About Press Freedom and OGS: James Risen and “The Biggest Secret,” aka “NSA wiretapping of all Americans since 2001”

I can’t speak for all targets of “influence operations” under cover of internet, where hidden actors from the UK, Australia, New York and Las Vegas wage webterrogation, redirection, and psychological operations which then trickle down to local level operations, and offline domestic operations whereby “community policing” targets individual “influencers.”Surely, I have missed some things.

Nor can I claim that my story here is representative of all targeted speakers online, whose lives are sabotaged by the One Percent and their enablers offline. But my personal story was one where many subversives actively attempted to use me as an asset, or as a foil in one of many “hidden operations” for decades. And, some tried to infiltrate my connections while others sought to control my narrative. I can’t name them all, but I can and have named a few.

“The Bush administration was engaged in a massive domestic spying program that was probably illegal and unconstitutional, and only a handful of carefully selected people in the government knew about it.”

I can say, however, that I have been keenly aware of a hidden war, waged on me personally as a speaker, as a writer, and as a budding journalist since 2004, when I published stories that contradicted “official narratives,” or that deliberately mocked an emerging neo-McCarthyism. I was only able to do THAT because i was keenly aware since 1993 that America had slipped the slope, and some were waging culture wars in “gray area’s of law and society,”and doing that because they could-like serial killers and rapists seek victims who are powerless, so too do the One Percent and their enablers.

I was also keenly aware that I had become a target of local an state actors who sought by every means to discredit my personal life, and persona narrative, which, up until 2001-2003, saw myself, and those that I loved, as victims of state practices. It was when I began to study journalism and counter-narrative to ritual defamation where my life took interesting and hidden turns, as state and local level actors attempted to over-write my narrative with their own version of reality.

At ROGS, I have come as close as I can to representing hidden practices online, and described the many hidden processes whereby state and federal level actors have come offline, using the data gleaned/stolen/coerced from me and  tried to silence me, and many others, and I was also aware of the diabolical, odd, personalized blackmail that I endured for egregious periods of time; and yet I still attempted for over a decade to get stories into the main stream press. In doing so, I became-what I believe to be- a counter-intelligence target, and so, I use words differently than meets the eye.

As we see now, much of what I wrote in 2003-4 has become mainstream news, and not necessarily because I pushed the stories-but because Democracy loving, hard working journalists who were in better positions than I was took bigger risks, and had access to better sources than I did to “get the story out.” And the 10 year delay between my writing-and certainly others-was enough for some to steal hundreds of billions of dllars by perpetuating stereotypes, outright lies and falsehoods, and secretly using police power to crush dissent, in the name of “countering violent extremism, where journalism itself was labelled as such.

In journalism, the canard often heard is that one must be careful they “do not become the story.” In my case, I had no choice, or protection from those who sought to make me the story,”- I simply did not have the resources to protect myself as one after another round of bizarre activity or another infiltrated my life, and sometimes, literally stole my stories.You wil see here at ROGS one man’s attempt to fight a hidden war, waged by hidden actors nine and off, that had the net effect of silencing me, intimidating me-and worse, yet to be written about.

At this juncture, I would like the reader to take note of other journalists who have also been targets of these horrible practices, each of us with one or another depth of depravity levelled at us by governments that span the oceans. In each case, I am certain we are leveraged and compromised in different ways, and all of that in calculated efforts to undermine our credibility. I ave documentd herein, only the tip oof the iceberg, and await the opportunity t present “case facts” in a court of law.

While it is possible that I am one who knows with near certainty that my story has all the right ducks in a row to get a challenge to the entire basis of our police state, and especially, the NSA warantless wiretapping that we all are enduring. I ask the reader to bear in mind the Biblical phrase “burdens far too great to bear,” and then, note that targeted speakers all endure a variety of diabolical, planned attacks from the One Percnt and their enablers, dropped on our heads and into our lives because these heinous people have the power to do so.

We ar all targeted speakers, some more than others, and each of us has been targeted with stories far too great for one person alone to tell. So, depending on the “messages”we are capable of perceiving, writing about, speaking online, or otherwise disseminating, the “hidden hand” of the One Percent is used to destroy our capabilities as speakers.

In that light, here is the story of James Risen who first revealed the Bush-Obama surveillance nightmare of illegal and warrantless spying on American”s that is disguised as a war on terror, but which is actually a war on our nation, our Constitution, and our people. In other words- the One Percent have been waging war ON US since 2001, and selectively targeting some more than others.

Here is James Risen, on how he broke the NSA story, and certainly, now that we know THIS was possible we must ask what other stories are also possible-and well hidden from te public’s right to know. And like all responsible journalists, Risen speaks for the people, and me too, as this is where my story began too

Keep your eyes open for the words “target” and “perp,” as well as bizarre encounters with werdo’s and so on-does that look familiar to you? Because these words appear in story after story online about “targeted individuals.”:

THE BIGGEST SECRET

My Life as a New York Times Reporter in the Shadow of the War on Terror

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Photo Illustration: The Intercept

I was sitting in the nearly empty restaurant of the Westin Hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, getting ready for a showdown with the federal government that I had been trying to avoid for more than seven years. The Obama administration was demanding that I reveal the confidential sources I had relied on for a chapter about a botched CIA operation in my 2006 book, “State of War.” I had also written about the CIA operation for the New York Times, but the paper’s editors had suppressed the story at the government’s request. It wasn’t the only time they had done so.

1
A MARKETPLACE OF SECRETS
 

BUNDLED AGAINST THE freezing wind, my lawyers and I were about to reach the courthouse door when two news photographers launched into a perp-walk shoot. As a reporter, I had witnessed this classic scene dozens of times, watching in bemusement from the sidelines while frenetic photographers and TV crews did their business. I never thought I would be the perp, facing those whirring cameras.

As I walked past the photographers into the courthouse that morning in January 2015, I saw a group of reporters, some of whom I knew personally. They were here to cover my case, and now they were waiting and watching me. I felt isolated and alone.

My lawyers and I took over a cramped conference room just outside the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema, where we waited for her to begin the pretrial hearing that would determine my fate. My lawyers had been working with me on this case for so many years that they now felt more like friends. We often engaged in gallows humor about what it was going to be like for me once I went to jail. But they had used all their skills to make sure that didn’t happen and had even managed to keep me out of a courtroom and away from any questioning by federal prosecutors.

Until now.

My case was part of a broader crackdown on reporters and whistleblowers that had begun during the presidency of George W. Bush and continued far more aggressively under the Obama administration, which had already prosecuted more leak cases than all previous administrations combined. Obama officials seemed determined to use criminal leak investigations to limit reporting on national security. But the crackdown on leaks only applied to low-level dissenters; top officials caught up in leak investigations, like former CIA Director David Petraeus, were still treated with kid gloves.

Initially, I had succeeded in the courts, surprising many legal experts. In the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Brinkema had sided with me when the government repeatedly subpoenaed me to testify before a grand jury. She had ruled in my favor again by quashing a trial subpoena in the case of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer who the government accused of being a source for the story about the ill-fated CIA operation. In her rulings, Brinkema determined that there was a “reporter’s privilege” — at least a limited one — under the First Amendment that gave journalists the right to protect their sources, much as clients and patients can shield their private communications with lawyers and doctors.

But the Obama administration appealed her 2011 ruling quashing the trial subpoena, and in 2013, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a split decision, sided with the administration, ruling that there was no such thing as a reporter’s privilege. In 2014, the Supreme Court refused to hear my appeal, allowing the 4th Circuit ruling to stand. Now there was nothing legally stopping the Justice Department from forcing me to either reveal my sources or be jailed for contempt of court.

But even as I was losing in the courts, I was gaining ground in the court of public opinion. My decision to go to the Supreme Court had captured the attention of the nation’s political and media classes. Instead of ignoring the case, as they had for years, the national media now framed it as a major constitutional battle over press freedom.

That morning in Alexandria, my lawyers and I learned that the prosecutors were frustrated by my writing style. In “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,” I didn’t include attribution for many passages. I didn’t explicitly say where I was getting my information, and I didn’t identify what information was classified and what wasn’t. That had been a conscious decision; I didn’t want to interrupt the narrative flow of the book with phrases explaining how I knew each fact, and I didn’t want to explicitly say how I had obtained so much sensitive information. If prosecutors couldn’t point to specific passages to prove I had relied on confidential sources who gave me classified information, their criminal case against Sterling might fall apart.

When I walked into the courtroom that morning, I thought the prosecutors might demand that I publicly identify specific passages in my book where I had relied on classified information and confidential sources. If I didn’t comply, they could ask the judge to hold me in contempt and send me to jail.

I was worried, but I felt certain that the hearing would somehow complete the long, strange arc I had been living as a national security investigative reporter for the past 20 years. As I took the stand, I thought about how I had ended up here, how much press freedom had been lost, and how drastically the job of national security reporting had changed in the post-9/11 era.

CIA Director George Tenet, right, accompanied by Attorney General John Ashcroft, looks on as FBI Director Louis Freeh, not shown, meets reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2001 to discuss the arrest the FBI Agent Robert Philip Hanssen. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

From top left to bottom right: Aldrich Ames, John I. Millis, John Deutch, Wen Ho Lee.

Photo: AP, Getty Images

THERE’S NO PRESS ROOM at CIA headquarters, like there is at the White House. The agency doesn’t hand out press passes that let reporters walk the halls, the way they do at the Pentagon. It doesn’t hold regular press briefings, as the State Department has under most administrations. The one advantage that reporters covering the CIA have is time. Compared to other major beats in Washington, the CIA generates relatively few daily stories. You have more time to dig, more time to meet people and develop sources.I started covering the CIA in 1995. The Cold War was over, the CIA was downsizing, and CIA officer Aldrich Ames had just been unmasked as a Russian spy. A whole generation of senior CIA officials was leaving Langley. Many wanted to talk.

I was the first reporter many of them had ever met. As they emerged from their insular lives at the CIA, they had little concept of what information would be considered newsworthy. So I decided to show more patience with sources than I ever had before. I had to learn to listen and let them talk about whatever interested them. They had fascinating stories to tell.

In addition to their experiences in spy operations, many had been involved in providing intelligence support at presidential summit meetings, treaty negotiations, and other official international conferences. I realized that these former CIA officers had been backstage at some of the most historic events over the last few decades and thus had a unique and hidden perspective on what had happened behind the scenes in American foreign policy. I began to think of these CIA officers like the title characters in Tom Stoppard’s play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,” in which Stoppard reimagines “Hamlet” from the viewpoint of two minor characters who fatalistically watch Shakespeare’s play from the wings.

While covering the CIA for the Los Angeles Times and later the New York Times, I found that patiently listening to my sources paid off in unexpected ways. During one interview, a source was droning on about a minor bureaucratic battle inside the CIA when he briefly referred to how then-President Bill Clinton had secretly given the green light to Iran to covertly ship arms to Bosnian Muslims during the Balkan wars. The man had already resumed talking about his bureaucratic turf war when I realized what he had just said and interrupted him, demanding that he go back to Iran. That led me to write a series of stories that prompted the House of Representatives to create a special select committee to investigate the covert Iran-Bosnia arms pipeline. Another source surprised me by volunteering a copy of the CIA’s secret history of the agency’s involvement in the 1953 coup in Iran. Up until then, the CIA had insisted that many of the agency’s internal documents from the coup had long since been lost or destroyed.

But one incident left me questioning whether I should continue as a national security reporter. In 2000, John Millis, a former CIA officer who had become staff director of the House Intelligence Committee, summoned me to his small office on Capitol Hill. After he closed the door, he took out a classified report by the CIA’s inspector general and read it aloud, slowly, as I sat next to him. He repeated passages when I asked, allowing me to transcribe the report verbatim. The report concluded that top CIA officials had impeded an internal investigation into evidence that former CIA Director John Deutch had mishandled large volumes of classified material, placing it on personal computers in his home.

The story was explosive, and it angered top CIA officials.

Several months later, Millis killed himself. His death shook me badly. I didn’t believe that my story had played a role, but as I watched a crowd of current and former CIA officials stream into the church in suburban Virginia where his funeral was held, I wondered whether I was caught up in a game that was turning deadly. (I have never before disclosed that Millis was the source for the Deutch story, but his death more than 17 years ago makes me believe there is no longer any purpose to keeping his identity a secret. In an interview for this story, Millis’s widow, Linda Millis, agreed that there was no reason to continue hiding his role as my source, adding: “I don’t believe there is any evidence that [leaking the Deutch report] had anything to do with John’s death.”)

Another painful but important lesson came from my coverage of the case of Wen Ho Lee, a Chinese-American scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, who in 1999 was suspected by the government of spying for China. After the government’s espionage case against him collapsed, I was heavily criticized — including in an editor’s note in the New York Times — for having written stories that lacked sufficient caveats about flaws and holes in the government’s case. The editor’s note said that we should “have pushed harder to uncover weaknesses in the FBI case against Dr. Lee,” and that “in place of a tone of journalistic detachment from our sources, we occasionally used language that adopted the sense of alarm that was contained in official reports and was being voiced to us by investigators, members of Congress and administration officials with knowledge of the case.”

In hindsight, I believe the criticism was valid.

That bitter experience almost led me to leave the Times. Instead, I decided to stay. In the end, it made me much more skeptical of the government.

CIA Director George Tenet, right, accompanied by Attorney General John Ashcroft, looks on as FBI Director Louis Freeh, not shown, meets reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2001 to discuss the arrest the FBI Agent Robert Philip Hanssen. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

CIA Director George Tenet at FBI headquarters in Washington on Feb. 20, 2001.

Photo: Rick Bowmer/AP

SUCCESS AS A REPORTER on the CIA beat inevitably meant finding out government secrets, and that meant plunging headlong into the classified side of Washington, which had its own strange dynamics.I discovered that there was, in effect, a marketplace of secrets in Washington, in which White House officials and other current and former bureaucrats, contractors, members of Congress, their staffers, and journalists all traded information. This informal black market helped keep the national security apparatus running smoothly, limiting nasty surprises for all involved. The revelation that this secretive subculture existed, and that it allowed a reporter to glimpse the government’s dark side, was jarring. It felt a bit like being in the Matrix.

Once it became known that you were covering this shadowy world, sources would sometimes appear in mysterious ways. In one case, I received an anonymous phone call from someone with highly sensitive information who had read other stories I had written. The information from this new source was very detailed and valuable, but the person refused to reveal her identity and simply said she would call back. The source called back several days later with even more information, and after several calls, I was able to convince her to call at a regular time so I would be prepared to talk. For the next few months, she called once every week at the exact same time and always with new information. Because I didn’t know who the source was, I had to be cautious with the information and never used any of it in stories unless I could corroborate it with other sources. But everything the source told me checked out. Then after a few months, she abruptly stopped calling. I never heard from her again, and I never learned her identity.

A top CIA official once told me that his rule of thumb for whether a covert operation should be approved was, “How will this look on the front page of the New York Times?”

Disclosures of confidential information to the press were generally tolerated as facts of life in this secret subculture. The media acted as a safety valve, letting insiders vent by leaking. The smartest officials realized that leaks to the press often helped them, bringing fresh eyes to stale internal debates. And the fact that the press was there, waiting for leaks, lent some discipline to the system. A top CIA official once told me that his rule of thumb for whether a covert operation should be approved was, “How will this look on the front page of the New York Times?” If it would look bad, don’t do it. Of course, his rule of thumb was often ignored.

For decades, official Washington did next to nothing to stop leaks. The CIA or some other agency would feign outrage over the publication of a story it didn’t like. Officials launched leak investigations but only went through the motions before abandoning each case. It was a charade that both government officials and reporters understood.

As part of my legal case, my lawyers filed Freedom of Information Act requests with several government agencies seeking documents those agencies had about me. All the agencies refused to provide any documents related to my current leak case, but eventually the FBI began to turn over reams of documents about old leak investigations that had been conducted years earlier on other stories I had written. I was stunned to learn of them.

The documents revealed that the FBI gave code names to its leak investigations. One set of documents identified an investigation code-named “BRAIN STORM”; another, code-named “SERIOUS MONEY,” involved a story I did in 2003 about how the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein had tried to reach a secret, last-minute deal with the Bush administration to avoid war. Yet the government had closed all these leak investigations without taking action against my sources or me, at least as far as I know.

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