"How I loved listening to your sweet prayers every night. And then you'd jump in your bed, so afraid I was under there. And I was!"
- Lucifer, from The Prophecy
Friends, I propose a social experiment in the wake of today's CIA-related revelations, said to be "the largest ever publication of confidential documents on the agency." It has yet to be seen if any of this is relevant to the great majority of us (probably not) or if we are seeing a clash between intelligence agencies, or very smart people with deep grudges telling tales out of school, or the agency itself muddying the water. What a time to wish for certainty!
But for kicks:
1. Google "Vault 7," or go right to WikiLeaks.org. The truly curious can download over 8000 files in a torrent. I have not been to that end of the pool, myself, but summaries are appearing.
We can never really know the final truth of anything these days. There's always an agenda and these stories in particular relate to people who shift narratives for a living. Google does its thing and you can buy page ranking to create the illusion of higher authenticity. WikiLeaks has its own agenda that we can only guess at. It's probably best to read the stuff as raw data and discern for yourself.
From first impressions, however, the CIA appears to be doing precisely the things people at the margins have been speculating about for years, the sort of malicious abuse of power any group of rats get up to as soon as the cat's away. Don't take my word for it. Look it up while you can. If it sounds paranoid, dig into what they've been up to over the years.
Collusion with Nazis: Operation Paperclip/Overcast
Drug war profiteering: coke/crack (Iran contra), opium now
Human experimentation: MKULTRA, MKOFTEN, ARTICHOKE
Coup abroad: Pinochet, The Shah
Media manipulation: Operation Mockingbird
These are the things we're aware of, from declassified documents and independent investigations. Certainly use your own judgment as you suss out "no way" from "damn, maybe," but look for yourself. The so-called "intelligence community" is not our friends. They've been up to lot of dirty deeds. They are spies, after all. Spies and thugs. Some of the more out-there things which have been lampooned by opportunists or fictionalized (Stranger Things comes to mind) but you can read scraps about the real deal. Get ready to hesitate the next time you do your taxes if you do.
Organizations of all stripes are made of people, and there's always a spectrum when people are involved. I can't say the CIA is full of demons. But this is an agency built to disable countries. These are not the good guys, and chances are great that they're spending a fair chunk of the money the Treasury Department "loses," to say nothing of the money they make trafficking drugs. Opium production lept up after we invaded Afghanistan. Back home, suddenly everyone you know who pulls a muscle gets a percocet scrip. Funny how that happens.
2. Note the tone of headlines today. I will wager TV and radio are busying themselves with cooler potatoes. To be fair, I mostly avoid these and so I can't chime in on that. Online, you'll note that even the major news outlets with a habit of downplaying validity and relevance of such documents in the past are reporting matters of concern with regard to safety and privacy. This is not "fake news," so far as anyone can tell. Just bad news, maybe.
3. Because it's so easy to find articles with your existing worldview, read from a few different/opposing publications about the charming forms of "snoop on everyone always just to be sure" technology the CIA is demonstrably using and actually bragging about. What sticks to the story when you shake loose the agendas of the outlets themselves? It feels good to be proven wrong too, actually, though we all tend to prefer vindication.
4. Repeat the experience in a few days. Take note of the difference in tone as search results are re-ranked to shape the conversation. Watch for backpedaling or a cover story or both. They'll arrive sure as a sunrise. Inboxes across the industry just got full of Official Version. You might even hear the same phrasing. "This doesn't hurt average citizens, just bad guys." Yeah, I remember the Patriot Act and similar snoop-first ask questions later activity by the NSA having similar defenses.
5. Witness, watch, and analyze the machinery of The Narrative as this (if true) gets inverted to cover their asses and dupe our masses. (What will they come up with to try and laugh off remote shutoff of vehicles and TVs that record your living room when they're "off? Even if these things are only possible by installing malware and not just doable at will, the implications give me the heebiejeebies.)
6. Realize and accept that democracy is not really what we have. That's the first step. We live in a commercial for democracy. What we actually appear to have is a hustle within hustles which is just beginning to be revealed. Not a grand conspiracy but a "king rat" mess of mediocre ones. That's the rough but good news. Now we know how bad it is, and we can each find our ways to add to the resistance and the replacement.
7. Think about other big stories and wonder what else might be a fairy tale. Plenty, it's safe to reckon. But when you can see the mechanism, it stops working on you. More good news. Doubt it all and investigate until you're satisfied. Doubt the mainstream/legacy media. Doubt WikiLeaks. Doubt the CIA. Doubt me. Doubt is freedom.
8. Adapt to the Adversary.
It's easy to dismiss this as irrelevant. Isn't this mainly of concern to terrorists, anarchists, etc? Perhaps, but keep in mind how flexible those definitions got after 9/11, Occupy Wall Street, etc and how much looser they are getting now. Things are getting crucial. If you're resisting the state, it's wise to evaluate how to proceed. You can't allow paranoia to silence you, but you do want to minimize the chance of being targeted. There are two paths that come to mind.
A. Relative Stealth until you're ready for Plan B
Get off data-mining media platforms, and look for alternatives with encryption. Think twice about buying state-of-the-art, hackable smart appliances with potentially always-on recording functions. If you like, use "outdated" tech, or use old windows versions to minimize threats written for new ones. Go old school and gather in person. We should all unplug more anyway.
B. Get Loud
Eventually we must be heard. The aim of all the fear and example-making being folded into the media soup is to intimidate resistance. Be obnoxious and persistent. Be the signal breaking over the approved broadcast. Fill streets, and stay away from provocateurs who are there to lead the angry into violence which destroys legitimacy. Flood phone lines. Hijack hashtags. Fight the meme wars. Do whatever calls you, covering your butt but not your mouth.
The Curse only works if you fear the spell. The Vampire only gets in if you open the door. The Con only works if we buy the snake oil. Secret Police are only scary if we allow them to be. There will always be more of us.
9. That said, what to do about all this? Make up your own mind, and see the shapes of the invisible as it creeps through the moonlit fog. Survive with your will intact by working around the brambles, and continue to work for the world we all deserve, playing your part in the way you are made to.
My part? One of many acting as town cryer for the moment, I suppose, though I am no more prescient or expert than anyone. Rather than "The British are coming," I announce that "the intelligence and security communities are not working for you anymore, if they ever were at all." I suppose we all suspected. There's certainly a chain of precedent:
"Carnivore, later renamed DCS1000, was a system implemented by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that was designed to monitor email and electronic communications. It used a customizable packet sniffer that can monitor all of a target user's Internet traffic. Carnivore was implemented in October 1997. "
"By the end of the 20th century, the system referred to as ECHELON had allegedly evolved beyond its military and diplomatic origins, to also become "…a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications."
It's a real pile. But I mean, they are spies doing spy things. Not amazing, just troubling since they're out of bounds. What do I suggest we do? Well, the spy versus spy game is one we are going to lose if we let it go on with our blessing. The threats these agencies are supposed to shield is from are mostly fictions, used to justify further domestic invasions. The Emperor has no clothes. Point it out. Laugh the Beast back into the hell mouth it snuck here from, and keep watch that we don't invoke it again. Ideally, flush the toilet and put the black budget money into cleaner water.
Decide for yourself if this is bullshit or revelation. The investigation is good practice for a free mind in these times. As things stand, we're probably not the fish the CIA or NSA want to fry, but the principle is irksome. As citizens of a country in a very strange place, it does put a certain taste in the water.
President Truman set the CIA up, and even he came to hate what became of it. In his words:
"Now, as nearly as I can make out, those fellows in the CIA don't just report on wars and the like, they go out and make their own, and there's nobody to keep track of what they're up to. They spend billions of dollars on stirring up trouble so they'll have something to report on. They've become ... it's become a government all of its own and all secret. They don't have to account to anybody.
That's a very dangerous thing in a democratic society, and it's got to be put a stop to. The people have got a right to know what those birds are up to. And if I was back in the White House, people would know. You see, the way a free government works, there's got to be a housecleaning every now and again, and I don't care what branch of the government is involved. Somebody has to keep an eye on things.
And when you can't do any housecleaning because everything that goes on is a damn secret, why, then we're on our way to something the Founding Fathers didn't have in mind. Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix. And if what happened at the Bay of Pigs doesn't prove that, I don't know what does. You have got to keep an eye on the military at all times, and it doesn't matter whether it's the birds in the Pentagon or the birds in the CIA."
Where's the line, and how do we keep things on the side of it we want? A lot of boundaries are being pushed. A lot of frogs are boiling. In one way or another, this is a test. Studying and checking our homework is a good idea.