Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Are Naomi Wolf, Edward Snowden, Prism, and ECHELON, dividing us?

The accusations about who is working for the CIA or the NSA have begun; and anyone who was familiar with these two organization might know that this would be inevitable; and that it has actually been going on for quite a while; only now it is becoming higher profile. Dave Lindorff recently wrote an article speculating about "Is Naomi Wolf working for the NSA?" It isn't until the third page of his article where he comes out and says that he doesn't really believe that she is but that he thinks it is more likely that she is doing this based on an "instinct for self-promotion and grandstanding."

His article is based on her Facebook article about "My creeping concern that the NSA leaker is not who he purports to be." The opening post doesn't actually state that she is speculating about the possibility that Edward Snowden might still be working for the NSA but it does imply it and she confirms this in her follow up post on it, Some aspects of Snowden's presentation that I find worth further inquiry - an update.

I have also had my doubts about the way this has been presented in the media and the fact that they haven't mentioned ECHELON in a high profile manner even though it seems to be virtually identical to the program which they now call "Prism." I went into this in Is “Prism” news? or is it ECHELON? In brief this post is about the lack of coverage of the ECHELON program which seem virtually identical to "Prism" but it was exposed as early as 1988 and it was featured in a much higher profile Manner in both 60 Minutes in 2000 and National Geographic on or about the same time. This means that the program was in place before 9/11 happened and it didn't serve the purpose that it was allegedly intended for. Whether "Prism" is the same program by another name or not it didn't serve the same purpose when it came to stopping the Boston Bombing either.

This also means that the most organized terrorists would have known about this type of activity long before Edward Snowden disclosed it. Furthermore they have reported on several occasions that terrorists like Osama bin Laden knew enough not to use electronic devises years if not decades ago.

My previous post goes on to raise some questions about the typical activities of CIA agents and the assumption, based on previous researchers into the CIA, that the CIA encourages those that enlist to stay on for life and that many continue to do so after officially retiring. This is similar to some of the claims that Naomi Wolf makes. There is also speculation about the possibility that this could be part of an effort to disclose the truth in a controlled manner that will lead to partial reform that is inevitable but this could enable them to increase their influence over it.

I try to differentiate between speculation and hard facts; although some people almost certainly won't conclude that I have succeeded, whether I did or not.

Do you think that I'm working for the NSA or the CIA or some other covert organization?

I'm not.

But after reading enough about the way the CIA has been operating for decades it wouldn't be surprising to expect many people to start speculating about who is or is not working for the CIA. It has been widely acknowledged by many people including some defenders of the CIA, although they downplay it, while the critics often present more evidence that they have connections with a lot of journalists and that they are heavily involved in propaganda at least abroad where they're expected to do so. According to the law they aren't supposed to be impacting propaganda in the USA but there is plenty of evidence that some of their propaganda abroad has impacted coverage in the USA and even if the CIA isn't directly impacting propaganda in the USA many people that might sympathize with the CIA or their "ex-CIA" agents might be producing propaganda and on top of that it is virtually guaranteed that other interests are conducting confidential activities that may not be related to the CIA but could have an impact anyway. Several books have reported on how marketers use on line "AstroTurf" to create the appearance of a grass roots movement and many political organizations or ideologues like the NRA or abortion related organizations might also do so and all these things can get mixed up so if signs of deception show up at times it may not be easy to tell where it is coming from especially on the internet where it is easy to create and anonymous identity.

My impression is that there are legitimate issues that have been raised by both Naomi Wolf and Dave Lindorff as well as many other people and that they also have problems with some of their claims as well so it may be difficult and tedious to sort through the details; but when trying to sort out the truth that is what needs to be done. Instead of accepting one package deal from one source it is often necessary to sort through the problems from multiple sources. And even though I haven't looked closely at either of them I have looked at enough material from them both to indicate that they have provided some constructive material that stands on their own merits which shouldn't be ignored. The same goes for many other pundits that may not cover all the material that they could or perhaps should have.

Under these circumstances it might be better to put more weight on principles that can be confirmed independently and understood by the majority of the public than those that are based on authority claims or principles that the public can't confirm independently.

It won't do anyone any good to turn this into a bickering match where no one is paying attention to the details while people take sides in one faction or another; although at times it won't help to completely ignore it when any given source, especially a high profile source that many people trust, makes flawed arguments.

As indicated in my previous blog my biggest concern is that the highest profile media outlets aren't even mentioning ECHELON as if it never existed, despite what should be an obvious similarity that many people at the grass roots that paid attention have been trying to inform them of. In many cases the only examples where it is mentioned in articles from the mainstream media is in the comments section where people ask about it and they decline to address these comments. Ironically on at least a couple of occasions the mainstream media has shown a brief glimpse of the ECHELON intercept station at Menwith Hill, England or similar equipment elsewhere, without referring to it as ECHELON, implying that this was the program that they were referring to as Prism and that it is something new that was established after 9/11.

Neither Naomi Wolf, Dave Lindorff or many other of the most popular alternative media sources have mentioned ECHELON anymore than the traditional media; which indicates that many of them might not be aware of it, or if they are they may not recognize the significance, or they seem to be avoiding it. Naomi Wolf has stated that she doesn't believe that Glen Greenwald is knowingly involved in abetting Snowden's possible deception but due to her additional sources, some of which she can't cite for confidentiality reasons, she was able to recognize some of the problems that he didn't. If she, or Edward Snowden for that matter, was familiar with the typical behavior of the CIA or NSA then they might have anticipated the possibility that they would try to minimize the disclosure by simply ignoring and that the commercial media would go along which is their typical course of action. This would have been a reasonable assumption yet they don't seem to have made it and they turned out to be right; which might imply a possibility that some of them had reason to believe that there would be a different response from the commercial media from the start.

Actually I suspect that when it comes to some of her legitimate concerns, they have been reported by other sources publicly in low profile manners; so with enough research she might be able to provide back up sources that aren't anonymous. Naomi claims, "I can’t write explicitly about many of the sources that have disclosed to me the ways," the CIA operates; but most if not all of what she reported in the two articles about Edward Snowden has been reported publicly and there is much more that she hasn't reported including a lot of important information that is relevant. Sorting through the enormous number of books and articles about the CIA over the years would take an enormous amount of time but there are many people who have been doing this for years and they may recognize that Snowden hasn't revealed much if anything new.

However as previously indicated I think some of the points that Naomi Wolf has raised are legitimate although others are not. He does seem to be well prepared as Naomi claimed although it is hard to tell whether or not all whistle blowers are so well prepared but when it comes to a few things he doesn't seem to be quite so well prepared. Another concern that she didn't mention might be how could he have known that his disclosures would create so much attention while most other whistle blowers have received much less attention. One concern that she did raise was why he would pick Hong Kong when they had connection to the UK as she said although they are now under Chinese jurisdiction although they're supposed to have a certain amount of autonomy. My impression is that he still could have picked better countries to go to as someone who was so well prepared including the ones that are being mentioned as potential destinations now like Ecuador, Venezuela, or Iceland. If he had done this it would have avoided an enormous amount of hype and he wouldn't have had to worry about possible extradition.

Another legitimate issue that she seems to express is the lack of a lawyer to advise him although that seems to have changed with the help of Wikileaks advisers and lawyers that are now supposed to be helping him. There should also be some doubts about his motives. It sounds good that he wants to reveal these for the good of the public but if that was the case he isn't the only one and when other whistle blowers also do this for the same reason there isn't nearly as much media attention. The problems surrounding this story aren't primarily with Edward Snowden, as far as I can tell, it is with the way the media and the political establishment are responding to it in such an irrational manner and that it appears as if they are also responding to it in a much different manner than they have in cases of other whistle-blowers who didn't draw nearly as much attention because they didn't have the help of the media providing non-stop coverage.

Naomi's claim that "It is actually in the Police State’s interest to let everyone know that everything you write or say everywhere is being surveilled, and that awful things happen to people who challenge this," may seem like a legitimate concern but in practice it has some flaws. In the past they have done this as low profile as they could and it hasn't stirred up enough opposition to inspire major changes that would interfere with the police state. This may be subject to change now that a much larger segment of the public have been made aware of it and many of them may be spurred to action. This wouldn't make any sense if they were attempting to conduct business as usual and they didn't want to change their current practices.

Many people including Naomi Wolf have raised doubts about how convenient it is that he has a sexy pole dancing girl friend that many people have become obsessed with. This enabled them to spend an enormous amount of time focusing on something that has nothing to do with the revelations that are allegedly being made. Another distraction is the argument between Glen Greenwald and David Gregory that doesn't involve discussing important issues either. This involves an enormous amount of hype and distraction that the commercial media has turned into standard operating procedure and a lot of it can be manufactured even when there is nothing to it; although at least when it comes to some of the circumstances surrounding his girlfriend it seems to be more convenient than usual.

It might make sense, however, if it was part of a controlled disclosure effort as I speculated about in the previous blog about this subject. This would enable them to put numerous people in the position of overseeing the disclosure and partial reform which could prevent an enormous amount of environmental damage as well as economic and social conflict without repercussions to those that have been responsible for a large amount of the damage that has been done to society by the current power structure. No doubt this seems absurd to many people but the version of the truth that is presented them by the political and media establishment is increasingly absurd as well. Something absurd is happening and in order to make the most sense out of it people need to sort through the details by checking facts instead of non-stop hype and appeals to emotions.

Ezra Klein satirizes the whole situation in his article "Wonkbook: Does Edward Snowden even exist?" where he points out the absurdities of two versions of events that don't make sense at all. One of them is the official version of events the other is an apparent hypothetical version that could be a conspiracy of some sort where Edward Snowden doesn't even exist; but in an editors note he claims that "It is not, in fact, all too perfect;" however he doesn't address many of the legitimate issues he raised in a satirical manner, as if by raising it in this manner he shouldn't have to.

This story was left with him in the transit zone of Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport since flying in from Hong Kong, over a week ago now, but no one seems to have seen him there; nor as far as I can tell has anyone seen him on the flight from Hong Kong although we're told he was there. They have shown media footage of reporters asking people if they have seen him and he is, perhaps, the most talked about person on TV. This is almost as absurd as the satirical music video by the Dixie Chicks, "Good by Earl." When they play, 'The cops came by to bring Earl in They searched the house high and low Then they tipped their hats and said, "Thank you, ladies If you hear from him let us know,” ' they show the cops looking under small pieces of furniture too small to hide a person or behind pictures for Earl looking confused but sincere. This was supposed to be a satire but the story of Edward Snowden is real.

Why should we believe that the official version of Edward Snowden is less absurd than a Spy vs Spy cartoon from Mad Magazine?

With no sign of him or witnesses the commercial media doesn't even speculate about the possibility that he might never have been there in the first place or that he might have left shortly after arriving, which would explain how he could remain hidden.

On top of that they showed a flight plan that they claimed might be his potential route to Ecuador that went right past the east coast of the US without mentioning how close this was to the country that he was supposed to be avoiding until Jon Stewert pointed it out and exaggerated it by saying that his flight plan put him right over the US.

Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon has done his part to use ridicule and stereotypes without addressing many issues properly in an article, Here come the Edward Snowden truthers. This is a common tactic that often involves citing some of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories to distract from flaws in the official version. this tactic generally involves trying to pout a large number of people in the same category so that those that raised legitimate issues are perceived the same way that those that don't or that mix in so many false facts that many people won't want to pay attention or trust even the few things that they do get right. This tactic might be very effective when it is targeting people that are insecure and likely to go along with the crowd especially when doing otherwise might subject them to ridicule; but it won't work nearly as well if the target audience is someone who is accustomed to sorting through details and getting to the truth.

Alex Seitz-Wald also includes a couple of links to UFO related conspiracy theories in his article ridiculing conspiracy theories. These articles are among the more absurd UFO conspiracy theories and, more importantly it doesn't take much to realize that they are also factually flawed and it is easy to recognize this. this type of problem is quite common in discussion about UFOs; however it is also quite common for the skeptics to make many absurd claims as well and they often focus on the most absurd ones if it is easier than to try to debunk the more rational mysteries. In my previous post, Is “Prism” news? or is it ECHELON? I included some speculation about the possibility that this might involve controlled disclosure about the misinformation surrounding UFOs and the possibility that they might have been using advanced technology that was developed with the help, either directly or indirectly, from an unknown advanced intelligence based partially on alleged disclosure from Philip Corso. I did not attempt to make this appear to be what I would consider a strong hypothesis due to the fact that a lot of the information comes from sources that should be treating their work more scientific than they are but in order to either rule things in or out it needs to be handled properly, not with ridicule as this subject is routinely handled.

I don't know for certain that this is part of ac controlled disclosure attempt but if they're trying to make absurd theories seem more realistic by making the truth seem just as absurd it could look something like this. Even if that isn't the case when both versions seem flawed it would be a good idea to consider alliterative versions, not just assume that we have to choose from the versions presented to us.

One of the biggest and most obvious, for those that think about it, problems with this tactic is that the people that use it often treat some conspiracy theories one way and others another. For example when the establishment is presenting a conspiracy they never present it as a fringe theory although in many cases they often decline to call it a conspiracy. Both the official stories about 9/11 and the Boston Bombings involve conspiracies where the bombers or hijackers worked together to carry out their attacks. This is a conspiracy theory!

Why is it that when the government presents us with a conspiracy theory where supposed to accept it without question but when others do so we're supposed to consider it fringe without scrutiny?

On top of that the official job description of the CIA and the NSA involves activities that they do in secret that impact the public. this fits the description of a conspiracy. And there have been many examples where they have later admitted to doing this including Operation Northwoods, The Kerry Committee report and many others where previous conspiracies have proven to be true. In this case they are admitting that they've been involved in a conspiracy to collect phone records and access private information on the internet from some sources although they claim that others require warrants but they claim that they aren't involved in any other conspiracies, at least that they admit to yet.

One problem that they shouldn't be able to get around it it doesn't appear that most of the information that Snowden leaked was new at all, although those that don't keep track of these things might not have noticed those that do know something is wrong.

However according to some reports including, "NSA Deception Operation? Questions Surround Leaked PRISM Document’s Authenticity" by Steve Kinney some of what he revealed may have been disinformation. Steve Kinney speculates about the possibility that Edward Snowden may have been detected before he began disclosing information and set up without his knowledge; but it seems far more likely that if he was part of a controlled disclosure plan that he would have done so willingly. If they had spotted him ahead of time they could have done a much more effective job stopping him or returning him to the US if that is actually what they wanted to do. I don't know how reliable this claim is anymore than most of you might but this is just one of the examples where some of the information that he has revealed has allegedly been questioned. Many people that want to believe that he has been acting in good faith might assume that these are only attempts to smear him and that might be true but it might be worth considering other possibilities as well until the details can be confirmed.

On top of that the reaction from the government to this has been equally absurd acting as if the biggest problem isn't that they've been spying on us but that it has been disclosed. Several claims that others have been trying to "stick a finger in the eye of the U.S." or committing treason without acknowledged the information that has been revealed is something that they would never tolerate if anyone else but themselves was doing it is extremely hypocritical. It is hard to imagine that many rational people wouldn't notice this and those outside of the US that aren't constantly being subject to US propaganda certainly aren't going to fail to notice this. The US government is asking those that they've been spying on to aide them in capturing the person who disclosed this information in a high profile manner and acting as if they have been doing favors for those they have been spying on.

This is utterly clownish and it should be considered as absurd as many of the conspiracy theories that we're supposed to dismiss without scrutiny but it is being presented to us from the government so we should accept it without scrutiny?

photo source

Obviously there are a lot of people who aren't falling for this and no doubt many more will as well. for now many of the people are temporarily overlooking the problems with their whistle blower and some of the reporters that have been covering it, perhaps because it is right to have this discussion but at some time they may want to look closer if they want to avoid exchanging one group of manipulative leaders for another.

During Obama’s Remarks on NSA Controversy he actually made a very good point about the lack of trust that many people have in their government when he said, "That’s not to suggest that, you know, you just say, trust me, we’re doing the right thing, we know who the bad guys are. And the reason that’s not how it works is because we’ve got congressional oversight and judicial oversight. And if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here."

We do "have some problems here;" none of these so-called checks and balances have been acting in a rational and open manner and they are all concentrated in the hands in a relatively small group of people who have a common ideology that doesn't involve acknowledging many inconvenient facts.

The commercial media is also concentrated in a very small number of hands and they are also declining to report properly on many issues. the alternative media has often done a much better job but as I indicated in my previous post and this some from the alternative media aren't going as far on some issues as they should and that appears to include Democracy Now as well.

Democracy Now made it clear that they are aware of ECHELON when they reported on it in 2000, French Prosecutor Investigates US Global Listening System, but they have declined to revisit it recently.

Another indication that they might not be investigating some news as thoroughly as they could and perhaps should be might be in relation to a possible additional connection to the CIA. In 2007 Amy Goodman interviewed Philip Zimbardo on her show in, "Understanding How Good People Turn Evil: Renowned Psychologist Philip Zimbardo On his Landmark Stanford Prison Experiment, Abu Ghraib and More." The majority of this interview is a review of the material that Philip Zimbardo provides in his book and there isn't any critical questions put to him at least until the end; mostly this appears to be an opportunity for Philip Zimbardo to promote his book without scrutiny and it closes with the following comments before running out of time.

AMY GOODMAN: 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.

PROFESSOR ZIMBARDO: Well, I have to begin by saying that psychologists really want to make their research relevant to society, that we want to give back. Our research gets funded, our students education gets funded, and so we are eager to do things, certainly I, all my life, have tried to make our research relevant to the needs of society. So, many psychologists are military psychologists, many psychologists work for the government in various capacities, doing really important good things. Psychologists were critical in the Second World War. So some psychologists work to give advice to interrogators on how to be more effective, the same way some psychologists work to give advice to police detectives to be more effective. The problem comes when you’re giving —

AMY GOODMAN: We have 10 seconds.

PROFESSOR ZIMBARDO: — specific advice about a particular individual being interrogated, and at that point, you step across the line, that you cannot abuse your role as psychologist to help an interrogator break a prisoner, psychologically. And that I am strongly against.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Zimbardo, we’re going to have to leave it there. I want to thank you very much for being with us. The book is called The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil.

This could have been a good opportunity for her to ask Zimbardo about his wort]k for the government as well as his involvement in the new ethical standards for the American Psychological Association that were put in place in 2003; according to the American Psychological Association's web site they were established during a meeting in 2002, which was while Zimbardo was president of the APA. These new guidelines were dramatically watered down and criticized by Susan Linn, a child psychologist who investigates marketing to children, who expressed shock about the removal of the Social Responsibility clause from the new guidelines; after looking at the guidelines I found that much more was also removed and this would almost certainly have an impact on the use of psychologists during interrogations that Amy Goodman and Philip Zimbardo claimed to be critical of.

Philip Zimbardo may have also been involved in research to develop these interrogation techniques as well as methods to improve the indoctrination of recruits during boot camp as I attempted to explain in a couple of previous posts about Philip Zimbardo, Lucifer Effect, Stanford Prison Experiment and Corruption or Bias in the American Psychological Association. I don't know whether or not Amy Goodman was aware of these conflicts of interest but Philip Zimbardo certainly should have although he has denied them at times, his denials don't seem to stand up to scrutiny.

Amy Goodman may have had the opportunity to ask him about these issues as well as the conflict of interest he had when representing Chip Frederick who wound up getting 8 years in jail and serving 3 before being released on parole. Philip Zimbardo made in issue of claiming that those higher up should have been held responsible for giving the orders but somehow managed to avoid including himself as one of those that may have developed the research and watered down the ethical guidelines for psychologists.

I doubt if Chip Frederick would have been to thrilled if he knew and understood how Zimbardo may have been involved but Zimbardo managed to avoid question from one of the critics of the A.P.A. that is being portrayed as a thorough investigator, which at times she almost certainly is.

In the past week another story has broken about an investigation into James Cartwright who allegedly leaked information that was published in a book "Confront and Conceal," about the participation of the US government in the cyber attacks on Iran in 2010. At the time when it was reported it was widely believed that the US government was involved and they didn't even try to discourage this belief although they didn't confirm it either as far as I know. This seems to be part of a possible pattern of behavior that makes no sense. Anyone familiar with it would have known about it beforehand, including the Iranians, but there appears to be a big issue for the sake of the media, if nothing else, to peruse people that disclosed information that was already, for all practical purposes public. There have been dozens if not hundreds of similar disclosures for many books that address the segment of the public that doesn't rely on the commercial media for their information on these subjects. Why would this one deserve any more scrutiny than the rest? Regardless of why the result is inevitably that it draws more attention to it and they would surely have known that.

Whether or not this is part of a controlled disclosure attempt there are many problems with the information that the public is being given about it and the politicians and media reporters don't even appear to behaving in a credible manner so there should be no doubt that there is an enormous amount of deception going on. It won't do any good to panic but when it is clear that some facts can be confirmed independently those should be trusted more than any source and they shouldn't be forgotten. If we start assuming that everyone or no one is part of the CIA or other organization with an ulterior motive it is a matter of time before these assumptions backfire.

Obama/Franklin quotes

The following are some additional related posts on the subject:

Additional articles on ECHELON at The Centre for Research on Globalization

Additional articles on ECHELON at Signs of the Times

This week in crazy: Naomi Wolf

Naomi Wolf Thinks Edward Snowden and His Sexy Girlfriend Might Be Government Plants

SOTT: Is "Prism" news? or is it ECHELON?

Annie Machon is a former intelligence officer for MI5 on ECHELON etc.

SOTT: Somebody's listening: How the NSA, GCHQ, Germany and China have spent decades working together to spy on the whole world

Libya 360: ECHELON: Exposing the NSA’s Global Spy Network

Bush wins passage of US spy bill to protect telecoms

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