Thursday, April 10, 2014
Democracy Now displays their ignorance or worse on U.S. Agency for International Development
A recent show on Democracy Now about Is USAID the New CIA? Agency Secretly Built Cuban Twitter Program to Fuel Anti-Castro Protests should clearly indicate the ignorance of both Amy Goodwin and Peter Kornbluh about how the CIA has been operating for decades and they almost certainly should have known better, or perhaps they do.
I don't like to be too critical of Democracy Now because they clearly do a much better job on most subjects than the mainstream media, especially when they did the "Expand the Debate" series during the 2012 elections which clearly shows the hypocrisy of the electoral process that shuts out grass roots candidates; however sometimes they display so much incompetence or worse that something should be said. In most cases the biggest problem doesn't seem to be that she is presenting inaccurate information but that she declines to cover a lot of news that has been fairly common knowledge for a long time, sometimes for decades although the mainstream media declines to cover it.
This segment acts as if it is a major surprise that the U.S. Agency for International Development has been involved in espionage operations and that they have been doing so independently of the CIA. This might be a major revelation for many people that rely on the mainstream media for their information about the CIA and other news, and for people that think that Democracy Now is one of the the best alternative news outlets available; however I suspect that most people more familiar with the CIA wouldn't be surprised by this at all.
The reason for this is that the U.S. Agency for International Development has been operating as a front for the CIA for decades and at time it has been widely reported, at least in outlets that report on the activities of the CIA, which usually doesn't include the mainstream media. One exception is "CIA chief promises spies 'new cover’ for secret ops" by Jeff Stein at the Washington Post, which acknowledges that "In South Vietnam, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided cover for CIA operatives so widely that the two became almost synonymous." When USAID was first established by Kennedy, apparently, it was supposed to be an alternative agency that didn't involve the military for foreign aid, however even if it did work that way while he was alive it didn't long after he died.
Additional reports about how the Agency for International Development has been operating as a front for the CIA for decades include USAID and CIA by Dr Farrukh Saleem and USAID Spying in Latin America by Nil Nikandrov as well as disclosures by Alfred McCoy, Victor Marchetti and Philip Agee among other researchers of the CIA.
When USAID wasn't being used to espionage purposes it has often been part of the effort to subsidize the exporting of manufacturing jobs overseas and encouraging sweatshops. There is an enormous amount of information about the activities that USAID has been involved in over the years, mostly in low profile books or alternative news outlets that get ignored by the political establishment and traditional media, and she could have covered much more of it if she had tried. Some of her previous guests could have told her more about them if she had thought to ask including Alfred McCoy and Naomi Klein, both of whom have demonstrated knowledge about the history of USAID, even if they haven't covered it on their previous appearances. Alfred McCoy has previously reported in at least two books about how USAID and the Office of Public Safety which is a division of USAID has been involved training police around the world in activities that include torture. He also reports about how the CIA has been using these agencies for a long time to hide their activities and get funding they wouldn't otherwise get.
This would essentially involve more extensive coverage of history that many people might not be familiar with. Many news outlet decline to do much if any of this although it would almost certainly be helpful when explaining current events that have their roots in history. On other occasions Democracy Now doesn't seem to have this problem like when they covered historical background on banking with Nomi Prins.
If they had done the same thing with USAID then when she interviewed Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont about a "bipartisan bill that would force President Obama to include the total dollar amount requested for each of the 16 intelligence agencies in his budget proposal," she could have provided additional background about how USAID and OPS are often used for espionage activities to boost the support for this bill. As it stands USAID and OPS aren't listed among the 16 intelligence agencies in the bill. If they pass the bill in its current form then these agencies could continue to hide their activities as they have in the past and it will be no more than a token law to appease the public and convince them the espionage agencies, which they refer to as "intelligence," are now under control while they continue with business as usual.
By declining to give the full background or at least hint as to how much there is she is giving many people the impression that this might be new to how USAID acts similar to when a large portion of the commercial media and alternative media covered the "Prism" disclosures which as I indicated previously in several posts including Bickering over Prism continues to ignore ECHELON and minimize disclosure and a couple others before that. In both cases she passed up an opportunity to inform the public about a much longer history of both the ECHELON project and USAID.
This could be part of the reason why some researchers have come to refer to her as one of the Left "Gatekeepers;" when I first heard her referred to as that I might have been a little skeptical; and some of the storied I found when Googling "Democracy Now left gatekeepers" might seem like the most reliable sources to some; however after seeing her decline to address some of the most important issues on several cases I suspect the strongest evidence might actually be in her own reporting although those not familiar with some of the subjects might not recognize it. (Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall did a 2 part Blog about this in 2011 Part 1 and 2.
The example of her reporting that I have found the most questionable remains Understanding How Good People Turn Evil: Renowned Psychologist Philip Zimbardo On his Landmark Stanford Prison Experiment, Abu Ghraib and More in 2007 when she gave Philip Zimbardo an opportunity to promote his book for a while without asking any critical questions; when she was almost out of time she said "Professor Zimbardo we have held several debates on the American Psychological Association’s position on psychologists participating in military interrogations. Quite different from the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association. Can you comment on the organization you were formerly President of." then before he had much time to say anything about it she said they were out of time.
After looking into the background of Philip Zimbardo a few years ago I found major reasons to doubt his credibility and wonder whether he was involved in "the American Psychological Association’s position on psychologists participating in military interrogations" and posted them in Philip Zimbardo, Lucifer Effect, Stanford Prison Experiment and Corruption or Bias in the American Psychological Association. As indicated in those blogs I have reason to suspect that his own experiments might have been used to develop those techniques. Part of this conclusion was based on research done by Alfred McCoy who implicated two of Philip Zimbardo's previous associates, Stanley Milgram and Irving Janis as potential researchers for the CIA, which Philip Zimbardo was criticizing, to a point. Philip Zimbardo was also president of the APA when the decision was made to dramatically water down the ethical guidelines,2002, although they didn't go into effect until the next year,2003 which was when the Abu Ghraib scandal was in the process of beginning or escalating although it wasn't reported until 2004.
Philip Zimbardo was essentially setting himself up as a hypothetical judge, in his book over activities which he may have been involved in helping to bring about with his research.
Not only did Amy Goodman decline to ask him about any of this but she gave him plenty of time to promote his book.
I have also seen some reporting from some of the other outlets that Sherman Skolnick and Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall implicate as possible "CIA Gatekeepers" that might raise some doubts about them as well; however they also do an enormous amount of reporting that the CIA almost certainly wouldn't want to see exposed. this should raise some questions about what they're trying to accomplish and it indicates that they almost certainly shouldn't be completely abandoned, especially without alternative news outlets.
Under these circumstances it would be reasonable to wonder why the CIA would fund these news outlets when they're partially exposing their activities even if it isn't as thorough as they should be. Without further information it is hard to know for certain; however one possibility is that at least some of the people involved in the CIA recognize that their current activities aren't even in their own best interests and some degree of reform is almost certainly necessary. This should be clear when considering problems with Climate Change and other environmental problems that will cause much more instability, along with all the social unrest that is already happening because of economic inequality and all the blowback from their existing activities.
If they conclude that some degree of reform is in their own best interest in order to avoid a total collapse then they might want to have it happen on their own terms not the terms of the majority of the public. If that is the case then they might consider it in their own best interest to have some of their allies, possibly including Philip Zimbardo, involved with the reform movement.
A closer look at how they treat the JFK assassination would also be worthwhile when trying to determine how reliable they are at looking at controversial subjects that the CIA might have an interest in controlling. I notice that she has given air time to Thom Hartmann Discussing "Legacy of Secrecy;" however I don't see any coverage of "JFK and the Unspeakable," by Jim Douglass which came out at the same time. I suspect Douglass' book is much more credible as far as I can tell; Hartmann and Lamar Waldron seem to think that it was the mob and that the government reluctantly declined to investigate it properly because it would have exposed their own activities. This seems highly unlikely especially since they were so quick to cover it up and blame Lee Harvey Oswald; however it could confuse the issue and distract from possible CIA involvement and it might help to have investigators from the left supporting a theory that clears them.
Whether this is the case or not, it seems to me that there are few if any news outlets that do a good job covering all the news, including many examples where they almost certainly have the resources to do a better job than they are, although a lot of the reporting from many of them are much better than the mainstream media,