Saturday, October 23, 2004
I wanted to transmit this news to you tonight. I am progressing well and will continue to communicate with you. I would like to express my most profound appreciation of the demonstrations of affection and solidarity that I have received from you at this time.
Every Cuban revolutionary knows what he or she must do at any given point. Let’s do it!
Please accept my apologies for such a long message.
October 21, 2004
* In 1944 he won the award for Cuba’s best all-round school athlete. Not
long after, he was scouted by the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team but
chose politics instead.
* His inaugural speech on coming to power lasted seven hours
* Operation Mongoose employed 400 CIA agents to try to assassinate him.
* One plan involved sneaking a powder into his shoes so that he would
lose his famous beard.
* Another plot hoped to exploit his love of scuba diving by contaminating
a diving suit and presenting it as a gift
* In 1985 he temporarily gave up cigars for a national health campaign.
* His favourite drink is aged rum.
The US government and big media have kept the drama of US soldiers wounded in the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq secret, Alter Net online comments.
US government officials and media have avoided mentioning the human suffering in the Pentagon´s military hospitals, the website quoted neurosurgeon Gen Bolles, who works at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center - the U.S. military hospital in Germany that receives all injured soldiers evacuated from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bolles said he has seen an uncountable number of young US soldiers with brain and spinal wounds - the kind of injury that can destroy the life of young boys.
The neurosurgeon, who refused talking about politics, admitted the unfairness of the war cannot be hidden, and urged the country to pay attention on the war wounded. In the case of Iraq, the number of wounded surpass official government figures.
The US Defense Department informed this week, the wounded amount to a few over 8,000, while Golles affirmed at least 20,000 wounded soldiers have been evacuated in Landstuhl. ...
Friday, October 22, 2004
by Patricia Sullivan
Victor Reuther, 92, the redoubtable labor leader who rallied sit-down strikers at General Motors plants, survived an assassination attempt that cost him an eye and helped rebuild the trade unions in postwar Europe, died of renal failure and massive pneumonia June 3 at George Washington University Hospital.
Mr. Reuther was one of three brothers who led the United Auto Workers during its mid-century heyday. While his brother Walter was the prominent union president who wielded influence in national politics for almost a quarter-century and Roy Reuther handled legislative affairs, Victor Reuther's role was at first the union's education director and later the union's international director. He had lived in Washington since 1954.
"He was a pioneer in the true sense of the word," said Doug Fraser, a former UAW president. "He helped build one of the great unions in America."
A passionate believer in the ability of unions to help working people with a broad range of social issues beyond paychecks and benefits, Mr. Reuther forged a career spanning the eras from labor's flirtation with Russian socialism to its alarm at the outsourcing of what were once union jobs to Third World countries. He appointed Mildred Jeffrey to lead the UAW's first Women's Bureau in the 1950s, protested the Vietnam War in the 1960s, publicly rebuked the shah of Iran in the 1970s and argued against the UAW's partnership with automakers in the mid-1980s.
He first made his name as the organizer staffing the sound truck in the winter of 1937 when Flint, Mich., autoworkers staged an epic sit-down strike at one of the GM plants. Mr. Reuther climbed aboard the sound truck and urged the strikers to stand firm, despite the cutoff of power and food. The police later attacked the strikers with tear gas and bullets, wounding 13. The union responded with fire hoses and heavy hinges fired from jerry-built slingshots in what is known as the "Battle of the Running Bulls."
"It was a monumental labor event; it brought the world's largest corporation to the table and made them deal for the first time with a union," said Mike Smith, director of the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University in Detroit. "He had this deep, resonating voice, and he coupled that with a superb control of the language. He was a self-educated man who read widely, and . . . when he got up to give a speech, it was usually a beauty."
A dozen years later, Mr. Reuther sat down to read the newspaper in his living room when a shotgun blast shattered the front window and blew apart his jaw. Mr. Reuther lost his right eye, and his collarbone was smashed. A partial denture was pushed deep into his throat. He said in his 1976 memoir, "The Brothers Reuther and the Story of the UAW," that he told the oral surgeon, "They can take out my eye and take off an arm or a leg, but please fix up my tongue. I've got a living to make."
Mr. Reuther, born to a German immigrant brewery-wagon driver and union activist in Wheeling, W.Va., was the only one of the four boys to graduate from high school. The boys learned activism early; Smith said they were required to debate contemporary issues around the dinner table.
Mr. Reuther attended the University of West Virginia and Wayne State University but in 1932 took off with his brother Walter on a bicycle trip through Europe, visiting family in Germany and witnessing the rise of Adolf Hitler. The brothers went on to Russia to teach workers in Gorky how to build Model A Ford automobiles. They returned in 1935, and Mr. Reuther became an assembly line worker in Detroit and joined the fledgling UAW.
After the 1949 assassination attempt, Mr. Reuther and his family moved to Paris as part of the Congress of Industrial Organizations' effort to rebuild the decimated trade labor unions of Europe. He returned in 1954 and settled in Washington, where he led the UAW's international work and was a close confidant to his brother Walter.
Mr. Reuther didn't hesitate to voice his opinion about the direction of the labor movement during the strikes and bargaining and internecine union struggles. He was a key player when the American Federation of Labor merged with the CIO, when the UAW pulled out of the AFL-CIO in 1968 and rejoined it in 1981, and when Canadian autoworkers pulled out of the UAW to form their own organization. He objected to the union accepting money from a CIA front organization, and he urged the union to increase its effort to improve housing for working people.
"Victor was never without passion for fundamental change," said Jerry Tucker, a former UAW regional official from St. Louis who led a dissident group beginning in the mid-1980s. Mr. Reuther, by then retired, was a widely quoted supporter of the group, charging that the union surrendered too much power to corporations. For a few years, he was persona non grata with union leadership but eventually was welcomed back as one of its wise men.
In failing health for the past dozen years, Mr. Reuther was cared for by one of his sons, Eric, and Eric's partner, Deborah Mathews. His father decided, without consulting the family, to move into an assisted-living center in Georgetown three years ago, Eric Reuther said.
One of his first acts there was to organize a reading and study group to discuss international issues with fellow activists, ambassadors and artists who retired there.
"Victor Reuther was one of the most imposing and inspirational figures in the developmental years of the labor movement, and ranks among our movement's heroes," AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney said in a statement. "Together with his brothers, Walter and Roy, he built the UAW into a powerful force for social good."
His wife of 60 years, Sophie Goodlavich Reuther, died in 1996. A daughter, Carole Hill, died in 1999.
Survivors include two sons, Eric Reuther of Fort Myers, Fla., and John Reuther of Moscow and New York City; a sister; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
by Rick Perlstein
The president's campaign enlisted the taxpayers' servants as agents of his re-election, with Secret Service officers submitting attendees at Bush rallies to ideological X-rays, and election officials systematically suppressing the franchise of groups most likely to vote Democratic. Meanwhile the president, who earned some 500,000 votes less than his opponent, busied himself ramming through a radical legislative program as if he had won by a landslide—his congressional deputies all but barring deliberative input from the opposition party in order to do it and gaming the legislative apportionment system in ways, as the counsel to one Texas representative bragged in an e-mail to colleagues, that "should assure that Republicans keep the House no matte[r] the national mood."
In Washington, it has turned some once calm souls into apocalyptics.
Thomas Mann is a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, noted for his deliberateness of manner, his decency, and his near religious devotion to the ideal of bipartisan comity. Now, he says, "I see the damage to our system and our sense of ourselves as a democratic people as really quite substantial. . . . The consequences of both the policies and the processes have been more destructive of our national interest and our democratic institutions than any president I know." When someone as level-headed as Tom Mann begins to worry for the future of our democracy, that's news. ...
... John Prather, an Ohio University math professor, earlier this year tested the tolerance levels of each campaign. He wore a Bush shirt to a Kerry rally in Wheeling, W. Va., and reported that not a word was uttered about it.
The reaction was different when he wore a Kerry shirt to a Bush rally in Cambridge, Ohio. In a narrative about the event, Prather wrote that a "low-level security person" initially asked him to turn the shirt inside out, which he did.
A few minutes later, that same person tracked him down and said his superiors had told him Prather could not stay at the event with the Kerry shirt. Prather took it off and put on another shirt he had with him.
But that wasn't the end of it, wrote Prather, who added that he he had no intention of heckling or disrupting Bush's speech.
"After about 10 minutes, the first security person came up to me again, this time with a second, burlier gentleman. I was asked to stand with the second man in an area somewhat away from the main crowd, and again I complied," he wrote. "A couple of minutes later, a third man who told me he was with the president's advance team (or something like that) came up and escorted me out of the event. Still not wanting to cause trouble, I went out as I was asked, and waited for my friend, who was allowed to stay."
Prather said this week he remains unsure who the third man worked for. It could have been the Secret Service, he said. ...
Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.
Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions. ...
Thursday, October 21, 2004
FEAR AND LOATHING ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL 2004
by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson
Armageddon came early for George Bush this year, and he was not ready for it. His long-awaited showdowns with my man John Kerry turned into a series of horrible embarrassments that cracked his nerve and demoralized his closest campaign advisers. They knew he would never recover, no matter how many votes they could steal for him in Florida, where the presidential debates were closely watched and widely celebrated by millions of Kerry supporters who suddenly had reason to feel like winners.
Kerry came into October as a five-point underdog with almost no chance of winning three out of three rigged confrontations with a treacherous little freak like George Bush. But the debates are over now, and the victor was clearly John Kerry every time. He steamrollered Bush and left him for roadkill.
Did you see Bush on TV, trying to debate? Jesus, he talked like a donkey with no brains at all. The tide turned early, in Coral Gables, when Bush went belly up less than halfway through his first bout with Kerry, who hammered poor George into jelly. It was pitiful. . . . I almost felt sorry for him, until I heard someone call him "Mister President," and then I felt ashamed.
Karl Rove, the president's political wizard, felt even worse. There is angst in the heart of Texas today, and panic in the bowels of the White House. Rove has a nasty little problem, and its name is George Bush. The president failed miserably from the instant he got onstage with John Kerry. He looked weak and dumb. Kerry beat him like a gong in Coral Gables, then again in St. Louis and Tempe -- and that is Rove's problem: His candidate is a weak-minded frat boy who cracks under pressure in front of 60 million voters. ...
The president has now given twenty-four reasons for going to war. Why do you think we really invaded Iraq?
Well, I think you've heard all the reasons. I can't psychoanalyze them. They were driven by ideology; they were driven by a fixation on Saddam Hussein. They took their eye off of Osama bin Laden and the real war on terror, and the consequences for our country are gigantic: $200 billion, and counting; the loss of credibility and prestige in the world; the loss of alliances that we need to be helping us. The American people are paying a very, very bitter price for their bad judgment -- no matter what the cause is. ...
In today's edition of "they sky is falling," we pick up on the woeful predictions of one Dr. Hannu Kari, who pinpoints 2006 as the end of the Internet as we know it. Today the good professor warned that the fun bus could all come to a crashing halt in less than two years because of steady increases in everything that makes the Internet such a pain in the rear. Viruses, trojans, spam, and security flaws are all on the march in the view of the Helsinki University of Technology professor, and if current trends continue, their burden will topple the global network. In case you didn't get the memo: ...
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
by Robert Parry
Journalist Ron Suskind relates a chilling conversation he had in 2002 with a senior aide to George W. Bush, who taunted Suskind for being a person from “what we call the reality-based community.”
The Bush aide said this “reality-based community” consists of people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” Suskind nodded in agreement and muttered something favorable about the principles of the Enlightenment, only to be cut off by the aide.
“That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” the Bush aide told the journalist. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality – judiciously, as you will – we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to study what we do.”
In many ways, that quote – cited in Suskind's New York Times Magazine article about Bush’s “faith-based presidency” – sums up the anti-rational arrogance that has become the hallmark of Bush’s inner circle, a group that apparently thinks that its actions transcend both law and reason. [See “Without a Doubt,” New York Times Magazine, Oct. 17, 2004]...
The media has devoted enormous coverage to Senator John Kerry's reference to Mary Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter, as a lesbian during the October 13 presidential debate. Yet President George W. Bush's false claim from that same debate -- "I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden" -- has received less than half as much media attention. (Bush's debate claim is false because he said of bin Laden on March 13, 2002: "I'm truly not that concerned about him.")
Police in the battleground state of Pennsylvania are looking for a man who robbed a bank Thursday night wearing a George W. Bush mask. The holdup man, who did not flash a weapon, demanded the money from a teller at a Commerce Bank near York. As seen in the below bank surveillance photos--provided to TSG by the Northern York County Regional Police--the robber wore gloves, a ski hat, and a fixed grin. A police spokesman would not say how much the Dubya doppelganger got away with. [see surveillance photo]
Vladimir Putin waded into the American election campaign in support of George Bush yesterday, declaring that if the president lost, it would lead to the "spread of terrorism" around the world.
The endorsement was a significant boost for Mr Bush who has been under fire from John Kerry for failing to maintain international support for the US "war on terror".
"International terrorists have set as their goal inflicting the maximum damage to Bush, to prevent his election to a second term," the Russian president said at a central Asian summit in Tajikistan. ...
McGUIRE AIR FORCE BASE, N.J. - Karl Rove laid himself on the line Monday for his boss, the president of the United States.
That is, he laid himself under the wheels of Air Force One. Reason: Unclear, but it seems to have been an inside joke between Rove and President Bush.
Returning to the aircraft after Bush's foreign policy speech, the two men traded words. As Bush climbed the stairs, his top political adviser set his briefcase down in front of the tires and stretched out on the ground with his back to the wheels.
Rove stood back up moments later; a smiling Bush waved from the plane and they both got aboard.
"It was a humorous moment on the campaign trail," was all Bush campaign spokesman Scott Stanzel would say about Rove's antic.
President Bush governs from a "love of power" and right-wing ideology rather than religious beliefs, and he has yet to hold anyone in his administration accountable for mistakes, former Vice President Al Gore said on Monday.
As the campaign by Bush and Democrat John Kerry for president headed into the last stretch before the Nov. 2 election, Gore criticized his rival for the White House four years ago on Iraq and other issues.
"I'm convinced that most of the president's frequent departures from fact-based analysis have much more to do with right-wing political and economic ideology than with the Bible," Gore said in a speech at Georgetown University. ...
John Martinkus was seized in Baghdad on Saturday, the first Australian held hostage in Iraq since the US-led invasion.
But his captors agreed to release him after they were convinced he was not working for the CIA or a US contractor.
He was reported to be making his way home to Australia on Tuesday.
His executive producer at Australia's SBS network, Mike Carey, said Google probably saved freelance journalist Martinkus.
"They Googled him and then went onto a web site - either his own or his book publisher's web site, I don't know which one - and saw that he was who he was, and that was instrumental in letting him go, I think, or swinging their decision," he told AP news agency. ...
MR. RUSSERT: Before we go, Mr. Mehlman, clear up this mystery that has been raging on the Internet. This was the first debate, George Bush at the podium, the bulge in the back of the suit. All right. Come clean. What is it?
MR. MEHLMAN (Bush's campaign manager): The president, in fact, was receiving secret signals from aliens in outer space. You heard it here on MEET THE PRESS.
MR. SHRUM: You mean you sent Rove into orbit.
MR. RUSSERT: It was not a bulletproof vest or magnets for his back or anything?
MR. MEHLMAN: I'm not sure what it was, but the gentleman responsible for the tailoring of that suit is no longer working for this administration.
MR. SHRUM: Well, wait a minute. Now, the president only wears Oxford clothes. I'll bet that tailor is still there.
MR. RUSSERT: May we all be smiling this way on November 2.
As a Secret Service Agent, I can tell you that President is always wired with a communicator receiver to enable him to acquire detailed information in advance of situations that may arise. In the case of his first and second debates, campaign advisors were providing rebuttal information to President Bush as Senator Kerry was answering questions. This is not uncommon for an incumbant president. Having worked for President G.H.W. Bush, President W.C., and now President G.W. Bush, I am at all times aware that the president is wired, primarily to inform him of hostile crowds that he may encounter. Just because President Bush used this communicator receiver to provide voters with more appropriate rebuttal answers to questions posed does not warrant negative comment from this or any other website. The President has more on his mind than worrying about inconsequential people and whether his answers questions honestly, using his own thoughts, or the thoughts of campaign advisors and/or political analysts."
Baltimore Sun, Oct. 18:
The Washington bureau chief for Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group's news division angrily denounced his employer last night for plans to air an hourlong program that is to include incendiary allegations against Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry for his anti-war activism three decades ago.
"It's biased political propaganda, with clear intentions to sway this election," said Jon Leiberman, Sinclair's lead political reporter for more than a year. "For me, it's not about right or left -- it's about what's right or wrong in news coverage this close to an election."
Repeated efforts to reach Sinclair officials for comment last night proved unsuccessful. ...
In Wartime, Deceit Can Be the Better Part of Valor
By Michael Schrage
When "unnamed U.S. government officials" leaked the story this fall that al Qaeda computer expert Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan had been arrested in Pakistan, media reports described British and Pakistani intelligence officials as furious about the resulting firestorm of coverage. Officials were quoted as saying that the news had blown a global sting operation by destroying Khan's value as a "double agent" who'd been turned against his al Qaeda colleagues. U.S. senators and British MPs on both sides of the aisle publicly deplored this shocking intelligence "debacle."
What a terrific story. But was any of it -- Khan's purported role as a double agent, the outrage of intelligence officers -- really true? There's a good chance that much of it wasn't.
"You have to take those kinds of reports with a very large grain of salt," says Robert Vickers, a current CIA national intelligence officer and 30-year veteran of the agency. Vickers, who has participated in intelligence efforts to deceive hostile powers about agency assets in the past, notes that spreading a little disinformation is an intrinsic part of the intelligence community's culture. "We don't want our enemies to know how much -- or how little -- we know about them," he says.
The Khan story was bound to have gotten al Qaeda guessing. If Khan really was a double agent, it would be a huge blow to the organization's morale to think that a key member had turned traitor. But even if he had simply slipped up and was being monitored by both British and Pakistani intelligence, al Qaeda cells were still breached. It would make sense to spin Khan's inadvertent betrayal as a deliberate active betrayal.
Vickers won't say whether such practices have become more common in the era of Web-streamed beheadings and globally televised insurgencies, but there's no doubt that intelligence and law enforcement agencies have enormous incentive to misrepresent their successes -- and failures -- as they wage the global war against terrorists. They need to do it both to protect sources and methods and to sow confusion and doubt among the enemy. Misinformation that keeps terrorists guessing about what we know about their plans and personnel increases their uncertainty and insecurity, and that's an invaluable advantage in a war in which the enemy's identity is shrouded in shadow.
The political and operational risks associated with counterterror deception are undeniably great. The media resent being manipulated, and a government's credibility is a precious commodity. Effective deception undermines a democratic public's ability to determine how effectively, or how poorly, the war against terrorists is being run. And deception can just as easily be used to conceal incompetence as it is to protect real successes and unlucky failures.
Nevertheless, it should be used. If they're competent, intelligence and law enforcement agencies -- here and abroad -- will have already launched ongoing disinformation campaigns designed to disrupt or discontinue terrorist activities. Indeed, not to do so would represent, in the deliberately harsh words of the 9/11 commission report, "a failure of imagination."
While public disclosures of midnight captures and "treasure troves" of encrypted data on hard drives may not be outright lies, both history and counterintelligence doctrine suggest that they may not be entirely true, either. They may be embellished or played down for a very targeted audience, one that goes beyond CNN viewers or readers of the New York Times. Indeed, the CIA is legally prohibited from lying to the American media, but the prohibition doesn't apply to the agency's contacts with foreign media. The editors at al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya, Reuters and the BBC -- all outlets monitored by terrorism's supporters -- also pay attention to the rumors and reports of al Qaeda captures and alleged plots. As such, they present an excellent opportunity to deceive.
Similarly, while America's intelligence agencies generally observe policies limiting the role of deception in their media disclosures, their counterparts in the United Kingdom, France, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia do not. Before the Falklands campaign, for instance, Britain's Ministry of Defense deliberately misled the media about its intentions, a deception that contributed to the success of the surprise invasion of the islands. It's reasonable to believe that these countries may be using deception, disseminated through the media, as an integral weapon in the shadow war against terrorism.
No contemporary disinformation campaign is likely to match the strategic scale and coordination of the most famous deception campaign of modern times -- Operation Fortitude, the World War II initiative that was designed to fool the Nazi high command about the D-Day landing. With its dummy tanks and aircraft and faked radio transmissions aimed at convincing the Germans that the invasion was planned for another location, Fortitude is widely credited with delaying the arrival of Nazi reinforcements at the Normandy coast and saving thousands of Allied lives. Not surprisingly, military historians record that British and American media were involved -- some willingly, some unwittingly -- in the intricate disinformation maneuverings leading up to June 6, 1944.
Deception and media manipulation were integral to waging the Cold War, too. In the early 1980s, for example, the Reagan White House launched a targeted deception campaign to lure Soviet agents into surreptitiously acquiring cleverly reprogrammed software and silicon chips for use in the USSR's trans-Siberian oil pipeline. This high-tech tampering led directly to the pipeline's violent 1982 explosion. The administration blamed the pipeline's destruction on inferior Russian technology and shoddy workmanship, and the media dutifully reported this explanation.
To be sure, there is no foreseeable D-Day in the global war on terrorists. And non-state actors rarely have billions in targetable assets. Moreover, the media's role is infinitely more complex in an era of blogs, chat rooms and satellite TV. Yet the proliferation of media outlets -- from bloggers in Baghdad to chat rooms in Chechnya -- virtually guarantees any counterintelligence agency seeking to plant or spin a story that it will have a global reach.
In the U.S. criminal justice system, deception is a legally acceptable tactic for local law enforcement under certain circumstances. For example, courts have explicitly ruled that the police are allowed to lie and misrepresent evidence to suspects held for interrogation. Watch any episode of "Law and Order," and you're likely to see a realistic example of police misrepresenting the evidence they possess in order to elicit information.
In addition, many law enforcement agencies -- including the FBI -- often withhold from or misrepresent to the media the status of ongoing criminal investigations in the hope of tricking -- or panicking -- suspects into revealing themselves. While the prosecution is legally forbidden to spread any disinformation once a case comes to trial, manipulating the media has become an established part of pre-trial jockeying in criminal cases.
The notion that police may legally withhold and misrepresent information to catch suspected criminals while public policy precludes counterterrorism agencies from using deceptive "news releases" to thwart suspected terrorists seems foolishly -- even dangerously -- inconsistent. If al Qaeda and its affiliates operate as highly decentralized and highly compartmentalized networks of terrorist and support cells, as the intelligence community believes they do, then they no doubt face serious challenges in sharing information and coordinating activities. Any reports that create uncertainty about whether an Internet cafe might have been compromised or a cell phone tracked could postpone a planned meeting. That delay, in turn, might provoke new kinds of "chatter" for rescheduling that could make it easier to track al Qaeda's supporters. Even better, the delays might lead to outright cancellation of planned attacks.
When al-Jazeera reported, as it did this summer, that a captured al Qaeda operative has absolutely refused to say anything, and that 12 suspected militants had been arrested in London and another five detained in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, one could imagine other al Qaeda members wondering: Did he turn or are these arrests a ruse? When the BBC reported that British and Pakistani authorities had found hundreds of names and cell phone numbers on the laptops of an al Qaeda computer operative -- but no public arrests occurred over the next month -- did that mean the report was a lie? An exaggeration? Or that surveillance was quietly underway?
Disinformation may not guarantee a victory, but it surely buys time, just as it did for the Allies in Operation Fortitude. Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower had the incomparable luxury of knowing how successful their deceptions were, thanks to the Bletchley Park cryptanalysts who had cracked the codes of Germany's high command. But even without such intimate knowledge of the current enemy, U.S., British and European intelligence agencies would be fools to give al Qaeda sympathizers any accurate impression of what they know. Media disinformation is thus as much a defensive shield as an offensive weapon.
Though the idea of disinformation makes free societies uncomfortable, it's likely that most Americans would understand if the government withheld some information about its counterterrorist operations, since putting it all out there would give terrorists too much knowledge of our vulnerabilities. Conversely, outright propaganda and wag-the-dog scenarios utterly bereft of fact would undermine both security and credibility.
The healthiest approach -- the one most respectful of the inherent conflict between a free press and a secure society -- is to openly acknowledge that deceiving our enemies has been and remains a legitimate national security policy. Then we can publicly debate the question of whether the operational benefits of attempting to deceive terrorists and their supporters are outweighed by the costs they impose, if uncovered, on media and governmental credibility and accountability.
America's experience with World War II and the Cold War would indicate that this is a debate where a reasonable accommodation can be made to both sides.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Associated Press via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Oct. 17:
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush ignored advice to throw out a flawed felon voter list before it went out to county election offices despite warnings from state officials, according to a published report Saturday.
In a May 4 e-mail obtained by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Florida Department of Law Enforcement computer expert Jeff Long told his boss that a Department of State computer expert had told him "that yesterday they recommended to the Gov that they 'pull the plug'" on the voter database.
The e-mail said state election officials "weren't comfortable with the felon matching program they've got," but added, "The Gov rejected their suggestion to pull the plug, so they're 'going live' with it this weekend."
Long, who was responsible for giving elections officials his department's felon database, confirmed the contents of the e-mail Friday to the Herald-Tribune. He said he didn't remember the specifics, but that Paul Craft, the Department of State's top computer expert, had told him about the meeting with Bush. ...