Archive for the ‘George Orwell’s 1984’ Category
Peninsula, September 1991
Although the specter of fascist resurgence seems largely forgotten in the euphoria of German reunification, it may not be far beneath the peaceful veneer of that nation, or any other, for that matter. Even the most ostensibly free and open societies are not immune to fascism’s lure – including places like Palo Alto.
What came to be known as the “Third Wave” began at Cubberly High School in Palo Alto as a game without any direct reference to Nazi Germany, says Ron Jones, who had just begun his first teaching job in the 1966-67 academic year. When a social studies student asked about the German public’s responsibility for the rise of the Third Reich, Jones decided to try and simulate what happened in Germany by having his students “basically follow instructions” for a day.
But one day turned into five, and what happened by the end of the school week spawned several documentaries, studies and related social experiments illuminating a dark side of human nature – and a major weakness in public education.
Before students arrived for class on Monday, Jones vigorously cleaned his classroom and arranged the desks in unusually straight rows. He dimmed the lights and played Wagnerian music as students drifted in for class. Then Jones, a popular instructor who normally avoided even such regimentation as taking roll, told his students that he could give them the keys to power and success – “Strength Through Discipline.”
“It was thoroughly out of character for Ron Jones to say “Let’s help the class out with a little more discipline,” recalls a former student Philip Neel, now a television producer in Los Angeles. But because Jones was an interesting teacher, the class went along.
Classmate Mark Hancock remembers Jones adding a political cast and a set of incentives soon thereafter. “It was something like, if you’re a good party member and play the game well, you can get an A. If you have a revolution and fail, you get an F. For a successful revolution, you get an A,” recounts Hancock, currently a regional development director for a Los Angeles property company.
Jones next commanded the class to assume a new seating posture to strengthen student concentration and will: feet flat on the floor, hands across the small of the back, spines straight. And he added speed drills, after which the entire group could move from loitering outside the room to silent, seated attention in less than 30 seconds.
“Even when we started with Strength Through Discipline, it was easy for me to see the benefits of the posture,” remarks Steve Coniglio, who now helps run a Truckee retail store. “Even on that very first day, I could notice that I was breathing better. I was more attentive in class.”
Jones closed the first day’s session with a few rules. Students had to be sitting at attention before the second bell, had to stand up to ask or answer questions and had to do it in three words or less, and were required to preface each remark with “Mr. Jones.”
“At the end of that day, I was grandly happy. I mean, it seemed to work and everyone seemed to get into it,” Jones still marvels. Grades were based on participation, and no one accepted the study hall alternative that Jones offered prior to commencing the exercise that day. But neither did anyone make a connection to the German history lessons they’d just completed. “Most of us were headed toward college,” says Hancock. “It wasn’t Nazi German life that mattered, it was Palo Alto grades.”
Jones says he assumed the class would return to its usual format the next day. “But when I came in, the class was all sitting…” His voice trails off as his body snaps to military attention.
Jones considered calling a halt, but then went to the blackboard and wrote “Strength Through Community” below the previous day’s slogan, “Strength Through Discipline.”
“I began to lecture on community – something bigger than oneself, something enjoyable. They really bought that argument,” Jones recalls.
A powerful sense of belonging had sprung up among lowly sophomores at the bottom of the rung of the three-year school, and Jones admits he soon became a part of the exercise as well as its leader.
“It was really a mistake, a terrible thing to do. My curiosity pulled me in at first, and then I liked it. They learned fast, didn’t ask questions. It was easier as a teacher.”
As his Strength Through Community lecture ended, he created a class salute by bringing his right hand toward his right shoulder in an outwardly curled position, resembling a wave. Jones named it the Third Wave, and – despite its similarity to Third Reich – claims he borrowed the term from beach folklore, which holds that the last wave in every series of three is the largest.
Students acknowledging each other this way in the halls attracted the attention of upper classmen, who clamored to know the salute’s significance, Coniglio says. Cubberley students began skipping their regular classes, asking to be part of the Third Wave. In three days Jones’ class had expanded to 60 students.
After telling the enlarged class that “strength is fine, now you must act,” Jones assigned everyone a task to be completed that day. Some were to memorize the names and addresses of everyone in the group; others were to make Third Wave banners, armbands and membership cards. And since that day’s theme was “Strength Through Action,” everyone was to proselytize.
By day’s end Coniglio says banners were all over the school, including a 20 footer in the library. Members brought in some 200 converts from other classes to be “sworn in.”
“It just swept through the school,” recalls Jones, who is still teaching, now at the San Francisco Recreation Center for the Handicapped. “It was like walking on slippery rock…by the third or fourth day, there was an obvious explosion of emotion that I couldn’t control.”
Several boys were assigned to “protect” Jones as he walked the school’s corridors, wearing Third Wave armbands to signify their responsibility.
“It was a black band. When I went home, it got my parents worried,” says Steve Benson, now a Palo Alto mechanic. “They thought it was the equivalent of the SS.” Although his mother called Jones to express her concern, the teacher reassured her it was merely a class exercise.
Everyone involved in the Third Wave received a membership card, three of which Jones randomly marked with an X. Those holding the marked cards were told to note who transgressed class rules, which now dictated such matters as what campus paths members could walk and with whom they could associate.
“There were three or four stoolies,” Jones explains bluntly. “I wanted to see how this was being taken outside of class.”
By the end of four days, approximately half the class had approached Jones with detailed information about the transgressions of others, ranging from improper salutes to coup plots against him.
“It was phenomenal. There was a whole underground of activity. People were assigning themselves as guards,” Jones says. “I knew exactly what was going on in class because of this strange snitching that was going on.”
There was betrayal among teens who had been close friends since childhood. A group of buddies could be sharing a cigarette in the bathroom, discussing a plan to “kidnap” Jones the next day and fulfill the exercise’s requirement for a top grade, but “it wouldn’t happen,” say Coniglio. “Somebody – one of those two or three – would inform Ron Jones of the plot.”
This is exactly what happened to Hancock, who told several friends he had bought a cap pistol to school to earn an A with mock assassination. Jones gave him a stern look in class while reminding the group of the penalties for disloyalty; Hancock dropped the ideas and to this day cannot identify his betrayer.
“Jones was able to stop a lot of lines of communication between people. That’s how he made his power. He was keeping us under his thumb very effectively,” say Hancock.
Jones also selected an official but anonymous “secret police” group to help enforce Third Wave rules in and out of school. These students enjoyed the assistance of a tough, leather-jacketed campus car club known as The Executors, who had been attracted to the Third Wave. Both groups – along with regular Third Wave members – denounced their classmates for a raft of real and imagined transgressions.
“The paranoia was really strange,” Coniglio says. “People were finking, and you had to make your own choice that way – whether you would tell.”
In addition to the names supplied by student enforcers, Jones would also pull “indictments” from his shirt pocket – slips of paper from which he would then read names and alleged offenses, Hancock says.
No matter who fingered them, the accused stood immediately. A few were let off, but many were convicted by a class shouting, “Guilty!” and sent into library exile. Mistrust blossomed even there. Hancock recalls an acquaintance later telling him she thought he’d turned her in because she was “caught” a day after they had a brief, innocuous conversation.
Hancock subsequently asked Jones about the indictments, only to learn the accusations were usually fabricated. “Not only did he cause us to convict our peers, he’d just pick a name and get ’em convicted,” say Hancock. “As long as that level of fear was there, the system was working.”
Adding to the ferment was the dawn of antiwar activism. Third Wave meeting announcements and instructions on daily activity were read over the P.A. system, regularly followed by calls for revolution or radical social change. The polar extremes only added to the confusion of the teens, from many of whom a Vietnam draft call was looming.
“You were either radical or you weren’t. You couldn’t be in the middle. Perhaps we were ready to be molded,” Coniglio shrugs. “We were caught between extremes that were getting all the attention.”
Something of an underground existed within the Third Wave, but Hancock says it had as much effect as protesting against the Nazi regime in Germany.
One of the underground’s main problems was that Jones kept changing the rules established early in the experiment, and simply ignored several attempts at the revolution whose perpetrators had been promised an A. Hancock says some desperate conspirators even considered a mass “hit” with Mattel machine guns concealed in lunch bags, but Jones got wind of it and rescheduled the student assembly at which the assassination was to have taken place.
By the fifth day, the sheer volume of student migration to Jones’ class was disrupting normal school routines and raised his concern that matters had gotten out of control.
Besides reports about students who failed to salute properly, Jones received word that three of the exercise’s biggest skeptics were about to get beaten up. All three had told their parents about the Third Wave; one family’s rabbi even called Jones at home with questions, but accepted Jones’ vague answers without delving too deeply.
“I was hoping he would come in with a tremendous amount of rage,” say Jones. “I kept hoping someone would walk in and ask what was going on, so I could point to them and say, ‘That’s right, look what you’re doing, you’ve become just like fascists’ and end it. But it didn’t happen.”
Some parents did warn their children not to attend the class, which only reinforced student desires to participate, says Coniglio.
For his part, Jones easily disposed of the few polite parent inquiries by describing the Third Wave as a class exercise. Even teachers at the school did not question it while it was going on, he notes.
Jones decided he had to end the experiment immediately, but without losing the point of the lesson. He had the three skeptics escorted to the library for their own safety, and then told those remaining that the Third Wave was more than an exercise, that it was more than just a game.
In fact, Jones said, they were a local cell of a select youth movement recruiting students nationwide. More than 1,000 such groups would rise up during a special noon rally that day to support a national presidential candidate, one who would announce a Third Wave Youth Program to bring the country “a new sense of order, community, pride and action.”
By noon, students were crammed into the lecture hall, backs ramrod straight, eyes riveted to a television set in the front of the room. With the car club toughs guarding the door, Jones led the group in chants and salutes for the benefit of several friends he had posing as reporters and photographers.
Then Jones dimmed the lights, snapped the television set on and left the room.
Students waited with rapt attention for a vision of the future, but the screen stayed blank.
“Everybody’s eyes began to go like this,” Hancock says, darting his eyes frantically from side to side. After looking around a few minutes, Hancock says he realized in a daze that “there weren’t any bodyguards, there wasn’t any Jones. We were all just sitting at discipline.”
For Coniglio, the gray faces staring at the gray screen triggered his most potent image of World War II – the gas chambers.
“I thought, ‘My God, we’re all dead.” He yelled, “I’m getting out of here,” and ran for the back doors, which he thought would be locked like in the concentration camp ovens. But the doors opened, and Coniglio was surprised to encounter a normal spring day at lunch hour. “Music was coming from the quad, flowers were blooming and a warm breeze was blowing.”
Back inside, Jones returned to shut off the television and take a position at a microphone on stage, while a movie montage of World War II scenes flashed onto a large screen behind him.
“There is no Third Wave movement, no leader,” he told the stunned audience. “You and I are no better or worse than the citizens of the Third Reich. We would have worked in the defense plants. We will watch our neighbors be taken away, and do nothing,” Jones said, referring to the three skeptics exiled to the library for the crime of disbelief. “We’re just like those Germans. We would give our freedom up for the chance of being special.”
Neel remembers that “everybody just sat there a long time. Then everyone went their own way. No one wanted to talk about it. I think I remember a couple of people sitting there, not moving.”
“Nazi is always a dirty word when you’re growing up, but when you get hit with it, that you’ve become one, it’s a very shocking statement.”
Several students were crying. Barbara Miller Moore, a Third Wave member who did not attend the rally, recalls seeing several people walking away in shock. “Steve was pale,” she remembers of Coniglio. “I was worried about him. He as always exceptionally sensitive. I didn’t know what would happen to him.”
The salutes ended with the rally; membership cards turned to litter and attention to Vietnam. But memories of the one-week experiment remain strong 25 years later.
“It hurts so much when I realized I’d been so fooled, but then, that was the lesson,” remarks Coniglio. Upon subsequent reflection, he says he realized “it was one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever had in my life. How often are you – as a 16 year old- not only able to learn about history, but to participate in it?”
Although Neel remembers feeling frightened before the rally a the thought of linking up with a national movement, he says peer pressure overcame his doubts, along with his regard for Jones and the climate of the times.
“A big reason I went along with it was my trust for Jones,” Neel says. Moveover, he “was just beginning to feel bitter about Vietnam, and part of the experiment seemed like we could change the government responsible for hurting us. There was a feeling something really remarkable was going to happen, going on throughout the country – that the movement was going to change politics, change the structure of school. The combination of everything made it happen, and boy, did it happen.”
For student Alyssa Hess Reit, the conclusion of the Third Wave experiment led to some heartfelt compassion and empathy for the Germans. “It seemed very clear that if a bunch of high school students from Palo Alto who had everything – nothing to lose – could be so easily pulled in, knowing it was just a game, it was clear what it must’ve been like for real people losing jobs and families,” she says. “That’s not to say there weren’t ways to resist or that they couldn’t, but we didn’t even know how to go about it.”
Reit says she knows of no one who was damaged by the Third Wave. Jones “helped wake us up, and I’ve always been grateful,” she comments. “Good experiences aren’t necessarily pleasant. I’ve often thought about it, and I’m glad I had it. I would want my kids to have it.”
Many parents also supported Jones and the exercise, regardless of whether they had children involved. They went to bat for him two years later, when he was denied tenure for reasons ostensibly unrelated to the Third Wave.
“Jones was an outstanding and creative teacher whose principal effort was to teach children to think for themselves,” says Joseph Pickering, an interested parent. “Jones had excellent character and the highest motives.”
The experiment generated a great deal of debate among Jones’ fellow teachers, however, with several arguing it was not his place to expose students to such emotional wrenching.
“To a certain extent, they were right,” Jones agrees, although he considers any negative impacts to have been temporary and the risks worthwhile.
Bernard Oliver, president of the school board that denied Jones tenure, objected to Jones’ teaching style for different reasons.
“We were upset with his performance largely because the subject matter was not being taught. If you weren’t concerned about basic values, his teaching was OK. It’s easy to load up classes with excitement, things kids like. While this impresses many parents, it can also be one-sided and far removed from traditional values,” Oliver adds.
Jones’ Third Wave also caught the attention of Stanford University psychologist Philip Zimbardo, whose famous prison experiment several years later resulted in college students lapsing into sadism and eventual emotional breakdown after being assigned the role of guard in prison.
“Situations exert much more influence over human behavior than people acknowledge,” explains Zimbardo, who has invited Jones to speak to classes many times.
Although the tendency runs counter to Western ideas of individual responsibility, Zimbardo points to two real-life incidents to prove his point – the U.S. massacre of civilians at My Lai, and postwar tests conducted on concentration camp guards that revealed no subsequent propensity for violence.
“It’s an unpleasant message people don’t like to hear. But unless you’re aware of the vulnerability, you don’t recognize how easy it is for simulation to become reality, for the uniform to dominate the person.”
Third Wave veterans agree.
“When he started rewarding people, I could see how that goes a long way toward influencing them,” Neel says. “I could see how people would be susceptible to that kind of behavior and would go along with it. You want to please your teachers, your peers and you don’t want to fail.”
Although Jones says he would never repeat the Third Wave, he insists it could easily happen today, anywhere in the United States, for a variety of reasons.
“Fascism is always a possibility because it’s so simple and people are frustrated. They lose their jobs, their dignity, their sense of worth, and someone comes along and says, “I’ve got the answer.”
School systems prepare the ground, Jones says by using only standardized tests for success and failing to recognize alternative paths of learning, as well as a wider variety of individual achievements.
Educational institutions weed out troublemakers and those who are difficult to teach, he contends, rewarding placid students who want to succeed at any cost and will accept authority.
“That’s the sad thing. Teachers can trigger it by telling students they’re special, they’re part of a community, that they can do special things. All they have to give is their loyalty,” Jones concludes. “It happens every day in school, only the paraphernalia isn’t there. Kids aren’t learning to ask questions. You create a population where freedom’s just a spelling word.”
Please take the time to watch these videos – it’s what’s necessary for all of this to change.
We will not be posting Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2007. We are participating in the STRIKE FOR PEACE.
If you’ve had enough, you need to say “When.” Say-when.org
Jim Kirwan – August 12, 2007
Our national silence confirms it - after only a few hundred years of a supposedly Democratic Republic, we have now chosen to become a Monarchy. However because of our reluctance to get-involved: most Americans have yet to concede that the presidency, presently, only exists as a fictional and strictly ceremonial image because that office was only one of the three parts that once jointly governed the United States…Congress has gagged itself and the courts remain mute, while this executive runs wild.
This new Monarchy is a reflection of the times in which we live, because he isn’t a single figure but a Frankenstein creature with two heads. Cheney-Bush the First is the title of this new Orwellian creation, which has just finished taking all power unto itself.
If you think that this goes too far; perhaps you might want to review some of what we have allowed to happen under Cheney-Bush the First. Spend five minutes and fourteen seconds on this video and think about what this means to your freedoms. (1)
There are some additional outrages that the clip doesn’t mention. The fact that Cheney-Bush the First has added well over a thousand signing statements to legislation passed by the congress: unilaterally nullifying the limitations set by the constitution on that office. His only choices were to sign or veto: but C-B-1 created a third path: he signs the laws but then declares that they do not apply to him.
He has also arrogated immunity to himself and his underlings, bear in mind that the White House has over 5,000 employees who are now apparently also immune from either oversight or prosecution. Only a King could do this. Then there is the Office of the Attorney General of the United States: again someone who took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution: except that the last two occupants have chosen loyalty to their leader over their duty to protect the people of the United States from a corrupt president and his gang of thugs that have claimed all power for themselves.
I had a dream about a massive national celebration. It was the Coronation of the King of America. The parade resembled Carnival and it was led through the cordoned-off streets of Washington D.C. by tanks escorted by a thousand motor-cycle cops in riot gear there were no protestors within the camera’s view. Everything was draped in red-white and blue flags were everywhere and the air was filled with balloons, and then a marching band appeared with AK-47’s strapped to their backs, proudly playing “Hail to the Chief.”
Immediately behind them a circus elephant, apparently drugged, was weaving up the boulevard amid an artificial fog that seemed to make everything surreal. Atop the elephant was a platform with oversize Tomahawk missiles supporting a huge crown of brilliant gold, and the whole platform swayed under the weight of the crown, with every drunken step of the beast.
Aboard the platform was an overweight Dick Cheney wearing only a necktie. There were numerous IV bottles ranged around him that swayed in the stagnant Washington air. Cheney wore a mask of himself, perhaps six feet high, that featured his trademarked sneer, and in his upraised pudgy fist he held the strings of his puppet The Decider: whose giant mask looked eerily like Alfred E. Newman, the comic-book version of “What me Worry.”
Bush was wearing his pilot’s uniform, but it was the banner above the crown that read “Mission Accomplished,” which seemed to rule the moment.
It was only then I noticed that Nancy Pelosi was attempting to lead the elephant in her scanty cheerleading costume with “08” upon her sweater. She was cheered by a number of other characters that all seemed eager to help. Rummy was there dressed as a US military version of Darth Vader, with Wolfowitz as Scissor-hands, and there were perhaps two hundred hooded prisoner’s that surrounded the elephant to protect it from any unexpected attacks by the crowd. These figures were chained together and controlled by some hidden weapon that shocked them, whenever they began to falter.
As the procession came abreast of my position, I noticed that behind the two-headed King was Condi Rice, in a gold lame full-length sheath, sitting on a handcuffed and gagged Colin Powell while she ate some grapes and waved to where she obviously thought the crowds might be but the fog machine obscured her view.
The nightmare dissolved, but the thoughts about what all that might portend did not. Then I remembered that recent Bill Moyers’ Journal article that had explored a Monarchy and contrasted the current administration with others where Impeachment was raised.
“JOHN NICHOLS: I think that the war on terror, as defined by our president, is perpetual war. And I think that he has acted precisely as Madison feared. He has taken powers unto himself that were never intended to be in the executive. And, frankly, that when an executive uses them, in the way that this president has, you actually undermine the process of uniting the country and really focusing the country on the issues that need to be dealt with. Let’s be clear. If we had a president who was seeking to inspire us to take seriously the issues that are in play and to bring all the government together, he’d be consulting with Congress. He’d be working with Congress. And, frankly, Congress, through the system of checks and balances, would be preventing him from doing insane things like invading Iraq.
JOHN NICHOLS: People don’t want to let this go. They do not accept Nancy Pelosi’s argument that impeachment is, quote/unquote, off the table. Because I guess maybe they’re glad she didn’t take some other part of the Constitution off the table like freedom of speech. But they also don’t accept the argument that, oh, well, there’s a presidential campaign going on. So let’s just hold our breath till Bush and Cheney get done.
When I go out across America, what I hear is something that’s really very refreshing and very hopeful about this country. An awfully lot of Americans understand what Thomas Jefferson understood. And that is that the election of a president does not make him a king for four years. That if a president sins against the Constitution– and does damage to the republic, the people have a right in an organic process to demand of their House of Representatives, the branch of government closest to the people, that it act to remove that president. And I think that sentiment is afoot in the land.
BILL MOYERS: Bruce, you talk about overreaching. What, in practical terms, do you mean by that?
BRUCE FEIN: It means asserting powers and claiming that there are no other branches that have the authority to question it. Take, for instance, the assertion that he’s made that when he is out to collect foreign intelligence, no other branch can tell him what to do. That means he can intercept your e-mails, your phone calls, open your regular mail, he can break and enter your home. He can even kidnap you, claiming I am seeking foreign intelligence and there’s no other branch Congress can’t say it’s illegal–judges can’t say this is illegal. I can do anything I want. That is overreaching. When he says that all of the world, all of the United States is a military battlefield because Osama bin Laden says he wants to kill us there, and I can then use the military to go into your homes and kill anyone there who I think is al-Qaeda or drop a rocket, that is overreaching. That is a claim even King George III didn’t make–
JOHN NICHOLS: Let me keep us on Cheney for a second here, because that is–
BILL MOYERS: You think Cheney should be subject to impeachment hearings?
JOHN NICHOLS: Without a doubt. Cheney is, for all practical purposes, the foreign policy president of the United States. There are many domestic policies in which George Bush really is the dominant player. But on foreign policy Dick Cheney has been calling the shots for six years and he continues to call the shots. Remember back in 2000, in the presidential debates, George Bush said America should be a humble country in the world, shouldn’t go about nation building. And Dick Cheney, in the vice-presidential debate, spent eight minutes talking about Iraq.
Now the fact of the matter is that on foreign policy, Dick Cheney believes that the executive branch should be supreme. He said this back to the days when he was in the House during Iran-Contra. He wrote the minority report saying Congress shouldn’t sanction the president in any way, President Reagan.
JOHN NICHOLS: And put these pieces together. If Cheney believes in this expansive power. You’ve got a– unique crisis, a unique problem because the vice-president of the United States believes that Congress shouldn’t even be a part of the foreign policy debate. And he is setting the foreign policy. I mean–
BILL MOYERS: The power of the purse-
BRUCE FEIN: –the power of the purse. That is an absolute power. And yet Congress shies from it. It was utilized during the Vietnam War, you may recall, in 1973. Congress said there’s no money to go and extend the war into Laos and Cambodia. And even President Nixon said okay. This was a president who at one time said, “If I do it, it’s legal.” So that it we do find Congress yielding the power to the executive branch. It’s the very puzzle that the founding fathers would have been stunned at. They worried most over the legislative branch in, you know, usurping powers of the other branches. And–
BILL MOYERS: Well, what you just said indicts the Congress more than you’re indicting George Bush and Dick Cheney.
BRUCE FEIN: In some sense, yes, because the founding fathers expected an executive to try to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch. And you’re right. They have basically renounced– walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check. It’s not an option. It’s an obligation when they take that oath to faithfully uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. And I think the reason why this is. They do not have convictions about the importance of the Constitution. It’s what in politics you would call the scientific method of discovering political truths and of preventing excesses because you require through the processes of review and vetting one individual’s perception to be checked and– counterbalanced by another’s. And when you abandon that process, you abandon the ship of state basically and it’s going to capsize.” (2)
If we have a Republic, then we have constitutional methods to deal with illegality by the president and the vice-president. If we do not use those powers then the nation will lose them and we shall have a king instead of a president. The question asked by the video is still outstanding:
“When Will Americans Have Had Enough”!
1) When Will Americans Have Had Enough
2) Impeachment the Conversation Continues
You think the latest Executive Order scared the cr@p out of you – read this!
The FBI is taking cues from the CIA to recruit thousands of covert informants in the United States as part of a sprawling effort to boost its intelligence capabilities.According to a recent unclassified report to Congress, the FBI expects its informants to provide secrets about possible terrorists and foreign spies, although some may also be expected to aid with criminal investigations, in the tradition of law enforcement confidential informants. The FBI did not respond to requests for comment on this story.
The FBI said the push was driven by a 2004 directive from President Bush ordering the bureau to improve its counterterrorism efforts by boosting its human intelligence capabilities.
The aggressive push for more secret informants appears to be part of a new effort to grow its intelligence and counterterrorism efforts. Other recent proposals include expanding its collection and analysis of data on U.S. persons, retaining years’ worth of Americans’ phone records and even increasing so-called “black bag” secret entry operations.
To handle the increase in so-called human sources, the FBI also plans to overhaul its database system, so it can manage records and verify the accuracy of information from “more than 15,000” informants, according to the document. While many of the recruited informants will apparently be U.S. residents, some informants may be overseas, recruited by FBI agents in foreign offices, the report indicates.
The total cost of the effort tops $22 million, according to the document.
The bureau has arranged to use elements of CIA training to teach FBI agents about “Source Targeting and Development,” the report states. The courses will train FBI special agents on the “comprehensive tradecraft” needed to identify, recruit and manage these “confidential human sources.” According to January testimony by FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole, the CIA has been working with the bureau on the course.
The bureau apparently mulled whether to adopt entire training courses from the CIA or from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), which like the CIA recruits spies overseas. But the FBI ultimately determined “the courses offered by those agencies would not meet the needs of the FBI’s unique law enforcement.” The FBI report said it would also give agents “legal and policy” training, noting that its domestic intelligence efforts are “constitutionally sensitive.”
“It’s probably a good sign they are not adopting CIA recruitment techniques wholesale,” said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, an expert on classified programs. U.S. intelligence officers abroad can use bribery, extortion, and other patently illegal acts to corral sources into working for them, Aftergood noted. “You’re not supposed to do that in the United States,” he said.
This is from ABCNews – The Blotter. Click the link and read the comments if you want to get an idea of what your fellow citizens think of this plan. I’ll warn you – it’s scarier than the proposal!
There has been a great deal of talk in the alternative press the last few days (certainly not in the mainstream media, as pointed out by many of our readers) about the Executive Order signed that effectively allows the President to confiscate the property of anyone deemed by this Administration to be a danger to national security or the stability of Iraq.
Also of great concern should be the Nation Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive of May 9, 2007 that effectively gives the Executive Branch dictatorial powers. This blog had not been started at that point – here’s what we wrote at www.say-when.org:
According to the newly signed “National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive,” in a “Catastrophic Event” (“any incident, regardless of location [our emphasis], that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions”), President Bush will become more than “The Decider.”
By Paul Craig Roberts
In his novel 1984, George Orwell portrayed a future time in which the explanations of recent events and earlier history are continually changed to meet Big Brother’s latest purpose. Previous explanations disappear down “the memory hole.”
Sound familiar? Any American who pays attention can observe the identical phenomenon occurring in the US today.
Think about the Bush Regime’s changing explanations for the failed US occupation of Iraq. Shortly after Bush’s May 2003 announcement of “mission accomplished,” the mission revealed itself to be very much unaccomplished. Americans were told that the cause of the snafu was a small Sunni insurgency of two or three thousand at the most inspired by “die-hard Baath party remnants.” Remember the propagandistic deck of cards identifying the most wanted down to the less wanted? Americans were assured that once Saddam Hussein and his relatives and henchmen were rounded up, our troops would be pelted with the promised flowers instead of roadside bombs.
When the roundups, trials, and executions failed to fix the problem, the “die-hard” explanation disappeared. A new explanation, with no continuity to the old, took its place.
The new explanation was that Syria was allowing foreigners to cross its border into Iraq to commit jihad against the American troops. This explanation lasted until it became all too clear, despite the propaganda, that the “foreign fighters” were remarkably well accepted by, and concealed within, the Iraqi communities that were suffering all the collateral damage of the conflict.
When it came time for the US to create an Iraqi government, it was evident that it would be one dominated by Shi’ites. Then, for a limited time, it was permissible to recognize that the insurgency was popularly based in the Sunnis.
As the insurgency evolved into what the Iraq Study Group described as a Sunni-Shi’ite civil war [ PDF ] with US troops unclear on which side they stood, the Bush Regime and the captive media began blaming Al Qaeda for the escalating violence. Americans were assured by the Ministry of Truth that there wasn’t a civil war, just outsiders stirring up conflict. This enabled Big Brother to deny that there was a civil war and to revive fear of terrorist attacks in the US and UK, the new Oceania.
The Al Qaeda explanation was soon discarded into the memory hole. The explanation implied that Oceania’s invasion of Iraq had greatly expanded the ranks and strength of Al Qaeda, thus contradicting big Brother’s claim that his war in Iraq was making Oceanians safe by stamping out terrorism. The Al Qaeda explanation had to depart for another reason as well. Cheney, Israel, and the neocons, the rulers of the new Oceania, plan to attack Iran, and so the insurgency in Iraq is now being blamed on Iran.
The Ministry of Truth has accommodated the latest explanation, just as it did all others before, without remarking on the funeral of the previous explanation. All of a sudden, a new explanation appears and is repeated until it, too, goes down the memory hole.
The American and British media work the same way as the Ministry of Truth in Oceania. A day arrives when the “truth” no longer serves the empire or hegemonic power or center of moral purpose in the world, or for short, the regime. When that day arrives, a new explanation appears and is repeated until it, too, is discarded down the memory hole.
In recent weeks Americans have been fed a series of reports from official sources that Iran is arming both Iraqi insurgents and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Experts, both within the government and without, who have been made more attentive by the Bush Regime’s false charges of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, have disputed the news reports.
But the reports keep on coming. As I write, the latest story is that the US military “discovered a field of rocket launchers near a US army base south of Baghdad armed with 34 Iranian-made missiles.” Can you imagine? The insurgents went to the trouble of lugging powerful missiles within striking distance of a US base and just left them there unfired to be discovered by the Americans. To further serve Cheney’s plan to attack Iran, the media report states: “Earlier this month, US commanders stepped up the charges [against Iran], claiming that senior leaders of Iran’s special forces and of the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah militia have trained Iraqi fighters and provided other support.” [US finds Iranian rockets aimed at Iraq base, Agence France Presse, July 14,2007]
Notice that none of the explanations fed to Americans over the years have ever mentioned, even as a faint possibility, that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq might be the cause of the violence in Iraq.
Allegedly, the US is a free and open country with a free press and a government accountable to the people. Yet, the information fed to the American people is as thoroughly false as that fed to the citizens of Oceania by Big Brother through the Ministry of Truth in Orwell’s famous novel.
In Orwell’s novel, despite the totalitarian power of the government, nothing happens to people as long as they accept the government’s intrusive monitoring of their lives and do not become interested in truth or facts.. In such a world, truth and individuality pass out of human consciousness and become unimportant. Citizens survive by accepting Big Brother’s ever-changing reality.
This is what the mainstream media in the US and UK are enabling the new Oceania to accomplish. It is pointless to complain about a few Judith Millers here and there at the New York Times, or the obvious warmongers at the Weekly Standard, Fox “News,” and Wall Street Journal editorial page. The entire corporate media is behaving as a Ministry of Truth.
Copyright 2007 Creators Syndicate
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice.