Snowden, the CIA, and conspiracies

Originally published on the Leftist Critic blog on June 11, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

Almost a month ago I wrote about celebrity whistleblower Edward Snowden. Some corners of twitter criticized me for my post, basically saying that I didn’t go far enough. Some claimed that Snowden was “concocted” by the CIA and was a personality just like Mickey House (see here and here) while others claimed I had contempt for people who didn’t agree with me. There’s much more than that in terms of criticism, but I think I addressed it adequately on twitter so it seems silly to address it here. However, in this post, which I promised in the past, aims to look at Snowden’s connection to the CIA and some conspiracy theories, to put it rightly, about Snowden floating around the web.

Snowden’s story with the CIA

There is no doubt, even if you are skeptical of Snowden’s story, that he worked for the CIA He admitted this himself in a primetime interview with NBC over two years ago:

 “I was trained as a spy in sort of the traditional sense of the word — in that I lived and worked undercover, overseas, pretending to work in a job that I’m not — and even being assigned a name that was not mine. Now, the government might deny these things. They might frame it in certain ways, and say, oh, well, you know, he’s a low-level analyst…I’ve worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, undercover, overseas. I’ve worked for the National Security Agency, undercover, overseas. And I’ve worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency.”

In the same interview he also said that he basically, as noted above and summarized by BBC, “worked for the CIA and NSA undercover, overseas, and lectured at the Defense Intelligence Agency.” He also claimed that he was a “technical specialist…[and] a technical expert. I don’t work with people. I don’t recruit agents. What I do is I put systems to work for the United States. And I’ve done that at all levels from — from the bottom on the ground all the way to the top,” possibly even working at a CIA overseas station.

One may ask what he did when he worked at the CIA. One website summarizes the story, saying that in 2007 Snowden is sent to Geneva as part of IT, and is put “in charge of maintaining computer-network security for the CIA and US diplomats” with one incident souring Snowden, but he still “leaves the CIA and goes to work in the private sector” in 2009, then claims that the CIA experts may have accessed NSA documents and “handed them to Snowden” over time, perhaps, since Snowden “worked for the CIA in Geneva, in a high-level position, overseeing computer-systems security.” Wired and the New York Times don’t have the same viewpoint. Wired says that Snowden was offered a position at the CIA, “after attending a job fair focused on intelligence agencies,” with Snowden assigned to “the global communications division, the organization that deals with computer issues” at CIA headquarters at Langley. The story continues by noting that Snowden was sent to the “CIA’s secret school for technology specialists,” living in a hotel for six months and then traveling to  “Geneva, Switzerland, where the CIA was seeking information about the banking industry” in 2007, then “assigned to the US Mission to the United Nations.” The story goes on to say that in Geneva, Snowden saw “firsthand some of the moral compromises CIA agents made in the field” and goes on. The New York Times, in a June 9, 2013 article titled “Ex-Worker at C.I.A. Says He Leaked Data on Surveillance,” by Mark Mazzetti and Michael E. Schmidt, tells a different story. It describes Snowden as a “29-year-old former C.I.A. computer technician” who feared that the “C.I.A. might try to spirit him out of China, and speculating that it might even hire Asian gangs to go after him” and that he was “later hired by the C.I.A. to work on information technology security, serving in Geneva.”

Some have openly questioned if Snowden is a spy. Former CIA officer, Robert Baer, scoffed at the notion that Snowden could be considered a spy. He not only implied, laughably, that Snowden was working with the Russian government since 2007, which he couldn’t prove, basing it mainly on “his landing of Moscow” which made him “very suspicious.” If there was anything valid in what he said, it was when he declared that Snowden was “a systems administrator…[and] communicator” for the CIA in Geneva, sitting in “an office and relays messages” and then claimed that “the NSA doesn’t have spies overseas. It’s got technicians who sit in American embassies. They are not even analysts.” A much better article was by Dan Murphy, staff writer for Christian Science Monitor, who said that just because someone works for a spy agency doesn’t make them a spy and that it is “standard practice” for CIA employees overseas to get cover identities. The article continues by saying that not only is “building computer systems” not spying but that if Snowden did “have a lot of high-level spy training, it would appear that either the training stinks or he was an exceptionally poor student, judging by his actions,” including making “arrangements for his flight after he’d blown his own cover” and that there may be some intersecting of Snowden’s interests and those of the Russian government.

You can easily dismiss what these posts say and push them away.  Some have said that a “secret US government jet – previously employed in CIA “rendition” flights on which terror suspects disappeared into invisible “black” imprisonment – flew into Europe in a bid to spirit him back to America” but failed to make it fully to Moscow, only setting down and waiting at Copenhagen Airport. William Blum, a premier foreign policy analyst of U$ empire, said that “Edward Snowden had something inside him shaped like a conscience, just waiting for a cause” and then talked about the trials and tribulations of Philip Agee when he ran away from the CIA. Then there was former CIA director James Woolsey claiming, despite the CIA’s record as a handmaiden of imperial destruction, that Snowden had “blood on his hands” because his leaks would supposedly help “terrorists,” and CIA director John Brennan declaring that “any unauthorized disclosures that are made by individuals who have dishonored the oath of office that they raised their hand and attested to undermines this country’s security.”

Some may wonder how Snowden, assuming that the CIA did not assist him in a  covert manner, was able to get away with such leaking. Stories came out that showed that years before the leaking the CIA was suspicious of Snowden. One story said that CIA superiors of Snowden suspected in 2009 that he was “trying to break into classified computer files to which he was not authorized to have access,” and so they decided to “decided to send him home” from his job in Geneva, but that didn’t stop him for doing something that some claimed was “wrong”: gathering documents of misdeeds, mostly of the NSA. All of these stories derive from an article in the New York Times by Eric Schmitt (October 10, 2013) titled “C.I.A. Warning on Snowden in ’09 Said to Slip Through the Cracks.” The article said that before Snowden was about to leave Geneva in 2009, his “supervisor wrote a derogatory report in his personnel file, noting a distinct change in the young man’s behavior and work habits, as well as a troubling suspicion.” The article then claimed that “the red flags went unheeded” and the “supervisor’s cautionary note and the C.I.A.’s suspicions apparently were not forwarded to the N.S.A. or its contractors.” The Times also said that in mid-2006 Snowden got an “information technology job at the C.I.A” and that despite formal credentials, “he gained a top-secret clearance and a choice job under State Department cover in Geneva.” Later on, of course, the Justice Department sued a private company, US Investigation Services, which “provides background checks of the staff being recruited by the US state agencies.”

Another part of this story doesn’t involve Greenwald’s heroic casting of Snowden, like in this opinion piece, Snowden’s claim about the CIA keeping documents away from Congress or the angry CIA veteran who hates Snowden’s guts. This part of the story is the supposed “hilarious” CIA review of Glenn Greenwald’s book on the whole Snowden story, as you can call it, which developed since 2013. The review, by Hayden Peake, in Studies in Intelligence covers many books, including three about Snowden.

Despite what some said about the review, the FIRST SENTENCE of the review praises the book as “the most complete, though far from the most objective account of the Snowden affair to date.” That doesn’t sound like they don’t like the book. The review goes in to talk about the viewpoint of “lawyer-journalist Glenn Greenwald” with the book focusing on the relationship between Snowden and Greenwald, with a “quasi-clandestine meeting in Hong Kong.” The review, of course, goes on to claim that “intelligence issues” led to the adoption of mass surveillance by the NSA, that Snowden should have followed “official whistle-blower procedures” and supposedly ignoring “other interpretations regarding the legality of the NSA’s collection programs.” Peake then claims to be “surprised” that Greenwald harshly “attacks selected members of the media” for their efforts to  discredit him and that Greenwald criticizes “the Bush and Obama administrations and various private individuals,” along with calling numerous other journalists “dutiful spokespeople for political officials.” Even if you accept that Greenwald is adversarial, it is clear that with statements like this he is boosting his own ego and acting like he is more independent that he is in reality. The review closes by saying that Greenwald says Snowden’s actions are justified and that “journalists have the absolute right to be the final arbiters of what to publish.” Peake, as part of the establishment, doesn’t like the latter, and claims that Greenwald has an “often bitter ad hominem rationale for this” but there is no doubt he is correct that this book is “unlikely to be the last word on the subject.” All in all, I actually think the review is MUCH more positive toward Greenwald that many websites are claiming, even though it obviously tries to cut him down in certain ways. This review is also telling because it shows that Greenwald is not as opposed to the establishment and adversarial then he claims.

The theories, the theories

Now it is time to move onto the conspiracy theories as they should be accurately called. Before that, it is important to make two points. For one, there is no theory that Snowden read all the documents, since he, as he admitted to liberal blowhard John Oliver, that he didn’t read them all. Secondly, despite some (see here and here) reposting a “story” about Snowden as a “lethal operative” and “lethal killer,” it turns out that the website of that “story” is a satire site.

The first conspiracy theory comes from a site called “Veterans Today” which holds viewpoints in one could call the “Alex Jones camp” in the conspiracy theory world. In the article, Webster Tarpley argues that Snowden is likely “a limited hangout operation, in which carefully selected and falsified documents and other materials are deliberately revealed by an insider who pretends to be a fugitive.” The article also claims that Snowden’s relations have benefited the CIA, that “Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon papers” along with “the case of Assange and Wikileaks” being limited hangout operations. Tarpley then goes on the say that “limited hangouts have been around for a very long time” and goes on to claim that these operations cats someone as “the darling of the controlled corporate media.” Tarpley goes into strange theories land by claiming that Ellsberg’s Pentagon papers were “doctored”  and claims that those really in opposition to the establishment are “kidnapped, renditioned or liquidated,” which pushes away the obvious response by such establishment of ignoring critics. Tarpley goes on and on about Cass Sunstein involved in “creating” Wikileaks in his view,claims that Norman Solomon is a “former State Department public diplomacy asset” and that limited hangouts say little. He goes on to claim that “Assange’s Wikileaks document dump” did little to seriously damage “one US, British, or Israeli covert operation or politician,” that Assange “had a hand in preparing one of the largest destabilization campaigns mounted by Anglo-American intelligence since 1968” and much more. In sum, even if Tarpley’s view has some merit, it is hard to take him seriously as he has only ONE quote in the whole article, has no links to other sources, and seems to just be writing a lot without verification. While I say all this, I am aware that Ellsburg, Assange, and Snowden should be criticized, but to call them intelligence operations seems far-fetched and just putting oneself down a rabbit hole with no escape.

In the same realm, could be this discussion, but is more likely this post which builds off Tarpley. The writer, a certain”Jay,” claims that there is a charade around Snowden, a bogus narrative around people such as Assange, goes as far as to claim that the Chinese Communist Party and Mao were created by the OSS and CIA, forgetting the change over time, specifically since 1976, which made China to be more sympathetic with the West, and that there is a “Snowden Psy Op.” Where is no do doubt that Assange and Snowden are likely not in as much danger as supporters claim, to claim they are intelligence assets and other wacky things like the Chinese Communist Party created by certain U$ covert elements is something that is so ridiculous that it isn’t worth taking anything that this “Jay” says seriously at all since he is so deluded that he is running around in circles.

The final post addresses a supposed division between the CIA and NSA. In the post,  anonymous intelligence community sources claimed to the Wayne Madsen Report that Snowden got “access to and released tens of thousands of classified NSA documents” because a CIA faction “was growing increasingly alarmed over the massive surveillance system controlled by NSA” and that “highly compartmented CIA covert operations abroad were made known to NSA” which did not make them happy. The article then goes on to claim that “a group of active and retired CIA officers, in addition to CIA contractors, set out to expose the NSA’s massive surveillance operations” and that Snowden “was chosen by the CIA faction as the person best positioned to collect NSA documents and leak them to the media.” It is also claimed that a civilian “who worked at the NSA Regional Security Operations Center in Kunia, Hawaii” worked with Snowden and that “the CIA faction helped arrange, through its own back channels, safe passage for Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow.” The site where the article is reposted then claims that there is no way of confirming ” whether NSA is actually being brought down by CIA or not” but that “Snowden’s transition from zero to immaculate spy was managed by Booz Allen and CIA” and that even if this is partly true, the war “between CIA and NSA…is representative of a collapse of the elite police force.”

The last post actually seems to be the most plausible of all the theories while the others have problems of verification or are just so off-the-wall as to not be taken seriously. One can easily dismiss all of these theories as hogwash. I am almost tempted do this myself. Still, it is should always be the case that people should think outside the box and challenge themselves.


I could look more into this and bring in some posts by Douglas Valentine, whose book on the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (Strength of the Wolf) I liked very much. I could look into statements by Snowden under his username of “Truehooha” but I feel that has already been done. While I could have written as a piggyback off Fivek’s post about the problems of the peace movement in the United States, that is for another day. In the future I may use some of the science fiction books I have read on the way to work to write posts on numerous subjects, including but not limited to, animal rights, possibly in relation to the incident on the Cincinnati Zoo, and a criticism of capitalism, of course. As I continue in my new job, which is a temp job, I won’t have much time to write posts such as this, but I may even write some narrative posts. We’ll see what happens. Anyway, I look forward to all of your comments as always.


The Intercept, the CIA, and corporate surveillance

Originally published on Leftist Critic on Feb 26, 2016.

This post was analyzed for mistakes and other content in January 2019, as part of an effort to engage in self-criticism.

As avid followers may know I had some interesting conversations with members of Omidyar’s play thing, The Intercept, which is part of a broader effort known as “First Look Media” that funds certain projects such as the recent movie, Spotlight. Anyway, this conversation begins with Jon Schwartz (@tinyrevolution) of The Intercept and ends with head honcho/celebrity left personality Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald). In this article I tie together both of these conversations not only to a broader critique of the CIA but of surveillance, corporate and governmental.

The reality of Jon Schwartz’s “pro-reality” article 

Jon Schwartz recently published an article in The Intercept which justifies Bernie Sanders’s position in 1974 to abolish the CIA when he ran as part of the still-existing-democratic socialist party called the Liberty Union Party. While some have convincingly argued that since he doesn’t have the position now that he shouldn’t be taken seriously and that “pragmatic” progressives won’t recognize why the CIA should be abolished today, Schwartz makes a stranger argument. In an article that could have called for the CIA’s abolishment but actually took a pro-Sanders bent, in my view, he says that Sanders’s position is NOT radical by claiming (and implying at times) that John F. Kennedy (JFK), Harry S. Truman, Dean Acheson, the final report of the Church Committee, and Daniel Moynihan wanted to abolish the CIA. Then he claims that the original article in POLITICO, that revealed this information, is part of a smear campaign against Sanders, implying that the Clinton campaign gave him the information about Sanders’s position to begin with. However, it is not worth wasting time with such silly speculation. It is better to look at Schwartz’s article to see if what he is saying is accurate.

Schwartz starts off with a quote from JFK to “prove” he wanted the CIA’s abolishment. The quote, for context was after the failed debacle, to unseat the newly communist Cuban government, known as the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Kennedy said and I quote: “I wanted to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces, and scatter it into the winds.” Now, that sounds like he would want to abolish it, and numerous people come have claimed this as well. There is no record that he pushed for the abolishment of the CIA in his other two years in office. Secondly, JFK did NOT want to blame the entire agency for the Bay of Pigs invasion. Thirdly, JFK turned to Operation Mongoose not long after. As a reminder, Operation Mongoose was, like the Bay of Pigs Invasion, an imperialist destabilization effort aimed at Cuba. Hence it easy to conclude that JFK was just angry about the Bay of Pigs invasion failing so miserably and hence was not serious about abolishing the CIA. After all, JFK was ok with CIA operations for the rest of his time in office until his assassination, so to say he would want to eliminate them is laughable.

We then move onto an article by Truman which Schwartz cites in which he apparently calls for the CIA’s abolishment. The quote from the article from Truman’s article, which cannot be accessed unless you have a subscription, which Schwartz uses as follows

“I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. … I, therefore, would like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the president … and that its operational duties be terminated or properly used elsewhere.”

As helpful comrade @nancyhoffner pointed out, Truman is lying just by looking at the Truman Doctrine (also see here) itself since there were “cloak and dagger operations” and the purpose of the CIA. While, as I noted above, the article cannot be accessed without a subscription, I could find most of it transcribed in the book Shadow Warfare: The History of America’s Undeclared Wars, but it is fully transcribed and posted here.

In the article itself, Truman acts disappointed that the CIA isn’t acting enough like “an arm of the President” who, in his view, needs “immense task and requires a special kind of an intelligence facility.” After talking about information the president receives, he claims that he set up the CIA to as an organization “charged with the collection of all intelligence reports from every available source, and to have those reports reach me as President without department “treatment” or interpretations” not with destabilization. This seems suspicious enough. He then goes on to say that the CIA apparently would would “guard against the chance of intelligence being used to influence or to lead the President into unwise decisions” and that no information should be kept from the CIA. Then he goes on to be “disturbed” by recent CIA actions, saying: “for some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government.” Before going on, I don’t understand the logic that the CIA was never a policy-making arm, as it has been policy-making since the beginning. Anyway, Truman continues and says this “new” assignment has “has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties” because of “peacetime cloak and dagger operations” and that it is is “being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue—and a subject for cold war enemy propaganda.” Hence he is saying that the CIA must change because it is serving as a form of Communist propaganda, a strong anti-communist view. He then says that Adm. Souers, Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg and Allen Dulles were “men of the highest character, patriotism and integrity” in leading the CIA. He concludes by saying that he would “like to see the CIA be restored to its original assignment as the intelligence arm of the President” and that “there is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel that we need to correct it.”

Some people may cheer at Truman’s words and say that he is completely right. However, the reality is different. The CIA is described by the State Department’s Office of the Historian in a similar way to Truman: “The CIA served as the primary civilian intelligence-gathering organization in the government.” The National Security Act of 1947 that established the CIA declared that it would have the purpose

“of coordinating the intelligence activities of the several Government departments and agencies in the interest of national security… advise the National Security Council…to make recommendations to the National Security Council…to correlate and evaluate intelligence relating to the national security, and provide for the appropriate dissemination of such intelligence within the Government…to perform, for the benefit of the existing intelligence agencies, such additional services of common concern… to perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security”

Within this, I can see the actions such as CIA coups and other forms of destabilization as being justified. I don’t think that is much of a stretch ans I don’t even have to go through official diplomatic history to prove this.

Schwartz goes on to cite the memoirs of Truman’s Secretary of State, Dean Acheson who had a similar “warning” about the CIA. He specifically wrote “I had the greatest forebodings about this organization [CIA] and warned the President that as set up neither he, the National Security Council, nor anyone else would be in a position to know what it was doing or to control it.” While he said this, Acheson had a problematic history. While he apparently sympathized with Third World nationalism, he was staunchly anti-communist, blamed Mossadegh for not cooperating with the British, and kept in place U$ imperialist foreign policy manifested in the Truman Doctrine as noted in Kinzer’s All the Shah’s Men and Robert Beisner’s Dean Acheson: A Life in the Cold War. It is important to note that Acheson also supported the creation of NATO and perpetrated the U$/Soviet divide as noted in his biography by the Office of the Historian. So, lets not praise him at all.

Moving on, Schwartz cites two more sources, among others, including this, to argue that the Church Committee and Daniel P. Moynihan supported the abolishment of the CIA. As it turns out both arguments are very reserved. The Church Committee final report (sections can be read here and here), declares that

“The Committee concludes that the policy and procedural barriers are presently inadequate to insure that any covert operation is absolutely essential to the national security. These barriers must be tightened and raised or covert action should be abandoned as an instrument of foreign policy…Covert operations must be based on a careful and systematic analysis of a given situation, possible alternative outcome, the threat to American interests of these possible outcomes, and above all, the likely consequences of an attempt to intervene…With respect to congressional oversight of covert action, the Committee believes that the appropriate oversight committee should be informed of all significant covert operations prior to their initiation and that all covert action projects should be reviewed by the committee on a semi-annual basis. Further, the oversight committee should require that the annual budget submission for covert action programs be specific and detailed as to the activity recommended. Unforeseen covert action projects should be funded only from the Contingency Reserve Fund which could be replenished only after the concurrence of the oversight and any other appropriate congressional committees. The legislative intelligence oversight committee should be notified prior to any withdrawal from the Contingency Reserve Fund.”

While some could say that this is calling for the abolishment of the CIA, I don’t really see that. I basically see more restrictions on the CIA’s activities, ending covert ops if certain requirements can’t be met. I can tell you that the agents of 24 (ex: Jack Bauer), Mission Impossible, and other spy thrillers, would be pissed off at something like this. All those forms of mass media entertainment treat even minimal oversight by Congress as the worst thing ever, restricting their action to kill/torture/maim the “bad guys,” a theme which is more common than not in our current post-2001, “anti-terror” era.

Finally, Schwartz cites a section of the Congressional Record in 1995 in which he claims that Daniel P. Moynihan is calling for the abolishment of the CIA. Unlike the Church Committee’s final report, it turns out this was a reality. Not only does Moynihan take a predictably anti-communist bent, he says that “secrecy is a disease. It causes hardening of the arteries of the mind” and that US foreign policy institutions should be reformed. But his act abolishing the CIA is problematic because “all of the functions, powers and duties of the Director of Central Intelligence, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and any officer or component of the Central Intelligence Agency” would be transferred to the US Secretary of State. Some may think this is great, except when you realize all the implied powers the CIA had gained from 1947 to 1995 including assassination, despite it sorta being banned by executive order, concocting forms of destabilization such as coup d’etats. So basically the Secretary of State would have these powers. How does this solve anything? Why not just abolish the CIA and all of its powers?

For the record, I think the CIA should be abolished. After all, lets just look at the things the CIA has done over the years:

  1. Involvement in 1963 Baghdad Coup with funding of the Baath Party which just happens to be the same party as Saddam Hussein. [1] What a coincidence, not.
  2. A campaign to destabilize Cuba codenamed Operation Mongoose or the Cuban Project, which is related to Operation Northwoods where the U$ agents would commit acts of terrorism within the U$ and then blame them on Cuba in order to justify a war
  3. Involvement in Operation Gladio
  4. The failed Bay of Pigs invasion
  5. Operation 40, which was a group of Cuban exiles who worked to destabilize Cuba, a group which apparently disbanded in 1970 after ten years in existence
  6. A mind-control program named MKUltra (discovered in 1977) which consisted of illegal tests on numerous people to test certain psychedelic drugs like LSD and heroin. Related to this is a former mind control project called Operation ARTICHOKE, and a connected sub-project called Operation Midnight Climax in which there were CIA safehouses in San Fransciso and “prostitutes paid by the government to lure clients to the apartment served up acid-laced cocktails to unsuspecting john.” [2] Also see this and information about Project MKOften
  7. A domestic intelligence operation called Operation CHAOS [3]
  8. Giving money and assistance to pro-Tibet forces such as the Dalai Lama for years and years as part of a plan to destabilize China. [4]
  9. A secret program named Operation Mockingbird to influence media with recruiting of “leading American journalists into a network to help present the CIA’s views, and funded some student and cultural organizations, and magazines as fronts”
  10. An operation called Project COLDFEET to extract intelligence from an abandoned Soviet Arctic drilling station
  11. A program called the Civilian Irregular Defense Group (CIDG) program developed in 1961 to train the South Vietnamese military
  12. The famed program called Operation Cyclone to arm and finance the Afghan mujahideen which ultimately became Al Qaeda. Later the CIA apparently tried to buy the weapons back in Operation MIAS but this failed.
  13. Project FUBELT, a code name for CIA operations to destabilize and topple Salvador Allende’s government in Chile.
  14. A program, assisted by the British, called Operation Gold, to tap into communication lines of Soviet Army headquarters in Berlin
  15. Battalion 3-16 was a murderous Honduran military unit that received training and support from the CIA
  16. CIA involvement in drug trafficking like the information revealed in Gary Webb’s Dark Alliance series
  17. All sorts of medical experiments, which made the US citizenry a laboratory for testing, as noted in this article. These experiments aren’t a surprise considering they funded one such program called Project 112 run by the military from 1962 to 1973.
  18. A project called Project Azorian to obtain a sunken Soviet sub. Related is an operation called Operation Matador.
  19. A secret covert OPs and intelligence fathering station called JMWAVE which was operated by the CIA in Florida from 1961 until 1968.
  20. A secret operation named Operation IA Freedom where the U$ government UNITA and FNLA militants in Angola’s Civil War.
  21. A guerrilla training program during the Laotian Civil War which was called Operation Momentum. Related is Operation Pincushion.
  22. Of course, I can’t forget about the Phoenix Program.
  23. Operation Washtub, a program to plant a phony Soviet arms cache in Nicaragua in an attempt to overthrow the Guatemalan president
  24.  A recon program called Project Dark Gene of the CIA and Iranian airforce to engage in recon of the Soviet Union
  25. According to William Blum, between 1949 and 1999, the CIA was involved in the assassination of thirty-three “prominent foreign individuals” not including the 200 political figures on a CIA/Neo-Nazi hit list, nine Sandinista commandantes. [5]
  26. As noted in the chapter of William Blum’s Rogue State about torture, the CIA taught torture techniques in Greece, Iran, Germany, Vietnam, Bolivia, Brazil, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Panama
  27. As noted in  the chapter of William Blum’s Rogue State titled “A Concise History of the United States Global Interventions, 1945 to the Present,” it is noted that the CIA meddled in the internal affairs of China, France, Italy, Greece, Philippines, Eastern Europe, Germany, Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Western Europe, Guyana, Iraq, Soviet Union, Vietnam, Laos, Ecuador, Congo, Algeria, Cuba, Ghana, Chile, South Africa, Bolivia, Australia, Portugal, South Yemen, Chad, Fiji, Afghanistan, Haiti, and Peru.
  28. As also noted in William Blum’s Rogue State, the CIA perverted elections in Lebanon, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Nepal, Laos, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Portugal, Jamaica, Panama, Nicaragua, and Haiti.
  29. The documents revealed in the Family Jewels report showing the that CIA: (1) confined a KGB defector, (2) wiretapped two syndicated columnists, (3) engaged in surveillance of investigative journalist Jack Anderson and associates, (4) engaged in surveillance of reporter Michael Getler, (5) broke into the homes of three people, two of whom were two former CIA employees, (6) opening of mail to and from the USSR from 1953 to 1973, (7) opening of mail to and from communist China from 1969 to 1972, (8) unsuccessful assassination plots against foreign leaders (Fidel Castro, Patrice Lumumba, Rafael Trujillo, and Rene Schneider), (9) surveillance of dissident groups between 1967 and 1971, (10) surveillance of particular individuals (including Victor Marchetti), and US citizens in Detroit, (11) amassing files on citizens involved in the antiwar movement, (12) polygraph experiment in California, (13) fake CIA ID documents that could violate state laws, and (14) testing electronic equipment on US telephone circuits

In recent years, the CIA has done some horrid things as any observer would recognize. These include the torture program in the 21st century, horribly called “enhanced interrogation” but still allowing “extraordinary rendition” to occur. Related to this are the “CIA manuals” for torture. Then there’s the CIA drone assassination program of course and the funding of supposed Syrian rebels.

But there is a story relating to the CIA that is worth noting that is ignored as I noted in a recent thread. That is the CIA’s involvement in the Benghazi attacks, attacks which the Republicans went totally out-of-their-minds over, and use as a partisan bludgeon. Still, there is something to be said on the CIA’s role. One report said that their only role was drafting talking points on the attacks for the House Intelligence Committee, generating “the initial drafts of the unclassified talking points and provided them to other officials within the Executive Branch for clearance,” and later a high-ranking CIA official editing, when working with State Department officials, “the talking points to their final form,” supposedly changed to protect a FBI investigation. Others told more about what the CIA’s role was in Libya and Benghazi.

These reports don’t say everything, but they say something. One report talked about CIA personnel were were killed on the day of the attack, mentioned that 20 minutes after the attack started on the main diplomatic facility, “CIA security personnel from a nearby CIA facility” which was informally called the “annex” raced to the facility, then exchanged “fire with the attackers and then…fought their way back to the annex.” Other parts of the report say that a individual “associated with” the CIA repeatedly asked for “assistance from existing “combat aircraft” but a “CIA superior “ignored” the demand because “he knew that no combat aircraft were available for such a mission” and that the response “of the CIA personnel at the annex has also been critiqued.” Other than this, the report says no more. Another heavily redacted report says that the chief of the CIA base in Benghazi was at the “annex” on the night of the attacks on September 11, 2012, that there was apparently no order by the CIA base chief to “stand down,” that the “annex” was “known by some in Benghazi as an American facility.” This report also says there were concerns to how “safe” it was for a U.S. “Temporary Mission Facility” (TMF) mission, CIA implementing “security upgrades” to protect the “annex” which had an unknown number of people, a six-man security team from the annex went to the mission after the attack, the CIA, along with the State Department, depended on the security to local militias who didn’t come through during the attack. An additional comment at the end said that the “CIA should be equally criticized for its own security at the Annex,” as equally as the State Department did not defend the TMF.

Finally there is the investigative report published in November of 2014 which is unclassified. This report, unlike the others, mentions the CIA quite a bit. It notes that there were “CIA facilities in Benghazi,” claims that there was no evidence the CIA was doing anything illegal in Libya (including arms smuggling), that there was a “Benghazi Base” with a CIA chief, and that there were 28 personnel at the TMF and annex combined. The report also says that the CIA team made arrangements with Libya’s new special forces team, that there was a CIA base in Tripoli, the CIA had a “low profile” in Benghazi, the CIA was collecting intelligence on those moving weapons from Libya but apparently not holding weapons, and the CIA Office of Public Affairs made changes to the talking points. There are some other points where the CIA is mentioned, but mostly these are just defending the CIA from accusations.

There are a number of aspects that these reports didn’t enter into. The conspiracy theory-leaning Washington’s Blog (see here and here), and some others, like this one, claimed that there were connections to the Syrian war. Journalist Seymour Hersh, linked Turkey, Benghazi, Syria and Sarin gas in an article. In the article, Hersh wrote that “the rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition” and that a secret annex to the report, according to an unnamed “former senior Defense Department official,” described a

“secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations…funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria…Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going…The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdoğan exposed politically and militarily.”

However, one could say this is just speculation, shaky as it is only based on what one unnamed official said. [6] After all this doesn’t go as far as those who said the TMF was a CIA front and/or a CIA operation (see here and here). An article on September 5, 2014 in the New York Times by David Kirkpatrick titled “New Book Says C.I.A. Official in Benghazi Held Up Rescue” claimed that CIA “commandaos” left their base “in defiance of the chief’s continuing order to “stand down”” which was questioned later by that same CIA chief named “Bob” (see here and here), and that the base chief “hoped to enlist local Libyan militiamen, and the commandos speculate that he hoped the Libyans could carry out the rescue alone to avoid exposing the C.I.A. base. No meaningful Libyan help ever materialized.” The article also quoted CIA “commandos” as joking with diplomatic security agents “What’s the difference between how Libyans look when they’re coming to help you versus when they’re coming to kill you? Not much.” Then there’s a “concerned” article from neocon Max Boot whose concern that “how the attackers knew about what was supposed to be a secret CIA facility is important” but forgets, as a report cited earlier in this section noted, that some in Benghazi knew it “as an American facility.” Additionally there’s an opinion piece by the former deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell, in which he admits the CIA base, which some had weakly called an “annex” in the past, “remained a key outpost used by the United States to understand developments during the revolution and to influence key players in eastern Libya after Qadhafi. CIA had established a presence in Benghazi with the mission of collecting intelligence” and claims that the CIA “did not play any role in moving weapons from Libya to the opposition in Syria and neither did any other CIA officer or facility in Libya.” He even admits, while spitting out the normal imperial response that Gaddafi’s departure “from the scene in Libya in 2011 was a good thing in that it prevented the slaughter of thousands of his own citizens,” that what “followed was a failed state that provided room for extremist groups to flourish,” along with a slew of other claims.

A number of commentators argued in publications such as CounterPunch that the TMF and the installation as a whole [7] was more than a diplomatic mission. Norman Pollack argued that “Benghazi is but a pawn not only in US domestic politics, but also in spreading America’s  emphasis on paramilitary operations worldwide…Benghazi was primarily a CIA installation, its “annex” given the cloak of diplomatic immunity…these facilities are often fronts for a range of covert activities…[it was] a CIA outpost.” He added that “the locals know the score and deeply resent the armed fortresses spread globally, the claims of diplomatic immunity when personnel or the protectors…violate the laws of the country when committing crimes.” Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer and executive director of the Council for National Interest wrote in the slightly neocon American Conservative that “…Benghazi has been described as a U.S. consulate…The much larger CIA base was located in a separate building a mile away. It was protected by a not completely reliable local militia.” Giraladi argues that “on Benghazi, the CIA’s operating directive would have been focused on two objectives: monitoring the local al-Qaeda affiliate group, Ansar al-Sharia, and tracking down weapons liberated from Colonel Gaddafi’s arsenal.” Horace Campbell added to this. In an article in CounterPunch he raised a number of good points saying the attacks were the outcome of “Libyan society is in chaos” two years after NATO intervention, that Benghazi was “the largest CIA station in North Africa, where they ran militias into Syria,” said there were numerous unanswered questions like how the CIA station was used to train “Jihadists” and that “the debates in the USA can be viewed as another diversion to cover up the CIA operations in North Africa.” Melvin Goodman, a former CIA analyst and national security expert argued that “the U.S. presence in Benghazi was an intelligence platform and only nominally a consulate…[and] the was primarily diplomatic cover for an intelligence operation that was known to Libyan militia groups.” In an earlier article he expanded on this saying the why was obvious if you considered the role of the U.S. “consulate” in Benghazi:

“The consulate’s primary mission was to provide an intelligence platform that would allow the CIA to maintain an operational and analytical role in eastern Libya…[it] was the diplomatic cover for an intelligence platform and whatever diplomatic functions took place in Benghazi also served as cover for an important CIA base…Any CIA component in the Middle East or North Africa is a likely target of the wrath of militant and terrorist organizations because of the Agency’s key role in the global war on terror waged by the Bush administration and the increasingly widespread covert campaign of drone aircraft of the Obama administration…The CIA contributed to the problem with its reliance on Libyan militias and a new Libyan intelligence organization to maintain security for its personnel in Benghazi.”

These views are reinforced in a number of articles on the subject in popular, but still bourgeois, publications. An article on pro-Democrat and pro-Obama site, America Blog, complained that a GOPers outed a secret operation by saying that “Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz, and his House Republican colleagues on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, outed a classified CIA operation, on C-SPAN no less, endangering American national security” and that apparently they didn’t extra security “because it might have signaled that there was actually a CIA operation underway.” That propagandist approach was mirrored, as Reuters noted later, by the Center for American Progress, a think tank which easily allies with the Obama administration. Liberal columnist Dana Milbank whined about this as well, saying in an opinion piece for the Washington Post, that House Republicans “…accidentally blew the CIA’s cover…[they] left little doubt that one of the two compounds at which the Americans were killed, described by the administration as a “consulate” and a nearby “annex,” was a CIA base,” live on C-SPAN.” Milbank claimed that “”other government agency,” or “OGA,” is a common euphemism in Washington for the CIA” and that it was absurd to have “a televised probe of the matter,” again implying that the CIA should NOT be criticized in public. Ugh. Then there was an article in The Telegraph which cited a CNN article, arguing that “up to 35 CIA operatives were working in the city during the attack last September on the US consulate that resulted in the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans” and just summarizing the article in general. The CNN article itself cited a number of unnamed sources, making claims about CIA actions, saying that “the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret…an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.” that 21 Americans “were working in the building known as the annex [CIA base], believed to be run by the agency,” and possible State Department involvement in the gun-running, if you read between the lines or a certain way.

Other articles make it clear that the CIA might be hiding something. A Reuters article on October 12, 2012 by Mark Hosenball titled “U.S. intelligence hurt when Libya base was abandoned” claims, according to unnamed government sources, “U.S. intelligence efforts in Libya have suffered a significant setback due to the abandonment and exposure of a facility in Benghazi, Libya” by Dana Milbank and Congressional Republicans. The article also calls the CIA Base an “intelligence post,” says that “publication of satellite photos showing the site’s location and layout have made it difficult, if not impossible, for intelligence agencies to reoccupy the site.” The article claims, according to unnamed sources that the CIA base had been “collecting information on the proliferation of weaponry looted from Libyan government arsenals, including surface-to-air missiles” and that “intelligence officials are not happy at being drawn into the political battle.” What makes the CIA’s role even more suspicious is an ABC News article on November 13, 2012 by Jonathan Karl titled “Petraeus Personally Investigated Benghazi Attack.” The article notes that “in late October [2012], [David] Petraeus [former CIA director] traveled to Libya to conduct his own review of the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens” and while in Tripoli “he personally questioned the CIA station chief and other CIA personnel who were in Benghazi on Sept. 11 when the attack occurred.” While the article claims this was supposed to be “a way to prepare for his upcoming testimony before Congress on Benghazi,” he said he wanted to avoid testifying because “acting CIA Director Morell is in possession of all the information Petraeus gathered in conducting his review and he has more current information gathered since Petraeus’ departure; and it would be a media circus.” To me, this just seems like a cop-out. Still, some publications like Wired magazine, which engage in snide attacks on Gaddafi, claim that Petraeus’s reputation was “an unexpected casualty of the September assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya…a bureaucratic effort to throw Petraeus under the bus is showing through in the press…The CIA, operating out of an “annex” near the 13-acre consular compound, dwarfed the regular diplomatic presence in Benghazi, with the mission of hunting down ex-dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s unsecured rockets and missiles…Petraeus kept the CIA’s Benghazi role in the shadows.” The article also claims that the “State Department relied on a previously obscure British firm, Blue Mountain, to guard the entire compound. Blue Mountain paid its Libyan guards $4 an hour.” [8]

The final article worth sharing on this is Adam Entous, Siohhan Gorman, and Margaret Coker’s November 1, 2012 article in the Wall Street Journal titled “CIA Takes Heat for Role in Libya.” The article notes that Petraeus stayed away from discussing the attacks “in an effort to conceal the agency’s role in collecting intelligence and providing security in Benghazi” and that, according to anonymous officials, “the U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation” with the operation “under diplomatic cover, which was a principal purpose of the consulate, these officials said.” The article claims that “the CIA’s secret role helps explain why security appeared inadequate at the U.S. diplomatic facility,” that it explains why “the consulate was abandoned to looters for weeks afterward while U.S. efforts focused on securing the more important CIA quarters,” and that in Libya “the consulate provided diplomatic cover for the classified CIA operations.” The article also said that “the spy agency was the first to set up shop” during the “Libyan revolution” starting in February 2011, focusing on “countering proliferation and terrorist threats…[and] the spread of weapons and militant influences throughout the region” and that “in mid-2011, the State Department established its consulate in Benghazi, to have a diplomatic presence in the birthplace of the Libyan revolution.” Almost confirming with that congressional report, this article claims that “outside of Tripoli and Benghazi, the nature of the security relationship between the consulate and the annex wasn’t widely known,” that there was a CIA team in Tripoli,” that local Libyan agents were sent to the annex “to destroy any sensitive documents and equipment there, even as the consulate compound remained unguarded and exposed to looters and curiosity seekers for weeks” and some documents, “including the ambassador’s journal, were taken from the consulate site.” The article then goes further by saying that “…many more people worked there [in the CIA base] and they were doing sensitive work, while the consulate, by design, had no classified documents” and that according to unnamed U.S and Libyan officials, “the CIA abandoned the annex after it had been scrubbed clean of any sensitive materials, according to U.S. and Libyan officials.” [9]

Before moving on, I think a few things are clear from the information: the CIA had multiple bases in Libya (Tripoli and Benghazi), with the one in Benghazi apparently not engaged in gun-running to the Syrian rebels (how we are supposed to trust what the CIA says on this?) and suspiciously arriving on the scene during the “Libyan revolution.” So clearly, the CIA did some suspicious stuff, but all of what did is not exactly clear. I’m not sure if Schwartz recognizes all this, but his article that is NOT “pro-reality,” as he claims. This shouldn’t be a surprise for someone who defended Sarah Palin, Ahmad Chalabi, is anti-communist, and claims that too little is being spent in the political process. Still, he seemed to call for the CIA’s abolishment:

There is a point to be made that even abolishing the CIA would not do much over all since the imperial foreign establishment of the United States would still be largely in place. Still, it would be a positive step. At one point,  I asked him if the corporate world shouldn’t be held to the same standard and he never responded. This leads us to Greenwald. In retrospect, I could have challenged him more, but now I know that he responds tepidly, so I can challenge him more effectively in the future.

Glenn Greenwald and corporate surveillance

The horrid libertarian and celebrity left personality, Glenn Greenwald, had a brash response to my comment challenging him. Let me step back. He tweeted, citing a Pew Research Center poll, saying that there was “strong evidence” that Apple’s move to deny FBI access to an iPhone to assist in an investigation was not PR. In response, I argued the following: “Lol strong evidence? Apple cares about its shareholders not the general populace. Come on.” His response was to call me dumb and acting like I was brainless, basically saying I didn’t know what I was talking about:

After I called this response brash and said I didn’t trust Apple’s response, he asked the same question again, basically acting like I didn’t know what I was talking about. I responded by saying that he was falsely assuming that all of those who said yes in to FBI access in the poll were Apple customers. He then responded by acting like I wasn’t making sense at all

In response to this, I fired back by saying that Apple was right to deny the request but that it is PR to cover their own surveillance, adding later that “I also don’t trust that they aren’t giving data to the NSA, FBI, or whatever govt. agency. I think it is indirectly given.” In further conversation I said that (1) Apple harvests all sorta of data, (2) it wants monetization, (3) isn’t taking a stand against corporate surveillance and only government surveillance, (4) provides false security, (5) gives data to a third party,  and so on (see here and here). I also found, in responses to Greenwald and yours truly comments that invalidated Greenwald’s concern (see here and here), BS in favor of Apple (see here), and the convincing argument that not much is really private anymore (see here) and so on (see here and here. I could mention and get into an article (titled “How Tim Cook, in iPhone Battle, Became a Bulwark for Digital Privacy”) in the New York Times that elevates Apple CEO Tim Cook’s supposedly noble privacy crusade, proving that no one should question Cook’s motive apparently.

I think it is worth mentioning, before going on, that Greenwald is NOT the only one advocating on behalf of Apple. The shifty CIA whistleblower John Kirakou, who will be mentioned more in detail in a future article, shilled for Apple, with a goofy cartoon in Truthdig to go along with it. Even Chelsea Manning, the Wikileaks whistleblower, fell in line in an opinion piece about privacy online, saying

“…I support Apple in its fight against the FBI…I disagree with Apple on many things – such as its exclusive use of proprietary software and arbitrary restrictions on users seeking to copy, share, edit and create software on their devices. However, I strongly feel that defending its users’ and customers’ right to strong encryption in court is incredibly important.”

If there couldn’t be anything more twisted, here it is. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which claims it cares about digital rights, and celebrated a legal victory against the NSA had protests outside Apple stores in San Francisco to PROMOTE Tim Cook’s position (see here, here, here) and broader support (see here and here). The EFF’s protests were part of a bigger event, in conjunction with “Fight for the Future” (see here and here) which was famous for pushing back against internet-restrictive/censorship bills, SOPA and PIPA, years ago, in an event that sounds eerily pro-Apple. This shouldn’t be a surprise considering Fight for the Future’s supporters connected to the Democratic Party and important foundations, among others.

Before going on, I think it is important to reprint the letter of Tim Cook that has got people such as Snowden (as implied and noted here, here, here, here, here, and here) and celebrity left personality Deray to back Apple. Cook is projecting obvious government-blaming and I don’t trust him.  In the “consumer letter” with the preface saying that Apple opposes a US government order to access to an iPhone and that “this moment calls for public discussion, and we want our customers and people around the country to understand what is at stake.” The letter is as follows [subtitles removed and bolded sections with comments in brackets]:

Smartphones, led by iPhone, have become an essential part of our lives. People use them to store an incredible amount of personal information, from our private conversations to our photos, our music, our notes, our calendars and contacts, our financial information and health data, even where we have been and where we are going. [Oh, I wonder who collects that info]

All that information needs to be protected from hackers and criminals who want to access it, steal it, and use it without our knowledge or permission. Customers expect Apple and other technology companies to do everything in our power to protect their personal information, and at Apple we are deeply committed to safeguarding their data [yeah that’s a lie, you monetize information all the time].

Compromising the security of our personal information can ultimately put our personal safety at risk. That is why encryption has become so important to all of us.

For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe. We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business [but information is monetized so it kinda is their business, but ok].

We were shocked and outraged by the deadly act of terrorism in San Bernardino last December. We mourn the loss of life and want justice for all those whose lives were affected. The FBI asked us for help in the days following the attack, and we have worked hard to support the government’s efforts to solve this horrible crime. We have no sympathy for terrorists.

When the FBI has requested data that’s in our possession, we have provided it. Apple complies with valid subpoenas and search warrants, as we have in the San Bernardino case. We have also made Apple engineers available to advise the FBI, and we’ve offered our best ideas on a number of investigative options at their disposal.

We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. [why the heck would you ever think that?] Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession. [ok, that’s true, but they’ll find a way in somehow. But what are the “right hands” in this case?]

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

Some would argue that building a backdoor for just one iPhone is a simple, clean-cut solution. But it ignores both the basics of digital security and the significance of what the government is demanding in this case.

In today’s digital world, the “key” to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge. [they can already crack encryption anyhow and you you know that]

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. [see it is about serving their customers, I knew this was coming] The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

We can find no precedent for an American company being forced to expose its customers to a greater risk of attack. For years, cryptologists and national security experts have been warning against weakening encryption. Doing so would hurt only the well-meaning and law-abiding citizens who rely on companies like Apple to protect their data. [here we go again, defending your consumer base.] Criminals and bad actors will still encrypt, using tools that are readily available to them.

Rather than asking for legislative action through Congress, the FBI is proposing an unprecedented use of the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.

The government would have us remove security features and add new capabilities to the operating system, allowing a passcode to be input electronically. This would make it easier to unlock an iPhone by “brute force,” trying thousands or millions of combinations with the speed of a modern computer.

The implications of the government’s demands are chilling. If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. [can’t they already do that to an extent?] The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge. [um they can get a lot of that stuff from monetization already]

Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the U.S. government. [Ok, not a surprise there]

We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. [this is total bull you corporate tax dodgers and wealthy capitalists.] We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.

While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products. [why would you think the FBI’s intentions are good. That is just ridiculous] And ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.

So it is clear from this that Apple is doing this because of their consumer base and to maintain their current customer and theoretically get new ones as well. Lest us not forget Apple’s role in terms of monetization. As one article noted in 2013, as also noted here, “…iOS app downloads will help Apple stay ahead of its competitors in terms of revenues from app monetization” an though many of their apps “are free, they feature advertisements, which generate revenue for both Apple and its developers,” money which rakes in the billions. Then there’s other services such as Apple Pay, and opportunities, as a Goldman Sachs analyst thought, “to increase its monetization potential given its 500 million iPhone user base.” But there’s more when it comes to data.

In a recent set of tweets I noted Apple’s role when it comes to collecting information. I noted Apple’s response to the PRISM program and saying they didn’t have DIRECT access to Apple servers, implying that there was indirect access, possibly through something like Plantir, likely so, while the publicly denied it. Even Micah Lee in The Intercept argued in an article back in 2014 in response to a similar letter the following:

“[Apple] seriously oversold…[its]…commitment to privacy…despite these nods to privacy-conscious consumers, Apple still strongly encourages all its users to sign up for and use iCloud, the internet syncing and storage service where Apple has the capability to unlock key data like backups, documents, contacts, and calendar information in response to a government demand…While Apple’s harder line on privacy is a welcome change, it’s important to put it in context…Since the iPhone 3GS, all iOS devices have supported encrypting personal data such as text messages, photos, emails, contacts, and call history. If you set a passcode it would be used to encrypt some, but not all, of the data on your device. Apple was still able to decrypt some of the data without knowing your passcode. The improved encryption in iOS 8 is a great move towards protecting consumer privacy and security. But users should be aware that in most cases it doesn’t protect your iOS device from government snoops…This isn’t the first time that Apple has oversold the security of its products.”

They’ve now conveniently changed their “legal process guidelines” to a page about “government requests.” Some may argue that this is from 2014 and much has changed since then. Other articles said that the surveillance scandal is a great way to market products, that Apple and Google aren’t on your side as much as you think, that Apple is among one of the corporate collaborators with the NSA, and numerous crimes of Apple across the world, just in 2013. Then there’s the reality that Apple is, like Google, essentally a corporate intelligence operation which profits by “monetizing user data…gleefully sell[ing] your data to the highest bidder on one hand while simultaneously working to dilute privacy laws with the other.” While Cook denied this (and here), despite it being partially true with an “internet master” like Apple, among others, collecting safari searches, private location information (also see here), and so on (also see here). One article put it best: “Apple gathers up about as much personal information on users as any other big tech company. The main difference is, it says it doesn’t connect the dots. It may know everything about you, but it doesn’t know you’re you.” Cook claims that “Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers,” but their responses to what data they give is a bit problematic:

“We carefully review any request to ensure that there’s a valid legal basis for it. And we limit our response to only the data law enforcement is legally entitled to for the specific investigation…We encourage any customer who suspects their device is stolen to contact their respective law enforcement agency.”- government information request page

“[For Apple Pay] We may receive anonymous transaction information such as the approximate time and location of the transaction, which helps us improve Apple Pay and other Apple products and services…Apple Pay retains anonymous transaction information such as approximate purchase amount…If we use third-party vendors to store your information, we encrypt it and never give them the keys…We use only the necessary data to help create the best experience for you, whether you’re using Maps to locate a restaurant or Apple Music to discover a new artist. And we never sell your data…The longer you use Siri and Dictation, the better they understand you and the better they work. To help them recognize your pronunciation and provide better responses, certain information such as your name, contacts, and songs in your music library is sent to Apple servers using encrypted protocols…Album names are only sent to Siri to help provide you with better results. If you have Location Services turned on, the location of your device at the time you make a request will also be sent to Apple to help Siri improve the accuracy of its response to your requests. You may choose to turn off Location Services…For example, event addresses and a user’s location are sent to Apple so that we can provide accurate Time to Leave predictions that take into consideration traffic and local transit schedules. Information like a user’s location may be sent to Apple to provide localized suggestions as well as relevant news and search results. When we do send information to a server, we protect your privacy…In order for features like Radio, For You, and Connect to reflect your musical tastes, we collect some information about your activity in the app…The more you read, the more personalized the News app becomes. We don’t link your reading activity to other Apple services. Information we collect about articles you read is used to improve News…You don’t have to sign in to use Maps, and it only knows you by a random identifier that resets itself frequently as you use the app…Searching with Spotlight goes beyond your device to give you suggestions from sources like Wikipedia, the iTunes Store, and local News and Maps results. Before it answers, Spotlight considers things like context and location…You can also opt out of having Spotlight use Location Services anytime you want. If you opt out, Spotlight will still use your IP address to determine a general location to make your searches more relevant…Apps can share data for the purpose of improving your health or health research, but only with your permission…By default, developers don’t have access to your Apple ID, just a unique identifier. If you give your permission, developers can use your email to let others find you in their app… Only essential information that enhances the CarPlay experience will be used from your car. For example, iPhone can combine its own GPS data with your car’s to make Maps as accurate as possible…And through Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP), schools can purchase apps and deliver them to a student’s iPad without having to use an iTunes login”- Approach to privacy page

“It’s important to note that Frequent Locations remain on your device and are not sent to Apple, or even backed up in iTunes or iCloud. The one exception is if you opt in to improve Maps for yourself and other users, in which case we will occasionally collect your Frequent Locations but only retain this data in a purely anonymous form. Frequent Locations are encrypted with keys protected by your passcode on your device, and you always have the option to turn this feature off. And you’ll notice that your iOS device asks for your permission before giving any app, even built-in Apple apps, access to your location information…On iOS, advertising does support some apps, so to help protect your privacy we have developed the nonpersistent Advertising Identifier. Apple’s advertising service, iAd, uses this identifier to deliver ads to you via things like third-party apps and iTunes Radio…You can choose to send Apple anonymous technical data that we can use to make our products and services better. If you would like to help improve our products and services, you can opt in to our Diagnostic & Usage program and send nonidentifiable information about your device and applications”- Manage your privacy page

“If you opt in to diagnostic and usage collection, you agree that Apple and its subsidiaries and agents may collect, maintain, process and use diagnostic, technical, usage and related information, including but not limited to information about your iOS Device, computer, system and application software, and peripherals, that is gathered periodically to facilitate the provision of software updates, product support and other services to you (if any) related to the iOS Software, and to verify compliance with the terms of this License. Apple may use this information, as long as it is collected in a form that does not personally identify you, to provide and improve Apple’s products and services. ..Apple may also provide any such partner or third party developer with a subset of diagnostic information that is relevant to that partner’s or developer’s software, hardware and/or services, as long as the diagnostic information is in a form that does not personally identify you… By using any location-based services on your iOS Device, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its partners’ and licensees’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing and use of your location data and queries to provide and improve location-based and road traffic-based products and services. You may withdraw this consent at any time… By using Siri or Dictation, you agree and consent to Apple’s and its subsidiaries’ and agents’ transmission, collection, maintenance, processing, and use of this information, including your voice input and User Data, to provide and improve Siri, Dictation, and other Apple products and services…By using the iOS Software, you agree that Apple may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use these identifiers for the purpose of providing and improving the FaceTime feature…By using the iOS Software, you agree that Apple may transmit, collect, maintain, process and use these identifiers for the purpose of providing and improving the iMessage service. The iMessage service requires a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection…By using the Photo Stream feature of iCloud, you agree that Apple may store photos taken on your iOS Device or uploaded from your computer for a limited period of time and automatically send the photos to your other Apple iOS Devices or computers that are Photo Stream-enabled…Apple may provide mobile, interest-based advertising to you. If you do not want to receive relevant ads on your iOS Device, you can opt out…This opt-out applies only to Apple advertising services and does not affect interest-based advertising from other advertising networks…You agree that the Services contain proprietary content, information and material that is owned by Apple and/or its licensors, and is protected by applicable intellectual property and other laws, including but not limited to copyright… Apple and its licensors reserve the right to change, suspend, remove, or disable access to any Services at any time without notice. In no event will Apple be liable for the removal of or disabling of access to any such Services. Apple may also impose limits on the use of or access to certain Services, in any case and without notice or liability.”- iOS SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT

So basically this is saying that Apple still collects a lot of data but doesn’t monetize as heavily as Google and others. Already, the security of its devices has come under scrutiny (also see here), and they collect all sorts of information (also see here and here) since they are part of Surveillance Valley.

Even the animated sitcom, that I like so much, The Simpsons, had a number of episodes criticizing Apple. These iPods uniting and “overthrowing the very humans they entertained,” basically turning them into slaves. But more pointedly is not this, this, thisthis,  or addiction to online games, but the use of “Mapple” as stand-in for Apple. These include addiction to the MyPad (basically the iPad) and “Steve Mobbs” instead of Steve Jobs. In one clip, Steve Mobbs declares to Homer “now press the submit icon an agree to buy all our future products. And we’re going to be making a lot of stuff.” When Homer grimaces at this, Mobbs declares incessantly “submit,” with a closer focus on his face, to which Homer says “I don’t know. I don’t want to” and Mobbs threatens “or you could buy something from Hewlett-Packard.” In response, of course, Homer presses “I submit” and Mobs declares in an evil voice “YES! YES!” making him look like a villain. Other clips show Lisa mad about her “MyBill” which charges her over $1,000 for songs she bought, the goofiness of Siri, and so on. The best clip is one in which Bart acts like Steve Mobbs is speaking at a Mapple store, after the Mapple supporters call him a “genius” and a “god who knows what we want” being laughable but making a point about Apple (Bolding is when Bart comes in):

“Greetings, it is I, your great leader, Steve Mobbs. I’m speaking to you from Mapple headquarters, deep below the sea, with an announcement that will completely change the way you look at everything. [expressions of awe]. And that announcement is [Bart comes in with a plugged in microphone] You’re all losers. You think you’re cool because you buy a $500 phone with a picture of fruit on it? Well, guess what, they cost $8 bucks to make and I pee on every one. I have made a fortune off you chumps and I’ve invested it all in Microsoft. Now, my boyfriend, Bill Gates and I kiss each other on a pile of your money.”

While Bart is a bit over the top, he makes a point about how Mapple (Apple) is exploiting people. The later part of the clip shows that Mobbs is self-absorbed and isn’t willing to renegotiate a ridiculous bill, saying their real slogan is “no refunds” while their posters say “think differently.” Hence, these clips are saying Apple is powerful, with Jobs/Mobbs like a god, and by extension shouldn’t be trusted. Moving back to the practices of Apple, they engage in a good amount of information gathering. Still, despite this, they are somehow qualified, in the minds of some, to lead the charge against government surveillance with previous efforts like this. Lest us not forget the criminal acts Apple has done in the past, like “…failing to inform parents that, by entering a password, they were permitting a charge for virtual goods or currency to be used by their child in playing a children’s app” for example, possibly conspiring to raise prices of e-books (also see here), and much more likely listed in the Federal Register.

A conclusion

While this article jumped from the CIA to corporate surveillance both topics are interconnected (after all the CIA has been trying to poke through Apple’s security for years). This is because there is corporate espionage as well, and there is too much blaming of government entities without recognizing how the government and corporate sector work together. To put it more plainly, the government is protecting the interests of the capitalists, who are in this case the heads of the big tech giants. Hence, to oppose government surveillance without recognizing how it interlinks with corporate surveillance is not only naive but it is counterproductive. The best approach is to recognize how both forces connect.


[1] See a Komer memo of February 12th [document 18 in this collection]: “A number of signs suggest the Soviets may be trying a counter-coup in Iraq…some in the CIA share my suspicions, though we all feel that Moscow would probably fail, and in the process blot its copybook still further. [written in pen:] Nothing we can usefully do yet anyway…You don’t see most of the cables but State and I are trying every trick.” Also see this document sent on February 7, 1963 by the US Department of State: “We concur situation in Iraq disturbing but as yet by no means clear Iraq actually becoming Soviet base…Through our posture, US has sought maintenance American presence in Iraq, and, concomitantly, avoidance of open controversy with Qasim regime; readiness to respond to any Iraqi desire improve official relations; and continuance official and unofficial American contacts with view not only of influencing Iraqi attitudes but also of acquiring valuable intelligence…US statements cannot be disseminated without distortion within Iraq, and shortwave broadcasts would not have impact on wide group. Qasim would have freedom within Iraq to twist US representations to provide basis for increasing tempo of anti-US campaign and intensifying harassment of Embassy and Consulate Basra…our position and prestige in other Arab countries determined by factors other than our relations with Iraq or Iraqi propaganda.” Also see this document which says: “a coup d’etat reportedly led by Colonel Abdul Karim Mustafa was mounted in Baghdad in the early morning of February 8, 1963. Former Prime Minister Qasim is reported dead. Affirmations of support for the new regime have come from military and civil leaders in all parts of Iraq…the United States would welcome public affirmation that the new Iraqi regime intends to carry out Iraq’s international obligations. He will also ask for assurance that the new regime will safeguard American citizens and interests in Iraq…Following our recognition of the new Iraqi regime, assignment of a new Ambassador will be required.” This document kinda confirms the coup as well: “Sometime after midnight, local time, elements of the armed forces staged a coup in Iraq. Information presently available has not confirmed that Qasim is actually dead…It is believed by members of CIA that the coup was triggered by Qasim’s recent arrest of a large number of Bath Party members…The consensus of members of State and CIA is that if the coup is successful, relations between the U.S. and Iraq will be considerably improved and the internal situation in Iraq should gradually improve.” Oh and the memo from Komer to Kennedy [also see here] which says “[the] Iraqi revolution seems to have succeeded. It is almost certainly a net gain for our side…We will make informal friendly noises as soon as we can find out whom to talk with, and ought to recognize as soon as we’re sure these guys are firmly in the saddle” is yet another indication this was a CIA action.” Many more documents and such are noted in this article, which include this, this, thisthis, this, and this. For more official documents, see here.

[2] For more on Midnight Climax see here, here, here, here, here, and here.

[3] Also see what the Pike Committee said about the CIA

[4] For more information on this, see official documents here and here. Also see articles in popular publications such as New York Review of BooksIn These Times, The Daily Beast, Chicago Tribune, The Age, and the LA Times.

[5] As notes on pages 38-40 of Rogue State: Kim Koo (1949), Zhou Enlai (1950s), Sukarno (1950s, 1963), Kim Il Sung (1951), Claro M. Recto (1950s), Jawaharlal Nehru (1955), Gamal Abdul Nasser (1957), Norodom Sihanouk (1959), Abdul Karim Kassem (1960), Jose Figueres (1950s-70s), Francois Duvailer (1961), Patrica Lumumba (1961), Rafael Trujilo (1961), Ngo Dinh Diem (1963) which is noted in this document, Fidel Castro (1960s), Raul Castro (1960s), Francisco Caamano (1965), Charles de Gaulle (1965-6), Che Guevara (1967), Salvador Allende (1970), Rene Schneider (1970), Omar Torrijos (1970s, 1981), Manuel Noreiga (1972), Mobutu Sese Seko (1975), Michael Manley (1976), Moammar Qaddafi (1980-6), Ayatollah Khomeini (1982), Ahmed Dlimi (1983), Miguel d’Escoto (1983), Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah (1985), Saddam Hussein (1991), Osama Bin Laden (1998), and Slobodan Milosevic (1999).

[6] An article by Gadi Adelman, a right-winger for sure, quotes a former CIA operative of 20 years, Clare Lopez, who claims that the CIA was helping facilitate weapons transfers: the short answer is yes. They were working with the very same Al-Qaeda linked relationships in Libya to gather up and buy back and collect weapons from Gaddafi’s stock pile that were missing from the revolution in Libya last year and what it looks like is that they were shipping them onwards to Syria…[the weapons have] gone to the Sinai and they’ve also gone to Mali and to other places in western Africa and they’ve also gone to Syria. That was the operation, that’s what they were doing.” Yet again, this really isn’t concrete evidence of anything such as gun-running.

[7] In a US State Department briefing a senior State Department Official  said the following about the “consulate”:

 “The compound is roughly 300 yards long – that’s three football fields long – and a hundred yards wide. We need that much room to provide the best possible setback against car bombs…The compound has four buildings on it, and you guys are going to have to get used to this, because I refer them to – as Building C, Building B, Tactical Operations Center, and a barracks. So Building C is a building that is essentially a large residence. It has numerous bedrooms and it is – it has a safe haven installed in it, and I’ll talk more about that in a minute. Building C ultimately is the building that the Ambassador was in, so keep that in your heads. Building B is another residence on the compound. It has bedrooms and it has a cantina. That’s where the folks dine. The Tactical Operations Center, which is just across the way from Building B, has offices and a bedroom. That’s where the security officers had their main setup, that’s where the security cameras are, a lot of the phones – it’s basically their operations center…A safe haven is a fortified area within a building. This particular safe haven has a very heavy metal grill on it with several locks on it. It essentially divides the one – the single floor of that building in half, and half the floor is the safe haven, the bedroom half. Also in the safe haven is a central sort of closet area where people can take refuge where there are no windows around…I have my timeline wrong…At that point, a decision is made at the annex that they are going to have to evacuate the whole enterprise.”

[8] A number of articles in official media expand on this including James Risen’s October 12, 2012 article titled “After Benghazi Attack, Private Security Hovers An Issue” in the New York Times, an October 17th article in Reuters titled “For Benghazi diplomatic security, U.S. relied on small British firm,” articles in Wired (see here and here), The Guardian, Salon, and others.

[9] This statement of classified documents is interesting because during a State Department briefing a senior state department official claimed that “this was a post and…[it] held no classified documents. They had computer communications with Washington, but the material would arrive on the screen and you would read it on the screen, and then that was it. There was no classified paper, so there was no paper to burn. So maybe there are some documents or files out there at least. We’ll see.


Recent tweets have showed that more are jumping on the “side with Apple” train like BORDC (Bill of Rights Defense Committee) people. BORDC recently merged with another foundation (Defending Dissent foundation) and honors who it considers “patriots,” is connected to the usual folks which include celebrity left personalities like Daniel Ellsburg. However, beyond this, the Apple solidarity rally was overwhelmed by mad and confrontational #ResignRahm protesters as this thread (starting here) shows. The Chicago Tribune article notes the following:

“The Apple Store on North Michigan Avenue was among nearly 50 locations worldwide where Fight for the Future, an organization that advocates for privacy for Internet users and opposes Web censorship, planned rallies Tuesday. A small group assembled for that rally late Tuesday afternoon proved unequal to a more vocal group of protesters, who had marched from the Thompson Center in the Loop to North Michigan Avenue. That group saw the media assembled to cover the Apple rally and quickly commandeered the spotlight. The protesters started chants against Emanuel and Alvarez, then several in the crowd got into a shoving match with police officers. Some of the demonstrators were knocked into the planter boxes that line Michigan Avenue. A small cluster of protesters huddled at Michigan Avenue and Huron Street, where they burned a small American flag and shouted profanities before continuing to march north. After the skirmish, only two or three Fight for Future protesters remained, including Jon Monroe, who said he drove downtown from Libertyville to participate in the rally. He said the others were “scared off.”…Organizers had encouraged protesters to turn their phones and tablets into protest signs and carry 10-foot iPhone-shaped banners reading “Don’t Break Our Phones” to show opposition against the court order compelling Apple to help the FBI hack into Syed Rizwan Farook’s work-issued iPhone.”

To be honest, this story kinda cracks me up. That’s all I have to add.