(Here is more front loading for the coming Alien Invasion/star gods as creators deception that shall soon arise!!)
“Keep your nose to the ground and your eyes to the sky.”
(Here is more front loading for the coming Alien Invasion/star gods as creators deception that shall soon arise!!)
“Keep your nose to the ground and your eyes to the sky.”
In this BIG BROTHER TV trailer from Australia, a bombed-out London Olympics stadium is clearly ‘subliminally’ shown.
Hidden in plain-sight.
Below is the commercial that the flash came from…which strangely is sports related and shows a coliseum being torn down.
“Keep your ears to the ground and your eyes to the sky….in the direction of the Olympics in London.”
BY THE VIGILANT CITIZEN
“I, Pet Goat II” is a computer animated video that is loaded with silent messages and esoteric symbolism. While the movie has no dialogue, each symbol tells a piece of a story that covers the fields of history, politics, occult conspiracies and spirituality. We’ll look at the esoteric meaning behind the viral sensation “I, Pet Goat II”.
Produced by the Canadian production crew Heliofant, I, Pet Goat II is a short animated movie that quickly went viral across the internet. Praised for its visual feats and its interesting imagery, the video however left many puzzled about the meaning of its symbolism. Politics, conspiracies and false flag operations are mixed with esoteric spirituality and occult symbolism in one big mesmerizing mind bender.
After watching the video, many might say something like “What the hell did I just watch?”. The story is somewhat non-linear and there are many cryptic and enigmatic elements in the movie. I won’t claim to fully decode every single symbol-filled frame of the video, but many of the messages are easily understandable due to rather heavy-handed symbolism.
In general, the movie appears to be about the political and social climate of the past decade – complete with puppet Presidents, false flag terror and mind-controlling sorcerers. Then, through the following of a Christ figure, we leave all the sadness behind to enter a new, sunny era. In short, the story is about the triumph of spiritual enlightenment against the forces of darkness. Let’s look at the movie and at some of its many details.
The video begins with an interesting scene: A goat inside a box in what appears to be some sort of detention (FEMA) camp. The goat has a bar-code on its head with the numbers 6 6 6 underneath it. If I, Pet Goat is about liberation from the forces of darkness, this first scene seems to depict the exact opposite. Does this goat represent those who have been “boxed in”, bar-coded and brainwashed by the corrupt system? The usage of the pronoun “I” in the title implies that the goat might be, in fact, the viewer himself.
In the first part of the video, a hidden puppet master controls George “Dubya” Bush inside a classroom. When the planes struck the Word Trade Center in September 2001, Bush was inside a classroom reading the book My Pet Goat to children. The Masonic checkerboard floor of the classroom might signify that this whole charade had a ritualistic component to it.
Above Bush is an interesting graphic depicting the evolution of mankind from fish, to monkey, to man holding a weapon. What is the final stage of evolution? The illuminated man, represented by a sunburst around its head.
Bush wears a dunce cap, this conical hat that was given to “slower” students to humiliate them. When Bush is done making a fool out of himself, he turns into Obama, a charming and distinguished man wearing a graduation cap. He starts off nice and lovable, but he ultimately begins to laugh at the audience. While he appeared to be the perfect response to the idiocy of Bush’s era, the fact remains: He is simply another puppet controlled by the same puppet master.
While most of the audience is totally oblivious to what is happening, one girl is not buying it.
While the masses appear to be deaf, dumb and blind (and restrained by barb wire), this little girl realizes that “this apple is not hers and drops it”. Obama is concerned by the awakening of this girl.
We are then taken to the cold and snowy outside world around the school. On a wall, there’s a graffiti with an important message behind it.
The Biblical verse that is referred to by the graffiti appears to foretell the journey viewers are about to embark on.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
- Psalm 23, NIV
The outside world is dark, cold and literally in decay. It is sad, corrupt and everything is shaking and crumbling down.
At one point, two towers – reminiscent of the WTC – fall down. We then learn that it was an inside job.
Bin Laden is wearing a CIA badge, hinting to the fact that he was a tool used by the American government to advance its agenda. The moon crescent, a symbol associated with Islam, is reversed, which is may be a way of saying that all this Al-Qaeda stuff is a perversion and an exploitation of Islam.
While oil leaks from everywhere, a six pointed star appears under the Statue of Liberty, renamed by the makers of the movie “Lady of Helotry” (“helotry” means serfdom or slavery).
Is the six-pointed star (also know as the Star of David) appearing under the Lady of Helotry a way of saying that the US is highly influenced by Israel?
While the world is crumbling down, many ancient institutions disappear or get destroyed.
This Latino worker is sinking, along with his hammer and sickle – representing the disappearance of Marxism in third world countries. On Heliofant’s official site it is said: “After years of economic exploitation and the environmental degradation, Juan “Pepito” has a decidedly sinking feeling.”
The world is under the spell of an evil sorcerer named Drako. According to the makers of the movie, Drako is:
“The Sorcerer, the unseen hand and spirit of madness seeking ever more control through trickery, lies, poisons, false-flag events, wars, and mountains of bureaucratic and legal framework to siphon off the energy of the inhabitants of the earth. He fears the light of day as he fears life itself, and operates in the shadows. His greatest power is his hold on the issuance of the currency.”
Does this sound like what we call the Illuminati? Yes, yes it does.
The same way the Illuminati seeks to brainwash children since birth, Drako preys on this unborn child named Ludovic.
In esoteric tradition, the symbol of the serpent-entwined egg is known as the Orphic Egg. In short, it represents the latent seed of life and the infinite potential of creation. In other words, while this child appears to be hopeless, he still has the power to reach his full potential.
When the egg is hatched and the child is born, Drako literally takes control of his mind in a creepy, parasitic way.
Drako has the pyramid and all-seeing eye found on the US dollar bill on his chin. Not only does it represent the fact that he controls currency, it also represents the Illuminati. Underneath Drako’s eyes is the saying “Ordo Ab Chao” – meaning Order Out of Chaos, the occult elite’s favorite slogan. Also, the dude has only one eye open. Could he, like, more represent the Illuminati?
Amid all this chaos, a figure emerges with the power to make everything right.
Navigating on an Egyptian ceremonial boat, Jesus Christ appears to be in trance.
The Christ-like figure has a third eye painted right on the pineal gland, which refers to the concept of spiritual illumination. The triangle above the eye represents divinity and that illumination leads to the contact with one’s own divine nature. The symbols on the Christ’s forehead are in complete opposition to pyramid on Drako’s chin. While both figures bear similar symbols on their faces, Christ has them “right” and Drako has them in reverse/inverted, meaning that he (and the Illuminati) have corrupted these ancient symbols.
Named by the makers of the video “The Fire of Truth”, the Christ figure is not meant to be Jesus Christ himself, but a representation of the concept of Inner Christ as defined by Gnosticism. According to this esoteric current of Christianity, the Inner Christ is the potential found in everyone to reach godhood through spiritual illumination. On Heliofant’s website, The Fire of Truth is described as:
“That’s YOU!!! when you stand in the awareness of your sonship with the Divine and the brotherhood of mankind!!! “
When the Christ figure breathes the Fire of Truth on the world, some oppressed or distressed characters come back to life, like Ludovic, the child inside the egg. Also, Aali, a little Muslim boy that appeared battered and dead rises back to life.
The boy is executing the ancient art of Sufi whirling, which is practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. The Dervishes are an ancient esoteric current of Islam.
“The mysteries of the Islamic faith are now in the keeping of the dervishes – men who, renouncing worldliness, have withstood the test of a thousand and one days of temptation. Jelal-ud-din, the great Persian Sufic poet and philosopher, is accredited with having founded the Order of Mevlevi, or the “dancing dervishes,” whose movements exoterically signify the motions of the celestial bodies and esoterically result in the establishment of a rhythm which stimulates the centers of spiritual consciousness within the dancer’s body.”
- Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages
The rebirth of the Muslim boy as a Whirling Dervish signals that there is a link between him and the Inner Christ: Both represent initiation into esoteric schools, which all have a common goal – the contact with divinity through spiritual illumination. Other religions with esoteric undercurrents such as Hinduism (represented by a dancing Shiva), are also represented in the movie. Is the Christ figure maybe the Anti-Christ deceiving all religions into following him? Perhaps.
When the Christ figure exits the Cathedral, the building (which was guarded by an evil-looking gargoyle) crumbles behind him.
In this new era of spiritual enlightenment, elaborate man-made buildings become unnecessary and outdated. They therefore crumble and disappear.
As night turns into day, the Christ figure opens his fiery eyes and navigates towards the sunlight. Lotus flowers, symbols of spiritual enlightenment in Eastern philosophy, appear behind him, confirming to the viewers that the path to freedom is indeed a spiritual one.
I, Pet Goat II has received widespread acclaim for its technical prowess and its original storytelling. Although there is no narration or dialogue, an elaborate story is delivered using the most ancient and universal language in History: Symbolism. Through symbols, the movie manages to deliver an acerbic critique of today’s Western Civilization, to describe its numerous evils and even to predict its inevitable downfall. More importantly, a thorough decoding of the movie’s symbolism reveals a powerful message of spiritual enlightenment based on ancient Mysteries. While this esoteric aspect of the movie might not be understood by many, it is at the core of the movie and is presented as the ultimate solution to the evils and corruption of today’s world. The movie’s conclusion is therefore a very personal one: Either YOU become a pet goat with a 666 bar-code on your forehead or YOU become a Christ figure with a third eye on your forehead. This notion of personal enlightenment is definitively a Gnostic one and is common to most esoteric schools of thoughts in all civilizations.
Agreeing or disagreeing with the movie’s spiritual conclusion is a question of personal beliefs, but it is nevertheless obvious that those behind I, Pet Goat II are “in the know” about all things occult, esoteric and even conspiratorial. Each scene has a profound underlying story behind it – whether it be historical, political or spiritual – that would take pages and pages of words to thoroughly explain. Therein lie the power of symbols: They can simply be admired for their aesthetic beauty or they can, when fully understood, reveal a profound story about humanity, God and everything in between.
“Keep your nose to the ground and your eyes to the sky.”
Watch the incredible video of legendary rapper Tupac perform with Snoop Dogg more than 15 years after his death.
Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur was brought back to life with a giant hologram at Coachella.
The deceased hip-hop star performed a song by himself before collaborating with Snoop Dogg, who was headlining the massive California festival.
Together they sang Come With Me, Gangsta Party and Hail Mary – a song that Tupac has never performed live and was released after his death more than 15 years ago.
Tupac, who was shot dead in Las Vegas in 1996, looked remarkably lifelike.
Bare-chested and wearing a pair of jeans that looked circa 1995, the famous ‘Thug Life’ tattoo was seen clearly across his front.
The high-tech 3D image of the late star, which cost a reported $10 million, was used by Mariah Carey to perform five simultaneous concerts across Europe last year.
The hologram left everyone in disbelief with Katy Perry, who is at the festival, posting on Twitter: “I think I might have cried when I saw Tupac.”
And the late rapper was one of many special guests who joined Snoop on stage.
Dr Dre and Eminem turned up to perform Forgot About Dre, I Need a Doctor and Till I Collapse.
Warning: Bad language in video below:
“Keep your nose to the ground and your eyes to the sky.”
An estimated 20,000 New Age believers who say the “upside down” mountain is home to aliens who will rescue them from an impending apocalypse have saturated a small French commune near the foot of the picturesque Pic de Bugarach.
The Independent reports the growing flock, who locals refer to as “esoterics,” believe the world will come to an end on December 21st, 2012. They also reportedly believe that the unique mountain is in fact home to a race of alien beings that will emerge to rescue the gathered humans and transport them to a new civilization.
Pic de Bugarach has long been famous because rock samples taken from its peak are actually older than points measured at lower elevation. Scientists say that is because when the 1,230 meter mountain erupted its peak flipped upside down before crashing back down upon the mountain’s base. The mountain is said to have played a role in inspiring everything from Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” to Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”
The BBC reports that the French government is concerned about mass suicides taking place near Pic de Bugarach in advance of the December 21 date and that there have been reports of “strange rituals” taking place there as well.
Last year, CNN filed a report on the apocalyptic rumors surrounding Pic de Bugarach:
The Independent notes some other rumors surrounding Pic de Bugarach, which included speculation that both Israel’s Mossad and Nazis have both performed “mysterious” excavation digs there.
“The apocalypse we believe in is the end of a certain world and the beginning of another,” one of the New Age pilgrims going only by the name “Jean,” tells the paper. “A new spiritual world. The year 2012 is the end of a cycle of suffering. Bugarach is one of the major chakras of the earth, a place devoted to welcoming the energies of tomorrow.”
Up to 100,000 visitors are expected to flock to the scene before December 21.
(The madness now truly begins!!!!)
By Christina Ng
(Image credit: United States Patent and Trademark Office)
Finnish cell phone maker Nokia has filed a U.S. patent application for a magnetic vibrating tattoo that could wirelessly connect to a mobile device and alert users of phone calls, texts and battery status–all via vibration.
The apparatus comprises “a material attachable to skin, the material capable of detecting a magnetic field and transferring a perceivable stimulus to the skin, wherein the perceivable stimulus relates to the magnetic field.”
Diagrams in the patent show examples of the small, square gadget as applicable to a user’s arm, abdominal area or fingernail.
For those wary of an actual tattoo, the patent says the device could potentially be stamped, sprayed, attached with adhesive tape, applied as a decal or even drawn on.
The object could emit different vibrations for “an alert of a message, indication of an incoming call, indication of a body part in proximity of the electronic device, indication of information displayed on the electronic device, indication of a launch of an application and indication of a least a portion of a displayed image.”
A magnetic field originating from the electronic device would connect to the tattoo device.
The electronic devices may include a cell phone, laptop, music player, tablet, a wrist or neck warn electronic device or a game console, according to the patent.
While the patent does not explain the benefits such a device could provide, one can imagine that it could eliminate the stress of situations where phone ringing is frowned upon—church, theater, work—and the vibrate setting often leads to missed calls. Conversely, the device could lead to an even more intimate, and not necessarily healthy, with cell phones that would become truly omnipresent.
Nokia didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the patent.
KONY 2012: State Propaganda for a New Generation
The overnight viral sensation KONY 2012 brought worldwide awareness to the African war criminal Joseph Kony. Beneath this commendable cause, lies however an elaborate agenda that is presented in the video in a very manipulative way. We’ll look at the agenda behind KONY 2012 and how it uses reverse psychology to not only justify a military operation in Africa, but to actually have people demand it.
KONY 2012 is a viral sensation that swept the entire world in less than 24 hours. Its main subject is the African rebel leader Joseph Kony, his war crimes and the clearly defined “movement” to stop him. Countless celebrities have endorsed the movement, news sources have reported it and social media is buzzing with it. While the problem of guerrilla warfare and child soldiers has plagued Africa for decades, and several documentaries have already been produced regarding the issue, this particular 29-minute video made managed to obtain mass exposure and support.
KONY 2012 is less of a documentary than it is a highly efficient infomercial that is tailor-made for the Facebook generation, using state-of-the-art marketing techniques to make its point. Young people like “underground movements” and want to feel like they are changing the world. KONY 2012 taps into these needs to bring about something that is not “hip” or “underground” at all: A military operation in Uganda. Not only that, it urges the participants of the movement to order stuff, to wear bracelets that are associated with an online profile and to record their actions in social media. This makes KONY 2012 the first artificially created movement that is fully track-able, monitor-able and quantifiable by those who engendered it. In other words, what appears to be a movement “from the people” is actually a new way for the elite to advance its agenda.
The video begins with an interesting statement: “The next 27 minutes are an experiment. But in order for it to work, you have to pay attention”. It is an experiment as it tests a new, groundbreaking way to get an agenda accepted by the Facebook generation. In the past, when the government needed to justify the invasion of a country, the President would sit in front of the camera and tell the public why war should be declared in this area of the world. In the case of KONY, the military agenda is disguised as grassroots activism, where the US army entering Uganda would be perceived as a “victory of the people”, effectively reversing the communications model.
Towards the end of the video, an image is displayed explaining how decisions (and messages) start from the top of the pyramid (the elite) and are communicated to the masses through mass media and such.
Due to the advent of social media, the above diagram has become a lot less effective to get a message across to the young generation. It is not CNN reports and the President addressing the nation anymore, it is about “liking” Facebook pages and viral YouTube videos. This is where messages now come across. Always studying, analyzing and exploiting the most effective ways to persuade public opinion, KONY 2012 appears to be an attempt to test out the effectiveness of a “viral” propaganda campaign. By creating this “movement” and making young people actually DEMAND the U.S. government intervene in Africa, the masterminds behind this campaign would manage the impossible: Reversing the propaganda model in order to make it emanate from the people. By doing so, the elite’s agenda is not only accepted by the masses, it is perceived as a victory by them.
“We are living in a new world” indeed. The KONY 2012 logo aptly represents how a viral video and social media can reverse the propaganda model. Don’t be fooled however. Power is still not in the hands of the base of the pyramid … far from it. It is all about appearances.
When the war on Iraq was declared, a great portion of young Americans opposed the war. How is it they are now begging the government to send troops to Africa? A simple video, specifically conceived for the Facebook generation did the trick. As it is the case in most campaigns to justify a war, the first goal was to identify a bad guy.
By associating Kony with Bin Laden and Hitler in this poster, KONY 2012 is promoting war.
I have absolutely no intention of defending Joseph Kony or to say “he’s not that bad”. He, along with many other guerrilla factions across Africa, has committed despicable atrocities. However, the problem of child soldiers has existed for decades and there are literally hundreds of Joseph Konys across the African continent. In some cases, some of the armies are actually funded by Western countries. If we would truly go to the root of the issue, we’d discover that Africa has been plagued with the problem of warring factions and rebel guerrillas ever since Western forces “liberated” their colonies and divided the continent of Africa according to Western interests. Indeed, instead of setting the boundaries of each country according to the geographic location of the ethnic groups and tribes that live there, countries were created according to the economic needs of colonizing forces such as Great Britain, France and others. The net result is: A bunch of artificial countries that each contain several tribes, ethnic groups, languages and religions. When one group takes power, the others are repressed, which leads to violence and rebellion. Add to the mix extreme poverty due to resources being siphoned out of Africa by Western countries and you’ve got a breeding ground for merciless warlords. As long as this problem exists, Joseph Konys will continue to emerge in Africa.
But the video mentions none of this. All it says is that arresting Kony would “make the world better”. KONY 2012 is all about identifying a bad guy, “making him famous” and have people demand his death by U.S. forces. Fixing the true cause of problems in the third world has never been on the Agenda. But picking out a “bad guy” to justify military action has always been part of it. If in the case of Saddam Hussein, “facts” (that ultimately proved false) were given to justify the invasion of Iraq. A different technique is being used with Kony, one that originates from advertising.
Any marketing specialist will tell you: “Facts don’t sell, emotions do”. The first part of KONY 2012 solely addresses emotions. It is about making the filmmaker likeable, showing gut-wrenching images of African kids in pain, in misery and in despair. Then, the turning point: Joseph Kony is the cause of all of this. Not centuries of exploitation and devastation by Western forces in Africa that lead to chaos, lawlessness and poverty. No, it’s Kony. That bastard. George Clooney is really mad at him right now. He even tweeted about it.
Another marketing strategy is to appeal to the lowest common denominator. In other words, to get a message across, one must address the audience as if it was made of kids. KONY 2012 does exactly this by ridiculously oversimplifying the problem and explaining it to an actual child – who represents the viewers. This is not surprising though, as this is how the masses are perceived by the higher ups.
Once the viewers had their emotions stirred, got infantilized and had the problem spelled out to them as if they were in kindergarten, the table is set for the true goal of the video: Defining the agenda.
KONY 2012 is a movement backed by some of the world’s most powerful entities and has precise goals. As the movie’s intro states, it is an experiment. It is an opportunity to create a movement that can be fully trackable, quantifiable and manageable through social media whose culmination is a U.S. military intervention in Uganda. The carrying out of this mission will not only be perceived as a victory, it will restore young people’s faith in democracy. What the members of this movement might not realize is that they are helping the advancement of the elite’s agenda towards a New World Order.
This poster aptly summarizes how the Illuminati works. Political parties are irrelevant as both work towards the same Agenda.
The second part of the movie let’s go of emotions and describes to the viewers what the elite expects from them. U.S. troops are already in Uganda, but, according to the movie, Kony “changed his tactics”… Damnit Kony, you and your sneaky tactics. Apparently, high tech satellites, unmanned drones and all kinds of radars are not enough to catch this guy. Nope, in order to catch him, a complicated plan, involving the purchase of an “Action Kit” and the registering an ID bracelet on a website is required. Makes sense.
Those who want to “Stop Kony” are required to wear a bracelet bearing a unique code which needs to be registered at a website. Of course, personal information is requested.
Once the bracelet is registered, members can associate it with their Facebook account, which will keep track of all KONY-related actions. The end result is: every single member of KONY 2012 will be known, identified and easily tracked – with constantly updated information. All of this data will of course be collected, scrutinized and stored by those in charge.
Furthermore, members are asked to contribute a “few dollars a month” to TRI, an organization whose ultimate goal is American military intervention in Uganda.
TRI’s logo is an inverted “Peace” sign. In symbolism, an inverted sign means that it stands for the opposite of the regular sign. In other words, TRI is about war. Peace does not involve “equipping” and “training” government forces to fight rebel factions. As the novel 1984 states, WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, and IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
To support the cause and to make it popular, a bunch of elite-sponsored artists and politicians have been enlisted, including Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Rihanna, Oprah, George Clooney, Bono, etc. While some of them might be genuinely concerned about problems in Africa, most of them are pawns of the elite that are used to promote its agenda.
Am I seeing warmongering George W. Bush in here? The dude that lied to the whole country in order to attack Iraq for its oil and stuff? Hmm. Weird.
After going past the celebrities and the emotions, the end result of this campaign is simple and steeped in real politik: Since the fall of rival superpower USSR, Western forces have sought to bring down and to control regional powers around the world, mostly in third countries. Uganda is part of that plan. The same way the spectre of Bin Laden was used to invade Afghanistan, Kony is being used to enter Uganda.
The video clearly shows what is the goal of this “movement”: U.S. troops taking charge of the Ugandan army, the same way it took charge of the Iraqi, Libyan and other armies in the past few years.
KONY 2012 is a cleverly orchestrated campaign specifically aimed at today’s youth, the future citizens of the world. Using state-of-the-art techniques and new technologies, the campaign is a first attempt at “reverse propaganda”, where the agenda APPEARS to emanate from the people. By using emotions, irrational thoughts and superficial explanations, KONY 2012 attempts to trick well-meaning people, who desire to make a positive change in the world, to instead fuel a gigantic war machine that is controlled by the world’s elite.
Is KONY 2012 trying to eradicate child-soldiers or is it attempting to create a new kind of child-soldiers?
“For the first time ever, it will become technologically and financially feasible for authoritarian governments to record nearly everything that is said or done within their borders – every phone conversation, electronic message, social media interaction, the movements of nearly every person and vehicle and video from every street corner.” – Brookings Institution report.
Since I began writing this column, our government has been ceaselessly intent on controlling the Internet.
In describing the White House’s “Consumer Data Privacy in a Networked World” report, which among other things proposes a “Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights” and calls on Congress to pass new legislation to regulate online businesses, Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, and Larry Downes, TechFreedom senior adjunct fellow said, “This report begins and ends as constitutional sleight-of-hand.”
He continues, “President Obama starts by reminding us of the Fourth Amendment’s essential protection against ‘unlawful intrusion into our homes and our personal papers’ by government. But the report recommends no reform whatsoever for outdated laws that have facilitated a dangerous expansion of electronic surveillance. That is the true threat to our privacy. The report dismisses it in a footnote. Instead, the report calls for extensive new regulation of Internet businesses to address little more than the growing pains of a vibrant emerging economy.”
Conservative Action Alerts lists attempts made by our government to seize control “for our own good”, of course:
The U.N. wants to sink its talons into the Internet, a means of communication even in the most remote parts of the world.
According to a report by Robert McDowell, the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union, or ITU, which includes Russia, China and their allies within the 193 member states, intend to renegotiate a 1988 treaty that will expand its reach into previously unregulated areas of the Internet.
“Reading even a partial list of proposals that could be codified into international law next December at a conference in Dubai is chilling,” he wrote. “If successful, these new regulatory proposals would upend the Internet’s flourishing regime, which has been in place since 1988. That year, delegates from 114 countries gathered in Australia to agree to a treaty that set the stage for dramatic liberalization of international telecommunications. This insulated the Internet from economic and technical regulation and quickly became the greatest deregulatory success story of all time.”
McDowell gives us the history of the Internet, explaining how the ITU’s grasp would alter its future as a free-flowing medium of communication.
“In 1995, shortly after it was privatized, only 16 million people used the Internet worldwide,” he writes. “By 2011, more than two billion were online – and that number is growing by as much as half a million every day. This explosive growth is the direct result of governments generally keeping their hands off the Internet sphere.”
Read the whole thing, and for what it is worth, do your part to protect our Internet freedom of speech. Please tell your member of Congress to fight hard against this U.N. encroachment upon an unfettered Internet. Better yet, drop by his or her district office and make it personal.
News has its limitations
Though I wouldn’t recommend doing it, the The Washington Post will limit the news you read to suit your preferences. The paper is experimenting with Personal Post, available at personal.washingtonpost.com, where you’ll see a river of content that you can customize.
Question: Though a lot of what we read in the news is extraneous content, why would you wall yourself off from ALL the news of the day?
Print is dead
Charging readers for news content is not the business model that will succeed for print media, according to one expert who says print is dead.
“Across the publishing industry, year-over-year declines in revenue, subscriptions and circulation are well documented,” he writes. “Print periodicals are going to go away, forced out of this world by the march of technology and changing tastes and replaced by new powerhouse brands – TMZ, Buzzfeed and HuffPo to name a few – which are poised to own the future, because they know how to adapt to (and even anticipate!) evolving user behavior.”
USA Today thinks otherwise. They’re betting $100M to stanch the blood flow of red ink. Odds are the patient will die.
Meanwhile, online media is making billions.
The social networking giant Facebook is predicted to lose its lead to Google in online U.S. display advertising revenue next year. Google is expected to capture 20 percent of the market in 2013 with $3.68 billion in sales. Facebook is projected to grab nearly 18 percent, or $3.29 billion.
When is a Facebook user posting a cry for help?
How do you know when a Facebook posting is a last-resort cry for help? When someone is telling “friends” they are at the end of their rope? What’s the difference between a “drama-du-jour” and a legitimate concern? This article points out the signs and how they should be handled. A must-read for parents.
Predicting job performance with a look at Facebook
What can a prospective employer learn from your Facebook page? Plenty, according to the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. A series of two studies conducted by researchers at Northern Illinois University, the University of Evansville and Auburn University revealed that your Facebook entries reveal if you are conscientious, extroverted, emotionally well-balanced, adventurous, open to new ideas, argumentative, in short, where you are in terms of the big five personality traits an employer is looking for in a prospective employee.
Article Source Link: http://www.wnd.com/2012/02/big-brothers-race-to-control-internet/
The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.
These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.
The investigation’s other findings include:
* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.
* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.
These are not academic issues; lack of focus, not lack of resources, was at the heart of the Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead, as well as the Christmas Day bomb attempt thwarted not by the thousands of analysts employed to find lone terrorists but by an alert airline passenger who saw smoke coming from his seatmate.
They are also issues that greatly concern some of the people in charge of the nation’s security.
“There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that – not just for the CIA, for the secretary of defense – is a challenge,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in an interview with The Post last week.
In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials – called Super Users – have the ability to even know about all the department’s activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation’s most sensitive work.
“I’m not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything” was how one Super User put it. The other recounted that for his initial briefing, he was escorted into a tiny, dark room, seated at a small table and told he couldn’t take notes. Program after program began flashing on a screen, he said, until he yelled ”Stop!” in frustration.
“I wasn’t remembering any of it,” he said.
Underscoring the seriousness of these issues are the conclusions of retired Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who was asked last year to review the method for tracking the Defense Department’s most sensitive programs. Vines, who once commanded 145,000 troops in Iraq and is familiar with complex problems, was stunned by what he discovered.
“I’m not aware of any agency with the authority, responsibility or a process in place to coordinate all these interagency and commercial activities,” he said in an interview. “The complexity of this system defies description.”
The result, he added, is that it’s impossible to tell whether the country is safer because of all this spending and all these activities. “Because it lacks a synchronizing process, it inevitably results in message dissonance, reduced effectiveness and waste,” Vines said. “We consequently can’t effectively assess whether it is making us more safe.”
The Post’s investigation is based on government documents and contracts, job descriptions, property records, corporate and social networking Web sites, additional records, and hundreds of interviews with intelligence, military and corporate officials and former officials. Most requested anonymity either because they are prohibited from speaking publicly or because, they said, they feared retaliation at work for describing their concerns.
The Post’s online database of government organizations and private companies was built entirely on public records. The investigation focused on top-secret work because the amount classified at the secret level is too large to accurately track.
Today’s article describes the government’s role in this expanding enterprise. Tuesday’s article describes the government’s dependence on private contractors. Wednesday’s is a portrait of one Top Secret America community. On the Web, an extensive, searchable database built by The Post about Top Secret America is available at washingtonpost.com/topsecretamerica.
Defense Secretary Gates, in his interview with The Post, said that he does not believe the system has become too big to manage but that getting precise data is sometimes difficult. Singling out the growth of intelligence units in the Defense Department, he said he intends to review those programs for waste. “Nine years after 9/11, it makes a lot of sense to sort of take a look at this and say, ‘Okay, we’ve built tremendous capability, but do we have more than we need?’ ” he said.
CIA Director Leon Panetta, who was also interviewed by The Post last week, said he’s begun mapping out a five-year plan for his agency because the levels of spending since 9/11 are not sustainable. “Particularly with these deficits, we’re going to hit the wall. I want to be prepared for that,” he said. “Frankly, I think everyone in intelligence ought to be doing that.”
In an interview before he resigned as the director of national intelligence in May, retired Adm. Dennis C. Blair said he did not believe there was overlap and redundancy in the intelligence world. “Much of what appears to be redundancy is, in fact, providing tailored intelligence for many different customers,” he said.
Blair also expressed confidence that subordinates told him what he needed to know. “I have visibility on all the important intelligence programs across the community, and there are processes in place to ensure the different intelligence capabilities are working together where they need to,” he said.
Weeks later, as he sat in the corner of a ballroom at the Willard Hotel waiting to give a speech, he mused about The Post’s findings. “After 9/11, when we decided to attack violent extremism, we did as we so often do in this country,” he said. “The attitude was, if it’s worth doing, it’s probably worth overdoing.”
Outside a gated subdivision of mansions in McLean, a line of cars idles every weekday morning as a new day in Top Secret America gets underway. The drivers wait patiently to turn left, then crawl up a hill and around a bend to a destination that is not on any public map and not announced by any street sign.
Liberty Crossing tries hard to hide from view. But in the winter, leafless trees can’t conceal a mountain of cement and windows the size of five Wal-Mart stores stacked on top of one another rising behind a grassy berm. One step too close without the right badge, and men in black jump out of nowhere, guns at the ready.
Past the armed guards and the hydraulic steel barriers, at least 1,700 federal employees and 1,200 private contractors work at Liberty Crossing, the nickname for the two headquarters of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and its National Counterterrorism Center. The two share a police force, a canine unit and thousands of parking spaces.
Liberty Crossing is at the center of the collection of U.S. government agencies and corporate contractors that mushroomed after the 2001 attacks. But it is not nearly the biggest, the most costly or even the most secretive part of the 9/11 enterprise.
In an Arlington County office building, the lobby directory doesn’t include the Air Force’s mysteriously named XOIWS unit, but there’s a big “Welcome!” sign in the hallway greeting visitors who know to step off the elevator on the third floor. In Elkridge, Md., a clandestine program hides in a tall concrete structure fitted with false windows to look like a normal office building. In Arnold, Mo., the location is across the street from a Target and a Home Depot. In St. Petersburg, Fla., it’s in a modest brick bungalow in a run-down business park.
Every day across the United States, 854,000 civil servants, military personnel and private contractors with top-secret security clearances are scanned into offices protected by electromagnetic locks, retinal cameras and fortified walls that eavesdropping equipment cannot penetrate.
This is not exactly President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex,” which emerged with the Cold War and centered on building nuclear weapons to deter the Soviet Union. This is a national security enterprise with a more amorphous mission: defeating transnational violent extremists.
Much of the information about this mission is classified. That is the reason it is so difficult to gauge the success and identify the problems of Top Secret America, including whether money is being spent wisely. The U.S. intelligence budget is vast, publicly announced last year as $75 billion, 21/2 times the size it was on Sept. 10, 2001. But the figure doesn’t include many military activities or domestic counterterrorism programs.
At least 20 percent of the government organizations that exist to fend off terrorist threats were established or refashioned in the wake of 9/11. Many that existed before the attacks grew to historic proportions as the Bush administration and Congress gave agencies more money than they were capable of responsibly spending.
The Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, for example, has gone from 7,500 employees in 2002 to 16,500 today. The budget of the National Security Agency, which conducts electronic eavesdropping, doubled. Thirty-five FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces became 106. It was phenomenal growth that began almost as soon as the Sept. 11 attacks ended.
Nine days after the attacks, Congress committed $40 billion beyond what was in the federal budget to fortify domestic defenses and to launch a global offensive against al-Qaeda. It followed that up with an additional $36.5 billion in 2002 and $44 billion in 2003. That was only a beginning.
With the quick infusion of money, military and intelligence agencies multiplied. Twenty-four organizations were created by the end of 2001, including the Office of Homeland Security and the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Task Force. In 2002, 37 more were created to track weapons of mass destruction, collect threat tips and coordinate the new focus on counterterrorism. That was followed the next year by 36 new organizations; and 26 after that; and 31 more; and 32 more; and 20 or more each in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
In all, at least 263 organizations have been created or reorganized as a response to 9/11. Each has required more people, and those people have required more administrative and logistic support: phone operators, secretaries, librarians, architects, carpenters, construction workers, air-conditioning mechanics and, because of where they work, even janitors with top-secret clearances.
With so many more employees, units and organizations, the lines of responsibility began to blur. To remedy this, at the recommendation of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, the George W. Bush administration and Congress decided to create an agency in 2004 with overarching responsibilities called the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) to bring the colossal effort under control.
While that was the idea, Washington has its own ways.
The first problem was that the law passed by Congress did not give the director clear legal or budgetary authority over intelligence matters, which meant he wouldn’t have power over the individual agencies he was supposed to control.
The second problem: Even before the first director, Ambassador John D. Negroponte, was on the job, the turf battles began. The Defense Department shifted billions of dollars out of one budget and into another so that the ODNI could not touch it, according to two senior officials who watched the process. The CIA reclassified some of its most sensitive information at a higher level so the National Counterterrorism Center staff, part of the ODNI, would not be allowed to see it, said former intelligence officers involved.
And then came a problem that continues to this day, which has to do with the ODNI’s rapid expansion.
When it opened in the spring of 2005, Negroponte’s office was all of 11 people stuffed into a secure vault with closet-size rooms a block from the White House. A year later, the budding agency moved to two floors of another building. In April 2008, it moved into its huge permanent home, Liberty Crossing.
Today, many officials who work in the intelligence agencies say they remain unclear about what the ODNI is in charge of. To be sure, the ODNI has made some progress, especially in intelligence-sharing, information technology and budget reform. The DNI and his managers hold interagency meetings every day to promote collaboration. The last director, Blair, doggedly pursued such nitty-gritty issues as procurement reform, compatible computer networks, tradecraft standards and collegiality.
But improvements have been overtaken by volume at the ODNI, as the increased flow of intelligence data overwhelms the system’s ability to analyze and use it. Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases. The same problem bedevils every other intelligence agency, none of which have enough analysts and translators for all this work.
The practical effect of this unwieldiness is visible, on a much smaller scale, in the office of Michael Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center. Leiter spends much of his day flipping among four computer monitors lined up on his desk. Six hard drives sit at his feet. The data flow is enormous, with dozens of databases feeding separate computer networks that cannot interact with one another.
There is a long explanation for why these databases are still not connected, and it amounts to this: It’s too hard, and some agency heads don’t really want to give up the systems they have. But there’s some progress: “All my e-mail on one computer now,” Leiter says. “That’s a big deal.”
To get another view of how sprawling Top Secret America has become, just head west on the toll road toward Dulles International Airport.
As a Michaels craft store and a Books-A-Million give way to the military intelligence giants Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, find the off-ramp and turn left. Those two shimmering-blue five-story ice cubes belong to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which analyzes images and mapping data of the Earth’s geography. A small sign obscured by a boxwood hedge says so.
Across the street, in the chocolate-brown blocks, is Carahsoft, an intelligence agency contractor specializing in mapping, speech analysis and data harvesting. Nearby is the government’s Underground Facility Analysis Center. It identifies overseas underground command centers associated with weapons of mass destruction and terrorist groups, and advises the military on how to destroy them.
Clusters of top-secret work exist throughout the country, but the Washington region is the capital of Top Secret America.
About half of the post-9/11 enterprise is anchored in an arc stretching from Leesburg south to Quantico, back north through Washington and curving northeast to Linthicum, just north of the Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. Many buildings sit within off-limits government compounds or military bases.
Others occupy business parks or are intermingled with neighborhoods, schools and shopping centers and go unnoticed by most people who live or play nearby.
Many of the newest buildings are not just utilitarian offices but also edifices “on the order of the pyramids,” in the words of one senior military intelligence officer.
Not far from the Dulles Toll Road, the CIA has expanded into two buildings that will increase the agency’s office space by one-third. To the south, Springfield is becoming home to the new $1.8 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters, which will be the fourth-largest federal building in the area and home to 8,500 employees. Economic stimulus money is paying hundreds of millions of dollars for this kind of federal construction across the region.
It’s not only the number of buildings that suggests the size and cost of this expansion, it’s also what is inside: banks of television monitors. “Escort-required” badges. X-ray machines and lockers to store cellphones and pagers. Keypad door locks that open special rooms encased in metal or permanent dry wall, impenetrable to eavesdropping tools and protected by alarms and a security force capable of responding within 15 minutes. Every one of these buildings has at least one of these rooms, known as a SCIF, for sensitive compartmented information facility. Some are as small as a closet; others are four times the size of a football field.
SCIF size has become a measure of status in Top Secret America, or at least in the Washington region of it. “In D.C., everyone talks SCIF, SCIF, SCIF,” said Bruce Paquin, who moved to Florida from the Washington region several years ago to start a SCIF construction business. “They’ve got the penis envy thing going. You can’t be a big boy unless you’re a three-letter agency and you have a big SCIF.”
SCIFs are not the only must-have items people pay attention to. Command centers, internal television networks, video walls, armored SUVs and personal security guards have also become the bling of national security.
“You can’t find a four-star general without a security detail,” said one three-star general now posted in Washington after years abroad. “Fear has caused everyone to have stuff. Then comes, ‘If he has one, then I have to have one.’ It’s become a status symbol.”
Among the most important people inside the SCIFs are the low-paid employees carrying their lunches to work to save money. They are the analysts, the 20- and 30-year-olds making $41,000 to $65,000 a year, whose job is at the core of everything Top Secret America tries to do.
At its best, analysis melds cultural understanding with snippets of conversations, coded dialogue, anonymous tips, even scraps of trash, turning them into clues that lead to individuals and groups trying to harm the United States.
Their work is greatly enhanced by computers that sort through and categorize data. But in the end, analysis requires human judgment, and half the analysts are relatively inexperienced, having been hired in the past several years, said a senior ODNI official. Contract analysts are often straight out of college and trained at corporate headquarters.
When hired, a typical analyst knows very little about the priority countries – Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan – and is not fluent in their languages. Still, the number of intelligence reports they produce on these key countries is overwhelming, say current and former intelligence officials who try to cull them every day. The ODNI doesn’t know exactly how many reports are issued each year, but in the process of trying to find out, the chief of analysis discovered 60 classified analytic Web sites still in operation that were supposed to have been closed down for lack of usefulness. “Like a zombie, it keeps on living” is how one official describes the sites.
The problem with many intelligence reports, say officers who read them, is that they simply re-slice the same facts already in circulation. “It’s the soccer ball syndrome. Something happens, and they want to rush to cover it,” said Richard H. Immerman, who was the ODNI’s assistant deputy director of national intelligence for analytic integrity and standards until early 2009. “I saw tremendous overlap.”
Even the analysts at the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which is supposed to be where the most sensitive, most difficult-to-obtain nuggets of information are fused together, get low marks from intelligence officials for not producing reports that are original, or at least better than the reports already written by the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency or Defense Intelligence Agency.
When Maj. Gen. John M. Custer was the director of intelligence at U.S. Central Command, he grew angry at how little helpful information came out of the NCTC. In 2007, he visited its director at the time, retired Vice Adm. John Scott Redd, to tell him so. “I told him that after 41/2 years, this organization had never produced one shred of information that helped me prosecute three wars!” he said loudly, leaning over the table during an interview.
Two years later, Custer, now head of the Army’s intelligence school at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., still gets red-faced recalling that day, which reminds him of his frustration with Washington’s bureaucracy. “Who has the mission of reducing redundancy and ensuring everybody doesn’t gravitate to the lowest-hanging fruit?” he said. “Who orchestrates what is produced so that everybody doesn’t produce the same thing?”
He’s hardly the only one irritated. In a secure office in Washington, a senior intelligence officer was dealing with his own frustration. Seated at his computer, he began scrolling through some of the classified information he is expected to read every day: CIA World Intelligence Review, WIRe-CIA, Spot Intelligence Report, Daily Intelligence Summary, Weekly Intelligence Forecast, Weekly Warning Forecast, IC Terrorist Threat Assessments, NCTC Terrorism Dispatch, NCTC Spotlight . . .
It’s too much, he complained. The inbox on his desk was full, too. He threw up his arms, picked up a thick, glossy intelligence report and waved it around, yelling.
“Jesus! Why does it take so long to produce?”
“Why does it have to be so bulky?”
“Why isn’t it online?”
The overload of hourly, daily, weekly, monthly and annual reports is actually counterproductive, say people who receive them. Some policymakers and senior officials don’t dare delve into the backup clogging their computers. They rely instead on personal briefers, and those briefers usually rely on their own agency’s analysis, re-creating the very problem identified as a main cause of the failure to thwart the attacks: a lack of information-sharing.
The ODNI’s analysis office knows this is a problem. Yet its solution was another publication, this one a daily online newspaper, Intelligence Today. Every day, a staff of 22 culls more than two dozen agencies’ reports and 63 Web sites, selects the best information and packages it by originality, topic and region.
Analysis is not the only area where serious overlap appears to be gumming up the national security machinery and blurring the lines of responsibility.
Within the Defense Department alone, 18 commands and agencies conduct information operations, which aspire to manage foreign audiences’ perceptions of U.S. policy and military activities overseas.
And all the major intelligence agencies and at least two major military commands claim a major role in cyber-warfare, the newest and least-defined frontier.
“Frankly, it hasn’t been brought together in a unified approach,” CIA Director Panetta said of the many agencies now involved in cyber-warfare.
“Cyber is tremendously difficult” to coordinate, said Benjamin A. Powell, who served as general counsel for three directors of national intelligence until he left the government last year. “Sometimes there was an unfortunate attitude of bring your knives, your guns, your fists and be fully prepared to defend your turf.” Why? “Because it’s funded, it’s hot and it’s sexy.”
Last fall, U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly opened fire at Fort Hood, Tex., killing 13 people and wounding 30. In the days after the shootings, information emerged about Hasan’s increasingly strange behavior at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he had trained as a psychiatrist and warned commanders that they should allow Muslims to leave the Army or risk “adverse events.” He had also exchanged e-mails with a well-known radical cleric in Yemen being monitored by U.S. intelligence.
But none of this reached the one organization charged with handling counterintelligence investigations within the Army. Just 25 miles up the road from Walter Reed, the Army’s 902nd Military Intelligence Group had been doing little to search the ranks for potential threats. Instead, the 902′s commander had decided to turn the unit’s attention to assessing general terrorist affiliations in the United States, even though the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI’s 106 Joint Terrorism Task Forces were already doing this work in great depth.
The 902nd, working on a program the commander named RITA, for Radical Islamic Threat to the Army, had quietly been gathering information on Hezbollah, Iranian Republican Guard and al-Qaeda student organizations in the United States. The assessment “didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already,” said the Army’s senior counterintelligence officer at the Pentagon.
Secrecy and lack of coordination have allowed organizations, such as the 902nd in this case, to work on issues others were already tackling rather than take on the much more challenging job of trying to identify potential jihadist sympathizers within the Army itself.
Beyond redundancy, secrecy within the intelligence world hampers effectiveness in other ways, say defense and intelligence officers. For the Defense Department, the root of this problem goes back to an ultra-secret group of programs for which access is extremely limited and monitored by specially trained security officers.
These are called Special Access Programs – or SAPs – and the Pentagon’s list of code names for them runs 300 pages. The intelligence community has hundreds more of its own, and those hundreds have thousands of sub-programs with their own limits on the number of people authorized to know anything about them. All this means that very few people have a complete sense of what’s going on.
“There’s only one entity in the entire universe that has visibility on all SAPs – that’s God,” said James R. Clapper, undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the Obama administration’s nominee to be the next director of national intelligence.
Such secrecy can undermine the normal chain of command when senior officials use it to cut out rivals or when subordinates are ordered to keep secrets from their commanders.
One military officer involved in one such program said he was ordered to sign a document prohibiting him from disclosing it to his four-star commander, with whom he worked closely every day, because the commander was not authorized to know about it. Another senior defense official recalls the day he tried to find out about a program in his budget, only to be rebuffed by a peer. “What do you mean you can’t tell me? I pay for the program,” he recalled saying in a heated exchange.
Another senior intelligence official with wide access to many programs said that secrecy is sometimes used to protect ineffective projects. “I think the secretary of defense ought to direct a look at every single thing to see if it still has value,” he said. “The DNI ought to do something similar.”
The ODNI hasn’t done that yet. The best it can do at the moment is maintain a database of the names of the most sensitive programs in the intelligence community. But the database does not include many important and relevant Pentagon projects.
Because so much is classified, illustrations of what goes on every day in Top Secret America can be hard to ferret out. But every so often, examples emerge. A recent one shows the post-9/11 system at its best and its worst.
Last fall, after eight years of growth and hirings, the enterprise was at full throttle when word emerged that something was seriously amiss inside Yemen. In response, President Obama signed an order sending dozens of secret commandos to that country to target and kill the leaders of an al-Qaeda affiliate.
In Yemen, the commandos set up a joint operations center packed with hard drives, forensic kits and communications gear. They exchanged thousands of intercepts, agent reports, photographic evidence and real-time video surveillance with dozens of top-secret organizations in the United States.
That was the system as it was intended. But when the information reached the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington for analysis, it arrived buried within the 5,000 pieces of general terrorist-related data that are reviewed each day. Analysts had to switch from database to database, from hard drive to hard drive, from screen to screen, just to locate what might be interesting to study further.
As military operations in Yemen intensified and the chatter about a possible terrorist strike increased, the intelligence agencies ramped up their effort. The flood of information into the NCTC became a torrent.
Somewhere in that deluge was even more vital data. Partial names of someone in Yemen. A reference to a Nigerian radical who had gone to Yemen. A report of a father in Nigeria worried about a son who had become interested in radical teachings and had disappeared inside Yemen.
These were all clues to what would happen when a Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab left Yemen and eventually boarded a plane in Amsterdam bound for Detroit. But nobody put them together because, as officials would testify later, the system had gotten so big that the lines of responsibility had become hopelessly blurred.
“There are so many people involved here,” NCTC Director Leiter told Congress.
“Everyone had the dots to connect,” DNI Blair explained to the lawmakers. “But I hadn’t made it clear exactly who had primary responsibility.”
And so Abdulmutallab was able to step aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253. As it descended toward Detroit, he allegedly tried to ignite explosives hidden in his underwear. It wasn’t the very expensive, very large 9/11 enterprise that prevented disaster. It was a passenger who saw what he was doing and tackled him. “We didn’t follow up and prioritize the stream of intelligence,” White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan explained afterward. “Because no one intelligence entity, or team or task force was assigned responsibility for doing that follow-up investigation.”
Blair acknowledged the problem. His solution: Create yet another team to run down every important lead. But he also told Congress he needed more money and more analysts to prevent another mistake.
More is often the solution proposed by the leaders of the 9/11 enterprise. After the Christmas Day bombing attempt, Leiter also pleaded for more – more analysts to join the 300 or so he already had.
The Department of Homeland Security asked for more air marshals, more body scanners and more analysts, too, even though it can’t find nearly enough qualified people to fill its intelligence unit now. Obama has said he will not freeze spending on national security, making it likely that those requests will be funded.
More building, more expansion of offices continues across the country. A $1.7 billion NSA data-processing center will be under construction soon near Salt Lake City. In Tampa, the U.S. Central Command’s new 270,000-square-foot intelligence office will be matched next year by an equally large headquarters building, and then, the year after that, by a 51,000-square-foot office just for its special operations section.
Just north of Charlottesville, the new Joint-Use Intelligence Analysis Facility will consolidate 1,000 defense intelligence analysts on a secure campus.
Meanwhile, five miles southeast of the White House, the DHS has broken ground for its new headquarters, to be shared with the Coast Guard. DHS, in existence for only seven years, already has its own Special Access Programs, its own research arm, its own command center, its own fleet of armored cars and its own 230,000-person workforce, the third-largest after the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Soon, on the grounds of the former St. Elizabeths mental hospital in Anacostia, a $3.4 billion showcase of security will rise from the crumbling brick wards. The new headquarters will be the largest government complex built since the Pentagon, a major landmark in the alternative geography of Top Secret America and four times as big as Liberty Crossing.
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.