Category Archives: John Kiriakou

Deep State Throats: Towards a Franker Lingua

You should never judge a book by its title, but with whistleblower Edward Snowden’s Permanent Record the reader gets as close s/he can possibly get to the soul of a narrative before actually reading it.  He means it: The American government, with help of its data-gathering 5 Eyes partners, is gathering up information on every mobile or Internet-connected individual on the planet.  They have a permanent dossier on each and every one of us. Snowden writes, “We are the first people in the history of the planet for whom this is true, the first people to be burdened with data immortality, the fact that our collected records might have an eternal existence.”

As Snowden puts it, “At any time, the government could dig through the past communications of anyone it wanted to victimize in search of a crime (and everybody’s communications contain evidence of something)… this is tantamount to a government threat: If you ever get out of line, we’ll use your private life against you.”

This implied threat is not conspiracy theory, not paranoia, and it is not new; it represents the criminal intentions of some agencies of government, often working in collusion with the Executive. The Intelligence Community (IC) has, as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer once admonished Trump when he lashed out against them, “Six ways to Sunday at getting back at you.” (Apparently, Schumer accepts their criminality as ‘the norm’.)

We have seen how the system can be abused already.  Frank Church told us all about it in the 70s, and so did the Rockerfeller Commission. The CIA was involved in the Watergate break-in. Gary Webb told us what the CIA was up to in Nicaragua.  We all know now, and apparently have come to terms with the fact, that the IC was criminally involved in the brazen televised false testimony about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) that was forced upon the world as a pretext for an unnecessary and illegal war against Iraq.

This latter criminal activity was recently the subject of the whistleblowing film, Official Secrets, in which GCHQ analyst Katherine Gunn blew the whistle on her agency when she discovered that they were being coerced by the Americans into finding kompromat on members of the UN Security Council to force them to vote in favour of the war (to make the war technically “legal”). The UN was formed, in part, to prevent such future nation-state aggression. But Gunn was really blowing the whistle on the NSA, who requested the kompromat – in fact, she was blowing the whistle on the blackmail activity of the GW Bush administration, who would have directed the NSA to gather such “intel.” An impeachable offense.

Snowden and Gunn are whistleblowers, and not politically-motivated leakers. What they released were very serious revelations of the criminal behavior of government officials.  Snowden revealed that the real war was not on Terror, but on human privacy.  As he wrote in PM, “Any elected government that relies on surveillance to maintain control of a citizenry that regards surveillance as anathema to democracy has effectively ceased to be a democracy.”

Official Secrets also revealed that after suspect government actions leading to Britain’s decision to go to war with Argentina, the so-called Falklands War, the government tightened its whistleblower laws to make what Gunn did illegal. She would have gone to jail for reporting a data burglary of Watergate proportions. Since a trial might have compromised American intelligence, the British government dropped their charges. We might have even seen how the Brits, too, use contractors, like, say, Orbis, to do the dirty work of dossier-gathering.

Now that the Horowitz Report has been released, we have learned that Christopher Steele is no whistleblower along the lines of Snowden or Gunn.  His dossier was full of shit, and he may one day be hoiked into his own spittoon. How did he ever get to be called a whistleblower in the first place? Because he had the attentive ear of the MSM, in hate with the Trump administration, willing to listen to his off-the-record kompromat story (September 2016). It’s easy to understand MSM motivation, but they got sucked into a self-degrading compromise of their own.  They might as well have been sitting down in a secret meeting with the National Enquirer. They got played.

(You could argue that the MSM – and the rest of us — got played before this way, when another whistleblower, Deep Throat, helped take down a hated president, Richard Nixon.  But Mark Felt had an agenda: He resented not being appointed director of the FBI after Hoover died, and didn’t like it one bit when Nixon made a political appointment to the vacant seat.  Had Felt been made director, we never would have had Deep Throat. It was nice to see Nixon go, but Felt was a leaker, not a whistleblower.)

As the Horowitz Report makes clear, the Steele Dossier, which was meant to titillate our late Capitalist prurience-conditioned minds, contained little ‘information’ (and let us recall, from the Stasi’s work, that information is not necessarily fact or truth) more intriguing than references to an alleged incident where Trump, while he was attending a beauty pageant, back in 2013, had some prostitutes piss on a hotel bed that he was told the Obamas had slept in.

Steele’s dossier was salacious and not verifiable. Instead, its veracity was built on Steele’s “reputation” (which was amped up, as they do, when building arguments from authority).  Steele was to be seen as an expert on Russian affairs, even though he hadn’t been to Russia in years.  He relied on so-called ‘assets’, who were either anything but, or non-existent by virtue of the protection of asset ‘cover.’

Off the record with the MSM, in October 2016, Steele approached David Corn to spread his smear to the Left through Mother Jones.  Dossier information was published in MJ, and later in Buzzfeed, in each cased marked unverified. But let’s just say, Steele’s ‘whistleblower’ revelations were something less than the sinister implications of the Stellar Wind program whose details the New York Times quashed in October 2004, to prize-winning reporter’s James Risen’s dismay.

Though clearly unverifiable by the supposed best IC services in the world, the Horowitz Report makes clear that in October Surprise Month 2016, the FBI fudged information on the FISA warrants they obtained to legally gather information on Carter Page and, through him, the Trump Campaign. The Report makes clear that the FBI abused its power by essentially lying to the FISA court. Once again, government agencies, with tremendous spying power, opted to use the presumed veracity of their authority to lie instead, when the information didn’t suit their agenda.

Russia may have tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, in the same way America was all too happy to crow about when they did it to Russia in 1996, but so did Ukraine (according to Nation and Financial Times pieces), Israel and, if the Horowitz Report is to be understood, our “special friends” the Brits.  Maybe we should be asking – who didn’t try to interfere in the election?

But more seriously, the Report strongly suggests that elements of the FBI (at the behest of the Obama administration?) were messing with the American electorate themselves by using tainted information, developed by the Clinton campaign through FusionGPS, to get warrants issued against an opponent of their campaign in October Surprise Month 2016. In essence, it sounds like we might have been messing with our own elections.

Speaking of messed up elections, the 2016 Jeb Bush presidential campaign was, according to Reuters, the party that originally hired Steele to “build” a dossier on Trump. (One recalls that Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida when his brother George W. eked out a tiny victory in 2000 – a margin so slim, and contested, that the fact that his brother was running should have required an automatic recount of votes.) Bush has denied any direct link to Steele, but you imagine him placing a call to Hillary, one dynasty to another, and telling her about the Steele work and where to get it.

Trump has been rightly castigated by the MSM for buying into conspiracy-sounding stories about Ukraine’s interference in the 2016 election.  In his infamous telephone call, he mumbled something about Crowdstrike, and the DNC servers in the Ukraine, and Biden – to hear him speak: There’s a lack of intelligence between his ears that must make the IC insane. You could see him just mumbling state secrets to Putin, because he’s a dumb shit.  But, at the same time, bringing up Crowdstrike is not totally daft. (Now that we know that the “DNC Server” was not LAN-based but WAN-based the hacking/leaking question takes on a new dimension.) It’s true that Dimitri Alperovitch, CTO of Crowdstrike, is a fellow at the Atlantic Council, where Hillary Clinton received a Distinguished International Leadership Award in 2013, and so that’s an obvious connection.

Not necessarily a big deal, but left out of the equation is the fact that Crowdstrike’s president, Shawn Henry, was arguably the most important agent at the FBI, before he retired after 24 years to join Crowdstrike. According to his Crowdstrike profile, “he oversaw half of the FBI’s investigative operations, including all FBI criminal and cyber investigations worldwide, international operations, and the FBI’s critical incident response to major investigations and disasters.”  One wonders: Did he retire to become what Snowden was – a Homo contractus, better paid, virtually no public accountability for deeds done on contract jobs for the government? More importantly, perhaps, was he CCed in when FBI-Steele transactions were taking place?

But speaking of Homo contractuses, why was Mandiant also brought in as back up to the DNC server investigation, given that they are one of Crowdstrike’s main rivals?  They came to the same conclusion: The Russians did it.  But it’s interesting to note that Mandiant merged with cybersecurity company FireEye, a CIA start-up, in 2014.  So, again, it’s fair, given what Snowden tells us, to ask if Kevin Mandia took an early retirement from his Pentagon position to be a contract employee?

But back to whistleblowers.  Our Citizen X, the Ukraine quid pro quo whistleblower.  The MSM has released very little information about him, other than acknowledging that he’s a CIA officer, because they don’t want to publish details that would inevitably allow free-thinking individuals to work out who he is. The name of this whistleblower has been circulating for weeks in alternative-to-MSM publications, such as realclearinvestigations.com, run by, ahem, a former NY Times editor. There’s a lot of jumping ship going on: The Intercept is staffed with star reporters from the MSM who couldn’t hack it anymore.

If our third-hand-wringing whistleblower is who these alt-Indies say he is, then he doesn’t fit the criteria that Edward Snowden lays out — a Daniel Ellsberg type — but rather a pawn in the Deep State game.  The one-and-only CIA analyst to ever go to prison (albeit deeply minimum) for whistleblowing, John Kiriakou, has weighed in on the master debate.  “If he’s a whistleblower,” writes Kiriakou, “and not a CIA plant whose task it is to take down the president, then his career is probably over.” (I find this amusing, because I always thought of Kiriakou as a plant to apologize for the CIA torture program – he said it worked, but the Torture Report said it didn’t.)

Elsewhere, Kiriakou says, “[I]nside the CIA, I guarantee you that people are saying, ‘Well, if he’s willing to rat out the president, he’s probably willing to rat out us.’ And so no one is ever going to trust this guy again.” So, according to K. either he’s a plant or his career is over.  We’re told he’s back at the CIA resuming his career. But, because he’s anonymous, he might actually be another homo contractus by now. That’s what the Indie word is.

Unfortunately for the fused agendas of the MSM, our intrepid Deep State Throat, if the alt media information holds up, was a confidante of Joe Biden when he was the “point man” for Ukraine affairs after the CIA-encouraged coup there in 2014.  In fact, according to Real Clear, the ‘whistleblower,” was more than that: Deep State Throat was Obama’s NSC director for Ukraine. This has been neither conformed or denied yet though.

There may, or may not be, anything to the Joe Biden quid pro quo he successfully executed in 2016 and bragged about on live TV, with minor hand-wringing by the MSM, but it is worth noting that the continued investigation into Burisma that Trump was pushing would also have resulted in the question: Why is Cofer Black on its Board of Directors (since just after Trump’s inauguration in 2017)?

It’s speculation, but not wild, that Deep State Throat, Obama’s former NSC liaison for Ukraine, received a call of his own, perhaps from the American embassy anxious to continue the anti-Russian work of the previous administration. As Edward Snowden writes in Permanent Record, “The worst-kept secret in modern diplomacy is that the primary function of an embassy nowadays is to serve as a platform for espionage.”

Because Western democratic citizens live in a politically dysfunctional world — Five Eyes nations are enforcers for nation-state gangster goons guarding their ever-acquisitive interests — without a respected unifying governmental agency, such as a real league of nations, we get nothing crucial done as a globe — see climate change.  We’ve become hive-minded, interconnected in uncomfortable ways, and seem to be suffering from some kind of colony collapse of consciousness.

This would help explain how these things keep happening under our noses, while the MSM looks the other way.  Or leads us in a rendition of Two Minute Hate.  Prey to tiny cornball characters in cyberspace who see themselves as swaggering Gods. Snowden opines, “America remains the hegemon, the keeper of the master switches that can turn almost anyone on and off at will.”

In a Crisis of Democracy, We Must All Become Julian Assange

The US government’s indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange marked the worst attack on press freedom in modern history. Assange has been charged with 18 counts, including 17 violations of the Espionage Act. James Goodale, former general counsel of the New York Times, who urged the paper to publish the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon administrationnoted, “If the government succeeds with the trial against Assange, if any, that will mean that it’s criminalized the news gathering process.”

On June 12, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid signed the extradition papers. Assange’s hearing is now set to begin next February. He is currently being held in London’s Belmarsh high security prison for what amounts to a politically motivated, 50-week sentence given by a judge for violating bail conditions in 2012 while attempting to obtain political asylum in Ecuador against the threat of extradition to the US.

Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture visited Assange with two medical experts and assessed that Assange has been subjected to prolonged psychological torture by the US government and its allies for nearly a decade, and warned about his serious physical deterioration. While this multi-award winning journalist who published truthful information in the public interest about the US government, is in jail, the British government (that has been a key player in this political persecution) recently held a Global Conference for Media Freedom.

Despite its stated mission of protecting the safety and rights of journalists, the conference failed to address the degrading and inhumane treatment of Assange and the US government’s prosecution of the publisher that could set a dangerous precedent for press freedom. This total hypocrisy was best shown by the fact that this gathering was hosted by UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt who, last month, told US TV that he would happily extradite Assange to Trump’s America where former CIA officer John Kiriakou indicated that he would receive no fair trial and face life imprisonment.

The true face of Western liberal democracy

Why has Assange become a target of these Western governments’ coordinated attack? Over 10 million documents that WikiLeaks released with a pristine record of accuracy revealed the corruption of these governments, including US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is apparent that Assange is being punished for revealing these governments’ inconvenient truth. But more significantly, he has been condemned because WikiLeaks’ publication exposed the true face of Western liberal democracy, informing the public about how the structure of power really works.

What is Western liberal democracy? It is a particular style of governance that was developed in the US and exported around the world. Political theorist Sheldon S. Wolin (2008) described it as “modern managed democracy” and attributed its creation to the framers of the Constitution. Wolin described how the Founding Fathers made a system that favored elite rule and that “the American political system was not born a democracy, but born with a bias against democracy” (p. 228).

The framers of the constitution wanted to have power over people. As a testimony to this, the original draft of the constitution did not have a Bill of Rights. They were added to the constitution as amendments. This didn’t come about without a struggle. The proponents of the Bill of Rights demanded them in order to safeguard individual liberty and challenged those who seek to preserve levers of control.

Even after the constitution was ratified with a Bill of Rights, the existence of this unaccounted power was never truly addressed. The wording of the First Amendment reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Here, the First Amendment was aimed to restrict the governmental power. It was specifically addressing what Congress can’t do. However, the constitution didn’t ensure that corporations would not be able to circumvent laws and restrict freedom of speech.

This lack of oversight made the system of governance vulnerable to corruption, as was observed by Thomas Jefferson, when he warned American people about a time when the American system of government would degenerate into a form of “elective despotism”.

New mechanism of accountability

The managed democracy relies on secrecy and deception to control the will of the populace. With the infiltration of commercial interests and the consolidation of media, the big business class has found a way to regulate free speech on their terms. The establishment of corporate media turned journalists’ First Amendment protection into a privilege that they can use against the public.

Journalists, who have now become a new class of professionals, no longer share interests with ordinary people. They serve the agendas of the powerful state in maintaining an illusion of democracy, by restricting the flow of information and controlling narratives. For instance, the New York Times has publicly acknowledged that it sends some of its stories to the US government for approval from “national security officials” before publication.

With the merger of the state and corporations, the power of private companies to influence governments and erode civil liberty has increased. Transnational corporations can now revoke and restrict basic rights at any time, crossing the judicial boundaries on the borderless cyberspace. Tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter censor free speech online and, without warrant, spy and invade the privacy of users.

Assange recognized the anti-democratic forces that existed at the very founding of the United States and the establishment of the constitutional republic. He also understood that within the existing political system there is no mechanism for ordinary people to check on this unaccounted power. Civil right activist Audre Lorde once wrote, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Assange through his work with WikiLeaks provided vital tools that make it possible for everyday people to counter corporate media’s weapon of mass deception and dismantle the master’s house.

At the core of WikiLeaks is scientific journalism. By publishing full archives in a searchable format, the whistleblowing site gave ordinary people a mechanism to independently check the claim of journalists and to hold them, with their unelected powers accountable. This way, the whistleblowing site enabled a true function of free press and opened a door for democracy.

Call for real democracy

With the Trump administration’s prosecution of Assange and imprisonment of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, we are now seeing a deepening crisis of enlightenment values. In Chinese, the word for crisis signifies danger and opportunity. This attack on free press poses great threat to democracy, but at the same time, perhaps it also presents an opportunity that has never been available before.

The truths that Assange and Manning have brought forward with enormous courage have pierced the façade of democracy. They sacrificed their personal liberty in order to give us a chance to create a society that is truly aligned with our values.

Manning has now been confined for more than four months after being found in contempt by a federal judge for refusing to testify before a grand jury, and is subject to punitive fines. Assange being locked up in the notorious UK prison previously referred to as “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay” has been made defenseless. He is not allowed to use a computer and has limited access to his lawyers, making him unable to adequately prepare for his legal defense.

In a message sent out from a high security prison, where he is being held in solitary confinement, Assange asked everyone to take his place. Democracy requires ordinary’ people’s participation in power. In order for us to alter this oppressive system, change ought to be made first within ourselves. Each of us needs to start exercising our right to free speech, assemble and associate with one another and organize a society, governed not by the elite few, but through networked conscience of common people.

Even after Assange’s imprisonment, character assassination and smearing designed to deceive the public continues with the latest CNN hit piece twisting embassy surveillance records against him. Assange remains silenced. He is suffering for all of us, urging us to find strength within to seize this opportunity to take back the power that belongs to us. Let us fight for his freedom. Let us complete the great work of justice and democracy he started with WikiLeaks. His plight of curtailed freedom is a call for a real democracy. We all must now take his place and claim our own significance. We must become Julian Assange, for his struggle is ours. We are all Julian Assange.

A Portrait of the CIA in Prison

John Kiriakou’s Doing Time Like a Spy: How the CIA Taught Me to Survive and Thrive in Prison paints a disturbing portrait of a U.S. prison in which Kiriakou spent time as retribution for having admitted that the CIA used torture. His ongoing whistleblowing on the state of U.S. prisons, as well as on the ways in which the U.S. government has gone after him, is as valuable as his opposition to CIA torture.

The prison as described in the book is largely unaccountable to the rule of law. Prisoners in need of medical attention are simply allowed to die, or hastened along toward death by sadistic or incompetent malpractice. Education for prisoners is nonexistent. Rehabilitation efforts are nonexistent. Slave labor is universal. Those who leave, leave having acquired additional skills and attitudes of criminals. This prison system serves not to protect, not to rehabilitate, not to compensate or make restitution, and not to reduce crime.

Kiriakou also paints what I find a disturbing portrait of himself. In his view, prison requires vicious and manipulative behavior to survive. Perhaps it does. And perhaps it is an act of significantly brave honesty for Kiriakou to show himself to us degraded by such behavior. Perhaps it is all the more so to the extent that he depicts himself enjoying it. Yet he describes his prison-survival techniques as having come straight out of his CIA work, which he engaged in for years and about which he claims unmitigated pride. In addition, Kiriakou describes his approach to writing and publishing as self-serving and manipulative, and repeatedly urges us to never trust anyone, all of which leaves one wondering.

Kiriakou is proud of having volunteered to fight in the War on Terror. His view of foreign policy, as his view of prison conduct, seems to condone killing, but not torturing. His prison skills include threatening various people with murder, but never torture. That neither murder nor torture is legal or moral, and that neither “works” on its own terms, is a blind spot in U.S. culture, not something unique to John Kiriakou.

Kiriakou claims that threatening to kill one fellow prisoner scared him into ceasing to slander Kiriakou, except for on one occasion when Kiriakou was present and the other prisoner unaware of it. But it could be the man was scared into slandering Kiriakou only when he wasn’t around, which was exactly what he’d been doing to begin with.

Anyway, it’s hard to find morality in the killing / torturing distinction. Maybe that’s the point. All is gray. Kiriakou writes that in his CIA work he didn’t mind “bending some rules,” just not the one on torture. And his prison conduct continually echoes the behavior of the government he is trying to reform.

When Kiriakou asked Senator John Kerry, for whom he had worked, to ask President Obama to commute his sentence, Kerry’s reply was “Do not ever attempt to contact me again.” When a fellow prisoner revealed to Kiriakou that he was a pedophile, Kiriakou’s reply was “Don’t ever try to speak to me again. Never. Understand?”

When the CIA proposed to in-source and escalate the use of torture, Cofer Black described what happened as “the gloves came off.” When Kiriakou wanted to escalate his attacks on a fellow prisoner, he says “it was time to take the gloves off.”

Kiriakou describes Middle Eastern countries he “served” in as “dumps.” He describes prisoners as “the scum of society,” “filthy pig,” “white trash,” “filthy midget rat,” and similar dehumanizing terms. But when Kiriakou explains why his CIA background came in so handy in prison, he refers to conflict among CIA employees, not between the CIA and foreign “enemies”:

“The CIA is full of aggressive alpha personalities. So is prison. The CIA is full of people constantly plotting against each other. So is prison. The CIA is full of people who are always jockeying for some better situation than the one they are currently in. So is prison. I’m the first to admit that in prison I was a serious jerk. I was arrogant, manipulative, and opinionated. But I was also adaptable to changing situations. I could think quickly, and I possessed a certain degree of ruthlessness necessary for self-preservation.”

That may very well be true. But was it always true in each of the examples related in the book? When Kiriakou frames a fellow prisoner for a charge of attempted escape, it’s because the prisoner is seriously annoying. “Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Kiriakou writes, but desperation is an emotion, not an analysis of the seriousness of a threat. The punishment Kiriakou earns the man he frames is solitary confinement for months — something that much of the world considers torture. Likewise, when Kiriakou writes that he loathed all child molesters in prison, that’s an emotion, not a survival technique.

One of the survival rules that Kiriakou borrows straight from U.S. foreign policy is: “If stability is not to your benefit, chaos is your friend.” This is working out oh so well in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, et cetera. Kiriakou seems to model the same approach in prison. He confronts a prisoner named Schaeffer over his having lied about not being a child molester. When Schaeffer responds by spreading lies about Kiriakou, Kiriakou acts as if this were the first sign of trouble, as if he’d previously been uninvolved. This is the same worldview that must dominate CIA thinking in which presumably blowback does not exist. “Afghanistan? Where’s that? Saddam, who? Never met the man!” Later, as things escalate between Kiriakou and Schaeffer, the “time to take the gloves off” arrives, framed as defense against irrational and inexplicable aggression. “Why do they hate us?”

Maybe it was inexplicable. One could hardly get through a prison sentence without encountering irrational aggression — short of doing time in a civilized prison in Norway or someplace. But is it always unavoidable? It seems in Kiriakou’s account to often be enjoyable. Kiriakou writes: “Sometimes there is real satisfaction in passive-aggression.” “Sweet revenge.” “I just wanted to see the guy lying in a pool of his own blood.” Etc.

Torture is different: “At the CIA, employees are trained to believe that nearly every moral issue is a shade of gray. But this is simply not true. Some issues are black and white — and torture is one of them,” writes Kiriakou. Under great pressure in prison, of a sort I’ve never faced, Kiriakou never writes that he had to repress any urge to torture anyone, only to murder them.

What are we to make of an account of the brutality of prison by someone who claims to have survived it by mastering its brutality, yet seems to have taken pride in that and to have learned his brutality working on secret operations we aren’t supposed to know about for a government that is supposed to somehow represent us? It’s very hard to say.

One technique Kiriakou recommends for eliciting information is stating something false in order to be corrected. Yet he notes that in prison this often fails, because you can say the craziest things and people will simply nod. Kiriakou’s next paragraph includes this:

“Near the end of my sentence, Russia sent troops into Ukraine and captured the Crimean Peninsula.”

Is the author trying his techniques on us in print? I don’t know, but I do know that most readers in the United States will simply nod.