Smith-Mundt Act “reformed” this month allowing CIA to disseminate propaganda
July 15, 2013
On July 2, a little noticed “reform” passed in January went into effect. The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, passed as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, will allow the CIA to flood America with more government propaganda.
The Smith-Mundt Act, passed as the national security state was taking shape in 1948, authorized the State Department to unleash a tidal wave of propaganda outside the United States while supposedly forbidding its dissemination inside the country. The law set the stage for Frank Wisner, who headed up he CIA’s covert action division in the early 1950s, to build his “mighty Wurlitzer,” described by none other than the New York Times as “the means for orchestrating, in almost any language anywhere in the world, whatever tune the CIA was in the mood to hear.”
In the years since, the establishment media has worked hand in glove with the CIA. This cozy relationship was revealed by Frank Church and the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities in 1975 and, a few years later, by reporter Carl Bernstein.
Targets ‘any information we can get our hands on’
So far, the Central Intelligence Agency largely has remained out of the spotlight of snooping scandals that have touched agencies such at the National Security Agency and the Justice Department.
It may not stay that way, if Ira Hunt, the agency’s chief technology officer, is right.
CIA’s Gus Hunt On Big Data: We ‘Try To Collect Everything And Hang Onto It Forever’
NEW YORK — The CIA’s chief technology officer outlined the agency’s endless appetite for data in a far-ranging speech on Wednesday.
Speaking before a crowd of tech geeks at GigaOM’s Structure:Data conference in New York City, CTO Ira “Gus” Hunt said that the world is increasingly awash in information from text messages, tweets, and videos — and that the agency wants all of it.
“The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time,” Hunt said. “Since you can’t connect dots you don’t have, it drives us into a mode of, we fundamentally try to collect everything and hang onto it forever.”
Hunt’s comments come two days after Federal Computer Week reported that the CIA has committed to a massive, $600 million, 10-year deal with Amazon for cloud computing services. The agency has not commented on that report, but Hunt’s speech, which included multiple references to cloud computing, indicates that it does indeed have interest in storage and analysis capabilities on a massive scale.
The CIA is keenly interested in capabilities for so-called “big data” — the increasingly massive data sets created by digital technology. The agency even has a page on its website pitching big data jobs to prospective employees.
Hunt acknowleded that at some scale, data storage becomes impractical, adding that he meant “forever being in quotes” when he said the agency wants to keep data “forever.” But he also indicated that he was interested in computing capabilities like 1 petabyte of RAM, a massive capacity for on-the-fly calculations that has heretofore been seen only in computers that simulate nuclear explosions.
He referenced the failure to “connect the dots” in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber” who was able to board a plan with an explosive device despite repeated warnings of his intentions. In that case, a White House review found that the CIA had all of the data it needed to identify the would-be bomber, but still failed to stop him. Nevertheless, the agency does not seem to have curbed its ambitions for an endless amount of data.
A slide from Hunt’s presentation.
“It is really very nearly within our grasp to be able to compute on all human generated information,” Hunt said. After that mark is reached, Hunt said, the agency would also like to be able to save and analyze all of the digital breadcrumbs people don’t even know they are creating.
“You’re already a walking sensor platform,” he said, nothing that mobiles, smartphones and iPads come with cameras, accelerometers, light detectors and geolocation capabilities.
“You are aware of the fact that somebody can know where you are at all times, because you carry a mobile device, even if that mobile device is turned off,” he said. “You know this, I hope? Yes? Well, you should.”
Hunt also spoke of mobile apps that will be able to control pacemakers — even involuntarily — and joked about a “dystopian” future where self-driving cars force people to go to the grocery store to pick up milk for their spouses.
Hunt’s speech barely touched on privacy concerns. But he did acknowledge that they exist.
“Technology in this world is moving faster than government or law can keep up,” he said. “It’s moving faster I would argue than you can keep up: You should be asking the question of what are your rights and who owns your data.”
www.dailycaller.com – Charles C. Johnson
In his 1980 graduate thesis at the University of Texas at Austin, John Brennan denied the existence of “absolute human rights” and argued in favor of censorship on the part of the Egyptian dictatorship
“Since the press can play such an influential role in determining the perceptions of the masses, I am in favor of some degree of government censorship,” Brennan wrote. “Inflamatory [sic] articles can provoke mass opposition and possible violence, especially in developing political systems.”
Brennan serves as President Barack Obama’s national security advisor. Obama has nominated him to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
The thesis, “Human Rights: A Case Study of Egypt,” was a requirement for Brennan’s Master of Arts degree in government with a Middle Eastern studies concentration. It grew out of his time studying at the American University in Cairo.
Brennan did not respond to emailed requests for comment from The Daily Caller.
Central to Brennan’s presentation was a relativist view of human rights, which he said include “security, welfare, liberty, and justice.”
“I don’t feel that the possible forfeiture of rights under certain circumstances precludes their inalienability.”
Brennan ultimately concluded that human rights do not exist because they cannot be “classified as universal.”
“The United States should be expected to pass a more strict human rights test [than Egypt] because its environment is more conducive to the realization of those rights,” Brennan concluded. “An economic comparison between Egypt and one of its wealthy Arab neighbors such as Saudi Arabia or Kuwait would be equally unfair due to the wealth of those countries.”
“[T]he stage of economic development and political development have a direct impact on human rights,” he wrote. “The former enables a political system to offer its citizens welfare (e.g. health services) and security (e.g. military defense).”
Paradoxically, Brennan also claimed Egyptian rulers’ repressive regimes were part of that nation’s move toward democracy.
“[I]f democracy is a process rather than a state, the democratic process may involve, at some point, the violation of personal liberties and procedural justice,” he wrote. “[Anwar] Sadat’s undemocratic methods, therefore, may aim at the ultimate preservation of democracy rather than its demise.”
Brennan justified Sadat’s use of emergency powers to crack down on protests from communists because Egyptian citizens’ “exercis[e] of democratic rights would have an adverse affect on stability and even on democracy itself. This implies that too much freedom is possible and in the end, even detrimental to the cause of democracy.”
“[W]ould the ability to demonstrate effectively increase human rights and democracy in Egypt?” Brennan asked rhetorically. “In the light of the political environment, probably not. At the present stage of political development in Egypt widespread open opposition to the administration would be beyond the capacity of the system to handle.”
Brennan conceded that his explanation of why it is sometimes acceptable to abuse human rights “can provide a convenient excuse for any authoritarian leader in any country of the world.”
“Can human rights violations in the Soviet Union be as easily justified in terms of the preservation of the communist ideology? Unfortunately (looking at events from a democratic perspective), yes. Since the absolute status of human rights has been denied, the justification for the violation of any of those rights has to be pursued from a particular ideological perspective. Leonid Brezhnev could justify human rights violations in the Soviet Union as a necessary part of the preservation of the communist ideological system.”