The U.S. Military Ordered Bin Laden Photos Destroyed 10 Days After Freedom of Information Act Request

I’ve highlighted the bizarre opacity and intentional official obfuscation regarding the details of the Osama bin Laden raid on many occasions. My most recent post on the topic was published last summer with the article: U.S. Government’s Secret Move to Hide Files on the Osama Bin Laden Raid. I started out that post writing:

The Osama Bin Laden raid was suspect from the very beginning.  Not only were key initial descriptions of the assault completely incorrect (such as him being armed and his wife being killed), but the manner in which his body was rapidly tossed into the ocean was beyond bizarre.  I mean, Tony Soprano keeps a body longer than that.

I also pointed out what the AP had to say on the matter:

In the days after bin Laden’s death, the White House provided conflicting versions of events, falsely saying bin Laden was armed and even firing at the SEALs, misidentifying which of bin Laden’s sons was killed and incorrectly saying bin Laden’s wife died in the shootout. Obama’s press secretary attributed the errors to the “fog of combat.”

Well an already strange story has gotten even stranger. We now know, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, that the U.S. military ordered the destruction of all the bin Laden photos as soon as it got wind that the media had requested them. 

Repeat after me: Most. Transparent. Ever.

From the AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A newly-released email shows that 11 days after the killing of terror leader Osama bin Laden in 2011, the U.S. military’s top special operations officer ordered subordinates to destroy any photographs of the al-Qaida founder’s corpse or turn them over to the CIA.

The email was obtained under a freedom of information request by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch. The document, released Monday by the group, shows that Adm. William McRaven, who heads the U.S. Special Operations Command, told military officers on May 13, 2011 that photos of bin Laden’s remains should have been sent to the CIA or already destroyed. Bin Laden was killed by a special operations team in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

Continue reading

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1


 Follow me on Twitter.

Document Reveals Official NSA Talking Points: Use 9/11 Attacks as a “Sound Bite”

Al Jazeera America has some great work in obtaining the official NSA talking points via a Freedom of Information Act request. As might be expected, the agency tells its people to use the attacks on September 11, 2001 to manipulate public opinion into accepting unacceptable levels of surveillance. As I have maintained over and over again for years, our overreaction to 9/11 has done exponentially more damage to the nation than any terrorist attack ever could. I penned my latest thoughts on the attacks last month in my piece: How I Remember September 11, 2001.

One of the highlights, actually lowlights, of the document is what the NSA refers to as a “soundbite that resonates.” Here it is:

I much prefer to be here today explaining these programs, than explaining another 9/11 event that we were not able to prevent.

More from Al Jazeera America:

The National Security Agency advised its officials to cite the 9/11 attacks as justification for its mass surveillance activities, according to a master list of NSA talking points.

The document, obtained by Al Jazeera through a Freedom of Information Act request, contains talking points and suggested statements for NSA officials (PDF) responding to the fallout from media revelations that originated with former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Continue reading

The FBI Allowed Informants to Commit 5,658 Crimes in 2011 Alone

Using a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, USA Today has obtained a copy of the FBI’s 2011 Report and has unearthed some very troubling facts. For starters, the FBI granted its informants permission to break the law 5,658 in one year, which amounts to a shocking 15 times a day. While I think we all understand that some of this activity is necessary in law enforcement, this seems to be a pretty lofty number for an agency supposedly so concerned with the rule of law.

More importantly, I think we might all feel a little bit better about the whole thing if the FBI actually nabbed a single person responsible for let’s say the destruction of the U.S. economy, war crimes, IRS targeting, Benghazi or spying and lying to Congress? Nope, no big bankers are in jail, nor any high-profile politicians or defense contractors. None of them. So the FBI is allowing folks to break the law at least 15 times a day to catch who exactly? Aaron Swartz?

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The FBI gave its informants permission to break the law at least 5,658 times in a single year, according to newly disclosed documents that show just how often the nation’s top law enforcement agency enlists criminals to help it battle crime.

The U.S. Justice Department ordered the FBI to begin tracking crimes by its informants more than a decade ago, after the agency admitted that its agents had allowed Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger to operate a brutal crime ring in exchange for information about the Mafia. The FBI submits that tally to top Justice Department officials each year, but has never before made it public.

Agents authorized 15 crimes a day, on average, including everything from buying and selling illegal drugs to bribing government officials and plotting robberies. FBI officials have said in the past that permitting their informants — who are often criminals themselves — to break the law is an indispensable, if sometimes distasteful, part of investigating criminal organizations.

USA TODAY obtained a copy of the FBI’s 2011 report under the Freedom of Information Act. The report does not spell out what types of crimes its agents authorized, or how serious they were. It also did not include any information about crimes the bureau’s sources were known to have committed without the government’s permission.

Now here is where it gets really scary…

Continue reading

MIT Moves to Block the Release of the Aaron Swartz Files

Unfortunately, this is just further proof that most of our celebrated institutions, including prestigious palaces of “higher learning,” are nothing more than apologists and gatekeepers for plutocratic power. It was only a little less than two weeks ago that I wrote a story celebrating how a U.S. judge decided the government must release thousands of pages of secret service files on the late Aaron Swartz. Apparently, MIT isn’t comfortable in the many skeletons they likely have in their closet coming out, so they have moved to block the release. The plaintiff in the case, Kevin Poulsen explains below in a Wired article:

Lawyers representing MIT are filing a motion to intervene in my FOIA lawsuit over thousands of pages of Secret Service documents about the late activist and coder Aaron Swartz.

I am the plaintiff in this lawsuit. In February, the Secret Service denied in full my request for any files it held on Swartz, citing a FOIA exemption that covers sensitive law enforcement records that are part of an ongoing proceeding. Other requestors reported receiving the same response.

When the agency ignored my administrative appeal, I enlisted David Sobel, a top DC-based FOIA litigator, and we filed suit. Two weeks ago U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the government to “promptly” begin releasing Swartz’ records. The government told my lawyer that it would release the first batch tomorrow. But minutes ago, Kollar-Kotelly suspended that order at MIT’s urging, to give the university time to make an argument against the release of some of the material.

Continue reading

Good News: Judge Orders U.S. to Release Aaron Swartz’s Secret Service File

What is so disturbing about this aspect of the Aaron Swartz tragedy is the fact that the Secret Service had thousands of pages on Aaron Swartz to begin with.  Considering he was known to all as a kind and gentle soul, what was the Secret Service so worried about?

Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is now inescapably clear.  When the U.S. government refers to “national security,” what it actually means is the wealth and power of the status quo, the 0.01%.  That is why a genius such as Aaron Swartz was considered an enemy of the state, and why the government amassed thousands of pages on him and drove him to his death. His genius and kindness was a threat to the corrupt establishment.  As I’ve noted before:  All My Heroes Have FBI Files.  From Wired:

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. on Friday ordered the government to promptly start releasing thousands of pages of Secret Service documents about the late activist and coder Aaron Swartz, following months of roadblocks and delays.

The order was issued in my ongoing FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security – the Secret Service’s parent agency.

Continue reading

Released Documents Detail the C.I.A. Role While Embedded in the NYPD

The fact that the C.I.A. was embedded within the NYPD for a decade after 9/11 is not a new story, but what is new are details regarding involvement in domestic surveillance, which the agency is not permitted to engage in. The questions that I want to ask in light of this are: Which other police forces around the nation had or have C.I.A. agents embedded in them and what are their roles? Let’s not forget what Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Carl Bernstein has told us in 1977:

In 1953, Joseph Alsop, then one of America’s leading syndicated columnists, went to the Philippines to cover an election. He did not go because he was asked to do so by his syndicate. He did not go because he was asked to do so by the newspapers that printed his column. He went at the request of the CIA.

Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty‑five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters.

The history of the CIA’s involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception.

We should all feel extremely uncomfortable that this agency was embedded within a domestic police force given it’s history.

Now, from the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Four Central Intelligence Agency officers were embedded with the New York Police Department in the decade after Sept. 11, 2001, including one official who helped conduct surveillance operations in the United States, according to a newly disclosed C.I.A. inspector general’s report.

That officer believed there were “no limitations” on his activities, the report said, because he was on an unpaid leave of absence, and thus exempt from the prohibition against domestic spying by members of the C.I.A.

Another embedded C.I.A. analyst — who was on its payroll — said he was given “unfiltered” police reports that included information unrelated to foreign intelligence, the C.I.A. report said.

Continue reading

Noam Chomsky on the Classification System: “It’s to Protect the State from the Citizens”

I’ve spent quite a lot of time studying declassified internal documents, and written a lot about them. In fact, anybody who’s worked through the declassified record can see very clearly the reason for classification is very rarely to protect the state or the society from enemies.  Most of the time it’s to protect the state from its citizens.  So they don’t know what the government’s doing.

- Noam Chomsky

The interview below is crucial viewing for all Americans on this Memorial Day.  It is also extremely timely.  With journalists now being accused of criminality as a result of reporting on “classified” information, we must ask ourselves; what does “classified” even mean?  Who does such classified information really protect, and is it in the best interests of the citizenry?  The answer may surprise you.  Enjoy!

Remember Zero Dark Thirty? Turns Out it was a CIA Propaganda Film After All

In 1977, Carl Bernstein, famed for his Watergate reporting, disclosed that more than 400 journalists and executives of mostly liberal US media organisations had worked for the CIA in the past 25 years. They included journalists from the New York Times, Time and the big TV broadcasters.

- John Pilger in his powerful article, The New Propaganda is Liberal

This isn’t the first time I’ve used the above quote to kick off a post. I also used it in late March for the article:  How Hollywood Became “Propagandist in Chief” by John Pilger.  How right he was in that scathing critique of the artistic joke that has become big budget performing arts in America these days.  Now, courtesy of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act regarding the CIA’s influence on Hollywood blockbuster Zero Dark Thirty, we discover what a total propaganda joke this film really is.  What an utter embarrassment to cinema.  From Gawker:

Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama bin Laden revenge-porn flick Zero Dark Thirty was the biggest publicity coup for the CIA this century outside of the actual killing of Osama bin Laden. But the extent to which the CIA shaped the film has remained unclear. Now, a memo obtained by Gawker shows that the CIA actively, and apparently successfully, pressured Mark Boal to remove scenes that made them look bad from the Zero Dark Thirty script.

The documents include a 2012 memo—initially classified “SECRET”—summarizing five conference calls between Boal and the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs in late 2011. “The purpose for these discussions was for OPA officers to help promote an appropriate portrayal of the Agency and the Bin Ladin operation,” according to the memo.

During these calls, Boal “verbally shared the screenplay” for Zero Dark Thirty in order to get the CIA’s feedback, and the CIA’s public affairs department verbally asked Boal to take out parts that they objected to. According to the memo, he did.

Continue reading

“It’s National Security”…Government Transparency Hits Record Low in 2012 Under Obama

Surprise, surprise…the “most transparent administration ever” is, well, the least transparent.  Not that any of you are shocked by this revelation, but a new report by the Associated Press demonstrates just how secret our government and intelligence agencies have become.  Not only did they claim “national security” over and over like a bunch of drunk parrots, they also claimed the need to protect “internal deliberations.”  Specifically, the number of times the government withheld or censored reports in 2012 was 479,000 times, up 22% from 2011.  The CIA denied 60% of requests, up from 49% in 2011.  From the Associated Press:

The AP examined more than 5,600 data elements measuring the administration’s performance on government transparency since Obama’s election.

When the government withheld or censored records, it cited exceptions built into the law to avoid turning over materials more than 479,000 times, a roughly 22 percent increase over the previous year.

In a year of intense public interest over deadly U.S. drones, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, terror threats and more, the government cited national security to withhold information at least 5,223 times — a jump over 4,243 such cases in 2011 and 3,805 cases in Obama’s first year in office. The secretive CIA last year became even more secretive: Nearly 60 percent of 3,586 requests for files were withheld or censored for that reason last year, compared with 49 percent a year earlier.

Continue reading

Most Transparent President? Obama Cabinet Refuses to Release Info on Cost of Travel

Just another lie amongst an impressive and ever growing list.  The worst part is he completely understands that his supporters have no idea what day of the week it is, let alone that he is funneling the remaining wealth of the nation upward to the oligarch class.

From Bloomberg:

More than half of President Barack Obama’s cabinet agencies continue to defy open-government rules by not disclosing the cost of travel by top officials.

Above. The. Law.

Nine of 15 cabinet offices have yet to release details of their out-of-town travel records six months after Bloomberg News filed requests for those documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Kathleen Sebelius of the Department of Health and Human Services are among those who haven’t complied.

The law requires agencies to respond to requests within 20 working days. Watchdogs say the delays show that the president hasn’t fulfilled his promise of greater transparency, and one group found that more than half of 99 federal offices ignored a directive to overhaul the way they respond to filings.

The lowest rate of response — 40 percent — has come from Obama’s cabinet. Among executive departments, only Treasury, Homeland Security, Labor, Commerce, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs released travel details.

Now here’s the money line…

Continue reading