This latest glimpse beneath the facade at the massive, secretive and highly illegal surveillance campaign against the American people is an outrage. Given the proclivity of those who run the system in this country to exert raw power to advance their own agendas it is no leap in logic that journalists alone were the only group targeted. There remains the question of whether blackmail, especially sexual blackmail is routinely used as a tool to keep government and media officials from not straying too far from the dirty business of imperialism and financial chicanery of the sort that has brought the economy to its knees. I personally found the media spectacle of the fortuitously timed prostitution bust of former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer who incidentally had just announced his intention to declare war on the banksters and their accomplices in the Bush White House in a February 14, 2008 Washington Post piece entitled Predatory Lenders Partner in Crime to be extremely suspicious. The rogue Bush regime and the NSA have been using their big lie of the war on terror as an excuse to scrutinize credit card use and Spitzer would have been an obvious target as is indicated by the above excerpt from the Newsweek story. It also makes skeptics such as myself wonder whether the witch hunt to impeach former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich may at least in part be attributed to his threat to suspend state business with Bank of America, 'Blago' was arrested the day afterwards.
In light of the Tice revelations as well as an already long and extremely sordid history of U.S. government surveillance into the activities of dissidents and reporters that predated the Bush regime, we also need to ask some very serious questions of a much more troubling and nefarious nature. For example, how does such spying tie into not only the manipulation of the news but the now standard lack of spine from the Democratic congress when it comes to prosecuting the Bush administration criminals? Notorious fixer Karl Rove has already announced his intent to defy yet another subpoena for his testimony that was to have been delivered on Monday in front of the House Judiciary Committee. As of this writing, John Conyers has once again caved and the date has now been pushed into February and likely will soon disappear down the same memory hole where similar attempts to enforce the law have been flushed.
Intense political pressure, threats of unemployment in a time of economic crisis and potentially embarrassing sexual acts subject to blackmail are all entirely made possible by the rampant unaccountability of the domestic spying programs, but are there measures that go far beyond just the spiking of stories, the discrediting or the ruining of careers alone? Think back to the vicious institutionalized slander directed former San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb for example for his Dark Alliance series. The savagery with which Webb was taken down by the establishment was stunning and it ultimately resulted in his suicide, a broken and haunted man who only dared to try to tell the truth.
There is a long trail of untimely demises of investigative journalists and other insiders whose knowledge represents a threat to very existence of the shadow government and those who it as a matter of routine does business with in order to avoid legitimate channels. Perhaps the most terrifying of all question is exactly what actions do end up being taken in order to prevent the exposure of widespread criminal activity, systemic grand scale fraud and extra-constitutional black operations that have been conducted for decades.
Investigative journalist Wayne Madsen wrote of an NSA database that was at one time named FIRSTFRUITS that was maintained to engage in surveillance against journalists and that was renamed after its discovery. Some of the names in this database allegedly included Christiane Amanpour, Seymour Hersh, James Bamford, James Risen and Madsen himself. According to chatter in the blogosphere that were it not consistent with the historical trail of dead bodies could easily be dismissed as paranoia and disinformation. One story floating around the internet mentioned an unnamed NSA security officer allegedly mused about ‘just killing’ troublesome bloggers. This may be a product of paranoia (one would think paranoia would be a natural state in a land of fear and loathing such as that which the United States has become post 9/11) but there is great progress currently being made by internet researchers and such reputed threats should not simply be waved off as the rantings of tin foil hatters or the favorite of all pejoratives directed at those who dare to ask inconvenient questions, conspiracy theorists. The fact that the alternative media and many bloggers are slowly starting to put the pieces together one can only reasonably suspect that such behavior scares the living hell out of the establishment, and after all, there is a history of that sort of thing. While this is not a comprehensive list the Committee to Protect Journalists keeps a database to track the prematurely deceased in a most dangerous profession.
The bizarre absence of any reporting of this very serious violation of civil liberties has received absolutely no coverage in the corporatized, mainstream pocket media. This is unconscionable that there is apparently no interest in exposing these crimes, especially considering that those targeted could actually save their own hides (and perhaps instill some dignity) by outing this program. It's a sad testament to the state of today's 'journalism' that is shameful by comparison to that of days of yore when reporters were intrepid souls determined to speak the truth to power.
Writer Eric Alterman puts it spot on in his recent Center for American Progress piece entitled Think Again: Spying on Journalists? Why the Silence? when he notes the lack of intestinal fortitude in the mainstream media:
Clearly something deeply disturbing lurks beneath these revelations, and with Bush gone from office, it’s hard to understand just what is preventing journalists from seeking the truth about this program more energetically. The only thing they have to fear is fear itself. The ugly truth is that none of these police state powers are being used to protect the United States from foreign enemies, terrorism or any other excuse that is being made in order to get Americans to submit their rights. It is all in the name of power, money and to protect the interests of the oligarchy and the power elite who run the establishment and it needs to be stopped because it is out of control.
This sad state of affairs brings to mind the following:
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
- Pastor Martin Niemöller
And the silence by those tasked by the First Amendment’s now quaint and antiquated imbuing upon them a responsibility for a free press as an essential check on authoritarianism is deafening in its absence. Quislings, cowards and public relations flacks seem to be the one thing that our journalism schools never failed to produce over the past several decades, feckless and spineless careerists with neither a sense of honor nor of their place as defenders of precious liberty. There shall be no refuge for the weasels nor the rats in the end therefore their mass abrogation of their chosen profession along with their acute absence of courage is even more damnable for when the time comes they will perhaps live to lament that they did not speak out when they had the chance.
II: NIGHT AND FOG
The National Security State has a history of silencing those who would speak out and especially reporters deemed to have become a nuisance. This is done either through intense pressure brought down on media corporations through organized harassment of sponsors, brutal coordinated smear campaigns much like the one that took down the aforementioned Gary Webb or when all else fails, the reporters often just happen to turn up mysteriously dead. The list of ‘suicides’ and accidents is a long one and in the view of the ruthless psychopaths who both run and profit from a high-tech snooping network seems to be that any means are to be undertaken to keep their games going even if it ultimately results in termination with extreme prejudice. I believe that I will have to put together a list myself but when I just started writing down names off the top of my head of strange deaths I came up with over thirty right off the bat.
Take the strange case of Danny Casolaro for example...
Perhaps the closest to get at the truth about PROMIS and how it was an integral piece of the shadow government was investigative journalist Danny Casolaro. Casolaro had been working on research for a book on a shadowy transnational power group that seemed to run through the postwar era and had connections to many of the major scandals including Iran-Contra, BCCI, the Nugan Hand Bank, international drug cartels, weapons dealers and intelligence operatives in not only the U.S. government but internationally as well. Casolaro dubbed this group, one that largely rose out of a ‘dirty old boy network’ of the OSS/CIA out of the ashes of World War II as The Octopus. Casolaro began to become aware of the more sinister aspects of what Professor Peter Dale Scott refers to as the deep state but is more commonly known as either the shadow government, the parallel government and even arguably the permanent government while investigating the theft of the PROMIS software from the Inslaw corporation.
On Saturday, August 10, 1991 a maid at a Martinsburg, West Virginia Sheraton Inn was horrified to find the nude body of Joseph Daniel Casolaro in the bathtub, the victim of an apparent ‘suicide’. It was by accounts a particularly grisly scene and a strangely violent ‘suicide’ with both of his wrists slashed deeply multiple times with a razor blade. There was a very short and impersonal note, blood splattered on the tile walls and a pair of bloody towels that were shoved under the sink away from the bathtub.
The ugly truth is that none of these police state powers are being used to protect the United States from foreign enemies, terrorism or any other excuse that is being made in order to get Americans to submit their rights. It is all in the name of power, money and to protect the interests of the oligarchy and the power elite who run the establishment and it needs to be stopped because it is out of control.