by Ed Encho
Wednesday, January 31, 2009
With the long overdue departure of the Bush administration from the White House it is the hope many that the myriad of transgressions against the Constitution and the people of America will begin to seep out into the public domain. It took a remarkably short time. The day after the helicopter hauled ole George away like so much rubbish a major story broke. In an astonishing shot across the bow directed at the shadow government the first significant whistleblower has already come out with a story (once again ignored by the corporate media) and delivered a devastating blow to the premise that the massive illegal domestic spying programs of the Bush administration were undertaken in order to protect America from terrorism in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001.
Former NSA analyst Russell Tice during two recent interviews on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann (pt1,pt2)confirmed that the Bush-Cheney-Rove phony war on terror was as people like myself have always strongly suspected in actuality a war on America itself. According to the patriotic Mr. Tice the targets of the domestic spying included news organizations and journalists and that the surveillance for specific targets was not limited to professional matters alone, they were spied on 24/7.
“The National Security Agency had access to all Americans’ communications,” he said. “Faxes, phone calls and their computer communications. … They monitored all communications.”
Tice said the NSA analyzed metadata to determine which communication would be collected. Offering a hypothetical example, he said if the agency determined that terrorists communicate in brief, two-minute phone calls, the NSA might program its systems to record all such calls, invading the privacy of anyone prone to telephonic succinctness.
Tice was involved in only a small part of the project, that involved trying to “harpoon fish from an airplane.”
He said he was told to monitor certain groups in order to eliminate them as suspects for more intense targeting. Those groups, he said, were U.S. journalists and news agencies. But rather than excluding the news organizations from monitoring, he discovered that the NSA was collecting the organizations’ communications 24 hours a day year round.
“It made no sense,” he said.
Tice did not identify the reporters or organizations allegedly targeted.
Olbermann asked if this means there’s a file somewhere containing every e-mail and phone conversation these reporters ever had with sources, editors and family members.
“If it was involved in this specific avenue of collection, it would be everything, yes.” Tice answered.
(Exerpted from Wired’s Kim Zetter’s blog)
The Tice interviews followed another former insider speaking out on the gross illegality of the Bush administration programs, a former DOJ employee named Thomas Tamm was featured in a Newsweek magazine cover story by Michael Isikoff entitled The Fed Who Blew the Whistle from which I excerpt the following:
In the spring of 2004, Tamm had just finished a yearlong stint at a Justice Department unit handling wiretaps of suspected terrorists and spies—a unit so sensitive that employees are required to put their hands through a biometric scanner to check their fingerprints upon entering. While there, Tamm stumbled upon the existence of a highly classified National Security Agency program that seemed to be eavesdropping on U.S. citizens. The unit had special rules that appeared to be hiding the NSA activities from a panel of federal judges who are required to approve such surveillance. When Tamm started asking questions, his supervisors told him to drop the subject. He says one volunteered that “the program” (as it was commonly called within the office) was “probably illegal.”
The name of the program was Stellar Wind and please pay particular attention to this next excerpted piece from Isikoff’s story:
The NSA, with the secret cooperation of U.S. telecommunications companies, had begun collecting vast amounts of information about the phone and e-mail records of American citizens. Separately, the NSA was also able to access, for the first time, massive volumes of personal financial records—such as credit-card transactions, wire transfers and bank withdrawals—that were being reported to the Treasury Department by financial institutions. These included millions of “suspicious-activity reports,” or SARS, according to two former Treasury officials who declined to be identified talking about sensitive programs. (It was one such report that tipped FBI agents to former New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s use of prostitutes.) These records were fed into NSA supercomputers for the purpose of “data mining”—looking for links or patterns that might (or might not) suggest terrorist activity.
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 attibuted 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 embarassing 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.
This sad state of affairs brings to mind the following:
When the Nazis came for the communists,
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
“Death Solves All Problems, No Man, No Problem”
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.
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.
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.
Strange circumstances followed in the aftermath of the discovery of Danny Casolaro’s corpse in a blood filled bathtub. His body was hastily taken away and embalmed (making any subsequent autopsy much more difficult) before family members were officially notified (a violation of state law by accounts) and room 517 had been professionally cleaned thereby removing critical evidence prior to any sort of thorough forensic investigation could be performed. Compounding doubts about the official ‘suicide’ story are contradictory statements made by friends and family that Casolaro was NOT suicidal at all but was actually quite exited over the prospect of publishing his book on the findings of his investigative work, even to the extent that he had scheduled a party to celebrate. He was in the final stages of nailing down the story of the century and had gone to West Virginia in search of the evidence that would prove his theory, make the connection to PROMIS and ‘bring back the head of the octopus’. The sudden ending (yet another hotel room ‘suicide’) was especially suspicious because when the body was discovered, his files were missing.
In addition to the shadowy players in the global arms and narcotics trades the Octopus also appeared to have had as tentacles rogue elements of U.S. intelligence Casolaro found connections to not only Iran-Contra but also BCCI, the Nugan Hand bank, the October Surprise, money launderers and organized crime as well as a continuous thread of involvement in dirty dealings both domestically and abroad. The roots of this milieu of malevolence stretched back to the post World War II era when a collection of spooks, corrupt bureaucrats and extremist right wing ideologues began to operate as a faction within the intelligence apparatus, a state upon themselves to profit financially while engaging in the darks forms of clandestine activities and black operations.
Author Joel Bainerman in his 1992 book entitled The Crimes of a President wrote the following (some of this ostensibly quoting William Hamilton of Inslaw as well as a 1991 story from the St. Louis Dispatch) that has a very good description on Casolaro’s theory:
“Casolaro had discovered a common denominator to the theft of Inslaw’s software and other recent scandals” says Hamilton who worked very closely with Casolaro right up to his death in helping him to uncover the dirty dealing behind the theft of Inslaw’s software. A group of individuals trained in covert intelligence operations and aligned with the U.S. political leadership who were allegedly profiting from each of these scandals. These veterans of U.S. covert intelligence operations had also allegedly been selling pirated copies of Inslaw’s software to foreign intelligence and law enforcement agencies and funneling the funds through BCCI. Casolaro believed that some of the profits from these illegal sales made their way into a slush fund used for political payoffs and covert intelligence operations not authorized by congress.
Danny Casolaro is far from the only one to whom mysterious death had befallen after their investigative work got them too close to the real power structure or presented an obstacle to its need for the cloak of secrecy. Too many rising politicians, uncooperative politicians and judges, hostile witnesses, whistle blowers and reporters have met with no small number of strange and untimely deaths often attributed to accidents (small plane crashes in particular), ‘suicides’( a good deal of them in hotel rooms), sudden heart attacks or seizures (many in people with no history of such problems) and random acts of extreme violence that go unsolved by authorities.
In addition to Casolaro, other suspicious deaths of investigators of this particular nexus of evil include Financial Times reporter Anson Ng, reportedly a friend of Casolaro who was found dead from a gunshot wound in his Guatemala City apartment where he was reportedly working on a story related to BCCI and to try to interview a guy named Jimmy Hughes who according to the writer Rodney Stitch had information regarding shady dealings at the Cabazon Indian Reservation near Palm Springs, CA as well as Jonathan Moyle whose body was found hanging in a closet in a Santiago hotel room where he had been investigating the CIA and the arms trade.
Joel Bainerman also noted in his book that the Cabazon Indian Reservation where the PROMIS software was allegedly modified for espionage purposes by a very interesting character, a technical genius named Michael Riconosciuto to include the ‘back door’ feature (to allow for secret access) was in fact a “CIA cutout”. The government contracting firm Wackenhut, a Florida based corporation alleged to have been involved in senstive ‘private security’ matters (Blackwater before Blackwater) was involved at the time in a joint-venture with the Cabazon tribe to use the sovereign land status of the reservation to work on a variety of endeavors including the development and testing of arms including a fuel air explosive, biochemical warfare agents and other armaments that could be provided to third world regimes, primarily to right wing governments in Latin America. The Cabazon Indian Reservation was allegedly transformed into veritable spook nest as well as a staging ground for covert military industrial complex purposes. Wackenhut incidentally is back in the news (or at least the alternative media) with Ellen Brown’s recent story about the mysterious prison buses spotted in Arizona so they are still a player and a big one at that. I would venture to speculate that the truth about Wackenhut Corporation and its longtime involvement in the prison industrial complex that has become so very, very lucrative to this fascist society is something that deserves one hell of a good deal of scrutiny.
III: INDIO 2008
Interestingly enough there was a local news investigation in the Palm Springs area in 2008 that had focused on the 2005 multiple murder-suicide of Riverside County District Attorney Investigator David McGowan and five members of his family. As the series continued questions began to arise on whether McGowan had been digging a bit too deeply into a cold case file regarding a 1981 triple murder on the Cabazon Reservation that had ties to the covert activities that Danny Casolaro was investigating. Subsequent installments in the KESQ series by news reporter Nathan Baca began to ask questions about PROMIS as well as the other mysterious activities at the reservation and began to delve into the 1981 murders of tribal leader Fred Alvarez who resisted those behind the Cabazon-Wackenhut joint venture as well as two friends. An interview was conducted with the daughter of one of the victims who is to this day seeking justice for the murder of her father Ralph Boger. Rachel Begley (her website is called desertfae) very accurately described what has been going on at Cabazon as follows:
“I’m more shocked than anything. I had no idea these things were going on. Most of America doesn’t know these things are going on,” said Begley. “It’s still going on to this day. It’s a big web of corruption.”
The series ended abruptly in October after an installment that began to delve into whether other local Indian tribes may have been involved in dealings with Wackenhut and mentioned “an experimental electromagnetic weapon called a “railgun” as being one of the projects. That the KESQ story has not continued is disappointing but certainly not surprising given the history of what has happened to those digging too deeply into affairs involving the PROMIS software – I would hope that it will eventually be resumed. In my own opinion, I would suspect that fear may a motivating factor in the suspension of this series, especially after the detective who had been investigating the case stated that he: “doesn’t want to continue on the case based on the number of people who have met an untimely demise while doing so”. Who knows, I hope that that isn’t the case and that a new installment will be forthcoming in the near future, as a concerned American it is extremely imporant that it at some point continue because Mr. Baca is onto something BIG.
Now, since I feel that it is particularly relevant I am posting an email from said detective to an unnamed third party who he was seeking advice from and specifically for the comments of said detective that I have highlighted that should send a chill up the spine of all who read this:
—– Original Message —–
Sent: Tuesday, April 01, 2008 1:44 PM
Subject: Alvarez Triple Homicide
My name is X and I’m with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. I’m a homicide detective assigned to the cold case division. The Alvarez triple homicide was assigned to me a couple of months ago.
For the past two months I have reviewed nearly a thousand documents of police reports, and spent many hours browsing the Internet for additional sources of information. As I am sure you can imagine, I feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland after falling down the rabbit hole. I no longer have a complete grasp on the real world.
You should know first off, that I am an experienced investigator with 18 years on the Sheriff’s Dept. and I consider myself pretty intuitive when it comes to filtering out the BS. After my first review of the police reports in this case, I wasn’t sure why it remained unsolved for over 26 years. All of the players were identified and the Modus Operandi seemed to be well established. I couldn’t understand why every few years the case was suddenly dropped and put back on the shelf.
That’s when Rachel Begley introduced me to the rabbit hole. After the countless hours I have now spent on her website and the numerous other conspiracy theorists websites, I’m having a very difficult time sifting through the BS.
I have also spent much time on your website and I have found your investigations impressive and your opinions refreshing. That is why I am writing to you now. I do not make it a habit of talking to journalists about open homicide investigations, however, it appears you are much more educated about this particular case than I am.
I know you are very busy and I understand the Alvarez triple homicide is a very small part of the Octopus, but I would be very interested in spending any time with you that you have available, in order to get some perspective on what I’ve read.
Just so you understand where I am in this case. I am currently preparing a review and summary for my Sergeant. My conclusion will be that I do not wish to continue investigating this case, based on the number of people who have met an untimely demise while doing so.
My actions in this matter go against everything I believe in, and this case is very difficult for me to walk away from, especially with the allegations that involve the deaths of Investigator Dave McGowan and his family. But I am conceding to a higher power (my wife) and trying to give her some peace of mind. I cannot look her in the eyes and tell her that I am willing to risk the life of my family by pursuing this.
I am interested in your opinion. Am I just another lamb to the slaughter? Is the Puppet Master pulling my strings via Rachel Begley? Is this just a simple case of murder by Jimmy Hughes at the direction of John P. Nichols, or is it really much more than that?
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you,
RSO – Central Homicide
(951) X desk
(951) X cell
It is with the hope of this humble blogger that this series as well as other damning information such as that put forth by Mr. Tice, Mr. Tamm and other patriotic Americans who have risked all (and at times paid with their careers and lives) all in order to get the truth out will encourage others to do the same. It is long past time to bring attention to the history of grossly immoral and criminal acts that have been perpetrated against the people of the United States by the very institutions that are supposed to be protecting us. It is imperative that others begin to work independently (and together whenever possible) to mount their own investigations into how the government has been weaponized by a pack of fascist thugs so that they may reap the benefits at the expense of those who are not connected to an elitist ruling class that is hell bent on maintaining the status quo.
Danny Casolaro did not have the most powerful tool against injustice and corruption available while he was alive, the internet was only in its nascent stages and had he the ability that we enjoy due to advances in technology he may very well still be alive and the criminal usurpers of our democracy and violators of our constitution could be where they belong – in prison. It is my hope that one with more influence, internal knowledge and resources than I have at my disposal begin to not only do very serious investigative work but to also petition the new administration of President Barack Obama for the following:
1: An immediate cessation of all illegal, unconstitutional surveillance and data-mining that has been ongoing against law abiding American citizens.
2: The creation of an independent investigative body along the lines of the Church Committee imbued with sweeping powers to investigate abuses of intelligence both within the government as well as with private contractors who have collaborated in crimes against the republic and its citizens.
3: A case by case federal investigation into ALL suspicious deaths of reporters and other individuals either directly or indirectly involved in the investigation of what has been done with the PROMIS software, NSA spying and Continuity of Government programs. Especially now that it has been revealed that the NSA has been actively spying on journalists and news organizations.
4: A restoration of the rule of law as a bulwark against tyranny as was intended by our founding fathers who having full knowledge of how unaccountable despots behave risked all to lay the foundation of a free society where the highest ideals of liberty can be enjoyed by all.
5: In iron tight regulatory system to ensure that such flagrant abuses of power never be allowed to occur again in the future. The cloak of secrecy needs to be removed and all government must be open to the scrutiny of those who it is supposed to serve.
6: The prosecution to the full extent of the law of those who are currently or who have in the past been involved in any criminal activity in relation to the aforementioned.
Truly, nothing else will suffice if we are to have any credibility as a nation based on laws.
To Be Continued….
Next: Part Four – The Octopus
by Ed Encho