Sunday's Washington Post: A Case Study In Slanted News?

 

Three columns in the Washington Post's July 20 Sunday print edition raise red flags as potential examples of government propaganda disguised as news.

The Post presented them as the most prominent articles on its front page, its weekly Outlook opinion section, and its Sunday magazine.

Ronald Reagan The placement strongly implied endorsement by the newspaper, which remains Washington's most influential news organization.

But closer examination raises serious questions. You be the judge regarding these Post articles and their presentation:

  • The front-page lead story with a five-column headline was Russia supplied missile launchers to separatists, U.S. official says. Problem: Traditional journalistic practice has been to identify by name the top officials who make major announcements. The Post did not name the official here, thereby granting a pass if the opinion proves wrong.
  • The lead right-hand column in the Sunday Outlook section was Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans. Potential Problem: The column by a former State Department employee, John Napier Tye, appears to make a whistle-blower style disclosure in the public interest against President Reagan and his administration's National Security Agency (NSA), a super-secret unit within the Department of Defense. However, the column's circumstances raise the possibility that the article is part of an intelligence operation to channel dissent into controlled organizations such as Tye's new employer, Avaaz, a global website for citizen activists.
  • The magazine cover story was Robert Kennedy Jr.'s Lonely Crusade. Problem: The article flatly stated without attribution or qualification that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered President John F. Kennedy in 1963. That finding by the Warren Commission in 1964 remains highly controversial among experts and the public. This week's Post coverage continued the paper's practice of avoiding or trivializing evidence disputing the commission or implicating other players.

The problems go beyond what are (at least arguably) lapses in basic journalistic rules typically used for news, features and analysis stories (although not necessarily for editorials or blogs).

Each matter involves a major controversy in which the nation's intelligence agencies and the Washington Post have shared agendas and other secret ties that extend back decades to the earliest years of CIA and its Wall Street allies, according to the findings of my research and that of many others. As we have previously reported here, the CIA strengthened those ties last fall by awarding a $600 million contract to Amazon.com, the wealth source for the Post's new owner, Jeffrey Bezos.

We have recently published here several columns about scandals and other shortcomings in the mainstream media failings. Those columns are cited in an appendix below. So, I was reluctant to focus here once again on the Post. Many other national and global issues require attention.

But the stakes are high and the Post's performance is vital not simply for its readers, but for its influence on politics, books, television and other thought-leadership, especially in the mid-Atlantic region. And so we proceed with the questions here, well knowing that the analysis is necessarily a snapshot in time because new information is constantly arising -- in newspaper news sections and elsewhere.   

 
The Malaysian Airlines Fatal Crash In The Ukraine
 
Regarding the Post's front-page story on missile launchers in the Ukraine, the newspaper cast suspicion on separatists and used this attribution:
 
The United States has confirmed that Russia supplied sophisticated missile launchers to separatists in eastern Ukraine and that attempts were made to move them back across the Russian border after the Thursday shoot-down of a Malaysian jet liner, a U.S. official said Saturday. The official’s comments, made on condition of anonymity to speak about intelligence matters, came as a top Ukrainian counterintelligence official said his service has conclusive proof that Russia supplied the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over territory controlled by the separatists.  [Emphasis added.]
 
The story exemplifies an increasing practice by the Post and many other news organizations to protect from accountability officials who are articulating official views to an inner-circle of friendly reporters. These briefings are granted either as exclusives to a receptive outlet, or to a gathering of trusted reporters. They agree to protect the identity of the government speaker. Those who break that rule risk as reprisal losing access. The system is  therefore more like stenography than what is commonly understood to be journalism that uses courageous anonymous or otherwise independent sources in government.
 
The Post has become one of the most compliant of the major news organizations in this practice of granting anonymity to official sources.
 
Astute readers often complain in comment sections about the newspaper's abject complicity. But Post editors and writers persist in protecting the identity of their sources, even when the reporters have little means to check the accuracy of the government claims.
 
Charles Lewis 935 LiesAt a Society of Professional Journalism seminar earlier this year held in the offices of the New York Times Washington bureau, a Times correspondent said the Times tries to publish official identities far more than the Post, but conceded that even his paper often fails to identify officials providing official statements. The Post often uses the curious formulation that it is protecting these officials because they are not authorized to give official statements.
Beat reporters at the Post and elsewhere would respond, of course, that officials might not give them insider-type access and stories if the newspaper identified them.
 
That, however, is merely an excuse to continue doing what they want to do: protect their cronies in government. The obvious response for a news organization would be to avoid quoting sources, or at least consign their comments to back pages until someone dares step forward. Neither the Obama administration nor any other one in recent history would maintain a policy of refusing to cooperate with the Post if it stuck to a policy of downplaying anonymous statements on a controversial issues.
 
Looming over this discussion is the more general question of how closely mainstream reporters should link their own credibility to those of the officials they quote and protect. As indicated, the Post is a leader in assuming credibility from favored officials and granting them protection from disclosure of their identities.
 
One beneficiary of such policies was the late James Jesus Angleton (1917 to 1987), a leading counter-intelligence specialist at the CIA at the height of the Cold War and a man whose close friends included longtime Newsweek and Washington Post editor Benjamin Bradlee.
 
Nearing death, Angleton confessed to his biographer Joseph J. Trento for The Secret History of the CIA (2001) that Angleton, like his intelligence colleagues, was adept at lying -- and that the tactics, in retrospect, were not worth the price.
 
"You know, the CIA got tens of thousands of brave people killed," Trento quoted Angleton as saying of his long career at the agency's highest levels, beginning in 1947 and extending to 1974. "We, I, so misjudged what happened."
 
Another perspective comes from Charles Lewis, a journalist who founded the Center for Public Integrity in 1989 after resigning as a producer at CBS "60 Minutes" that year because of his concerns that the nation's top-rated broadcast show was slanting coverage to protect the powerful. Last month I covered the center's 25th anniversary and the launch of his memoir, 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Integrity. My report on his comments is encompassed in related issues in my column, Washington Reform Message Resonates In Connecticut.
 
Lewis told his National Press Club audience that "lying" by government officials has become standard operating procedure.
 
Asked about the "commonalities" he has observed in Washington, Lewis responded, "Not to be glib, but the commonalities are that if you were listening to government officials they were usually lying -- or at least being non-responsive and kicking the problem down the road."

 
The NSA, Ronald Reagan and the Reform Group Avaaz
 
The Post's Outlook column by Tye, now legal director of the global advocacy group Avaaz, asserted that Americans should be worried about a Reagan executive order that lets the NSA spy on Americans.
 
NSA Official LogoTye provided for Post readers a vivid and engaging first-hand account of how he learned of the order's existence during his work as section chief for Internet freedom in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor from January 2011 to April 2014.
 
His account described his experience earlier this year on a sensitive matter and how he learned about the importance of the Reagan order:

In March, I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The speech was about the impact that the disclosure of National Security Agency surveillance practices would have on U.S. Internet freedom policies.

The draft stated that “if U.S. citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.” 

But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line, making a general reference to “our laws and policies,” rather than our intelligence practices. I did.

Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them. Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, through which the government obtains court orders to compel American telecommunications companies to turn over phone data. But Section 215 is a small part of the picture and does not include the universe of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons authorized under Executive Order 12333.

The column thus revealed a new example of how domestic spying has a long history. An American Civil Liberties Union staffer promptly praised the column. So did Edward Snowden. The column appeared to exemplify how bold watchdogs are protecting the public both within the whistleblower community represented by Tye and by Post editors so receptive to his message.

Nye's revelation may undermine President Reagan's reputation in pro-privacy quarters. But current federal officials can take comfort also from Nye's portrayal of their secret activities as being part of a long term bipartisan White House consensus. 

Curiously, however, the absence of routine information on the Avaaz website -- board of directors, contact information, etc. -- raises the possibility that the organization is one of innumerable such groups created around the world by intelligence organizations with secret funding to advance hidden agendas.

This was the gist of a 2012 column by Global Research columnist Susanne Posel, headlined Avaaz: The Lobbyist that Masquerades as Online Activism. She alleged that Avaaz purports to be a global avenue for dissent, but channels reform energies on the most sensitive issues into such pro-U.S. positions as support for Israel and the Free Syrian Army.

I sought a response from Avaaz July 21 along with additional information on the group's leadership and funding. Any response will be added to this report if received.

To be sure, raising such questions runs the unfortunate risk of unfairness to Tye and his new employer, Avaaz.

Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein White House PhotoHowever, they have injected themselves into the public arena. So, questions go with the territory.

It may be relevant that Tye's supervisor in the program, Scott Busby, was so high-ranking that his office was in the White House Executive Office Building that Busby shared the same phone number with future U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power. Her husband, former White House advisor Cass Sunstein, is a leading proponent of "cognitive infiltration" techniques that using journalists and academics to advance government messaging. Vice President Biden is shown last year swearing Power into her post as ambassador, with Sunstein at center.

More generally, the history of the State Department, CIA and other government agencies managing information in cooperation with such major news organizations as the Post deserves far more scrutiny than it receives.

Author and former Navy intelligence officer Wayne Madsen, a frequent target of anonymous trolls and other sabotage on the social media, has reported extensively on covert activities. One such recent column, USAID: a history of front companies acting on behalf of the CIA, is excerpted below.

Every American should be fully aware of the declassified program "Operation Mockingbird" by which top CIA, FBI and other officials secretly funded political groups, academics and news organizations ranging across the political spectrum.

As often reported here and elsewhere (including my book Presidential Puppetry), the CIA and FBI secretly funded even such radical groups as the U.S. Communist Party's Daily Worker newspaper, Students for a Democratic Society and, on the right, the American Nazi Party and Ku Klux Klan.

Most such efforts were focused on more mainstream efforts to affect the political dialog in violation of the CIA's charter. Cold War Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy became dismayed at the power of the intelligence agencies nominally under their supervision, but the intelligence agencies leveraged Cold War fears and their Wall Street connections to augment their powers through the years even after Kennedy fired CIA Director Allen Dulles and his top two executives in 1962.

Washington Post Publisher Philip Graham and his wife, Katharine Graham, are reliably reported to have been strong supporters of Operation Mockingbird during those years. They had weekly dinners with one of its leaders, Frank Wisner and his wife Polly, as Katharine Graham mentioned in her memoir, Personal History. The implications are obvious in many events that the Post ignored or under-reported.

There is no reason to believe such programs and relationships have been curtailed in recent times, or that the mainstream news organizations for the most part have a strong interest in exposing intelligence agency ties within the traditional or social media.

In one of the more mysterious and shocking such revelations of it recent years, the hackers' group Anonymous revealed in 2011 documents showing that the federal contractor HB Gary Federal had been recommended by federal authorities to powerful business interests to help target advocacy journalists and their organizations. Virtually no investigative follow-up has been reported on that plot, or similar schemes to use social media to collect information under false pretenses from users.

Holly Weber AvatarSocial media dirty tricks artists created the personage "Holly Weber" (no relation to a movie star by that name) as an avatar on Facebook, for example, as we reported in Feeling Friendly This Week? Beware. 

The 2011 column began:

Are you feeling friendly? Perhaps you’d like to meet Holly Weber or others like her through their Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter accounts. Or maybe recent news has prompted you to get active in politics -- or even to protest in some way?

Here's the bottom line: Be careful, whatever your views. New evidence emerged in Washington late last week of sophisticated avatar, phishing and similar surveillance plots.

The snitch scams were reportedly run by government-affiliated IT contractors to obtain personal information from those who criticize federal officials or key members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Holly Weber, the lovely University of Denver alumn, for example, apparently does not exist -- except as avatar.

The Post, congress and other watchdog groups could easily get to the bottom of such scandals if motivated -- but do not do so for the most part.

An exception occurred earlier this year when an Associated Press investigative team exposed a CIA-funded effort to create a major free Twitter-style service in Cuba to help topple the Castro government.

With that information public, the Post covered it in USAID effort to undermine Cuban government with fake ‘Twitter’ another anti-Castro failure. Also, the Post undertook an enterprise story based on declassified 1950s documents showing how a famed novel reached best-seller status in significant part via CIA work via the publishing industry, During Cold War, CIA used 'Doctor Zhivago' as a tool to undermine Soviet Union,

In sum, the Post's publication of former State Department employee John Tye's revelations is part of a long-running Washington stagecraft. Whether he and his new company, Avaaz, are heroes or not remain to be seen. But it is worth remembering that longtime CIA executive Victor Marchetti disclosed during the Watergate era that CIA spymasters invented the term "modified, limited hang-out" to describe their disclosures to the media intended to fool the public into thinking it was getting the full story. 
 
The JFK Assassination
 
Johnn F. Kennedy Looking UpIn the July 20 Post magazine cover story, editors guided readers, as always, to one simple answer for the Kennedy assassination: Oswald did it.
 
Jack Ruby Murders Lee Harvey OswaldThat message is congruent with official actions and Post's coverage beginning immediately after the assassination and continuing to the present. Virtually all other mainstream news organizations have propounded the same theme.
 
Just three days after the Nov. 22 killing, Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach secretly wrote Bill Moyers, the major communications adviser to incoming President Lyndon Johnson.
 
Katzenbach, shown below in a later photo after his promotion to Attorney General under Lyndon Johnson, coached the Justice Department and White House to a predetermined conclusion based on then-scanty evidence against Oswald.
 
"The public must be satisfied," Katzenbach wrote Moyers in a now-available memo, "that Oswald was the assassin; that he had no confederates who are still at large; and that evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial."
 
Nicholas D. KatzenbachHere is an analysis by the staff of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, a leading repository for secret records such as the memo.
 
"Given that the authorities could not possibly by November 25 know these things to be true, and Katzenbach later admitted he knew very little at this stage, the memo is clearly advocating a political course irrespective of the truth of the assassination....To many observers, the Katzenbach memo provides the blueprint for the cover-up which followed." 

The major media -- encouraged by that kind of government direction from the Johnson administration and such intelligence sources as the CIA's propaganda program Operation Mockingbird -- cooperated from the outset in trumpeting the guilt of Oswald, who was murdered while in police custody on Nov. 24, the day Katzenbach began writing his memo.
 
In the magazine story, the Post could have cited the Warren Commission or other authorities as the source for its conclusion that Oswald was the murderer, acting alone. If so I would not be writing this.
 
But the newspaper instead chose an omniscient tone that forecloses inquiry and discussion.
 
And so, as in so many of these coverage issues, the questions fester unaddressed -- but fail to disappear.
 
 
 
 
Contact the author Andrew Kreig
 
 

 

 

Related News Coverage

Responsibility for Malaysian Airline Crash In the Ukraine

Update: Washington Post, U.S. discloses intelligence on downing of Malaysian jet, Greg Miller, July 22, 2014. The Obama administration, detailing what it called evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of a Malaysian airliner, on Tuesday released satellite images and other sensitive intelligence that officials say show Moscow had trained and equipped rebels in Ukraine responsible for the attack. One senior U.S. official noted that American intelligence agencies have confirmed that Ukraine had no antiaircraft missile system within range of the Malaysian flight at the time it was struck. The official was one of three senior U.S. intelligence officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity during a briefing arranged for reporters in Washington to provide more detailed information on the assertions made by administration officials in recent days, as well as to rebut Russian claims.

Washington Post, Why it’s off the record, Ruth Marcus, July 22, 2014. Anonymous sources have a place in reporting — and the White House knows it. Let us now praise anonymous sources. The new White House press secretary got into a familiar old spat with the White House press corps the other day over the use of anonymous sources.  Josh Earnest — has there ever been a more perfectly named White House spokesman? — was a bit off in his timing. He lit into The Post — and noted, more than once, that its reporters were absent from the briefing — for its alleged overuse of unnamed sources. This critique came as the White House was e-mailing reporters about a background briefing that very afternoon. Featuring, yes, unnamed senior administration officials to speak on the oh-so- sensitive subject of job training. Goose, meet gander, as several reporters at the briefing pointed out.

Washington Post, Russia supplied missile launchers to separatists, U.S. official says, Michael Birnbaum and Karen DeYoung, July 20, 2014. The United States has confirmed that Russia supplied sophisticated missile launchers to separatists in eastern Ukraine and that attempts were made to move them back across the Russian border after the Thursday shoot-down of a Malaysian jet liner, a U.S. official said Saturday. “We do believe they were trying to move back into Russia at least three Buk [missile launch] systems,” the official said. U.S. intelligence was “starting to get indications . . . a little more than a week ago” that the Russian launchers had been moved into Ukraine, said the official. The official’s comments, made on condition of anonymity to speak about intelligence matters, came as a top Ukrainian counterintelligence official said his service has conclusive proof that Russia supplied the missile that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over territory controlled by the separatists.

Robert ParryConsortium News, What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine? Robert Parry (shown in file photo), July 21, 2014. What I’ve been told by one source, who has provided accurate information on similar matters in the past, is that U.S. intelligence agencies do have detailed satellite images of the likely missile battery that launched the fateful missile, but the battery appears to have been under the control of Ukrainian government troops dressed in what look like Ukrainian uniforms. The source said CIA analysts were still not ruling out the possibility that the troops were actually eastern Ukrainian rebels in similar uniforms but the initial assessment was that the troops were Ukrainian soldiers. There also was the suggestion that the soldiers involved were undisciplined and possibly drunk, since the imagery showed what looked like beer bottles scattered around the site, the source said. Instead of pressing for these kinds of details, the U.S. mainstream press has simply passed on the propaganda coming from the Ukrainian government and the U.S. State Department, including hyping the fact that the Buk system is “Russian-made,” a rather meaningless fact that gets endlessly repeated.

Washington Post, Initial U.S. assessment: Pro-Russian rebels fired missile that downed Malaysia jet, Michael Birnbaum and Anthony Faiola, July 18, 2014. A preliminary U.S. intelligence assessment indicates that a Malaysia Airlines plane that crashed Thursday in eastern Ukraine was shot down by an antiaircraft missile fired by pro-Russian separatists, U.S. officials said Friday. “Our assessment is that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.... was likely downed by an SA-11 missile, operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine,” Samantha Power, shown in a photo and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the U.N. Security Council on Friday. 

 

NSA, CIA and Covert Intelligence Operations Targeting Americans

Washington Post, Meet Executive Order 12333: The Reagan rule that lets the NSA spy on Americans, John Napier Tye, July 19, 2014. John Napier Tye served as section chief for Internet freedom in the State Department from January 2011 to April 2014. He is now a legal director of Avaaz, a global advocacy organization. In March I received a call from the White House counsel’s office regarding a speech I had prepared for my boss at the State Department. The draft stated that “if U.S. citizens disagree with congressional and executive branch determinations about the proper scope of signals intelligence activities, they have the opportunity to change the policy through our democratic process.” But the White House counsel’s office told me that no, that wasn’t true. I was instructed to amend the line. I did. Even after all the reforms President Obama has announced, some intelligence practices remain so secret, even from members of Congress, that there is no opportunity for our democracy to change them. Public debate about the bulk collection of U.S. citizens’ data by the NSA has focused largely on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, through which the government obtains court orders to compel American telecommunications companies to turn over phone data. But Section 215 is a small part of the picture and does not include the universe of collection and storage of communications by U.S. persons authorized under Executive Order 12333.

American Civil Liberties Union, The NSA's Other Privacy Loophole, Alex Abdo, July 18, 2014. Earlier today, a former State Department civil servant named John Tye published an important op-ed in the Washington Post, explaining that the NSA has created a giant loophole in Americans' right to privacy. While we now know a good deal about the NSA's spying on American soil, Tye explains, the NSA's powers to conduct surveillance on foreign soil should trouble us even more. Surveillance on foreign soil takes place under Executive Order 12,333, an authority that contains few meaningful protections for the privacy of Americans. For example, if the NSA is spying abroad on foreigners and happens to pick up an American's international call, the NSA can keep listening without a warrant. It can also keep a recording of that call for a long time – even indefinitely, if any of a number of broad exceptions applies. What's more, the meager protections for Americans in the executive order are not subject to meaningful oversight. Not even the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approves the government's activities under the order, and earlier this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) – the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee – acknowledged that Congress has not been able to "sufficiently" oversee those activities. We have long been concerned about the use of Executive Order 12,333 to circumvent traditional protections for Americans' right to privacy.

FireDogLake, Why State Department Whistleblower Didn’t Reveal More About How Key Executive Order Is Used for Spying, Kevin Gosztola, July 22, 2014. The United States government is using an executive order issued by President Ronald Reagan to collect data from Americans, according to whistleblower John Napier Tye. Tye said, “I believe that Americans should be even more concerned about the collection and storage of their communications under Executive Order 12333 than under Section 215.” [Section 215 is the section of the PATRIOT Act that the NSA has been using to collect the phone records of Americans in bulk.] At the HOPE X conference in New York and during a historic conversation with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, Snowden praised Tye for speaking out about EO 12333.

Global Research, Avaaz: The Lobbyist that Masquerades as Online Activism, Susanne Posel, December 10, 2012. In the digital era, activism has turned into clicktivism and Ricken Patel, founder of Avaaz.org has capitalized on the globalization of the world through the internet. Avaaz claims to be a “world in action” that brings the campaigning community together by empowering people through “decision-making worldwide.” Avaaz has given a “voice” to those who do not want to join in actually protesting injustice in the world, but would rather organize within the comfort of their own home with online petitions that allegedly pressure elected officials are governments; similar to other websites like ResPublica, GetUp! and MoveOn.org. Avaaz has become so influential that they were involved in disseminating propaganda with the proxy war in Syria. In fact, Avaaz has been supportive of the manufactured uprising in Syria that has made the Free Syrian Army (FSA) so successful….

Boris PasternakWashington Post, During Cold War, CIA used 'Doctor Zhivago' as a tool to undermine Soviet Union, Peter Finn and Petra Couvée, April 5, 2014. A secret package arrived at CIA headquarters in January 1958. Inside were two rolls of film from British intelligence — pictures of the pages of a Russian-language novel titled Doctor Zhivago. The book, by poet Boris Pasternak, had been banned from publication in the Soviet Union. The British were suggesting that the CIA get copies of the novel behind the Iron Curtain. The idea immediately gained traction in Washington. “This book has great propaganda value,” a CIA memo to all branch chiefs of the agency’s Soviet Russia Division stated, “not only for its intrinsic message and thought-provoking nature, but also for the circumstances of its publication: we have the opportunity to make Soviet citizens wonder what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.” The memo is one of more than 130 newly declassified CIA documents that detail the agency’s secret involvement in the printing of Doctor Zhivago — an audacious plan that helped deliver the book into the hands of Soviet citizens who later passed it friend to friend, allowing it to circulate in Moscow and other cities in the Eastern Bloc. The book’s publication and, later, the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Pasternak triggered one of the great cultural storms of the Cold War.

Washington Post, USAID effort to undermine Cuban government with fake ‘Twitter’ another anti-Castro failure, Manuel Roig-Franzia, April 3, 2014. On Thursday, the United States Agency for International Development confirmed the broad outlines of an Associated Press report exposing the clandestine creation of a phony “Cuban Twitter” network that was meant to undermine the Castro government. The audacious program, set in motion through shell companies around the world, lured 40,000 unsuspecting Cuban subscribers with seemingly innocuous text messages about sports and popular music, the report said. For all its bravura, the program survived barely two years, failing in 2012, a victim of a drying up of funding. The campaign became, as so many before it, a punchline in the annals of an enduring, bizarre and frequently imagination-defying international standoff.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), USAID: a history of front companies acting on behalf of the CIA, Wayne Madsen, April 4, 2014 (Subscription required for full column. Excerpt below used with permission). Author and investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, shown in a file photo, is a former Naval intelligence officer who served a year on detail to the NSA and later worked as a vice president of a defense contracting company.  The recent disclosure by the Associated Press that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), a notorious nexus for contract fraud within the State Department, contracted out a project to develop a rival to Twitter in order to foment rebellion in Cuba has refocused attention on USAID's long history of acting as a contract vehicle for various CIA covert activities. The setting up of the Cuban Twitter-like system, called ZunZuneo, was contracted to Creative Associates, Inc. (CAI), which conducted most of its out-of-Cuba operations in Costa Rica. The contract to CAI was awarded as part of the State Department's "Civil Society Support Program," the same program that has been used by the CIA to foment rebellions in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Iran, and other countries. Some 40,000 ZunZuneo users in Cuba mistakenly believed their messages were private, when, in fact, they were recorded by USAID, which likely turned them over to the National Security Agency (NSA) for analysis and database archival.

CAI was not the only entity awarded USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) money to help foment dissension and rebellion in Cuba as part of USAID's "civil society program." Other recipients included the International Republican Institute (IRI), a branch of the Republican Party; the National Democratic Institute, a branch of the Democratic Party; the Pan American Development Foundation, on whose board of trustees are found lobbyists for Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Caterpillar, Greenberg Traurig, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Citibank, Unibank of Haiti, Educational Testing Service (ETS),and Occidental Petroleum; Loyola University of Chicago; Center for a Free Cuba (which was caught embezzling $570,000 from USAID in 2008); the neo-conservative non-profit Freedom House; the Christian evangelical group Echo Cuba; Cuba On-Line; the Miami-based Plantados Until Freedom and Democracy in Cuba; and Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI)/Nathan Group.

ZunZuneo was created just after the December 2009 arrest in Cuba of DAI sub-contractor for USAID Alan Gross, who was allegedly setting up satellite equipment and computer networks in Cuba to provide greater Internet access to Cuba's Jewish community. USAID funding documents for the ZunZuneo (a Cuban slang word for a hummingbird's tweet) and other "civil society" projects state that USAID money went to "miscellaneous foreign contractors" and domestic contractors (undisclosed)" to support the Cuban initiatives. ZunZuneo was a pet project of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, according to AP, had her social media chief Suzanne Hall, contact Twitter founder Jack Dorsey to take over ZunZuneo. Dorsey has refused comment on the report. DAI has a long history in supporting CIA operations. President Obama's mother, Ann Dunham Sutoro, worked for DAI in Java. DAI was also accused of supporting the April 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In 2005, right-wing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe stunned his audience by announcing that former Venezuelan military officers planned their coup against Chavez from Colombia. USAID and its contractors were heavily involved with anti-Chavez-activities in Colombia at the time of the 2002 coup. The history of USAID is replete with examples of contractor companies and other front groups working for USAID but also doing the bidding of the CIA. WMR has reported on many such cases over the years.

Oswald and the JFK Assassination

Washington Post, Robert Kennedy Jr.'s belief in autism-vaccine connection, and its political peril, Keith Klose, July 20, 2014 (electronic edition July 18). Robert Kennedy Jr. has gone on a crusade on the dangers of thimerosal in vaccines--but at what cost? Kennedy, fit at 60, insists he doesn’t want to fan these fears. All six of his children — ages 13 to 29 — have been fully vaccinated, he says. But he disputes the consensus opinion that trace amounts of thimerosal are no cause for concern. Robert Kennedy Jr. belongs to a storied political family whose tragedies are woven into the American fabric. The third of Robert and Ethel’s 11 children, he was 9 when Lee Harvey Oswald killed his Uncle John, the 35th president. He was 14 when Sirhan Sirhan killed his father, who was running for president. (Emphasis added.)

Rolling Stone, John F. Kennedy's Vision of Peace, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Dec. 5, 2013. On the 50th anniversary of JFK's death, his nephew recalls the fallen president's attempts to halt the war machine.

 

Justice Integrity Project Readers Guide To JFK Assassination

Robert TanenbaumJustice Integrity Project, JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, Andrew Kreig, Dec. 9, 2013. The Central Intelligence Agency implicated itself in the 1963 murder of President Kennedy and its ongoing cover-up, according to experts who have spoken out recently. Former congressional investigator Robert Tanenbaum, right, said he and his boss quit the last official probe of JFK’s murder in 1978 because Congress was too frightened of the CIA’s power to permit a probe of the agency's suspicious actions.

* Denotes major articles in this Readers Guide series

  1. Project Launches JFK Assassination Readers' Guide, Oct. 16, 2013. The Justice Integrity Project will provide a consumer's guide this fall to the many books and events surrounding the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
  2. Project Provides JFK Readers Guide To New Books, Videos , Oct. 26, 2013. This is a list of new books and films this year.
  3. Project Lists JFK Assassination Books, Archives, Reports & Videos, Nov. 2, 2013. Provided below is a leading books, films and archives from the last 50 years regarding the JFK assassination in 1963. *
  4. Disputes Erupt Over NY Times, New Yorker, Washington Post Reviews of JFK Murder, Nov. 7, 2013. *
  5. Self-Censorship In JFK TV Treatments Duplicates Corporate Print Media's Apathy, Cowardice, Nov. 7, 2013.
  6. 'Puppetry' Hardback Launched Nov. 19 at DC Author Forum on ‘White House Mysteries & Media,’ Nov. 19, 2013.
  7. Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory, Nov. 27, 2013. The past week's news coverage of President Kennedy's 1963 assassination provides a stark view of self-censorship.
  8. JFK Murder Scene Trapped Its Victim In Kill Zone, Nov. 30, 2013.
  9. JFK Murder, The CIA, and 8 Things Every American Should Know, Dec. 9, 2013. The Central Intelligence Agency implicated itself in the 1963 murder of President Kennedy and its ongoing cover-up, according to experts who have spoken out recently. *
  10. JFK Murder Prompts Expert Reader Reactions, Dec. 19, 2013. Expert reactions to our Dec. 9 argument against the Warren Commission's finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in killing President Kennedy. *
  11. Have Spy Agencies Co-Opted Presidents and the Press? Dec. 23, 2013. *

 

Author's Background

Editor's Note: Andrew Kreig is the author of two books on public affairs and media criticism, Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America's Oldest Newspaper (Peregrine Press, 1987) and Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters (Eagle View Books, 2013). HisAndrew Kreigexperience includes appearances on more than a hundred broadcast radio, television and cable shows, including those on the networks or affiliates of ABC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, Fox, HuffPost Live, NBC, NPR, RT and two brief stints as an investigative reporter for WFSB-TV, the CBS-affiliate and Washington Post-owned station in Hartford, Connecticut. The screen shot at right is from a 2013 interview with NTN 24, a Colombia-based network for Latin American audiences. 

In addition, he co-hosted a weekly public affairs show Washington Update for seven years until last year. The show had more than two hundred guests of widely different political views, as indicated here. In 2008, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) invited him to co-keynote (with AOL Chairman and CEO Randy Falco) the NAB's annual invitation-only Futures Summit conference for broadcast industry leaders in Pebble Beach, California. In previous years, he had helped lead specialized seminars at several of NAB's major annual convention, held each spring in Las Vegas. He has been listed continuously from the mid-1990s and currently in the reference books Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World and has lectured about communications on five continents.

 

Justice Integrity Project Coverage of Media Controversies (Arranged In Reverse Chronological Order)

Craven, Conflicted Media Enable Puppet Masters’ Political Agendas, Andrew Kreig, July 18, 2014. Washington's watchdog institutions -- including its timid, corporate-controlled media -- are failing to protect the public. That was my lecture theme July 11 at the National Press Club as I presented reasons why mainstream news organizations under-report or ignore major stories about domestic and foreign affairs. I described prominent government officials in the Obama administration, including President Obama, who have successfully hidden key parts of their past. Suppressed information protects and empowers "puppet masters" in the private sector.

Ray McGovernFormer CIA Analyst: Washington Post, Newsweek, New York Times Suppressed Stories, Andrew Kreig, July 7, 2014. The mainstream media have kept the American public ignorant of vital news in deference to top political and military-intelligence officials, according to former CIA analyst Ray McGovern (shown in file photo). "Never has it been so bad in the 50 years I've been in this town," said McGovern, 74, a peace and public accountability advocate following 27 years in the military and CIA, including responsibility for presidential briefings. "There's one change that dwarfs all the others," he continued. "We no longer have a free media. That's big. It does not get any bigger than that."

Washington Reform Message Resonates In Connecticut, Andrew Kreig, June 28, 2014. Connecticut's tradition of vigorous civic institutions remains intact as a force for reform, I saw during my lecture tour there last week.

Seymour HershMainstream Media Ignore Hersh’s Shocking Reports on Benghazi, Syria Atrocities, Andrew Kreig, April 17, 2014. The major U.S. media have ignored for the most part Seymour Hersh’s blockbuster column April 4 reporting the Obama administration's deceptive accounts of notorious killings in Benghazi and Syria. Hersh is shown in a file photo.

Government PR Officials Increasingly Control News, Studies Find, Andrew Kreig, March 20, 2014. Local, state and federal governments increasingly rely on a new breed of public relations officials to control news coverage, according to two major studies announced March 19 in Washington, DC. “It’s no wonder the United States has dropped 13 spots this year in a ranking of countries in press freedom – down to 46th – behind Uganda, El Salvador and Botswana,” said Society of Professional Journalists President David Cuillier, whose group co-sponsored the surveys of local and education reporters in cooperation with the Education Writers Association. “It’s shameful what is happening in this country. It’s a war over information and we must take up arms.”

'American Conservative' Publisher Decries Major Media Conventional Wisdom, Cover-ups, Andrew Kreig, June 7, 2013. A conservative magazine publisher has created a stir during recent weeks by his non-partisan attack on shoddy and otherwise incomplete reporting by the mainstream media on vital national issues. American Conservative Publisher Ron Unz published on April 29 "Our American Pravda: The major media overlooked Communist spies and Madoff’s fraud. What are they missing today?" The long article described missed or misplayed national stories over the past three decades.

Free Press Expert Goodale Warns Against Obama DOJ's Abuses, Andrew Kreig, May 24, 2013. One of the nation's most battle-tested First Amendment experts warned this week that President Obama "surely" will exceed the 1970s abuses of Richard Nixon "as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom." James C. Goodale was New York Times general counsel during its 1971 fight with the Nixon administration to publish the Pentagon Papers. His Times op-ed May 21, "Only Nixon Harmed a Free Press More,” cited recent revelations about the Obama Justice Department's extreme measures to plug national security leaks by secret surveillance of more than 100 Associated Press reporter phones.

Press Probes 'Obama's War On Leaks,' Andrew Kreig, May 2, 2012. The nation’s two leading press clubs convened experts on national security May 1 in Washington for a gripping, historically important assessment of the Obama administration’s shocking prosecutions of government news sources. The administration took office on promises to protect whistle-blowers. But it has since repeatedly cracked down on leakers, citing Charles Lewisthe Espionage Act in six recent cases as a basis for criminal prosecution. New York Times reporter James Risen, who has broken some of the most important national security stories of the decade, was one of the panelists at the National Press Club, which organized the forum at its headquarters in cooperation with the New York-based Overseas Press Club. Risen has undergone years of financially damaging federal investigation and potential imprisonment for refusing to reveal his government sources.

DC News Workshop Preserves Lost Era of Press That Protected Public, Andrew Kreig, April 26, 2012. American University’s Investigative Reporting Workshop this week premiered an impressive documentary illustrating observations about journalism by 26 of the most distinguished American reporters and editors of the past half century. The Workshop’s executive editor, Charles Lewis (shown in a file photo at right), presented excerpts of the film, Investigating Power, at the National Press Club. He then led a panel discussion for three of the film's featured journalists, who responded to tough questions from him and the audience.