CIA Chief Panette ends "very serious" program hidden during Bush years from Congress
CIA Director Leon Panetta has terminated a "very serious" covert program the spy agency kept secret from Congress for eight years, Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a House Intelligence subcommittee chairwoman, said Friday.
Schakowsky is pressing for an immediate committee investigation of the classified program, which has not been described publicly. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said he is considering an investigation.
"The program is a very, very serious program and certainly deserved a serious debate at the time and through the years," Schakowsky told The Associated Press in an interview. "But now it's over."
Operation Midnight Climax
is a new web series about how the CIA used prostitutes to test LSD on unsuspecting American citizens. "Operation Midnight Climax
was a CIA mind-control research program
that began in the 1950's. The project consisted of CIA-run safehouses in San Francisco, Marin and New York. It was established in order to study the effects of LSD on unconsenting individuals. Prostitutes on the CIA payroll
were instructed to lure clients back to the safehouses, where they were given a wide range of substances, including LSD, and monitored behind two-way mirrors." [Via]
The 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act
included funding for a pilot program that provided scholarships in exchange for recipients completing at least one summer internship in the intelligence agencies. The Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program
(PRISP) was praised in National Review but criticized by humanities organizations
as a threat
to academic integrity
. The 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act [400kb pdf]
submitted to Congress by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair
makes the program a permanent budget item
. [more inside]
The Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that military scientists tested hundreds of chemical and biological substances on them, including VX, tabun, soman, sarin, cyanide, LSD, PCP, and World War I-era blister agents like phosgene and mustard. The full scope of the tests, however, may never be known. As a CIA official explained to the GAO, referring to the agency's infamous MKULTRA mind-control experiments, "The names of those involved in the tests are not available because names were not recorded or the records were subsequently destroyed." Besides, said the official, some of the tests involving LSD and other psychochemical drugs "were administered to an undetermined number of people without their knowledge."
Torture Memos Released
As we explained in the Section 2340A Memorandum, "pain and suffering" as used in Section 2340 is best understood as a single concept, not distinct concepts of "pain" as distinguished from "suffering"... The waterboard, which inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever, does not, in our view inflict "severe pain or suffering". Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to treat "suffering" as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe sufering. The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to suffering.
breaks it down, Greenwald rants
Interrogation techniques used by the CIA on al-Qaeda suspects "constituted torture"
, according to a report by the International Red Cross.
In yet another case of possible criminality within The Company ranks,
the CIA's station chief in Algeria is facing investigation for sexual assualt, accused of having drugged and sexually assaulted at least two Algerian women. Though recent events have raised doubts
about the prosecution of other possible crimes at the CIA, this case may actually lead to an eventual conviction. After all, he made tapes
Hacking Al-Qaeda's websites:
Hacker wars are the latest front in the fight against Al Qaeda. CNN says here that AQ may be unable to post propaganda videos as a result.
But who is attacking? As far back as 2002, people speculated that Western intelligence agencies had compromised them
, and a pornographer claimed he did.
More recently, there are Shiite vs. Sunni battles, as when Ayatollah Sistani's website was cracked.
In 2004, Zarqawi's site was breached.
In a new article in the Washington Post
: "The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency's use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects". These documents were requested by then CIA director George Tenet, who told 60 Minutes last year (in conjuction with the publication of his book, In the Center of the Storm
), ""The image that's been portrayed is, we sat around the campfire and said, 'Oh, boy, now we go get to torture people.' Well, we don't torture people. Let me say that again to you. We don't torture people. Okay?
Julia Child apparently liked to mix cooking and covert operations.
What did the beloved chef have in common with Arthur Schlesinger and baseball's Moe Berg? A career with the OSS, that's what. The CIA precursor's papers have recently been released, revealing Child's involvement in the agency. [more inside]
In his new book, 'The Way of the World
' "Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind claims that, after the Iraq war began, the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein, in an attempt to tie Hussein to the 9/11 attacks."*
: "'It said that 9/11 ringleader Mohammad Atta had actually trained for his mission in Iraq' and that Iraq bought yellowcake uranium from Niger with the help of al Qaeda. Suskind also claims that the Bush administration had information from a top Iraqi intelligence official "that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – intelligence they received in plenty of time to stop an invasion." After the fake letter was released in late 2003, press outlets reported it as evidence of a Saddam/al Qaeda link. "Now, if this is true, that blows the lid off al Qaeda—Saddam," said Bill O’Reilly at the time. [more inside]
The world loves the banana - they are the world's most popular fruit and the fourth most consumed food on our planet.
According to Johann Hari in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
, it appears that the variety of bananas loved the world over - the Cavendish - is headed for extinction due to Fusarium oxysporum (Panama disease). [more inside]
Gen. Vang Pao’s Last War.
"The U.S. government relied on Vang Pao and his Hmong soldiers
to battle Communism in the jungles of Laos
. Why is the Justice Department now calling him a terrorist?" [more inside]
The CIA's Odd Man Out:
CIA station chief Bob Lady coordinated the secret kidnapping of Islamic militant Abu Omar in Milan
and Omar's "extreme rendition" to Egypt where he was tortured. Italy indicted various CIA agents; Lady is on the run in Central America, abandoned by the agency. The twist: Lady opposed the mission all along. And Abu Omar will probably end up with Lady's home in the foothills of the Alps. [more inside]
American Drug War
- The Last White Hope (in case you missed it on Showtime
) Includes footage of and interviews with gang members, narcs, prisoners (like Tommy Chong), and other folks on the front lines of the drug war including Freeway Ricky Ross
(infamous for starting the crack epidemic) and DEA Agent Celerino Castillo
who both wound up working for the CIA. [more inside]
Quick, identify this plane
. SR-71 Blackbird, right? Wrong
. [more inside]
The lavishly-furnished custom Boeing 727
figures in the current tempest over his relationship with female lobbyist Vicki Iseman
who provided and flew with McCain on the plane. Lots of colorful background in this investigative report by Daniel Hopsicker, the best muckraker since Gary Webb [more inside]
An internal CIA memorandum has been obtained by Venezuelan counterintelligence from the US Embassy in Caracas that reveals a plan to destabilize Venezuela during the upcoming constitutional referendum
. The plan, titled "OPERATION PLIERS" was authored by CIA Officer Michael Middleton Steere and was addressed to CIA Director General Michael Hayden in Washington. The full text of the memo will be released soon for verification purposes. Many previously
Remember the new, inscrutable license plate
put out by the state of Oklahoma commemorating 9/11? Well, apparently the CIA can design logos pretty well too. Presenting the Terrorist Buster
The man who knew too much.
"He was the CIA's expert on Pakistan's nuclear secrets, but Rich Barlow was thrown out and disgraced when he blew the whistle on a US cover-up. Now he's to have his day in court."
- India's second-highest peak
, at 25,645 feet (7816m), sits in a "sanctuary," surrounded by 21,000-foot+ lesser mountains. This has made it even more of a challenge to climb. Among those who took up the challenge were a 1965 CIA team
trying to set up a plutonium-powered device to spy on China's nuclear testing program. That expedition
retreated in the face of bad weather, leaving the device on the mountain. When they returned the next spring, it was gone. The Nanda Devi Sanctuary supplies water to the Ganges River, and there were fears that the four pounds of plutonium in the device could escape into the watershed. Those fears have been confirmed
The Black Sites.
"A rare look inside the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program."
Rorschach and Awe.
"America's coercive interrogation methods were reverse-engineered by two C.I.A. psychologists who had spent their careers training U.S. soldiers to endure Communist-style torture techniques. The spread of these tactics was fueled by a myth about a critical 'black site' operation."
Bored on your summer vacation? Well, the US government has lots of fun stuff for kids to do on line
. Learn fascinating facts about cows
(and agricultural marketing
!) from the Department of Agriculture. Take a ride to Money Central Station
with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. If you live in a federally-funded housing project, HUD wants you to learn more about being a good citizen
. Want something more action-packed? Help FBI Special Agent Bobby Bureau go undercover
, or become one of America's Crypto-Kids
at the NSA. Play thrilling puzzle games
or visit the world's most secret museum
at the CIA. Play more games
or become a Disaster Action Kid
at FEMA! And no list of government kids' pages would be complete without revisiting the children's art contest from the ATF, which I've linked to before...
Game developer/ perfume critic Theresa Duncan has died, and longtime companion Jeremy Blake is missing.
The art world is buzzing
about the seeming suicide-by-water of video installation artist Jeremy Blake. The perfume
blogs are fizzing with sadness over the death of Theresa Duncan, whose suicide preceded Blake's. The cops are not releasing the notes left by the late, pretty
people, but a clue might be found in the paranoiac screed
Duncan posted on her blog in May, in which Blake's ex-girlfriend, the CIA, FBI, Church of Scientology, Jeff Gannon, bloated plutocrats and many other bugbears of the psy-ops crowd
were put on Duncan's mental merry-go-round and given a real strong spin.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
, and Aaron Sorkin
will be leaving television production for a while. His current project is Charlie Wilson's War
, a movie starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman, based on the late George Crile's excellent
of the same name. The movie
"party animal" Congressman Charles "Good Time Charlie" Wilson's
(D, TX) rise from a scandal (he was caught in "a hot tub tryst with two cocaine-sniffing showgirls in Las Vegas"
,) to his role in the 1980's covertly funding Afghanistan guerrillas so they could expand their war with the Soviet Union
. Wilson's actions would eventually help collapse the Afghan PDPA government
, a power vacuum which would be filled by the Taliban. Who would have thought ending the Cold War
would be so easy?
In 1973 CIA director James Schlesinger asked "employees to report activities they thought might be inconsistent with the Agency’s charter." You know, illegal stuff, black ops, the works. The resulting top secret documents are called the "Family Jewels."
Today they were released. Press release
with link to documents.
There may be some among us who can imagine 20 days in captivity; perhaps a fraction of those can imagine a full year deprived of liberty and most human contact. But 20 years? Downey and Fecteau have consistently sought to downplay their period of imprisonment; and neither has done what arguably too many former CIA officers do these days with far less justification: write a book. Downey has said that such a book would contain "500 blank pages," and Fecteau says the whole experience could be summed up by the word "boring."
Extraordinary Fidelity: Two CIA Prisoners in China, 1952–73 [secure link]
by Nicholas Dujmovic, a CIA historian and a veteran intelligence analyst. Time article about Downey and Fecteau
"It's a great thing about this government
... the only people that ever stand up and tell the truth are who? Intelligence officers." George Tenet told his side on 60 Minutes tonight. In case you missed it. [via
How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Flick to Rescue Americans from Tehran
by Joshuah Bearman. As history keeps on happening, all people and events are becoming linked to each other in strange and inexplicable ways. Once in a while those links surface into view. Here, then, is the key event that connects Jack Kirby and Roger Zelazny to the CIA's handling of the Iranian hostage crisis.
Via Wired Magazine and good evening
convinced 22 friends, neighbors and relatives that she could have satellites scan their bodies for disease, then have CIA agents administer secret medicines to them while they slept. [via
: In opening arguments today
in the Plame investigation perjury case against Vice President Cheney's former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby, the prosecutor portrayed Libby as an agent of a Cheney-driven media offensive
. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day came from Libby's attorney, who portrayed his client as a White House-chosen scapegoat for Karl Rove's misdeeds
. A conservative reporter saw in Libby's emerging defense a "dramatic split inside the Bush White House
." An MSNBC host asked whether
this hullabaloo could lead to Cheney's resignation.
Background on the case. Liveblogging of today's arguments from an anti-administration perspective.
If you work at Langley and you need a break from actual intelligence gathering
, you can always try to crack the code
to the sculpture right outside the cafeteria window
is a sculpture by James Sanborn located on the CIA grounds which contains a four-part coded message
: sections 1-3 have been solved
(with Sanborn admitting he made a typo in section 2). Perhaps you'd like to join Elonka
(and the hive mind
) in having a go
at section 4.
"I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard."
Film-maker Shane O'Sullivan has spent the last three years investigating the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in 1968.
He has uncovered new evidence that at least three CIA agents were in the hotel the night he died. Tonight we [BBC's Newsnight programme] show the findings and ask could CIA agents have had something to do with the murder of RFK?
Missing presumed tortured
More than 7,000 prisoners have been captured in America's war on terror. Just 700 ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Between extraordinary rendition
to foreign jails and disappearance into the CIA's "black sites", what happened to the rest
Newsfilter: U.S. Seeks Silence on CIA Prisons
"The Bush administration has told a federal judge that terrorism suspects held in secret CIA prisons should not be allowed to reveal details of the "alternative interrogation methods that their captors used to get them to talk...the government, in trying to block lawyers' access to the 14 detainees, effectively asserts that the detainees' experiences are a secret that should never be shared with the public."
Previously: (1) (2)
is a scholar and artist who investigates the California prison-industrial complex
and secret military bases
in his work as an "experimental geographer." In his new book, Tracking the Torture Taxi
, Paglen uses the methods of "21st century participatory journalism"
(including a Google Earth image of a CIA interrogation facility
) to uncover the network of private planes (such as Aero Contractors
of Smithfield, NC) that whisk people off to secret prisons without oversight.
What I've Learned About U.S. Foriegn Policy
is a two-hour video compilation by Frank Dorrel. It consists of ten segments
, each relating to CIA operations and US military interventions around the world.
CIA Staff Worried
Following on this
previous (archived) post, it appears that some CIA staff are concerned the Justice Department might not defend them from charges of torture or human rights violations. " . . . some CIA officers have worried privately that they may have violated international law
or domestic criminal statutes
Abu Zubaydah's secret interrogation in Thailand.
In Thailand, the new C.I.A. team concluded that under standard questioning Mr. Zubaydah was revealing only a small fraction of what he knew, and decided that more aggressive techniques were warranted...
The group included an agency consultant schooled in the harsher interrogation procedures to which American special forces are subjected in their training. At one point he told his questioners that (American citizen charged with terrorism-crimes) Jose Padilla
was ignorant on the subject of nuclear physics and believed he could separate plutonium from nuclear material by rapidly swinging over his head a bucket filled with fissionable material.
Meanwhile, in "other" news, theBin Laden trail is still cold.
Former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage admits to spilling the Plame beans
. This comes on the heels of an article in Newsweek outing Armitage
as Novak's primary source. Wind up the echo chamber.... [more inside]
...Lawrence Wright tells, for the first time, the story of the F.B.I. agent who had the best chance of foiling the 9/11 plot. Here, with Amy Davidson, Wright talks about how turf wars with the C.I.A. got in the way. Wright’s book “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11” will be published by Knopf in August.
The Cultural Cold War
by Frances Saunders covers the way in which the government, via CIA-influenced NGOs worked to alter the direction that popular movies and animations took during the first half of the Cold War. [mi]
Criticizing the food is OK, just don't mention the water: the blog implied a specific knowledge of interrogations and . . . worried "the seventh floor" at CIA
"I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in 'Who's Who in America.'"
Bob "Prince of Darkness" Novak comes clean (sort of) on his role in the Plame scandal. Novak asserts that Fitzgerald knew the identities of his source for Plame's identity. "That Fitzgerald did not indict any of these sources may indicate his conclusion that none of them violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act," Novak says. Further, he says that his source spilled the beans inadvertently: "After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part."