Plato said that a city driven by luxuries was fevered, and in a state of Eternal War the entire planet is overrun by Jungles as Carbon Dioxide and Global Warming alter the climate and lead to mass-famines in every city except on small islands. Repeated Nuclear Detonations release just enough ash to partially cancel the global warming, ironically becoming the only reason life on Earth can possibly survive.
FROM WITHIN PRISM’S PANOTPIC GAZE — The Empire Has No Clothes, and the Revolution draws ever nearer, just as me and all my friends on Twitter have always agreed. It’s so close I can taste it.
As the Panopticon’s Black Iron Prison encloses the planet Earth from a panoply of hateful Imperial powers — America, China, and every tinpot dictator in each patsy state on the planet, We, The People of the Internet have been busy plotting the perfect and most intellectual plans for the New World Order, which also happens to be the thing conspiracy theorists like me fear most. I’ve done tremendous research on this problem, and have logged untold thousands of hours on many different versions of Sid Meyer’s Civilization series.
The New World Order is a horror, of course, unless you happen to believe in Reparations for all Blacks in America, Gay Marriage, Legal Marijuana, Maximum Salaries, and Maximum Work Weeks. You want some hope? I’ll throw that in, but you’ve got to send me bitcoins.
That’s right! No one in America (Or our patsy semi-colonies!) will EVER work more than 20 hours a week. It’s a bitch when all these RedBoxes, McBoxes, and Combine Harvesters take the jobs of all our illegal immigrants and we have to start paying for their healthcare. But not anymore! No, No! We will have enough jobs even for the freeloaders and the tramps, and people will still be able to become unbelievably filthy fucking rich with a maximum yearly income of 5 million dollars. Sure, some people might say I want to unfairly tax the everliving shit out of those who bring in billions, but I don’t see it that way. They made it all on your dime! Think about it, we’ve been investing tax money into computers and robots for a hundred years in order to fight for freedom and defeat the Nazi Scum. We SHOULD be living in a Techno Utopia with Robots doing Everything! To HELL with Nazi-sympathizing billionaires who think that THEY should get ALL profit off of The Only God Damned GOOD war we’ve fought in a long time. We’re gonna invest it in robots, motherfucker! If you Vote for ME as president of the New World Order, which will surely follow the oncoming Revolution (I believe it was instigated by the Chinese! They’ve taken Snowden into their grips, and I’m afraid it’s too late for Obama. (We can’t fall into the grips of China. Trust me, I would prefer Prism to the Great FireWall ANY DAY.))
WASHINGTON – Last week the National Security Agency’s newly uncovered PRISM surveillance program, intended to manager foreign intelligence from electronic service providers, elicited anger that millions of Americans’ communications had been swept up in a comprehensive dragnet. News of the PRISM program came at the end of a breakneck week of national security reporting at The Guardian, where columnist Glenn Greenwald took a step from his legacy of punditry and opinion-oriented content to reporting.
The Guardian and The Washington Post, who both revealed the existence of the PRISM program Thursday, declined to release all 41 slides of the top-secret PowerPoint presentation they had obtained.
Barton Gellman, co-author of the Washington Post story, told The Internet Chronicle Friday, “We put up the [slides] we thought we should. Much of the document seemed to us to be classified for good reason.”
“We’re not engaged in a mindless, indiscriminate document dump, and our source didn’t want us to be,” Greenwald toldBuzzfeed Saturday. “We’re engaged in the standard journalistic assessment of whether the public value to publication outweighs any harms.”
In a statement released in response to massive public outcry, Thursday Google CEO Larry Page was adamant that the company has not granted the NSA any “back door” to his company’s servers, adding that Google had not heard of any program called PRISM until Thursday. However an additional slide in a top-secret PowerPoint presentation, fed to The Guardian and annotated by reporter James Ball, suggested that the PRISM program enabled data “collection directly from the servers of … Google,” among other computing giants, such as Microsoft and Yahoo!. In accordance with Gellman and Greenwald’s claims to the press, some of this additional slide is blacked out.
NSA PRISM PowerPoint presentation slide suggesting “direct collection” from U.S. service providers’ servers. (Cropped slide via The Guardian)
People briefed on the negotiations between the media giants – speaking anonymously, as law prohibits them from acknowledging the very “existence” of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests – seemingly expanded on Page’s claims on Friday. It was then that The New York Times‘ Claire Cain Miller relayed her sources’ claims that, in the cases of Facebook and Google, some consensus had been reached between corporate and public partners on the construction of digital drop boxes, intermediary locations where the corporations would not offer carte blanche to the NSA but – after having in-house attorneys review government requests – they could leave requested information.
“[T]he government would request data,” wrote Miller, “companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it.”
Earlier last week government officials and politicians finally came clean about vast collection by the NSA of millions of Americans’ telephonic metadata. The telephone metadata – or logs of involved telephone numbers and call lengths – was turned over by Verizon, the telephone provider for a plurality of citizens. That revelation, and subsequent admissions, flies in the face of several statement by public officials.
Among those statements is one by NSA Director and Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute in July of 2012. Replying to a question from Fox News Channel’s Catherine Herridge, Alexander said, “We don’t hold data on U.S. citizens.” [Link, offsite, to Chronicle-clipped C-SPAN program.]
During a March 12 Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked National Intelligence Director James Clapper about the scale of any NSA dragnet. Fast-forward to 6:42 in the video, following, for this exchange.
Ron Wyden: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?
James Clapper: Clapper: No, sir.
Wyden: It does not?
Clapper: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect but not wittingly.
On May 4, 2012, Sens. Wyden and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) sent a letter asking the NSA inspector general, I. Charles McCullough, “how many people inside the United States have had their communications collected or reviewed.” McCullough replied in his own letter that “an [inspector general] review of [that] sort suggested would violate the privacy of U.S. persons.”
In 2007, then Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) expressed outrage that the Bush administration had engaged in spying “on citizens who are not suspected of a crime.” Critics of the Obama administration have claimed that this amounts to hypocrisy on the part of the president.
During a March 2012 hearing of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee, Representative Hank Johnson (R-Ga.) asked Alexander if the NSA routinely intercepts American citizens’ emails, to which Director Alexander replied, “No.” Video follows.
The Washington Post however reported Friday that, from PRISM’s Web terminal at NSA Headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., NSA analysts key in “selectors” intended to determine with at least half accuracy a given target’s “foreignness.” The Post obtained analyst training materials that specifically address how analysts are to report any given “accidental” collection, but those materials add that that collection on citizens is “nothing to worry about.”
On Saturday Atlantic staff writer Conor Friedersdorf raised troubling questions about the implications of the NSA’s newly revealed and utterly vast collection of telephone metadata and “incidental” private, domestic media content. Even assuming the best of intentions and utmost integrity out of domestic law enforcement, should a foreign government make its way into NSA databases, he wrote, that “could enable blackmail on a massive scale, widespread manipulation of U.S. politics, industrial espionage against American businesses;, [sic] and other mischief I can’t even imagine.” Added Friedersdorf: “What if [China, Russia, Pakistan, Iran, Saudia Arabia or a successor to al-Qaeda] breached the database’s security without our even knowing?”
Claims of Lives Saved by the Surveillance Panopticon
A “U.S. intelligence official,” speaking on condition of anonymity to CBS News, said that the PRISM program “thwarted” a 2009 attempt to bomb the New York City subway system, an attack that could have killed hundreds of people.
CBS News claims: “Suicide Bomb Plot Was Halted After Suspect Realized He Was Being Tracked”
“U.S. government sources” made similar statements to Reuters’ Mark Hosenball Friday. Hosenball’s source addressed statements Tuesday afternoon by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), although the Guardian and Washington Post stories that broke the existence of PRISM were not released until that evening.
“The surveillance program that halted the Zazi plot was one that collected email data on foreign intelligence suspects,” a government source told Reuters.
The New York Times similarly reported on Friday that PRISM “yielded concrete information.” The Times‘ Eric Schmitt, David Sanger and Charlie Savage, relying on an anonymous “senior intelligence official” source, wrote Friday that a September 2009 email from an address “being monitored by the vast computers controlled by American intelligence analysts” allowed the analysts to locate the would-be bomber in Aurora, Colo.
The anonymous intelligence official added that Zazi was located “through an e-mail correspondence that we had access to only through” PRISM.
Armed militia groups have assembled in public spaces around the nation in response to totalitarian government surveillance.
WASHINGTON – Floods of concerned citizens around the nation are reporting the same chilling story: Convoys of military and paramilitary forces are arriving at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) camps, which are capable of indefinitely interning a large proportion of American citizens. Militia groups have reportedly assembled in downtown Grand Rapids, N.D., at the Citadel patriot community in Benewah County, Idaho, and at least a hundred public spaces across the nation. Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside of the entrance to the access road leading to the deep-underground FEMA Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center. It is unclear whether this is a response to activation of FEMA camps, or if the FEMA camps activated in response to the assembly of these militias, who are likening themselves to an armed Occupy movement.
A spokesperson for the OccupyMilitia, as the spontaneous militarized protest movement has been dubbed, said, “We don’t want death or violence. We just want an end to totalitarian Internet surveillance, and we know from watching the Occupy protests that we need to be armed if we want to be heard.”
Citizens around the nation wait with bated breath as the inevitable conflict approaches, and for some the story has become too much to handle.
“We’ve had several suicides related to this NSA wiretap story,” said Dr. Angstrom H. Troubador of Mercy Hospital in Cuthbert, Ga. “More are coming in by the hour as these FEMA stories spread. People are certain they will soon be sent to their death in these camps, especially those who already believe Obama is the Antichrist.”
Shahid Buttar, Bill of Rights Defense Committee executive director, spoke to Tyler Bass at In These Times Thursday.
The Guardian has obtained a top-secret ruling by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court ordering Verizon to turn over call records for millions of Americans to the FBI and the National Security Agency for a three-month period ending in mid-July. This revelation, which has sparked outrage and garnered major mainstream media attention, not only adds weight to alarms long raised by legislators and civil liberties advocates, but has also raised ire even in the most stalwart defenders of the Patriot Act—the 2001 law that enables this kind of covert court ruling and mass surveillance.
Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, founded 12 years ago to fight the Patriot Act, expressed dismay that the surveillance of millions of Americans had been OK’ed. He told In These Times by phone, “The rule of law requires transparency. And a secret court [such as a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court] is not a court at all. Its decision-making is not judicial or ‘jurisprudencial’ in any meaningful sense of the word. It is ultimately political.”
An Anonymous spokesperson claimed to have hacked Obama’s Skype by gaining access to PRISM
INTERNET — Anonymous hackers claimed to have infiltrated PRISM’s network infrastructure after gaining access to the graphical user interface which was intended only for use by federal agents in cases of terrorism. Because the PRISM system has access to a log of all Internet phone calls (voIP via Skype, Google, etc.) and video chats, Anonymous vigilante intelligence researchers quickly unearthed evidence of high-level collusion between corporate executives and government officials. “We have access to President Obama’s Skype,” said a spokesperson for Anonymous, “and we’re only afraid it’s too absurd to be true.”
Anonymous will not comment on details of the leak until the information has been confirmed and verified. This time, Anonymous is seeking input from government sources so that their final release will be seen by the public as an even-handed nonpartisan attempt at uncovering the truth. “We want to know the government’s point of view simply because it will help us build a more complete view of what’s really going on. Even clever lies, denials, and evasion help us in our pursuit of truth. We won’t release the information until we’ve run it all over with several officials and received a frank appraisal of its context.”
President Obama has scheduled a press conference for Monday, and the White House has already released a statement condemning Anonymous. “The sad irony is that PRISM doesn’t even exist, but because of hacks like these we need something like it,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. “We will not cooperate with terrorists on any level, and we refuse to comment on illegally obtained confidential information.”
Despite such polemic rhetoric, the general consensus of Anonymous is that truth is still of the utmost importance. “The White House can’t order all 20 million of its employees around. Someone will always talk to us, and help us understand the truth behind these troubling but somewhat ambiguous conversations and other communications. All your PRISM are belong to us, and it’s going to be this way for as long as something like PRISM exists.”
One fine morning several weeks ago, I received a phone call from the local FBI office requesting an interview about Barrett Brown, former spokesperson for the Anonymous hacking collective. I told the agent, on the phone, that I didn’t really have any useful information, but he still wanted to talk to me. I didn’t see the harm in it, so I agreed to meet him that afternoon at a nearby coffee shop. For the rest of the day I grew increasingly nervous about the meeting as new and scarier possibilities came into my mind, despite their improbability. Was this guy a legitimate FBI agent, or was he something else? Did he intend to harm me, or possibly kill me?
I arrived to the coffee place a few minutes early and browsed through a selection of used books which included Bruce Sterling’s Hacker Crackdown — on sale for ten cents. Nearly immediately, I was accosted by a gregarious teenage girl, who complimented my beard and compared me to a popular musician I had never heard of. She was blonde, cute, and bubbly, but just underneath the surface lurked high culture. For the next few minutes we talked about Nietzsche and Goethe, until I saw the FBI agent staring at me from the corner of my eye. I said to the girl something like, “I’m sorry. I’m here to meet an FBI agent and talk to him about some shit.” She did not ask why, but instead exclaimed, loudly, “I hope he doesn’t drag you away and poison you!” This bizarre exchange, to which I have done little justice, was surely within earshot of the agent, and I still wonder whether it was some insidious kind of psychological manipulation. I am sure it was even stranger from the point of view of the agent.
He sat at a small table with a little pile of papers, and I joined him. On the papers were questions for me and information about me. I saw my driver’s license photo in full color for the first time, but with a distorted aspect ratio which widened my face. His manner was gentle, as you’d expect from a computer guy, and he wore an impeccable grey suit with fancy wingtip shoes. Because he alluded to a position with national security implications, that is all the description I will provide. Despite warning me that he was not an expert on Anonymous, he came across as generally well-informed, if not hopelessly misled on a few specifics. His praise for my writing was effusive and embarrassing, so much so that he apologized, and I could not help but glance at the girl, who now sat with her friends just a table away, as circuit breakers in my brain began to blow. What does she think of me, sitting here, getting this kind of incredible praise from an FBI agent? Surely she must be hearing this shit, and certainly she must not believe any of it. This boiling cauldron of ego soup was all the hotter for the chilling anxiety I had felt leading up to it. Yet, for all that, I did not detect a hint of inauthenticity in the agent’s manner, and, in fact, I saw genuine disappointment after a joke he told bombed because of my abnormally serious demeanor.
The business of the interview, the source of my anxiety, turned out to be a bit of a sad joke and far less disconcerting than all the continuous praise. Several questions, for instance, hinged on a case of mistaken identity. Because I use the pseudonym Kilgore Trout and had been somewhat of a nemesis to Barrett Brown, the FBI had apparently connected me with another Kilgore Trout who was, several years before I knew of Brown, also at odds with Brown. Both Brown and the other Trout had participated on the Little Green Footballs web site, some despicable hole of fringe punditry, but I knew very little about it. The agent claimed Brown had tasked a hacker with cracking Little Green Footballs — a fairly explosive piece of information. Evidence of Brown giving jobs to hackers has been alluded to in many stories about LulzSec, but no one has been sure of Brown’s level of involvement. If it was true he tasked someone with hacking Little Green Footballs, then his involvement with LulzSec could have possibly been pivotal. It was shocking, but of course I knew nothing that could be of help in any case. With grave seriousness which was not present in any other part of the conversation, he asked something like, “You once wrote that Barrett Brown worked for China or Russia. Is this true?” Like his joke that bombed earlier, my mind was too messed up to laugh at the right cue, and I did my best to seriously explain the joke. While anything is possible, I can’t get over the certainty that the FBI, in general, is seriously convincedin Anonymous and its possible connections to foreign power. It brings to mind reports out of Iranian state-owned media that attacks by Anonymous are orchestrated by the American government.
It’s nice to be reminded that law enforcement agents are real people, but it’s also a bit disturbing — because they’re real people. Anons, especially, tend to imagine law enforcement as a monolithic edifice which sees all and acts like a hatefully inhuman machine in exacting draconian punishments for the smallest infractions. Maybe that likeness is accurate enough in a few cases, but at the same time it’s really humans we’re talking about — prone to the same fear, misinterpretation, misinformation, and confusion as the rest of us.
P.O. Box 1000, FCI Loretto
Loretto, PA 15940
Mr. John Kiriakou:
After catching the publication of one of your letters on Firedoglake, and possessing a great professional investment in the controversies surrounding whistleblowing, I thought I would take some time to reach out to you, a prisoner of conscience, in order to better understand not only the personal toll your whistleblowing has taken but also any ruminations you might be able to offer on some puzzling legal questions. I am including a copy of a recent article I contributed to In These Times magazine regarding the relationship between national security and civil liberties. I have a few questions. I would appreciate your please setting me straight should my facts be otherwise.
In early 2009 I had the opportunity to hear “Matthew Alexander” – the pseudonym of a former Air Force interrogator in Iraq with which you are no doubt familiar – speak at an American University forum and offer his opinion that waterboarding was a poor security choice because of its, he purported, ineffectiveness. Having perused your book and caught your Democracy Now! interview, I found your openness to the concept that waterboarding, torture, is effective, albeit amoral, one of the most striking facets of your perspective. Considering the resentment that techniques like waterboarding inspire from the international community, why do you suppose that individuals, such as “Alexander,” consider (short-term) effectiveness such an important part of the argument around waterboarding?
Recently, a friend pointed out to me Executive Order 13526, which you may recall, iterates that “[i]n no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified … in order to … conceal violations of law.” If the Obama administration chose to discontinue waterboarding, specifically due to it being a violation of treaty obligations, in what sense, if any, was the information you relayed in your ABC interview, daresay your book, functionally a violation of the law in the eyes of the next administration?
From my review of your plight, it would appear that your and your family suffer, in part, due to a journalist, in whom you placed your trust, having revealed Guantanamo treatment information to detainee defense attorneys. Do you in some sense now blame that journalist for any kind of ethical breach—even if that leak to defense attorneys were to help expedite justice for the indefinitely held?
Also, I was curious as to your opinion on the meaning of extant whistleblower protections, given that what constitutes “wrongdoing” by authorities, higher-ups inherently bears some degree of subjectivity. What is conscience, if not sublimely subjective?
I hope you are well. If you wish, in replying, feel free to advise me on the nature of your treatment and its level of fairness, as you wait out what I’m sure will be arduous months. Thank you.
Russia Today has been hacked, leading some to believe Soviet influence may once again be on the rise.
MOSCOW — Russia Today, the state-owned media outlet that recently aired a television program hosted by Julian Assange, was driven offline Monday morning by an unprecedented cyberassault.
Not much is known about the attack, but several theories have been put forward by experts in the field, and some anti-WikiLeaks hackers have taken credit without providing credible proof.
Dr. Angstrom H. Troubador, professor of history at Cambridge and expert on geopolitics, said that large-scale cyberattacks like these are generally outside of the scope of individual actors.
“There is little doubt in my mind that a sophisticated organization was involved in this attack,” he said via email.
Dr. Troubador refused to speculate on possible suspect organizations, but commenters on social media were abuzz with rumor.
A recent article put out by the Associated Press and widely syndicated by thousands of publications, including Russia Today, brought huge publicity to organized crime taking place on the antiquated Soviet Union domain name extension. Cybercriminals in Russia and Eastern Europe have long been known for their sophistication and integration with traditional organized crime in the region, and many have ties with former Soviet organizations, which are at odds with Russia Today.
Meanwhile, Russia Today has brought publicity to civil disturbances in Turkey, leading many to believe the attack was carried out by militant Islamist groups who have quickly integrated cyberattacks into their arsenal of terror and want to heighten the drama of what they believe is part of the Islamic Revolution. Yet others believe the Turkish government itself has deployed this cyberattack in order to dispel the riots plaguing their cities.
Because of the huge attention given to WikiLeaks, the Occupy movement, and Anonymous by Russia Today, still others believe some operative from the United States Government may have deployed this devastating attack. It was recently revealed that almost all of America’s cyberwar capabilities are controlled by private contractors who often act far outside of the boundaries of law.
Portrait of Kiriakou, by artist unknown, taken from Kiriakou’s Twitter account
In January we reported on John Kiriakou, the CIA officer who recently started his 30-month stint in federal prison—for what he said was acting on pangs of conscience, not endangering national security, as judges and prosecutors would have it. Brian Sonenstein, at Firedoglake’s Dissenter blog, received a prison letter, and we’ve taken the time to transcribe it all over again to include what was crossed out in the Dissenter text: an accusation the incarcerated father of five seemingly began to level at the Justice Department, not just the “Bureau of Prisons,” for his mistreatment.
An address to write to Kiriakou is at the bottom of the letter.
“Letter From Loretto”
Greetings from the Federal Correctional Institution at Loretto, Pennsylvania. I arrived here on February 28, 2013 to serve a 30-month sentence for violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. At least that’s what the government wants people to believe. In truth, this is my punishment for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s illegal torture program and for telling the public that torture was official U.S. government policy. But that’s a different story. The purpose of this letter is to tell you about prison life.
At my formal sentencing hearing in January, the judge, the prosecutors, and my attorneys all agreed that I would serve my sentence in Loretto’s Federal Work Camp. When I arrived, however, much to my surprise, the Corrections Officer (CO, or “hack”) who processed me said that the Justice Department Bureau of Prisons had deemed me a “threat to the public safety,” and so I would do serve the entire sentence in the actual prison, rather than the camp.
Processing took about an hour and included fingerprinting, a mug shot (my third after the FBI and the Marshals), my fourth DNA sample, and a quite comprehensive strip search. I was given a pair of baggy brown pants, two brown shirts, two pairs of underwear, two pairs of socks, and a pair of cheap sandals. My own clothes were boxed and mailed to my wife. The CO then led me to a steel bunk in “Central Unit” and walked away. I didn’t know what to do, so I took a nap.
My cell is more like a cubicle made out of concrete block. Built to hold four men, mine holds six. Most others hold eight. My cellmates include two Dominicans serving 24- and 20-year sentences for drugs, a Mexican serving 15 years for drugs, a Puerto Rican serving [7 ½ years ?] 7 ½ years for drug conspiracy, and the former auditor of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, who’s doing [unintelligible] years a long sentence for corruption. They’re all decent guys and we actually enjoy each other’s company.
The prison population is much like you might expect. Loretto has 1,369 prisoners. (I never call myself an “inmate.” I’m a prisoner.) About 50% are black, 30% are Hispanic, and 20% are white. Of the white prisoners, most are pedophiles with personal stories that would make you sick to your stomach. The rest of the whites prisoners are here for drugs, except for a dozen or so who ran Ponzi schemes. Of the 1,369 prisoners, 40 have college degrees and 6 of us have master’s degrees. The GED program is robust. (Bust when I volunteered to teach a class my “counsellor” [sic] shouted, “Dammit, Kiriakou! If I wanted you to teach a fucking class, I’d ask you to teach a fucking class!”) I’m a janitor in the chapel. I make $5.25 a month.
The cafeteria, or “chow hall” was the most difficult experience of my first few days. Where should I sit? On my first day, two Aryans, completed covered in tattoos, walked up to me and asked, “Are you a pedophile?” Nope, I said. “Are you a fag?” Nope. “Do you have good paper?” I didn’t know what this meant. I turned out that I had to get a copy of my formal sentencing documents to prove that I wasn’t a child molester. I did that, and was welcomed by the Aryans, who aren’t really Aryans, but more accurately self-important hillbillies.
The cafeteria is very formally divided. There is a table for the Aryans whites with good paper, a section of a table for the Native Americans, a section of a table for people belonging to a certain Italian-American stereotypical “subculture,” two tables for the Muslims, four tables for the pedophiles, and all the remaining tables for the blacks and Hispanics. We don’t all eat at the same time, but each table is more-or-less reserved as I’ve described.
Violence hasn’t been much of a problem since I arrived. There have been maybe a half-dozen fights, almost always over what television show to watch. The choices are pretty much set in stone between ESPN, MTV, VH1, BET and Univision. I haven’t watched TV since I got here. It’s just not worth the trouble. Otherwise, violence isn’t a problem. Most of the guys in here have worked their way down to a low-security prison from a medium or a maximum, and they don’t want to go back.
I’ve also had some luck in this regard. My reputation preceded me, and a rumor got started that I was a CIA hit man. The Aryans whispered that I was a “Muslim hunter,” but the Muslims, on the strength of my Arabic language skills and a well-timed statement of support from Louis Farrakhan have lauded me as a champion of Muslim human rights. Meanwhile, the Italians have taken a liking to me because I’m patriotic, as they are, and I have a visceral dislike of the FBI, which they do as well. I have good relations with the blacks because I’ve helped several of them write commutation appeals or letters to judges and I don’t charge anything for it. And the Hispanics respect me because my cellmates, who represent a myriad of Latin drug gangs, have told them to. So far, so good.
The only thing close to a problem that I’ve had has been from the Cos. When I first arrived, after about four days, I heard an announcement that I was to dread: “Kiriakou – report to the lieutenant’s office immediately.” Very quickly, I gave my wife’s phone number to a friend and asked him to call her if, for some reason, I was sent to the SHU (Special Housing Unit) more commonly known as the hole, or solitary confinement. I hadn’t done anything wrong, but this kind of thing happens all the time.
When I got to the lieutenant’s office, I was ushered into the office of SIS, the Special Investigative Service. This is the prison version of every police department’s Internal Affairs Division detective bureau. I saw on a desk a copy of my book, The Reluctant Spy, as well as DVD copies of all the documentaries I’ve been in. The CO showed me a picture of an Arab. “Do you know this guy,” he asked me. I responded that I had met him a day earlier, but our conversation was limited to “nice to meet you.” Well, the CO said, this was the uncle of the Times Square bomber, and after we had met, he called a number in Pakistan, reporting the meeting, and was told to kill me. I told the CO that I could kill the guy with my thumb. He’s about 5’4” and 125 pounds compared to my 6’1” and 250 pounds. The CO said they were looking to ship him out, so I should stay away from him. But the more I thought about it, the more this made no sense. Why would the uncle of the Times Square bomber be in a low-security prison? He should be in a maximum. So I asked my Muslim friends to check him out. It turns out that he’s an Iraqi Kurd from Buffalo, NY. He was the imam of a mosque there, which also happened to be the mosque where the “Lackawana [sic] 7” worshipped [sic]. (The Lackawana 7 were charged with conspiracy to commit terrorism.) The FBI pressured him to testify against his parishioners. He refused and got five years for obstruction of justice. The ACLU and several religious freedom groups have rallied to his defense. He had nothing to do with terrorism.
In the meantime, SIS told him that I had made a call to Washington after we met, and that I had been instructed to kill him! We both laughed at the ham-handedness by which SIS tried to get us to attack each other. If we had, we would have spent the rest of our sentences in the [unintelligible] SHU – solitary. Instead, we’re friendly, we exchange greetings in Arabic and English, and we chat.
The only other problem I’ve had with the COs was about two weeks after I arrived. I get a great deal of mail here in prison (and I answer ever letter I get.) Monday through Friday, prisoners gather in front of the unit CO’s office for mail call. One female CO butchers my name every time she says it. So when she does mail call, I hear “Kirkaow, Kiriloo, Teriyaki” and a million other variations. One day after mail call I passed her in the hall. She stopped me and said, “Are you the motherfucker whose name I can’t pronounce?” I responded “Ki-ri-AH-koo.” She said, “How about if I just call you Fuckface?” I just walked away and a friend I was walking with said, “Classy.” I said to him, “White trash is more like it.” And hour later, four COs descended on both of our cells, trashing all of our worldly possessions in my first “shake-down.” Lesson learned: COs can treat us like subhumans but we have to show them faux respect even when it’s not earned.
I’ll write about COs more next time. If you’d like to drop me a line, I can be reached at John Kiriakou 79637-083, P.O. Box 1000, FCI Loretto, Loretto, PA 15940.
William Binney, former NSA analyst, sits in the offices of Democracy Now! in New York City during a 2012 discussion about the federal government and their access to citizens’ private information. (Jacob Applebaum / Wikimedia Commons)
It’s been a frightening few weeks for journalists concerned with protecting their sources—and for Americans concerned with protecting their privacy. On May 13, the Associated Press revealed that the Justice Department secretly obtained two months of reporters’ call logs. Citing the Espionage Act, which prohibits the disclosure of classified information, the Justice Department had subpoenaed Verizon Wireless for the call logs of more than 20 AP phone lines. Within a week The Washington Post reported that in 2010 the DOJ had subpoenaed emails from Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent James Rosen’s personal Gmail, also with the motive of prosecuting leakers.
The revelations have caused a furor over whether national security interests should trump civil liberties. AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt called the DOJ surveillance an “unprecedented intrusion.” Michael Clemente, Fox News executive vice president of news, released a statement calling the DOJ’s surveillance of Rosen “chilling” and an “outrage.” He wrote, “We will unequivocally defend [Rosen's] right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”
And a Pew survey showed a plurality of voters, 44 percent, disapproved of the DOJ obtaining AP phone records. Thirty-six percent, on the other hand, approved of the department’s obtaining the records.
What’s been largely overlooked, however, is that, subpoenaed call logs aside, the government may be recording your actual phone calls. And your emails. And all that data may be a mouse click, not a subpoena, away.