Inconvenient Truth #73: 6000 reasons we just experienced the 1984 Memory Hole

The following opinion piece is reprinted from Japan Times and is archived HERE


I know a “secret.” I know the identity of the man who was CIA chief of station in Kabul until one month ago.

The name of the top spook in Afghanistan was disseminated via email to 6,000-plus reporters as part of an attendance list of senior U.S. officials participating in a meeting with President Barack Obama during his surprise visit with U.S. troops.

The government spotted the error and asked journalists not to post it. They agreed. Still, it’s all over the Internet.

What I found via Google during a few hours of searching made me 98 percent sure it was him; sources in Kabul covered the 2 percent of doubt.

Until the week before last I was working on this story for Pando Daily, where I was a staff writer and cartoonist. We intended to publish the name — not to endanger him (which in any case would not have been possible since CIA headquarters at Langley had yanked him off his post), but to take a stand for adversarial media.

Journalists ought to publish news wherever they find it, whatever it is, damn the consequences. Credible media organizations don’t protect government secrets. They don’t obey spy agencies. Real journalists don’t cooperate with government — any government, anytime, for any reason. My editor and I believed that by demonstrating a little fearlessness, we might inspire other media outfits to grow a pair and stop sucking up to the government.

There is no longer a “we.” Pando fired me along with the investigative journalist David Sirota. Stripped of the institutional protection of a media organization willing to supply legal representation and advice, I cannot move forward with our/my original plan to reveal the name.

Nevertheless, I think it valuable to draw attention to an absurdity: Thousands of journalists representing hundreds of press and broadcast media outlets, all of whom agreed to keep a secret that wasn’t much of a secret in the first place, which ceased being secret the second they received it, which remains easily accessible to anyone with an Internet connection — to curry favor with a government that routinely lies to reporters like them.

On May 25, President Barack Obama paid a visit to the U.S. air base at Bagram, north of Kabul, which includes an expanded torture facility for Muslim detainees. Sixteen “senior” U.S. officials were invited to Bagram to give Obama a briefing on the military situation.

Among them was the Kabul chief of station (COS) — the CIA’s top man in occupied Afghanistan. An Obama administration PR flack mistakenly included the COS’ name on a list of meeting attendees that was emailed to more than 6,000 journalists around the globe.

From The Washington Post: The list was circulated by email to reporters who traveled to Afghanistan with Obama, and disseminated further when it was included in a summary of the event meant to be shared with other news organizations, including foreign media, not taking part in the trip. The summary was filed by Washington Post White House bureau chief Scott Wilson. Wilson said he had copied the list from the email provided by White House press officials. He sent his summary to the press officials, who then distributed it to a list of more than 6,000 recipients.

What happened next is worthy of the movie “Brazil” and what it reveals about the slavishly submissive posture of reporters and their editors and producers to the U.S. government in general and the CIA in particular.

Though CIA COS’s are secret agents, in practice they often maintain such a high profile — working out of the local U.S. embassy, being seen at ex-pat hangouts and coming and going from major events (such as meeting with the president) that their identities are widely known in their host countries. They may be “secret” — but their names aren’t. The predecessor of the Kabul COS outed in May, for example, had previously been identified on Facebook.

The Taliban and other adversaries have superb access to intelligence throughout Afghanistan, including widespread infiltration among the police and Afghan military. They are sophisticated Internet users. They can target a COS anytime they feel like it. But they probably won’t. Like other guerilla armies, tracking such figures reveals years of useful information that is far more valuable than the one-off propaganda value of assassinating him.

The CIA recognized that its COS’ cover had been blown and pulled him out of Kabul. According to Sen. Rob Portman, he is safe. This where things get ridiculous: The White House asked 6,000-plus reporters to forget what they’d learned. And all of them did.

“The name and title of the station chief were removed in a later summary that urged reporters to ‘please use this list’ of attendees at the president’s briefing instead of the previous one,” reports The New York Times.

Such is the state of America’s fierce free press: All 6,000-plus reporters and their media employers adhered to the White House request to redact the outed COS’ name from their reporting. Yet, the former Kabul COS’ name is on a bunch of websites, particularly blogs that specialize in coverage of spy agencies.

Meanwhile, corporate media has spent the last month playing online Whack-a-Mole, censoring the outted COS’ name whenever it appears in an aggregated piece copied from an original version of the White House email by a bot, or in a comment thread. It stays up a few days before vanishing down the memory hole. Why do they do it?

Because the Obama administration asked nicely and to avoid offending the CIA — even though the name is not secret. In this case, kowtowing to the government has no practical effect. The guy is no longer in Kabul. Anyway, America’s enemies knew/know all about him.

They know, as I do, about the ex-COS’ previous postings. They know, as I do, about the cars he drives, the sports he enjoys, his address history in the U.S. and overseas, the names of his family.

Everyone leaves a digital trail — even spies. Anyone can find this stuff. We should be holding the Fourth Estate accountable for their failure to hold government accountable. The COS fiasco shows why corporate media can’t be trusted to challenge the powers that be.

Why isn’t one journalist out of 6,000 — unlike me, protected by lawyered-up media organizations — willing to publish a government secret that the government gave away?

Ted Rall, syndicated writer and cartoonist, is the author of “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan,” due out Sept. 2.


And here is the email that revealled the COS name: (from and archived HERE

Note the COS (Chief of Station) name is listed in the first email, then the second email his, plus two more, are removed.

Text of first mass email below:

From: Wilson, Scott W []
Sent: Sunday, May 25, 2014 09:22 PM
To: Tiller, Jeff; Maska, Johanna
Subject: Pool 1 – Fix

Among several typos in first pool report, the most egregious was spelling General Joseph F. Dunford’s name wrong. Please excuse. To be clear correct spelling: Gen Joseph F. Dunford Jr.

Also, here is the manifest of those in POTUS military briefing, now underway:

President Obama
Ambassador Cunningham
General Dunford
Susan Rice, National Security Advisor
John Podesta, Counselor to the President
Ben Rhodes, Dep. National Security Advisor
Jeff Eggers, Senior Dir. for Afghanistan and Pakistan
CMSgt Kaleth Wright
Maj Gen John McMullen
CMS Ledford “JR” Stigall
MG Austin Miller
CSM Isaia Vimoto
LTG Joseph Anderson
SgtMaj James Booker
Mike Raiole, Chief of Station
Ambassador David Robinson,
Assistant Chief of Mission Scott Wilson

White House Bureau Chief
The Washington Post
Office: 202-334-6106
Mobile: 202-997-9783
Twitter: @PostScottWilson

Text of second mass email below:

From: Stephen COLLINSON []
Sent: Sunday, May 25, 2014 10:32 PM
To: Maska, Johanna; Tiller, Jeff

Subject: Pool report #2
Pool Report # 2 Bagram

Here is the correct list of those who took part in briefing the president on Bagram Air Base. Please use this list.

Ambassador Cunningham
General DunfordS
Susan Rice, National Security Advisor
John Podesta, Counselor to the President
Ben Rhodes, Dep. National Security Advisor
Jeff Eggers, Senior Dir. for Afghanistan and Pakistan
CMSgt Kaleth Wright
Maj Gen John McMullen
CMS Ledford “JR” Stigall
MG Austin Miller
CSM Isaia Vimoto
LTG Joseph Anderson
SgtMaj James Booker
The pool was led into a trailer where the president was seated with General Dunford, Ambassador Cunningham, Susan Rice and some other military brass. He was wearing a brown leather jacket and said a few words on looming troop decisions, before the pool was led out.
“The main reason I took this trip is to make sure that everbody knows as we come into Memorial Day weekend that … we are aware of the sacrifices that so many have made … in Afghanistan. Also to make sure we are reminded of the sacrifices you and your families have made.
“This is a tough job. As I came down stairs I had the chance to see the Twin Towers on a poster. ” The president said he had also had the chance to visit the 9/11 museum in New York recently. “It is a reminder of why we are here.”
The president said there had been some progress in Afghanistan, notably with the recent elections and the build up of Afghan forces. “I will be honest with you, it has gone better than I might have expected a year ago.”
He also noted that he was going to have to make some decisions soon about the transition to the post combat role in 2014 for US and NATO troops. He said he would be “announcing some decisions fairly shortly.”
The pool was led out and is now in a large hangar where Brad Paisley is giving a concert to a large crowd of troops. A huge American flag is hanging from the roof behind him.

Stephen Collinson
Stephen Collinson
AFP White House Correspondent
Cell:: 202 413 7591

“…Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them. The Party intellectual knows in which direction his memories must be altered; he therefore knows that he is playing tricks with reality; but by the exercise of doublethink he also satisfies himself that reality is not violated. The process has to be conscious, or it would not be carried out with sufficient precision, but it also has to be unconscious, or it would bring with it a feeling of falsity and hence of guilt…” – 1984 EngSoc dictionary

About SleepNoMore

"Orthodoxy means not thinking-not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness." -1984
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, CIA, Corruption, Mind Control, Psychology, Terrorism, Torture, U.S. Hegemony, War Crimes. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Inconvenient Truth #73: 6000 reasons we just experienced the 1984 Memory Hole

  1. flyingtigercomics says:

    Greg Vogel? Mike Raieole? Elmer Fudd? Clay Bertrand?

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