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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

American media linked to White House domestic spying program

Wondering who is involved in the domestic spying?

It's not just the government, it's also the media.

We've uncovered a link between the NSA, JTTF, and the American media.

Related: REf -- The relationship between Time and DoJ.

It remains a matter of evidence to what extent the NYT's "delay" over the NSA domestic spying was contingent upon some "other factors" -- namely, did the NYT face a moral dilemma -- not simply because the information related to Echelon was exposed -- but the NYT may potentially have to report information it would otherwise turn over to the government in private?

Based on information and believe, we judge the American media is one of the NSA's tools in the domestic spying.

It remains a matter of evidence whether the domestic media relies on NSA-media relations as a basis to decide whether to run information, violate confidentiality agreements with the public-sources, or whether the public is lulled into going to the American media over bogus media claims of "we are concerned about the state of American affairs."

* * *

What's the evidence? Well, not to fear -- there's another problem with the government's FOIA responses.

After looking at a document, it was clear the "media relationship" with the government not only exists, but is protected.

Take a look at this document -- part of a FOIA release to the ACLU -- relating to surveillance of protestors at a military location.

The FOIA reviewers made a fateful error in the disclosure -- linking the source to a profession which can only be in the American media channels. Quoting [emphasis added]:
Details: On 05/19/2001, a protest occurred at Vandenberg Air Force Base against the National Missile Defense (NMD) system. Vandenberg Air Force Base Office of Special investigation Agent [ redacted ] advised that according to his reliable source [ long, lengthy redaction of two lines] According to the source, the . . . [next page] [another lengthy redaction of one line]. The author observed four protestors grouped amongst the approximately 225 protesters that were advocating confrontation with Air Force Police.
The remainder of the document discusses the Seattle Demonstrations.

* * *

According to the memo, the key word is "The author" implying that the person who is the source is a recognized literary person.

Also notice the details the source provided -- what the individuals were wearing -- and the proximity of the source to the military facility.

Rather than refer to the source as "The source" they referred to them as "the Author". This implies that the primary duties of the source have less to do with military affairs -- and a potential link to the VAFB public affairs office -- and more to do with their civilian role -- that as an author for a media outlet, perhaps an investigative reporter, or a journalist brought to an usual event at the military facility.

But what makes this curious is that despite being on or near a military facility, there apparently is no concern with this individual's presence, suggesting they are well known to the base officials, have an ongoing relationship, and the base has an interest in having that person attend the event.

We judge the use of the word "author" is a fateful disclosure:

  • The individual was less connected to an official military profession, and linked more to a civilian role

  • The individual was well known to the base personnel

  • The profession is a civilian role

    It remains unclear to what extent "the author" has received training, direction, or guidance from the base JTTF forces in matters relating to:

  • Methods to acquire useful information for the base intelligence;

  • Key indicators to watch and record when observing civilian movements;

  • Concerns the base officials may have with military personnel involvement in various off base activities, unrelated to their official duties, but well within the scope of lawful conduct under the UCMJ.

    Given the apparent ongoing relationship with "the author" and the base personnel, we judge the military has on more than one occasion discussed with "the author" in a semi-formal setting, the various security and intelligence gathering objectives of the JTTF.

    Based on information and belief, we judge "the author" is most likely a print journalist with a semi-regional newspaper, well versed in military and national security affairs, and quite possibly in a position to glean valuable information from the public, and provide this in a non-attribution basis to not only the FBI but military intelligence.

    This type of relationship between the JTTF and the media is formalized through a program referred to as "the source program."

    We judge the White House relies on former military and government officials to work with and influence local media to spread favorable views, even using false and misleading information.

    Based on the apparent shock and surprise shown in Washington in the wake of the NYT disclosure, we judge despite the possible relationship between JTTF and the NYT, that the threshold exceeded what was tolerable -- namely, the prior promises to provide information about civilians to the government could no longer be sufficient grounds for the government to mandate the NYT be quiet with the story.

    It remains to be understood which "other stories" the NYT was keeping a lid on, not disclosing, or were aware -- and chose to not report -- while the White House and other officials may have provided other benefits of consideration to the NYT.

    * * *

    This matter is important for several reasons. First, in the wake of the Iraq invasion, former and current government officials have asserted the White House concerns with WMD in Iraq were fabricated. If the media is part of the "intelligence arm" of the White House, then not only is misinformation going out to the public, but the public's reaction to that disinformation is then used as the basis to engage in additional surveillance, targeting. Of concern is when the original issues -- Iraq WMD -- are fiction, and the public's concern is valid -- but their valid public concerns, when voiced, become the basis for unlawful retaliation: Fabricating video evidence in the RNC demonstrations.

    Second, with respect to the NSA domestic spying, the link between the American media and the White House is telling. At one level, there is the known discussion between the NYT and the White House over the NSA program. We might ask questions of what was or wasn't agreed to in delaying, not covering, or leaving out information. It is possible that there are other details the NYT has left out on the basis of "national security" which the public should know about. But at another level, the relationship between the media and the government, when it is too cozy, leads to laziness in our system of checks and balances. Congress cannot be everywhere, relying on a free and open media to assist with oversight issues.

    If the media is a tool of the White House -- as it appears to be the case -- then it remains to be understood to what extent the media provides "off the records" interviews with Congressional staffers to the domestic intelligence service. It appears the "promises of confidentiality" have different levels of compliance, assurance, and respect -- the media appears to be more inclined to respect confidential sources if they are in the government; but less inclined to protect that information if they deem it "appropriate" to provide to the domestic intelligence services.

    The public should know, before they approach the media, whether the American media talks out of both sides of its mouth: On one hand publicly asserting the "importance" of private sources, all the while engaging in domestic surveillance under the apparent direction of the JTTF surveillance. The public should know whether the media will truly stand for reporting the news, or whether they have a separate agenda: Pleasing their government sources in the intelligence community.

    A citizenry cannot hope to rally the nation to preserve the constitution when the media proves to be loyal to tyranny, not the rule of law or a free exchange of ideas -- claiming it is protecting the sources of critical information about government criminal acts -- while the opposite appears to be the case: The media leverages its role as an "independent journalist" so the government can obtain information it cannot lawful acquire otherwise.

    * * *

    There is precedent for probing into the relationship between the government and American media. Not only is there a link between Time Magazine and DoJ in the print media, there is also the link between JTTF and ISPs.

    For example, during the WTC demonstrations in Seattle, photographs posted on commercial websites were redacted. However, the explanations provided had little to do with content or specific concerns, but were couched in unrelated factors related to "interest".

    We judge the there is an undisclosed -- and to be better explored -- relationship between online service provides, media outlets, and the NSA domestic spying programs.

    It remains to be understood to what extent the White House is aware of, involved, or orchestrating the information flows back and forth between the American media related to issues of:

  • Unlawful domestic propaganda over the Downing Street Memo;

  • Information on unfavorable coverage used to target contrary views in the media

  • Methods to recruit media personnel to act as agents for the RNC and White House disinformation, intimidation, and domestic intelligence gathering efforts

    * * *

    It appears what may be happening is that for the media to gain access to military facilities, or ensure their "higher priority coverage" is not affected, news outlets like the NYT may be selectively providing information about public citizens to government.

    At this point, it remains unclear what the basis for information being disclosed.

    We do know that government officials will publicly assert the media has "Numerous problems" and "never gets things right," while at the same time media and publishers will point to the same named-individuals asserting, "We work with them all the time."

  • If the media "works with the government officials all the time," why are the government officials asserting to the public, "The media gets it wrong?"

    We judge the assertions that the media "gets it wrong" is a false statement intended to put distance between the government officials and the media.

    Further it is our belief that the media fails to adequately disclose that it provides non-criminal information to law enforcement and the NSA, despite knowing that the activity -- if it was carried out by the government -- may be illegal.

    It remains a matter of law whether the media -- in failing to disclose its relationship, sources and conduct to the public -- is acting as a defacto agent of the federal, state, and local governments.

    If this is occurring -- namely the media personnel are posing as "independent journalists" but are, in fact acting under the direction, counsel, and advise of the government -- this would raise substantial questions about the integrity of the American media.

    Bluntly, the public claim that the media is "independent" gets thrown out the window. It is curious that at a time when the media hoped to "remain objective" over issues, the NYT was feeding what appears to be propaganda over the WMD issues through Judith Miller.

    * * *

    We make no claim of additional criminal acts by the media in their apparent support of an alleged conspiracy to engage in unlawful domestic surveillance and policing activity of the US military – in violation of the Posse Comitatus Act; nor are we asserting that the specific NSA disclosures about the unlawful NSA domestic spying program was more than what the NYT has stated. However, we would hope that the Congress explore the issues:

  • What role is the media playing in providing propaganda to the American public;

  • What roles does the media play in engaging in domestic surveillance;

  • A reliable source generally is one that has a track record of providing accurate information which the FBI can later verify is reasonably true; this implies that the relationship between the "author" and the FBI is frequent, and not an isolated incident. Why are FBI documents specifically listing -- then redacting -- the names of "reliable" sources that have a specific media connection -- namely the title of "author"?

    We judge the he Time Magazine's disclosure of the FBI memo over the Abramoff investigation illustrate the connection between the media and the government. It remains to be understood:

  • What basis this information is provided to the media; OR

  • What the media has provided in the past to warrant a "special leak" by the FBI to Time magazine; OR

  • What other information TIME or the NYT may have provided, or promised to provide, in exchange for consideration by DOJ -- benefits, consideration, cursory review, promises to decline to prosecute?