COLUMN 104, APRIL 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)
FUEL RODS, 'LEAKS,' VOTE MACHINES, AND THE CIA
Paul Conant <email@example.com>
Remember those notorious
nuclear centrifuges destined for Iraq that Powell told the UN about? U.S. Dept.
of Energy scientists at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, had debunked that claim based on
the dimensions and machining of the tubes, according to a report by the Union of
Concerned Scientists. The State Dept. intelligence unit and the International
Atomic Energy Agency concurred with the Oak Ridge experts. But the CIA had other
ideas. Its experts claimed the tubes were intended for centrifuges.
According to Secrecy News, Powell accepted the CIA
claim and went on to lump the Oak Ridge scientists with the Iraqis: "Other
experts, and the Iraqis themselves, argue that (the tubes) are really to produce
the rocket bodies for a conventional weapon, a multiple rocket launcher."
This incident was cited as
part of a scathing assessment of administration science policy. The
administration has followed a pattern of censoring scientists who do not tow
some political line and of stacking panels with experts backed by industry, the
report said, according to Secrecy News, which also reported:
Sixty scientists, including
Nobel laureates, issued a statement that accompanied the report that denounced
the administration for politicizing science.
Steve Aftergood of Secrecy News relates how the CIA dismissed his request for a copy of a speech by a top CIA official. The text of the speech had already been provided to the New York
Times and the
Washington Post. A CIA official, Aftergood was told by a person who did
not give a last name, had exercised 'his discretion not to give it you.'
The response neither
confirms nor denies that the speech text was given unofficially to reporters
('leaked'). So, if the text was leaked and something in it stirs an unfavorable
public reaction, the agency can in theory deny the text's accuracy.
In the meantime, the agency
has evaded going on record to say that the text was leaked (an evasion that may
well imply that the 'leak' was sanctioned at a high level). If the speech was
not leaked, then the publicly funded CIA press office is playing favorites with
reporters, while excluding journalists---such as Aftergood, whose beat includes
the CIA----who don't play ball.
The CIA is steeped in the
arcane arts of deniability and unaccountability. This might explain why George
Tenet still has a job.
Perhaps the most widespread
of all official controls on unclassified information is what might be called the
tenth exemption to the Freedom of Information Act:
"I don't wanna tell you."
Last week Secrecy News
called the CIA Public Affairs office to request a copy of the unclassified
speech that was delivered at CIA on February 11 by Jami A. Mascik, deputy
director of intelligence. The text
of the speech had previously been provided to the Washington Post and the
New York Times.
A few hours later, a CIA
official ("Michelle") called back to advise that Bill Harlow, the head
of CIA public affairs, was "exercising his discretion not to give it to
Athan Gibbs Sr., inventor
of the Truvote paper-trail computer voting system, was killed last week after
his car collided with a tractor-trailer in Nashville, Tennessee.
Gibbs, a black voter activist and computer entrepreneur, promoted his
system as an alternative to the Diebold system, which has been adopted by a
number of states. The Diebold system leaves no paper record and reportedly has
serious security flaws. It has been charged that Diebold voting results have
been on occasion suspiciously skewed, including during the last presidential
Local police assumed the
collision was accidental. ##
Steve Aftergood, in his
report on a scientist who paid a high price for criticizing polygraphy, mentions
that the CIA polygraph examiners have been using the question, 'Do you have
friends in the media?' Hmmm...
As I recall, if a nuclear
plant's spent fuel rods are improperly stacked, a chain reaction and fission
explosion can occur. Don't know whether terrorists could realistically take
advantage of such a possibility. Just wondering whether Homeland Security and
the Energy Dept are moving spent fuel rods to hopefully well-secured nuclear
disposal sites with all deliberate speed.
Some reporters dislike
having their email addresses made public while others don't mind. A number of
media firms are using anti-spam filters that screen out unsolicited mail---which
seems to counteract the point of publishing reporter email addresses. Some
spamfilters have been proving too successful, blocking perhaps 19 percent of
It seems to me that an
effective tactic used by Russian media is to send an automated reply to an
incoming email. If the reply bounces because of a false address, the spam
message can be deleted before being seen.
Another tactic is to
provide a 'feedback' form on the web site in lieu of specific addresses, though
this prevents writers from sending a circular to more than one member of the
press, meaning that a reporter might be left off a tipster's list. Not all tips
are interesting---but you never know.
The most obvious measure is
for a reporter or editor to maintain at least two email accounts: a public
account that he or she can check or not as he or she wishes and a confidential
account for much of the daily workload. I've been finding that this circular has
been getting spam-blocked by attrition at a rate that exceeds the sign-up rate.
That may be due to the content.
Or, if I may be so
paranoid, it may be due to controls being imposed---supposedly as anti-spam
measures---on intra-press interaction.
"Is a Reporter's
E-Mail Address Really Anyone's Business?"
You bet it is, if you work
at one of a growing number of publications that are running addresses with each
story. Not everyone is doing it, though, and some reporters truly detest it.
---By Mark Glaser
Ian Bell of Scotland's Sunday
Herald writes a strong commentary on press behavior in the run-up to war. I
would add that the move to war was promoted by a coalition of convergent forces
that had strong influence over U.S. media.
establishment needed to get the focus off itself and play for
time. The elite who benefit from cozy relations with our secret police
system were aghast lest their golden egg-laying goose be cooked.
And then there was a
powerful sentiment among ardent supporters of Israel, both in the press and in
the top echelons of the Bush administration, that Saddam should be toppled.
Whether Israel has really benefited from the regime change remains to be seen.
The Bush group's reliance on specious WMD claims was necessitated by the fact
that Congress had authorized a war only if diplomatic measures failed.
The WMD issue could be
addressed diplomatically, and the administration could arrange that the issue
remain unresolvable. Also, Bush needed Blair's help and Blair was hoping for a
UN authorization for war, which would have provided him a legal basis for
I have been checking Google
for a number of my pages and, despite various search tactics, some are no longer
showing up; others never have appeared. Google crawls sites every couple of
weeks, so I can only suspect that someone is attaching anti-bot code to some of
A search for my page "Psyops
and the press," http://angelfire.com/az3/nfold/psyops.html
which discusses federal dirty tricks, does give a url---but without the usual
snippet of content. However, the page did not come up on Parascope, which had
mirrored it, and attempts to search Parascope---a fun site with some serious
Also, I searched "Ted Morello," who is a subject of the "Psyops" page, but the page did not show up in Google's entire list of "Ted Morello" pages, though it had shown up in the past. This is all a bit reminiscent of the strange hassles that make a search of the White House web site an exercise in Byzantine intrigue. ##
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