Big Increases for Intelligence and Pentagon “Black” Programs in 2010

Continuing along the dark path marked out by his predecessors in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama’s Defense and Intelligence budget for Fiscal Year 2010 will greatly expand the reach of unaccountable agencies–and the corporate grifters whom they serve.

According to Aviation Week, “the Pentagon’s ‘black’ operations, including the intelligence budgets nested inside it, are roughly equal in magnitude to the entire defense budgets of the UK, France or Japan, and 10 per cent of the total.”

Yes, you read that correctly. The “black” or secret portions of the budget are almost as large as the entire defense outlays of America’s allies, hardly slouches when it comes to feeding their own militarist beasts. The U.S. Air Force alone intends to spend approximately $12 billion on “black” programs in 2010 or 36 percent of its entire research and development budget. Aviation Week reveals:

Black-world procurement remains dominated by the single line item that used to be called “Selected Activities,” resident in the USAF’s “other procurement” section. This year’s number stands just above $16 billion. In inflation-adjusted terms, that’s 240 per cent more than it was ten years ago.

On the operations side, secret spending has risen 8 percent over last year, to just over $15 billion–equivalent to more than a third of Air Force operating costs.

What does it all go for? In simple terms, we don’t know. It is apparent that much if not all of the intelligence community is funded through the black budget: for example, an $850 million USAF line item is clearly linked to reconnaissance satellites. But even so, the numbers are startling–and get more so year by year. (Bill Sweetman, “Black budget blows by $50 billion mark,” Aviation Week, May 7, 2009)

How’s that for change! The Register gives a break down of the numbers for added emphasis:

1) Mainstream US armed forces $490bn-odd

2) UK armed forces $60bn

3) Chinese armed forces $58bn

4) French armed forces $54bn

5) “Black” US forces $50bn+

6) Japanese Self-Defence forces $44bn

While the American government refuses to disclose the CIA or NSA’s budget, “both the Agency and other non-military spooks do get money of their own. Some of this is spent on military or quasi-military activities,” The Register reports.

Toss in the world-wide deployment of CIA and U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) paramilitary operatives hidden among a welter of Special Access Programs (SAPs) classified above top secret and pretty soon we’re talking real money!

One such program may have been Dick Cheney’s “executive assassination ring” disclosed by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh during a “Great Conversations” event at the University of Minnesota in March.

And should pesky investigators from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have the temerity to probe said “executive assassination ring,” or other DoD “black” programs well, their Inspector General’s had better think again!

According to the whistleblowing security and intelligence website Cryptome, a May 8, 2009 letter from Susan Ragland, GAO Director of Financial Management and Assurance to Diane Watson (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Government Management, Organization and Procurement, lays down the law in no uncertain terms to Congress.

Ms. Ragland wrote: “the IG Act authorizes the heads of six agencies to prohibit their respective IGs from carrying out or completing an audit or investigation, or from issuing any subpoena if the head determines that such prohibition is necessary to prevent either the disclosure of certain sensitive information or significant harm to certain national interests.”

Neat, isn’t it! Under statutory authority granted the Executive Branch by congressional grifters, Congress amended the IG Act “to establish the Department of Defense (DOD) IG and placed the IG under the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of Defense with respect to audits or investigations or the issuance of subpoenas that require access to certain information.”

What information may be withheld from public scrutiny? Ms. Ragland informs us: “Specifically, the Secretary of Defense may prohibit the DOD IG from initiating, carrying out, or completing such audits or investigations or from issuing a subpoena if the Secretary determines that the prohibition is necessary to preserve the national security interests of the United States.” (emphasis added)

The same restrictions to the IG Act that apply to the Defense Department are similarly operative for the Departments of the Treasury, Homeland Security, Justice, the U.S. Postal Service (!), the Federal Reserve Board, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Talk about veritable mountains of dirty laundry–and “black” programs–that can be hidden here!

Space-Based Spies

Among the items nestled within the dark arms of Pentagon war planners is a program called “Imagery Satellite Way Ahead,” a joint effort between “the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Defense designed to revamp the nation’s constellation of spy satellites,” Congressional Quarterly reports.

As Antifascist Calling revealed in several investigative pieces in June, October and November 2008, America’s fleet of military spy satellites are flown by the secretive National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

According to the agency’s own description, “The NRO is a joint organization engaged in the research and development, acquisition, launch and operation of overhead reconnaissance systems necessary to meet the needs of the Intelligence Community and of the Department of Defense. The NRO conducts other activities as directed by the Secretary of Defense and/or the Director of National Intelligence.”

As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock revealed in his essential book, Spies for Hire, some ninety-five percent of NRO employees are contractors working for defense and security firms. Indeed, as Shorrock disclosed, “with an estimated $8 billion annual budget, the largest in the IC, contractors control about $7 billion worth of business at the NRO, giving the spy satellite industry the distinction of being the most privatized part of the Intelligence Community.”

While the Office’s website is short on information, some of the “other activities” alluded to by NRO spooks include the Department of Homeland Security’s National Applications Office (NAO).

As I wrote in October, the NAO will coordinate how domestic law enforcement and “disaster relief” agencies such as FEMA use satellite imagery (IMINT) generated by spy satellites. But based on the available evidence, hard to come by since these programs are classified above top secret, the technological power of these military assets are truly terrifying–and toxic for a democracy.

DHS describes the National Applications Office as “the executive agent to facilitate the use of intelligence community technological assets for civil, homeland security and law enforcement purposes.” As Congressional Quarterly reveals, the “classified plan would include new, redesigned ‘electro-optical’ satellites, which collect data from across the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as the expanded use of commercial satellite imagery. Although the cost is secret, most estimates place it in the multibillion-dollar range.”

How these redesigned assets will be deployed hasn’t been announced. The more pertinent issue is whether or not DHS, reputedly a civilian agency but one which answers to the militarized Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), will position these assets to illegally spy on Americans. The available evidence is they will.

DHS avers that “homeland security and law enforcement will also benefit from access to Intelligence Community capabilities.” With Pentagon “black” programs already costing taxpayers tens of billions of dollars the question remains, with NAO as the “principal interface” between American spooks, DHS bureaucrats and law enforcement, who will oversee NAO’s “more robust access to needed remote sensing information to appropriate customers”?

Certainly not Congress. Investigative journalist Siobhan Gorman writing in The Wall Street Journal documented last year, that despite a highly-critical June 2008 study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Congress partially-funded the program “in a little debated $634 billion spending measure.”

Indeed, a fully-operational NAO now provides federal, state and local officials “with extensive access to spy-satellite imagery–but no eavesdropping–to assist with emergency response and other domestic-security needs, such as identifying where ports or border areas are vulnerable to terrorism.” But as CRS investigators wrote:

Members of Congress and outside groups have raised concerns that using satellites for law enforcement purposes may infringe on the privacy and Fourth Amendment rights of U.S. persons. Other commentators have questioned whether the proposed surveillance will violate the Posse Comitatus Act or other restrictions on military involvement in civilian law enforcement, or would otherwise exceed the statutory mandates of the agencies involved. (Richard A. Best Jr. and Jennifer K. Elsea, “Satellite Surveillance: Domestic Issues,” Congressional Research Service, June 27, 2008)

While these serious civil liberties’ issues have apparently been swept under the carpet, huge funding outlays by Congress for Pentagon’s “black” budget operations indicate that President Obama’s promises of “change” in how “government does business” is so much hot-air meant to placate the rubes.

Driven by a Corporatist Agenda

Wholesale spying by the American government on its citizens as numerous investigators have uncovered, is aided and abetted by a host of well-heeled corporate grifters in the defense, intelligence and security industries. These powerful, and influential, private players in the Military-Industrial-Security Complex are largely unaccountable; it can be said that America’s intelligence and security needs are driven by firms that benefit directly from the Pentagon’s penchant for secrecy.

Federal Computer Week reported in April that the program to revamp America’s spy satellites “has the backing of the Obama administration, and the program is expected to win congressional approval, according to a senior intelligence official.”

The same anonymous “senior official” told the publication, “given the backing of the Defense Department, ODNI and the Obama administration, lawmakers are expected to approve the plan.” And as with other “black” programs, the cost is classified but is expected to run into the billions; a veritable windfall for enterprising defense corporations.

The electro-optical satellite modernization program involves building new satellites that the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) would operate and expanding the use of imagery from commercial providers, according to a statement the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released April 7. Under the plan, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency would continue to integrate imagery products for government customers. (Ben Bain, “Spy satellite tally could increase,” Federal Computer Week, April 8, 2009)

While no decision has been reached on the “acquisition approach for the program,” ODNI and NRO “would oversee the acquisition strategy for the new government-built satellites and a contract would likely be awarded within months.”

In a toss-off statement to justify the enormous outlay of taxpayer dollars for the new initiative, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, said last month, “When it comes to supporting our military forces and the safety of Americans, we cannot afford any gaps in collection.” Or perhaps “any gaps in collection” on Americans. As Tim Shorrock revealed,

The plans to increase domestic spying are estimated to be worth billions of dollars in new business for the intelligence contractors. The market potential was on display in October at GEOINT 2007, the annual conference sponsored by the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), a non-profit organization funded by the largest contractors for the NGA. During the conference, which took place in October at the spacious Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio, many companies were displaying spying and surveillance tools that had been used in Afghanistan and Iraq and were now being re-branded for potential domestic use. (“Domestic Spying, Inc.,” CorpWatch, November 27, 2007)

Indeed, according to Shorrock when the NAO program was conceived in 2005, former ODNI director Michael McConnell “turned to Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Virginia–one of the largest contractors in the spy business. The company was tasked with studying how intelligence from spy satellites and photoreconnaissance planes could be better used domestically to track potential threats to security within the U.S.”

Tellingly, McConnell was a senior vice president with the spooky firm for a decade. Booz Allen Hamilton was acquired by the private equity firm The Carlyle Group in a 2008 deal worth $2.54 billion. In addition to Booz Allen Hamilton, other giant defense and security corporations involved in running Homeland Security’s National Applications Office include the scandal-tainted British firm BAE Systems, ManTech, Boeing and L-3 Communications.

Among the firms in the running to land ODNI/NRO new spy satellite contracts are: BAE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. All of these corporations according to the Project on Government Oversight’s (POGO) Federal Contractor Mismanagement Database (FCMD) have “histories of misconduct such as contract fraud and environmental, ethics, and labor violations.”

Unsurprisingly, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE and Northrop Grumman lead the pack in “total instances of misconduct” as well as fines levied by the federal government for abusive practices and outright fraud.


Unaccountable federal agencies and corporations will continue the capitalist “security” grift, particularly when it comes to “black” programs run by the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Despite a documented history of serious ethical and constitutional breeches, these programs will persist and expand well into the future. While the Obama administration has said it favors government transparency, it has continued to employ the opaque methods of its predecessors.

From the use of the state secrets privilege to conceal driftnet surveillance of Americans, to its refusal to launch an investigation–and prosecution–of Bush regime torture enablers and war criminals, the “change” administration instead, has delivered “more of the same.”

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His articles are published in many venues. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press. Read other articles by Tom, or visit Tom's website.

20 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. rg the lg said on May 13th, 2009 at 9:14am #

    Change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada …

    This sounds just like Bush!

    Change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada …

    And, the beat goes on. There was less than a dimes worth of difference between Obama and Bush … despite what the corporate socialists like Rush Limbaugh say … in fact more like a pennies worth of difference (but we’d still deserve change?)

    Change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada …

    The elites allowed Obama because he would allow them to say: ‘Look at the difference! Your votes mattered!’

    Change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada …

    The primary thrust of the American Empire has always been to protect the wealth of the elites … and the entire history of the ‘black’ budget we blithely ignore (being more interested in the entertainment industry) has been to destabilize those ‘evil’ others who did not toe the American Corporate line.

    Change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada … change … yada, yada, yada …

    And THAT is precisely what we deserve …

    RG the LG

  2. Dave Silver said on May 13th, 2009 at 3:41pm #

    Thanks for this Tom. It shows that the “Change” President is going further than the Bush regime in setting the groundwork for a police state
    in addition for more money for prisons and because he if far more intelligent and has greater skills in presenting his rhetoric therefor mor
    dangerous than his smaller brained predecessor.

  3. Suthiano said on May 13th, 2009 at 4:09pm #

    Mr change is a fucking satanist.

  4. Tom Burghardt said on May 13th, 2009 at 5:05pm #

    Thanks for all your comments, they’re appreciated!

    This just in… Obama is reversing himself on the release of Abu Ghraib torture photos. “Let’s look forward,” no need for accountability here!

  5. Suthiano said on May 13th, 2009 at 5:17pm #

    Tom, thanks for the update and the article. “Don’t look back” because you’ll see how many bodies you’ve left behind?

  6. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 13th, 2009 at 8:26pm #


    What’s with this far-right libertarian movement in the United States? Even Cindy Sheehan is embracing libertarianism. I was in the Cindy Sheehan site debating with some far-right wing conspiracy theory libertarian nut, and they said socialism is fascism because of USSR and Stalin. Why are so many people in the USA libertarian, who is brainwashing americans into choosing libertarianism and the anti-tax, militant terrorist group Te-Bag as a solution for America’s economic problems.

    I give up teaching the inane dumbfounded people of this country that socialism is the only viable alternative for America, because we have realist-scientific historical and present proofs that socialism can work at decreasing poverty-levels and preventing economic collapse (The best evidence is: Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, etc. etc.) those nations are not full-socialists yet but at least are moving further away from capitalist free market ideology.

    Libertarianism means more capitalism, and more capitalism can only lead to more concentration of wealth in the upper-classes, not democracy for the people and only socialism can provide a real democracy, not libertarianism.


  7. denk said on May 14th, 2009 at 1:50am #

    “what I really want to know is, is there a Ritz in Caracas, so the hacks on the gravy train can meet to overturn a democratically elected government at our expense? And this stuff happens because we let it happen. If we choose to be a nation of sheep, we have only ourselves to blame”

  8. Lloyd said on May 14th, 2009 at 6:09am #


    a think-piece

    Introduction. Information is power. In a society organized according to principles of rationality and justice, information will be universally available and widely diffused, permeating the social order with power. In a society organized according to capitalist principles, information will be concentrated in the hands of a ruling class and its agents, augmenting and even displacing the force required to maintain capitalist inequities. The burden of the following essay is to argue that differences in information – information differentials – are intrinsic to the capitalist mode of production; and that under free market capitalism this mode of production is reproduced in the post-investment redistribution of profits among corporations, itself largely determined by information differentials; and finally, that in America the corporate sector as a whole maintains its hegemony only by concealing from the public the most basic features of domestic politics, foreign affairs, and the system of criminal justice. In short, information differentials both define and critically conceal the distribution and exercise of power throughout the American political economy.

    Information and the Capitalist Mode of Production. According to Braverman the essence of the capitalist mode of production is its transformation of working humanity into an instrument of capital, a transformation achieved by the separation, within each labor process, of conception from execution. This separation has always characterized the capitalist mode of production and, with the advent of “Taylorism” or “Scientific Management” after 1890, was itself conceptualized and verbalized as a theory of management. Braverman describes the theory of “Scientific Management”:

    . . .the first principle (of Scientific Management) is the gathering and

    development of knowledge of labor processes(;) the second is the

    concentration of this knowledge as the exclusive province of

    management – together with its essential converse, the absence of

    such knowledge among workers – (;) the third is the use of this

    monopoly over knowledge to control each step of the labor process

    and its mode of execution. (1)

    “Scientific Management” is predicated on differences in knowledge about labor processes – information differentials. To the extent industries are managed “scientifically,” the role of unemployment in the disciplining of the labor force is subordinated to that of “Scientific Management.” And the scale and intensity of the exploitation of labor is increasingly determined by how effectively management monopolizes its “knowledge to control each step of the labor process and its mode of execution.”

    Information and the Redistribution of Capitalist Profits. The magnitude of the exploitation of labor under capitalism determines the initial distribution of capitalist profits. Under free market capitalism – still the predominant form of capitalism – this initial distribution is only temporary, however, because the dynamics of the accumulation process compel corporations intending to augment profits to invest the fruits of exploitation, most significantly in the financial markets and in technology. (2) And according to how successfully they are reinvested, corporate profits are redistributed. But how successfully corporate profits are reinvested in the financial markets and in technology, under free market capitalism, is a function of information differentials.

    Financial Information Differentials. A redistribution of corporate profits results whenever an event occurs having predictable consequences for the profits of corporations, if different investors learn of the event’s occurrence at different times. A most notorious example of the phenomenon was the Rothschilds’ killing on the London Stock Marked in 1815, made possible because they learned, some hours before the rest of England found out, that Napoleon had been defeated at Waterloo.

    Even better than knowing before other investors that an event has occurred is having prior knowledge that it will occur. Prior knowledge of the planned activities of corporations themselves constitutes the single greatest source of financial information differentials in America’s free market economy, and where not obtained by conspiracy, bribery, or coercion, such information is sought by corporate espionage. (3)

    Technological Information Differentials. A redistribution of profits results when any corporation increases, vis-a-vis competing corporations, the output of labor and materials by technological improvement. (4) Such improvements may be patented and so legally, though seldom for long effectively, protected from expropriation by other corporations. Patents are both licenses to profit from technological information differentials and schematizations of the differentials themselves. Because the latter feature renders patents so easily infringed, most technological improvements are not patented; they are protected by secrecy only.

    Free Enterprise. The capitalist economic system predicated upon the redistribution of corporate profits according to differentials in financial and technological information – “free market” capitalism – is commonly called the “free enterprise system.” In the American free enterprise system, corporate espionage does a greater volume of business yearly than the housing construction industry.

    Information and Corporate Power. Under modern free enterprise capitalism, profits are extracted from workers and then redistributed among corporations in processes predicated upon information differentials. These processes are sanctified by capitalist ideologues in the names of efficiency and private initiative, but their real significance lies in their providing “successful” paradigms for valuing outcomes predicated upon information differentials in the political sphere. In fact the power of the entire corporate sector in America is based on activities effectively concealed from the public.

    Three areas are critical to the maintenance of corporate power in America: domestic politics, foreign affairs, and the system of criminal justice. The salient feature of each of these areas of activity is its inaccessibility to public consciousness.

    Domestic Politics. The fundamental proposition underlying domestic politics in the United States is this: the free enterprise economy distributes national wealth, and it does so independently of the political system. The widespread acceptance of the validity and desirability of this proposition is critical to the hegemony of the corporate sector because its consequence is a depoliticized public – if politics is supplemental to the economic system, then politics has an inferior claim on the public’s attention – when political power is the only force capable of controlling the corporate sector.

    The fundamental proposition is only half-true, however. Indeed, the free enterprise economy distributes national wealth in America, but it does not accomplish this result independently of the political system. The main business of domestic politics in America is the maintenance of the free enterprise economy, and this requires continuous and substantial governmental expenditures. Without these expenditures the free enterprise economy would collapse. (5)

    That the free enterprise economy requires political underwriting for its survival and is not a self-sustaining, beneficent, efficient, and impersonal allocator of national wealth, is the great secret of domestic politics in America. If the secret were not kept from the overwhelming majority of Americans, they would realize that government is necessary rather than peripheral to their welfare, and they would become interested in domestic politics, to the inevitable detriment of corporate power. To maintain the secret, corporate interests have kept domestic politics effectively closed to public consciousness.

    Consequential governmental proceedings have always been conducted in complete secrecy in the United States, in “executive session.” [And virtually all governmental proceedings are effectively secret, due to the exclusion of live television from their coverage. This ban on live television coverage of even inconsequential governmental proceedings is justified as necessary to protect “the integrity of the deliberative process;” it is also justified on the grounds that live television coverage would be biased toward the politics and politicians favored by television program directors. But beneath these excuses resides an awareness in the minds of corporate politicians that opening up inconsequential governmental proceedings to live television coverage could lead to a demand for similar coverage of consequential government proceedings; and this would result in a political education of the public of such proportions as to threaten the continuance of the primary domestic political activity itself – the maintenance of the free enterprise economy.(6)]

    Foreign Affairs. If the insulation of domestic politics from public consciousness is both necessary to and validated by the myth in America that business is what matters and politics is too unimportant for public attention, the insulation of foreign politics (foreign affairs) from public consciousness is both necessary to and validated by the myth that they are too important for public attention. According to the strong version of the latter myth, public influence upon foreign relations is pernicious, a thesis which pervaded the American foreign policy establishment long before Walter Lipmann concluded, at the high tide of the cold war, that it was jingoistic public opinion in England in 1914 and pacifistic public opinion in the 1930’s that brought about the world wars. (7) A similarly blatant expression of the anti-democratic attitude shared by American foreign policymakers – an attitude so common it is almost always assumed rather than elaborated upon – was Henry Kissinger’s justification of secret Egyptian-Israeli negotiations in 1977 on the grounds that secrecy permits negotiators to be more flexible and not locked into positions their constituencies support.

    Such anti-democratic attitudes derive mainly from the fundamentally anti-democratic foreign policy which American foreign policymakers pursue. Hence the broadening of the class origins of the foreign policy establishment from a narrow Eastern elite before World War II to a diversified national group – corresponding as it did with America’s attempt to consolidate a global corporate imperium – had no democratizing effects. And the essential activities required to maintain America’s global corporate hegemony – the systematic force, bribery and manipulation that have come to be subsumed under the heading “covert CIA activities” – are kept secret not primarily because otherwise the American public might disapprove of them, but because revealed in the victimized countries they would lose much of their effectiveness.

    That secrecy is righteously and routinely justified by American foreign policy-makers as necessary to the conduct of foreign affairs should be appalling. That the justification is swallowed whole by the American public simply demonstrates the effects upon the public of forty years of foreign policy being formulated and carried out in the shadows. In the words of Adam Yarmolinsky, “There are surprisingly few operationally significant questions for the policymaker as to which any public opinion, in my view, exists at all.” (8)

    Secrecy in the formulation and conduct of American foreign policy – necessary to its ends and reflecting the deep-seated anti-democratic biases of foreign policymakers – has rendered the public inert and thereby given American foreign policy great stability and a probably even greater appearance of stability. It has also done more. Secrecy has played a further critical role in the selling of particular foreign policies, enabling policymakers to describe foreign situations in ways at variance with reality in order to command support for specific, usually military, policy options. This bludgeoning function of secret foreign intelligence may be beginning to come under the scrutiny of scholars of American history. (9)

    The System of Criminal Justice. Trials of persons accused of violating the criminal law are public in the United States, but the trial stage is the only part of the system of criminal justice that is public. Secrecy is justified in pretrial stages – the investigative and indictment stages – to protect police “informant systems” and to insure defendants “a fair trial.” The questionable primacy of the first justification and validity of the second aside, the main result of pretrial secrecy in the system of criminal justice is the concealment of illegitimate police activities – the infiltration and harassment that comprise the initial measures of political repression. Secrecy is justified in the post-trial stage – the incarceration state – by “custodial considerations;” convicted criminals, and indicted persons who cannot post bail, lose their right to free speech. The result is capital punishment without public cognizance, the final measure of political repression.

    Consequently, only a tiny fraction of the system of criminal justice is public in the United States, and only a tiny fraction of the whole is non-violent and non-abusive. And the contours of the American war on political dissidents remain effectively veiled.

    The Myth of the Open Society: Secrecy and the Newspress. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Upon the newspress falls the responsibility of sustaining the myth that the United States’ political economy is fundamentally open, with pockets of secrecy, rather than fundamentally defined by information differentials, with apertures of openness. But in fact the newpress is required by law, directly or indirectly, to respect all of the political eoconomy’s major concealments. These laws enact the least cumbersome form of censorship – prior exclusion – and deny the newpress access to four areas of conflict whose exposure would drastically undermine corporate power vis-a-vis the rest of American society. These four areas, with the paramount interests said to justify the exclusion of the newspress from each, are:

    · Labor processes and corporate business practices (proprietary information).

    · The system of criminal justice (integrity of police procedures, fair trial and custodial considerations),

    · Domestic governmental proceedings (integrity of the deliberative process).

    · Foreign affairs (national security)

    In addition to its legal exclusion from forbidden areas, because the newspress’ profits depend on the profits of its corporate advertisers, it has a financial interest in self-censoring reportage that would lessen its advertisers’ profits. Since coverage of forbidden areas would undermine corporate power and wealth, the newspress does not provide such coverage.

    Non-coverage of forbidden areas by the newspress is explained then, by three factors: (1) the power of the dominant participants to legally exclude the newspress; (2) the newspress’ financial interest in not undermining advertising revenue; and (3) the newspress’ acceptance of both the pre-eminence of the paramount interests justifying non-coverage and the incompatibility of those interest with coverage. What coverage of forbidden areas there is requires espionage and betrayal. But it should not be surprising that the newspress is required to resort to these methods to pierce the pervasive and doctrinal secrecy surrounding consequential governmental and corporate activities; in such cases, the ends define the means.

    Credibility in Crisis? If the resiliency of American politics reflects a capacity to define issues having structural causes by construing them as questions of personalities, the Pentagon Papers and Watergate cases are perfect examples of the process at work. The villains of both pieces have been almost universally identified as particular politicians who lied, rather than a secrecy system that makes such lying inevitable because profitable. So reform assumes the character of a “post-Watergate mentality”, and a new President declares “I will never lie to you.”

    “Credibility,” of course, is a personal trait; and the credibility gap is simply the most recent and egregious testament to the enduring strength of the myth of the open society. Since all lies, except those referring to states of mind, are predicated upon objectively discernable differences in information, the credibility gap has always rested upon “information gaps.” Much else also rests thereupon.


    1. Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital (New York, 1974), p 119. Italics in the original. Braverman also writes: “A comprehensive and detailed outline of the principles of (Scientific Management) is essential. . .because. . .(they are). . .nothing less than the explicit verbalization of the capitalist mode of production.” Ibid., p 86.

    2. “Free market” capitalism refers to the form of capitalism characterized by markets in which profits are distributed relatively free of governmental direction. (“Fascism” is the form of capitalism characterized by governmentally mandated profit distribution. “Free market” and “fascist” capitalism are end points on a spectrum, of course, to which no existing capitalist system fully corresponds.)

    3. A not insubstantial fraction of the redistribution of corporate profits through financial markets is random. See Lester C. Thurow, “Tax Wealth, Not Income,” in The New York Times Magazine (April 11, 1973). To the extent it is not random (which is what is of interest to rational investors), the redistribution is largely determined by information differentials.

    4. By means of the price mechanism in a price competitive environment, or by means of increased promotional efforts otherwise, profits are redistributed from corporations which have not adopted improved production techniques to corporations which have.

    5. The acceptance by the business sector in America of the fact that public investment must supplement private investment, in order for the economy not to stagnate, constitutes the essence of the “Keynesian Revolution.” That public investment is not justified as maintaining the free enterprise economy – but rather as necessary to national defense, public transportation, health, welfare, etc. — in no way alters its maintenance effects or the fact that such effects are understood and accepted by the business sector.

    6. Possibly still intoxicated by the television coverage of Watergate, here I obviously underestimated the powers of legislators to limit television’s coverage of legislative proceedings to only those of symbolic significance. (Footnote added in 1995.)

    7. Walter Lippmann, The Public Philosophy (Little, Brown & Company, 1955). For an even more telling source of the cold warrior thesis that public pacifism in England let to World War II, see John Kennedy, Why England Slept (Funk & Wagnalls, 1961).

    8. Quoted in Bernard C. Cohen, The Public’s Impact on Foreign Policy (Little, Brown & Company, 1973), P 82. An excellent book limited to non-military aspects of foreign policy; its conclusions belie its title.

    9. Richard W. Steele, “Franklin D. Roosevelt and His Foreign Policy Critics,” in Political Science Quarterly Spring, 1979), 15. Also see the book reviews by Barton Bernstein in recent issues of Inquiry magazine.

  9. bozh said on May 14th, 2009 at 6:34am #

    in short, knowledge is our greatest wealth. It is probably possessed by a minority of people; let’s say, 5% of the pop.
    selling, advertising, inventions, disinformation, etc., are part of the knowledge.
    it is withheld from probably 90+% of people. And because of that vast numbers of people are enserfed.
    i think that lloyd’s piece is illuminating and points out that it is counterproductive to blame the victims for their socalled ignorance, laziness, etc. tx

  10. Lloyd said on May 14th, 2009 at 7:00am #

    thank you, bozh. the piece is also at my LiveJournal site, Yourdad65, where the editing is superior to that available in DV’s comments, but the substantive points are all the same.

  11. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 14th, 2009 at 12:18pm #

    lloyd: Life in USA is too exhausting which blocks most people from leaving time for motivation for book-reading

  12. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 14th, 2009 at 12:26pm #

    What Can we Know?


    “Life is no argument. Amongst the conditions of life, error might be one.”

    Much of Nietzsche’s writing is a sustained attack on the concept that there exists an objective world structure beyond that which is perceived by man. “The apparent world is the only one: the “real world” is a lie.” Were we able to subtract our “interpretations”, there would be no underlying reality revealed. There is no underlying and objective reality. Nietzsche urges us to abandon faith in a deeper reality in favour of a common sense acceptance of the world as our senses perceive it to be. “We have arranged for ourselves a world in which we can live – with the acceptance of bodies, lines, surfaces, causes and effects, motion and rest, form and content. Without these articles of faith no one now would be able to live.” Mind you, this common sense view of the world simply provides us with a perspective whereby we can interact with the world. It “by no means constitutes a proof”. There is no such thing as a correct view. This goes beyond relativism to an extreme of nihilism, but in the lack of certain truth, Nietzsche sees freedom and the opportunity to create truths.

    (“Twighlight of the Idols” Ch.3 Aphorism 2)
    (“The Gay Science Aphorism” 121)


    Philosophers will no longer seek to be the “unriddlers” of the world, seeking solutions for all mankind. Philosophic systems are “mirages” promising but never delivering the draught of the water of life. The new philosophers will not be dogmatists, their truth will not be the truth of everyman. They will be “creators of values”, but for themselves alone.

    “Actual philosophers … are commanders and law givers : they say “thus it shall be!”, it is they who determine the Wherefore and Whither of mankind, and they possess for this task the preliminary work of all the philosophical labourers, of all those who have subdued the past – they reach for the future with creative hand, and everything that is or has been becomes for them a means, an instrument, a hammer. Their “knowing” is creating their creating is lawgiving, their will to truth is – will to power . – Are there such philosophers? Must there not be such philosophers?”

    (“Beyond Good and Evil” , 211)

  13. Suthiano said on May 14th, 2009 at 4:25pm #

    If you’re into philosophy I’d suggest that you read some of Wittgenstein’s Philosophical Investigations.

    “When we do philosophy we are like savages, primitive people, who hear the expressions of civilized men, put a false interpretation on them, and then draw the queerest conclusions”.

  14. Lloyd said on May 14th, 2009 at 4:47pm #

    I have to agree with Suthiano, Tennessee. And go a step further, and agree with Karl Popper. Philosophy is being perplexed by using words in strange ways (“How can there be ‘nothing’ between two stars?”); moreover, philosophy belongs to a realm of inquiry that is distinct from the realm of objectively disprovable knowledge.

  15. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 14th, 2009 at 7:50pm #



    Thu May 14, 7:00 pm ET
    WASHINGTON – Despite Democrats’ rising anxiety about Afghanistan, the House on Thursday easily passed a $96.7 billion measure filling President Barack Obama’s request for war spending and foreign aid efforts there and in Iraq.

    Some 51 Democrats broke with Obama, who is sending thousands more troops into Afghanistan, but all but a handful of Republicans stood behind the president to produce a 368-60 tally. Republicans supported the measure even though majority Democrats added almost $12 billion to Obama’s $85 billion request.

    The measure would boost total funding provided by Congress for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars above $900 billion.

    Across Capitol Hill, a key Senate committee approved a companion $91.3 billion bill that sticks closely to Obama’s war request — including $50 million for the Pentagon to begin the promised closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    The issue of closing Guantanamo is addressed in the House measure as well — not with funding but with a promise that detainees from the prison will not be released on U.S. soil. A new provision, however, anticipates some of the 241 detainees at Guantanamo will be transferred to the United States to stand trial or serve their sentences.

    A separate conflict over the war-funding measure concerns whether it should provide a $108 billion U.S. contribution to the International Monetary Fund as part of an expanded $500 billion IMF loan fund, a cornerstone of last month’s Group of 20 nations summit in London to assist poor countries struggling through the global economic downturn.

    Obama officially requested the IMF funding late Tuesday, and the request was immediately incorporated into the Senate version by Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. The IMF funds would cost U.S. taxpayers about $5 billion since the government is issued interest-bearing assets in return for the contribution.

    House Republicans oppose adding the IMF funds to the war-funding measure, and their votes will be needed to pass the final House-Senate compromise bill, given the opposition of anti-war Democrats.

    As for the military spending, during the Bush administration many Democrats stressed their opposition to the war in Iraq while supporting efforts against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan. But an increasing number of party liberals are skeptical of success in Afghanistan.

    Chief among them is Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., author of the House legislation as chairman of the Appropriations Committee. But for now he’s giving Obama a chance to demonstrate greater progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    “This is a bill that I have very little confidence in,” Obey said. “I think we have a responsibility to give a new president — who did not get us into this mess — the best possible opportunity to get out of it.”

    Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., is opposing the infusion of war funds. He’s not impressed with Obama’s plans on Afghanistan.

    “Sometimes great presidents make mistakes, and sometimes great presidents make even great mistakes. I hope that doesn’t happen here,” McGovern said. “As the mission has grown bigger, the policy has grown even more vague.”

    Both the House and Senate measures largely follow Obama’s military request for the wars. But the House version adds $11.8 billion, including almost $4 billion for new weapons and military equipment such as cargo planes, mine-resistant vehicles, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and Stryker armored vehicles. The measure also adds $2.2 billion to Obama’s request for foreign aid — much of which appears to be designed to get around spending limits for 2010.

    The $91.3 billion Senate measure includes Obama’s $1.5 billion emergency request to fight a potential flu pandemic, while the House would add about $500 million to the request — even as the recent swine flu scare appears to be abating.

    On Guantanamo, the Senate measure includes $50 million to begin closing the prison but directs that it can’t be used to transfer any of the detainees into the United States. The House bill, which does not include such money, sets a policy forbidding release of Guantanamo detainees within the United States. It would allow them to be shipped to the U.S. to stand trial or to serve their sentences.

    The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted unanimously in favor of its version of the spending bill.

    Most of that money, about $73 billion, would go to the Defense Department to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the extra 21,000 troops being sent to Afghanistan.

    The measure is $1.3 billion more than the president requested, much of which was absorbed by $489 million sought by Mississippi Republicans Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker to restore barrier islands along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and restore ecosystems such as salt marshes to protect the coast.

    Despite the panel’s unanimous endorsement, several Republicans said they plan to try to amend the bill to strip out $50 million included in the measure to close Guantanamo.

    “It is misguided to close a facility housing terrorists when there is no plan,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

  16. Lloyd said on May 14th, 2009 at 8:22pm #

    Do people really get away with this Tennessee-changing-the-subject totally-ranting-shit at Dissident Voice? I’m beginning to think there are justifications for the censorship imposed on comments at OpEdNews.

  17. Suthiano said on May 14th, 2009 at 10:22pm #

    there is censorship at DV. Sometimes my posts face “Awaiting moderation” delays. sometimes posts are edited and or deleted.

  18. Tennessee-Chavizta said on May 15th, 2009 at 7:20am #

    Lloyd: Oped News, The Nation Magazine, The Huffington Post and Commondreams are zionist, capitalist social-democrat “Third way” news websites and forums. Not revolutionary-socialists. That’s why they ban you if you speak against the capitalism system and against Israel in those elitist liberal Democrat Party websites.


  19. Lloyd said on May 15th, 2009 at 5:15pm #

    You got a point there, Tenn. But it has damn little to do with secrecy, and goddamit, I’m proud to have written “The Political Economy of Secrecy” over 30 years ago. And the only real change since 2001 and The Chipmunk has been their refinement of the practice of “effective secrecy” – you know, politicians and the military not giving a flying fuck what gets discovered if it’s no longer possible to reverse the consequences of their secrecy.

  20. mary said on May 18th, 2009 at 3:45am #

    There is a huge mismatch between the vast amounts of expenditure on defence (ie war) and intelligence outlined in this article and Martin Weiss’s summary of the state of the US finances. I would suggest that unsustainability is the watchword.

    Where the US goes, the UK and Europe surely follow yet there is little or no comment in the UK MSM on this. We are only being given the ‘green shoots of recovery’ rot and hype about rising house prices.