at
least inside the United States, is unfounded?
A: Unless there’s stuff I don’t know, which is quite possible, there’s
never been domestic-to-domestic [telephone or e-mail surveillance].
Most of what they do is foreign country to foreign country or U.S  to
a foreign country or a foreign country to the U.S. But think of how
many communications there are to or from Americans [internationally]
in terms of email, telephone calls, faxes, and everything. The world
has shrunk a great deal. And that was the problem [with the
warrantless eavesdropping] — they were picking up a huge amount of
American communications but no Al-Qaeda, and certainly no Americans
talking to Al-Qaeda, which is what President Bush said this was all
about. This was Americans talking to Americans. What they were
intercepting is the Inmarsat satellite, and most of the people who had
satellite phones in the Middle East were reporters, military people,
aid workers, that kind of thing. [My source] thought they were wasting
their time. She didn’t join the Army to listen to bedroom talk between
soldiers and their wives.

Q: Another aspect of the warrantless eavesdropping program had to do
with communications between foreign nationals in other countries that
nonetheless pass through the United States that the NSA wanted access
to, right?
A: There’s so much information that flashes between ISPs in the United
States like Google, Yahoo, and AOL, and there are so many large nodes
for the transfer of internet communications that the U.S. plays a huge
role in the thing.

Say you’re in Madrid and you send an email to Tehran and it’s 10 a.m.
in Madrid. There’s a good chance that’s gonna go from Madrid to New
York to Tehran instead of, say, Paris, because at 10 in the morning
there’s a huge amount of traffic passing through those European hubs,
and at the same time its about 5 in the morning on the East Coast [of
the United States], so it’s very quiet, and it’s also cheaper. The
computer would automatically reroute that communication. This is a
foreigner talking to a foreigner, and the only U.S. nexus is that for
a millisecond this communication bounces in and out of an internet
hub. This was a problem. (Editor’s note: The FISA law prevented the
NSA from accessing such communications without a warrant but, at the
urging of the Bush Administration and with the permission and
cooperation of telecommunications companies, it tapped into fiber-
optic cables anyway.)

Q: It’s strange to think about the NSA as this agency engaged in all
this highly secret, super-technical, and, in this case, illegal
activity, but at the same time think of it as the place you’ve
described as having office Christmas parties and softball games and
all the other mundane stuff that goes along with working in a big
government agency. What’s the culture of NSA like?
A: It’s hard for me to generalize, since I know a select group of
people there, but the NSA is a very insular agency. People have
secrecy drummed into them. I’ve talked to a lot of NSA people who say
they feel very uncomfortable going to parties with a lot of non-NSA
people, because the subject will come up of Iran or Iraq, and they
have to either drift out of the conversation or say very little. A lot
of time they get nervous when they contribute something because they
may not be sure whether it’s something they read in Time magazine or
something they read in a top-secret memo or something. Or if they read
it in Time magazine and they say it, whether someone will report it
because they think they’re giving up a secret. So at least the people
I’ve talked to in the past tended to keep in their small employee-type

Q: Well, one of the first things people tend to ask someone they just
met at a party is “What do you do?”
A: Yeah, and in the area around NSA, in the past it was “Department of
Defense.” So if they say Department of Defense and you’re in Laurel,
Maryland, you know they’re working for the NSA. If it was just
neighbors, maybe people could say NSA, but if they didn’t know who was
there, I think they would try not saying anything or saying something
generic like “I work for the government” or “I work for the Department
of Defense” and hope it wouldn’t go any further than that.

Q: I’m struck by the fact that you sound genuinely surprised and
upset, still, about the warrantless eavesdropping program.
A: Well, I was very surprised. I had defended the agency in a number
of places.

Q: But, as you write in The Shadow Factory, the agency had been caught
spying on Americans before in the ’70s with Project Shamrock.
A: I agree, but I didn’t know the people back then. I knew the people
this time. I trusted that Hayden was going to follow the law. I talked
to a lot of people there, and that was the impression I got. The
mid-’70s was the worst time in NSA’s history, the first time a
director had to sit in front of an open hearing of Congress and get
blasted and humiliated, and all these horror stories came out about
eavesdropping on all the telegrams entering and leaving the country
[as part of Project Shamrock]. The FISA court got set up as a new
safeguard, the buffer between NSA and the public. Everyone I talked to
from then on said those were the horror days, we don’t want to relive
them, we’re going to keep as far from the edge as possible.

I didn’t think that was going to change after 9/11 — you still had the
[FISA] court there, you still had laws, the Constitution. That’s why
when I read the reports and talked to people who indicated that they
had decided to bypass the court … I mean, that’s illegal. There is
no other word for it. The FISA act says if you want to eavesdrop on
what they call a “U.S. person,” you get a warrant from the FISA court.
You don’t bypass it. That’s a felony. You can get five years in

I’ve written more than anyone else on the agency and, you know, it’s
no big deal, I just go on with the next day like the day before, but
when I find out that this agency that I’ve been saying would never do
these things is doing them, yeah, it’s a shock and a disappointment, a
disappointment in the people that you didn’t think were going to do

The people I did have respect for were [Deputy Attorney General] Jim
Comey, even [Attorney General John] Ashcroft, and Bob Mueller, the
head of the FBI. They, plus people under them, came within a day of
resigning over this whole thing. And that’s standing up for moral
principles, and I would have much preferred that General Hayden would
have stood up to Cheney or whomever and said that’s illegal, I can’t
do that, I can’t carry out that order so I’m going to have to resign.
It’s scary to think that someone puts a little pressure on you and you
say, OK, that’s fine, we’ll go ahead and bypass the law.

They could have gone to Congress. Congress would have given them
anything they wanted in those days. But it’s the arrogance of power
when you decide you’re not even going to do that. You’re just going to
do it because you feel like doing it, because you’re the person who’s
going to save the world. That’s how tyrannies get to be tyrannies,
because people think they’re above the law.

Q: One of the interesting, and disturbing things about the warrantless
eavesdropping as you describe it in the book is that the NSA started
getting this increased level of access and raking in more and more
communications but seemed to get little usable information out of it
A: The problem is that NSA was never designed for what it’s doing. It
was designed after World War II to prevent another surprise attack
from another nation-state, particularly the Soviet Union. And from
1945 or ’46 until 1990 or ’91, that’s what its mission was. That’s
what every piece of equipment, that’s what every person recruited to
the agency, was supposed to do, practically — find out when and where
and if the Russians were about to launch a nuclear attack. That’s what
it spent 50 years being built for. And then all of a sudden the Soviet
Union is not around anymore, and NSA’s got a new mission, and part of
that is going after terrorists. And it’s just not a good fit. They
missed the first World Trade Center bombing, they missed the attack on
the U.S.S. Cole, they missed the attack on the U.S. embassies in
Africa, they missed 9/11. There’s this string of failures because this
agency was not really designed to do this. In the movies, they’d be
catching terrorists all the time. But this isn’t the movies, this is

The big difference here is that when they were focused on the Soviet
Union, the Soviets communicated over dedicated lines. The army
communicated over army channels, the navy communicated over navy
channels, the diplomats communicated over foreign-office channels.
These were all particular channels, particular frequencies, you knew
where they were; the main problem was breaking encrypted
communications. [The NSA] had listening posts ringing the Soviet
Union, they had Russian linguists that were being pumped out from all
these schools around the U.S.

Then the Cold War ends and everything changes. Now instead of a huge
country that communicated all the time, you have individuals who hop
from Kuala Lampur to Nairobi or whatever, from continent to continent,
from day to day. They don’t communicate [electronically] all the time
— they communicate by meetings. [The NSA was] tapping Bin Laden’s
phone for three years and never picked up on any of these terrorist
incidents. And the [electronic] communications you do have are not on
dedicated channels, they’re mixed in with the world communication
network. First you’ve got to find out how to extract that from it,
then you’ve got to find people who can understand the language, and
then you’ve got to figure out the word code. You can’t use a Cray
supercomputer to figure out if somebody’s saying they’re going to have
a wedding next week whether it’s really going to be a wedding or a

So that’s the challenge facing the people there. So even though I’m
critical about them for missing these things, I also try in the book
to give an explanation as to why this is. It’s certainly not because
the people are incompetent. It’s because the world has changed.

I think the problem is more serious than people realize. I talked to
the people at Fort Gordon [in Georgia], which is the main listening
post for the Middle East and North Africa. What was shocking to me was
the people who were there were saying they didn’t have anybody [at the
time] who spoke Pashtun. We’re at war in Afghanistan and the main
language of the Taliban is Pashtun.

The answer here is to change our foreign policy so that we don’t have
to depend on agencies like NSA to try to protect the country. You try
to protect the country by having reasonable policies so that we won’t
have to worry about terrorism so much. It’s just getting harder and
harder to find them.

Q: I think most Americans know about NSA and have some general idea
what it’s about, but I was surprised to read about the National
Business Park, where there’s been this huge boom in private
contractors doing NSA work since September 11.
A: That came as a huge surprise to me. I’ve watched NSA grow since
1979, and it really came as a shock to me when I saw the National
Business Park and how huge it’s grown. What it is is all the private
contractors doing what NSA used to do. You see Booz Allen [Hamilton]
and Titan and General Dynamics, and then you look at the [local]
newspaper and see all these companies advertising for intercept
operators and network analysts. This agency, which used to be
dedicated to having employees who would work there for 30 years, now
is outsourcing so much. I have a statistic in there that in 2001 the
NSA had 55 contracts with private firms and in 2005 it had 7,197. If
you turn this into a huge [private] industry, and at the same time
you’re deregulating the industry — if you look at the financial
industry you see the problems you get into when you start
deregulating, and that’s what they’ve done here. They’ve deregulated
eavesdropping. There are no rules, and the people who are doing it
aren’t even really accountable — they’re just employees of private
companies. It gets very worrisome.

These are things that are out there to find, but it seems so few
people are out there looking. Congress seems to be paying no
attention. Even before 9/11, Congress seemed very reluctant to
criticize NSA or put restraints on NSA. It seemed like Congress was
resisting the Administration’s push last spring. In February, the
temporary [Protect America Act] ran out and the Bush administration
was pushing very hard to have this new FISA law passed, and the House
resisted it until July. They finally buckled in July when they
realized the election was about four months away, because they’re all
afraid of being accused of being weak on terrorism. But I wonder how
many of them really knew much about NSA or the things they were voting
for. The only way you’re going to know it is to go to a special room
where there was classified information, and they couldn’t take notes,
and have to sit there and read it, and how many of them are gonna do

Q: We’re talking before the presidential election, but I’m curious
what you think might change in regard to the NSA under McCain or
Obama, the latter of whom somewhat surprisingly voted for the FISA
Amendments Law.
A: What’s interesting is that Obama seemed to have a lot of
disagreements with the changes in the FISA Act early on, and he even
threatened to filibuster early on against the legislation the way it
[was] written. But then he compromised and voted for it in the end —
he said sometimes you’ve gotta compromise, we need something and this
is the best we can do. The question is whether you’re gonna stand up
for principles when the times get tough or always just compromise. I
think if he could have applied enough pressure they could have
reworked it. Right now the FISA court is pretty well neutered. I don’t
know where that goes.

I don’t think McCain would make much of a change when it comes to NSA.
It’s a question of where Obama’s gonna go. You can see his heart is in
the right place; he says the right things when these issues come up.
But the question is, down the road, is he going to give into political
pressure and compromise away some of the things people are voting for
him for, or is he gonna stand up?

Q; So where does the NSA go from here? Some of the stuff in the last
section of The Shadow Factory reads like science-fiction — data-mining
and artificial intelligence.
A: Right now they’re at a point where they’ve got enormous amounts of
money, but they don’t seem to be getting much out of it. They’re
getting hugely into this data-mining — look at that building they’re
building down in San Antonio. And this is an agency that missed all
these terrorist incidents, so what is this for? Is it good money after

The thing I worry about is when you do have so few people watching NSA
and so few restrictions on data-mining that they just get carried away
with it. That’s why they’re building that huge facility in San
Antonio. Not only to store data, which you probably only need about 75
people for — Microsoft, which is building a very similar facility only
a few miles away that’s almost exactly the same size, they only have
75. The NSA’s going to put 1,400 people in there. The only reason you
need that many people is if you’re not just going to keep the routers
humming, is if you’re actually going to dig into all the data in
there. And what’s in there could be what I’m looking at on my computer
right now, or web searches I’ve been making, or what books people are
buying from Amazon or what websites they’re visiting. Those are the
things that worry me.

Q: But, as we discussed, the NSA isn’t allowed to eavesdrop on
domestic communications.
A: The restrictions are much less on data communications. The FISA act
only really applies to phone communications or email.

When Congress was looking at the NSA back in the ’70s, when the only
thing [the agency] could do is listen to your hard-line telephone in
your house, [Senator] Frank Church said that he didn’t want the
country to go over into the abyss that was there if we ever let this
agency get out of control, and that was back then. Look at today, when
your every thought, almost, gets transmitted into electrons at one
point, either walking down the street talking on a cell phone or
sending an email or web-searching. Thirty years ago they didn’t have
access to mail, ’cause it was in envelopes, and they couldn’t watch
what books you pulled out of the library or look at what magazines you
flip through at the newsstand. Now they get to all that stuff by
watching your web searches and what sites you visit.

Q: Even with everything you know about the NSA, do you ever think to
yourself, I worry too much about this stuff?
A: I’m not a very paranoid person. I couldn’t have written all these
books if I was paranoid. But what bothers me is that there’s this huge
agency out there, and there are so few people who know how it works
and pay any attention to it. Look at the 9/11 Commission report, for
example. They spent all this time looking at the CIA, and they spent
no time looking at the NSA. That’s just par for the course.
Journalists, everybody, seem to avoid looking at it because it’s
surrounded by this wall of secrecy, and it’s highly technical.

I think the thing that bothers me most was how easy it was to take
this huge agency and turn it against the law. How easy it was, how few
people knew. If it wasn’t for two reporters from the New York Times,
we still might not know about it, if you think about it that way.





The Fed Who Blew the Whistle : Is he a hero or a criminal?
BY Michael Isikoff  /  Dec 22, 2008

Thomas M. Tamm was entrusted with some of the government’s most
important secrets. He had a Sensitive Compartmented Information
security clearance, a level above Top Secret. Government agents had
probed Tamm’s background, his friends and associates, and determined
him trustworthy.

It’s easy to see why: he comes from a family of high-ranking FBI
officials. During his childhood, he played under the desk of J. Edgar
Hoover, and as an adult, he enjoyed a long and successful career as a
prosecutor. Now gray-haired, 56 and fighting a paunch, Tamm prides
himself on his personal rectitude. He has what his 23-year-old son,
Terry, calls a “passion for justice.” For that reason, there was one
secret he says he felt duty-bound to reveal.

In the spring of 2004, Tamm had just finished a yearlong stint at a
Justice Department unit handling wiretaps of suspected terrorists and
spies—a unit so sensitive that employees are required to put their
hands through a biometric scanner to check their fingerprints upon
entering. While there, Tamm stumbled upon the existence of a highly
classified National Security Agency program that seemed to be
eavesdropping on U.S. citizens. The unit had special rules that
appeared to be hiding the NSA activities from a panel of federal
judges who are required to approve such surveillance. When Tamm
started asking questions, his supervisors told him to drop the
subject. He says one volunteered that “the program” (as it was
commonly called within the office) was “probably illegal.”

Tamm agonized over what to do. He tried to raise the issue with a
former colleague working for the Senate Judiciary Committee. But the
friend, wary of discussing what sounded like government secrets, shut
down their conversation. For weeks, Tamm couldn’t sleep. The idea of
lawlessness at the Justice Department angered him. Finally, one day
during his lunch hour, Tamm ducked into a subway station near the U.S.
District Courthouse on Pennsylvania Avenue. He headed for a pair of
adjoining pay phones partially concealed by large, illuminated Metro
maps. Tamm had been eyeing the phone booths on his way to work in the
morning. Now, as he slipped through the parade of midday subway
riders, his heart was pounding, his body trembling. Tamm felt like a
spy. After looking around to make sure nobody was watching, he picked
up a phone and called The New York Times.

That one call began a series of events that would engulf Washington—
and upend Tamm’s life. Eighteen months after he first disclosed what
he knew, the Times reported that President George W. Bush had secretly
authorized the NSA to intercept phone calls and e-mails of individuals
inside the United States without judicial warrants. The drama followed
a quiet, separate rebellion within the highest ranks of the Justice
Department concerning the same program. (James Comey, then the deputy
attorney general, together with FBI head Robert Mueller and several
other senior Justice officials, threatened to resign.) President Bush
condemned the leak to the Times as a “shameful act.” Federal agents
launched a criminal investigation to determine the identity of the

The story of Tamm’s phone call is an untold chapter in the history of
the secret wars inside the Bush administration. The New York Times won
a Pulitzer Prize for its story. The two reporters who worked on it
each published books. Congress, after extensive debate, last summer
passed a major new law to govern the way such surveillance is
conducted. But Tamm—who was not the Times’s only source, but played
the key role in tipping off the paper—has not fared so well. The FBI
has pursued him relentlessly for the past two and a half years. Agents
have raided his house, hauled away personal possessions and grilled
his wife, a teenage daughter and a grown son. More recently, they’ve
been questioning Tamm’s friends and associates about nearly every
aspect of his life. Tamm has resisted pressure to plead to a felony
for divulging classified information. But he is living under a pall,
never sure if or when federal agents might arrest him.

Exhausted by the uncertainty clouding his life, Tamm now is telling
his story publicly for the first time. “I thought this [secret
program] was something the other branches of the government—and the
public—ought to know about. So they could decide: do they want this
massive spying program to be taking place?” Tamm told NEWSWEEK, in one
of a series of recent interviews that he granted against the advice of
his lawyers. “If somebody were to say, who am I to do that? I would
say, ‘I had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution.’ It’s stunning
that somebody higher up the chain of command didn’t speak up.”

Tamm concedes he was also motivated in part by his anger at other Bush-
administration policies at the Justice Department, including its
aggressive pursuit of death-penalty cases and the legal justifications
for “enhanced” interrogation techniques that many believe are
tantamount to torture. But, he insists, he divulged no “sources and
methods” that might compromise national security when he spoke to the
Times. He told reporters Eric Lichtblau and James Risen nothing about
the operational details of the NSA program because he didn’t know
them, he says. He had never been “read into,” or briefed, on the
details of the program. All he knew was that a domestic surveillance
program existed, and it “didn’t smell right.”

(Justice spokesman Dean Boyd said the department had no comment on any
aspect of this story. Lichtblau said, “I don’t discuss the identities
of confidential sources … Nearly a dozen people whom we interviewed
agreed to speak with us on the condition of anonymity because of
serious concerns about the legality and oversight of the secret
program.” Risen had no comment.)

Still, Tamm is haunted by the consequences of what he did—and what
could yet happen to him. He is no longer employed at Justice and has
been struggling to make a living practicing law. He does occasional
work for a local public defender’s office, handles a few wills and
estates—and is more than $30,000 in debt. (To cover legal costs, he
recently set up a defense fund.) He says he has suffered from
depression. He also realizes he made what he calls “stupid” mistakes
along the way, including sending out a seemingly innocuous but fateful
e-mail from his Justice Department computer that may have first put
the FBI on his scent. Soft-spoken and self-effacing, Tamm has an
impish smile and a wry sense of humor. “I guess I’m not a very good
criminal,” he jokes.

At times during his interviews with NEWSWEEK, Tamm would stare into
space for minutes, silently wrestling with how to answer questions.
One of the most difficult concerned the personal ramifications of his
choice. “I didn’t think through what this could do to my family,” he

Tamm’s story is in part a cautionary tale about the perils that can
face all whistleblowers, especially those involved in national-
security programs. Some Americans will view him as a hero who (like
Daniel Ellsberg and perhaps Mark Felt, the FBI official since
identified as Deep Throat) risked his career and livelihood to expose
wrongdoing at the highest levels of government. Others—including some
of his former colleagues—will deride Tamm as a renegade who took the
law into his own hands and violated solemn obligations to protect the
nation’s secrets. “You can’t have runoffs deciding they’re going to be
the white knight and running to the press,” says Frances Fragos
Townsend, who once headed the unit where Tamm worked and later served
as President Bush’s chief counterterrorism adviser. Townsend made
clear that she had no knowledge of Tamm’s particular case, but added:
“There are legal processes in place [for whistle-blowers’ complaints].
This is one where I’m a hawk. It offends me, and I find it incredibly

Tamm understands that some will see his conduct as “treasonous.” But
still, he says he has few regrets. If he hadn’t made his phone call to
the Times, he believes, it’s possible the public would never have
learned about the Bush administration’s secret wiretapping program. “I
don’t really need anybody to feel sorry for me,” he wrote in a recent
e-mail to NEWSWEEK. “I chose what I did. I believed in what I did.”

If the government were drawing up a profile of a national-security
leaker, Tamm would seem one of the least likely suspects. He grew up
in the shadow of J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI. Tamm’s uncle, Edward Tamm, was
an important figure in the bureau’s history. He was once a top aide to
Hoover and regularly briefed President Franklin Roosevelt on domestic
intelligence matters. He’s credited in some bureau histories with
inventing (in 1935) not only the bureau’s name, but its official
motto: Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity. Tamm’s father, Quinn Tamm, was
also a high-ranking bureau official. He too was an assistant FBI
director under Hoover, and at one time he headed up the bureau’s crime
lab. Tamm’s mother, Ora Belle Tamm, was a secretary at the FBI’s
identification division.

When Thomas Tamm was a toddler, he crawled around Hoover’s desk during
FBI ceremonies. (He still remembers his mother fretting that his
father might get in trouble for it.) As an 8-year-old, Tamm and his
family watched John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural parade down Pennsylvania
Avenue from the balcony of Hoover’s office, then located at the
Justice Department.

Tamm’s brother also served for years as an FBI agent and later worked
as an investigator for the 9/11 Commission. (He now works for a
private consulting firm.) Tamm himself, after graduating from Brown
University in 1974 and Georgetown Law three years later, chose a
different path in law enforcement. He joined the state’s attorney’s
office in Montgomery County, Md. (He was also, for a while, the
chairman of the county chapter of the Young Republicans.) Tamm
eventually became a senior trial attorney responsible for prosecuting
murder, kidnapping and sexual-assault cases. Andrew Sonner, the
Democratic state’s attorney at the time, says that Tamm was an
unusually gifted prosecutor who knew how to connect with juries, in
part by “telling tales” that explained his case in a way that ordinary
people could understand. “He was about as good before a jury as
anybody that ever worked for me,” says Sonner, who later served as an
appellate judge in Maryland.

In 1998, Tamm landed a job at the Justice Department’s Capital Case
Unit, a new outfit within the criminal division that handled
prosecutions that could bring the federal death penalty. A big part of
his job was to review cases forwarded by local U.S. Attorneys’ Offices
and make recommendations about whether the government should seek
execution. Tamm would regularly attend meetings with Attorney General
Janet Reno, who was known for asking tough questions about the
evidence in such cases—a rigorous approach that Tamm admired. In July
2000, at a gala Justice Department ceremony, Reno awarded Tamm and
seven colleagues in his unit the John Marshall Award, one of the
department’s highest honors.

After John Ashcroft took over as President Bush’s attorney general the
next year, Tamm became disaffected. The Justice Department began to
encourage U.S. attorneys to seek the death penalty in as many cases as
possible. Instead of Reno’s skepticism about recommendations to seek
death, the capital-case committee under Ashcroft approved them with
little, if any, challenge. “It became a rubber stamp,” Tamm says. This
bothered him, though there was nothing underhanded about it. Bush had
campaigned as a champion of the death penalty. Ashcroft and the new
Republican leadership of the Justice Department advocated its use as a
matter of policy.

Tamm’s alienation grew in 2002 when he was assigned to assist on one
especially high-profile capital case—the prosecution of Zacarias
Moussaoui, a Qaeda terrorist arrested in Minnesota who officials
initially (and wrongly) believed might have been the “20th hijacker”
in the September 11 plot. Tamm’s role was to review classified CIA
cables about the 9/11 plot to see if there was any exculpatory
information that needed to be relinquished to Moussaoui’s lawyers.
While reviewing the cables, Tamm says, he first spotted reports that
referred to the rendition of terror suspects to countries like Egypt
and Morocco, where aggressive interrogation practices banned by
American law were used. It appeared to Tamm that CIA officers knew
“what was going to happen to [the suspects]”—that the government was
indirectly participating in abusive interrogations that would be
banned under U.S. law.

But still, Tamm says he was fully committed to the prosecution of the
war on terror and wanted to play a bigger role in it. So in early
2003, he applied and was accepted for transfer to the Office of
Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR), probably the most sensitive
unit within the Justice Department. It is the job of OIPR lawyers to
request permission for national-security wiretaps. These requests are
made at secret hearings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
Court, a body composed of 11 rotating federal judges.

Congress created the FISA court in 1978 because of well-publicized
abuses by the intelligence community. It was designed to protect the
civil liberties of Americans who might come under suspicion. The
court’s role was to review domestic national-security wiretaps to make
sure there was “probable cause” that the targets were “agents of a
foreign power”—either spies or operatives of a foreign terrorist
organization. The law creating the court, called the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act, made it a federal crime—punishable by
up to five years in prison—for any official to engage in such
surveillance without following strict rules, including court approval.

But after arriving at OIPR, Tamm learned about an unusual arrangement
by which some wiretap requests were handled under special procedures.
These requests, which could be signed only by the attorney general,
went directly to the chief judge and none other. It was unclear to
Tamm what was being hidden from the other 10 judges on the court (as
well as the deputy attorney general, who could sign all other FISA
warrants). All that Tamm knew was that the “A.G.-only” wiretap
requests involved intelligence gleaned from something that was
obliquely referred to within OIPR as “the program.”

The program was in fact a wide range of covert surveillance activities
authorized by President Bush in the aftermath of 9/11. At that time,
White House officials, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, had become
convinced that FISA court procedures were too cumbersome and time-
consuming to permit U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies to
quickly identify possible Qaeda terrorists inside the country.
(Cheney’s chief counsel, David Addington, referred to the FISA court
in one meeting as that “obnoxious court,” according to former
assistant attorney general Jack Goldsmith.) Under a series of secret
orders, Bush authorized the NSA for the first time to eavesdrop on
phone calls and e-mails between the United States and a foreign
country without any court review. The code name for the NSA collection
activities—unknown to all but a tiny number of officials at the White
House and in the U.S. intelligence community—was “Stellar Wind.”

The NSA identified domestic targets based on leads that were often
derived from the seizure of Qaeda computers and cell phones overseas.
If, for example, a Qaeda cell phone seized in Pakistan had dialed a
phone number in the United States, the NSA would target the U.S. phone
number—which would then lead agents to look at other numbers in the
United States and abroad called by the targeted phone. Other parts of
the program were far more sweeping. The NSA, with the secret
cooperation of U.S. telecommunications companies, had begun collecting
vast amounts of information about the phone and e-mail records of
American citizens. Separately, the NSA was also able to access, for
the first time, massive volumes of personal financial records—such as
credit-card transactions, wire transfers and bank withdrawals—that
were being reported to the Treasury Department by financial
institutions. These included millions of “suspicious-activity
reports,” or SARS, according to two former Treasury officials who
declined to be identified talking about sensitive programs. (It was
one such report that tipped FBI agents to former New York governor
Eliot Spitzer’s use of prostitutes.) These records were fed into NSA
supercomputers for the purpose of “data mining”—looking for links or
patterns that might (or might not) suggest terrorist activity.

But all this created a huge legal quandary. Intelligence gathered by
the extralegal phone eavesdropping could never be used in a criminal
court. So after the NSA would identify potential targets inside the
United States, counterterrorism officials would in some instances try
to figure out ways to use that information to get legitimate FISA
warrants—giving the cases a judicial stamp of approval.

It’s unclear to what extent Tamm’s office was aware of the origins of
some of the information it was getting. But Tamm was puzzled by the
unusual procedures—which sidestepped the normal FISA process—for
requesting wiretaps on cases that involved program intelligence. He
began pushing his supervisors to explain what was going on. Tamm says
he found the whole thing especially curious since there was nothing in
the special “program” wiretap requests that seemed any different from
all the others. They looked and read the same. It seemed to Tamm there
was a reason for this: the intelligence that came from the program was
being disguised. He didn’t understand why. But whenever Tamm would ask
questions about this within OIPR, “nobody wanted to talk about it.”

At one point, Tamm says, he approached Lisa Farabee, a senior counsel
in OIPR who reviewed his work, and asked her directly, “Do you know
what the program is?” According to Tamm, she replied: “Don’t even go
there,” and then added, “I assume what they are doing is illegal.”
Tamm says his immediate thought was, “I’m a law-enforcement officer
and I’m participating in something that is illegal?” A few weeks later
Tamm bumped into Mark Bradley, the deputy OIPR counsel, who told him
the office had run into trouble with Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the chief
judge on the FISA court. Bradley seemed nervous, Tamm says. Kollar-
Kotelly had raised objections to the special program wiretaps, and
“the A.G.-only cases are being shut down,” Bradley told Tamm. He then
added, “This may be [a time] the attorney general gets indicted,”
according to Tamm. (Told of Tamm’s account, Justice spokesman Boyd
said that Farabee and Bradley “have no comment for your story.”)

One official who was aware of Kollar-Kotelly’s objections was U.S.
Judge Royce C. Lamberth, a former chief of the FISA court. Lamberth
tells NEWSWEEK that when the NSA program began in October 2001, he was
not informed. But the then chief of OIPR, James Baker, discovered
later that year that program intelligence was being used in FISA
warrants—and he raised concerns. At that point, Lamberth was called in
for a briefing by Ashcroft and Gen. Michael Hayden, the NSA chief at
the time. Lamberth made clear to Ashcroft that NSA program
intelligence should no longer be allowed in any FISA warrant
applications without his knowledge. If it did appear, Lamberth warned,
he would be forced to rule on the legality of what the administration
was doing, potentially setting off a constitutional clash about the
secret program.

Lamberth stepped down as chief FISA judge when his term ended in May
2002, but Kollar-Kotelly asked him to continue as an adviser about
matters relating to the program. In early 2004, Kollar-Kotelly thought
something was amiss. According to Lamberth, she had concerns that the
intelligence community, after collecting information on U.S. citizens
without warrants, was again attempting to launder that intelligence
through her court—without her knowledge. She “had begun to suspect
that they were back-dooring information from the program into” FISA
applications, Lamberth tells NEWSWEEK. Kollar-Kotelly drew the line
and wouldn’t permit it. “She was as tough as I was,” says Lamberth,
who had once barred a top FBI agent from his court when he concluded
the bureau hadn’t been honest about FISA applications. “She was going
to know what she was signing off on before she signed off … I was
proud of her.” (Kollar-Kotelly declined to speak with NEWSWEEK.)

Unbeknownst to Tamm, something else was going on at the Justice
Department during this period. A new assistant attorney general, a law
professor named Jack Goldsmith, had challenged secret legal opinions
justifying the NSA surveillance program. (The controversial opinions,
written by a young and very conservative legal scholar named John Yoo,
had concluded that President Bush had broad executive authority during
wartime to override laws passed by Congress and order the surveillance
of U.S. citizens.) James Comey, the deputy attorney general, had
agreed with Goldsmith and refused to sign off on a renewal of the
domestic NSA program in March 2004. Attorney General Ashcroft was in
the hospital at the time. The White House first tried to get an
extremely ill Ashcroft, drugged and woozy, to overrule Comey, and
then, after he refused, President Bush ordered the program to continue
anyway. Comey, in turn, drafted a resignation letter. He described the
situation he was confronting as “apocalyptic” and then added, “I and
the Justice Department have been asked to be part of something that is
fundamentally wrong,” according to a copy of the letter quoted in
“Angler,” a book by Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman.

Tamm—who had no knowledge of the separate rebellion within the ranks
of the Justice Department—decided independently to get in touch with
Sandra Wilkinson, a former colleague of his on the Capital Case Unit
who had been detailed to work on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He
met with Wilkinson for coffee in the Senate cafeteria, where he laid
out his concerns about the program and the unusual procedures within
OIPR. “Look, the government is doing something weird here,” he recalls
saying. “Can you talk to somebody on the intelligence committee and
see if they know about this?”

Some weeks passed, and Tamm didn’t hear back. So he e-mailed Wilkinson
from his OIPR computer (not a smart move, he would later concede) and
asked if they could get together again for coffee. This time, when
they got together, Wilkinson was cool, Tamm says. What had she learned
about the program? “I can’t say,” she replied and urged him to drop
the subject. “Well, you know, then,” he says he replied, “I think my
only option is to go to the press.” (Wilkinson would not respond to
phone calls from NEWSWEEK, and her lawyer says she has nothing to say
about the matter.)

The next few weeks were excruciating. Tamm says he consulted with an
old law-school friend, Gene Karpinski, then the executive director of
a public-interest lobbying group. He asked about reporters who might
be willing to pursue a story that involved wrongdoing in a national-
security program, but didn’t tell him any details. (Karpinski, who has
been questioned by the FBI and has hired a lawyer, declined to
comment.) Tamm says he initially considered contacting Seymour Hersh,
the investigative reporter for The New Yorker, but didn’t know where
to reach him. He’d also noticed some strong stories by Eric Lichtblau,
the New York Times reporter who covered the Justice Department—and
with a few Google searches tracked down his phone number.

Tamm at this point had transferred out of OIPR at his own initiative,
and moved into a new job at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He says he
“hated” the desk work at OIPR and was eager to get back into the
courtroom prosecuting cases. His new offices were just above
Washington’s Judiciary Square Metro stop. When he went to make the
call to the Times, Tamm said, “My whole body was shaking.” Tamm
described himself to Lichtblau as a “former” Justice employee and
called himself “Mark,” his middle name. He said he had some
information that was best discussed in person. He and Lichtblau
arranged to meet for coffee at Olsson’s, a now shuttered bookstore
near the Justice Department. After Tamm hung up the phone, he was
struck by the consequences of what he had just done. “Oh, my God,” he
thought. “I can’t talk to anybody about this.” An even more terrifying
question ran through his mind. He thought back to his days at the
capital-case squad and wondered if disclosing information about a
classified program could earn him the death penalty.

In his book, “Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice,” Lichtblau
writes that he first got a whiff of the NSA surveillance program
during the spring of 2004 when he got a cold call from a “walk-in”
source who was “agitated about something going on in the intelligence
community.” Lichtblau wrote that his source was wary at first. The
source did not know precisely what was going on—he was, in fact,
maddeningly vague, the reporter wrote. But after they got together for
a few meetings (“usually at a bookstore or coffee shops in the shadows
of Washington’s power corridors”) his source’s “credibility and his
bona fides became clear and his angst appeared sincere.” The source
told him of turmoil within the Justice Department concerning
counterterrorism operations and the FISA court. “Whatever is going on,
there’s even talk Ashcroft could be indicted,” the source told
Lichtblau, according to his book.

Tamm grew frustrated when the story did not immediately appear. He was
hoping, he says, that Lichtblau and his partner Risen (with whom he
also met) would figure out on their own what the program was really
all about and break it before the 2004 election. He was, by this time,
“pissed off” at the Bush administration, he says. He contributed $300
to the Democratic National Committee in September 2004, according to
campaign finance records.

It wasn’t until more than a year later that the paper’s executive
editor, Bill Keller, rejecting a personal appeal and warning by
President Bush, gave the story a green light. (Bush had warned
“there’ll be blood on your hands” if another attack were to occur.)
BUSH LETS U.S. SPY ON CALLERS WITHOUT COURTS, read the headline in the
paper’s Dec. 16, 2005, edition. The story—which the Times said relied
on “nearly a dozen current and former officials”—had immediate
repercussions. Democrats, including the then Sen. Barack Obama,
denounced the Bush administration for violating the FISA law and
demanded hearings. James Robertson, one of the judges on the FISA
court, resigned. And on Dec. 30, the Justice Department announced that
it was launching a criminal investigation to determine who had leaked
to the Times.

Not long afterward, Tamm says, he started getting phone calls at his
office from Jason Lawless, the hard-charging FBI agent in charge of
the case. The calls at first seemed routine. Lawless was simply
calling everybody who had worked at OIPR to find out what they knew.
But Tamm ducked the calls; he knew that the surest way to get in
trouble in such situations was to lie to an FBI agent. Still, he grew
increasingly nervous. The calls continued. Finally, one day, Lawless
got him on the phone. “This will just take a few minutes,” Lawless
said, according to Tamm’s account. But Tamm told the agent that he
didn’t want to be interviewed—and he later hired a lawyer. (The FBI
said that Lawless would have no comment.)

In the months that followed, Tamm learned he was in even more trouble.
He suspected the FBI had accessed his former computer at OIPR and
recovered the e-mail he had sent to Wilkinson. The agents tracked her
down and questioned her about her conversations with Tamm. By this
time, Tamm was in the depths of depression. He says he had trouble
concentrating on his work at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and ignored
some e-mails from one of his supervisors. He was accused of botching a
drug case. By mutual agreement, he resigned in late 2006. He was out
of a job and squarely in the sights of the FBI. Nevertheless, he began
blogging about the Justice Department for liberal Web sites.

Early on the morning of Aug. 1, 2007, 18 FBI agents—some of them
wearing black flak jackets and carrying guns—showed up unannounced at
Tamm’s redbrick colonial home in Potomac, Md., with a search warrant.
While his wife, wearing her pajamas, watched in horror, the agents
marched into the house, seized Tamm’s desktop computer, his children’s
laptops, his private papers, some of his books (including one about
Deep Throat) and his family Christmas-card list. Terry Tamm, the
lawyer’s college-age son, was asleep at the time and awoke to find FBI
agents entering his bedroom. He was escorted downstairs, where, he
says, the agents arranged him, his younger sister and his mother
around the kitchen table and questioned them about their father.
(Thomas Tamm had left earlier that morning to drive his younger son to
summer school and to see a doctor about a shoulder problem.) “They
asked me questions like ‘Are there any secret rooms or compartments in
the house’?” recalls Terry. “Or did we have a safe? They asked us if
any New York Times reporters had been to the house. We had no idea why
any of this was happening.” Tamm says he had never told his wife and
family about what he had done.

After the raid, Justice Department prosecutors encouraged Tamm to
plead guilty to a felony for disclosing classified information—an
offer he refused. More recently, Agent Lawless, a former prosecutor
from Tennessee, has been methodically tracking down Tamm’s friends and
former colleagues. The agent and a partner have asked questions about
Tamm’s associates and political meetings he might have attended,
apparently looking for clues about his motivations for going to the
press, according to three of those interviewed.

In the meantime, Tamm lives in a perpetual state of limbo, uncertain
whether he’s going to be arrested at any moment. He could be charged
with violating two laws, one concerning the disclosure of information
harmful to “the national defense,” the other involving “communications
intelligence.” Both carry penalties of up to 10 years in prison. “This
has been devastating to him,” says Jeffrey Taylor, an old law-school
friend of Tamm’s. “It’s just been hanging over his head for such a
long time … Sometimes Tom will just zone out. It’s like he goes off in
a special place. He’s sort of consumed with this because he doesn’t
know where it’s going.”

Taylor got a few clues into what the case was about last September
when Agent Lawless and a partner visited him. The FBI agents sat in
his office for more than an hour, asking what he knew about Tamm. The
agents even asked about Tamm’s participation in a political lunch
group headed by his former boss, Andrew Sonner, that takes place once
a month at a Rockville, Md., restaurant. “What does that have to do
with anything?” Taylor asked.

Agent Lawless explained. “This kind of activity”—leaking to the news
media—”can be motivated by somebody who is a do-gooder who thinks that
something wrong occurred,” Lawless said, according to Taylor. “Or it
could be politically motivated by somebody who wants to cause harm.”
If it was the former—if Tamm was a “do-gooder”—the government could
face a problem if it tried to bring a case to trial. The jurors might
sympathize with Tamm and “you’d face jury nullification,” said
Lawless, according to Taylor, referring to a situation in which a jury
refuses to convict a defendant regardless of the law.

Just this month, Lawless and another agent questioned Sonner, the
retired judge who had served as a mentor to Tamm. The agents wanted to
know if Tamm had ever confided in Sonner about leaking to the Times.
Sonner said he hadn’t, but he told the agents what he thought of their
probe. “I told them I thought operating outside of the FISA law was
one of the biggest injustices of the Bush administration,” says
Sonner. If Tamm helped blow the whistle, “I’d be proud of him for
doing that.”

Paul Kemp, one of Tamm’s lawyers, says he was recently told by the
Justice Department prosecutor in charge of Tamm’s case that there will
be no decision about whether to prosecute until next year—after the
Obama administration takes office. The case could present a dilemma
for the new leadership at Justice. During the presidential campaign,
Obama condemned the warrantless-wiretapping program. So did Eric
Holder, Obama’s choice to become attorney general. In a tough speech
last June, Holder said that Bush had acted “in direct defiance of
federal law” by authorizing the NSA program.

Tamm’s lawyers say his case should be judged in that light. “When I
looked at this, I was convinced that the action he took was based on
his view of a higher responsibility,” says Asa Hutchinson, the former
U.S. attorney in Little Rock and under secretary of the Department of
Homeland Security who is assisting in Tamm’s defense. “It reflected a
lawyer’s responsibility to protect the rule of law.” Hutchinson also
challenged the idea—argued forcefully by other Bush administration
officials at the time—that The New York Times story undermined the war
on terror by tipping off Qaeda terrorists to surveillance. “Anybody
who looks at the overall result of what happened wouldn’t conclude
there was any harm to the United States,” he says. After reviewing all
the circumstances, Hutchinson says he hopes the Justice Department
would use its “discretion” and drop the investigation. In judging
Tamm’s actions—his decision to reveal what little he knew about a
secret domestic spying program that still isn’t completely known—it
can be hard to decipher right from wrong. Sometimes the thinnest of
lines separates the criminal from the hero.






The New Thought Police:
The NSA Wants to Know How You Think — Maybe Even What You Think
BY James Bamford

The National Security Agency (NSA) is developing a tool that George
Orwell’s Thought Police might have found useful: an artificial
intelligence system designed to gain insight into what people are

With the entire Internet and thousands of databases for a brain, the
device will be able to respond almost instantaneously to complex
questions posed by intelligence analysts. As more and more data is
collected—through phone calls, credit card receipts, social networks
like Facebook and MySpace, GPS tracks, cell phone geolocation,
Internet searches, Amazon book purchases, even E-Z Pass toll records—
it may one day be possible to know not just where people are and what
they are doing, but what and how they think.

The system is so potentially intrusive that at least one researcher
has quit, citing concerns over the dangers in placing such a powerful
weapon in the hands of a top-secret agency with little accountability.

Getting Aquaint
Known as Aquaint, which stands for “Advanced QUestion Answering for
INTelligence,” the project was run for many years by John Prange, an
NSA scientist at the Advanced Research and Development Activity.
Headquartered in Room 12A69 in the NSA’s Research and Engineering
Building at 1 National Business Park, ARDA was set up by the agency to
serve as a sort of intelligence community DARPA, the place where
former Reagan national security advisor John Poindexter’s infamous
Total Information Awareness project was born. [Editor’s note: TIA was
a short-lived project founded in 2002 to apply information technology
to counter terrorist and other threats to national security.] Later
named the Disruptive Technology Office, ARDA has now morphed into the
Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

A sort of national laboratory for eavesdropping and other spycraft,
IARPA will move into its new 120,000-square-foot home in 2009. The
building will be part of the new M Square Research Park in College
Park, Maryland. A mammoth two million-square-foot, 128-acre complex,
it is operated in collaboration with the University of Maryland.
“Their budget is classified, but I understand it’s very well funded,”
said Brian Darmody, the University of Maryland’s assistant vice
president of research and economic development, referring to IARPA.
“They’ll be in their own building here, and they’re going to grow.
Their mission is expanding.”

If IARPA is the spy world’s DARPA, Aquaint may be the reincarnation of
Poindexter’s TIA. After a briefing by NSA Director Michael Hayden,
Vice President Dick Cheney, and CIA Director George Tenet of some of
the NSA’s data mining programs in July 2003, Senator Jay Rockefeller
IV, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote a
concerned letter to Cheney. “As I reflected on the meeting today,” he
said, “John Poindexter’s TIA project sprung to mind, exacerbating my
concern regarding the direction the administration is moving with
regard to security, technology, and surveillance.”

Building “Hal”
The original goal of Aquaint, which dates back to the 1990s, was
simply to develop a sophisticated method of picking the right needles
out of a vast haystack of information and coming up with the answer to
a question. As with TIA, many universities were invited to contribute
brainpower to the project. But in the aftermath of the attacks on
9/11, with the creation of the NSA’s secret warrantless eavesdropping
program and the buildup of massive databases, the project began taking
on a more urgent tone.

In a 2004 pilot project, a mass of data was gathered from news stories
taken from the New York Times, the AP news wire, and the English
portion of the Chinese Xinhua news wire covering 1998 to 2000. Then,
13 U.S. military intelligence analysts searched the data and came up
with a number of scenarios based on the material. Finally, using those
scenarios, an NSA analyst developed 50 topics, and in each of those
topics created a series of questions for Aquaint’s computerized brain
to answer. “Will the Japanese use force to defend the Senkakus?” was
one. “What types of disputes or conflict between the PLA [People’s
Liberation Army] and Hong Kong residents have been reported?” was
another. And “Who were the participants in this spy ring, and how are
they related to each other?” was a third. Since then, the NSA has
attempted to build both on the complexity of the system—more essay-
like answers rather than yes or no—and on attacking greater volumes of

“The technology behaves like a robot, understanding and answering
complex questions,” said a former Aquaint researcher. “Think of 2001:
A Space Odyssey and the most memorable character, HAL 9000, having a
conversation with David. We are essentially building this system. We
are building HAL.” A naturalized U.S. citizen who received her Ph.D.
from Columbia, the researcher worked on the program for several years
but eventually left due to moral concerns. “The system can answer the
question, ‘What does X think about Y?'” she said. “Working for the
government is great, but I don’t like looking into other people’s
secrets. I am interested in helping people and helping physicians and
patients for the quality of people’s lives.” The researcher now
focuses on developing similar search techniques for the medical

Thought policeman
A supersmart search engine, capable of answering complex questions
such as “What were the major issues in the last 10 presidential
elections?” would be very useful for the public. But that same
capability in the hands of an agency like the NSA—absolutely secret,
often above the law, resistant to oversight, and with access to
petabytes of private information about Americans—could be a privacy
and civil liberties nightmare. “We must not forget that the ultimate
goal is to transfer research results into operational use,” said
Aquaint project leader John Prange, in charge of information
exploitation for IARPA.

Once up and running, the database of old newspapers could quickly be
expanded to include an inland sea of personal information scooped up
by the agency’s warrantless data suction hoses. Unregulated, they
could ask it to determine which Americans might likely pose a security
risk—or have sympathies toward a particular cause, such as the antiwar
movement, as was done during the 1960s and 1970s. The Aquaint robospy
might then base its decision on the type of books a person purchased
online, or chat room talk, or websites visited—or a similar
combination of data. Such a system would have an enormous chilling
effect on everyone’s everyday activities—what will the Aquaint
computer think if I buy this book, or go to that website, or make this
comment? Will I be suspected of being a terrorist or a spy or a

Controlling brain waves
Collecting information, however, has always been far less of a problem
for the NSA than understanding it, and that means knowing the
language. To expand its linguistic capabilities, the agency
established another new organization, the Center for Advanced Study of
Language (CASL), and housed it in a building near IARPA at the M
Square Research Park. But far from simply learning the meaning of
foreign words, CASL, like Aquaint, attempts to find ways to get into
someone’s mind and understand what he or she is thinking.

One area of study is to attempt to determine if people are lying
simply by watching their behavior and listening to them speak.
According to one CASL document, “Many deception cues are difficult to
identify, particularly when they are subtle, such as changes in verb
tense or extremely brief facial expressions. CASL researchers are
studying these cues in detail with advanced measurement and
statistical analysis techniques in order to recommend ways to identify
deceptive cue combinations.”

Another area of focus explores the “growing need to work with foreign
text that is incomplete,” such as partly deciphered messages or a
corrupted hard drive or the intercept of only one side of a
conversation. The center is thus attempting to find ways to prod the
agency’s cipher-brains to fill in the missing blanks. “In response,”
says the report, “CASL’s cognitive neuroscience team has been studying
the cognitive basis of working memory’s capacity for filling in
incomplete areas of text. They have made significant headway in this
research by using a powerful high-density electroencephalogram (EEG)
machine acquired in 2006.” The effort is apparently directed at
discovering what parts of the brain are used when very good
cryptanalysts are able to guess correctly the missing words and
phrases in a message.

Like something out of a B-grade sci-fi movie, CASL is even trying to
turn dull minds into creative geniuses by training employees to
control their own brain waves: “The cognitive neuroscience team has
also been researching divergent thinking: creative, innovative and
flexible thinking valuable for language work. They are exploring ways
to improve divergent thinking using the EEG and neurobiological
feedback. A change in brain-wave activity is believed to be critical
for generating creative ideas, so the team trains its subjects to
change their brain-wave activity.”

Obama’s Black Widow
BY Nat Hentoff  /  23 December 2008

Thanks to Bush and Obama, the National Security Agency now knows more
about you. Barack Obama will be in charge of the biggest domestic and
international spying operation in history. Its prime engine is the
National Security Agency (NSA)-located and guarded at Fort Meade,
Maryland, about 10 miles northeast of Washington, D.C. A brief glimpse
of its ever-expanding capacity was provided on October 26 by The
Baltimore Sun’s national security correspondent, David Wood: “The
NSA’s colossal Cray supercomputer, code-named the ‘Black Widow,’ scans
millions of domestic and international phone calls and e-mails every
hour…. The Black Widow, performing hundreds of trillions of
calculations per second, searches through and reassembles key words
and patterns, across many languages.”

In July, George W. Bush signed into law the FISA Amendments Act of
2008, which gives the NSA even more power to look for patterns that
suggest terrorism links in Americans’ telephone and Internet
communications. The ACLU immediately filed a lawsuit on free speech
and privacy grounds. The new Bush law provides farcical judicial
supervision over the NSA and other government trackers and databasers.
Although Senator Barack Obama voted for this law, dig this from the
ACLU: “The government [is now permitted] to conduct intrusive
surveillance without ever telling a court who it intends to spy on,
what phone lines and e-mail addresses it intends to monitor, where its
surveillance targets are located, why it’s conducting the surveillance
or whether it suspects any party to the communication of wrongdoing.”
This gives the word “dragnet” an especially chilling new meaning.

The ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer, director of its National Security Project,
adds that the new statute, warming the cold hearts of the NSA,
“implicates all kinds of communications that have nothing to do with
terrorism or criminal activity of any kind.” Why did Obama vote for
this eye-that-never-blinks? He’s a bright, informed guy, but he wasn’t
yet the President-Elect. The cool pragmatist wanted to indicate he
wasn’t radically unmindful of national security-and that his previous
vow to filibuster such a bill may have been a lapse in judgment. It

What particularly outraged civil libertarians across the political
divide was that the FISA Amendments Act gave immunity to the
telecommunications corporations-which, for seven years, have been a
vital part of the Bush administration’s secret wiretapping program-
thereby dismissing the many court cases brought by citizens suing
those companies for violating their individual constitutional
liberties. This gives AT&T, Verizon, and the rest a hearty signal to
go on pimping for the government. That’s OK with the Obama
administration? Please tell us, Mr. President.

Some of us began to see how deeply and intricately the telecoms were
involved in the NSA’s spying when-as part of an Electronic Frontier
Foundation lawsuit-it was revealed by a former AT&T technician, Mark
Klein, that he had found a secret AT&T room in which the NSA was
tapping into the telecom giant’s fiber-optic cables. On National
Public Radio on November 7, 2007, he disclosed: “It’s not just AT&T’s
traffic going through these cables, because these cables connected
AT&T’s network with other networks like Sprint, Qwest [the one firm
that refused to play ball with the government], Global Crossing,
UUNet, etc.”

What you should know is that these fruitful cables go through “a
splitter” that, as Klein describes, “just copies the entire data
without any selection going on. So it’s a complete copy of the data
stream.” Under the new FISA Amendments Act, there are no limits on
where this stream of data can be disseminated. As in the past, but now
with “legal” protection under the 2008 statute, your suspicious
“patterns” can go to the FBI, Homeland Security, the CIA, and state
and local police that are also involved in “fusion centers” with the

Consider the enormous and bottomless databases that the government-and
its NSA-can have a ball with. In James Bamford’s The Shadow Factory
(Doubleday)-a new book that leads you as far as anyone has gone into
the bowels of the NSA-he notes: “For decades, AT&T and much of the
rest of the telecommunications industry have had a very secret, very
cozy relationship with the NSA.” In AT&T’s case, he points out, “its
international voice service carried more than 18 billion minutes per
year, reaching 240 countries, linking 400 carriers, and offering
remote access via 19,500 points of presence in 149 countries around
the globe.” Voilá! Also, he notes: “Much of those communications
passed through that secret AT&T room that Klein found on Folsom Street
in downtown San Francisco.”

There’s a lot more to come that we don’t know about. Yet. In The
Shadow Factory, James Bamford quotes Bush’s Director of National
Intelligence Mike McConnell as saying that this wiretapping program
was and is “only one program of many highly secret programs approved
by Bush following the attacks on 9/11” (emphasis added). McConnell
also said of the NSA’s nonstop wiretapping: “This is the only aspect
of those various activities whose existence has officially been

Come on, Mike. Bush acknowledged the NSA’s flagrant contempt of the
First and Fourth amendments only after The New York Times broke the
story in December 2005. When the Times executive editor, Bill Keller,
first decided to hold the explosive story for a year, General Michael
Hayden-the former head of the NSA who is currently running the CIA-was
relieved because he didn’t want the news to get out that “most
international communications pass through [these telecommunications]
‘switching,'” Bamford reports. It would blow the cover off those
corporate communicators. Now, AT&T, Verizon, et al., don’t have to
worry, thanks to the new law.

There are increasing calls, inside and outside of Congress, for
President Obama to urge investigations by an independently bipartisan
commission-akin to the 9/11 Commission-to get deeply into the many
American and international laws so regally broken by Bush and his
strutting team. But there is so much still to find out about the NSA’s
“many highly secret programs” that a separate commission is sorely
needed to probe exclusively into the past and ongoing actions of the
Black Widow and other NSA lawless intrusions into our privacy and

President Obama could atone for his vote that supported the FISA
Amendments Act of 2008 by appointing such a bipartisan commission
composed of technology experts who are also familiar with the
Constitution. Bamford says that the insatiable NSA is “developing an
artificial intelligence system designed to know what people are
thinking.” Here come the thought police!

BLACK WIDOW,0,7827877.story
Spying NSA’s failures : Bamford looks into the mistakes made by the
secretive agency protecting the nation
BY David Wood  /  October 26, 2008
Review of The Shadow Factory By James Bamford

The bad news in James Bamford’s fascinating new study of the National
Security Agency is that Big Brother really is watching. The worse
news, according to this veteran journalist, is that Big Brother often
listens in on the wrong people and sometimes fails to recognize
critical information, like the fact that terrorists are gathering and
plotting an attack. When it does find a critical nugget like that, it
occasionally files it away somewhere and doesn’t tell anybody.

This is a tale of bad news, told by a master whose two previous books
on the NSA, The Puzzle Palace (1982) and Body of Secrets (2001), laid
bare some of the machinations of the world’s largest and most
technologically sophisticated spy agency. In brisk and colorful
narrative, The Shadow Factory details the agency’s failure on Sept. 11
(the hijackers, on whom the NSA had been eavesdropping for 18 months
without sharing the intelligence with the FBI or CIA, were camped out
late that summer virtually on the NSA’s doorstep, in Laurel).

Bamford whisks the reader through the NSA’s embarrassing failure to
figure out that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and
through the distressing post-Sept. 11 years when the agency
demonstrated both technical gee-whizzery and brash law-breaking. The
book is certain to raise questions about whether the NSA, with
headquarters in those huge, foreboding structures just off the
Baltimore-Washington Parkway on Fort Meade Road, ever can operate
effectively and efficiently – and legally.

Bamford convincingly argues that the agency, grown from a few creative
code-breakers into a vast network of sensors, wiretaps, robo-
eavesdroppers, secret data-miners and storage bunkers, broke the law
and spied on Americans and nearly got away with it. His detailed
descriptions of secret underground fiber-optic wiretaps and
clandestine operations centers persuasively describe the NSA’s
expanding reach.

Yet Bamford might have acknowledged that reporting on a complex
organization whose effectiveness requires secrecy is an inherently
incomplete work: Its successes are unknown. Surely, the NSA has done
valuable work in identifying and tracking terrorists, achievements not
noted by Bamford.

The book is “a disservice” to the NSA employees who seek to protect
the nation while safeguarding Americans’ privacy, an agency
spokeswoman, Judith A. Emmel, said in a statement. Of course, the
agency’s eavesdroppers and analysts are motivated, hard-working
people, often forward-deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army Sgt.
Trista Leah Moretti, an NSA cryptologist killed in a mortar attack in
southern Iraq on June 25, 2007, is the most recent entry on the
agency’s Memorial Wall.

The NSA’s former director, Michael Hayden, once described the NSA’s
eavesdroppers as “people who … go shopping in Glen Burnie and their
kids play soccer in Laurel. And they know the law. They know American
privacy better than the average American, and they’re dedicated to

But as history has proved time and time again, dedicated and well-
intentioned people can be overwhelmed by the imperatives of the
institution within which they work. Can the NSA itself be trusted, in
secret, to make the fine judgment calls between protecting Americans
and spying on them?

Bamford’s history is not reassuring. It was Hayden, after all, who
authorized Operation Highlander. It siphoned all phone and e-mail
traffic off the Inmarsat satellite communications system used by
American troops, the Red Cross, the U.N. and journalists, including
those at The Baltimore Sun, to call home from Iraq. NSA analysts
listened in on and recorded “incredibly intimate personal
conversations,” one analyst told Bamford, who said she was shocked and
distressed (her story has been corroborated by some of her NSA
colleagues and disputed by others). On any given day, Bamford writes,
the NSA had been spying on as many as 500 Americans at home and 7,000

Even now, he writes, the NSA has “the capacity to make tyranny total
in America. Only law ensures that we never fall into that abyss.”
Despite Bamford’s burning distrust of the agency, he got and shares
astonishing access to No Such Agency, as the NSA is sometimes known.
Here, courtesy of the eavesdroppers, is Osama bin Laden’s phone
number: 00-873-6825-0533 (surely disconnected by this time).

Most convincingly, Bamford guides the reader through the NSA’s
greatest challenge: staying ahead of the explosive growth in volume
and types of communications. Voice traffic alone increases 20 percent
a year. Digital cell phones and fiber-optic cables vastly complicate
the eavesdroppers’ job. Today, the NSA’s colossal Cray supercomputer,
code-named the “Black Widow,” scans millions of domestic and
international phone calls and e-mails every hour. That’s harder than
it sounds: For purposes of speed and encryption, many of these
communications are transmitted in fragments. The Black Widow,
performing hundreds of trillions of calculations per second, searches
through and reassembles key words and patterns, across many languages.
Storing all this data, Bamford reports, is already an enormous
headache for the NSA.

But the larger and more disturbing issue is not so much collecting all
that data, but analyzing, digesting and using it. “Our ability to
collect stuff,” a senior NSA official acknowledged to Bamford, “far
outstrips our ability to understand what we collect.”


Iran busts ‘spy pigeons’ near nuclear site / Oct 20, 2008

“Security forces in Natanz have arrested two suspected “spy pigeons”
near Iran’s controversial uranium enrichment facility, the reformist
Etemad Melli newspaper reported on Monday. One of the pigeons was
caught near a rose water production plant in the city of Kashan in
Isfahan province, the report cited an unnamed informed source as
saying, adding that some metal rings and invisible strings were
attached to the bird. “Early this month, a black pigeon was caught
bearing a blue-coated metal ring, with invisible strings,” the source
was quoted as saying of the second pigeon. The source gave no further
description of the pigeons, neither their current status nor what
their fate will be. Natanz is home to Iran’s heavily-bunkered
underground uranium enrichment plant, which is not far from Kashan.
The activity is the focus of Iran’s five-year standoff with the West,
which that fears it aims to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran vehemently
denies the charge. Last year, Iran issued a formal protest over the
use of espionage by the United States to produce a key intelligence
report on the country’s controversial nuclear programme.”


BY Saleh Eskandari / July 10 / from Iranian newspaper Resalat /
translated by BBC

“A few weeks ago, 14 squirrels equipped with espionage systems of
foreign intelligence services were captured by [Iranian] intelligence
forces along the country’s borders. These trained squirrels, each of
which weighed just over 700 grams, were released on the borders of the
country for intelligence and espionage purposes. According to the
announcement made by Iranian intelligence officials, alert police
officials caught these squirrels before they could carry out any task.
Fixing GPS devices, bugging instruments and advanced cameras in the
bodies of trained animals like squirrels, mice, hamsters, etc, are
among modern methods of collecting intelligence. Given the fast speed
and the special physical features of these animals, they provide
special capabilities for spying operations. Once the animals return to
their place of origin, the intelligence gathered by them is then
offloaded. . . .”

BY Carol Highfill / November 1996

Lost or Stolen Birds
“Bands are one method of identifying a lost or stolen bird. No matter
how careful bird owners and breeders are, the unthinkable sometimes
happens and a bird flies away. It may be found by a conscientious
person who would like to return the bird to its owner. If the bird is
wearing a band, the task becomes much easier. Many bands are traceable
and a finder (with help from a pet store, veterinarian or breeder) may
be able to trace the bird and its owner. If a finder advertises that a
bird has been found, the true owner can prove his ownership of this
particular bird if he has the band number. If a bird has been stolen,
the thief will often remove the band to prevent discovery. However,
there are documented cases where birds have been recovered years later
due to identification of the leg band. Removal of the band by a thief,
decreases the value of the bird and some thieves take their chances.
Reputable breeders and pet stores will question the history of an
unbanded bird. Anyone buying a bird as a pet should also question any
bird which is not banded. The ability to remove a leg band is one of
this method’s drawbacks when compared to chipping or fingerprinting.”


“War of the Birds is the untold story of how carrier pigeons – members
of the elite MI-14 secret service division – are the forgotten heroes
of the Secret Service during the Second World War, playing a vital
role in securing the Allied Victory. Focusing on the efforts of five
forgotten Secret Service heroes of World War II – all of whom have
feathers – War of the Birds is a surprisingly suspenseful and dramatic
documentary about the war taking place in the air between Nazi and
Allied birds as they struggled to deliver crucial military
intelligence. Although today pigeons are seen as vermin, their role in
communicating information between the Allies in Britain and their
troops and agents in occupied Europe was paramount. In cases where
radio transmission and other forms of communication was not available
these brave birds, which have an in-built sense of direction over vast
distances and incredible flying power, saved the day. Drawing upon
emotive interviews and archival footage, we hear the miraculous tales
of pigeons like ‘White Vision’, which miraculously flew 60 miles over
heavy seas against 25mph winds to save 11 crew members from certain
death; ‘Mary of Exeter’ which flew for the Allied forces for five
years, getting wounded 22 times before finally being killed on duty;
and ‘Scotch Lass’ which returned to England from Holland with vital
microphotographs that saved hundreds of lives. Over fifty pigeons won
the Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Congressional Medal of
Honour, after the Allies won the war. These brave birds survived enemy
bullets, Nazi attack falcons and flight exhaustion to defeat Hitler
and his forces and change the course of history. This documentary
serves to remind a new generation of the importance of pigeons in a
pre-digital and internet world.”

“One well known Kennoway pigeon fancier, Jim Hamilton, has raced the
birds for most of his life and even provided pigeons for the
government during the second world war. The exhibition tells the story
of one such pigeon named Winkie, who was based at RAF Leuchars during
the conflict. On February 23, 1942, the damaged Beaufort that Winkie
was travelling on ditched suddenly while returning from a strike off
the Norwegian coast. She broke free from her cage and flew back to
base 129 miles away, arriving wet and exhausted. After assessing
Winkie along with other circumstances, a sergeant was able to advise
where to search for the plane and the crew were soon rescued. As a
result, she was the first pigeon to be awarded the Dickin Medal, which
is the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross.”

Decorated animal heroes
BY Hugo Potter / February 18 2007

· Paddy (1944) Carrier pigeon made the fastest recorded crossing of
the Channel to deliver messages from Normandy for D-Day.
· GI Joe (1946) Famous messenger pigeon which averted a bomb attack on
the Italian village of Colvi Vecchia, saving more than 1,000 lives.
· Judy (1946) English Pointer ship’s dog, alerted crew to approaching
aircraft. The only animal officially registered as a prisoner of war.
· Simon (1949) Ship’s cat served during the Chinese civil war.
Survived canon shell injuries to kill off a rat infestation on HMS
· Roselle (2002) Guide dog who led her blind owner and a woman blinded
by debris from the World Trade Center during the attacks of 9/11.
· Sam (2003) Dog serving with the Royal Candian Regiment in Bosnia.
Disarmed a gunman and guarded refugees against a hostile crowd.


Pigeon’s war medal up for auction / 26 October, 2004
“A bravery medal awarded to a pigeon for flying over enemy territory
carrying vital information during World War II is to be auctioned. The
bird, called Commando, was bred in Haywards Heath, Sussex, and carried
out 90 trips in German-occupied France. It brought back messages to
the UK in metal canisters strapped to its legs. Commando was given the
Dickin Medal for animal bravery in 1945 – one of only 54 to be given
out. It is to be auctioned at Spink in London on 4 November. Commando
was bred by pigeon fancier Sid Moon in a loft in the West Sussex town.
Mr Moon served with the Army Pigeon Service in World War I and made
his pigeons available to the war effort in 1939. Fewer than one in
eight of the birds sent on the missions returned home. They often fell
victim to German marksmen, birds of prey, bad weather or exhaustion.
But Commando survived the trips and was awarded the animal equivalent
of the Victoria Cross. The medal is being auctioned by Mr Moon’s
granddaughter Valerie Theobold and is expected to fetch between £5,000
and £7,000. She said: “The thing I remember is the noise of the
pigeons and probably also the smell of the pigeons. “But it is quite
interesting to think that all those pigeons carrying all those
messages through the war were coming from the loft.” Another of Mr
Moon’s relatives, John Theobold, said: “It was terribly hard for the
agents or for the people who were occupied trying to get message out
by radio because if they were caught they were shot. “So pigeons were
one way of getting information back that was crucial.””

‘War secrets’ pigeon trainer dies / 1 April, 2004
“Northamptonshire’s Dowager Viscountess Dilhorne, who trained pigeons
to carry World War II secret communications from the continent, has
died aged 93. During the war the then Mary Manningham-Buller trained
carrier pigeons in a small Oxfordshire village. The birds were used by
secret agents and resistance fighters, flying back to her with coded
messages on their legs. The funeral of the Viscountess, who died on 25
March, will be held on Friday at Deene Park, Corby. She was the widow
of the 1st Viscount Dilhorne, formerly Reginald Manningham-Buller, who
was Lord Chancellor from 1962-64. He became the Conservative MP for
Daventry, later South Northamptonshire, in 1943 and left the Commons
for the Lords on becoming a peer in 1962. For many years after the war
Mary Manningham-Buller did not discuss her secret work for the
government, even though she had discovered that some of the messages
carried by her pigeons had been of critical importance to the
military. Lady Dilhorne was born Mary Lilian Lindsay, one of eight
children of David Lindsay, Lord Balcarres. Her mother was Constance
Lilian, youngest daughter of the MP for Huntingdon Sir Henry Pelly.
The Viscountess is survived by a son and three daughters. One, Eliza
Manningham-Buller, has been director-general of the Security Service
since 2002.”


Scientists create remote-controlled pigeon / February 27, 2007
“Chinese scientists have succeeded in implanting electrodes in the
brain of a pigeon to control the bird’s flight remotely, state media
have reported. The Xinhua News Agency said scientists at the Robot
Engineering Technology Research Centre at Shandong University of
Science and Technology in eastern China used the micro-electrodes to
command the bird to fly right or left, and up or down. The implants
stimulated different areas of the pigeon’s brain according to
electronic signals sent by the scientists via computer, mirroring
natural signals generated by the brain, Xinhua quoted chief scientist
Su Xuecheng as saying. It was the first such successful experiment on
a pigeon in the world, said Mr Su, who conducted a similar successful
experiment on mice in 2005. The report did not specify what purpose
the pigeons may perform.”

CIA recruited cat to bug Russians
BY Charlotte Edwardes / 03 Nov 2001

“The CIA tried to uncover the Kremlin’s deepest secrets during the
1960s by turning cats into walking bugging devices, recently
declassified documents show. In one experiment during the Cold War a
cat, dubbed Acoustic Kitty, was wired up for use as an eavesdropping
platform. It was hoped that the animal – which was surgically altered
to accommodate transmitting and control devices – could listen to
secret conversations from window sills, park benches or dustbins.
Victor Marchetti, a former CIA officer, told The Telegraph that
Project Acoustic Kitty was a gruesome creation. He said: “They slit
the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as
an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him.
They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put
another wire in to override that.” Mr Marchetti said that the first
live trial was an expensive disaster. The technology is thought to
have cost more than £10 million. He said: “They took it out to a park
and put him out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There
they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was
dead.” The document, which was one of 40 to be declassified from the
CIA’s closely guarded Science and Technology Directorate – where
spying techniques are refined – is still partly censored. This implies
that the CIA was embarrassed about disclosing all the details of
Acoustic Kitty, which took five years to design. Dr Richelson, who is
the a senior fellow at the National Security Archive in Washington,
said of the document: “I’m not sure for how long after the operation
the cat would have survived even if it hadn’t been run over.” The memo
ends by congratulating the team who worked on the Acoustic Kitty
project for its hard work. It says: “The work done on this problem
over the years reflects great credit on the personnel who guided
it . . . whose energy and imagination could be models for scientific
pioneers.” By coincidence, in 1966, a British film called Spy With a
Cold Nose featured a dog wired up to eavesdrop on the Russians. It was
the same year as the Acoustic Kitty was tested.”

MI5’s secret plan to recruit gerbils as spycatchers
BY Michael Smith / 29 Jun 2001

MI5 considered using a team of highly-trained gerbils to detect spies
and terrorists flying into Britain during the 1970s, Sir Stephen
Lander, the service’s director-general, revealed yesterday. The plan
was based on the ability of gerbils to detect a rise in adrenalin from
changes in the scent of human sweat. Sir Stephen said the Israelis had
put the idea into practice, placing gerbil cages to the side of
security checks for travellers at Tel Aviv airport. A suitably placed
fan wafted the scent of the suspect’s sweat into the cage.

The gerbils were trained by Pavlovian response to press a lever if
they detected increased adrenalin, receiving food as a reward. The
system was never put into practice by MI5 because the Israelis were
forced to abandon it after they found that the gerbil could not tell
the difference between terrorists and passengers who were scared of
flying. Speaking at a conference at the Public Record Office in Kew,
Sir Stephen said MI5 archives contained a complete volume on the idea
– which was based on Canadian research for the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police – written in the 1970s.

Although Dame Stella Rimington made a practice of speaking publicly in
an attempt to change MI5, yesterday’s Missing Dimension conference was
only the second occasion that Sir Stephen has done so. The conference
marks a new PRO exhibition on espionage, Shaken Not Stirred, starting
today, which includes exhibits on a number of spies including Mata
Hari and a spy paid the equivalent of £6.5 million by King George I to
spy on the Stuarts. The Missing Dimension refers to the fact that most
histories are written before intelligence files have been released and
so omit a crucial element of what occurred and why. Sir Stephen
admitted that it would be a long time before MI5 would be able to
release details of its Cold War activities.

From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]



AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to the three American military contractors
freed from the Colombian jungle, speaking out against their former
captors, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC—Marc
Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell, among the fifteen
hostages, including the French Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt,
who was rescued in an elaborate military operation last week. The
Colombian government says it managed to infiltrate FARC command and
fool the rebels into thinking they were transferring the hostages to
another location.

On Monday, the three Americans spoke publicly for the first time since
their release. Marc Gonsalves called his former FARC captors
“terrorists” and urged them to release hundreds of remaining hostages.

The freed Americans are employees of the military firm Northrop
Grumman. They have been captured—they were captured in 2003 after
their surveillance plane crashed in the Colombian jungle.

The rescue operation was widely seen as a major blow to the FARC. The
fifteen freed prisoners were the most high-profile of hundreds the
FARC had held in hopes of securing the release of captured rebels and
achieving other political demands. The group has already been depleted
by the deaths of three senior leaders this year and a series of

Criticism of FARC has come from all sides. Indigenous, peasant and
human rights groups have denounced FARC’s kidnappings and armed
operations and said they also deflect attention from government

I’m joined now by three guests. Here in the firehouse, Mario Murillo,
professor of communications at Hofstra University, a producer at
Pacifica radio station WBAI here in New York, author of the book
Colombia and the United States: War, Terrorism and Destabilization,
currently finishing another book on the indigenous movement in
Colombia and its popular use of the media in community organizing.
Also, in Washington, D.C., I’m joined by Michael Evans, director of
the Colombia Documentation Project at the National Security Archive.
And on the line from New Brunswick, Canada, Manuel Rozental. He’s a
Colombian physician, human rights activist and member of the
Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca in Colombia. He
fled to Canada in 2005 following several threats on his life.

Mario, you have been writing about what happened, and now there’s
serious questions, Swiss reports of whether in fact this was staged,
whether $20 million wasn’t paid in ransom for these prisoners by the
Colombian government.

MARIO MURILLO: Right. There’s a lot of questions, actually, because
there’s three different versions. Unfortunately, the official version
is the one that’s getting the most play, and obviously Alvaro Uribe is
getting a lot of political mileage out of it. And that’s, of course,
this dramatic rescue operation that you described in the introduction.

There’s two other reports. The one that you just alluded to from the
French—Swiss radio—public radio service, that—based on high sources
that the reporters had, saying that one of the wives of one of the
guards, one of the FARC rebels who was involved in securing and
maintaining security around the hostages, was in constant contact and
made this arrangement for a $20 million ransom pay. And that’s from
one report.

Another report, which probably is a lot more feasible if this—you
know, I haven’t gotten deeper in that one, but the other report is
that the Colombian government actually took advantage of a diplomatic
effort that was already underway for a long time by the former French
consul in Bogota, as well as a leading Swiss diplomat who was in
Colombia, and they were making arrangements, and they even got the
green light from the Colombian government. It was in the Spanish
daily, El Pais, when the president, Colombian president, actually
announced that, yeah, this interchange, this dialogue, was actually
proceeding. And it turns out, apparently, according to this report,
that the Colombian government intercepted the helicopters that were on
their way, so it wasn’t really a high infiltration operation that was
in the highest levels of the FARC commanders. The FARC were actually
turning the folks over to specifically this delegation led by these
two diplomats, and apparently the Colombian government kind of took,
you know, a right turn and got a lot of political mileage as a result.

A lot of questions are still around what happened, but unfortunately,
as I said, the official story is the one that’s getting out the most.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn now to the freed American military
contractors. On Monday, they spoke out for the first time since their
rescue. Marc Gonsalves was the most vocal of the three in criticizing
FARC. This is some of what he had to say.

MARC GONSALVES: There was a time that when I slept, I would
dream that I was free. That time was only a few days ago. It feels so
good to be free here now with all of you.

I want to tell you about the FARC, a guerrilla group who claim
to be revolutionaries fighting for the poor people of Colombia. They
say that they want equality. They say that they just want to make
Colombia a better place. But that’s all a lie. It’s a cover story, and
they hide behind it, and they use it to justify their criminal

The FARC are not a revolutionary group. They are not a
revolutionary group. They are terrorists. Terrorists with a capital T.
Bad people. Their interests lie in drug trafficking, extortion,
kidnapping. They refuse to acknowledge all human rights. And they
reject democracy.

I’ve seen them hold a newborn baby in captivity, a baby that
needed medical help, that was sick. They kept him there in the jungle.

I, myself, and my friends, Tom and Keith, we’ve also been victim
of their hate, of their abuse and other torture. And I have seen how
even their own guerrillas commit suicide in a desperate attempt to
escape the slavery that the FARC have condemned them to.

The majority of the FARC’s forces are children and young adults.
They come from extreme poverty and have very little or no education.
Many of them, they can’t even read. So they’re easily tricked into
joining the FARC, and they’re brainwashed into believing that their
cause is a just cause. But once they join, they can never leave,
because if they try, they will be killed.

There are people who right now in this very moment, they’re
still there in the jungle being held hostage. In this exact moment,
right now, they’re being punished, because we got rescued
successfully. I want you guys to imagine that. Right now, right now,
they’re wearing chains around their necks. They’re going to get up
early tomorrow morning, and they’re going to put a heavy backpack on
their backs, and they’re going to be forced to march with that chain
on their neck, while a guerrilla with an automatic weapon is holding
the other end of his chain like a dog.

Those are innocent people. Those are people that were fighting
or working for the country. And all they want is what we wanted and
what God had the grace to give us: our freedom.

I want to send a message to the FARC. FARC, you guys are
terrorists. You deny that you are. You say with words that you’re not
terrorists, but your words don’t have any value. Don’t tell us that
you’re not terrorists; show us that you’re not terrorists. Let those
other hostages come home. Agree to President Uribe’s proposal of an
encounter zone. Anywhere and any time you want, he proposed an
encounter zone. Then make the humanitarian agreement and let the
others come home. Then after that, a peace process, because otherwise
this downward spiral that the FARC are on now will continue, and the
Colombian military is going to dismantle the entire organization.


AMY GOODMAN: That is the quote of the man, the American contractor,
who was captured, Gonsalves, speaking yesterday—Marc Gonsalves—in San
Antonio. Let’s begin with you, Mario. Your thoughts?

MARIO MURILLO: Well, first of all, he said a lot of things, so we can
comment on a lot of things, obviously. One of the things being the
fact of the terrible conditions in which these hostages are held is
something that obviously nobody could really argue about. It’s unjust,
and everybody from Fidel Castro to Hugo Chavez to many other people
around the world have been demanding the FARC turn these folks over.

But he also says a lot of things that kind of whitewash the situation.
First of all, I think it’s very important, one of the tragedies of
this whole thing is that we will never get to the bottom of what
Gonsalves and his so-called contractors were doing in Colombia. We
have to recall that he was—first of all, the fact that his plane went
down—the official record says it was an accident and they went down in
the jungles, although the FARC had claimed initially that they shot it

We also have to point out that to use the term “hostages” in their case
—not to justify that they were held for five years, by no stretch of
the imagination—but to use the term “hostages” is very problematic in
the context in which they were operating in southern Colombia. They
were there in 2003, two years—a year and a half after President Bush
already authorized US servicemen and contractors to conduct
counterinsurgency, not counter-drug operations. That was in the heart
of where the FARC were operating, in Caqueta and in the southern part
of the country. So we will never get to the bottom of what exactly
these folks were doing down there—again, not to justify, but I think
that’s one of the many questions that are left unsaid.

And then, finally, his last comments there about what Uribe’s
proposals are really are optimistic, if not completely naive. He
doesn’t seem to understand that Uribe’s strategy is not to dialogue
with the FARC. His intention is to totally dismantle them. He does not
recognize them as a belligerent force. And the argument that they’re
terrorists, which Gonsalves here is arguing, is something that Uribe
has embraced to the detriment of any possibility of dialogue for long-
lasting peace in Colombia.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me turn to Manuel Rozental. Your response right now,
as a man who has fled Colombia, a physician, a human rights activist,
now living in Canada, hearing the description of the FARC and also
talking about the Uribe government? It’s interesting that Ingrid
Betancourt, perhaps the most well-known hostage, who has now returned
to France—said she may run for president again, in fact ran against
Uribe—said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe should soften his tone
when dealing with FARC guerrillas. She urged Uribe to break with the
language of hatred. Manuel?

MANUEL ROZENTAL: Yes. Hi, Amy. Indeed, it’s very interesting. I, first
of all, have to say, like I think almost every Colombian, that we were
absolutely elated by the liberation of Ingrid and that her condition
is good, and one cannot downplay that. Regardless of how it was
achieved, it was fantastic that she was released unharmed and that all
the other ones were, as well.

Also, what Mario was saying, they were really fourteen prisoners of
war and one hostage released. The fourteen prisoners of war,
mistreated, abused, and I’m also glad, as everybody, that they’re

And in fact, I would say, knowing Ingrid before she was kidnapped, and
precisely two or three days before she was kidnapped by FARC, she
actually met with FARC commanders, including Raul Reyes, and said
directly that she demanded a gesture of goodwill from FARC in order
for peace to be achieved in Colombia. And her almost exact words were
“Your gesture of goodwill has to be no more kidnapping in Colombia,
and then, otherwise, if you don’t do that gesture, if you don’t carry
it out, then Colombia will explode into a spiral of disaster, and you
will lose all credibility.” So I think that background is essential,
because just a couple of days after she says that, she’s kidnapped by
the very people she demands that gesture from.

But I think it’s very important to put the whole thing into context.
First, the Uribe government has peaked in popularity but also has
reached a bottom in terms of illegitimacy. It was condemned just a few
days before this operation of liberation was carried out because of
buying out votes from congress to achieve re-election in a fraudulent
way. Uribe’s administration is also linked to death squads, and so are
the members of a coalition that led him to win the elections twice and
high officials in government, including the secret police. So we’re
talking about the regime with the worst human rights record in the
continent and the army with the worst human rights record in the
continent with the greatest US support, including the contractors or
mercenaries that Mario was talking about. So the fact that this regime
was involved in this liberation does not and should not and cannot
cover up the fact that it is a horrendous regime.

So, the main point I’d like to make here beyond the discussion as to
whether FARC or the government, which one is worse or which one is
legitimate, the main point here is an SOS for the popular movements
and organizations and the people of Colombia who right now, with the
validation of Uribe’s regime, are at the greatest risk of continuing
to be or even worsening the human rights records and abuses.

And to put this into perspective, there is a major plan in progress
within Colombia and from Colombia with US support and for corporate
interests to take over resources and wealth in territories in Colombia
and, from there, to launch a war or a major conflict in the Andean
region. That agenda is going to advance even further, after—if Uribe
gets away with the legitimization of his regime after the liberation
of Ingrid.

So, to go back to where I started, if Ingrid was the same Ingrid that
was kidnapped by FARC, the one that denounced corruption of the
government and launched a presidential campaign, she would be saying
what I’m saying now. You cannot legitimate a corrupt regime for profit
because you have liberated somebody. In fact, the person they’ve
liberated fought against that corruption, and we hope she’ll do it

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to bring Michael Evans into this discussion,
director of the Colombia Documentation Project at the National
Security Archive. Inter Press Service wrote an interesting piece
called “Colombia: The General Ingrid Hugged,” and they’re talking
about General Mario Montoya—General Mario Montoya Uribe and Ingrid
Betancourt. For our radio listeners, we’re showing the image. You can
go to our website at Tell us about this general.

MICHAEL EVANS: Sure. Thanks for having me on the show. General Mario
Montoya is the commander of the Colombian army, and he has a sort of
spotted history with respect to human rights.

And it’s important to—for the listeners of this show to realize that
there’s another side to the coin with the FARC. Few people have
illusions that the FARC are well-intentioned liberals, but the other
side of it are the right-wing paramilitary groups that have operated
virtually unhindered in Colombia for decades.

Mario Montoya, the general that Ingrid hugged—and I haven’t seen the
Inter Press story, but I can imagine where it goes—just last year was
the subject of a CIA report leaked to the Los Angeles Times that
implicated him in a joint operation with paramilitary forces in the
city of Medellin just a few years ago, when he was a commander of an
army brigade there. And Montoya, throughout his career, has been
dogged by these kinds of allegations. A unit that he was a member of
in the late 1970s, when he was a young intelligence officer, had
actually formed a supposedly independent spontaneous paramilitary
group known as the Triple A, the American Anticommunist Alliance, that
was responsible for bombings and other kinds of threats and
intimidation, sort of black ops type operations in Colombia. The unit
that he was associated with created it as a completely clandestine
project. So General Montoya has a lot to answer for, as does President
Uribe. You know, many of his political allies have been implicated in
the parapolitical scandal, a scandal touched off by the discovery of a
paramilitary laptop a couple of years ago.

So there’s another side to this that I think is lost in this and is in
danger of sort of being consumed or buried under this sort of all this
wave of adoration for, you know, what is, I think, rightly considered
a very successful military operation. Of course, everybody is happy
that the hostages have been released, and it’s a huge victory for them
and their families, but you have to also see this as a huge victory
for Uribe and for—really as something that’s going to help him to get
through and sort of avoid addressing some of these larger problems
that he faces.

AMY GOODMAN: The Triple A, what is it, Michael Evans?

MICHAEL EVANS: Yeah, the Triple A was a group, again, that in the late
1970s and early 1980s operated as a clandestine unit of a Colombian
military intelligence unit. Essentially, they were formed completely
covertly, behind the scenes, without any attribution to the Colombian
army. They were responsible for bombing the Communist Party
headquarters and some other acts of intimidation around that time.
It’s really the first documented evidence that I’ve seen, at least in
US government documents, declassified documents, where a Colombian
army unit is directly tied to a clandestine paramilitary group or

AMY GOODMAN: And its relation to the United States?

MICHAEL EVANS: Well, its relation to the United States, as far as I
know, ends where—in a cable reported from the US ambassador, Diego
Asencio, in 1979, where he knows of this project and says—kind of
downplays it and says, well, it’s not a big deal; you know, these are
kind of dirty tricks being carried out by a desperate military facing
this—excuse me, this guerrilla threat from the—what then was the M-19
guerrillas. But the US certainly knew about that project, and if they
had done a little digging, would have known that Mario Montoya was a
part of it, the man, of course, who is now the senior Colombian army
official that is considered a great ally of the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Manuel Rozental, can you return to Colombia today?

MANUEL ROZENTAL: Yeah, actually, I have been returning to Colombia,
and my situation is not unusual, in that many of the people under
threat actually go back to Colombia and have to be very careful and
keep looking for mechanisms to work with social movements. In fact, my
working with the Association of Indigenous Councils is at a moment
when more indigenous peoples, through this regime of Alvaro Uribe,
have been threatened, killed, disappeared or attacked than in any
other previous regimes, which has a lot to say about what’s going on.

But, Amy, I wanted to point out something. Maybe you saw this, or the
people listening to us. There was a 60 Minutes special on the Chiquita
Brands scandal. The Chiquita is, of course, a banana company. And the
documentary actually interviewed the CEO of Chiquita that had pleaded
guilty of funding the paramilitary forces. But the argument he
presented was that he was forced to fund the paramilitaries in order
to survive, because he was threatened by them.

The main point here is that the person doing the interview managed to
get through to Mancuso, the paramilitary commander and a close friend
of Uribe’s, and Mancuso stated clearly in the program that many people
saw in the US that there was never a threat, and it was out of
consideration that there would be any tense relationship or threat
between three companies—Dole, Chiquita, and Del Monte—in Colombia,
because they were actually allies. He actually said clearly, “They
funded us. They armed us. They trained us,” which is very important.

In fact, just a few days after this came out to the US public, Mancuso
and another fourteen paramilitaries were taken, extradited into the
US, so that they would be charged for drug trade and all the crimes
against humanity and all the names he said he was going to name—
Mancuso said he was going to denounce the direct links between the
multinational US corporations, the US government, the Colombian
government and the paramilitaries to the State Department and
Department of Justice. And just after he says that, he is thrown into
jail into darkness in the US, so that all these criminal activities
and the architecture of power in Colombia could not be exposed. All
this stuff is covered up.

And then, the links between corporate interest, paramilitary death
squads, the Uribe and the Bush administration have been hidden,
covered up completely. And then, the real problem in Colombia, which
is an experiment from transnational corporations through the Uribe
administration with the support of the Bush and the US government, can
be hidden, and further hidden with what just happened.

As was being explained before, the whole paramilitary and death squad
machinery in Colombia has been in existence for a long time with clear
US support, with direct involvement of military and paramilitary
forces in Colombia, and the Uribe regime is directly linked to all

AMY GOODMAN: It seems that the FARC has served the president of
Colombia very well—Uribe. The US has given billions of dollars to
Colombia. Mario Murillo, let’s end there.

MARIO MURILLO: Yeah. Well, I would make the argument that the FARC
continue to be a kind of crutch for Uribe, and it’s all couched in the
war against narcotrafficking and the war against terror. The United
States is looking at this as the prime éxito or success story, and
they’re pumping tens of millions of—billions of dollars into Colombia.
And McCain was down there just last week, touting it—

AMY GOODMAN: Was there the day of the release.

MARIO MURILLO: Was there the day of the rescue, and he’s touting it as
a success story, without pointing out what already has been said, as
well as the—it’s not only a thing of the past, it’s a thing of the
present. Amnesty International and the Fellowship of Reconciliation
came out with a scathing report in May—late April, early May this
year, documenting how the regiments, the army units that the Colombian
army is receiving the most money of Colombian—of US support are
directly involved in extrajudicial executions, a story that has been
reported in the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post but that,
unfortunately, as you know, doesn’t get the drumbeat that this
dramatic rescue would get.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you all for being with us. Mario Murillo
is a WBAI producer, professor at Hofstra University, author of the
book Colombia and the United States: War, Terrorism and
Destabilization. Michael Evans in D.C., director of the Colombia
Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. We’ll link to
that. And Manuel Rozental, physician, human rights activist, member of
the Hemispheric Social Alliance and Association of Indigenous Councils
of Northern Cauca in Colombia. I wish we could be speaking to him in
Colombia, but he fled to Canada in 2005 following several threats
against his life.

Michael Evans
email : mevans [at] gwu [dot] edu

“Michael L. Evans is director of the Colombia Documentation Project
and serves concurrently as the Archive’s Webmaster. He is the author
of several Archive Electronic Briefing Books on U.S.-Colombia
relations, international counternarcotics policy, the 1975 invasion of
East Timor by Indonesian forces and U.S.-China relations. He also
writes a monthly column for, the online publication of
Colombia’s leading news magazine. His work has been recognized by The
New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and
other publications. He has appeared on television and radio broadcasts
in the U.S. and Colombia, including the BBC World Service, Fairness
and Accuracy in Reporting’s “Counterspin,” Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy
Now!” and RCN Television in Colombia. He joined the Archive in 1996
and worked as a Research Associate on several Archive publications,
including Death Squads, Guerrilla War, Covert Operations, and
Genocide: Guatemala and the United States, 1954-1999, Presidential
Directives on National Security, Part 2: From Harry Truman to George
W. Bush, China and the United States: From Hostility to Engagement;
and U.S. Espionage and Intelligence: Organization, Operations, and
Management, 1947-1996. He is a graduate of Miami University and did
his graduate work in international affairs at The George Washington


Colombia rejects intelligence report  /  March 26, 2007

Colombia on Sunday rejected a Los Angeles Times report that the CIA
had intelligence alleging that the country’s army chief collaborated
with right-wing militias accused of atrocities, drug trafficking and
massacres. The report, published Sunday, cited a CIA document about
Colombia’s army commander, Gen. Mario Montoya, and a paramilitary
group jointly planning and conducting an operation in 2002 to wipe out
Marxist guerrillas from poor areas around Medellin.

The report came as the White House is asking Congress to approve
extending approximately $700 million a year in mostly military aid to
help Colombia’s government fight rebels and the illicit drug trade.
Montoya has a close association with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe
and would be the highest-ranking Colombian officer implicated in a
scandal over links between the outlawed militias and some of Uribe’s
political allies.

In a brief statement, Colombia’s government called for any charges
with proof to be presented before judicial authorities. “Colombia’s
government rejects accusations made by foreign intelligence agencies
against army commander Gen. Mario Montoya, that have been filtered
through the press, without evidence being presented to Colombian
justice and the government,” it said.

Most of Colombia’s paramilitaries have demobilized under a deal with
Uribe, but revelations are surfacing about ties to the political
elite. Rights groups have long charged that some military officers
have cooperated with the militias in a brutal counterinsurgency
campaign. Eight pro-Uribe lawmakers and a state governor have been
arrested on criminal charges involving alleged collusion with
paramilitary commands, which were set up in the 1980s to help fight
Marxist rebels. U.S. officials brand the militias as drug-trafficking


/  May 11, 2008

“For American corporations, the rewards of doing business abroad are
enormous, but so are the risks. And over the past 25 years no place
has been more perilous than Colombia, a country that is just beginning
to emerge from the throes of civil war and narco-terrorism. Chiquita
Brands International of Cincinnati, Ohio, found out the hard way. It
made millions growing bananas there, only to emerge with its
reputation splattered in blood after acknowledging it had paid nearly
$2 million in protection money to a murderous paramilitary group that
has killed or massacred thousands of people.

As correspondent Steve Kroft reports, the Colombian government is now
talking about extraditing Chiquita executives to Colombia, and
investigators in Bogota and on Capitol Hill are looking at other U.S.
companies that may have done the same thing. From the air, the plains
of the Uraba region are carpeted with lush foliage of banana
plantations, which have long provided a livelihood for the people of
northern Colombia. And for the better part of century, its best known
product has been the Chiquita banana.

But since the 1980’s, the business of bananas there has been
punctuated with gunfire. First, the area was taken over by Marxist
guerillas called the “FARC,” whose ruthlessness at killing and
kidnapping was exceeded only by the private paramilitary army that
rose up to fight them. Chiquita found itself trying to grow bananas in
the middle of a war, in which the Colombian government and its army
were of no help. “These lands were lands where there was no law. It
was impossible for the government to protect employees,” says Fernando
Aguirre, who became Chiquita’s CEO long after all this happened.

Aguirre says the company was forced to pay taxes to the guerillas when
they controlled the territory in the late 1980s and early 90s. When
the paramilitaries, known as the “AUC,” moved in in 1997 they demanded
the same thing. “Did the paramilitaries state, specifically to you,
that if you didn’t make the payments, your people would be killed?”
Kroft asks. “There was a very, very strong signal that if the company
would not make payments, that things would happen. And since they had
already killed at least 50 people, employees of the company, it was
clear to everyone there that these guys meant business,” Aguirre says.

Chiquita only had a couple of options and none of them were
particularly good. It could refuse to pay the paramilitaries and run
the risk that its employees could be killed or kidnapped, it could
pack up and leave the country all together and abandon its most
profitable enterprise, or it could stay and pay protection, and in the
process, help finance the atrocities that were being committed all
across the countryside. “These were extortion payments,” Aguirre says.
“Either you pay or your people get killed.”

“And you decided to pay,” Kroft remarks. “And the company decided to
pay, absolutely,” Aguirre says. There was no doubt in the company’s
mind that the paramilitaries were very bad people, Aguirre says.

Just how bad was already becoming evident. The paramilitaries, who
were funded initially by large landowners, and later by the cocaine
trade, not only drove the Marxist guerillas from the area, they tried
to eliminate anyone who might have leftist sympathies, from labor
leaders to school teachers. Sometimes entire villages were wiped out
in the most grisly fashion. Gloria Cuartes was the mayor of Apartado,
and witnessed much of it with her own eyes. “I was a mayor whose job
was just to gather the dead,” Cuartes says.

In 1996 she went to a school to talk to the children about the
violence that surrounded them. While she was there, the paramilitaries
arrived and murdered a 12-year-old boy, whose only crime had been to
announce their presence. “They cut off his head, and they threw the
head at us,” Cuartes remembers. “I went into a state of panic. They
were there for four hours, with their weapons, firing shots toward the
ceiling. One hundred girls and boys were with me. The children did not
scream. They were in shock.”

Asked if they said anything to her, Cuartes says, “No. Their language
was death. Their message was that if they could do this to children,
they could do it to me.” As the atrocities piled up all across the
country, Chiquita continued to make the payments to the
paramilitaries, viewing itself as a victim of the violence, not a

But all of that changed in 2001, when the U.S. government designated
the paramilitaries a terrorist organization, making any kind of
financial assistance to the group, coerced or otherwise, a felony. Yet
Chiquita continued to make the payments for another two years,
claiming it missed the government’s announcement. “It was in the
newspapers. It was in the Cincinnati Enquirer, which is where your
company headquarters is. It was in the New York Times,” Kroft points
out. “I mean, this is a big part of your business, doing business in
Colombia. I mean, how did you miss it?”

“Well, again, I don’t know what happened during that time frame,
frankly. What I know is, all the data shows that the company, the
moment it learned that these payments were illegal in the United
States, that’s when they decided to self-disclose to the Department of
Justice,” Aguirre says.

By “self-disclose,” he means Chiquita, on the advice of its attorneys,
turned itself in to the Justice Department. One of the first things
Aguirre did when he became CEO was to stop the payments and sell the
company’s Colombian subsidiary. Last year the company pled guilty to a
felony and agreed to pay a $25 million fine, but that wasn’t the end
of its legal problems. “This company has blood on its hands,” says
attorney Terry Collingsworth, who has filed one of four separate
lawsuits against Chiquita, seeking money for the families of
Colombians killed by the paramilitaries.

Collingsworth says the money Chiquita paid for seven years may have
kept its employees safe, but it also helped buy weapons and ammunition
that were killing other people. “Are you saying that Chiquita was
complicit in these massacres that took place down there?” Kroft asks.
“Absolutely. If you provide knowing substantial assistance to someone
who then goes out and kills someone, or terrorizes, or tortures
someone, you’re also guilty,” Collingsworth says.

Asked if he believes that Chiquita knew this money was being used to
go into the villages and massacre people, Collingsworth says, “If they
didn’t, they would be the only ones in the whole country of Colombia
who didn’t think that.” “You’re not saying that Chiquita wanted these
people to be killed?” Kroft asks. “No, they were indifferent to it,”
Collingsworth says. “…they were willing to accept that those people
would be dead, in order to keep their banana operation running
profitably, and making all the money that they did in Colombia.”

Collingsworth says he thinks the company should have just picked up
and left. “It’s easy for a lawyer to give that type of advice, after
the fact,” Aguirre argues. “When you have more than 3,500 workers,
their lives depend on you. When you’ve been making payments to save
their lives, you just can’t pick up and go.”

“What did the company think this money was gonna be used for?” Kroft
asks. “Well, clearly to save lives,” Aguirre says. “The lives of your
employees?” Kroft asks. “Absolutely,” Aguirre says.

“It was also being used to kill other people,” Kroft says. “Well,
these groups were funded with hundreds of millions of dollars. They
had the guns,” Aguirre says. “They had the bullets. So I don’t know
who in their right mind would say, ‘Well, if Chiquita would have
stopped, these killers would have stopped.’ I just don’t see that

“Do you feel that the company has any responsibility to compensate the
victims of the paramilitaries in Colombia?” Kroft asks. “The
responsibility of any murders are the responsibility of the people
that made the killings, of the people who pulled the trigger,” Aguirre

The Justice Department decided not to prosecute any corporate officers
at Chiquita, which included prominent businessmen such as former CEO
Cyrus Freidheim Jr., now head of Sun-Times Media Group, and board
member Roderick Hills, a former chairman of the Securities and
Exchange Commission. The decision created a furor in Colombia. The
country’s prosecutor general said he would begin his own
investigation, and has threatened to extradite some of Chiquita’s
executives to stand trial in Colombia.

There’s also a Congressional investigation, led by Representative
William Delahunt of Massachusetts, who chairs a House Foreign Affairs
subcommittee. Rep. Delahunt has been quoted as saying that Chiquita is
the tip of the iceberg. Asked what he means by that, Delahunt tells
Kroft, “Well, I think that there are other American companies that
have conducted themselves the same way that Chiquita has, except they
haven’t been caught.” How many companies? “Well, there are several,”
Delahunt says. Delahunt says he doesn’t want to share more information
“because I want to give those companies an opportunity to come before
the committee.”

60 Minutes did find one person who was willing to name names inside a
maximum security prison outside Medellin: Salvatore Mancuso was once
the leader of the paramilitaries. “Chiquita says the reason they paid
the money was because your people would kill them if they didn’t. Is
that true?” Kroft asks. “No it is not true,” Mancuso says. “They paid
taxes because we were like a state in the area, and because we were
providing them with protection which enabled them to continue making
investments and a financial profit.”

“What would have happened to Chiquita and its employees if they had
not paid you?” Kroft asks. “The truth is, we never thought about what
would happen because they did so willingly,” Mancuso says. Asked if
the company had a choice, Mancuso says, “Yes, they had a choice. They
could go to the local police or army for protection from the
guerillas, but the army and police at that time were barely able to
protect themselves.”

Mancuso helped negotiate a deal with the Colombian government that
allowed more than 30,000 paramilitaries to give up their arms and
demobilize in return for reduced prison sentences. As part of the
deal, the paramilitaries must truthfully confess to all crimes, or
face much harsher penalties.

Update: Mancuso, along with 13 other paramilitary warlords, was
extradited on May 13, 2008 to the United States for failing to comply
with the peace pact.  “Was Chiquita the only American company that
paid you?” Kroft asks Mancuso. “All companies in the banana region
paid. For instance, there was Dole and Del Monte, which I believe are
U.S. companies,” Mancuso claims.

Both Dole Food Company and Fresh Del Monte Produce, which is not
affiliated with Del Monte Foods, have issued statements strongly
denying that they made payments to the paramilitaries. Fresh Del Monte
Produce said its Colombian operation is “limited to a sales office
which purchases bananas from independent growers.”

“Dole and Del Monte say they never paid you any money,” Kroft tells
Mancuso. “Chiquita has been honest by acknowledging the reality of the
conflict and the payments that it made; the others also made payments,
not only international companies, but also the national companies in
the region,” Mancuso says. “So you’re saying Dole and Del Monte are
lying?” Kroft asks. “I’m saying they all paid,” Mancuso says.

Mancuso has been indicted in the U.S. for smuggling 17 tons of cocaine
into the country. He says he’s more than willing to tell U.S
prosecutors anything they want to know.

“Has anyone come down here from the United States to talk to you about
Dole, or to talk to you about Del Monte or any other companies?” Kroft

“No one has come from the Department of Justice of the United States
to talk to us,” Mancuso says. “I am taking the opportunity to invite
the Department of State and the Department of Justice, so that they
can come and so I can tell them all that they want to know from us.”
“And you would name names?” Kroft asks. “Certainly, I would do so,”
Mancuso says.

So far, the only company that’s been charged with paying money to
terrorists in Colombia is the one that turned itself in. “Do you think
if you hadn’t gone to the Justice Department and disclosed the
situation, that anything would’ve happened to you?” Kroft asks. “Well,
Mr. Kroft, if we hadn’t gone to the Justice Department, we probably
would not be here talking about this whole issue. No one would know
about this,” Aguirre says.

The General Ingrid Hugged  /  July 6 2008

General Mario Montoya Uribe, the national commander of the Colombian
army, whom Ingrid Betancourt thanked on Wednesday for rescuing her
from captivity, has a controversial service record. Montoya, whom
Betancourt embraced soon after her rescue from over six years as a
hostage of the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia
(FARC), was born on Apr. 29, 1949 in the western department (province)
of Valle del Cauca.

Throughout his army career he has received more than 20 decorations,
including a U.S. Army medal. He has been in command positions in many
regions of his country, and holds a postgraduate degree in higher
management from the University of the Andes, according to his résumé
posted on the army Internet site. He followed courses of study at the
National War College, an advanced course on armoured vehicles at Fort
Knox, Kentucky, and was a military attaché at the Colombian embassy in

A cable despatched in 1979 by the U.S. embassy in Bogotá, declassified
at the request of the non-governmental National Security Archive
(NSA), a U.S. research institute, “reveals that a Colombian army
intelligence battalion linked to Montoya secretly created and staffed
a clandestine terror unit in 1978-1979,” researcher Michael Evans said
in an article published in July 2007 in the Colombian weekly Semana.

“Under the guise of the American Anti-communist Alliance (AAA or
Triple-A), the group was responsible for a number of bombings,
kidnappings and assassinations against leftist targets during that
period,” he wrote.

Evans, the head of NSA’s Colombia Documentation Project, also referred
to a mass grave discovered in the department of Putumayo in March 2007
containing the remains of more than 100 victims “killed over the same
two-year period that Montoya led the Joint Task Force South, the U.S.-
funded unit charged with coordinating counternarcotics and
counterguerrilla operations in that region from 1999-2001.”

“Declassified documents also detail State Department concern that one
of the units under Montoya’s command at the Task Force, the 24th
Brigade, had ties with paramilitaries based in (the town of) La
Hormiga, the location of the gravesite,” he said. Montoya was the
commander of the Fourth Brigade of the army, with jurisdiction over
the municipality of Bojayá in the western department of Chocó, when
119 civilians were massacred in the urban centre of Bellavista on May
2, 2002. In spite of three warnings delivered days in advance about
the imminent danger to the civilian population, the army did not enter
the area or take action to protect residents.

On Apr. 21, 2002, at least seven motorboats brought some 250
paramilitaries belonging to the ultra-rightwing United Self-Defence
Forces of Colombia (AUC) to Bellavista and the nearby town of Vigía
del Fuerte, through three separate checkpoints manned by the navy, the
police, and the army, the latter in Riosucio, 157 kilometres north of
Bellavista. The paramilitaries took up positions in both towns,
observed from the surrounding rural areas by the FARC.

On Apr. 23, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights expressed its “concern” about the paramilitary incursion
to the Colombian government and urged it to take action to protect
civilians. On Apr. 24 and 26, the Attorney General’s Office and the
Ombudsman added their voices to the warning. On May 1 the battle
between the FARC and the AUC started. More than 300 people sought
sanctuary in the Bellavista church and the AUC took cover behind and
around it. The following day the guerrillas launched gas cylinder
bombs at the paramilitary positions, one of which fell through the
church roof and exploded, killing 119 people including 44 children,
and leaving over 100 injured or mutilated.

The army showed up five days later. Survivors of the tragedy told IPS
last year about General Montoya’s arrival on the scene, and how he
wept for the dead children in front of television cameras, holding up
a little shoe of an expensive brand that local children had never seen
before. In May this year, an administrative tribunal issued two
verdicts, blaming the state for not having protected the population,
and ordering it to pay an indemnity of 1.5 billion pesos (870,000
dollars) to the victims’ families. Fourteen other civil lawsuits are
still pending.

The military justice system and the Attorney General’s Office
investigated army officers implicated in the events for dereliction of
duty. But Montoya’s career was not interrupted and he was promoted,
although soon afterwards, in October 2002, he was involved in another
controversial situation. An intelligence report produced by the U.S.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was leaked to the Los Angeles Times,
which published it in March 2007. It indicated that Montoya and a
paramilitary group known as Bloque Cacique Nutibara “jointly planned
and conducted a military operation in 2002 to eliminate Marxist
guerrillas from poor areas around Medellin, a city in northwestern
Colombia that has been a centre of the drug trade.”

What is known as Operation Orion began at 2:00 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2002
in Medellín’s 13th district. At least 14 people were killed, and
residents and human rights organisations testified that about 50 more
“disappeared” in the following weeks. On Oct. 21 that year the
presidential web site featured a statement by Montoya saying that “we
will continue, and what we are doing in the 13th district is a message
to the violent, telling them: desist, we will go everywhere in the
country because urban guerrilla warfare has no place in Colombia.”
Bloque Cacique Nutibara’s actions in the 13th district went on for two
months and, according to demobilised paramilitaries, were coordinated
with the authorities.

The CIA intelligence report included information from other Western
intelligence services and indicated that U.S. officials have received
similar information from a “proven” source, according to journalists
Greg Miller and Paul Richter, the authors of the Los Angeles Times
article. The report was leaked to the newspaper by a source who would
only identify himself as a U.S. government employee. The CIA would
neither deny nor confirm the information, but asked the newspaper not
to publish certain details.

In addition to his close collaboration with U.S. officials on Plan
Colombia, a strategy financed by Washinton to combat drug trafficking
and insurgency, Montoya was an instructor at the former School of the
Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security
Cooperation in 2001.

On Wednesday night, when the government showed on television how the
operation to rescue Betancourt and the other 14 hostages was planned
and executed, President Álvaro Uribe announced that Montoya had
commanded the successful rescue mission, and praised the 2002
Operation Orion in Medellín, without further comment. Uribe mentioned
that the same day he had received messages from members of the
military, complaining that they were “unjustly” imprisoned and asking
him to “intercede” for them.

In Colombia there is freedom of opinion, Uribe said, and he asked
human rights organisations to “believe in Colombia, in this
government; the respect shown for human rights in this operation is no
accident.” The president “respectfully” asked judges to review the
cases of the imprisoned members of the army and “if an error appears,
to correct it”.



Improbable Database Of A Farc Commander
BY Maurice Lemoine  /  July 07, 2008
Source: Le Monde diplomatique

Media attention following Ingrid Betancourt’s dramatic release from
captivity should not obscure a surprising revelation: laptop computers
implausibly retrieved from an obliterating air raid on a Farc base in
Colombia are being used to sour the country’s relations with Ecuador
and smear the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, in western and Latin-
American media.

The first of 10 smart bombs guided by GPS hit its target at 00.25 on 1
March 2008, less than two kilometres from the Ecuador-Colombia border,
along the Putomayo river. Four Blackhawk OH-60 helicopters appeared
out of the darkness with 44 special commandos from Colombia’s rapid
deployment force on board. But there was no fighting: the temporary
camp of the Farc (the Marxist-inspired Revolutionary Armed Forces of
Colombia) had been destroyed by the explosions and 23 people killed in
their sleep (1). Among them was Raúl Reyes, the Farc’s second-in-
command and the group’s “foreign minister”. His remains were taken
back to Colombia by ground troops as a trophy.

Early that morning the Colombian president Alvaro Uribe contacted his
Ecuadorian counterpart, Rafael Correa, to brief him on the raid: the
Colombian airborne unit had been attacked from within Ecuador and had
pursued the rebels in legitimate self-defence. But, he assured Correa,
their return of fire came from Colombian territory and didn’t violate
Ecuador’s airspace. Colombia’s defence minister, Juan Manuel Santos,
gave the same assurance later.

Initially Correa took Uribe at his word. Until this incident they had
been on good terms and spoke on the phone every day. Two weeks before,
Correa had said in private to one of the close advisers of the
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez: “Tell Chávez that I get on very well
with Uribe and that if he wants I can help smooth things out between
them.” Correa felt betrayed, a feeling compounded when Ecuadorian
military personnel arrived at the bombed camp: not only had the
Colombians violated Ecuadorian territory, they had also, as Correa put
it in a press conference on 2 March, conducted “a massacre”.

Reyes’ death sparked a crisis. Ecuador severed diplomatic relations
with Colombia and deployed 11,000 men along its border. Venezuela also
sent 10 battalions to its border. “We don’t want war,” Chávez warned,
“but we won’t allow the [North American] empire, nor its little dog
[Colombia], to weaken us.” Nor were they willing to allow it to act
with impunity on its neighbours’ territory.

Unanimously rejected

The word “condemnation” was avoided, but South American governments
unanimously “rejected” Colombia’s incursion. The United States
supported Bogotá in the name of the “war on terror”. Craig Kelly,
principal deputy assistant secretary at the Bureau of Western
Hemisphere Affairs, explained: “What we have said is firstly that a
state must defend itself against the threat of terrorism and that when
you talk about a border, you have to consider the general context,
which [in this case] is a continual violation of the borders by the
Farc.” An interviewer asked: “Does that mean that, for example, if
Mexico pursued drug traffickers _into the US, the US wouldn’t have any
objection to Mexican forces entering its territory?” Kelly replied:
“I’m not going to get into a theoretical discussion” (2).

There has been speculation about the planes used on 1 March. Five
Brazilian-made Supertucanos EMB314s and three US-manufactured A-37
attack aircraft have been mentioned, but the bombs couldn’t have been
released from either of those planes. One thing is certain: weapons of
the same sophisticated kind did a lot of damage during the US invasion
of Iraq.

The long arm of Washington was also discernible when Correa made other
discoveries, notably that his military command had lied to him.
Tension peaked when General Jorge Gabela, the Ecuadorian air force
commander, revealed that the radar nearest to Santa Rosa, the zone
where the Farc camp was located, had been down for maintenance for
several days. Correa sacked the head of the army’s intelligence
services, Colonel Mario Pazmiño, and announced in a broadcast to the
nation that “the CIA has totally infiltrated some of Ecuador’s
military intelligence bodies”. He also replaced defence minister
Wellington Sandoval with loyalist Javier Ponce. Correa’s reassertion
of his authority also led to the resignations of the joint chief of
staff and the heads of the army, navy and air force.

Correa soon began to see the consequences of his actions. He had
announced in his election campaign that he would close the US base at
Manta. The lease on this “foreign operating location” granted to the
US in 1999 expires in 2009. On 28 February the assembly set up to
“refound the country” adopted an article which asserts that “Ecuador
is a land of peace; foreign military bases or foreign installations
with military purpose will not be allowed.” With its state-of-the-art
technology, Manta plays a key role in US military support for
Colombia. During the operation on 1 March it would have controlled the
air space the mystery planes overflew.

Opening salvo

The Colombian government announced that during the raid its army had
seized a laptop (later increased to three laptops) belonging to Reyes,
which revealed that both Chávez and Correa have close links to the

In the absence of hard evidence, questions arise. Reyes’ main camp is
known to be in Colombia near the border. In that region the Farc have
many hiding places, secret shelters and secondary camps. Yet the
guerrilla leader had apparently gone to Ecuador with three laptops,
two hard drives and three USB drives – everything but the kitchen
sink. According to the Ecuadorian army, the 10 missiles made craters
2.4m wide and 1.8m deep and destroyed the vegetation all around, yet
the computers emerged without a scratch.

What a tale those laptops told. The Spanish daily El País, which is
the spearhead of a campaign against the progressive governments of
Latin America, didn’t stop to question the authenticity of the
revelations. On 12 March its readers learned in an article, “Farc
finds refuge in Ecuador”, that “guerrillas drive around the north of
Ecuador in vans, as a member of the OEA (Organisation of American
States) attested. He privately expressed astonishment at encountering
fully equipped guerrillas in restaurants in border country.”

What readers didn’t see was a letter sent to the editor of El País on
15 March by the OEA’s secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, in which
he expressed his “astonishment and indignation”: “I can assure you
that this claim is absolutely false. The OEA does not have special
missions, nor does it have representatives at any level deployed on
Ecuador’s northern border, therefore it is impossible that any member
of the organisation could have made such a statement” (3).

Reyes and his guerrillas were in Ecuador. Reyes had for months been
the key contact for the representatives from France, Spain, Venezuela
and Ecuador negotiating hostage releases, including that of the French-
Colombian Ingrid Betancourt. The Farc have long been intransigent over
their demand for direct dialogue with the Colombian government. They
insisted on “humanitarian exchange” – hostages for guerrillas – or
nothing. Their aim is political: to achieve the status of legitimate
combatants by gaining recognition from the Colombian government. The
Farc have been on the list of terrorist organisations since 2002 but
have never accepted that they are terrorists. Uribe wanted to avoid
giving them recognition at all costs.

Chávez mediates

The mediation which Chávez set in motion on 31 August 2007 broke a
stalemate that had lasted since 2002. The guerrillas freed seven
hostages unconditionally, leading Caracas to say: “The Farc are using
a more political logic, which is a positive sign for how things could
develop.” But hostages warmly thanking members of the Venezuelan
government dressed in red must have been a great source of irritation
to the Colombian president.

Open dialogue had been ongoing in Caracas through the intermediary of
Farc leaders Iván Marquez and Rodrigo Granda, and sometimes even with
Reyes at the camp in Ecuador. The French and Ecuador governments knew
this. A troubling detail is that a week before the 1 March raid,
French representatives met Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace,
Luis Carlos Restrepo, in Panama. Restrepo told them they should stay
in contact with Reyes. “He’s the one who can help you. He’s your man.
He can help you get Ingrid freed.” This explains Correa’s fury: “Look
how low Alvaro Uribe has sunk! He knew that in March 12 hostages were
going to be freed, including Ingrid Betancourt. He knew that, and
still he used his contacts to spring this trap.” Kill the negotiator
and you kill the negotiation.

But the hostage aspect of this crisis took second place to the
revelations at a news conference on 3 March by the director general of
the Colombian police, General Oscar Naranjo. He revealed that, based
on computer equipment found near Reyes’ body, there was an “armed
alliance” between the Farc and the Venezuelan government, as well as
political and economic links between Correa and the guerrillas from
the time of his election campaign.

Media revelation

The media went to town with these “explosive documents” from the
seized computers, which the Colombian intelligence services had
helpfully filtered. Prominent were the Spanish El País (4) and the
Colombian daily El Tiempo, which is owned by the Santos family, to
which both the vice-president and the defence minister belong. On 4
March El País ran with “Bogotá unmasks the Farc’s support”. On 10 May,
in the first of a series of articles by Maite Rico, “The Farc papers
point the finger at Chávez”, readers learnt that “without raising an
eyebrow Chávez approved a request for $300m” from the guerrillas. On
12 May the article condemned by the secretary general of OEA appeared.
The day before Rico had written of “groups linked to Chávism which
regularly train in Farc camps in Venezuela”. There were even claims of
waiting lists to take part in their courses.

When The Economist wrote about Chávez’s generosity in providing $300m
to the Farc on 24 May, it mentioned as its source a message from Raúl
Reyes reproduced in El País and the Colombian weekly Semana. It also
quoted from a document obtained by the Wall Street Journal: “The
Venezuelan interior minister, Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, asked the Farc
to train Venezuelan soldiers in guerrilla tactics.” It’s unclear
whether the Wall Street Journal copied the Miami Herald, which printed
the same claim.

The improbable was followed by the bizarre: between 2000 and 2002, the
Farc and ETA allegedly planned an attack in Madrid on prominent
Colombian figures – the current vice-president Francisco Santos
Calderón, the former head of state, Andrés Pastrana, and the former
ambassador in Spain Noemi Sanín (El Tiempo, 2 June). BBC Mundo
reported on 5 March that the Farc had tried to get hold of uranium to
make a dirty bomb.

According to the Reyes documents, Chávez’s friendship with the
Colombian rebels dated back at least as far as 1992. When he was
imprisoned for a failed coup attempt in February that year, he
received $150,000 from the Farc (Le Figaro, 5 March and Wall Street
Journal, 11 March). He must have spent it all in the prison canteen,
because when he was released in 1994, he had no money and had to stay
in a small apartment in central Caracas belonging to his future
minister of the interior, Luis Miquilena, who also lent him a car.

Though it was more cautious, Le Monde ran a piece on 12 March about a
Farc deserter: “According to the deserter, the Farc leader Iván
Marquez and its commander-in-chief Manuel Marulanda are staying in
Venezuela”. That will stick in the reader’s mind, as will the Figaro
heading “Dangerous liaisons between the Farc and Chávez” (15 May).

In Venezuela, the dailies El Nacional and El Universal, along with the
private channels Radio Caracas Télévisión (RCTV) and Globovisión, are
having a field day. They are only too happy to broadcast the views of
the governor of Zulia state or the former presidential candidate
Manuel Rosales, accusing president Chávez of betraying the country.

One of the many editorials in the Washington Post about Venezuela sums
up this media firestorm: “If managed correctly, the laptop scandal
will surely deepen the domestic political hole into which the would-be
`Bolivarian’ revolutionary is sinking.”

Verified by Interpol

Throughout, Bogotá and the media have relied on a seemingly
unimpeachable line of defence: the validity of seized documents has
been verified by Interpol. And yet, closer examination yields
interesting results.

General Naranjo requested Interpol’s independent opinion of the eight
key “exhibits” (the computer equipment) on 4 March. Interpol’s report
was presented in Bogotá on 15 May by its secretary general, the
American Ronald Noble. He paid extensive tribute at his press
conference to General Naranjo, who was seated beside him, and to the
Department of State Security (DAS), the political police (5). Naranjo,
the former head of the Colombian anti-drug police, had to stand down
after his brother, Juan David, was arrested in Germany in March 2007
for drug trafficking. He was implicated by the Venezuelan interior
minister for his links with the “narco” Wilmer Varela (assassinated on
29 February). As for the DAS, its former director, Jorge Noguera, was
arrested on 22 February 2007 for allowing paramilitaries to use its

According to Noble’s report (6) and statements, Interpol’s role was
limited to “(a) determining the actual data contained in the eight
seized Farc computer exhibits, (b) verifying whether the user files
had been modified in any way on or after 1 March 2008, and (c)
determining whether Colombian law enforcement authorities had handled
and examined the eight seized Farc computer exhibits in conformity
with internationally recognised principles for handling electronic
evidence by law enforcement.” But “the remit of the IRT and Interpol’s
subsequent assistance to Colombia’s investigation did not include the
analysis of the content of documents, folders or other material on the
eight seized Farc computer exhibits. The accuracy and source of the
user files contained in the eight seized Farc computer exhibits are
and always have been outside the scope of Interpol’s computer forensic

Interpol’s team of experts, who came from Singapore and Australia and
didn’t speak Spanish, didn’t examine the contents of the files.
Perhaps this is understandable: in the 609.6 gigabytes in the eight
“exhibits” there were 37,873 text documents, 452 spreadsheets, 210,888
images, 22,481 web pages, 7,989 email addresses (no reference to
emails, though they were widely quoted in the media), and 983
encrypted files. “In non-technical terms, such a volume of data would
correspond to 39.5 million full pages in Microsoft Word format
and . . . would take more than a thousand years to go through it all
at a rate of a hundred pages per day.”

That’s a lot of data for one man to produce. Especially Raúl Reyes,
constantly on the move in the jungle, living the dangerous life of a
guerrilla. But it wasn’t too much data for the Colombian government,
which within a few hours had begun releasing a continuous stream of
revelations from the files. Nor was it too much for journalists who
wove the documents (authenticated by Interpol) into their own stories.

A troubling lack of rigour

The Interpol report shows a troubling lack of rigour. It says Reyes
and Guillermo Enrique Torres, alias Julián Conrado, a Farc commander,
were killed in the operation (page 10). But Bogotá, which had
announced the death of Conrado on _1 March, had to retract that after
a DNA examination of the only body (apart from Reyes) brought back by
their forces. Similarly, the statement “Farc has been designated a
terrorist organisation by Colombia, other governments and
Interpol” (page 10) requires qualification. The designation has only
been adopted by the US, Colombia, Peru, the EU, and Israel (31
countries in all), or 17% of the 186 countries that are Interpol

More significantly, the statement: “the eight seized Farc computer
exhibits belonged to Raúl Reyes” or: “the eight seized Farc computer
exhibits” (both page 10) should more properly have been: “the eight
exhibits given to Interpol by the Colombian authorities”. Interpol has
accepted the Colombian version of events, though there was no witness
present to verify that the equipment was actually found near the body
of the Farc leader. This provoked Correa to say on 13 May when he
visited Paris: “Who can show that the computers were indeed found in
the Farc camp?”

In the first fax Naranjo sent on 4 March to request Interpol help, he
mentioned “three computers and three USB devices” (Appendix 2 of the
report). In his reply of 5 March, Noble agrees on behalf of his
organisation to examine “three computers and three USB keys” (Appendix
3). But on 6 March, in a letter to Interpol from the director of DAS,
Maria del Pilar Hurtado, the equipment has become “three laptop
computers, the three USB keys and [for the first time] two hard-disc
drives” (Appendix 4). Where did these hard drives come from? Had no
one noticed them before?

The overall conclusion of the report is that “no data were created,
added, modified or deleted on any of the these exhibits between 3
March 2008 at 11.45 am [the date and time when they were entrusted to
the computer forensic specialists of the Colombian Judicial Police]
and 10 March 2008 when the exhibits were handed over to Interpol’s
experts to make their image discs” (page 29). It also states that
“access to the data . . . [during the same period] conformed to
internationally recognised principles for handling electronic evidence
by law enforcement” (page 28).

But what happened between 1 March and 3 March? An officer of
Colombia’s anti-terrorist unit “directly accessed the eight seized
Farc computer exhibits under exigent and time-sensitive
circumstances” (page 30) and they were all connected to a computer
“without prior imaging of their contents and without the use of write-
blocking hardware” (page 31). As a result of this, during those three
days, “access to data . . . did not conform to internationally
recognised principles for handling electronic evidence by law
enforcement” (page 8). This is not insignificant, as Interpol
discovered that a total of 48,055 files “had either been created,
accessed, modified or deleted as a result of the direct access to the
eight seized exhibits by Colombian authorities between the time of
their seizure on 1 March 2008 and 3 March 2008 at 11.45am” (page 33).

No court of law anywhere could rely on the results of such a report to
pass judgment on anyone. But that doesn’t stop the rumours or the
headlines. The rumour mills are now turning in Ecuador and Venezuela.
Even if today the conditions are not yet right for Venezuela to be
classed as a terrorist or rogue state, this campaign is creating the
right conditions in public opinion. According to Maximilien Arvelaiz,
an adviser to President Chávez: “George Bush wants to leave behind a
time bomb so that, whatever the outcome of the election in November,
it will be very difficult to soften US policy on Venezuela.”

But an unforeseen turn of events can never be ruled out — as has been
shown by the spectacular, surprise release by Colombian troops of the
French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and 14 other hostages,
held for years by Farc guerrillas in jungle captivity.

(1) Among the dead were an Ecuadorian, four Mexican students and a
Colombian soldier killed, not in combat, as Bogotá claimed when it
accorded him a state funeral, but by a falling tree.
(2) BBC Mundo, London, 7 March 2008.
(4) The centre-left El País belongs to the multinational Prisa group,
which controls more than 1,000 radio stations in Spain, the US,
Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina and Chile with a total
audience of 30 million listeners.
(6) The full public report in English can be downloaded here:
Translated by George Miller

By Greg Palast  /  6 March

“Do you believe this? In early March Colombia invaded Ecuador, killed
a guerrilla chief in the jungle, opened his laptop – and what did the
Colombians find? A message to Hugo Chavez that he sent the FARC
guerrillas $300 million – which they’re using to obtain uranium to
make a dirty bomb! That’s what George Bush tells us. And he got that
from his buddy, the strange right-wing President of Colombia, Alvaro

So: After the fact, Colombia justifies its attempt to provoke a border
war as a way to stop the threat of WMDs! Uh, where have we heard that
before? The US press snorted up this line about Chavez’ $300 million
to “terrorists” quicker than the young Bush inhaling Colombia’s
powdered export. What the US press did not do is look at the evidence,
the email in the magic laptop. (Presumably, the FARC leader’s last
words were, “Listen, my password is ….”)

I read them. (You can read them too.) While you can read it all in
español, here is, in translation, the one and only mention of the
alleged $300 million from Chavez: “… With relation to the 300, which
from now on we will call “dossier,” efforts are now going forward at
the instructions of the boss to the cojo [slang term for ‘cripple’],
which I will explain in a separate note. Let’s call the boss Ángel,
and the cripple Ernesto.”

Got that? Where is Hugo? Where’s 300 million? And 300 what? Indeed, in
context, the note is all about the hostage exchange with the FARC that
Chavez was working on at the time (December 23, 2007) at the request
of the Colombian government. Indeed, the entire remainder of the email
is all about the mechanism of the hostage exchange.

Here’s the next line: “To receive the three freed ones, Chavez
proposes three options: Plan A. Do it to via of a ‘humanitarian
caravan’; one that will involve Venezuela, France, the Vatican[?],
Switzerland, European Union, democrats [civil society], Argentina, Red
Cross, etc.” As to the 300, I must note that the FARC’s previous
prisoner exchange involved 300 prisoners. Is that what the ‘300’
refers to? ¿Quien sabe? Unlike Uribe, Bush and the US press, I won’t
guess or make up a phastasmogoric story about Chavez mailing checks to
the jungle.

To bolster their case, the Colombians claim, with no evidence
whatsoever, that the mysterious “Angel” is the code name for Chavez.
But in the memo, Chavez goes by the code name … Chavez. Well, so what?
This is what . . . .

Colombia’s invasion into Ecuador is a rank violation of international
law, condemned by every single Latin member of the Organization of
American States. But George Bush just loved it. He called Uribe to
back Colombia, against, “the continuing assault by narco-terrorists as
well as the provocative maneuvers by the regime in Venezuela.”

Well, our President may have gotten the facts ass-backward, but Bush
knows what he’s doing: shoring up his last, faltering ally in South
America, Uribe, a desperate man in deep political trouble. Uribe
claims he is going to bring charges against Chavez before the
International Criminal Court. If Uribe goes there in person, I suggest
he take a toothbrush: it was just discovered that right-wing death
squads held murder-planning sessions at Uribe’s ranch. Uribe’s
associates have been called before the nation’s Supreme Court and may
face prison.

In other words, it’s a good time for a desperate Uribe to use that old
politico’s wheeze, the threat of war, to drown out accusations of his
own criminality. Furthermore, Uribe’s attack literally killed
negotiations with FARC by killing FARC’s negotiator, Raul Reyes. Reyes
was in talks with both Ecuador and Chavez about another prisoner
exchange. Uribe authorized the negotiations. However, Uribe knew,
should those talks have succeeded in obtaining the release of those
kidnapped by the FARC, credit would have been heaped on Ecuador and
Chavez, and discredit heaped on Uribe.”

From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]



“Ostalgie is a German term referring to nostalgia for life in the
former East Germany. It is a portmanteau of the German words Ost
(east) and Nostalgie (nostalgia).

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and German reunification in
the following year, most reminders of the old socialist regime were
swept away as former citizens of the German Democratic Republic rushed
to embrace their newfound political and economic western-ness.
Initially, all GDR brands of products disappeared from the stores and
were replaced by Western products, regardless of their quality.
However, with the passing of time some East Germans began to feel
nostalgia for certain aspects of their lives in East Germany. Ostalgie
particularly refers to the nostalgia for aspects of regular daily life
and culture in the former GDR, which disappeared after reunification.
There are however, many former East and West German citizens who deny
the existence of these cultural divisions as well as the existence of
separate East and West German perspectives.

Many businesses in Germany cater to those who feel Ostalgie and have
begun providing them with artifacts that remind them of life under the
old regime; artefacts that imitate the old ones. Now available are
formerly defunct brands of East German foodstuffs, old state
television programmes on video and DVD, and the previously widespread
Wartburg and Trabant cars. In addition, life in the GDR has been the
subject of several recent films, including Leander Haußmann’s
Sonnenallee (1999), Wolfgang Becker’s internationally successful Good
Bye Lenin! (2003), and Carsten Fiebeler’s Kleinruppin forever (2004).
The term Ostalgie (along with the phrase Soviet chic) is occasionally
used to refer to nostalgia for life under the socialist system in
other former communist countries of Eastern Europe, most notably
Poland and the Soviet Union.”


“Shredded documents can be reassembled manually. After the Iranian
Revolution and the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979,
Iranians enlisted local carpet weavers who reconstructed the pieces by
hand. The recovered documents would be later released by the Iranian
regime in a series of books called “Documents from the US espionage
Den”. The US government subsequently improved its shredding
techniques, by adding pulverizing, pulping, and chemical


“Some 16,250 sacks containing pieces of 45 million shredded documents
were found and confiscated after the reunification of Germany in 1990.
Reconstruction work began 12 years ago but 24 people have been able to
reassemble the contents of only 323 sacks. Berlin’s Fraunhofer
Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology estimates that
putting everything back together by hand would take 30 people 600 to
800 years.”

Piecing Together the Dark Legacy of East Germany’s Secret Police
BY Andrew Curry  /  01.18.08  /  andrew [at] andrewcurry [dot] com

Solving a Billion-Piece Puzzle

Ulrike Poppe used to be one of the most surveilled women in East
Germany. For 15 years, agents of the Stasi (short for
Staatssicherheitsdienst, or State Security Service) followed her,
bugged her phone and home, and harassed her unremittingly, right up
until she and other dissidents helped bring down the Berlin Wall in
1989. Today, the study in Poppe’s Berlin apartment is lined floor to
12-foot ceiling with bookshelves full of volumes on art, literature,
and political science. But one shelf, just to the left of her desk, is
special. It holds a pair of 3-inch-thick black binders — copies of the
most important documents in Poppe’s secret police files. This is her
Stasi shelf.

Poppe hung out with East German dissidents as a teenager, got
blackballed out of college, and was busted in 1974 by the police on
the thin pretext of “asocial behavior.” On her way out of jail, Stasi
agents asked her to be an informant, to spy on her fellow radicals,
but she refused. (“I was just 21, but I knew I shouldn’t trust the
Stasi, let alone sign anything,” she says.) She went on to become a
founding member of a reform-minded group called Women for Peace, and
was eventually arrested 13 more times — and imprisoned in 1983 for
treason. Only an international outcry won her release.

Poppe learned to recognize many of the men assigned to tail her each
day. They had crew cuts and never wore jeans or sneakers. Sometimes
they took pictures of her on the sidewalk, or they piled into a white
sedan and drove 6 feet behind her as she walked down the street.
Officers waited around the clock in cars parked outside her top-floor
apartment. After one of her neighbors tipped her off, she found a bug
drilled from the attic of the building into the ceiling plaster of her
living room.

When the wall fell, the Stasi fell with it. The new government,
determined to bring to light the agency’s totalitarian tactics,
created a special commission to give victims access to their personal
files. Poppe and her husband were among the first people in Germany
allowed into the archives. On January 3, 1992, she sat in front of a
cart loaded with 40 binders dedicated to “Circle 2” — her codename, it
turned out. In the 16 years since, the commission has turned up 20
more Circle 2 binders on her.

The pages amounted to a minute-by-minute account of Poppe’s life, seen
from an unimaginable array of angles. Video cameras were installed in
the apartment across the street. Her friends’ bedrooms were bugged and
their conversations about her added to the file. Agents investigated
the political leanings of her classmates from middle school and opened
all of her mail. “They really tried to capture everything,” she says.
“Most of it was just junk.”

But some of it wasn’t. And some of it … Poppe doesn’t know. No one
does. Because before it was disbanded, the Stasi shredded or ripped up
about 5 percent of its files. That might not sound like much, but the
agency had generated perhaps more paper than any other bureaucracy in
history — possibly a billion pages of surveillance records, informant
accounting, reports on espionage, analyses of foreign press, personnel
records, and useless minutiae. There’s a record for every time anyone
drove across the border.

In the chaos of the days leading up to the actual destruction of the
wall and the fall of East Germany’s communist government, frantic
Stasi agents sent trucks full of documents to the Papierwolfs and
Reisswolfs — literally “paper-wolves” and “rip-wolves,” German for
shredders. As pressure mounted, agents turned to office shredders, and
when the motors burned out, they started tearing pages by hand — 45
million of them, ripped into approximately 600 million scraps of

There’s no way to know what bombshells those files hide. For a country
still trying to come to terms with its role in World War II and its
life under a totalitarian regime, that half-destroyed paperwork is a
tantalizing secret. The machine-shredded stuff is confetti, largely
unrecoverable. But in May 2007, a team of German computer scientists
in Berlin announced that after four years of work, they had completed
a system to digitally tape together the torn fragments. Engineers hope
their software and scanners can do the job in less than five years —
even taking into account the varying textures and durability of paper,
the different sizes and shapes of the fragments, the assortment of
printing (from handwriting to dot matrix) and the range of edges (from
razor sharp to ragged and handmade.) “The numbers are tremendous. If
you imagine putting together a jigsaw puzzle at home, you have maybe
1,000 pieces and a picture of what it should look like at the end,”
project manager Jan Schneider says. “We have many millions of pieces
and no idea what they should look like when we’re done.”

As the enforcement arm of the German Democratic Republic’s Communist
Party, the Stasi at its height in 1989 employed 91,000 people to watch
a country of 16.4 million. A sprawling bureaucracy almost three times
the size of Hitler’s Gestapo was spying on a population a quarter that
of Nazi Germany. Unlike the prison camps of the Gestapo or the summary
executions of the Soviet Union’s KGB, the Stasi strove for subtlety.
“They offered incentives, made it clear people should cooperate,
recruited informal helpers to infiltrate the entire society,” says
Konrad Jarausch, a historian at the University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill. “They beat people up less often, sure, but they
psychologically trampled people. Which is worse depends on what you

That finesse helped the Stasi quell dissent, but it also fostered a
pervasive and justified paranoia. And it generated an almost
inconceivable amount of paper, enough to fill more than 100 miles of
shelves. The agency indexed and cross-referenced 5.6 million names in
its central card catalog alone. Hundreds of thousands of “unofficial
employees” snitched on friends, coworkers, and their own spouses,
sometimes because they’d been extorted and sometimes in exchange for
money, promotions, or permission to travel abroad.

For such an organized state, East Germany fell apart in a decidedly
messy way. When the country’s eastern bloc neighbors opened their
borders in the summer of 1989, tens of thousands of East Germans fled
to the West through Hungary and Czechoslovakia. By autumn, protests
and riots had spread throughout East Germany, with the participants
demanding an end to restrictions on travel and speech. In the first
week of October, thousands of demonstrators in Dresden turned violent,
throwing rocks at police, who broke up the crowd with dogs,
truncheons, and water cannons. The government described the thousand
people they arrested as “hooligans” to state-controlled media.

But on October 9, the situation escalated. In Leipzig that night,
70,000 people marched peacefully around the city’s ring road — which
goes right past the Stasi office. Agents asked for permission from
Berlin to break up the demonstration, but this was just a few months
after the Chinese government had brutally shut down pro-democracy
protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, to international condemnation.
The East German government didn’t want a similar bloodbath, so the
Stasi did nothing. A week later, 120,000 people marched; a week after
that, the number was 300,000 — in a city with a population of only

In November, hundreds of East and West Berliners began dismantling the
wall that bisected the city. But the communist government was still in
power, negotiating with dissidents and hoping to hold on. Inside the
Stasi, leaders hoped that if they weathered whatever changes were
imminent, they’d be able to get back to business under a different
name. But just in case, the head of the Stasi ordered the agency to
start destroying the incriminating paperwork it had on hand.

In several small cities, rumors started circulating that records were
being destroyed. Smoke, fires, and departing trucks confirmed the
fears of angry Germans, who rushed in to their local Stasi offices,
stopped the destruction, and spontaneously organized citizen
committees that could post guards to secure the archives.
Demonstrators spray-painted the walls with slogans like “The files
belong to us” and “Stasi get out.” Finally, on the evening of January
15, 1990, thousands of demonstrators pushed in the front gate of the
Stasi’s fortified Berlin compound.

At headquarters, agents had been more discreet than their colleagues
in the hinterlands. Burning all those files would tip off angry
Berliners that something was up. When the first destruction orders
came in, they began stacking bags of paper in the “copper kettle,” a
copper-lined basement designed as a surveillance-proof computer room.
The room quickly filled with bags of shredded and torn paper. Today,
even the people gathering and archiving the Stasi files express
grudging admiration for the achievement. “Destroying paper is shit
work,” says government archivist Stephan Wolf. “After two days your
joints hurt. They ripped for two months.”

But a few days after demonstrators breached the Stasi front gate, the
archives still hadn’t been found. A citizen group coalesced,
determined to track them down. Among the searchers was a 23-year-old
plumber named David Gill, a democracy activist barred from university
because his father was a Protestant minister. He was secretly studying
theology at an underground seminary in Berlin.

Accompanied by cooperative police, Stasi agents led Gill and his
compatriots through twisting alleys and concrete-walled courtyards,
all eerily empty. Finally they arrived at a nondescript office
building in the heart of the compound. Inside, there was more paper
than he had ever imagined. “We had all lived under the pressure of the
Stasi. We all knew they could know everything,” Gill says today. “But
we didn’t understand what that meant until that moment. Suddenly it
was palpable.”

Gill and his crew of volunteers preserved whatever they could,
commandeering trucks and borrowing cars to collect files from Stasi
safe houses and storage facilities all over Berlin. Most of it was
still intact. Some of it was shredded, unrecoverable. They threw that
away. But then there were also bags and piles of hand-torn stuff,
which they saved without knowing what to do with it. “We didn’t have
time to look at it all,” Gill says. “We had no idea what it would

Bertram Nickolay grew up in Saarland, a tiny German state close to
Luxembourg that is about as far from East Germany as you could go in
West Germany. He came to West Berlin’s Technical University in 1974 to
study engineering, the same year Ulrike Poppe was placed under Stasi
surveillance on the other side of the Berlin Wall. A Christian, he
felt out of place on a campus still full of leftist radicals praising
East German communism and cursing the US.

Instead, Nickolay gravitated toward exiled East German dissidents and
democracy activists. “I had a lot of friends who were writers and
intellectuals in the GDR. There was an emotional connection,” he says.

Today, Nickolay is head of the Department of Security Technology for
the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology.
Fraunhofer is Europe’s largest research nonprofit, with 56 branches in
Germany alone and an annual budget of more than $1 billion.
(Fraunhofer researchers invented the MP3 audio codec, which netted the
society more than $85 million in license fees in 2006.)

In 1996, Nickolay saw a TV news report on an unusual project. A team
working for the Stasi Records Office (BStU), the newly created
ministry responsible for managing the mountain of paper left behind by
the secret police, had begun manually puzzling together bags full of
documents, scrap by scrap. The results were explosive: Here was
additional proof that East Germany sheltered terrorists, ran national
sports doping programs, and conducted industrial espionage across
Western Europe. BStU’s hand-assembly program also exposed hundreds of
the Stasi’s secret informants — their ranks turned out to include
bishops, university professors, and West German bureaucrats.

But the work is painfully slow. Gerd Pfeiffer, the project’s manager,
says he and a dwindling staff have reassembled 620,500 pages of Stasi
secrets in the 13 years since the project began. That works out to one
bag per worker per year — 327 bags so far — and 700 years to finish.

That TV segment resonated with Nickolay — he had opposed the East
German regime, and he had the necessary technical expertise. “This is
essentially a problem of automation,” he says, “and that’s something
Fraunhofer is very good at.” He sent a letter to the head of BStU
offering his help.

The government was hesitant, but eventually the BStU issued a proof-of-
concept challenge: Anyone who could digitally turn 12 pieces of ripped-
up paper into a legible document or documents would get a grant. About
20 teams responded. Two years later, Nickolay’s group was the only one
to succeed, earning a contract for a two-year, 400-bag pilot project.

On a gray day last fall, I sat in front of two wall-mounted Sharp
Aquos flatscreen TVs hooked up to four networked computers. Next to
me, Jan Schneider, Nickolay’s deputy and the manager of the Stasi
document reconstruction project, booted up the machines. (This was
just a demo: Nickolay refused to show me the actual lab, citing German
privacy law.)

On the right-hand screen, digital images of paper fragments appeared —
technicians had scanned them in using a specially designed, two-camera
digital imaging system. As Schneider pulled down menus and clicked
through a series of descriptive choices, fragments disappeared from
the screen. “Basically, we need to reduce the search space,” he says.
White paper or blue — or pink or green or multicolored? Plain, lined,
or graph? Typewriting, handwriting, or both? Eventually, only a
handful of similar-looking pieces remained. Once matched, the pieces
get transferred to another processor. These popped up as a
reconstructed page on the left-hand screen, rips still visible but
essentially whole. (The reconstructors caught one big break: It turns
out that the order-obsessed Stasi usually stuffed one bag at a time,
meaning document fragments are often found together.)

Just 19 years old when the Berlin Wall fell, Schneider doesn’t share
Nickolay’s moral outrage. For him, this is simply a great engineering
challenge. He turns away from the massive monitors on the wall and
picks up my business card to explain how the team is training the
computers to look at these documents — the same way people do. “You
see a white piece with blue writing on it — computer writing, machine
writing, not handwriting — and here in the upper left is a logo. Tear
it up and you’d immediately know what to look for, what goes

But my card is easy. For one thing, I sprang for heavy stock, and
you’d be hard-pressed to tear it into enough pieces to constitute
“destroyed.” The Stasi files are something else entirely. In 2000, the
BStU collected them and sent them to Magdeburg, a decaying East German
industrial city 90 miles west of Berlin. In hand-numbered brown paper
sacks, neatly stacked on row after row of steel shelves, they fill a
three-story, 60,000-square-foot warehouse on the northern edge of
town. Each sack contains about 40,000 fragments, for a total of 600
million pieces of paper (give or take a hundred million). And each
fragment has two sides. That’s more than a billion images.

The numbers aren’t the worst part. The documents in the bags date from
the 1940s to the 1980s, and they’re made of everything from carbon
paper and newsprint to Polaroids and heavy file folders. That means
the fragments have a wide variety of textures and weights. Hand-
ripping stacks of thick paper creates messy, overlapping margins with
a third dimension along the edges. For a computer looking for 2-D
visual clues, overlaps show up as baffling gaps. “Keep ripping smaller
and smaller and you can get pieces that are all edge,” Schneider says.

The data for the 400-bag pilot project is stored on 22 terabytes worth
of hard drives, but the system is designed to scale. If work on all
16,000 bags is approved, there may be hundreds of scanners and
processors running in parallel by 2010. (Right now they’re analyzing
actual documents, but still mostly vetting and refining the system.)
Then, once assembly is complete, archivists and historians will
probably spend a decade sorting and organizing. “People who took the
time to rip things up that small had a reason,” Nickolay says. “This
isn’t about revenge but about understanding our history.” And not just
Germany’s — Nickolay has been approached by foreign officials from
Poland and Chile with an interest in reconstructing the files damaged
or destroyed by their own repressive regimes.

This kind of understanding isn’t cheap. The German parliament has
given Fraunhofer almost $9 million to scan the first 400 bags. If the
system works, expanding up the operation to finish the job will cost
an estimated $30 million. Most of the initial cost is research and
development, so the full reconstruction would mainly involve more
scanners and personnel to feed the paper in.

Is it worth it? Günter Bormann, the BStU’s senior legal expert, says
there’s an overwhelming public demand for the catharsis people find in
their files. “When we started in 1992, I thought we’d need five years
and then close the office,” Bormann says. Instead, the Records Office
was flooded with half a million requests in the first year alone. Even
in cases where files hadn’t been destroyed, waiting times stretched to
three years. In the past 15 years, 1.7 million people have asked to
see what the Stasi knew about them.

Requests dipped in the late 1990s, but the Oscar-winning 2006 film The
Lives of Others, about a Stasi agent who monitors a dissident
playwright, seems to have prompted a surge of new applications; 2007
marked a five-year high. “Every month, 6,000 to 8,000 people decide to
read their files for the first time,” Bormann says. These days, the
Stasi Records Office spends $175 million a year and employs 2,000

This being Germany, there’s even a special word for it:
Vergangenheitsbewältigung, or “coming to terms with the past.” It’s
not self-evident — you could imagine a country deciding, communally,
to recover from a totalitarian past by simply gathering all the
documents and destroying them. In fact, in 1990 the German press and
citizen committees were wracked by debate over whether to do just
that. Many people, however, suspected that former Stasi agents and ex-
informants were behind the push to forgive and forget.

By preserving and reconstructing the Stasi archives, BStU staffers say
they hope to keep history from repeating itself. In November, the
first children born after the fall of the wall turned 18. Evidence
suggests many of them have serious gaps in their knowledge of the
past. In a survey of Berlin high school students, only half agreed
that the GDR was a dictatorship. Two-thirds didn’t know who built the
Berlin Wall.

The files hold the tantalizing possibility of an explanation for the
strangeness that pervaded preunification Germany. Even back then,
Poppe wondered if the Stasi had information that would explain it all.
“I always used to wish that some Stasi agent would defect and call me
up to say, Here, I brought your file with me,'” Poppe says.

Reading the reports in that first set of 40 binders spurred her to
uncover as much as she could about her monitored past. Since 1995,
Poppe has received 8 pages from the group putting together documents
by hand; the collection of taped-together paper is in a binder on her
Stasi shelf.

The truth is, for Poppe the reconstructed documents haven’t contained
bombshells that are any bigger than the information in the rest of her
file. She chooses a black binder and sets it down on the glass coffee
table in her living room. After lighting a Virginia Slim, she flips to
a page-long list of snitches who spied on her. She was able to match
codenames like Carlos, Heinz, and Rita to friends, coworkers, and even
colleagues in the peace movement. She even tracked down the Stasi
officer who managed her case, and after she set up a sort of ambush
for him at a bar — he thought he was there for a job interview — they
continued to get together. Over the course of half a dozen meetings,
they talked about what she found in her files, why the Stasi was
watching her, what they thought she was doing. For months, it turned
out, an agent was assigned to steal her baby stroller and covertly let
the air out of her bicycle tires when she went grocery shopping with
her two toddlers. “If I had told anyone at the time that the Stasi was
giving me flat tires, they would have laughed at me,” she says. “It
was a way to discredit people, make them seem crazy. I doubted my own
sanity sometimes.” Eventually, the officer broke off contact, but
continued to telephone Poppe — often drunk, often late at night,
sometimes complaining about his failing marriage. He eventually
committed suicide.

Poppe is looking forward to finding out what was in that last,
reconstructed 5 percent. “The files were really important to see,” she
says, taking a drag on her cigarette and leaning forward across the
coffee table. “They explained everything that happened — the letters
we never got, the friends who pulled away from us. We understood where
the Stasi influenced our lives, where they arranged for something to
happen, and where it was simply our fault.”

STASI STILL?,1518,556281,00.html


Functions of the BStU

“The Office of the Federal Commissioner (BStU) preserves the records
of the Ministry for State Security of the GDR in its archives and
makes these available for various purposes to private individuals,
institutions and the public in accordance with strict legal
regulations. In an internationally unique action, in 1989/90, in the
course of the peaceful revolution against the Communist regime in East
Germany, demonstrators occupied the administrative offices of the
former Ministry for State Security of the GDR (MfS) and forced the
dissolution of this apparatus of oppression. The revolutionary will of
the citizens and the freely elected parliament of the GDR smoothed the
way for the securing and controlled opening of the Stasi files. With
German Unity on October 3, 1990, the office was founded. It was
established by Joachim Gauck and is currently directed by Marianne
Birthler. The BStU has the task of instructing the public on the
structure, methods and mode of operation of the MfS. In doing so, it
contributes to the historical, political, judicial and societal
research on the SED dictatorship. It advances the public examination
of totalitarian ideas and structures, in that it makes public
questions on political research.

The heart of the office is the archive with the Stasi legacy. It
records the methods of the regime and the knowledge of the power of
the former SED as the Communist official party of the GDR and of its
secret police: files, index cards, films, audio documents, microfiche.
It is one of the largest archives in Germany with a total of 180 km of
records. The internet site, BStU Online, gives an impression of the
inventories, the work of the archivists and the condition of the

At the end of 1991, the Stasi Records Act (StUG) provided the legal
framework for the various forms of the inspection of files.
Individuals, who were spied on by the Stasi, are given top priority;
they can inspect their files to see how the MfS determined their fate.
In addition to this, the BStU allows the examination of persons in
elevated functions and offices. Scholars and journalists can also
request access to the files for historic research.

A great amount of work is required to be able to provide the Stasi
records to individuals, offices and institutions. The file information
area helps with the inquiry and prepares the files for release. Since
the Stasi impacted the personal rights of people in an enormous way,
the records – in contrast to normal archives – are handled in
accordance with strict privacy policies and only released for certain
purposes and according to the special regulations set out in the Stasi
Record Law. Unfortunately, these complicated procedures lead time and
again to significant waiting times for those filing applications,
since there is still such a large demand.

The Stasi Records Office not only releases files, but also does
research on the history of the MfS itself and publishes files and
research results in its own publications. It provides information on
the most recent findings on the history of dictatorship in events,
exhibitions and on the internet. The work of the BStU contributes to
keeping alive the memory of the SED dictatorship, of its victims, and
also of the opposition and resistance to the system. In this way,
memory and information take the place of forgetting, silence and

The office of the BStU sees itself as a modern service institution
that works transparently and for the people. Its headquarters is in
Berlin and it has 14 outposts with their own archives in the former
capitals of the sectors of the GDR. As a federal regulatory authority,
the BStU is part of the area of operations of the Commissioner for
Culture and Media (BKM).

The German Bundestag (German parliament) selects the Federal
Commissioner at the suggestion of the Federal Government. She is
independent in the exercise of her office and subject only to the law.
The legal supervision is incumbent on the Federal Government; the BKM
is responsible for disciplinary supervision.

Many post-dictatorial societies of the world see the legally regulated
access rights, which are meant to serve both the interests of a
democratic public and the protection of personal rights, as a model
for dealing with the files of a dictatorship. The Stasi Records Office
has long become an international symbol for research on dictators and
the aftereffects of a dictatorship.”

Shredded East German secret police files being reassembled by
computer  /   May 9, 2007

BERLIN (AP) – German researchers said Wednesday that they were
launching an attempt to reassemble millions of shredded East German
secret police files using complicated computerized algorithms. The
files were shredded as the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and it became
clear that the East German regime was finished. Panicking officials of
the Stasi secret police attempted to destroy the vast volumes of
material they had kept on everyone from their own citizens to foreign

So great was the task that it overwhelmed the shredding machines, and
a large number of the documents were torn by hand into between eight
and thirty pieces. Some 16,250 sacks containing pieces of 45 million
shredded documents were found and confiscated after the reunification
of Germany in 1990. Reconstruction work began 12 years ago but 24
people have been able to reassemble the contents of only 323 sacks.
“Many important documents are slumbering in these sacks,” Marianne
Birthler, head of the Stasi archives, told Deutschlandfunk radio.

Berlin’s Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design
Technology estimates that putting everything back together by hand
would take 30 people 600 to 800 years. Researchers are hopeful they
will be able to put together 400 sacks in two years using new computer
technology employed by the Frauenhofer Institute. If the government-
funded $8.53 million pilot project is successful, head researcher
Bertram Nickolay said, researchers will be able to put together all of
the bags in four to five years.

Using algorithms developed 15 years ago to help decipher barely
legible lists of Nazi concentration camp victims, each individual
strip of the shredded Stasi files will be scanned on both sides. The
data then will be fed into the computer for interpretation using color
recognition; texture analysis; shape and pattern recognition; machine
and handwriting analysis and the recognition of forged official
stamps, Nickolay said in a statement.

Hand-torn documents are expected to be the easiest to reassemble,
because the pieces can be matched together by shape, like a
complicated puzzle. Putting the machine-shredded documents together
requires analysis of the script on the surface of the fragments. The
institute has already had success putting together similarly destroyed
documents for Germany’s tax authorities.


Bertram Nickolay
email : nickolay [at] ipk.fhg [dot] de / bertram.nickolay [at] ipk.fraunhofer [dot] de

DATA RECOVERY,1518,482136,00.html
New Computer Program to Reassemble Shredded Stasi Files  /  05/10/2007

Millions of files consigned to paper shredders in the late days of the
East German regime will be pieced together by computer. The massive
job of reassembling this puzzle from the late Cold War was performed,
until now, by hand. It’s been years in the making, but finally
software designed to electronically piece together some 45 million
shredded documents from the East German secret police went into
service in Berlin on Wednesday. Now, a puzzle that would take 30
diligent Germans 600 to 800 years to finish by hand, according to one
estimate, might be solved by computer in seven. “It’s very exciting to
decode Stasi papers,” said Jan Schneider, head engineer on the project
at the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design
Technology located in the German capital. “You have the feeling you
are making history.” Or at least putting it back together again. In
1989, with the looming collapse of the Communist regime becoming
increasingly evident, agents of the East German
Staatssicherheitsdienst or Stasi feverishly plowed millions of active
files through paper shredders, or just tore them up by hand.

Rights activists interrupted the project and rescued a total of 16,250
garbage bags full of scraps. But rescuing the history on those sheets
of paper amounted to an absurdly difficult jigsaw puzzle. By 2000, no
more than 323 sacks were legible again — reconstructed by a team of
15 people working in Nuremburg — leaving 15,927 to go. So the German
government promised money to any group that could plausibly deal with
the remaining tons of paper. The Fraunhofer Institute won the contract
in 2003, and began a pilot phase of the project on Wednesday. Four
hundred sacks of scraps will be scanned, front and back, and newly-
refined software will try to arrange the digitized fragments according
to shape, texture, ink color, handwriting style and recognizable
official stamps.

Günter Bormann, from the agency that oversees old Stasi documents (the
Federal Commission for the Records of the national Security Service of
the Former German Democratic Republic), says most of the paper
probably dates from the years 1988 and 1989. “This is what Stasi
officers had on their desks at the end,” he says. “It’s not material
from dusty archives.” Still-unknown Stasi informants — ordinary East
Germans who spied on other East Germans — stand to be uncovered.
International espionage files are reportedly not among the thousands
of sacks; most of those having been more conclusively destroyed.

The Fraunhofer Institute’s computers will start with documents torn by
hand, because large irregular fragments lend themselves to shape
recognition more readily than uniform strips from shredding machines.
The institute received a promise of €6.3 million ($8.53 million) in
April from the German parliament for this phase, which is expected to
take about two years. If it’s deemed successful, the rest of the job
would take four to five years, according to project chief Bertram
Nickolay. The final cost will be up to €30 million.




Kristie Macrakis
email : macrakis [at] msu [dot] edu

Interview with Anna Funder – Adventures in Stasiland
Sarah Coleman  /  June 16, 2003

In 1949, a year after George Orwell published his dystopian novel
1984, the world of Big Brother became a stark reality for 17 million
Germans who found themselves living in the German Democratic Republic,
or East Germany. A communist state that attempted to rise above
Nazism, the G.D.R. soon substituted that system’s cruelties with
abuses of its own. Its notorious secret service, the Stasi—which, at
its height, had as many as one informer for every 6.5 people—was
uniquely positioned to spy on citizens. Once it had designated someone
an “enemy of the state,” the Stasi was empowered to monitor every
detail of his life, from the novels on his shelves to his child’s
friends or his favorite beer.

Australian Anna Funder’s first contact with East Germany came in the
1980s, when she was a student in West Berlin. “I wondered long and
hard what went on behind that Wall,” she writes in Stasiland: Stories
From Behind the Berlin Wall (Granta). A couple of day trips to the
East only served to heighten her curiosity, and after the Wall fell in
1989, she returned to work in Berlin and began collecting the stories
that would form the basis of her first book.

In Stasiland, Funder set out to find out how it felt to live in “the
most perfected surveillance state of all time.” She interviewed Miriam
Weber, who was imprisoned as a teenager after scaling the Berlin Wall,
and Klaus Renft—the East’s Mick Jagger—who was once declared by
authorities to “no longer exist.” She also talked to Sigrid Paul, a
timid dental technician who found an untapped reservoir of courage
when the Berlin Wall separated her from her baby son, desperately ill
in a West Berlin hospital.

No less fascinating were the men who kept the Stasi machinery running
smoothly, and in Stasiland, Funder includes their stories too. After
placing an advertisement in a local paper, she was flooded with
responses from ex-Stasi officers who, eager to tell their stories,
came out of the woodwork to describe the bizarre methods the Stasi
used to track their victims. These ranged from planting irradiated
pins in suspects’ clothes to collecting “smell samples” from them.

Funder’s careful portraits of the people she meets from “Stasiland”
shine a dazzling light on one of the world’s most paranoid and
secretive regimes, and its effects on contemporary German society.
Nominated for several literary prizes in her native Australia,
Stasiland is a lyrical and quirky examination of a country gone wrong.

Q: You started this book when you were working at a TV station in West
Berlin that broadcast to foreign countries, and a viewer wrote to ask
why the station didn’t do any stories on the former G.D.R. Your bosses
said it was because nobody was interested in East Germans, that the
whole story of the G.D.R. was embarrassing and best forgotten. Was
that a prevalent attitude, and is it still?

A: I’m probably not the best person to talk about the West German
attitude toward East Germans—but yes, that’s what I did notice. It was
as though the hick cousins, the ones you’re related to but embarrassed
by, suddenly come to stay in your house. Given 40 years of socialism
and the very deliberate attempt to create a different sort of person,
it’s hardly surprising that there was mutual suspicion. I didn’t get
the sense that people were proud of those who had resisted the regime.
Even though those resisters were relatively few, they were certainly

Q: One of those resisters was Miriam Weber, whose story set the book
in motion for you. She was a teenager who was put in prison after she
attempted to scale the Berlin Wall, and who subsequently lost her
husband to probable Stasi torture. What was it about her story that
moved you so much?

A: I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time, but I think I can say
now that I was looking for stories of courage. In a world that’s
divided into Us and Them, it takes extreme courage to resist oppression
—when you come across that kind of courage in a young woman like
Miriam, it’s inspiring. I think I’m interested in it because I’m
yellow-bellied myself—you’re always interested in what you don’t have.

Q: Did it help that you were coming in as an outsider looking at the
former East Germany, and what did the outsider’s perspective give you?

A: I think it helped enormously. If this book had been written by a
German, people would have been looking for a political agenda and
assuming that it had one. That’s not to say that I didn’t have all
kinds of pre-existing prejudices. But being an outsider made my life
easier in a very practical sense. Specifically, some of the Stasi men
I interviewed wanted to talk to me because I was an Australian, where
they wouldn’t have spoken to a German. One said to me in all
seriousness, before handing over a copy of Karl Marx’s manifesto, “I
want to talk to you because I think that perhaps your media in
Australia will be open to socialism.” Also, it made it easier for some
people to tell their stories, because if you’re telling your story to
someone from Mars, you have to tell it very fully. You can’t use
shorthand, or say, “Oh, you know what it’s like,” because that person
doesn’t know.

Q: What do you think accounts for the fact that so many ex-Stasi men
were willing to come forward and tell their stories?

A: It varied. In some cases it was the chance to proselytize. Herr
Winz, who I quoted before, did think that Australia would be a new
market for socialism. In general, though, these were men used to
having power and living in a place where there was no free press. To
be stripped of authority so suddenly was a very big shock to them. I
think they wanted to talk to someone who found them important. There
are exceptions to that rule. Herr Christian, who worked as a Stasi
encrypter and became a private detective after unification, had had
some difficult times in the Stasi, and was imprisoned because he’d
been unfaithful to his wife. So he had mixed feelings.

Q: There’s a great line in the book where you say that after
unification, many ex-Stasi men went into jobs in insurance,
telemarketing, and real estate, and that they were suited for these
jobs, having been “schooled in the art of convincing people to do
things against their own self-interest.” What’s your sense of how
these men have integrated into German society? Are they accepted or

A: My impression from being there recently is that Westerners say, “We
can’t judge the Stasi because if we’d lived in that system maybe we
would have collaborated.” I think that’s a well-intentioned but
mistaken thing to say. You can say, in retrospect, that what happened
was wrong, and that people who perpetrated this system should be
punished. The ex-Stasi men have work histories, employment records,
skills, and education, so their employment prospects are quite good—
much better than the rest of their countrymen. Still, the older and
higher ranking ones are bitter, and some belong to organizations that
meet regularly and perpetrate vengeful acts on citizens’ rights
campaigners. People’s brake leads have been cut, perhaps pornography
will be delivered to your door that you haven’t ordered, or your child
will be picked up from school by a stranger and taken to drink hot

There was a law passed in the early 1990s where Germany decided that
if you’d been in a public position, for example if you were a
policeman who informed for the Stasi, you couldn’t continue to hold
that position. This was for the good reason that many people would
have known that that person had been in the Stasi, and it would be
inappropriate for such a person to continue representing the state.
But with the exception of the higher-ups, there have been very few
actions taken against ex-Stasi officials.

Q: After the fall of the G.D.R., there was a lot of discussion over
whether to open up the Stasi files to the public. West Germany, in its
draft unification treaty, wanted to keep them under federal control
but relented after there were public protests. Does that seem to have
been a good decision?

A: Well, it’s an interesting issue. Access to the files was very hotly
debated at the beginning of the 1990s. None of the other formerly
communist countries granted access the way Germany did. It was assumed
that blood would run in the streets, that people would seek private
revenge on their informers. That didn’t happen, and I don’t know quite
why, but I think people were just too demoralized by the betrayals.
Now, as a result of a legal action by former Chancellor Helmut Kohl,
there are various limits being imposed on access to files, and
repeated threats to shut them. It continues to be a very controversial

Q: The G.D.R. was run by “the two Erichs”—Honecker, the Prime
Minister, and Mielke, the head of the Stasi. Honecker’s image was
everywhere, but Mielke was an invisible, malevolent presence. What
kind of a man was he?

A: Well, here’s a bizarre fact that I didn’t put in the book. I’d long
been fascinated by George Orwell’s work, but I resisted reading 1984
until I finished the manuscript for Stasiland. After that, I devoured
it, and I couldn’t believe Orwell’s prescience. When I went into
Mielke’s office, I saw it had the number 101, which in 1984 is the
number of the torture chamber. 1984 was banned in the G.D.R. but of
course, Mielke and Honecker had access to banned material. The guide
told me that Mielke wanted this number so much that even though his
office was on the 2nd floor, he had the entire first floor renamed the
Mezzanine so that he could call his room 101.

He was a small man who liked to display medals in shiny rows on his
chest. He also liked marching songs, inspecting troops, and killing
animals, which he’d lay out for inspection as though they were troops.
He was deeply paranoid, sophisticated in some ways and utterly
thuggish in others. By the end, it seemed as though he’d gone
completely mad. After the Wall fell, he stood up in Parliament and
said, “But I love you all”—as if everything he’d done had been in the
service of the nation and out of love of the people.

Q: At the height of G.D.R., there was as many as one Stasi informer
per 6.5 citizens (including part-time informers). In the book, you
quote various people who speculate on why East Germans were willing to
inform on their neighbors. Herr Bock, a Stasi officer who recruited
and trained informers, says it gave people the feeling that they were
important and that they had one over on their neighbor. On the other
hand, there’s a psychologist who says it satisfied something in the
German mentality, a need for order and discipline. What’s your theory?

A: I didn’t really come to any hard and fast conclusions—but I think
one of the interesting things about this situation is that it’s a
slippery slope people face all the time. If your boss takes you out to
lunch and asks you to criticize someone in the office, or a friend
wants you to rat on another friend—those things happen frequently, and
you can do it or not. The fact that this nation ran on such betrayals
is a terrible exploitation of a very human trait. People from both
East and West told me that Germans had a love for order, discipline,
and subservience to authority. But who’s to say if those things pre-
date the systems that were imposed on Germans in the 20th century—
Nazism and communism.

Q: One of the biggest questions the book poses is whether it’s
healthier (for a person, a group, a country) to remember a painful
past, or to try to forget it and move on. Did you come to any
conclusions about that?

A: I think the question of how useful it is to rework trauma is a very
individual one; it’s a balancing act for each person. There’s one
school of thought that says you deal with a past trauma in analysis
and then you move on, but that’s a fiction we tell ourselves. You
don’t just get something out and move on. In a political sense, not a
psychological one, I think it’s incredibly important to compensate
people who’ve suffered under a terrible regime—until that’s done,
there’s no moving on, and it’s a double repression.

Q: One of the most moving sections in the book concerns Sigrid Paul,
whose very sick baby son was spirited across the border to a hospital
in West Berlin to save his life. Frau Paul subsequently tried to
escape to the West, failed, then refused to betray the West German
student who’d helped her, even when the Stasi offered her a deal that
would have meant seeing her son. She was jailed for five years. One
reason her story is so poignant is that she still sees herself as a
criminal. Has the Federal Republic of Germany ever established any
prizes or commendations for people like her who resisted Stasi

A: It’s possible that there have been prizes given out to the most
famous of the resisters. I started working on this book in 1995, and
if that had happened at that point, I didn’t know about it. In Frau
Paul’s case, not only did she not get any kind of reward, she also
found it difficult to get any kind of restitution for being a
political prisoner. That’s an extreme situation, but it’s not that
uncommon. It’s generally quite difficult for people to prove that
their current illnesses are due to having been in a Stasi prison.

Q: Now that there’s a younger generation coming of age that didn’t
experience the regime of the G.D.R. so directly, is integration
becoming easier?

A: I think it is. I think if you were a kid or a teenager when the
wall fell in 1989, you were pretty much unscathed by the regime. In 20
years time, the G.D.R. will look like a 40-year blip in German
history. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be worthy of continued
examination. In current-day politics we swing between left and right
on a very narrow spectrum, but it’s worth remembering that extremism
is never very far away. After World War II, there was a big survey
conducted in Germany where people were asked about Nazism, and many
people said that it was a good idea, it just suffered in the
implementation. I think that sort of thinking is the beginning of the
end—obviously, in any political system it’s the implementation that

Q: Are there any plans to publish Stasiland in Germany?

A: It’s under consideration at the moment, and I think it will be
published there, but it’s a sensitive issue. So far it’s been sent to
more than 20 publishers in Germany, and had more than 20 rejections.
One rejection letter said, this is the best book by a foreigner on
this issue—which, given that it’s the only book by a foreigner on the
subject, isn’t much of a compliment—but in the current political
climate, it can’t be published. It’s generally believed that people
want to forget about the past and move on—but I find it curious that
they wouldn’t want to know about this when so much remains unresolved.
I think that as long as Miriam doesn’t know what really happened to
her husband Charlie, and Frau Paul and other political prisoners don’t
have restitution, this is an issue German society needs to know about.

“After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many astounding revelations came
to light about the Stasi, the East German secret police. One of the
more bizarre activities the Stasi was found to have engaged in was the
collection of Geruchsproben – smell samples – for the benefit of the
East German smell hounds. The odors, collected during interrogations
using a perforated metal “smell sample chair” or by breaking into
people’s homes and stealing their dirty underwear, were stored in
small glass jars. Many of the remaining East German smell jars are on
display at the Stasi Museum in Berlin.”


Germany adopts Stasi scent tactic  /  23 May 2007

The German authorities are compiling a database of human scents to
track down possible violent protesters at the G8 summit in June. The
method, once used by East Germany’s secret police, the Stasi, involves
collecting scent samples in advance from selected targets. The scents
are then passed to police equipped with sniffer dogs who can pick the
individuals out amid a crowd. Past G8 summits have suffered serious
unrest, which Germany is keen to avoid.

The Interior Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, has defended the
authorities’ decision to use scent tracking, saying it is a useful
tool to identify suspects. A spokesman for the federal prosecutor has
confirmed that samples of smell were gathered from five people who
were detained during recent police raids. It is understood the
suspects were made to hold metal pipes in their hands and the samples
of smell were kept by police.

Investigators using sniffer dogs were able to compare the scent
samples with traces left at the scene of more than a dozen arson
attacks which are believed to be linked to anti-globalisation
activists. The deputy speaker of parliament, Wolfgang Thierse, warned
the authorities not to use techniques which could lead to a police
state like the former Communist regime. And Petra Pau, a politician
from the opposition Left Party, described the move “as another step
away from a democratic state of law toward a preventive security

“A state that adopts the methods of the East German Stasi, robs itself
of every… legitimacy,” she said in a statement.

Keeping tabs

The Ministry for State Security, known as the Stasi, which acted as
East Germany’s secret police and intelligence agency throughout the
Cold War, used odour recognition to keep tabs on potential dissidents.
They often collected the samples surreptitiously – breaking into homes
to steal suspects’ underwear, or by wiping down chairs used during
interrogations. The samples were then stored in glass jars, each
carefully labelled with details of whom the sample came from. Some of
the jars are now on display at the Stasi museum in Berlin.

As the current holders of the G8 presidency, Germany is playing host
to the summit, which is being held in the Baltic Sea resort of
Heiligendamm. Past summits have been targeted by thousands of anti-
globalisation activists and protests have often turned violent.



Weber, Carl  /  A Picaresque Tale: East Germany’s Last Act
PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art – PAJ 65 (Volume 22, Number 2),
May 2000, pp. 142-145

“The Berlin Wall was opened up in the late evening of November 9,
1989. This was an event that was totally unexpected, from Washington
to Berlin to Moscow and places beyond. It happened, according to the
press and later official statements, due to a press conference during
which a prominent member of East Germany’s ruling Socialist Unity
Party’s leadership, Gnther Schabowski, made a remark indicating that
citizens of the East German Republic would henceforth be allowed to
travel freely to the West. Within the hour, thousands appeared at the
checkpoints where West Berlin could be entered. The border guards,
without instructions from their superiors, felt compelled to open the
gates, and West Berlin experienced a deluge of citizens from the
eastern part of the city. The events of that chaotic night have still
not been completely sorted out. What is certain is that this event
heralded the end of the Communist system in Central and Eastern
Europe, including the former Soviet Union. There were rumors at the
time, and they still are believed by many, that the opening of the
Wall had been planned and instrumentalized by the infamous “Stasi,”
the secret police of the former GDR. The Stasi (acronym for
Staatssicherheit, i.e., State Security) combined…”

Big Brother Is Still Haunting Society in Germany’s East
BY Roger Cohen  /  November 29, 1999

Rüdiger Hinze took a scrap of paper from his eyeglass case and read
four names: Jäger, Kopp, Schulze and Schreiber. “Those are the code
names,” he said, “of the people in this village who spied on me for
years.” A retired teacher, Hinze keeps the list of false identities
with his glasses to be regularly reminded of the people who spent
years recording each person he met, each card game he played, each
word he uttered — and then passing on the information to the East
German state security service, known as the Stasi.

This village of 1,200 was close enough to what was then the border
with West Germany to be of particular interest to the Communist secret
police. A teacher like Hinze who was disinclined to sing the praises
of Bolshevism was a reasonable target for inclusion in the 125 miles
of files that are the legacy of perhaps the most spied-on society in
history. Like many people in Germany, and in other post-Communist
states in Central and Eastern Europe, Hinze, 54, has recently read his
Stasi file. The 100 pages have left him stunned, perplexed. Who
informed on him? Why such detail? How could he live in such a society?
These are questions that haunt millions of Europeans even a decade
after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Indeed, in Germany the tide of
questioning is rising.

When Hitler’s Reich collapsed in 1945, Germans spent 20 years avoiding
a full confrontation with Nazism. German valor at Stalingrad
outweighed German murder at Treblinka. Only under the insistent
pressure of the postwar generation in West Germany — the 1960’s
revolutionaries who are the rulers of today — was history stared in
the face. Erich Honecker, long the leader of East Germany, was not
Hitler. But his police state of 17 million people boasted 95,000 full-
time Stasi agents, more than double the number of Gestapo agents in
Nazi Germany, which had four times the population. As in the postwar
period, a delayed reaction to the trauma of dictatorship is becoming
clear. “Applications to see Stasi files are rising sharply and now run
at 15,000 a month from individuals,” said Johannes Legner, a senior
official at the government commission that oversees the six million
files. “It’s the same story as in 1945: partial amnesia is followed by
awakening. I believe the real wave of interest and generational
conflict are still to come.”

Legner was born in 1954. He recalls asking his parents: what about
Auschwitz? He is convinced that similar questions will come from the
generation born in the decade since Communism collapsed: Were you a
secret informer for the Stasi? How could you live and look at that
wall? How did it feel to be part of a police state? Of course, the
very existence of the commission for which Legner works and the access
to their Stasi files granted German citizens shows the lengths to
which Germany is going to be more open about its history than it was
in 1945. Elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, countries have
wrestled in different ways with the issues of justice and
reconciliation, but in general few former Communists have served
prison sentences, and the vetting process to keep government positions
free of diehard Marxists is slowly winding down.

The Federal Republic is immeasurably more democratic in its soul and
in its convictions than the shell-shocked “Volk” that emerged from the
rubble of Hitler’s war or any incarnation of Germany since the modern
state was formed in 1871. But the trauma of the Stasi still inhabits
Germany, adding another layer of suspicion and interrogation to a
society that has already spent more than half a century trying to
comprehend the incomprehensible. A few trials and convictions —
including the recent one of Egon Krenz, the last East German leader
and longtime head of state security — have done little to heal wounds
that lie deep or to satisfy Germans that any form of justice is
possible for intrusions into their lives that are still not fully
understood. At the most immediate level, the confrontation with what
the East German state security apparatus did is simply not over yet.
More than 300,000 people are waiting to see their files, and the wait
is generally at least two years from the time an application is filed.
In addition, a vetting process continues. About 1.6 million people in
public service, including teachers and police officers, have already
been screened, and about 20,000 remain to be processed by the so-
called Gauck Commission, named after the Rev. Joachim Gauck, a former
East German dissident who heads the panel overseeing Stasi files.

The vetting does not always lead to dismissal: in the eastern German
state of Saxony-Anhalt, for example, only a third of the teachers
known to have had contact with the Stasi have been dismissed.
Discretion is widely used by the Gauck Commission in the hope that
people who may have spied under extreme pressure will be able to start
anew. Demands from public entities and private companies for such
clearance is declining. But with personal applications to see files
going up from 10,000 to 15,000 a month, there is no prospect of the
commission, with its 2,800 employees, being disbanded. At a deeper
level, the impact of the Stasi is becoming clear. East Germany was a
sophisticated repressive society. After the violence of the Stalinist
period, the state — like others in Central Europe and the Balkans —
did not employ murder on a wide scale. Rather, its aim was what the
Stasi called the “decomposition” of people. Decomposition meant
blocking people from acting. It meant paralyzing them as citizens by
convincing them that everything was controlled. It meant the
relentless application of a quiet coercion leading to compliance. “For
the East German state, it was better to have no activity than an
activity out of the Stasi’s control,” said Legner, who lived in West
Berlin during most of the cold war years. “So no wonder many Germans
in the east are unable to act on their own free will today.”

Certainly among older eastern Germans, this fear of personal
initiative and sense of dependence on a state long seen as omnipotent
have contributed to the unemployment rate of close to 20 percent in
what was East Germany. The risk inherent in capitalism is simply
alien. Worse, it is threatening. “We were all children of the East
German state,” said Klaus Müller, a former officer in Honecker’s army.
“We believed what we were told and we did what we were told, in the
defense of socialism.” Müller, 47, has managed to recycle himself in a
united Germany as a member of the border police at the Polish
frontier. “When I took off my uniform, I also stepped out of my
ideology,” he said. “Socialism was gone, we were told it was false and
so I started to think again.” But such chameleonic changes of identity
— and there are millions of them in Germany, as across Central and
Eastern Europe — and the realization that there were as many as
160,000 unofficial informers for the Stasi have contributed to the
sort of unease felt by Hinze, the teacher. Put simply, the former
Communist world is still a place where the true identity of even an
old acquaintance may be difficult to fathom. Swelling from cancer has
twisted Hinze’s mouth into a grimace. As a result, his voice is
indistinct. But the fierce intelligence in his deep blue eyes is clear
enough, as is his conviction that the East German state broke him.

After the Berlin Wall fell, he waited several years to file an
application to see his Stasi file. Then it took four years for his
application to be approved. Finally, earlier this year, he read the
file. Much of it was devoted to his standing in the village — his
popularity (high), his friends (numerous), his reputation at the
school (good). It was noted against him that he preferred to teach the
lower school classes, where instruction in the glories of Communism
and the feats of the October Revolution was not prominent. The file
recorded that Hinze was approached by the Stasi in 1974, when he was
29, and offered the opportunity to become an agent. When he declined,
he had to formulate in writing why he would not do such work. “I wrote
that I could not do it because I would not be able to look my family,
my friends and my colleagues in the eye,” Hinze recalled. “I also had
to formally agree to tell nobody that I had been approached, or face
the threat of what they called ‘state measures.’ ” The experience was
psychologically devastating. The meaning of “state measures” was well
known: imprisonment and likely torture. The message of the Stasi was
clear enough: if you do not work with us, you are against us. It
proved hugely effective in a society fashioned after the war to go on
prizing obedience. “One thing that amazed me was the resources devoted
to my trivial case,” said Hinze. “It became clear to me reading that
file that East Germany went bankrupt in part because all the hard
currency, all the top talent, was devoted to the Stasi.” The former
teacher, who has received an early pension because of his illness, has
now written to the Gauck Commission to see if he can discover the real
identities behind those code names: Jäger, Kopp, Schulze and
Schreiber. He says he is driven by interest rather than any desire for
revenge. “I am reconciled,” he said. “I would not confront them.”

The true names may or may not be known to the Gauck Commission,
because some Stasi files were destroyed and many of the most sensitive
archives were spirited away and later acquired, probably in Russia, by
the Central Intelligence Agency. The long reluctance of the C.I.A. to
return those files has been a source of friction between the United
State and Germany, although an accord on giving back most of them has
now been reached. “For us this is a matter of basic civil rights,”
said Legner. “This information was collected by Germans and belongs
here. There are plenty of people whose lives have been destroyed and
all we have is a code name for the person who did it. And the C.I.A.
is sitting on that code, so we cannot identify who destroyed someone’s
life.” With the expected return of many files next year, it seems
likely that hundreds or even thousands of former Stasi agents still in
prominent positions may be exposed. But the files will not bring back
the dead, patch up damaged lives like Hinze’s or stanch the rising
interest in who worked for the Stasi and why. “The best you can hope
for is a dialogue where the perpetrators confess and so you have the
confession as a consolation,” Legner said. “But I must say that when a
man I now know spied on me in East Berlin calls and wants to talk,
perhaps to excuse himself, I put the phone down. Refusing to speak to
him is my own little punishment.”

From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

31 YR OLD MARTIN LUTHER KING ON MEET THE PRESS;jsessionid=5E026A4E02906F78F566F4ADA795045E

“In practicing Kingian nonviolence, we make a commitment to
unconditional love for all people without exceptions. We reject all
forms of hatred, even for our opponents. We respect the humanity of
everyone, especially our enemies. In fact, we don’t even like the word
“enemies.” We prefer the word “adversaries” because it has less
animosity and makes us think about the conflict on a higher level.”


“The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI was a leftist
activist group operational during the early 1970s. Their only known
action was breaking into a two-man Media, Pennsylvania FBI office, and
making off with over 1000 classified documents. They then mailed these
documents anonymously to several American newspapers. Several news
outlets refused to publish the information, as it related to ongoing
operations and disclosure may have threatened the lives of agents or
informants. “The complete collection of political documents ripped-off
from the F.B.I. office in Media, Pa., March 8, 1971” was published for
the first time as the March, 1972 issue of WIN Magazine (“Peace and
freedom thru nonviolent action”), a journal associated with the War
Resisters League. The documents revealed the COINTELPRO operation, and
led to the cessation of this operation by the FBI. No member of the
group has ever been publicly identified, or apprehended, though noted
Yippie organizer Abbie Hoffman has been linked on several occasions
including a suggestion dropped by the character portraying his lawyer
in the 2000 film “Steal This Movie”.

Though highly under-emphasized, the theft resulted in the exposure of
some of the FBI’s most self-incriminating documents, including several
documents detailing the FBI’s use of postman, switchboard opperators,
etc., in order to spy on black college students and various non-
violent black activist groups. For more information on this subject


TITLE: “The complete collection of political documents ripped-off from
the F.B.I. office in Media, Pa., March 8, 1971”

OH ABBIE,0,2280342.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions
A break-in to end all break-ins
In 1971, stolen FBI files exposed the government’s domestic spying program.
BY Allan M. Jalon  /  March 8, 2006

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS ago today, a group of anonymous activists broke
into the small, two-man office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
in Media, Pa., and stole more than 1,000 FBI documents that revealed
years of systematic wiretapping, infiltration and media manipulation
designed to suppress dissent.

The Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, as the group
called itself, forced its way in at night with a crowbar while much of
the country was watching the Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight. When
agents arrived for work the next morning, they found the file cabinets
virtually emptied.

Within a few weeks, the documents began to show up mailed
anonymously in manila envelopes with no return address in the
newsrooms of major American newspapers. When the Washington Post
received copies, Atty. Gen. John N. Mitchell asked Executive Editor
Ben Bradlee not to publish them because disclosure, he said, could
“endanger the lives” of people involved in investigations on behalf of
the United States.

Nevertheless, the Post broke the first story on March 24, 1971,
after receiving an envelope with 14 FBI documents detailing how the
bureau had enlisted a local police chief, letter carriers and a
switchboard operator at Swarthmore College to spy on campus and black
activist groups in the Philadelphia area.

More documents went to other reporters Tom Wicker received copies
at his New York Times office; so did reporters at the Los Angeles
Times and to politicians including Sen. George McGovern of South
Dakota and Rep. Parren J. Mitchell of Maryland.

To this day, no individual has claimed responsibility for the
break-in. The FBI, after building up a six-year, 33,000-page file on
the case, couldn’t solve it. But it remains one of the most lastingly
consequential (although underemphasized) watersheds of political
awareness in recent American history, one that poses tough questions
even today for our national leaders who argue that fighting foreign
enemies requires the government to spy on its citizens. The break-in
is far less well known than Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon
Papers three months later, but in my opinion it deserves equal

Found among the Media documents was a new word, “COINTELPRO,”
short for the FBI’s “secret counterintelligence program,” created to
investigate and disrupt dissident political groups in the U.S. Under
these programs, beginning in 1956, the bureau worked to “enhance the
paranoia endemic in these circles,” as one COINTELPRO memo put it, “to
get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.”

The Media documents along with further revelations about
COINTELPRO in the months and years that followed made it clear that
the bureau had gone beyond mere intelligence-gathering to discredit,
destabilize and demoralize groups many of them peaceful, legal civil
rights organizations and antiwar groups that the FBI and Director J.
Edgar Hoover found offensive or threatening.

For instance, agents sought to persuade Martin Luther King Jr. to
kill himself just before he received the Nobel Prize. They sent him a
composite tape made from bugs planted illegally in his hotel rooms
when he was entertaining women other than his wife and threatened to
make it public. “King, there is one thing left for you to do. You know
what it is,” FBI operatives wrote in their anonymous letter.

Under COINTELPRO, the bureau also targeted actress Jean Seberg for
having made a donation to the Black Panther Party. The fragile actress
ultimately committed suicide after a gossip nugget based on a FBI
wiretap was leaked to the L.A. Times and published. The item,
suggesting that the father of the baby she was carrying was a Black
Panther rather than her French writer-husband, turned out to be wrong.

The sheer reach of a completely politicized FBI was one of the
most frightening revelations of the Media documents. Underground
newspapers were targeted. Students (and their professors) were
targeted. Celebrities were targeted. The Communist Party of the
U.S.A., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Non-
Violent Organizing Committee, the Black Panther Party, the Women’s
Strike for Peace all were targeted. “Neutralize them in the same
manner they are trying to destroy and neutralize the U.S.,” one memo

Eventually, the COINTELPRO memos some from Media and some
unearthed later prompted hearings led by Rep. Don Edwards of
California and by Sen. Frank Church of Idaho on intelligence agency
abuses. In the mid-1970s, the wayward agency began finally to be
reined in.

It is tragic when people lose faith in their government to the
extent that they feel they must break laws to expose corruption. But a
war that had been started and sustained by lies had gone on for years.
And a government had betrayed its citizens, manipulating their fear to
strengthen its grip on power.

Today, again, many people worry that their government may be on
the road to subverting its own ideals. I hope that the commemoration
of those unknown activists being held today in Media, Pa., will serve
as a reminder that fighting for democracy abroad must remain more than
merely an excuse to weaken civil liberties at home.

The 1960s and COINTELPRO: In Defense of Paranoia
BY Daniel Brandt  /  July-September 1995

“”The Women’s Liberation Movement may be considered as subversive to
the New Left and revolutionary movements as they have proven to be a
divisive and factionalizing factor…. It could be well recommended as
a counterintelligence movement to weaken the revolutionary movement.”
This was from an August, 1969 report by the head of the San Francisco
FBI office.[4] Within several years, the Rockefeller and Ford
Foundations were pumping millions into women’s studies programs on

At the same time, the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division had 62,000
subversives under investigation. Much of this effort was organized
under COINTELPRO, or counterintelligence program. In 1956 COINTELPRO
began against the Communist Party USA, in 1964 “white hate groups”
were added, in 1967 “black nationalist-hate groups,” and in 1968 the
“New Left.”

The existence of COINTELPRO was first revealed when every document in
the Media, Pennsylvania office of the FBI was stolen by unknown
persons on March 8, 1971. Some sixty documents were then mailed to
selected publications, and others were sent directly to the people and
groups named. These documents broke down as follows: 30 percent were
manuals, routine forms, and similar procedural materials. Of the
remainder, 40 percent were political surveillance and other
investigation of political activity (2 were right-wing, 10 concerned
immigrants, and over 200 were on left or liberal groups), 25 percent
concerned bank robberies, 20 percent were murder, rape, and interstate
theft, 7 percent were draft resistance, another 7 percent were
military desertion, and 1 percent organized crime, mostly gambling.[5]

Further evidence concerning COINTELPRO came after reporter Carl Stern
from NBC, noticing a reference in the Media documents, filed an FOIA
request and received additional files more than two years later.
Additionally, the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), a Trotskyite group
that was active in the anti-war movement, filed a suit in 1973 that
was still in discovery three years later. The documents received by
the SWP showed that specially-trained teams of agents burglarized
their offices at least 92 times from 1960-1966, yielding a total of
about 10,000 photographs of documents such as correspondence, records,
minutes, letters, and other materials. The burglaries were still going
on as late as 1975.[6]

When Lori Paton, 15, wrote a letter to the Socialist Labor Party in
1973 and inadvertently addressed it to the SWP, she was looking for
information for a high school project. Our fearless G-men nabbed this
letter through a mail cover and swung into high gear, opening a
“subversive activities” investigation on her. The FBI checked a credit
bureau and the local police for information on Paton and her parents,
and an agent interviewed her high school principal. “More
interviews … are in order for plenty of reasons,” instructed one
memo dated 16 September 1970, “chief of which are it will enhance the
paranoia endemic in these circles and will further serve to get the
point across that there is an FBI Agent behind every mailbox. In
addition, some will be overcome by the overwhelming personalities of
the contacting agent and volunteer to tell all — perhaps on a
continuing basis.”

The Black Panther Party wasn’t treated so kindly. A 1970 FBI memo
outlined a series of rather nasty steps that should be taken:

Xerox copies of true documents, documents subtly incorporating
false information, and entirely fabricated documents would be
periodically anonymously mailed to the residence of a key Panther
leader…. An attempt would be made to give the Panther recipient the
impression the documents were stolen from police files by a
disgruntled police employee sympathetic to the Panthers…. Alleged
police or FBI documents could be prepared pinpointing Panthers as
police or FBI informants; … outlining fictitious plans for police
raids or other counteractions; revealing misuse of Panther funds….
Effective implementation of this proposal logically could not help but
disrupt and confuse Panther activities.[7]

Such FBI tactics created the feud between the Eldridge Cleaver and
Huey Newton factions of the Black Panther Party, according to a high
bureau official. In Los Angeles, the FBI worked with the police
department to support Ron Karenga, the leader of a black nationalist
organization that was feuding with the Panthers. Two Panther activists
were killed in a shootout at UCLA in 1969, for which five Karenga
supporters were subsequently indicted, and three convicted. Louis
Tackwood, an LAPD agent-provocateur who went public in 1971, says that
the LAPD gave Karenga money, guns, narcotics, and encouragement.[8]

In Seattle, FBI agent Louis Harris recruited David Sannes in 1970, a
patriotic veteran who was willing to help them catch some bombers.
Sannes worked with explosives expert Jeffrey Paul Desmond and FBI
agent Bert Carter. Their instructions were to find people interested
in bombing. “For a few of the members it was a matter of many weeks of
persuasion to actually have them carry through with the bombing
projects,” said Sannes. When Carter made it clear that he planned to
have one bomber die in a booby-trapped explosion, Sannes dropped his
FBI work and went public. “My own knowledge is that the FBI along with
other Federal law enforcement agencies has been involved in a campaign
of bombing, arson and terrorism in order to create in the mass public
mind a connection between political dissidence of whatever stripe and
revolutionaries of whatever violent tendencies,” Sannes reported in an
interview on WBAI radio.[9]

The situation in Seattle is merely one of many examples of the FBI’s
campaign against the New Left. Two agents, W. Mark Felt [DEEP THROAT]
and Edward Miller, admitted to a grand jury that they had authorized
illegal break-ins and burglaries against friends and relatives of
Weather Underground fugitives. A 25-year FBI veteran, M. Wesley
Swearingen, claimed that the FBI routinely lied to Congress about the
number of break-ins and wiretaps: “I myself actually participated in
more than 238 while assigned to the Chicago office, [which] conducted
thousands of bag jobs.” Swearingen charged that agents had lied to a
Washington grand jury about the number, locations, and duration of
illegal practices in pursuit of the Weather Underground.[10] FBI
director William Webster disciplined only six of the 68 agents
referred to him by the Justice Department. Felt and Miller were
convicted in 1980, and a few months later were pardoned by President
Reagan. Today the FBI can still use these same techniques, simply by
mislabeling their targets as foreign agents or terrorists.

In 1971 Congress finally repealed the Internal Security Act of 1950,
which provided for custodial detention of citizens whose names were on
lists of “subversives” maintained by the FBI. Over the years these
lists were expanded from Communist Party members, to all members of
SDS and other “pro-Communist New Left-type groups,” and by 1970 even
included members of every “commune” where individuals reside in one
location and “share income and adhere to the philosophy of a Marxist-
Leninist-Maoist oriented violent revolution.” Despite the repeal, the
FBI simply changed the names of the Security Index and Reserve Index
to the “Administrative Index,” with the excuse that they were
preparing for possible future legislation. The FBI’s continuation of
these lists was authorized by attorney general John Mitchell.[11]

The FBI also waged a war against the underground press. As early as
1968 they assigned three informants to penetrate the Liberation News
Service (LNS), while nine others reported on it from the outside.
These reports were shared with the U.S. Army’s Counterintelligence
Branch, the Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service, the Navy,
the Air Force, and the CIA. The FBI set up Pacific International News
Service in San Francisco and New York Press Service on the east coast.
When NYPS director Louis Salzberg blew his cover by appearing as a
government witness at the Chicago Seven trial, the FBI’s New York
office tried to swing this in their favor by preparing an anonymous
letter denouncing LNS as a government front as well. Other underground
newspapers were handled more gently by the FBI, by getting record
companies to pull ads from their pages.[12]

Other federal agencies were also active in the war against dissent. In
response to pressure from the Nixon White House, in 1969 the Internal
Revenue Service began investigating radicals. Former FBI agent Robert
N. Wall blew the whistle on this unit in 1972. He wrote about his
visit to the IRS to investigate a radical:

When I went to the IRS I found it had secretly set up a special
squad of men to investigate the tax records of “known militants and
activists.” I was sent to a locked, sound-proofed room in the basement
of the IRS headquarters in Washington, where I found a file on my
subject, among hundreds of others piled on a long table.[13]

The CIA was able to obtain IRS information under the table, through
IRS liaison personnel that handled the taxes for CIA proprietary
companies. When the CIA found out that Ramparts magazine planned to
expose their funding of the National Student Association, Richard Ober
met with top IRS officials Thomas Terry, Leon Green, and John Barber
on February 1, 1967. Ober recommended that Ramparts’ corporate returns
be examined, along with the personal returns of any financial
supporters of Ramparts. The CIA also obtained the personal returns of
Ramparts publisher Edward Keating.[14]

The CIA’s domestic operations were first exposed by Seymour Hersh in
the New York Times on December 22, 1974. Within two weeks President
Ford created the Rockefeller Commission to look into the matter, and
their report was issued the following June. It detailed the CIA’s mail
intercept program for mail to and from the Soviet Union, described
Operation CHAOS (the CIA’s domestic spying program that was headed by
Richard Ober), also described a separate domestic spying program run
by the CIA’s Office of Security called Project Resistance, and
mentioned an Office of Security program that gave seminars and
training on lock-picking and surveillance to a number of local police

The Rockefeller report stated that “during six years [1967-1972], the
Operation [CHAOS] compiled some 13,000 different files, including
files on 7,200 American citizens. The documents in these files and
related materials included the names of more than 300,000 persons and
organizations, which were entered into a computerized index.” This
compares to the CIA’s index of some 7 million names of all
nationalities maintained by the Directorate of Operations, an
estimated 115,000 of which are believed to be American citizens.[16]
But the numbers may be on the low side; CHAOS was tightly
compartmented within the CIA and free from periodic internal review.
For example, later reports of the number of state, local, and county
police departments assisted by the CIA were put at 44, far more than
the handful mentioned in the Rockefeller report.[17]

The Center for National Security Studies, a late-1970s liberal
watchdog group headed by Morton Halperin, obtained 450 documents that
describe the CIA’s Project Resistance. These documents show that the
purpose of this Security Office program was much more than an effort
to protect CIA recruiters on campus by collecting newspaper clippings,
as described in the Rockefeller report. The Security Office was
authorized for the first time to assist the recruiting division “in
any way possible,” and restrictions on contacting the FBI at local
levels were dropped. Contacts were also developed with campus security
officials, informants within the campus community, military
intelligence, and state and local police. Special attention was paid
to the underground press.[18]

In 1976 the Church Committee received summaries from the CIA of the
files of 400 American journalists who had being tasked by the CIA to
collect intelligence abroad over the past 25 years. These included
correspondents for the New York Times, CBS News, Time magazine, and
many others.[19] As sensitive as this issue was, it didn’t involve
domestic operations (which are a violation of the CIA’s charter),
except to the extent that planted stories would sometimes “blow back”
as bona fide news for domestic consumption.

One case in particular, however, suggests that the CIA was busy
sabotaging the underground press as well. Sal Ferrera was recruited by
the CIA sometime around 1970. He worked with the Quicksilver Times in
Washington DC, and covered numerous demonstrations for the College
Press Service. (Seed money from the CIA helped establish CPS in the
early 1960s, although most staffers did not know this.) Ferrera even
worked with a debugging outfit in Washington, checking telephones of
movement groups for taps.

When CPS sent Ferrera to Paris to report on the Vietnamese peace
negotiations, he ended up befriending ex-CIA officer Philip Agee, who
was writing his memoirs. Ferrera was exposed as a CIA agent in 1975
with the publication of Agee’s “Inside the Company: CIA Diary.” This
bestseller featured the typewriter Ferrera gave Agee: in the cover
photograph, the padding in the top of the typewriter case is peeled
back to reveal a homing transmitter. That same year, Ferrera returned
to the U.S. and legally changed his name.[20]

Not to be outdone, U.S. military intelligence frequently used media
cover to collect information during demonstrations. The U.S. Army’s
“Midwest Audiovisual News” scooped up the only TV interview with Abbie
Hoffman during the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. Their
Counter- intelligence Analysis Branch (CIAB) compiled organizational
files, personality files, mug books, and “black lists,” resulting in
more than 117,000 documents. These were computer-indexed under a
series of descriptive categories, which allowed access to a microfilm
reel and frame at the push of a button.[21]

There were other filing systems in other locations, maintained by
other elements of the military intelligence bureaucracy. These were
fed partly by overlapping data, as well as by other collection
systems. The U.S. Intelligence Command (USAINTC), for example, had a
network of 1500 agents stationed in over 300 posts scattered
throughout the country. Some of these posts were stocked with
communications equipment, tape recorders, cameras, lock-picking kits,
lie detectors, and interview rooms with two- way mirrors. Agents were
even given kits to forge identification for cover purposes. Former
army intelligence captain Christopher Pyle blew the whistle on
military surveillance in 1970, in the January and July issues of
Washington Monthly. This led to hearings in 1971 by Senator Sam
Ervin’s Constitutional Rights Subcommittee, at which Pyle, CIAB
analyst Ralph Stein, and operative Richard Stahl testified.[22]

Some of the military’s effort reflected their fondness for the
“operations center” seen in movies, with direct lines to local police
departments, teletype machines to field intelligence units, situation
maps, closed-circuit television, and secure radio links. One 180-man
command center was created in 1968 after the riots that followed the
assassination of Martin Luther King; by 1969 it was housed in a $2.7
million basement war room in the Pentagon. Nothing was too
insignificant for this war room’s computer: one printout announced an
“anti-war demo” at West Point, where Vassar “girl students will offer
sex to cadets who sign an anti-war petition.” Apart from the coverage
of demonstrations and similar events, the primary target of military
intelligence was the nation’s university and college campuses.[23]

The 117-year-old Posse Comitatus Act, which the current anti-
terrorism legislation will amend, sharply curtails the rights of the
military to get involved in domestic law enforcement. Nevertheless, in
the late sixties the military was working closely with local and state
police, as well as National Guard units, to coordinate scenarios for
the implementation of martial law. The Ervin subcommittee came across
a master plan called “Garden Plot,” which was too unspecific to raise
Ervin’s eyebrows. Several years later a freelance journalist uncovered
documents describing a sub-plan of Garden Plot. It went by the name of
“Cable Splicer,” and involved California, Oregon, Washington and
Arizona, under the command of the Sixth Army.

Cable Splicer was developed in a series of California meetings from
1968 to 1972, involving Sixth Army, Pentagon, and National Guard
generals, police chiefs and sheriffs, military intelligence officers,
defense contractors, and executives from the telephone company and
utility companies. One meeting was kicked off by Governor Ronald

You know, there are people in the state who, if they could see
this gathering right now and my presence here, would decide that their
worst fears and convictions had been realized — I was planning a
military takeover.

The participants played war games using scenarios that began with
racial, student, or labor unrest, and ended with the Army being called
in to bail out the National Guard, usually by sweeping the area to
confiscate private weapons and round up likely troublemakers. These
games were conducted in secrecy, with military personnel dressed in
civvies, and using non-military transportation. Although the documents
on Cable Splicer covered only four Western states, Brig. Gen. J. L.
Jelinek, senior Army officer in the Pentagon’s National Guard Bureau,
knew of “no state that didn’t have some form of this [civil
disturbance control] exercise within the last year” under different
code names.[24]

Games are one thing, while actual offensive operations are another.
The Ervin subcommittee reported that military intelligence groups
conducted offensive operations against anti-war and student groups,
but the Pentagon refused to declassify the relevant records.
Presumably they never reached the intensity of the FBI’s COINTELPRO
operations.[25] The situation with respect to police departments was a
different matter. Particularly in Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia
and Los Angeles, as well as in some other cities, the police “Red
Squads” exceeded the zeal of the FBI.

Despite the high incidence of civil unrest between 1963 and 1968,
violence claimed no more than 220 lives and the victims were not the
objects of protest but the protesters themselves: 20 civil rights
workers and most of the rest ghetto-dwellers. During this period the
civil strife death rate was 1.1 per million in this country, compared
to a European rate of 2.4 per million.[29] Nevertheless, many federal,
state, and local agencies were willing to violate our civil rights,
while others collected surveillance information with the expectation
that it would be useful later, perhaps under martial law conditions.
This suggests that our Constitution is much more fragile than most
people assume.


BY Michael Eric Dyson  /  April. 6, 2008
April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Death
and How It Changed America [excerpt]

“You cannot hear the name Martin Luther King, Jr. and not think of
death. You might hear the words “I have a dream,” but they will
doubtlessly only serve to underscore an image of a simple motel
balcony, a large man made small, a pool of blood.

For as famous as he may have been in life, it is — and was — death
that ultimately defined him. Born into a culture whose main solace was
Christianity’s Promised Land awaiting them after the suffering of this
world, King took on the power of his race’s presumed destiny and found
in himself the defiance necessary to spark change.

He ate, drank, and slept death. He danced with it, he preached it, he
feared it, and he stared it down. He looked for ways to lay it aside,
this burden of his own mortality, but ultimately knew that his
unwavering insistence on a nonviolent end to the mistreatment of his
people could only end violently …

From the time he began to speak out, King was haunted by death —
mugged by the promise of destruction for seeking an end to black
indignity and the beginning of equality with whites. After a few years
spent up North acquiring his education, King chose to return to where
he would be needed most in the coming years — the white-hot center of
the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement and Montgomery, Alabama.

At twenty-six he took on the responsibilities of a Baptist pulpit,
joining forces with the local NAACP, and dug in for the year-long bus
boycott created to end the Jim Crow law of racial segregation in
public transportation. During this conflict his house was bombed — his
wife Coretta and their ten-week-old daughter Yolanda were home, but
escaped injury. It was the first time King would be tested with
violence aimed at his life, but far from the last. Later in the
boycott a shotgun blast was fired into King’s home. King did not
capitulate, but instead he emerged from the ashes of these attempts as
the true Phoenix of the newly minted movement. Once again, his
mortality challenged, he accepted his calling without hesitation.

A couple of years after the boycott ended, King was in Harlem at
Blumstein’s department store signing Stride Toward Freedom, his
account of the movement’s success. From out of nowhere, a clearly
disturbed black woman, Izola Ware Curry, sunk a letter opener into his
chest after asking if he was Martin Luther King. Though considered an
act of instability, this attack was still colored by Curry’s
irrational hatred of what King and the NAACP were trying to do, and by
her own fear of being killed because of his constant stirring of the

Even so, it was one of the rare instances of black public hate
directed at King, the kind that would later be famously associated
with his colleague and competitor Malcolm X. As he took flight to snip
the bullying wings of Jim Crow, King ruffled the feathers of white
racists who grew more determined to bring him down. There was striking
physical intimidation of King. In a show of naked aggression, two
white cops attempted to block his entry into a Montgomery courtroom
for the trial of a man who had attacked his comrade Ralph Abernathy.
Despite a warning from the cops, King poked his head inside the
courtroom looking for his lawyer to help him get inside. His actions
ignited their rage. The policemen twisted his arm behind his back and
manhandled him into jail. King said the cops “tried to break my arm;
they grabbed my collar and tried to choke me, and when they got me to
the cell, they kicked me in.” A photographer happened by to capture
the scene. The shot of King — dressed in a natty tan suit, stylish
gold wristwatch and a trendy snap-brim fedora — wincing as he is
banished to confinement is an iconic civil rights image.

As King addressed the 1962 convention of his organization, the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), a two-hundred-pound
young white man rushed the stage and landed a brutal blow on his left
cheek. The crowd reacted in hushed disbelief. The diminutive King
never flinched or retreated, even as the young brute delivered several
more blows, first to the side of his face as he stood behind King, and
then two blows to his back. King gently spoke to his attacker as he
continued to pummel his body. He knocked King backward as the orator
dropped his hands — legendary activist Septima Clark, in attendance
that day, said King let down his hands “like a newborn baby” — and
faced his assailant head on.

Finally, SCLC staff leader Wyatt Tee Walker and others intervened as
King pleaded, “Don’t touch him! Don’t touch him. We have to pray for
him.” King quietly assured the young man he wouldn’t be harmed. The
leader and his aides retreated to a private office to talk with his
assailant, who was, King told the audience when he returned, a member
of the American Nazi Party. As King held an ice-filled handkerchief to
his jaw, he informed the crowd he wouldn’t press charges. Most in
attendance were amazed at King’s calm as violence flashed. Obviously
nonviolence was more than a method and a creed; it answered assault
with acts of steadfast courage.”

Local followers recall Martin Luther King Jr. as complex man
from The Orange County Register  /  April. 4, 2008

“If America does not use her vast resources of wealth to end poverty,
to make it possible for all of God’s children to have the basic
necessities of life, she too will go to Hell….”

The incendiary speech of Barak Obama’s controversial former pastor,
the Rev. Jeremiah Wright? Hardly. These words were spoken with great
fervor by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., American hero, not long
before his death. Forty years ago this week – April 4, 1968 – King was
staying in Room 306 of the homely Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis.
According to historical accounts he was working on a speech called,
“Why America May Go to Hell.”

It was part of a pattern. In the last years of his life, the tone of
King’s rhetoric was more biting, and anguished than his earlier
speeches. And though steadfastly non-violent, King, at the end of his
life, was often highly critical of the United States. Today, at the
anniversary of King’s assassination, some local spiritual leaders see
King’s more strident period as an integral, if overlooked, part of his
legacy. “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money
on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching
spiritual death.” Martin Luther King Jr., in his 1967 book, “Where Do
We Go from Here: Chaos or Community”

In King’s mind, his commitment to civil rights – which won him the
1964 Nobel Peace Prize, the ear of the American president, and the
devotion of millions – naturally led to a vehement opposition to the
Vietnam War, and demands that America turn her resources instead to
wiping out poverty. “What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an
integrated lunch counter if he doesn’t have enough money to buy a
hamburger?” King asked a group of Memphis sanitation workers just two
weeks before his death. King wanted more than a colorblind society,
the thing for which he is well-remembered today. King wanted what he
often termed “a just society.”

Historical accounts suggest King had a lot on his mind 40 years ago. A
march he’d led in Memphis days before his death, in support of
striking sanitation workers, had devolved into rioting – something
that so disturbed King that he insisted on a second march, on April 8,
vowing that violence would not prevail. But King’s message of
nonviolence was a harder sell in 1968 than it had been earlier in the
decade. Vietnam was raging and numerous other leaders, of all races,
were calling for more active means to end the war and push social
change. And King himself was becoming a harder sell. His painfully
sharp criticisms of American policy were ostracizing him from the
circles of power that he had so recently joined.

“It is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive
starvation wages,” King said two weeks before his death.”… I can hear
the God of the universe saying… ‘The children of my sons and daughters
were in need of economic security, and you didn’t provide for them. So
you cannot enter the kingdom of greatness’.”

King’s oratory in these last years alienated many, including President
Lyndon B. Johnson, who was escalating America’s military involvement
in Vietnam. Some critics said King was embracing the bugaboo of the
day, communism. Rev. Mark Whitlock, pastor of Christ Our Redeemer AME
Church in Irvine, said King’s words in the last years of his life were
received much as the oratory of Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Wright,
has been received today.

“King wins the Nobel, pushes the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights
act, he’s considered (an) American hero,” Whitlock said. “And then
here comes the Vietnam War, King saying America is the most violent
nation and will pay for what it has done. He’s uninvited by the
president. Pushed aside. “For me, he was the Rev. Wright of that day,”
Whitlock added. “Wright’s words were highly emotional, and had a lot
of toxicity, but they’re in line with the Old Testament prophets like
Jeremiah and Isaiah, and they certainly were in line with Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.”

King said in the weeks before his death that he agonized over
criticizing his country, especially at a time of war, but that he had
to speak out, to goad it toward its great ideals, and great promise.
“America …. gave the black man a bad check that’s been bouncing all
around,” King said in March, 1968. “… You are even unjustly spending
$500,000 to kill a single Viet Cong soldier, while you spend only $53
a year per person for everybody categorized as poverty-stricken.’
Instead of spending $35 billion every year to fight an unjust, ill-
considered war in Vietnam and $20 billion to put a man on the moon, we
need to put God’s children on their own two feet.”

King was preparing a speech in the same vein 40 years ago when he
broke away from his writing to have dinner with friends. He stepped
out of his room and onto the second floor landing which ran the length
of the Lorraine Motel. His driver admonished him to get a coat because
the night would be chilly; King agreed, according to historical
accounts. At 6:01 p.m. witnesses heard a noise, like a car backfiring
or a firecracker exploding. King collapsed, blood gushing from his
face. A rifle bullet had pierced his jaw, tore through his neck and
severed his spinal cord. He was pronounced dead less than an hour

James Earl Ray, a racist with a rap sheet, was convicted of the
murder. Conspiracy theorists still whisper about possible government
involvement, though no credible study has produced such evidence. Back
in 1965 – when Bernard P. King, now rabbi emeritus with Congregation
Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine, marched with King and thousands of others
into Montgomery, Ala. – few could imagine that someday King would be
honored with a national holiday.

Still, King the rabbi doesn’t see much parallel between Martin Luther
King Jr. and Obama’s former pastor, Wright. “I think Dr. King was head
and shoulders above most of the leaders of his time. He was caught
between Malcolm X and the black power movement, accused of being a
communist. And yet he maintained his integrity, and constantly strove
to have nonviolent protest,” Rabbi King said. “Dr. King really tried
to bring people together. Maybe that’s not fashionable anymore.”

The War Over King’s Legacy
BY Vern E. Smith and Jon Meacham

On the eve of his murder, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream was turning
dark. Worried about poverty and Vietnam, he was growing more radical–
and that, his family says, is why he was killed. Was the real King a
saint, a subversive–or both?

The sun was about to set. On Thursday, April 4, 1968, Martin Luther
King Jr. had retreated to room 306 of the Lorraine Motel, worrying
about a sanitation strike in Memphis and working on his sermon for
Sunday. Its title: “Why America May Go to Hell.” For King, whose focus
had shifted from civil rights to antiwar agitation and populist
economics, the Dream was turning dark. He had been depressed, sleeping
little and suffering from migraines. In Washington, his plans for a
massive Poor People’s Campaign were in disarray. In Memphis, King’s
first march with striking garbage men had degenerated into riot when
young black radicals–not, as in the glory days, angry state troopers–
broke King’s nonviolent ranks. By 5 p.m. he was hungry and looked
forward to a soul-food supper. Always fastidious-a prince of the
church–King shaved, splashed on cologne and stepped onto the balcony.
He paused; a .30-06 rifle shot slammed King back against the wall, his
arms stretched out to his sides as if he were being crucified.

The Passion was complete. As he lay dying, the popular beatification
was already underway: Martin Luther King Jr., general and martyr to
the greatest moral crusade on the nation’s racial battlefield. For
most Americans the story seems so straightforward. He was a prophet,
our own Gandhi, who led the nation out of the darkness of Jim Crow.
His Promised Land was the one he conjured on the steps of the Lincoln
Memorial in 1963, a place where his “four little children… will not
be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their

Now, 30 years after his assassination, that legend is under fresh
assault–from King’s own family and many of his aging lieutenants. His
widow, Coretta, and his heirs are on the front lines of a quiet but
pitched battle over the manner of his death and the meaning of his
life. They believe James Earl Ray, King’s convicted assassin, is
innocent and that history has forgotten the real Martin Luther King.
To his family, King was murdered because he was no longer the King of
the March on Washington, simply asking for the whites only signs to
come down. He had grown radical: the King of 1968 was trying to build
an interracial coalition to end the war in Vietnam and force major
economic reforms–starting with guaranteed annual incomes for all.
They charge that the government, probably with Lyndon Johnson’s
knowledge, feared King might topple the “power structure” and had him
assassinated. “The economic movement was why he was killed, frankly,”
Martin Luther King III told NEWSWEEK. “That was frightening to the
powers that be.” They allege there were political reasons, too. “RFK
was considering him as a vice presidential candidate,” says Dexter,
King’s third child. “It’s not widely known or discussed, [but]
obviously those watching him knew of it. They [Kennedy and King] were
both considered powerful and influential in terms of bringing together
a multiracial coalition.”

So who was the real Martin Luther King Jr.–the integrationist
preacher of the summer of 1963 or the leftist activist of the spring
of 1968? The question is not just academic.  Its competing answers
shed light on enduring–and urgent–tensions between white and black
America over race, class and conspiracy. Most whites want King to be a
warm civic memory, an example of the triumph of good over evil. For
many African-Americans, however, the sanitizing of King’s legacy, and
suspicions about a plot to kill him, are yet another example of how
larger forces–including the government that so long enslaved them-
hijack their history and conspire against them. In a strange way, the
war over King’s legacy is a sepia-toned O.J. trial, and what you
believe depends on who you are.

The Kings, a family still struggling to find its footing personally
and politically, are understandably attracted to the grander theories
about King’s life and death. A government conspiracy to kill a
revolutionary on the rise is more commensurate with the greatness of
the target than a hater hitting a leader who may have been on the cool
side of the mountain. The truth, as always, is more complicated than
legend. People who were around Robert Kennedy say it is highly
unlikely that there was serious consideration of an RFK-King ticket.
“I never heard Kennedy talk about any vice presidential
possibilities,” says historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a Kennedy aide.
And though there was almost certainly some kind of small-time plot to
kill King, 30 years of speculation and investigation has produced no
convincing proof that James Earl Ray was part of a government-led

The real King was in fact both radical and pragmatist, prophet and
pol. He understood that the clarity of Birmingham and Selma was gone
forever, and sensed the tricky racial and political terrain ahead. He
knew the country was embarking on a long twilight struggle against
poverty and violence–necessarily more diffuse, and more arduous, than
the fight against Jim Crow. Jealousies among reformers, always high,
would grow even worse; once the target shifted to poverty, it would be
tough to replicate the drama that had led to the Civil Rights and
Voting Rights Acts in 1964 and ’65. “We’ve got some difficult days
ahead,” he preached the night before he died.

King was an unlikely martyr to begin with. On Dec. 1, 1955, Rosa Parks
declined to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus.
King was not quite 27; Coretta had just given birth to their first
child, Yolanda. E. D. Nixon, another Montgomery pastor, wanted to host
a boycott meeting at King’s Dexter Avenue Baptist Church–not because
of King but because the church was closest to downtown. When the
session ran long, a frustrated minister got up to leave, whispering to
King, “This is going to fizzle out. I’m going.” King replied, “I would
like to go, too, but it’s in my church.”

He took up the burden, however, and his greatness emerged. He led
waves of courageous ordinary people on the streets of the South, from
the bus boycott to the Freedom Rides. Behind his public dignity, King
was roiled by contradictions and self-doubts. He wasn’t interested in
money, yet favored silk suits; he summoned a nation to moral
reckoning, yet had a weakness for women. He made powerful enemies: J.
Edgar Hoover obsessed over King. The FBI, worried that he was under
communist influence, wiretapped and harassed the preacher from 1962
until his death.

Hoover may have been overestimating his foe, particularly after 1965.
On the streets, the black-power movement thought King’s philosophy of
nonviolence was out of date. Within the system King fared little
better. “The years before ’68 were a time when people in Detroit would
call us to march for civil rights–come to Chicago, come to L.A.,”
Jesse Jackson says. “But by the ’70s, you had mayors who were doing
the work every day.” King felt this chill wind in Cleveland, when he
campaigned for Carl Stokes, the city’s first successful black mayoral
candidate. The night Stokes won, King waited in a hotel room for the
invitation to join the celebrations. The call never came.

King took the change in climate hard. He told his congregation that
“life is a continual story of shattered dreams.” “Dr. King kept
saying,” John Lewis recalls, ” ‘Where do we go? How do we get there?’
” According to David J. Garrow’s Pulitzer Prize-winning King
biography, “Bearing the Cross,” he had found one answer while reading
Ramparts magazine at lunch one day in 1967. Coming across photos of
napalmed Vietnamese kids, King pushed away his plate of food: “Nothing
will ever taste any good for me until I do everything I can to end
that war.”

Look at this from the eyes of King’s family. He is attacking the war
and poverty. He is planning to “dislocate” daily life in the capital
by bringing the nation’s impoverished to camp out in Washington. “He
was about to wreck this country,” says Hosea Williams, “and they
realized they couldn’t stop him, and they killed him.” But it did not
seem that way to Williams–or to King–in real time. The Poor People’s
Campaign was having so much trouble turning out marchers that one
organizer, James Gibson, wrote Williams a terse memo just two weeks
before King was to die. “If this is to be a progress report,” Gibson
told Williams, “I can stop now; there has been none!” The march was to
be a model for multiethnic protest–a forerunner to the Rainbow
Coalition. The early returns–and King knew this–were not good. The
Southern Christian Leadership Conference was riven as the calculus
changed. “I do not think I am at the point where a Mexican can sit in
and call strategy on a Steering Committee,” one SCLC aide said.

What would have become of King? His lieutenants do not believe he
could have kept up the emotional and physical pace of the previous 13
years. They doubt he would have run for office despite speculation
about RFK or a presidential bid with Benjamin Spock. Nor do they think
he would have pulled a Gandhi and gone to live with the poor. (“Martin
would give you anything, but he liked nice things,” says one King
hand. “He would not have put on sackcloth.”)

A more likely fate: pastoring Ebenezer Baptist Church and using his
Nobel platform to speak out–on war and peace, the inner cities,
apartheid. King would have stood by liberalism: conservatives who use
his words to fight affirmative action are almost certainly wrong. “At
the end of his life,” says Julian Bond, “King was saying that a nation
that has done something to the Negro for hundreds of years must now do
something for him.” Had he lived, King might have been the only man
with the standing to frame the issue of the ghettos in moral terms. On
the other hand, he might have become a man out of time, frustrated by
preaching about poverty to a prosperous country.

The fight over King’s legacy resonates beyond the small circles of
family and historians. To the Malcolm X-saturated hip-hop generation,
“by any means necessary” is a better rap beat than “I have a dream.”
“For kids outside the system, King has no relevancy,” says Andre
Green, a freshman at Simon’s Rock College in Massachusetts. “But for
the upwardly mobile, assimilated black youth, King is a hero because
he opened the doors.” That is true of older African-Americans as well,
though there is a rethinking of integration, too. Some black mayors
now oppose busing even if it means largely all-African-American

On the last Saturday of his life, sitting in his study at Ebenezer,
King fretted and contemplated a fast–a genuine sacrifice for a man
who joked about how his collars were growing tighter. He mused about
getting out of the full-time movement, maybe becoming president of
Morehouse College. Then his spirits started to rise. “He preached
himself out of the gloom,” says Jackson. “We must turn a minus into a
plus,” King said, “a stumbling block into a steppingstone–we must go
on anyhow.” Three decades later, he would want all of us to do the

Tungsten-Filled 1 Kilo Gold Bar Found In The UK
by Tyler Durden on 03/24/2012

The last time a story of Tungsten-filled gold appeared on the scene was just two years ago, and involved a 500  gram bar of gold full of tungsten, at the W.C. Heraeus foundry, the world’s largest metal refiner and fabricator. It also became known that said “gold” bar originated from an unnamed bank. It is now time to rekindle the Tungsten Spirits with a report from ABC Bullion of Australia, which provides photographic evidence of a new gold bar that has been drilled out and filled with tungsten rods, this time not in Germany but in an unnamed city in the UK, where it was intercepted by a scrap metals dealer, and was supplied with its original certificate. The reason the bar attracted attention is that it was 2 grams underweight. Upon cropping it was uncovered that about 30-40% of the bar weight was tungsten. So two documented incidents in two years: isolated? Or indication of the same phenomonenon of precious metal debasement that marked the declining phase of the Roman empire. Only then it was relatively public for anyone who cared to find out on their own. Now, with the bulk of popular physical gold held in top secret, private warehouses around the world, where it allegedly backs the balance sheets of the world’s central banks, yet nobody can confirm its existence, nor audit the actual gold content, it is understandable why increasingly more are wondering: just how much gold is there? And alongside that – while gold, (or is it GLD?), can be rehypothecated, can one do the same with tungsten?

From ABC Bullion:

ABC Bullion received the following email from one of our trusted suppliers this week.


  • It was not ABC Bullion that purchased this bar, the email and photos were sent to us as a general warning.
  • I xxxx’ed out the city’s name to avoid any second guessing as to the name of the dealer.


Attached are photographs of a legitimate Metalor 1000gm Au bar that has been drilled out and filled with Tungsten (W).

This bar was purchased by staff of a scrap dealer in xxxxx, UK yesterday. The bar appeared to be perfect other than the fact that it was 2gms underweight. It was checked by hand-held xrf and showed 99.98% Au. Being Tungsten, it would not be ferro-magnetic. The bar was supplied with the original certificate.

The owner of the business that purchased the bar only became suspicious when he realized the weight discrepancy and had the bar cropped. He estimates between 30-40% of the weight of the bar to be Tungsten.

This is very worrying and reinforces the lengths that people are willing to go to profit from the current high metal prices. Please be careful.

Photos of the cropped bars: 1000g Gold bar cut showing inserted tungsten rods

Two halves of the cropped bar:

by Theo Gray  /   03.14.2008

“On Wednesday, the BBC reported that millions of dollars in gold at the central bank of Ethiopia has turned out to be fake: What were supposed to be bars of solid gold turned out to be nothing more than gold-plated steel. They tried to sell the stuff to South Africa and it was sent back when the South Africans noticed this little problem. This is an amazing story for two reasons. First, that an institution like a central bank could get ripped off this way, and second that the people responsible used such a lousy excuse for fake gold. I consider myself something of an expert on fake gold (I’m not really, I just think I am) ever since I was asked to give advice on the subject to the author Damien Lewis for his recent thriller, Cobra Gold. I worked out in detail for him how you could make really convincing fake gold, and ended up as a minor character in the novel, where I am known as “Goldfinger Gus”.

The problem with making good-quality fake gold is that gold is remarkably dense. It’s almost twice the density of lead, and two-and-a-half times more dense than steel. You don’t usually notice this because small gold rings and the like don’t weigh enough to make it obvious, but if you’ve ever held a larger bar of gold, it’s absolutely unmistakable: The stuff is very, very heavy.

The standard gold bar for bank-to-bank trade, known as a “London good delivery bar” weighs 400 troy ounces (over thirty-three pounds), yet is no bigger than a paperback novel. A bar of steel the same size would weigh only thirteen and a half pounds. According to the news, the authorities have arrested pretty much everyone involved, from the people who sold the bank the gold, to bank officials, to the chemists responsible for testing and approving it on receipt.

The problem is, anyone who so much as picked up one of these bars should have known immediately that they were fake, no fancy test required. The weight alone is an instant dead giveaway. Even a forklift operator lifting a palette full of them should have noticed that his machine wasn’t working hard enough. I think they must have been swapped out while in storage: Someone walked in each day with a new fake gold bar and walked out with a real one. If they were fake on arrival then everyone who handled them in any way must have either had no experience with gold or been in on the scam.

Now, for me the more interesting question is, how do you make a fake gold bar that at least passes the pick-it-up test? The problem is that there are very few metals that are as dense as gold, and with only two exceptions they all cost as much or more than gold. The first exception is depleted uranium, which is cheap if you’re a government, but hard for individuals to get. It’s also radioactive, which could be a bit of an issue.

The second exception is a real winner: tungsten. Tungsten is vastly cheaper than gold (maybe $30 dollars a pound compared to $12,000 a pound for gold right now). And remarkably, it has exactly the same density as gold, to three decimal places. The main differences are that it’s the wrong color, and that it’s much, much harder than gold. (Very pure gold is quite soft, you can dent it with a fingernail.)

A top-of-the-line fake gold bar should match the color, surface hardness, density, chemical, and nuclear properties of gold perfectly. To do this, you could could start with a tungsten slug about 1/8-inch smaller in each dimension than the gold bar you want, then cast a 1/16-inch layer of real pure gold all around it. This bar would feel right in the hand, it would have a dead ring when knocked as gold should, it would test right chemically, it would weigh *exactly* the right amount, and though I don’t know this for sure, I think it would also pass an x-ray fluorescence scan, the 1/16″ layer of pure gold being enough to stop the x-rays from reaching any tungsten. You’d pretty much have to drill it to find out it’s fake. (Unless, of course, central bank gold inspectors are wise to this trick and have developed a test for it: Something involving speed of sound say, or more powerful x-rays, or perhaps neutron activation analysis. If bars like this are actually a common problem, you certainly could devise a quick, non-destructive test for them, and for all I know, they have. Except, apparently, in Ethiopia.)

Such a top-quality fake London good delivery bar would cost about $50,000 to produce because it’s got a lot of real gold in it, but you’d still make a nice profit considering that a real one is worth closer to $400,000. A lower budget version could be made by using the same under-sized tungsten slug but casting lead-antimony alloy around it (to match the hardness, sound, and feel of gold), then electroplating on a heavy coating of gold. Such a bar would still feel and sound right and be only very slightly underweight, while costing less than $500 to produce in quantity. It would not pass x-ray fluorescence, and whether it passes a chemical test would depend on how thick the electroplating is.

This is the solution I recommended for Cobra Gold, because they only needed their fake gold to pass a field inspection, which is to say, someone picking it up and knowing what gold should feel like when you lift it. You may quibble for other aspects of the plot if you like, but I think the fake gold would have worked. And let me tell you, it’s a sad day for criminal masterminds when my fictional fake gold, designed only to trick a terrorist cell, is so much better than the real fake gold used to rip off a real government bank for millions of real dollars.”

Make Everything Golden
Using sheets so thin they’re measured in atoms
by Theodore Gray  /  05.03.2005

Dept.: Gray Matter
Element: Gold
Project: Gilding
Cost: $60
Time: One hour

Malleable things can be hammered thinner without breaking; ductile things can be stretched thinner without snapping. Every material has its limit, but with gold, that limit is just a few hundred atoms thick. Gold is the most malleable and the most ductile of all metals. A cube of it about 21/2 inches on edge could be beaten out to cover an entire football field (at a cost of roughly $68,000, plus beating fees). Gold this thin is called gold leaf, and the ancient art of applying it for decoration is called gilding.

How thin is gold leaf? Using my steel rolling mill, I can make gold foil about one thousandth of an inch thick, similar to aluminum foil. Thin, sure, but gold leaf is nearly 500 times as thin as that. Only then does it become affordable enough and flexible enough to be used almost like paint to cover finely detailed carvings or anything else you want to be shiny for years to come. To make gold leaf, start with gold foil, interleave a few dozen squares of it with layers of special vellum (so the foil sheets don´t stick to one another), and beat the heck out of the stack with a 16-pound hammer for many hours, turning the squares into larger squares of thinner foil. Then cut the sheets in quarters, restack them, and pound them out again. The malleability of gold is what allows the sheets to just keep getting thinner and thinner without splitting. (OK, I admit, I tried and failed at this. Just haven´t got the arm for it. Or the proper vellum, or the family secrets handed down over generations. Making gold leaf is, like other ancient arts, not quite the garage project it might seem.)

Gilding, on the other hand, is not a particularly difficult skill. To gild a home-run baseball, I used commercially prepared gold leaf from an art-supply store. The process is simple: Paint the object with a sticky liquid called gold size, lay the sheets of gold leaf on, and rub them in. The catch is the part where you try to pick up the leaf. Don´t even think about using your fingers-this stuff is more like a soap bubble than a sheet of metal and will start wrapping around your fingers and then tear the instant you try to unwrap it. Brushes known as gilders´ tips, made of red-squirrel hair (none of that gray-squirrel crap, mind you) are used to pick up the sheets by static electricity. It takes a delicate touch, but at $2 per four-inch-by-four-inch sheet, you´re motivated to learn fast.

Gold leaf instantly welds to itself. Overlapping layers fuse together invisibly when rubbed in, so even if you´re sloppy, the end result will look smooth. It´s OK to touch it with your fingers at this point because the gold size will hold it in place. Gilded objects survive from 5,000 years ago (think King Tut´s mask), proving that gold is impervious to air, water, alkalis and most acids, no matter how thin it is.

1. Mini rolling mill squeezes one gram of gold into foil, which is still about 500 times as thick as gold leaf.
2. Gold leaf held to a squirrel-hair brush by static electricity, ready to be applied.

Fake fears over Ethiopia’s gold
by Elizabeth Blunt  /  13 March 2008
The price of real gold is currently soaring

Ethiopia’s national bank has been told to inspect all the gold in its vaults to determine its authenticity. It follows the discovery that some of the “gold” it had bought for millions of dollars was gold-plated steel. The first hint that something was wrong reportedly came when the Ethiopian central bank exported a consignment of gold bars to South Africa. The South Africans sent them back, complaining that they had been sold gilded steel. An investigation revealed that the bank had bought a consignment of fake gold from a supplier, who is now under

Other arrests followed, including business associates of the main accused; national bank officials; and chemists from the Geological Survey of Ethiopia, whose job it is to assay the bank’s purchases of gold and certify that they are real. But what has clearly now got the government even more worried is that another different batch of gold in the bank’s vaults has also been found to be fake, and this time it was gold which had been there for several years, after being seized from smugglers trying to take it to Djibouti.

The Ethiopian parliament’s budget and finance committee ordered the inspection of all gold in the national bank’s vaults. A report from the auditor-general on the affair is expected to be presented to parliament during its current session. Gold is mined in Ethiopia in considerable quantities, and a trader selling gold to the central bank has to have it tested and certified by the Geological Survey. Whether the bank bought fake gold in the first place, or whether real gold from the vaults has been swapped for gilded steel, the fraud has cost the bank many millions of dollars, and it must have involved collusion on a considerable scale.

Gold May Have Too Much Glow
by Joby Warrick  /  August 14, 1999

It was one of the most secretive missions at a factory that was all about secrecy: Nuclear warheads, retired from service and destined for the junkyard, were trucked at night to the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant to be dismantled, hacked into unrecognizable pieces and buried. Workers used hammers and acetylene torches to strip away bits of gold and other metals from the warheads’ corrosion-proof plating and circuitry. Useless parts were dumped into trenches. But the gold – some of it still radioactive – was tossed into a smelter and molded into shiny ingots.

Exactly what happened next is one of the most intriguing questions to arise from a workers’ lawsuit against the former operators of the U.S.-owned uranium plant in western Kentucky. Three employees contend that the plant failed for years to properly screen gold and other metals for radioactivity. Some metals, they say, may have been highly radioactive when they left Paducah, bound perhaps for private markets.

The claim – based partly on circumstantial evidence – is now being investigated by Department of Energy officials who are also probing the workers’ accounts of plutonium contamination and alleged illegal dumping of radioactive waste at the uranium plant. “It is my belief that these recycled metals were injected into commerce in a contaminated form,” Ronald Fowler, a radiation safety technician at the plant, states in court documents that were unsealed this week by the Justice Department.

The investigation comes amid heightened scrutiny of government efforts to recycle valuable metals piling up at more than 16 factories that are part of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. In the past week, congressional leaders, industry officials and scores of environmental groups have called on the Clinton administration to reconsider a controversial Department of Energy program to recycle scrap metal from nuclear weapons facilities into products that could end up in household goods or even children’s braces.

Opponents’ concerns soared this week with revelations, first reported in The Washington Post, that plutonium and other highly radioactive metals slipped into the Paducah plant over a 23-year period in shipments of contaminated uranium. The plutonium accumulated over decades in nickel-plated pipes where uranium was processed into fuel for bombs, government documents show. Smaller amounts of tainted uranium went to sister plants at Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Portsmouth, Ohio, the records show.

Scrap nickel from those plants is now the primary target of the Energy Department’s metal recycling program, which would be run jointly by the federal government, the state of Tennessee and a private contractor, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (BNFL). “If DOE denied or didn’t know plutonium was present at Paducah, why should we trust them to release waste from identical production plants into products ranging from intrauterine devices to hip replacements?” asked Wenonah Hauter of the watchdog group Public Citizen, one of 185 organizations to sign a letter to Vice President Gore Thursday demanding a halt to the program.

Recovering gold and other valuable metals from retired nuclear weapons had been a little-known mission of the government’s uranium enrichment plants over the past five decades. At Paducah, the process began in the 1950s and was conducted under extraordinary security, with heavily armed guards escorting warheads into the plant under cover of darkness. Garland “Bud” Jenkins, one of three Paducah workers involved in the lawsuit filed under seal in June, says he worked for several years in Paducah’s metals program recovering gold, lead, aluminum and nickel from nuclear weapons and production equipment. “We melted the gold flakes in a furnace to create gold bars,” Jenkins said in court documents. “The gold was never surveyed radiologically prior to its release, to my knowledge.”

Jenkins also says he never saw tests performed on nickel and aluminum ingots that were hauled out of the plant in trucks. In later years, when plant managers did begin screening the metals, many were found to be contaminated, he said. Hundreds of nickel ingots are still stored at the plant, too tainted to go anywhere, he said. A plant report included in the lawsuit filings may shed light on the degree of contamination in the gold. In a radiological survey of the plant last year, technicians discovered gold flakes inside an old ingot mold used for gold recovery. The fish scale-sized flakes were tested and found to emit radiation at a rate of 500 millirems an hour, the report said. By comparison, the average person receives between 200 and 300 millirems each year from all sources, including X-rays, radon gas and cosmic radiation from space. “If you had a wedding ring made out of those flakes you’d be getting twice as much radiation in an hour as most people get in a year,” said Joseph R. Egan, a lawyer representing the employees.

Fowler, the radiation safety technician, said he filed a report on the discovery of the radioactive gold in December but received no response from the plant’s management. Nothing further was done to investigate “the possibility that [the plant] may have contaminated the nation’s gold supply” at Fort Knox, he said. Plant officials shed little light on the process. U.S. Enrichment Corp., the plant’s current operator, says gold recovery at Paducah was the responsibility of the Energy Department. Department officials, in a response to written questions from The Post, acknowledged that gold was recovered from nuclear weapons at Paducah. But, “since these actions occurred many years ago, information regarding their past dispositions is not readily available,” the statement said.

In a letter to Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.)., department officials strongly defended their efforts to salvage nickel and other valuable metals that have been piling up at nuclear complex sites for years. “Let me assure you that the safety of the public and workers and compliance with state and federal regulations are of paramount importance,” said Undersecretary of Energy T.J. Glauthier. Glauthier said BNFL’s license requires that “any metals released for unrestricted use will not pose a risk to human health or the environment.”

The recycling program, announced in 1996 by Gore as part of his “reinventing government” initiative, was touted at the time as a “win-win” deal for the environment, industry and taxpayers. BNFL, which was awarded the recycling contract in a noncompetitive bid, has already begun recycling some of the 100,000 tons of radioactively contaminated metal that were once part of the defunct K-25 complex at Oak Ridge, the world’s first full-scale uranium enrichment plant. Eventually the program expanded to Paducah and other facilities.

Purifying nickel is technically difficult because the radioactive contamination extends below the surface of the metal. According to department officials, BNFL was awarded the contract because it has developed a unique technology that can safely remove nearly all of the contaminants. But opponents say the technology has never been proven on such a large scale. Moreover, they note, there are no federal standards for releasing contaminated metal into the marketplace. Previous attempts to set such standards in the early 1990s were abandoned because of public opposition.

And, opponents add, the lack of restrictions on the recycled metal leaves the public in the dark about which products may have come from contaminated scrap. Even if radioactivity levels are low, consumers are entitled to an informed choice when buying materials that might be used by children, activists said. “The DOE has admitted they can’t protect the safety of their workers and misled them,” said Robert Wages, executive vice president of the Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union. “Now DOE wants to dump radioactive metals into everything from baby rattles to zippers . . . and tell us not to worry.”

Because there are no federal standards, the Energy Department’s recycling program relies on the state of Tennessee to set guidelines and regulate the process. In June, a federal judge sharply criticized the arrangement, saying the DOE had effectively thwarted public debate of an issue in which “the potential for environmental harm is great.” But U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler rejected an attempt by labor and environmental groups to halt the recycling program, citing a law that prohibits courts from delaying federal cleanup of contaminated sites. Still, in unusually blunt language, the judge accused the Energy Department of “startling and worrisome” behavior in its alleged attempts to avoid federal oversight and public review. “There has been no opportunity at all for public scrutiny or input on such a matter of such grave importance,” Kessler wrote in her opinion. “The lack of public scrutiny is only compounded by the fact that the recycling process which BNFL intends to use is entirely experimental at this stage.”

from Paul Mylchreest

Let’s consider the run-up to Rome’s hyperinflation. I think this comment from “Good Money, Bad Money, and Runaway Inflation” resonates with what’s happening in the US today:

“Severus Alexander (AD 222-235) tried to reform by going back to the denarius but, once started, this path of runaway inflation and financial irresponsibility on the part of the imperial government proved impossible to control.”

It also seems that the hyperinflation was preceded by some kind of banking crisis, which is an interesting parallel. From “Demise and Fall of the Augustan Monetary System” by Koenraad Verboven:

“Papyri show it was common for private individuals to deposit money at a bank and to make and accept payments through bankers.Bankers in the west disappear from view around the middle of the 3rd c… A famous papyrus from Oxyrhynchus from 260 CE shows exchange bankers closing in order to avoid having to change the ‘imperial money’. The strategos ordered the exchange bankers to reopen and accept all genuine coins and warned businessmen to do the same. In 266 CE we find for the first time transactions being expressed in ‘ptolemaeic’ or ‘old silver’ as opposed to ‘new silver’.”

The chart shows how inflation remained relatively subdued until a tipping point was reached in the late- 260s A.D Monetary systems can absorb substantial abuse before there is a dramatic impact on the price level. For example, the debasement of the coinage was already accelerating in the early part of the third century A.D., before plunging in the latter part. Indeed, the chart below (apologies for the quality) only shows the trend up to 253 AD. By around 290 AD, the coins were only dipped in silver to give them a coating (<0.5%).



“A popular and recurring conspiracy theory, as alleged by Edward Durrell, Norman Dodd, Tom Valentine, Peter Beter and others, claims that the vault is mostly empty and that most of the gold in Fort Knox was removed to London in the late 1960s by President Lyndon Johnson. [3] In response, on September 23, 1974, Senator Walter Huddleston of Kentucky, twelve congressmen, and about 100 members of the news media toured the vault and opened various cells and doors, each filled with gold. Radio reporter Bill Evans, when asked if it seemed like the gold might have been moved in just for the visit, replied that “all I can say is that I saw gold there” and that it seemed like it was always there.[4] Additionally, audits of the gold by the General Accounting Office (in cooperation with the United States Mint and the United States Customs Service in 1974 and the Treasury Department) from 1975-1981 found no discrepancies between the reported and actual amounts of gold at the Depository.[5] However, the audit has been described as a peculiar process because it was only a partial audit done over an extended period of time.[6] The report states only 21 percent of the gold bars were audited as of 1981 (the audit report’s issue date) and that the audit has “covered more than 212.7 million fine troy ounces of gold” which “represents over 80 percent of the total amount of United States-owned gold of 264.1 million fine troy ounces.”[5] A small amount of gold is removed for regularly scheduled audits to ensure the purity matches official records.[1] The theory continues to persist, however. Of this alleged scandal, the ex-general counsel of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, Peter Beter, commented: “The Watergate scandal was child’s play compared with the covered-up Fort Knox Gold Scandal”.[7]”


“This is the Dr. Beter AUDIO LETTER, 1629 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20006 Hello, my friends, this is Dr. Beter. Today is July 30, 1980, and this is my AUDIO LETTER No. 56.

In writing his stories, Ian Fleming was drawing upon his own secret weapon. That weapon was knowledge. Fleming had been a high-ranking officer of Britain’s crack Intelligence agency called MI-5. It was the British who practically invented and perfected the modern concept of Intelligence, and to this day British Intelligence remains the equal of any in the world.

When Fleming left Her Majesty’s Secret Service to become a writer, he was severely limited in what he could publish. He was bound by the restrictions of the British “Official Secrets Act.” Under that Act, Fleming would have been liable for punishment for revealing any official secret without authorization. And so Ian Fleming, the former British Intelligence officer, became what is known as a “fictionalizer”–that is, he started with factual knowledge but rearranged and modified it in order to create startling stories of fiction. He was always extremely careful about how he did this. He always knew that he was skirting the fringes of the Official Secrets Act. He could not afford to make a mistake, because it would have meant prison for him and possible forfeiture of pension rights; and so he always altered every situation, every secret technology, and every personality enough to avoid revealing actual secrets. It was a long and meticulous process both to protect himself and to make each final story readable. For that reason Fleming completed a new James Bond novel only about once a year. If it had all been imagination, as many people believe, he would have been capable of producing a new book every few months, making himself far richer. But because his stories were all rooted in fact, secret fact, he did not dare speed up and run the risk of making a mistake.

Ian Fleming had two purposes in writing his famous series of spy novels. One purpose, of course, was to earn a very comfortable living; but beyond that he was also trying to subtly open the eyes of the reading public by the medium of fiction. Because of the Official Secrets Act he could not publish the facts that he knew as fact without modification, so he did what he felt was the next best thing, and that was to use his stories to open our minds to at least think in terms which were otherwise hidden from us. Fleming truly believed that this was something which somehow had to be done, because knowing what he knew he was not an optimistic man.

A perfect example of all of this took place with a book Fleming published 21 years ago in 1959. It was titled “GOLD FINGER.” The starting point for the book was knowledge about certain secrets. Fleming knew that there was a long-range plan to create monetary chaos for private gain and power. He also knew that a central feature of the plan was to be the secret disappearance of America’s monetary gold hoard at Fort Knox, and he knew that the kingpin of this international plot was a man with legendary greed for gold. His name: DAVID ROCKEFELLER. It was a plan that was totally unsuspected by the public. It was still the Eisenhower era, the heyday of the so-called “almighty dollar.” The dollar was good as gold, because it was backed by the world’s largest monetary gold hoard. Fort Knox was thought to be impregnable; and in those days, my friends, no one dared speak ill of the Four Rockefeller Brothers.

Ian Fleming decided to write a book that would begin to alert people to what was afoot. He could not tell the whole story, nor tell it as fact because of the Official Secrets Act; but by fictionalizing he was able to cause people to think of possibilities which would never have occurred to them otherwise. For example, in the 50’s it was a rare American who considered even the possibility of monetary turmoil. The dollar was good as gold, and that was that. Why even think about gold? Individual citizens could not own it except in jewelry. Wasn’t all the rest of it thought to be sealed up in Fort Knox? Everyone knew no one could get in there, and so we didn’t even think about it. But in his book GOLD FINGER, Fleming brought several key thoughts to our minds. He devised a fictional scheme to show that Fort Knox might not be impregnable after all. He raised the question: “What would happen to the dollar and other currencies if the Fort Knox gold were no longer available?” And he proposed the unthinkable thought that someone, if they were rich enough and greedy enough, might want to get their hands on America’s gold.

The actual GOLD FINGER story, of course, was fiction; but the basic points which I have just mentioned were fact. GOLD FINGER was published in 1959; and barely two years later in 1961, the hemorrhaging of America’s monetary gold supply began. Agents of David Rockefeller within the United States Government provided a cloak of authority called the “London Gold Pool Agreement”; and then for seven years until 1968, big Army trucks loaded with gold bullion rolled out of Fort Knox constantly–and all without a word to the public!

Some of the gold shipments during those seven years were recorded on a list kept by the United States Mint. Almost without exception the shipments listed went to the New York Assay Office, where they disappeared without any further accounting. As you may recall, the New York Assay Office was the focus of a scandal in December 1978 involving missing gold. Over 5,000 ounces had simply disappeared; but that, my friends, was a very small tip of a very large iceberg, and so the controversy over the missing millions in gold at the New York Assay Office was quickly smoothed over and covered up. They could not afford to allow any real investigation which might let the public know the truth. According to the official list of shipments I mentioned earlier, a large fraction of America’s monetary gold went to the New York Assay Office in the 60’s. There it disappeared, never to be seen again.

But, my friends, the real situation was even worse. Long ago my sources gave me hard evidence of many large gold shipments from Fort Knox which were not even listed. Five years ago this month in AUDIO LETTER No. 2 I revealed a specific example of this. It was a shipment on January 20, 1965, in which four (4) tractor-trailers loaded up at Fort Knox and then headed for railroad tracks across the river at Jeffersonville, Indiana. My sources provided me with details, including photographs, of the operation. But the shipment was one of many which did not show on any official Government list of shipments.

In June 1975, Mr. Edward Durell and my other associates were able to confront officials of the United States Mint with this example of missing shipments, and for once the confrontation took place under circumstances in which the Mint was under great pressure to respond. In the most specific terms the Bureau of the Mint was asked what was shipped out of Fort Knox in the four tractor-trailers on January 20, 1965. The written answer dated June 19, 1975 came from the then Director of the United States Mint, Mrs. Mary Brooks. She confirmed that this unlisted shipment amounted to more than one and three-quarter (1-3/4) million ounces of gold–and, my friends, it was not junk gold melted down from old coins which were confiscated from Americans in 1934. The shipment was part of America’s true monetary gold, good delivery gold which is .995 fine or better. After this admission in writing about an enormous secret shipment of gold out of Fort Knox, one would have thought that there would be fireworks, but not so!

My friend Mr. Durell showered the appropriate officials throughout the Government with this evidence of massive fraud at Fort Knox, and he notified the major media and all of the appropriate leaders in Congress about this evidence. For reasons which I will explain later in this message, I believe it’s time to call attention to one of these people. He is Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee.

Proxmire loves to parade as a great defender of our financial interests in Washington. He’s famous for his so-called “Golden Fleece Award.” Proxmire searches through the Federal Budget with a fine-tooth comb, and he’s always able to find some project or contract which rightly or wrongly will look ridiculous to the public. He then trots it out, announces how much it costs, and with a great flourish gives it his Golden Fleece Award. By this and other means Proxmire is a master at maintaining his image as a protector of the American economy.

But if ever a situation deserved the Proxmire Golden Fleece Award, it is the FORT KNOX GOLD SCANDAL. The petty examples usually chosen by Proxmire fleece the American public out of perhaps hundreds of thousands or a few million dollars. It makes good publicity for Proxmire, but it’s insignificant. By contrast, the Fort Knox Gold Scandal is fleecing every one of us out of the shirt on our back. It has undermined the dollar itself, which is on its way to destruction. It has set off ever-worsening inflation even while our economy is stagnating. The Gold Scandal is fleecing us all, but what has Senator William Proxmire done about that??

Let me tell you what he has, and has not, done. For more than five years Proxmire has been among the top American leaders who have been kept informed about major developments and evidence in the Gold Scandal. He has been given the evidence I mentioned earlier about the missing shipment from Fort Knox, as well as other evidence of major discrepancies; but up to now, Proxmire has kept his lips sealed about discrepancies about America’s gold supply–with one exception. That exception took place in December 1978. Word had leaked out about the 5,000-or so missing ounces of gold at the New York Assay Office worth over $3,000,000 at today’s prices. As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Proxmire immediately jumped on the story. Frowning in disapproval, he proclaimed that this would have to be looked into. Hearing those words from the champion of the Golden Fleece Award, the public relaxed and quickly forgot about it. And almost as quickly, Senator William Proxmire made sure he forgot about it too. To this day, no real investigation has ever taken place over the missing gold at the New York Assay Office.

Proxmire’s failure to follow up that $3,000,000 gold discrepancy was bad enough, but it’s nothing compared to his apparent disinterest in investigating the truth about the Fort Knox Gold Scandal. The case of the missing Fort Knox shipment is a case in point. At today’s prices, that one shipment alone was worth more than one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000)–not a mere million but 1000 times a million! And that, in truth, was only one example. There were many unreported shipments like that. That is why the Treasury figures, which show a huge remaining American gold hoard, are a fraud–a total fraud. And that’s why the United States could auction off only a small amount of junk gold over a period of time and then had to stop. And that’s why the United States dollar is no longer “as good as gold”; instead, it’s fast becoming worth less than the paper it’s printed on.

Senator William Proxmire, like many others trusted by the American public, has been given massive evidence about all of this; but his actions so far have helped only those who have taken our own gold in order to fleece us of everything we own. Later in this message I will have more to say about Senator William Proxmire and the Fort Knox Gold Scandal. But for now I want to finish the story of Ian Fleming’s aborted efforts to alert the public about things like these. As I already explained, his principle was “Fictionalize to open eyes”; but after his untimely death in 1964 his stories were seized upon and warped, especially in movies, for the opposite purpose. The new purpose became “Fictionalize to CLOSE eyes.” Nothing could be done to alter and neutralize Fleming’s books once they had been published, so instead attention was drawn away from the books to the James Bond movies; and as the movies were in preparation, disinformation agents were planted on the scene to guide the process. As a result, the James Bond who emerged on film was a very different character from the one in Fleming’s novels. The basic story lines remained the same, but in many subtle ways the psychology was radically changed. The movies retained the adventure, fast action, dazzling secret technologies, and bold plots which Fleming had pioneered; but by clever use of satirical humor, every James Bond movie ended up by laughing at itself. Secret weapons were exaggerated or twisted so as to make them entertaining but also ridiculous; and by filling the movies with strange characters and never-ending gimmicks, viewers were distracted from the underlying warnings of the basic plot.

The GOLD FINGER story was a perfect example of all this. Fleming’s original novel called attention to something which most readers would never have thought about otherwise. That was the potential relationship between Fort Knox gold and international monetary chaos, and through his fictional plot he also planted the idea that the legendary Fort Knox bullion depository might not be invulnerable after all. But these lessons were rarely, if ever, realized by those who saw only the movie; instead, the typical viewer walked out of the movie laughing. It was obviousthat what he had seen could happen only in fiction, and from that point onward he was programmed to react with disbelief if he should ever hear of tampering with Fort Knox gold. Such a thing could only be fiction–it was just too ridiculous ever to really happen.

This is the attitude I encountered more than seven years ago when I began giving public warnings about deliberate plans for economic chaos. I myself was first alerted to the Fort Knox Gold Scandal by none other than British Intelligence in London after completing a secret mission for Queen Elizabeth in Zaire; and in my book THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE DOLLAR, I outlined the overall plan, including the unseen role of America’s gold. I had one major advantage which Ian Fleming did not have. The United States does not yet have an Official Secrets Act like that of Britain, and so I was not forced to fictionalize. Instead I was able to give the real plans and real names of those responsible for things to come.

The prototype for Ian Fleming’s GOLD FINGER of two decades ago was none other than David Rockefeller, and in my book I showed in detail how he played his kingpin role in the plan to destroy our economy. I described how this was leading to a collapsing dollar, skyrocketing gold prices, a stagnating economy, spiraling financial problems for State and local governments, urban unrest, and eventually NUCLEAR WAR. But when David Rockefeller himself was interviewed about my book, even he resorted to the technique “Fictionalize to close eyes.” His comment about THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE DOLLAR was: “Interesting science fiction.”

From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]



The Proof Is in the Paper Trail

While reporting “The Gaza Bombshell,” David Rose acquired an
extraordinary trove of documents showing how the U.S. pressured its
Palestinian allies to take on Hamas—a strategy that proved disastrous
when Hamas staged what appears to have been a pre-emptive coup in Gaza
last June. Here are some of the key records he discovered.

1  These “talking points” were left behind in Ramallah by a State
Department envoy. Palestinian and American officials say they formed
the basis for State Department official Jake Walles’s discussions with
Palestinian president and Fatah party leader Mahmoud Abbas in late
October or early November 2006. According to the memo, Walles urged
Abbas to dissolve the Hamas-led government if Hamas refused to
recognize Israel’s right to exist, promising that the U.S. and its
Arab allies would strengthen Fatah’s military forces to deal with the
likely backlash from Hamas.

2  “Plan B” refers to a State Department strategy that was devised
after Abbas made a deal in January 2007 to form a unity government
with Fatah and Hamas—much to America’s dismay. This early, two-page
draft, which has been authenticated by senior State Department
officials who knew of its content at the time and by Palestinians who
saw it in Abbas’s office, outlines possible scenarios for Abbas to
expel Hamas from power and to boost his security forces to deal with
the inevitable violent fallout.

3  Plan B evolved into this “action plan for the Palestinian
Presidency”—a blueprint for a full-blown coup against Abbas’s own
unity government. This was one of several drafts presented by a joint
American-Jordanian team. Officials who were knowledgeable at the time
say it originated with the State Department. Its security appendix
reveals details of the secret talks between Palestinian strongman
Muhammad Dahlan and Lieutenant General Keith Dayton.

4  The final draft of the action plan adopted large sections of the
previous documents wholesale, but presented the plan as if it had been
conceived from the beginning by Abbas and his staff. This draft has
also been authenticated by officials knowledgeable at the time. Note
especially the third section, on security.

Michael Hogan interviews David Rose


Iran Contra 2.0: How the Bush Admin Lied to Congress and
Armed Fatah to Provoke Palestinian Civil War Aiming to Overthrow Hamas

March 05, 2008

In its latest issue, Vanity Fair reports that the White House tried to
organize the armed overthrow of the Hamas-led goverment after Hamas
swept Palestinian elections two years ago. According to the article,
the Bush administration lied to Congress and boosted military support
for rival Palestinian faction Fatah in the aim of provoking a
Palestinian civil war they thought Hamas would lose. Vanity Fair
dubbed the episode “Iran Contra 2.0”—a reference to the Reagan
administration’s funding of Nicaraguan Contras by covertly selling
arms to Iran. We speak with David Rose, the journalist who broke the
story. [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: As Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, arrives in
the Middle East, Vanity Fair published a story that raises new
questions about the Bush administration’s role in the ongoing crisis.
The article reports the White House tried to organize the armed
overthrow of the Hamas-led government after Hamas swept Palestinian
elections two years ago. According to Vanity Fair, the administration
boosted military support for rival Palestinian faction Fatah in the
aim of provoking a Palestinian civil war they thought Hamas would
lose. Vanity Fair dubbed the episode “Iran Contra 2.0,” a reference to
the Reagan administration’s funding of Nicaraguan Contras by covertly
selling arms to Iran.

A former top Bush administration official said he believes Hamas’s
seizure of power in Gaza last year may have likely been a preemptive
measure against the anticipated US-backed coup. The official, David
Wurmser, served as Vice President Cheney’s Middle East adviser until
he resigned in July of 2007, a month after Hamas took over. Wurmser
said, “There is a stunning disconnect between the President’s call for
Middle East democracy and this policy. It directly contradicts it.”

The Bush administration is denying the story. State Department
spokesperson Tom Casey called the article “absurd,” “untrue” and

We’re joined now by journalist David Rose, author of the Vanity Fair
piece. It’s called “The Gaza Bombshell.” David Rose joins us from
London in England.

Thanks for joining us, David Rose. Lay out what you learned.

DAVID ROSE: Well, just to deal first with this administration denial,
of course, it’s just a blanket denial with no detail. But what the
piece is based on is, first of all, a series of authenticated
confidential documents, which lay out the administration’s strategy,
and, secondly, interviews that I conducted both on the record with
David Wurmser and John Bolton, the former UN ambassador, and a
considerable number of other senior officials in both the State
Department and the Pentagon, as well as officials inside the
Palestinian Authority in Ramallah and with people in Gaza, Hamas
officials in Gaza. So to say that the story is “absurd” is ridiculous.

But what it says, in a nutshell, is as you’ve already laid out, that
what the Bush administration wanted to do once Hamas won the
elections, having been warned, by the way, that Hamas would win the
elections and having no strategy in place to deal with that outcome,
what the Bush administration tried to do was, as one source put it to
me, change facts on the ground. And the strategy set out in these
documents was to persuade President Abbas, the Fatah president of the
Palestinian Authority, to sack the Hamas government in both its two
incarnations, first the Hamas-led government that took office in
January ’06 and then the so-called national unity government, the
coalition with Fatah, that took office in March ’07. He was to fire
this government, replace it with an emergency government or call new
elections, and meanwhile, Fatah would be armed, at America’s behest,
to deal with the inevitable outbreak of violence that would take
place, because Hamas, it could be predicted with certainty, would not
take that lying down.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you know this?

DAVID ROSE: Well, as I said, because we have documents that lay out
the strategy, which have been obtained from Palestinian sources, but
authenticated by senior American officials who saw them at the time,
and because I’ve conducted numerous interviews with officials who were
knowledgeable about the policy at the time it was unfolding and, in
fact, took great issue with it. They took issue with it on two counts:
first, that it was wrong, and it was likely to fail. And even those
minority of officials that I spoke to who actually supported it felt
it was being carried out in a half-hearted matter, that if you were
going to arm Fatah, you had to do it in a serious way. In fact,
according to Muhammad Dahlan, the strongman who was the major
recipient of military aid in Gaza, he only ever got about $20 million
worth of aid. He, by the way, has confirmed all the details of the
program in interviews with me. And he says, well, it just wasn’t
enough. And, of course, when it came to it, in the fighting that broke
out in June 2007, it clearly wasn’t enough.

AMY GOODMAN: Isn’t it openly known that the US is arming and
supporting Fatah?

DAVID ROSE: Well, no, it’s not, because, for example, General Keith
Dayton, the United States security coordinator who has been in the
region now for three or four years and is supposedly there to help
strengthen Fatah’s security institutions, told the Congress on May 23,
2007—that’s just over two weeks before the Hamas coup—that the US was
only supplying non-lethal aid to Fatah. He was emphatic about this: no
lethal aid was going into the Palestinian territories to support
Fatah. And, indeed, he had testified and other officials had testified
to that effect on several occasions previously.

What he well knew, what he must have known, was at the very time he
uttered those words, the US, in the shape of Condoleezza Rice,
Assistant Secretary David C. Welch and other officials, had been
furiously lobbying for lethal aid, not directly from the United
States, but from the so-called Arab Quartet—that is, Saudi Arabia,
United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt. They wanted lethal aid to go
to assist Fatah’s forces, especially in Gaza, although to some extent
in the West Bank, too. And they knew that this was aid that was going
to kill people. And in fact, just a week before the coup began, the
news broke in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that Dayton himself had
asked for Israeli clearance to allow an import of armored cars, heavy
weapons, machine guns and so forth into Gaza from Egypt, which was
part of this covert program. I don’t think, by any stretch of the
imagination, machine guns, ammunition and armored cars can be
described as non-lethal aid. Well, it wasn’t non-lethal aid coming
from the United States, and if you actually parse some of the denials
that were issued yesterday, they’re sort of denying the idea that
America itself was supplying lethal aid. That’s not what the article
states. It says there was a covert, parallel program—that’s the words,
by the way, of a senior State Department official—to supply lethal aid
from Arab sources.

AMY GOODMAN: David Rose, you begin your piece, “The Gaza Bombshell,”
by talking about a young man at the Al Deira Hotel that you sat across
from in Gaza City. Explain what happened to him.

DAVID ROSE: Yes. He’s a young man called Mazen abu Dan, who was a Hamas
—is a Hamas member. He was in fact a member of its so-called executive
force, the kind of militia that Hamas set up in the summer of 2006.

In October 2006, just when the US program to support Fatah was really
getting into gear, he was kidnapped and horrifyingly tortured, along
with several members of his family and friends. They were actually at
a cemetery erecting a tombstone to his grandmother who had just died.
They were seized by about thirty armed men and taken to the home of a
man called Abu Jidyan, a senior Fatah official who was in fact killed
during the coup, a close associate of this warlord, Muhammad Dahlan.
And he was beaten with iron bars. The skin on his back was completely
lacerated. And he told me that afterwards they poured perfume into his
wounds. And then him and two others were taken to a market when this
torture was finished, and they thought they were going to be killed,
but in fact they were shot several times in each leg. He showed me the
bullet wounds.

We also have a DVD, which depicts his torture, which was captured from
a Fatah security building when Hamas took over during the coup in June
2007. I believe that an excerpt from that may be going on the Vanity
Fair website later this week. So, you know, he’s quite recognizable in
this DVD, and it’s quite clear that there are Fatah men who are
torturing the prisoners that you see there. And I met him, as I say,
in the Al Deira Hotel.

AMY GOODMAN: What happened to Wurmser, the adviser, Middle East
adviser to Vice President Cheney? Why did he quit? And talk about the
elections that you say the US forced, never anticipating what would

DAVID ROSE: Well, of course, it isn’t just Wurmser; it’s also the
former UN Ambassador John Bolton. I think—I mean, both these men are,
of course, known as neoconservatives. And, you know, whatever issues
one may have with aspects of neoconservatives’ take on foreign policy,
they have an overt support for elections and democracy. And what they
saw in action here was a policy that was ignoring the vote of the
Palestinian people, which was seeking to invest in a strongman to put
it—in order, as Wurmser put it to me, to prop up a corrupt
dictatorship in the shape of Fatah.

Now, I am not certain that this is the sole reason that David Wurmser
left the administration. I think you’d have to ask him that. But it is
striking that, of course, he did leave the administration just a month
after these events and was plainly disgusted by what happened.

AMY GOODMAN: We just have thirty seconds. Why is this thing being
called “Iran Contra 2.0”?

DAVID ROSE: Because there are certain resemblances to that policy. For
example—and people forget that not all the money to buy weapons for
the Contras in the 1980s came from Iran. Quite a bit came from the
same Arab countries who were being lobbied to provide weapons and
money to buy weapons for Fatah. And again, it was an attempt to evade
the Congress, just as the first Iran-Contra policy was. So there are
considerable analogies.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you saying the Bush administration misled Congress,
when it comes to—

DAVID ROSE: I’m absolutely saying that, yes. They lied to the

AMY GOODMAN: And it’s specifically on—

DAVID ROSE: They told the Congress that there was no program to supply
lethal aid to Fatah. This was not true. There was a covert program to
supply lethal aid to Fatah.

AMY GOODMAN: David Rose, I want to thank you for being with us,
British journalist, writes in the latest issue of Vanity Fair, his
piece called “The Gaza Bombshell,” speaking to us from London.


The Gaza Bombshell

After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006
Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another
scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-
contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by
outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how
President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser
Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad
Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas
stronger than ever.

BY David Rose  /  April 2008

The Al Deira Hotel, in Gaza City, is a haven of calm in a land beset
by poverty, fear, and violence. In the middle of December 2007, I sit
in the hotel’s airy restaurant, its windows open to the Mediterranean,
and listen to a slight, bearded man named Mazen Asad abu Dan describe
the suffering he endured 11 months before at the hands of his fellow
Palestinians. Abu Dan, 28, is a member of Hamas, the Iranian-backed
Islamist organization that has been designated a terrorist group by
the United States, but I have a good reason for taking him at his
word: I’ve seen the video.

It shows abu Dan kneeling, his hands bound behind his back, and
screaming as his captors pummel him with a black iron rod. “I lost all
the skin on my back from the beatings,” he says. “Instead of medicine,
they poured perfume on my wounds. It felt as if they had taken a sword
to my injuries.”

On January 26, 2007, abu Dan, a student at the Islamic University of
Gaza, had gone to a local cemetery with his father and five others to
erect a headstone for his grandmother. When they arrived, however,
they found themselves surrounded by 30 armed men from Hamas’s rival,
Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. “They took us
to a house in north Gaza,” abu Dan says. “They covered our eyes and
took us to a room on the sixth floor.”

The video reveals a bare room with white walls and a black-and-white
tiled floor, where abu Dan’s father is forced to sit and listen to his
son’s shrieks of pain. Afterward, abu Dan says, he and two of the
others were driven to a market square. “They told us they were going
to kill us. They made us sit on the ground.” He rolls up the legs of
his trousers to display the circular scars that are evidence of what
happened next: “They shot our knees and feet—five bullets each. I
spent four months in a wheelchair.”

Abu Dan had no way of knowing it, but his tormentors had a secret
ally: the administration of President George W. Bush.

A clue comes toward the end of the video, which was found in a Fatah
security building by Hamas fighters last June. Still bound and
blindfolded, the prisoners are made to echo a rhythmic chant yelled by
one of their captors: “By blood, by soul, we sacrifice ourselves for
Muhammad Dahlan! Long live Muhammad Dahlan!”

There is no one more hated among Hamas members than Muhammad Dahlan,
long Fatah’s resident strongman in Gaza. Dahlan, who most recently
served as Abbas’s national-security adviser, has spent more than a
decade battling Hamas. Dahlan insists that abu Dan was tortured
without his knowledge, but the video is proof that his followers’
methods can be brutal.

Bush has met Dahlan on at least three occasions. After talks at the
White House in July 2003, Bush publicly praised Dahlan as “a good,
solid leader.” In private, say multiple Israeli and American
officials, the U.S. president described him as “our guy.”

The United States has been involved in the affairs of the Palestinian
territories since the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israel captured Gaza
from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan. With the 1993 Oslo accords,
the territories acquired limited autonomy, under a president, who has
executive powers, and an elected parliament. Israel retains a large
military presence in the West Bank, but it withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

In recent months, President Bush has repeatedly stated that the last
great ambition of his presidency is to broker a deal that would create
a viable Palestinian state and bring peace to the Holy Land. “People
say, ‘Do you think it’s possible, during your presidency?’ ” he told
an audience in Jerusalem on January 9. “And the answer is: I’m very

The next day, in the West Bank capital of Ramallah, Bush acknowledged
that there was a rather large obstacle standing in the way of this
goal: Hamas’s complete control of Gaza, home to some 1.5 million
Palestinians, where it seized power in a bloody coup d’état in June
2007. Almost every day, militants fire rockets from Gaza into
neighboring Israeli towns, and President Abbas is powerless to stop
them. His authority is limited to the West Bank.

It’s “a tough situation,” Bush admitted. “I don’t know whether you can
solve it in a year or not.” What Bush neglected to mention was his own
role in creating this mess.

According to Dahlan, it was Bush who had pushed legislative elections
in the Palestinian territories in January 2006, despite warnings that
Fatah was not ready. After Hamas—whose 1988 charter committed it to
the goal of driving Israel into the sea—won control of the parliament,
Bush made another, deadlier miscalculation.

Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by
sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative,
approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a
Palestinian civil war. The plan was for forces led by Dahlan, and
armed with new weapons supplied at America’s behest, to give Fatah the
muscle it needed to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led
government from power. (The State Department declined to comment.)

But the secret plan backfired, resulting in a further setback for
American foreign policy under Bush. Instead of driving its enemies out
of power, the U.S.-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas
to seize total control of Gaza.

Some sources call the scheme “Iran-contra 2.0,” recalling that Abrams
was convicted (and later pardoned) for withholding information from
Congress during the original Iran-contra scandal under President
Reagan. There are echoes of other past misadventures as well: the
C.I.A.’s 1953 ouster of an elected prime minister in Iran, which set
the stage for the 1979 Islamic revolution there; the aborted 1961 Bay
of Pigs invasion, which gave Fidel Castro an excuse to solidify his
hold on Cuba; and the contemporary tragedy in Iraq.

Within the Bush administration, the Palestinian policy set off a
furious debate. One of its critics is David Wurmser, the avowed
neoconservative, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief
Middle East adviser in July 2007, a month after the Gaza coup.

Wurmser accuses the Bush administration of “engaging in a dirty war in
an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Abbas] with
victory.” He believes that Hamas had no intention of taking Gaza until
Fatah forced its hand. “It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so
much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-
empted before it could happen,” Wurmser says.

The botched plan has rendered the dream of Middle East peace more
remote than ever, but what really galls neocons such as Wurmser is the
hypocrisy it exposed. “There is a stunning disconnect between the
president’s call for Middle East democracy and this policy,” he says.
“It directly contradicts it.”

Preventive Security

Bush was not the first American president to form a relationship with
Muhammad Dahlan. “Yes, I was close to Bill Clinton,” Dahlan says. “I
met Clinton many times with [the late Palestinian leader Yasser]
Arafat.” In the wake of the 1993 Oslo accords, Clinton sponsored a
series of diplomatic meetings aimed at reaching a permanent Middle
East peace, and Dahlan became the Palestinians’ negotiator on

As I talk to Dahlan in a five-star Cairo hotel, it’s easy to see the
qualities that might make him attractive to American presidents. His
appearance is immaculate, his English is serviceable, and his manner
is charming and forthright. Had he been born into privilege, these
qualities might not mean much. But Dahlan was born—on September 29,
1961—in the teeming squalor of Gaza’s Khan Younis refugee camp, and
his education came mostly from the street. In 1981 he helped found
Fatah’s youth movement, and he later played a leading role in the
first intifada—the five-year revolt that began in 1987 against the
Israeli occupation. In all, Dahlan says, he spent five years in
Israeli jails.

Muhammad Dahlan

From the time of its inception as the Palestinian branch of the
international Muslim Brotherhood, in late 1987, Hamas had represented
a threatening challenge to Arafat’s secular Fatah party. At Oslo,
Fatah made a public commitment to the search for peace, but Hamas
continued to practice armed resistance. At the same time, it built an
impressive base of support through schooling and social programs.

The rising tensions between the two groups first turned violent in the
early 1990s—with Muhammad Dahlan playing a central role. As director
of the Palestinian Authority’s most feared paramilitary force, the
Preventive Security Service, Dahlan arrested some 2,000 Hamas members
in 1996 in the Gaza Strip after the group launched a wave of suicide
bombings. “Arafat had decided to arrest Hamas military leaders,
because they were working against his interests, against the peace
process, against the Israeli withdrawal, against everything,” Dahlan
says. “He asked the security services to do their job, and I have done
that job.”

It was not, he admits, “popular work.” For many years Hamas has said
that Dahlan’s forces routinely tortured detainees. One alleged method
was to sodomize prisoners with soda bottles. Dahlan says these stories
are exaggerated: “Definitely there were some mistakes here and there.
But no one person died in Preventive Security. Prisoners got their
rights. Bear in mind that I am an ex-detainee of the Israelis’. No one
was personally humiliated, and I never killed anyone the way [Hamas
is] killing people on a daily basis now.” Dahlan points out that
Arafat maintained a labyrinth of security services—14 in all—and says
the Preventive Security Service was blamed for abuses perpetrated by
other units.

Dahlan worked closely with the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., and he developed
a warm relationship with Director of Central Intelligence George
Tenet, a Clinton appointee who stayed on under Bush until July 2004.
“He’s simply a great and fair man,” Dahlan says. “I’m still in touch
with him from time to time.”

“Everyone Was Against the Elections”

In a speech in the White House Rose Garden on June 24, 2002, President
Bush announced that American policy in the Middle East was turning in
a fundamentally new direction.

Arafat was still in power at the time, and many in the U.S. and Israel
blamed him for wrecking Clinton’s micro-managed peace efforts by
launching the second intifada—a renewed revolt, begun in 2000, in
which more than 1,000 Israelis and 4,500 Palestinians had died. Bush
said he wanted to give Palestinians the chance to choose new leaders,
ones who were not “compromised by terror.” In place of Arafat’s all-
powerful presidency, Bush said, “the Palestinian parliament should
have the full authority of a legislative body.”

Arafat died in November 2004, and Abbas, his replacement as Fatah
leader, was elected president in January 2005. Elections for the
Palestinian parliament, known officially as the Legislative Council,
were originally set for July 2005, but later postponed by Abbas until
January 2006.

Dahlan says he warned his friends in the Bush administration that
Fatah still wasn’t ready for elections in January. Decades of self-
preservationist rule by Arafat had turned the party into a symbol of
corruption and inefficiency—a perception Hamas found it easy to
exploit. Splits within Fatah weakened its position further: in many
places, a single Hamas candidate ran against several from Fatah.

“Everyone was against the elections,” Dahlan says. Everyone except
Bush. “Bush decided, ‘I need an election. I want elections in the
Palestinian Authority.’ Everyone is following him in the American
administration, and everyone is nagging Abbas, telling him, ‘The
president wants elections.’ Fine. For what purpose?”

The elections went forward as scheduled. On January 25, Hamas won 56
percent of the seats in the Legislative Council.

Few inside the U.S. administration had predicted the result, and there
was no contingency plan to deal with it. “I’ve asked why nobody saw it
coming,” Condoleezza Rice told reporters. “I don’t know anyone who
wasn’t caught off guard by Hamas’s strong showing.”

“Everyone blamed everyone else,” says an official with the Department
of Defense. “We sat there in the Pentagon and said, ‘Who the fuck
recommended this?’ ”

In public, Rice tried to look on the bright side of the Hamas victory.
“Unpredictability,” she said, is “the nature of big historic change.”
Even as she spoke, however, the Bush administration was rapidly
revising its attitude toward Palestinian democracy.

Some analysts argued that Hamas had a substantial moderate wing that
could be strengthened if America coaxed it into the peace process.
Notable Israelis—such as Ephraim Halevy, the former head of the Mossad
intelligence agency—shared this view. But if America paused to
consider giving Hamas the benefit of the doubt, the moment was
“milliseconds long,” says a senior State Department official. “The
administration spoke with one voice: ‘We have to squeeze these guys.’
With Hamas’s election victory, the freedom agenda was dead.”

The first step, taken by the Middle East diplomatic “Quartet”—the
U.S., the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations—was to demand
that the new Hamas government renounce violence, recognize Israel’s
right to exist, and accept the terms of all previous agreements. When
Hamas refused, the Quartet shut off the faucet of aid to the
Palestinian Authority, depriving it of the means to pay salaries and
meet its annual budget of roughly $2 billion.

Israel clamped down on Palestinians’ freedom of movement, especially
into and out of the Hamas-dominated Gaza Strip. Israel also detained
64 Hamas officials, including Legislative Council members and
ministers, and even launched a military campaign into Gaza after one
of its soldiers was kidnapped. Through it all, Hamas and its new
government, led by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, proved surprisingly

Washington reacted with dismay when Abbas began holding talks with
Hamas in the hope of establishing a “unity government.” On October 4,
2006, Rice traveled to Ramallah to see Abbas. They met at the Muqata,
the new presidential headquarters that rose from the ruins of Arafat’s
compound, which Israel had destroyed in 2002.

America’s leverage in Palestinian affairs was much stronger than it
had been in Arafat’s time. Abbas had never had a strong, independent
base, and he desperately needed to restore the flow of foreign aid—
and, with it, his power of patronage. He also knew that he could not
stand up to Hamas without Washington’s help.

At their joint press conference, Rice smiled as she expressed her
nation’s “great admiration” for Abbas’s leadership. Behind closed
doors, however, Rice’s tone was sharper, say officials who witnessed
their meeting. Isolating Hamas just wasn’t working, she reportedly
told Abbas, and America expected him to dissolve the Haniyeh
government as soon as possible and hold fresh elections.

Abbas, one official says, agreed to take action within two weeks. It
happened to be Ramadan, the month when Muslims fast during daylight
hours. With dusk approaching, Abbas asked Rice to join him for iftar—a
snack to break the fast.

Afterward, according to the official, Rice underlined her position:
“So we’re agreed? You’ll dissolve the government within two weeks?”

“Maybe not two weeks. Give me a month. Let’s wait until after the
Eid,” he said, referring to the three-day celebration that marks the
end of Ramadan. (Abbas’s spokesman said via e-mail: “According to our
records, this is incorrect.”)

Rice got into her armored S.U.V., where, the official claims, she told
an American colleague, “That damned iftar has cost us another two
weeks of Hamas government.”

“We Will Be There to Support You”

Weeks passed with no sign that Abbas was ready to do America’s
bidding. Finally, another official was sent to Ramallah. Jake Walles,
the consul general in Jerusalem, is a career foreign-service officer
with many years’ experience in the Middle East. His purpose was to
deliver a barely varnished ultimatum to the Palestinian president.

We know what Walles said because a copy was left behind, apparently by
accident, of the “talking points” memo prepared for him by the State
Department. The document has been authenticated by U.S. and
Palestinian officials.

“We need to understand your plans regarding a new [Palestinian
Authority] government,” Walles’s script said. “You told Secretary Rice
you would be prepared to move ahead within two to four weeks of your
meeting. We believe that the time has come for you to move forward
quickly and decisively.”

The memo left no doubt as to what kind of action the U.S. was seeking:
“Hamas should be given a clear choice, with a clear deadline: … they
either accept a new government that meets the Quartet principles, or
they reject it The consequences of Hamas’ decision should also be
clear: If Hamas does not agree within the prescribed time, you should
make clear your intention to declare a state of emergency and form an
emergency government explicitly committed to that platform.”

Walles and Abbas both knew what to expect from Hamas if these
instructions were followed: rebellion and bloodshed. For that reason,
the memo states, the U.S. was already working to strengthen Fatah’s
security forces. “If you act along these lines, we will support you
both materially and politically,” the script said. “We will be there
to support you.”

Abbas was also encouraged to “strengthen [his] team” to include
“credible figures of strong standing in the international community.”
Among those the U.S. wanted brought in, says an official who knew of
the policy, was Muhammad Dahlan.

On paper, the forces at Fatah’s disposal looked stronger than those of
Hamas. There were some 70,000 men in the tangle of 14 Palestinian
security services that Arafat had built up, at least half of those in
Gaza. After the legislative elections, Hamas had expected to assume
command of these forces, but Fatah maneuvered to keep them under its
control. Hamas, which already had 6,000 or so irregulars in its
militant al-Qassam Brigade, responded by forming the 6,000-troop
Executive Force in Gaza, but that still left it with far fewer
fighters than Fatah.

In reality, however, Hamas had several advantages. To begin with,
Fatah’s security forces had never really recovered from Operation
Defensive Shield, Israel’s massive 2002 re-invasion of the West Bank
in response to the second intifada. “Most of the security apparatus
had been destroyed,” says Youssef Issa, who led the Preventive
Security Service under Abbas.

The irony of the blockade on foreign aid after Hamas’s legislative
victory, meanwhile, was that it prevented only Fatah from paying its
soldiers. “We are the ones who were not getting paid,” Issa says,
“whereas they were not affected by the siege.” Ayman Daraghmeh, a
Hamas Legislative Council member in the West Bank, agrees. He puts the
amount of Iranian aid to Hamas in 2007 alone at $120 million. “This is
only a fraction of what it should give,” he insists. In Gaza, another
Hamas member tells me the number was closer to $200 million.

The result was becoming apparent: Fatah could not control Gaza’s
streets—or even protect its own personnel.

At about 1:30 p.m. on September 15, 2006, Samira Tayeh sent a text
message to her husband, Jad Tayeh, the director of foreign relations
for the Palestinian intelligence service and a member of Fatah. “He
didn’t reply,” she says. “I tried to call his mobile [phone], but it
was switched off. So I called his deputy, Mahmoun, and he didn’t know
where he was. That’s when I decided to go to the hospital.”

Samira, a slim, elegant 40-year-old dressed from head to toe in black,
tells me the story in a Ramallah café in December 2007. Arriving at
the Al Shifa hospital, “I went through the morgue door. Not for any
reason—I just didn’t know the place. I saw there were all these
intelligence guards there. There was one I knew. He saw me and he
said, ‘Put her in the car.’ That’s when I knew something had happened
to Jad.”

Tayeh had left his office in a car with four aides. Moments later,
they found themselves being pursued by an S.U.V. full of armed, masked
men. About 200 yards from the home of Prime Minister Haniyeh, the
S.U.V. cornered the car. The masked men opened fire, killing Tayeh and
all four of his colleagues.

Hamas said it had nothing to do with the murders, but Samira had
reason to believe otherwise. At three a.m. on June 16, 2007, during
the Gaza takeover, six Hamas gunmen forced their way into her home and
fired bullets into every photo of Jad they could find. The next day,
they returned and demanded the keys to the car in which he had died,
claiming that it belonged to the Palestinian Authority.

Fearing for her life, she fled across the border and then into the
West Bank, with only the clothes she was wearing and her passport,
driver’s license, and credit card.

“Very Clever Warfare”

Fatah’s vulnerability was a source of grave concern to Dahlan. “I made
a lot of activities to give Hamas the impression that we were still
strong and we had the capacity to face them,” he says. “But I knew in
my heart it wasn’t true.” He had no official security position at the
time, but he belonged to parliament and retained the loyalty of Fatah
members in Gaza. “I used my image, my power.” Dahlan says he told
Abbas that “Gaza needs only a decision for Hamas to take over.” To
prevent that from happening, Dahlan waged “very clever warfare” for
many months.

According to several alleged victims, one of the tactics this
“warfare” entailed was to kidnap and torture members of Hamas’s
Executive Force. (Dahlan denies Fatah used such tactics, but admits
“mistakes” were made.) Abdul Karim al-Jasser, a strapping man of 25,
says he was the first such victim. “It was on October 16, still
Ramadan,” he says. “I was on my way to my sister’s house for iftar.
Four guys stopped me, two of them with guns. They forced me to
accompany them to the home of Aman abu Jidyan,” a Fatah leader close
to Dahlan. (Abu Jidyan would be killed in the June uprising.)

The first phase of torture was straightforward enough, al-Jasser says:
he was stripped naked, bound, blindfolded, and beaten with wooden
poles and plastic pipes. “They put a piece of cloth in my mouth to
stop me screaming.” His interrogators forced him to answer
contradictory accusations: one minute they said that he had
collaborated with Israel, the next that he had fired Qassam rockets
against it.

But the worst was yet to come. “They brought an iron bar,” al-Jasser
says, his voice suddenly hesitant. We are speaking inside his home in
Gaza, which is experiencing one of its frequent power outages. He
points to the propane-gas lamp that lights the room. “They put the bar
in the flame of a lamp like this. When it was red, they took the
covering off my eyes. Then they pressed it against my skin. That was
the last thing I remember.”

When he came to, he was still in the room where he had been tortured.
A few hours later, the Fatah men handed him over to Hamas, and he was
taken to the hospital. “I could see the shock in the eyes of the
doctors who entered the room,” he says. He shows me photos of purple
third-degree burns wrapped like towels around his thighs and much of
his lower torso. “The doctors told me that if I had been thin, not
chubby, I would have died. But I wasn’t alone. That same night that I
was released, abu Jidyan’s men fired five bullets into the legs of one
of my relatives. We were in the same ward in the hospital.”

Dahlan says he did not order al-Jasser’s torture: “The only order I
gave was to defend ourselves. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t torture,
some things that went wrong, but I did not know about this.”

The dirty war between Fatah and Hamas continued to gather momentum
throughout the autumn, with both sides committing atrocities. By the
end of 2006, dozens were dying each month. Some of the victims were
noncombatants. In December, gunmen opened fire on the car of a Fatah
intelligence official, killing his three young children and their

There was still no sign that Abbas was ready to bring matters to a
head by dissolving the Hamas government. Against this darkening
background, the U.S. began direct security talks with Dahlan.
“He’s Our Guy”

In 2001, President Bush famously said that he had looked Russian
president Vladimir Putin in the eye, gotten “a sense of his soul,” and
found him to be “trustworthy.” According to three U.S. officials, Bush
made a similar judgment about Dahlan when they first met, in 2003. All
three officials recall hearing Bush say, “He’s our guy.”

They say this assessment was echoed by other key figures in the
administration, including Rice and Assistant Secretary David Welch,
the man in charge of Middle East policy at the State Department.
“David Welch didn’t fundamentally care about Fatah,” one of his
colleagues says. “He cared about results, and [he supported] whatever
son of a bitch you had to support. Dahlan was the son of a bitch we
happened to know best. He was a can-do kind of person. Dahlan was our

Avi Dichter, Israel’s internal-security minister and the former head
of its Shin Bet security service, was taken aback when he heard senior
American officials refer to Dahlan as “our guy.” “I thought to myself,
The president of the United States is making a strange judgment here,”
says Dichter.

Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, who had been appointed the U.S.
security coordinator for the Palestinians in November 2005, was in no
position to question the president’s judgment of Dahlan. His only
prior experience with the Middle East was as director of the Iraq
Survey Group, the body that looked for Saddam Hussein’s elusive
weapons of mass destruction.

In November 2006, Dayton met Dahlan for the first of a long series of
talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Both men were accompanied by aides.
From the outset, says an official who took notes at the meeting,
Dayton was pushing two overlapping agendas.

“We need to reform the Palestinian security apparatus,” Dayton said,
according to the notes. “But we also need to build up your forces in
order to take on Hamas.”

Dahlan replied that, in the long run, Hamas could be defeated only by
political means. “But if I am going to confront them,” he added, “I
need substantial resources. As things stand, we do not have the

The two men agreed that they would work toward a new Palestinian
security plan. The idea was to simplify the confusing web of
Palestinian security forces and have Dahlan assume responsibility for
all of them in the newly created role of Palestinian national-security
adviser. The Americans would help supply weapons and training.

As part of the reform program, according to the official who was
present at the meetings, Dayton said he wanted to disband the
Preventive Security Service, which was widely known to be engaged in
kidnapping and torture. At a meeting in Dayton’s Jerusalem office in
early December, Dahlan ridiculed the idea. “The only institution now
protecting Fatah and the Palestinian Authority in Gaza is the one you
want removed,” he said.

Dayton softened a little. “We want to help you,” he said. “What do you

“Iran-Contra 2.0”

Under Bill Clinton, Dahlan says, commitments of security assistance
“were always delivered, absolutely.” Under Bush, he was about to
discover, things were different. At the end of 2006, Dayton promised
an immediate package worth $86.4 million—money that, according to a
U.S. document published by Reuters on January 5, 2007, would be used
to “dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and
order in the West Bank and Gaza.” U.S. officials even told reporters
the money would be transferred “in the coming days.”

The cash never arrived. “Nothing was disbursed,” Dahlan says. “It was
approved and it was in the news. But we received not a single penny.”

Any notion that the money could be transferred quickly and easily had
died on Capitol Hill, where the payment was blocked by the House
Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. Its members feared
that military aid to the Palestinians might end up being turned
against Israel.

Dahlan did not hesitate to voice his exasperation. “I spoke to
Condoleezza Rice on several occasions,” he says. “I spoke to Dayton,
to the consul general, to everyone in the administration I knew. They
said, ‘You have a convincing argument.’ We were sitting in Abbas’s
office in Ramallah, and I explained the whole thing to Condi. And she
said, ‘Yes, we have to make an effort to do this. There’s no other
way.’ ” At some of these meetings, Dahlan says, Assistant Secretary
Welch and Deputy National-Security Adviser Abrams were also present.

The administration went back to Congress, and a reduced, $59 million
package for nonlethal aid was approved in April 2007. But as Dahlan
knew, the Bush team had already spent the past months exploring
alternative, covert means of getting him the funds and weapons he
wanted. The reluctance of Congress meant that “you had to look for
different pots, different sources of money,” says a Pentagon official.

A State Department official adds, “Those in charge of implementing the
policy were saying, ‘Do whatever it takes. We have to be in a position
for Fatah to defeat Hamas militarily, and only Muhammad Dahlan has the
guile and the muscle to do this.’ The expectation was that this was
where it would end up—with a military showdown.” There were, this
official says, two “parallel programs”—the overt one, which the
administration took to Congress, “and a covert one, not only to buy
arms but to pay the salaries of security personnel.”

In essence, the program was simple. According to State Department
officials, beginning in the latter part of 2006, Rice initiated
several rounds of phone calls and personal meetings with leaders of
four Arab nations—Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab
Emirates. She asked them to bolster Fatah by providing military
training and by pledging funds to buy its forces lethal weapons. The
money was to be paid directly into accounts controlled by President

The scheme bore some resemblance to the Iran-contra scandal, in which
members of Ronald Reagan’s administration sold arms to Iran, an enemy
of the U.S. The money was used to fund the contra rebels in Nicaragua,
in violation of a congressional ban. Some of the money for the
contras, like that for Fatah, was furnished by Arab allies as a result
of U.S. lobbying.

But there are also important differences—starting with the fact that
Congress never passed a measure expressly prohibiting the supply of
aid to Fatah and Dahlan. “It was close to the margins,” says a former
intelligence official with experience in covert programs. “But it
probably wasn’t illegal.”

Legal or not, arms shipments soon began to take place. In late
December 2006, four Egyptian trucks passed through an Israeli-
controlled crossing into Gaza, where their contents were handed over
to Fatah. These included 2,000 Egyptian-made automatic rifles, 20,000
ammunition clips, and two million bullets. News of the shipment
leaked, and Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, an Israeli Cabinet member, said on
Israeli radio that the guns and ammunition would give Abbas “the
ability to cope with those organizations which are trying to ruin
everything”—namely, Hamas.

Avi Dichter points out that all weapons shipments had to be approved
by Israel, which was understandably hesitant to allow state-of-the-art
arms into Gaza. “One thing’s for sure, we weren’t talking about heavy
weapons,” says a State Department official. “It was small arms, light
machine guns, ammunition.”

Perhaps the Israelis held the Americans back. Perhaps Elliott Abrams
himself held back, unwilling to run afoul of U.S. law for a second
time. One of his associates says Abrams, who declined to comment for
this article, felt conflicted over the policy—torn between the disdain
he felt for Dahlan and his overriding loyalty to the administration.
He wasn’t the only one: “There were severe fissures among
neoconservatives over this,” says Cheney’s former adviser David
Wurmser. “We were ripping each other to pieces.”

During a trip to the Middle East in January 2007, Rice found it
difficult to get her partners to honor their pledges. “The Arabs felt
the U.S. was not serious,” one official says. “They knew that if the
Americans were serious they would put their own money where their
mouth was. They didn’t have faith in America’s ability to raise a real
force. There was no follow-through. Paying was different than
pledging, and there was no plan.”

This official estimates that the program raised “a few payments of $30
million”—most of it, as other sources agree, from the United Arab
Emirates. Dahlan himself says the total was only $20 million, and
confirms that “the Arabs made many more pledges than they ever paid.”
Whatever the exact amount, it was not enough.

Plan B

On February 1, 2007, Dahlan took his “very clever warfare” to a new
level when Fatah forces under his control stormed the Islamic
University of Gaza, a Hamas stronghold, and set several buildings on
fire. Hamas retaliated the next day with a wave of attacks on police

Unwilling to preside over a Palestinian civil war, Abbas blinked. For
weeks, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia had been trying to persuade him
to meet with Hamas in Mecca and formally establish a national unity
government. On February 6, Abbas went, taking Dahlan with him. Two
days later, with Hamas no closer to recognizing Israel, a deal was

Under its terms, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas would remain prime minister
while allowing Fatah members to occupy several important posts. When
the news hit the streets that the Saudis had promised to pay the
Palestinian Authority’s salary bills, Fatah and Hamas members in Gaza
celebrated together by firing their Kalashnikovs into the air.

Once again, the Bush administration had been taken by surprise.
According to a State Department official, “Condi was apoplectic.” A
remarkable documentary record, revealed here for the first time, shows
that the U.S. responded by redoubling the pressure on its Palestinian

The State Department quickly drew up an alternative to the new unity
government. Known as “Plan B,” its objective, according to a State
Department memo that has been authenticated by an official who knew of
it at the time, was to “enable [Abbas] and his supporters to reach a
defined endgame by the end of 2007 The endgame should produce a
[Palestinian Authority] government through democratic means that
accepts Quartet principles.”

Like the Walles ultimatum of late 2006, Plan B called for Abbas to
“collapse the government” if Hamas refused to alter its attitude
toward Israel. From there, Abbas could call early elections or impose
an emergency government. It is unclear whether, as president, Abbas
had the constitutional authority to dissolve an elected government led
by a rival party, but the Americans swept that concern aside.

Security considerations were paramount, and Plan B had explicit
prescriptions for dealing with them. For as long as the unity
government remained in office, it was essential for Abbas to maintain
“independent control of key security forces.” He must “avoid Hamas
integration with these services, while eliminating the Executive Force
or mitigating the challenges posed by its continued existence.”

In a clear reference to the covert aid expected from the Arabs, the
memo made this recommendation for the next six to nine months: “Dahlan
oversees effort in coordination with General Dayton and Arab [nations]
to train and equip 15,000-man force under President Abbas’s control to
establish internal law and order, stop terrorism and deter extralegal

The Bush administration’s goals for Plan B were elaborated in a
document titled “An Action Plan for the Palestinian Presidency.” This
action plan went through several drafts and was developed by the U.S.,
the Palestinians, and the government of Jordan. Sources agree,
however, that it originated in the State Department.

The early drafts stressed the need for bolstering Fatah’s forces in
order to “deter” Hamas. The “desired outcome” was to give Abbas “the
capability to take the required strategic political decisions … such
as dismissing the cabinet, establishing an emergency cabinet.”

The drafts called for increasing the “level and capacity” of 15,000 of
Fatah’s existing security personnel while adding 4,700 troops in seven
new “highly trained battalions on strong policing.” The plan also
promised to arrange “specialized training abroad,” in Jordan and
Egypt, and pledged to “provide the security personnel with the
necessary equipment and arms to carry out their missions.”

A detailed budget put the total cost for salaries, training, and “the
needed security equipment, lethal and non-lethal,” at $1.27 billion
over five years. The plan states: “The costs and overall budget were
developed jointly with General Dayton’s team and the Palestinian
technical team for reform”—a unit established by Dahlan and led by his
friend and policy aide Bassil Jaber. Jaber confirms that the document
is an accurate summary of the work he and his colleagues did with
Dayton. “The plan was to create a security establishment that could
protect and strengthen a peaceful Palestinian state living side by
side with Israel,” he says.

The final draft of the Action Plan was drawn up in Ramallah by
officials of the Palestinian Authority. This version was identical to
the earlier drafts in all meaningful ways but one: it presented the
plan as if it had been the Palestinians’ idea. It also said the
security proposals had been “approved by President Mahmoud Abbas after
being discussed and agreed [to] by General Dayton’s team.”

On April 30, 2007, a portion of one early draft was leaked to a
Jordanian newspaper, Al-Majd. The secret was out. From Hamas’s
perspective, the Action Plan could amount to only one thing: a
blueprint for a U.S.-backed Fatah coup.

“We Are Late in the Ball Game Here”

The formation of the unity government had brought a measure of calm to
the Palestinian territories, but violence erupted anew after Al-Majd
published its story on the Action Plan. The timing was unkind to
Fatah, which, to add to its usual disadvantages, was without its
security chief. Ten days earlier, Dahlan had left Gaza for Berlin,
where he’d had surgery on both knees. He was due to spend the next
eight weeks convalescing.

In mid-May, with Dahlan still absent, a new element was added to
Gaza’s toxic mix when 500 Fatah National Security Forces recruits
arrived, fresh from training in Egypt and equipped with new weapons
and vehicles. “They had been on a crash course for 45 days,” Dahlan
says. “The idea was that we needed them to go in dressed well,
equipped well, and that might create the impression of new authority.”
Their presence was immediately noticed, not only by Hamas but by staff
from Western aid agencies. “They had new rifles with telescopic
sights, and they were wearing black flak jackets,” says a frequent
visitor from Northern Europe. “They were quite a contrast to the usual
scruffy lot.”

On May 23, none other than Lieutenant General Dayton discussed the new
unit in testimony before the House Middle East subcommittee. Hamas had
attacked the troops as they crossed into Gaza from Egypt, Dayton said,
but “these 500 young people, fresh out of basic training, were
organized. They knew how to work in a coordinated fashion. Training
does pay off. And the Hamas attack in the area was, likewise,

The troops’ arrival, Dayton said, was one of several “hopeful signs”
in Gaza. Another was Dahlan’s appointment as national-security
adviser. Meanwhile, he said, Hamas’s Executive Force was becoming
“extremely unpopular I would say that we are kind of late in the ball
game here, and we are behind, there’s two out, but we have our best
clutch hitter at the plate, and the pitcher is beginning to tire on
the opposing team.”

The opposing team was stronger than Dayton realized. By the end of May
2007, Hamas was mounting regular attacks of unprecedented boldness and

At an apartment in Ramallah that Abbas has set aside for wounded
refugees from Gaza, I meet a former Fatah communications officer named
Tariq Rafiyeh. He lies paralyzed from a bullet he took to the spine
during the June coup, but his suffering began two weeks earlier. On
May 31, he was on his way home with a colleague when they were stopped
at a roadblock, robbed of their money and cell phones, and taken to a
mosque. There, despite the building’s holy status, Hamas Executive
Force members were violently interrogating Fatah detainees. “Late that
night one of them said we were going to be released,” Rafiyeh recalls.
“He told the guards, ‘Be hospitable, keep them warm.’ I thought that
meant kill us. Instead, before letting us go they beat us badly.”

On June 7, there was another damaging leak, when the Israeli newspaper
Haaretz reported that Abbas and Dayton had asked Israel to authorize
the biggest Egyptian arms shipment yet—to include dozens of armored
cars, hundreds of armor-piercing rockets, thousands of hand grenades,
and millions of rounds of ammunition. A few days later, just before
the next batch of Fatah recruits was due to leave for training in
Egypt, the coup began in earnest.

Fatah’s Last Stand

The Hamas leadership in Gaza is adamant that the coup would not have
happened if Fatah had not provoked it. Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas’s chief
spokesman, says the leak in Al-Majd convinced the party that “there
was a plan, approved by America, to destroy the political choice.” The
arrival of the first Egyptian-trained fighters, he adds, was the
“reason for the timing.” About 250 Hamas members had been killed in
the first six months of 2007, Barhoum tells me. “Finally we decided to
put an end to it. If we had let them stay loose in Gaza, there would
have been more violence.”

“Everyone here recognizes that Dahlan was trying with American help to
undermine the results of the elections,” says Mahmoud Zahar, the
former foreign minister for the Haniyeh government, who now leads
Hamas’s militant wing in Gaza. “He was the one planning a coup.”

Zahar and I speak inside his home in Gaza, which was rebuilt after a
2003 Israeli air strike destroyed it, killing one of his sons. He
tells me that Hamas launched its operations in June with a limited
objective: “The decision was only to get rid of the Preventive
Security Service. They were the ones out on every crossroads, putting
anyone suspected of Hamas involvement at risk of being tortured or
killed.” But when Fatah fighters inside a surrounded Preventive
Security office in Jabaliya began retreating from building to
building, they set off a “domino effect” that emboldened Hamas to seek
broader gains.

Many armed units that were nominally loyal to Fatah did not fight at
all. Some stayed neutral because they feared that, with Dahlan absent,
his forces were bound to lose. “I wanted to stop the cycle of
killing,” says Ibrahim abu al-Nazar, a veteran party chief. “What did
Dahlan expect? Did he think the U.S. Navy was going to come to Fatah’s
rescue? They promised him everything, but what did they do? But he
also deceived them. He told them he was the strongman of the region.
Even the Americans may now feel sad and frustrated. Their friend lost
the battle.”

Others who stayed out of the fight were extremists. “Fatah is a large
movement, with many schools inside it,” says Khalid Jaberi, a
commander with Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which continue to
fire rockets into Israel from Gaza. “Dahlan’s school is funded by the
Americans and believes in negotiations with Israel as a strategic
choice. Dahlan tried to control everything in Fatah, but there are
cadres who could do a much better job. Dahlan treated us
dictatorially. There was no overall Fatah decision to confront Hamas,
and that’s why our guns in al-Aqsa are the cleanest. They are not
corrupted by the blood of our people.”

Jaberi pauses. He spent the night before our interview awake and in
hiding, fearful of Israeli air strikes. “You know,” he says, “since
the takeover, we’ve been trying to enter the brains of Bush and Rice,
to figure out their mentality. We can only conclude that having Hamas
in control serves their overall strategy, because their policy was so
crazy otherwise.”

The fighting was over in less than five days. It began with attacks on
Fatah security buildings, in and around Gaza City and in the southern
town of Rafah. Fatah attempted to shell Prime Minister Haniyeh’s
house, but by dusk on June 13 its forces were being routed.

Years of oppression by Dahlan and his forces were avenged as Hamas
chased down stray Fatah fighters and subjected them to summary
execution. At least one victim was reportedly thrown from the roof of
a high-rise building. By June 16, Hamas had captured every Fatah
building, as well as Abbas’s official Gaza residence. Much of Dahlan’s
house, which doubled as his office, was reduced to rubble.

Fatah’s last stand, predictably enough, was made by the Preventive
Security Service. The unit sustained heavy casualties, but a rump of
about 100 surviving fighters eventually made it to the beach and
escaped in the night by fishing boat.

At the apartment in Ramallah, the wounded struggle on. Unlike Fatah,
Hamas fired exploding bullets, which are banned under the Geneva
Conventions. Some of the men in the apartment were shot with these
rounds 20 or 30 times, producing unimaginable injuries that required
amputation. Several have lost both legs.

The coup has had other costs. Amjad Shawer, a local economist, tells
me that Gaza had 400 functioning factories and workshops at the start
of 2007. By December, the intensified Israeli blockade had caused 90
percent of them to close. Seventy percent of Gaza’s population is now
living on less than $2 a day.

Israel, meanwhile, is no safer. The emergency pro-peace government
called for in the secret Action Plan is now in office—but only in the
West Bank. In Gaza, the exact thing both Israel and the U.S. Congress
warned against came to pass when Hamas captured most of Fatah’s arms
and ammunition—including the new Egyptian guns supplied under the
covert U.S.-Arab aid program.

Now that it controls Gaza, Hamas has given free rein to militants
intent on firing rockets into neighboring Israeli towns. “We are still
developing our rockets; soon we shall hit the heart of Ashkelon at
will,” says Jaberi, the al-Aqsa commander, referring to the Israeli
city of 110,000 people 12 miles from Gaza’s border. “I assure you, the
time is near when we will mount a big operation inside Israel, in
Haifa or Tel Aviv.”

On January 23, Hamas blew up parts of the wall dividing Gaza from
Egypt, and tens of thousands of Palestinians crossed the border.
Militants had already been smuggling weapons through a network of
underground tunnels, but the breach of the wall made their job much
easier—and may have brought Jaberi’s threat closer to reality.

George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice continue to push the peace
process, but Avi Dichter says Israel will never conclude a deal on
Palestinian statehood until the Palestinians reform their entire law-
enforcement system—what he calls “the chain of security.” With Hamas
in control of Gaza, there appears to be no chance of that happening.
“Just look at the situation,” says Dahlan. “They say there will be a
final-status agreement in eight months? No way.”

“An Institutional Failure”

How could the U.S. have played Gaza so wrong? Neocon critics of the
administration—who until last year were inside it—blame an old State
Department vice: the rush to anoint a strongman instead of solving
problems directly. This ploy has failed in places as diverse as
Vietnam, the Philippines, Central America, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq,
during its war against Iran. To rely on proxies such as Muhammad
Dahlan, says former U.N. ambassador John Bolton, is “an institutional
failure, a failure of strategy.” Its author, he says, was Rice, “who,
like others in the dying days of this administration, is looking for
legacy. Having failed to heed the warning not to hold the elections,
they tried to avoid the result through Dayton.”

With few good options left, the administration now appears to be
rethinking its blanket refusal to engage with Hamas. Staffers at the
National Security Council and the Pentagon recently put out discreet
feelers to academic experts, asking them for papers describing Hamas
and its principal protagonists. “They say they won’t talk to Hamas,”
says one such expert, “but in the end they’re going to have to. It’s

It is impossible to say for sure whether the outcome in Gaza would
have been any better—for the Palestinian people, for the Israelis, and
for America’s allies in Fatah—if the Bush administration had pursued a
different policy. One thing, however, seems certain: it could not be
any worse.