Jesse Ventura is a guest tonight on "Piers Morgan Tonight," and the wide-ranging interview touches on foreign policy, American politics and conspiracies – a subject he speaks passionately about during the hour and on his TruTV show. Ventura also discusses his new book, out today, "63 Documents the Government Doesn't Want You to Read."
During the hour (9pmET/PT) you'll see Ventura and Piers Morgan square off over the validity of some of the conspiracies Ventura believes, but below – check out an exclusive excerpt from Ventura's new book (the full introduction):
“There is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.” – John F. Kennedy.
This book is titled 63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read, lest we forget that 1963 was the year that claimed the life of our 35th President. The conspiracy that killed JFK, and the cover-up that followed, is the forerunner for a lot of what you’re going to read about in these pages. In fact, the idea behind this book came out of writing my last one, American Conspiracies. There I presented a close look at whether or not our historical record reflects what really went on, based on facts that most of the media have chosen to ignore – from the Kennedy assassination through the tragedy of September 11th and the debacle on Wall Street. In poring through numerous documents, many of them available through the Freedom-of-Information Act (FOIA), I came to realize the importance of the public’s right to know. And I decided to see what new picture might be revealed if you laid out certain documents that the powers-that-be would just as soon stay buried.
Everything in this book is in the public domain and, for the most part, downloadable from the Internet. I’m not breaking any laws by putting these documents in book form, although some of them were classified “Secret” until WikiLeaks published them. I’ll get to my view on WikiLeaks in a moment, but let me begin by saying how concerned I am that we’re moving rapidly in the direction President Kennedy tried to warn us about.
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, there are now 854,000 American citizens with Top Secret clearances. The number of new secrets rose 75 percent between 1996 and 2009, and the number of documents using those secrets went from 5.6 million in 1996 to 54.6 million last year. There are an astounding 16 million documents being classified Top Secret by our government every year! Today, pretty much everything the government does is presumed secret. Isn’t it time we asked ourselves whether this is really necessary for the conduct of foreign affairs or the internal operation of governments? Doesn’t secrecy actually protect the favored classes and allow them to continue to help themselves at the expense of the rest of us? Isn’t this a cancer growing on democracy?
After Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, I was heartened to see him issue an Open Government Initiative on his first full day in office. “I firmly believe what Justice Louis Brandeis once said, that sunlight is the best disinfectant,” Obama said, “and I know that restoring transparency is not only the surest way to achieve results, but also to earn back the trust in government without which we cannot deliver changes the American people sent us here to make.” After eight years of Bush and Cheney’s secretive and deceitful ways, that sounded like a welcome relief. Obama ordered all federal agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor” of FOIA requests and so laid the groundwork to eventually release reams of previously-withheld government information on the Internet.
Well, so far it hasn’t turned out the way Obama sketched it out. An audit released in March 2010 by the non-profit National Security Archive found that less than one-third of 90 federal agencies that process FOIA requests had changed their practices in any significant way. A few departments – Agriculture, Justice, Office of Management and Budget, and the Small Business Administration – got high marks for progress. But the State Department, Treasury, Transportation, and NASA had fulfilled fewer requests and denied more in the same time period. “Most agencies had yet to walk the walk,” said the Archive’s director Tom Blanton.
Things went downhill from there. In June 2010, the New York Times carried a Page One story detailing how Obama’s administration was even more aggressive than Bush’s in looking to punish people who leaked information to the media. In the course of his first 17 months as president, Obama had already surpassed every previous president in going after prosecutions of leakers. Thomas A. Drake, a National Security Agency employee who’d gone to the Baltimore Sun as a last resort because he knew that government eavesdroppers were squandering hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on failed programs, is today facing years in prison on ten felony charges including mishandling of classified information. An FBI translator received a 20-month sentence for turning over some classified documents to a blogger. And the Pentagon arrested Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst, who for openers had passed along to WikiLeaks the shocking video footage of a U.S. military chopper gunning down Baghdad civilians.
Then, in September 2010, the Obama Justice Department cited the so-called “state secrets doctrine” in successfully getting a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit on “extraordinary rendition” (a phrase that really means we send suspected terrorists to other countries to get held and tortured). In fact, Attorney General Eric Holder was hell-bent on upholding the Bush administration’s claims in two major cases involving illegal detention and torture.
Also in September, the Pentagon spent $47,300 of taxpayer dollars to buy up and destroy all 10,000 copies of the first printing of Operation Dark Heart, a memoir about Afghanistan by ex-Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer Anthony A. Shaffer. We first interviewed Lt. Colonel Shaffer for American Conspiracies, because his outfit (Able Danger) had identified Mohammed Atta as a terrorist threat long before he became the supposed lead hijacker on 9/11.
With Operation Dark Heart, publishing executives and intel outfits couldn’t remember another instance where a government agency set out to get rid of a book that was already printed. Some months earlier, the Army reviewers who’d asked for and received some changes and redactions said they had “no objection on legal or operational security grounds” to the final version. But when the DIA saw the manuscript and showed it around to some other spy operations, they came up with 200-plus passages that might cause “serious damage to national security.” By that time, several dozen copies of the book had already gone out to reviewers and online booksellers. (Those went on sale on eBay for between $1,995 and $4,995.)
So Operation Dark Heart was hastily reprinted with a number of paragraphs blanked out and, guess what?, it became a best-seller. Here are a few of the things that got canned, which the New York Times first pointed out. Everybody’s known for years that the nickname for the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade is “the Fort.” Censor that one! Another big secret – the CIA training facility is located at Camp Peary, Virginia. You can find that on Wikipedia but not anymore in this book! And did you know that Sigint stands for “Signals Intelligence?” You don’t see that anymore in Operation Dark Heart. (I can’t wait for the censors to pull my book from the shelves for revealing all this). Oh, and they removed a blurb from a former DIA director who called Shaffer’s “one terrific book.” Shaffer has now gone to court looking to have the book’s complete text restored when the paperback comes out.
To Obama’s credit, early in November 2010 he issued an Executive Order establishing a program to manage unclassified information that rescinded a Bush-era order designed to keep still more documents away from public scrutiny by putting new labels on them (“For Official Use Only” and “Sensitive But Unclassified.”)
But soon thereafter came WikiLeaks’ release of 250,000 secret State Department cables. This followed the group’s disclosures earlier last year of 390,136 classified documents about the Iraq War and 76,607 documents about Afghanistan. As everybody knows, the politicians and the media commentators went ballistic over the cables being in the public domain – even though the New York Times, among others, was running front-page stories every day about their contents.
Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, was for a moment our biggest bogeyman since Osama. Sarah Palin says he’s “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” who should be pursued “with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.” She stopped short of saying he should be hunted down like the caribou she shoots in Alaska. Hillary Clinton calls what he’s done “an attack on the international community.” (I’ve never known Palin and Clinton to be this cozy in the same bed, so to speak). Mike Huckabee called for the execution of whoever leaked the cables to WikiLeaks. Newt Gingrich referred to Assange as an “enemy combatant.” Joe Biden described him as “closer to being a hi-tech terrorist” than a whistleblower, and some liberal democrats would like to see Assange sent to prison for life. He’s also been labeled an old-fashioned anarchist, mastermind of a criminal enterprise and, at best, a control freak and a megalomaniac.
This smacks of worse than McCarthyism – we’re in a lynch mob moment, folks. Didn’t Thomas Jefferson say that “information is the currency of democracy” and that, if he had to choose between government and a free press, he’d take the latter? Ron Paul is one of the only folks to have spoken up on Assange’s behalf. Paul made quite a statement on the floor of the House, when he asked his colleagues what had caused more deaths – “lying us into war or the release of the WikiLeaks papers?” He added, “What we need is more WikiLeaks….In a free society, we’re supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.”
Paul’s point is important. Nobody has died as a result of Wikileaks’ disclosures, but maybe we’ve forgotten that the whole Iraq war was based on fake evidence manufactured by the Bush-Cheney White House and the Brits, resulting in 4,430 American troops dead and about 32,000 wounded as of early December 2010. In Afghanistan, the toll is climbing fast – close to 1,500 Americans dead and almost 10,000 wounded. This doesn’t take into account, of course, the hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties. Do you think it’s possible, as one Internet columnist has written, that Julian Assange is the scapegoat for arrogant American officials who’d rather point the finger at someone else than admit the blood on their own hands?
Personally, I think Julian Assange is a hero. It’s a classic case of going after the messenger. Our diplomats get caught writing derogatory remarks and descriptions of foreign leaders, then turn around and accuse WikiLeaks of putting our country in danger. WikiLeaks is exposing our government officials for the frauds that they are. They also show us how governments work together to lie to their citizens when they are waging war.
Here are a few things we’ve learned from WikiLeaks’ document releases that we didn’t know before: The CIA has a secret army of 3,000 in Afghanistan, where the U.S. Ambassador in Kabul says there’s no way to fix corruption because our ally is the one that’s corrupt (one Afghan minister was caught carrying $52 million out of the country). In Iraq, there are another 15,000 civilian casualties that haven’t been brought into the light, and our troops were instructed not to look into torture tactics that our Iraqi allies were using. U.S. Special Operations forces are in Pakistan without any public knowledge, and our Pakistani “allies” are the main protectors of the Taliban in Afghanistan!
I mean, let’s face it: WikiLeaks exists because the mainstream media haven’t done their job. Instead of holding government accountable as the “fourth branch” the founders intended, I guess the corporate media’s role today is to protect the government from embassassment. Assange has pioneered “scientific journalism” (his term) – a news story is accompanied by the document it’s based upon and the reader can make up his own mind. WikiLeaks’ small team of reporters has unveiled more suppressed information than the rest of the world press combined!
Assange is the publisher, not the one who revealed the “classified information.” That’s apparently Private Bradley Manning, who somehow found a security loophole and now is being held in solitary confinement at our Quantico, Virginia base facing up to 52 years in prison. Are we surprised that the United Nations’ special investigator on torture is looking into whether Manning has been mistreated in custody? As for Assange, how our government wants to try him under the Espionage Act of 1917 is beyond me. Come on, he’s an Australian citizen and his Internet domain is in Switzerland. (By the way, he also received the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in 2010, and the Amnesty International Media Award in 2009).
And what about these cyberspace sabotage attacks against WikiLeaks that are being carried out across national borders by our government? As far as I can determine, these are illegal under both U.S. law and international treaties. Meantime, it blows my mind that students at Columbia and Boston University and probably other institutions of “higher learning” are being warned not to read any of these documents if they want to get a government job in the future. The Office of Management and Budget sent out a memo that forbids unauthorized federal employees and contractors from accessing WikiLeaks. The Library of Congress has blocked visitors to its computer system from doing the same. The Air Force started blocking its personnel from using work computers to look at the websites of the New York Times and other publications that had posted the cables. Instead, a page came up that said: “ACCESS DENIED. Internet Usage is Logged & Monitored.” Over in Iraq, our troops who’d like to even read articles about all this get a “redirect” notice on their government network telling them they’re on the verge of breaking the law. And a lot of these same soldiers have security clearances that would have allowed them to see the cables before they were leaked.
Given the close ties between the government and large corporations, I can’t say I’m surprised that Amazon, PayPal, Mastercard, Visa and Bank of America took action to make sure that WikiLeaks could no longer receive any money through their channels. And I can’t say I’m upset that a group of young “hacktavists” calling themselves Anonymous have taken retaliatory action against some of those same companies. They call it Operation Payback. “Websites that are bowing down to government pressure have become targets,” a fellow named Coldblood posted. “As an organization we have always taken a strong stance on censorship and freedom of expression on the internet and come out against those who seek to destroy it by any means. We feel that WikiLeaks has become more than just about leaking of documents, it has become a war ground, the people vs. the government.”
More than 500 “mirror sites” now possess all the cables, and Assange has said we ain’t seen nothin’ yet if he meets an untimely demise. As I write this a couple of weeks before the New Year in 2011, he’s living in a friend’s mansion in England and fighting extradition charges. I’m sure a whole lot more will have developed by the time this book is published. I say let the chips fall where they may as WikiLeaks puts the truth out there. If our State Department is asking diplomats to steal personal information from U.N. officials and human rights groups, in violation of international laws, then shouldn’t the world know about it and demand corrective action? Maybe if they know they’re potentially going to be exposed, the powers-that-hide behind a cloak of secrecy will think twice before they plot the next Big Lie.
I agree with Daniel Ellsberg, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. He faced charges, too, back in 1971, but they were thrown out by a judge. He’S called Private Manning a “brother” who committed “a very admirable act” if he’s the one who provided the documents to WikiLeaks. “To call them terrorists is not only mistaken, it’s absurd,” Ellsberg said.
The book you’re about to read is undertaken in the same spirit. I’ve divided the book into five parts, starting out first to show links between deeds our government perpetrated in the past and what’s going on today. If you don’t know your own history, you’re doomed to repeat it. You’ll come across documents on some pretty scandalous behavior, including:
• The CIA’s secret assassination manual and experiments to control human behavior with hypnosis, drugs, and other methods.
• The military’s Operation Northwoods, a chilling attempt by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to stage a terror attack on our own citizens and make it look like Cuba was behind it – using a hijacked airliner, no less!
• After President Kennedy was trying to get our troops out of Vietnam, the military faked the Gulf of Tonkin attacks in order to expand the war.
• Our chemical and biological warfare capability back in 1969, leading you to wonder about the real origin of things like AIDS and lyme disease.
Part two delves into a series of government, military and corporate secrets, opening with excerpts from two recent reports on how our military and intelligence outfits put Nazi war criminals to work after World War Two. From there, you’ll see some eye-opening documents including:
• The CIA’s “Propaganda Notes” designed to shore up the Warren Commission’s lone-gunman conclusion.
• How Oliver North collaborated with Panama’s drug-running dictator Manuel Noriega.
• What America knew, and ignored, about the genocide happening in Rwanda in the mid-1990s.
• How we still turn a blind eye to Gulf War Illness and our veterans.
• The frightening background for our military to intervene in domestic affairs, set up “emergency relocation facilities” for our citizens, and establish a Civilian Inmate Labor Program.
• How failed inspections and ignored science are impacting our food supply and our bees, while we push to promote Monsanto’s biotech agenda.
• What our military really knows about the dangers of climate change.
• How companies like CitiGroup and Koch Industries promote their “plutocracies” at the expense of the rest of us.
Part Three I’ve called Shady White Houses, starting with “Tricky Dick” Nixon and his astounding plan to bring peace to Vietnam by pretending to nuke the Soviet Union! You’ll also learn about:
• How the Bush White House stole the presidential elections in 2000 and again in 2004.
• The Obama State Department’s call for our own diplomats to spy on the United Nations.
• Whether “cybersecurity” could mean the end of the Internet as we know it.
Part four focuses in on a subject I’ve explored a great deal in recent years, and that’s whether we’ve been told the truth about the terrible events of September 11, 2001.
• A think tank called the Project for a New American Century anticipating “a new Pearl Harbor” to promote its agenda for “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.”
• Clear warnings the Bush Administration ignored that something was coming.
• The “Stand Down” order that kept our military from responding on 9/11.
• Evidence that Building 7 was taken down by a controlled demolition.
• The role of insider stock trading in advance of 9/11.
And finally, part five examines the so-called “war on terror” and the terrible price we’re paying in terms of our liberties and the lives being lost in Iraq and Afghanistan. You’ll first read excerpts from a long memo by Bush’s Justice Department that subverts the Constitution by shredding a number of civil rights, followed by Bush’s justification for America’s torture of “unlawful combatants.” * The “Media Ground Rules” that keep the truth hidden at Guantanamo.
• The torture techniques, and medical experiments, being conducted there and the paper trail on the CIA’s destruction of 92 torture videos.
• Decapitation of a detainee in Iraq, by our own troops!
• How the CIA “spins” the war in Afghanistan, and the fact that drugs are fueling that country’s economy.
• The State Department’s revelation that Saudi Arabia is actually “a critical source of terrorist funding.”
• A report by the Rand Corporation showing that military force has never worked in combating terrorism.
Following the 63 documents, you’ll find an Epilogue of Internet resources to use in your own pursuit of the truth about what’s going on behind-the-scenes.
Here’s what should concern us all: if you look back at the US Patriot Act that Congress passed almost unanimously in the wake of 9/11, the Bill of Rights was already in peril. Let me offer a brief outline of how things changed:
The First Amendment is about freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to assemble. The Patriot Act says that the government is free to monitor religious and political institutions without any suspicion of criminal activity. The government can also prosecute librarians or the keepers of any other records (including journalists) related to a “terror investigation.”
The Fourth Amendment speaks to our right to be secure “against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Patriot Act says the government can search and seize Americans’ papers and effects without probable cause.
The Sixth Amendment entitles anyone accused of a crime to “a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury.” The Patriot Act says the government can jail Americans indefinitely without a trial.
The Sixth Amendment says an accused person has “compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” The Patriot Act says the government can monitor conversations between attorneys and clients in federal prisons and even deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.
The Sixth Amendment also says an accused criminal must “be confronted with the witnesses against him.” The Patriot Act says Americans can be jailed without even being charged, let alone face any witnesses.
What troubles me more than anything is how Congress can simply vote to supersede the Constitution. They’re not allowed to do that, to vote in new rules arbitrarily. Changing the Constitution requires you to go through many hoops. How can we allow this kind of unprecedented change to happen?
At the same time, it’s recently been reported that our government is building up a huge domestic spying network to collect information on us all, involving local police, state and military authorities feeding information into a database on people who’ve never been accused of wrongdoing. Homeland Security has given billions of dollars in grants to state governments since 9/11, and there are now more than 4,000 organizations in the domestic apparatus. The FBI keeps the ultimate file, with profiles on tens of thousands of Americans reported to be “acting suspiciously.” (I’m sure I’m one of them.) Also the technologies we’ve developed for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are now being used by law enforcement agencies at home – hand-held fingerprint scanners, biometric data devices, unmanned aircraft monitoring our borders with Mexico and Canada.
In other words, we the taxpayers are funding our own government to keep tabs on what we do! This is outrageous, but it’s been a long time coming. Our tax dollars have paid for mind control experiments and assassination attempts and fake attacks to draw us into war. Our tax dollars have funded drug runners and “extraordinary rendition” of detainees. And they’ve not been used in places where they should be going – like to help our veterans cope with Gulf War Syndrome and to keep the nation of Rwanda from mass genocide. What right does the government have to abuse our money like that? This is diabolical!
I’ve put together this book because it’s become crystal-clear that our democracy has been undermined from within and it’s been going on for a long time. We the people have got to wake up and start demanding accountability! Let’s never forget the words of Patrick Henry: “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”