The Cloak of Secrecy – WIF Government Confidential

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Leaked or Declassified

Government Secrets

We were going to put together a list of “things the government could be hiding from you,” as a kind of sober take on some of the more plausible conspiracy theories. But, having already done a list of things they actually hid from us, it would have been an underwhelming follow-up.

And for no good reason! There are plenty more disturbing and/or bizarre secrets our governments would have preferred to keep quiet.

10. Project Horizon

Back in the late 1950s, the US was lagging behind in the space race. In 1957, for example, the Soviets launched Sputnik—the first manmade satellite—into orbit, and Eisenhower’s America was crestfallen. Of course, it didn’t help that many now saw the US as basically defenseless against a Russian nuclear strike.

Their response? They made plans to fire a nuke at the moon.

It’s easy to see this as a kind of geopolitical temper tantrum, a toddler throwing his toys at the wall, but for the Air Force it was a “P.R. device.” Above all, it was a way “to impress the world with the prowess of the United States.” The flash of the detonation would be visible from Earth, said the experts, and, because of the negligible lunar atmosphere, the dust would fly off in all directions (as opposed to the usual mushroom cloud shape). It would also leave a gaping lunar crater, forever changing the face of the Moon.

Ultimately, the plan was shelved. But only when they came up with a “better” one. Documents declassified in 2014 revealed plans to build a base on the Moon. Outpost Horizon was to be a permanent, nuclear-powered, and completely self-sustaining installation, constructed by its inhabitants beneath the lunar surface. It would have air locks, living quarters, dining and rec rooms, a hospital, science labs and storage for explosives. It was, in other words, dangerously ahead of its time.

The 12 men expected to live up there by 1965 were to drink their own urine, grow plants in their poop, and look after chickens and fish. And, if anyone lost their mind, there was a solitary confinement room “for the complete isolation of psychiatric patients.”

The plan was finally abandoned when NASA took over the space program.

9. Acoustic Kitty

From missile-guiding pigeons to mine-detecting dolphins, animals have long been co-opted for war. As retrograde as it sounds now, behavioral conditioning to this end was at the forefront of  of military research back in the 1960s.

The I.Q. Zoo in Hot Springs, Arkansas was basically a front for such studies. On the one hand, it was a quirky visitor attraction—a place for the public to watch pigs playing the piano, chickens playing baseball, macaws riding bicycles, and reindeer operating a printing press (etc.). But on the other, it was a top secret facility for training animal spies—bug-planting ravens, mine-locating dogs, and the so-called Acoustic Kitty.

The idea for the latter was hatched while visually surveilling a target. Since cats could be seen freely wandering in and out of the target’s strategy sessions, the CIA thought of bugging one to listen in. But simply attaching a microphone wouldn’t do. Instead, researchers transformed a living cat into a $20 million radio transmitter. They ran a wire through the ear canal to instruments inside the rib cage and spiraled a super-thin antenna around the kitty’s tail. Using ultrasound cues, they could also direct the cat’s movements left, right, and straight on.

We don’t know if it was ever deployed. The fate of the project is murky. Some say the Acoustic Kitty was flattened by a taxi just seconds into its very first field test. Others say the implants were removed and the kitty lived a long and happy life. The CIA refuses to comment, although one declassified document does appear to suggest the impractical project was canceled.

Anyway, now that we can eavesdrop with lasers, it’s likely to be a thing of the past.

8. Mapimí Silent Zone

Usually when a country fires upon another, it’s considered an act of war. But America’s long-suffering neighbor to the south has been known to let it slide. On July 11, 1970, an ATHENA V-123-D rocket was fired at New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range, but it overshot the target and landed near old Mexico’s Bolsón de Mapimí instead—an important ecosystem 200 miles south of the border.

The clean-up operation (with the help of the Mexicans) was huge, requiring a brand new road just to get vehicles to the blast zone. Hundreds of tons of cobalt-57-contaminated soil were removed, the radioactive isotope having been added to the bomb to maximize fallout and civilian casualties.

Fortunately, the site had few if any humans. But the bomb could have hit just about anywhere. In a memo sent to Nixon, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger made it out to be an unforeseen blunder—attributable to the missile’s “abnormal re-entry into the atmosphere.” However, the ATHENA program had already been suspended in July 1968 following three consecutive flight failures. And funding had been slashed between 1966 and 1969, forcing the Air Force to cut corners with design. Although officials involved in the program expressed safety concerns, they presumptuously reasoned that “the public is willing to accept some risk if such tests appear necessary in the national interest.”Far from an unforeseen blunder, the military allowed for such incidents; it expected them.

Nowadays, the blast site is known as the Mapimí Silent Zone, or sometimes as the “Mexican Bermuda Triangle.” And it may be no coincidence that its renown as a UFO hotspot outweighs any memory of American hubris.

7. 1968 Thule Air Base B-52 crash

In our last list on this topic, we mentioned the 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash, a potentially apocalyptic “nuclear mishap” that you would’ve thought America had learned from. Unfortunately not. Almost seven years later to the day, on January 21, 1968, another nuclear-armed bomber hit the dust (or snow, as it happens), this time on overseas territory.

The aircraft has been circling Thule Air Base in northern Greenland as part of Operation Chrome Dome. (These missions kept bombers on continuous airborne alert between 1960 and 1968, each of them on standby to go and annihilate Moscow.) When a fire broke out in the navigator’s compartment, however, the plane lost electrical power and slammed into the ground just seven miles away from the base. Actually, it slammed through the ground, blasting through the ice into North Star Bay at a speed of 500 knots. Six of the crew of seven ejected and the aircraft was destroyed upon impact. Whatever was left was consumed by the fires of 200,000 pounds of jet fuel. The casings of its four 1.1-megaton H-bombs were also destroyed, scattering tiny fragments of highly radioactive tritium and plutonium across the crash site.

A major clean-up operation followed, involving scientists from Denmark and more than 70 federal agencies. And, while the major general in charge downplayed the extent of contamination, framing the incident as an “exciting” and “classic example of international cooperation,” many of those involved suffered ailments later on. Over the subsequent decades, hundreds of them contracted cancers and, of 500 Danes studied, only 20 were able to have children—several of which were born with deformities.

The US didn’t even have express permission to be flying nukes over Danish territory—much less deploying them on the ground (as documents declassified in the ’90s show they did).

But did the Air Force finally learn its lesson?

Kind of. Nuclear weapons were removed from all planes on airborne alert in the immediate aftermath of the incident. After all, it wasn’t just Goldsboro and Thule; there had been eight other nuclear-armed crashes. More recently, however, there has been talk of a return to Chrome Dome-style strategy.

6. 1953 Iranian coup d’état

Historically, the US and UK have controlled oil supplies in the Middle East. The Arabian-American Oil Company owned Saudi Arabia’s and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now BP) owned Iran’s. But all that changed in 1950.

When the US finally gave in to pressure to start sharing revenue with the locals, Iran expected Britain to follow suit. And when it didn’t, the Iranian PM Mohammad Mossadegh simply nationalized his country’s oil industry—depriving the UK of any share and securing (or so he thought) crucial funding for his program of liberal reforms.

In response, Britain conspired with the US to overthrow Mossadegh—the closest Iran has ever come to a truly democratic and socialist leader, and one who intended to abolish the monarchy. Although he saw the first attack coming and arrested those involved, the coup against him was ultimately successful. The status quo was restored and BP got a share of the oil. But such blatant interference by the US and UK earned them the nickname “the Great Satan.” And their 1953 coup d’état paved the way for the 1979 Islamic Revolution—the devastating transformation of a once progressive nation into the fundamentalist nightmare we see today.

5. British Governmental Pedophiles

In November 2014, London’s Metropolitan Police finally agreed to investigate historical claims of child sex abuse at the highest levels of government (and, more famously, in the media). These claims are mostly concentrated on the 1970s and ’80s—at a time when senior police officers and politicians, including Margaret Thatcher, are alleged to have blocked all inquiries. But the evidence has piled up in the shadows.

According to a prominent Member of Parliament (MP) in 2012, there is “clear intelligence suggesting a powerful paedophile network linked to parliament and No 10.”Indeed, one senior lawyer claims to have seen records of government funding for the Paedophile Information Exchange—a pro-pedophile activist group—during the 1970s.

Allegations from the victims are even more harrowing. Survivors claim to have been trafficked via care homes into violent orgies with high-ranking defense and intelligence officials, MPs, and others within the British establishment. Even former Prime Minister Ted Heath has been implicated. Allegedly a number of children were killed. One twelve-year-old boy was raped and strangled by a Conservative MP, says a witness, and another boy, a ten-year-old, was deliberately run over by a car. This was apparently a display of his rapist’s legal immunity.

Of course, much of this has yet to be proven. But declassified documents do suggest that investigations were blocked. And, while the Metropolitan Police have attempted to dismiss the claims, the Crown Prosecution Service admitted in 2015 there was enough evidence to prosecute at least one of the accused: Lord Greville Janner. But they refused to do so. Citing his “severe dementia” and advanced age of 86, they argued that it wouldn’t be “in the public interest.” This is ironic given that Janner himself had, back in 1997, criticized the British justice system for letting a similarly demented 86-year-old Nazi war criminal off the hook, fuming “I don’t care what bloody age they are.”

Janner died in 2015 and the public hearing for allegations against him has been scheduled for 2020Other investigations into British establishment pedophiles are ongoing.

4. JTRIG/HSOC

In August 2013, Brazilian journalist David Miranda was detained in the UK “under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.” But he wasn’t suspected of terrorism. What security officials really wanted to know was how much he knew about British surveillance programs, as well as those of the NSA. Furthermore, by imposing the full nine hours’ detention afforded them under the Terrorism Act, they hoped to send a warning to his husband, the British journalist Glenn Greenwald.

It didn’t work. Hours later, Greenwald released a statement of outraged defiance via the Guardian’s website, knowing that GCHQ (Britain’s state surveillance agency) would probably see it within minutes. The following year, he won the Public Service Pulitzer for bringing Edward Snowden’s NSA/Five Eyes (FVEY) revelations to light.

Thanks to Greenwald, Miranda, and of course Snowden among others, most of us are by now at least dimly aware that our governments are spying on us all. But their fear of the internet, and hence their need to control it, goes deeper than mass surveillance.

The Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) is a unit within GCHQ whose aim it is to sow discord and disinfo online. It seeks to influence or “game” online interactions (e.g. forums, comments sections) by applying theories of compliance and trust. In other words, it employs an army of trolls. Its partner-in-crime is the Human Science Operations Cell (HSOC), whose agents apparently refer to themselves as “magicians of persuasion.”

Unnervingly, JTRIG also targets individuals. But these targets needn’t be criminals or “terrorists.” Investigative journalists, political activists, and other inconvenient civilian subtypes—who, by virtue of their legal innocence, are rightly out of reach for law enforcement—can find their reputations and livelihoods suddenly destroyed by vicious rumors spread online or sent to their smartphone contacts.

As far as we know this happens all the time. And not just in Britain. These tactics are shared between each of the Five Eyes surveillance states: the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

3. Project MKUltra

During the 1950s and ’60s, LSD was revolutionizing psychotherapy (just as it probably will again). Hollywood stars like Cary Grant and Esther Williams attributed life-changing revelations, the overcoming of addictions, and the processing of childhood trauma to LSD-assisted therapy. Breakthroughs expected to take years were happening within a few hours. As Grant put it in an interview with Look magazine in 1959: “At last, I am close to happiness.”

But the CIA was more interested in weaponizing the psychedelic. Documents declassified in 1975 revealed a 20-year-long (1953-1973) human experimentation project, exploring, among other things, whether LSD could be used for mind control. Specifically, they wanted to be able to program people to carry out missions—or, as the CIA put it, “do our bidding”—against their will and without any regard for survival. Only rarely did participants consent, and even then they weren’t fully informed.

Electroshock, sensory deprivation, and neurosurgery were also explored, and those subjected to the tests included prisoners, medical professionals, cancer patients, prostituteschildren, and animals. In the 1960s, for instance, the CIA “successfully” made remote-controlled dogs.

Of course, it’s hardly possible to go into much detail here—not least because CIA Director Richard Helms burned most of the records back in 1973. And the fact that “only” 20,000 documents remain, as a fraction of the original archive, gives a sense of its overall scale. But what’s interesting is that MKUltra began the very same year that America adopted the Nuremberg Code. This international standard for research ethics emphasized the necessity for informed consent and was expressly worded to prevent any repeat of Nazi-style human experimentation.

2. Operation Cauldron

During the Cold War, the British were taught to fear the Soviets. But their own government was more of a threat. Between 1953 and 1964, the UK’s chemical/biological warfare research unit, Porton Down, released 4,600 kilos of zinc cadmium sulphide—a potential carcinogen—from aircraft, ships, and trucks onto civilian populations in Wiltshire, Bedfordshire, and Norfolk. Then in 1964 they released Bacillus globigii—linked to food poisoning, eye infections, and sepsis—into the London Underground. They wanted to see how rapidly it spread through the Tube network.

Some might say the scientists weren’t aware of the risks, that in those days the research was lacking. But a number of them had “grave misgivings” about conducting the field trials. And none of them could have been in any doubt whatsoever as to the toxicity of Pasteurella [Yersiniapestis (the Black Death or bubonic plague), which they released off the coast of Scotland in 1952. This test staked the lives of thousands of Hebridean islanders on the plague being blown out to sea, and on the wind not simply changing direction. That was irresponsible enough. But when a fishing vessel unexpectedly appeared and passed through the cloud of live bacteria, the government’s response was even more disturbing. Instead of alerting and quarantining the trawler, they allowed it to dock on the mainland. In other words, Churchill’s post-war government was more prepared to risk an outbreak of plague than to come clean about having released it.

As it turned out, the fishermen hadn’t caught the Black Death. But they had been affected by a number of other agents leaking from the tanker that spread it. This led to hair loss for at least one of them.

The government didn’t learn from the test. After burning all but one of the documents pertaining to it, they simply relocated their research overseas. Churchill personally approved a plan to test bio-weapons in the colonies instead. Bahamians were subjected to encephalomyelitis (a cause of fever, fatigue, and even death) and Nigerians were subjected to nerve gas. More than 14,000 British troops were also experimented on between 1945 and 1989.

The British military is now thought to have carried out more than 30,000 secret tests—and largely done away with the evidence.

1. Operation Gladio

After WWII, with the threat of Soviet expansion looming, the US/UK-led NATO set up a network of secret armies throughout Europe. Modeled on the guerrilla resistance movements of the war years, these groups were totally unaccountable to citizens and often unknown to governments. In fact, it wasn’t until 1990 that European Parliament formally exposed and objected to their existence.

Their job was to undermine the Communists at all costs—and to keep doing so even if the Communists won. However, the Communists weren’t all that disliked. The Italian Communist Party, for instance, was a valued part of the mainstream—despite US efforts to destroy it. If Operation Gladio was to uphold Capitalism in Europe, therefore, it had to make people hate Communism. And it had to recruit the only people who hated it enough in the first place: Nazis.

NATO’s illegal foot soldiers carried out terrorist attacks across the continent and blamed them on the USSR. Civilians, including children, were brutally murdered at random, including at the 1980 Oktoberfest in Munich. It had to be at random and it had to involve children so that nobody nowhere felt safe. Eventually, NATO assumed, everyone would be so afraid of the Commies they would eagerly support previously unthinkable infringements of their hard-won civil liberties (such as mass surveillance).

It was unusual for the perpetrators to survive these attacks, or if they did they’d be unavailable for questioning. However, in 1984, the neo-Fascist Gladio operative Vincenzo Vinciguerra was brought to trial for a car bomb 12 years earlier. He freely admitted his guilt but said he was under the protection of NATO, and furthermore that he was one of many operatives. Among the few people to actually believe him was the Italian judge Felice Casson, whose subsequent digging around revealed NATO’s “strategy of tension.” This involved the execution of false-flag terror attacks to blame on fabricated enemies, paralyzing the masses with fear to manufacture consent for just about anything: mass surveillance, foreign wars, whatever.

This “strategy of tension” was also behind Operation Northwoods (mentioned in the previous list). And there’s absolutely no reason to believe it’s been taken off the table today. The “enemies” have simply changed.


The Cloak of Secrecy –

WIF Government Confidential

Spy vs Spy vs Spy – WIF Did You Know?

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Powerful

Intelligence Agencies

Around the World

The human desire to stir things up and uncover secrets is so innate and part of our DNA that of course mankind decided to create entire organizations with that single purpose. Truth be told, it’s a good thing they exist; these agencies have derailed countless plots to do their home countries harm. But we’re also fascinated by the more sinister, clandestine activities they conduct. Here’s a history of spy outfits from around the globe… 

10. Mossad (Israel)

Formed just after the dust settled from World War II, Israel’s foreign intelligence gathering organization was initially called the Institute for Coordination. Things did not get off to a great start for the intelligence agency: it took a year just to get organized enough to be functional, and immediately after that, bungled operations led to several of its officers being arrested. It was when Isser Harel took over Mossad in 1952 that it really found its footing. In 1960, Mossad carried out the South American mission that captured notorious Nazi-on-the-run Adolf Eichmann.

But Mossad’s claim to history came after the tragic hostage situation that arose during the Munich Olympics in 1972. Israeli athletes at the Games were massacred, and the events were broadcast live on TV for the world to see. Mossad discovered the Arab terrorists responsible and carried out a brutal series of executions that were depicted in Steven Spielberg’s movie Munich. Oh, and if you doubt the brute power that Mossad wielded, the name of the mission to hunt down the terrorists was dubbed “Operation Wrath of God.”

9. CIA (United States)

You didn’t think you’d get very far into clandestine intelligence agencies without this one, did you? Officially founded in 1947, and with President Eisenhower’s building up in the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency, run from Langley, Virginia, has been in most of the greatest hits of espionage history.

The Bay of Pigs event in Cuba was a landmark happening during the Cold War-era 1960s. The CIA supported Cuban exiles who were to overthrow Fidel Castro’s communist regime. It failed miserably. Just after that botched coup, the CIA somewhat redeemed itself by using then-state-of-the-art technology to discover Russian nukes nearby.

The CIA did considerable work during the Vietnam War, as well. They undertook Project Tiger, which dropped South Vietnam fighters into the north to gather intelligence. Also during this time, however, were the operations known as the “Family Jewels.” These covert ops were usually illegal, ranging from illegal surveillance to straight up murder of foreign officials. Since then, things have been a little less rambunctious, though they did have some part in the Iran Contra debacle of the 1980s, as well as some responsibility for failure to take terrorist attacks in the US seriously, pre-9/11.

8. MI6 (Great Britain)

MI6 isn’t just an organization that constantly disavows super-agent Ethan Hunt. They are a very real British government entity with quite a history. The first British intelligence organization, which MI6 gets its roots from, was founded in 1569, but its present form came around 1912, just before World War I broke out.

The 1930s and ’40s gained MI6 a reputation for being one the top spy agencies in the world, and they surely had a major part in training US agents once America entered the Second World War. Post WWII, MI6 had to shake off numerous infiltrations by Russian double agents, and by the ’80s and ’90s, had become a much more open, re-prioritized agency. Not to say they had lost their teeth; indeed, they still tracked and took down all sorts of evil folks, from war crime perpetrators to participants in the Libyan Civil War. And if you have any doubts as to the debonair style of spy that inhabits MI6, check out their headquarters in the above photo.

7. BND (Germany)

Founded during the Cold War in 1956, the Federal Intelligence Service (known in German as Bundesnachrichtendienst) is the largest agency of its kind in the world. Boasting 300 locations in the country, and over 6,500 employees, the organization spent its formative years like many other similar agencies: spying on the Russians. They did specialize in Middle East affairs, and in 1967 predicted the outbreak of the Six-Day War almost to the hour.

When the aforementioned terrorist attacks occurred at the Munich Olympics in 1972, the BND took the matters to heart, and began to truly build up their counter-terrorism capabilities–they almost single-handedly stopped an attack in India a few years back. But they are still spies at heart, and not always the most virtuous kind. In 2005 it was revealed that the BND was surveilling many German journalists. They are even reported to be storing 220 million sets of metadata culled from phone surveillance worlwide, and WikiLeaks is often sharing tons of data that they discover the BND is holding/hiding.

6. KGB (Russia)

Ah, the granddaddy of them all. Mother Russia’s notoriously-clandestine secret spy agency has been depicted in all sorts of media, most recently in The Americans. From 1954 until the USSR dissolved in 1991, the KGB had probably the most legendary reputation on this list, and for good reason.

Being the super secret organization in the most super secret region of the Cold War, much of what the KGB conducted is still classified to this day. At first, they specialized in espionage, and getting into the US and delving deep into their secrets. Early in the Cold War, the Soviets even got a spy ring into the Los Alamos facility where Americans were developing the atomic bombs. They infiltrated elections in Bangladesh in the 1970s, then again in Afghanistan later that decade.

In 1991, the head of the KGB, Vladimir Kryuchkov, and several others took the bold move to actually attempt to overthrow the government of the Soviet Union. The coup failed, and the country fell into chaos, dissolving and splintering, much like the KGB would.

5. ISI (Pakistan)

Speaking of the Afghan-Soviet Union relationship, the Inter-Services Intelligence agency of Pakistan had a huge role in that during the late ’70s and early ’80s. The ISI took the sides of the Afghan fighters clashing against the Soviets, and even worked closely with the CIA to train and fund them. That didn’t turn out to bite anyone in America eventually, right?

Once the Soviet Union fell in the early 1990s, the ISI provided all sorts of support to the emerging Taliban group, during Afghanistan’s Civil War. But the ISI doesn’t just meddle in Afghan wars. In contrast to some of the agencies here, the ISI recruits civilians as well as those in the armed forces. But the organization is not without its own far-reaching scandals. As mentioned before, the ISI worked with the Taliban, but it wasn’t until recently that we knew just how deeply they were connected. The ISI reportedly tampers with the elections of its own country, and were accused of taking money illegally from bank owners in Pakistan. Even Pakistani citizens that helped the CIA capture Osama bin Laden were detained by the ISI and imprisoned.

4. NSA (United States)

If the CIA is America’s big, hulking secret child, the National Security Agency is like its smaller, even sneakier brother. The NSA can be traced back to 1917, when the First World War showed just how badly good intelligence was needed. The agency (then called the Cipher Bureau) spent its infancy becoming incredibly adept at intercepting messages and telegrams going in and out of the United States.

The Cipher Bureau would soon morph into the Signal Intelligence Service. The expansion of the Japanese empire in the 1930s helped the agency expand itself, especially in its Pacific operations. And that was helpful after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941. The SIS would crack all sorts of codes and keep Japan on their feet, but their intel wasn’t always perfect, even when they expanded into the NSA that we know today. Later in the 1960s, faulty information from the Gulf of Tonkin would lasso the United States into the Vietnam War. The NSA also came under scrutiny during the Watergate scandal. And they have a long history of surveilling famous civil rights leaders and political opponents like Jane Fonda and Martin Luther King, Jr.

3. MSS (China)

China has a long history of spy capers and espionage just like everyone else on this list, but their best-known and most powerful agency has only been around since 1983. The Ministry of State Security may also be the most secretive in the world.

Computer hacking is one of the more prevalent ways of spying that is being used in this age, and the MSS has a large hand in that. In 2018, the US Justice Department caught two hackers who were acting on behalf of the MSS, who had stolen state secrets from a dozen countries. Another recent event saw a senior official in the MSS arrested in Belgium for stealing trade secrets from US aviation and aerospace companies.

The MSS is akin to a cross between the FBI and the CIA, as it conducts operations both domestic and foreign in the name of national security. The MSS has no official website or any list of contacts, and it’s even thought that China’s rapid economic growth can be attributed in part to the MSS and their keen ability to steal intellectual property from other nations.

2. Direccion de Inteligencia (Cuba)

Formed shortly after the Cuban Revolution in the early 1960s, the Direccion de Inteligencia has also been closely linked to the KGB, and were basically trained by them. Not surprising, since the Soviet Union held nukes on the island for some time. But it was a rocky relationship at times, too. Though the Soviets had personnel and facilities based in Cuba, their desire to have more of a say in the operations of the native Cuban agency led to some push-back.

The Direccion de Inteligencia has a long history of aiding leftist movements in other countries like Nicaragua, Chile, and Venezuela. The scope of the DI’s operations is somewhat staggering, considering the economic base of Cuba isn’t very impressive. Recently, it was revealed that Cuba and the DI had been sending weapons to North Korea for refurbishment.

It turns out that Cuba is just good at espionage. Intelligence experts rank the DI’s officials as some of the best in the world, and with the agency’s close ties to other countries like Iran and North Korea, its investment in gleaning intelligence from the world’s superpowers is not just attractive to radical governments.

1. OSS (United States)

A precursor to America’s CIA, the OSS had a very short life as an agency, spanning three years from 1942-1945, but they packed some work into that time. The activities of Germany during World War II were a main focus, and something the Office of Strategic Services excelled at. At its height, the OSS employed 24,000 workers, and the war provided many locations for the Americans to gain intel on their foreign enemies.

Some of the names that worked for the OSS were celebrity chef Julia Child, film director John Ford, and Major League Baseball player Moe Berg, and eventually the OSS was so spread out into the world that over 7,500 agents operated overseas. Again, the outbreak of world war provides so much work potential. The identities of OSS personnel were kept secret upon the agency’s dissolution in 1945, after Harry Truman took office, and were not revealed until 2008. The CIA would begin its life two year later in 1947, but America had already taken its baby steps in the intelligence world, and so was quite prepared.


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WIF Did You Know?

American Oddities – WIF Fun Facts

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Facts About

America

That Make

No Sense

to Foreigners

America. It’s one of the biggest countries on Earth, both in terms of population and sheer size. It’s the planet dominating superpower; the heaviest hitter where culture is concerned; a place known by nearly every single human on the planet… and, to all but the 4-5% of humanity who live there, it makes absolutely no gosh darn sense.

 See, despite its cultural clout, America still seems deeply weird to foreigners. And we don’t just mean people who come from repressive kingdoms and tin-pot dictatorships. Europeans, people from Southeast Asia, Australians and Brits all find yuge chunks of life in the good ol’ US-of-A beyond comprehension. If you were born stateside, the following might not seem super crazy to you. But trust us, every single foreigner is reading this with their jaw dangling open and their eyeballs popping out.

10. US Toddlers Shoot One Person a Week

Americans sure love guns. The US has the highest rate of gun-ownership on planet Earth, and the least-restrictive gun laws (only Switzerland comes close). That’s all thanks to the 2nd Amendment, which has been the subject of near-constant debate since being written.

But it’s not the sheer number of guns in America that really astounds foreigners. It’s the crazy things that leads to. Things like US toddlers shooting one person a week.

There’s literally no other country on Earth you could write that sentence about. Even countries that are swimming in guns, like Serbia, Norway, and Switzerland, don’t have toddlers blowing one another away. To be fair, they have tiny populations, but, to be even fairer, c’mon buddy. US toddlers have shot on average one person a week (including themselves) for the past two years. Even war zones don’t have numbers like that.

More bizarre still, America keeps on arming its toddlers. In 2016, Iowa made it legal for babies to handle loaded guns. That’s right. The guys in the Hawkeye State elected to arm the very babies that are trying to shoot them. How’s that for hubris?

9. Bestiality is Still Legal in 9 US States (but premarital sex is outlawed)

Despite this being 2017, plenty of US States still have sex laws on the books that are… unenlightened, to say the least. And by that, we mean they were seemingly written by two guys named Festus and Bubba while necking with their pet hog Clancy.

Incredible as it may seem, there are nearly ten US States where it is still legal to have sexual intercourse with animals. We say ‘nearly’ ten, because one’s the District of Columbia (not a state, kids!). The other nine are Hawaii, Kentucky, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming. In addition, plenty of states still only consider bestiality a misdemeanor.

This would be odd enough if the US was a spectacularly licentious place, but it’s not. In addition to allowing you to marry your best-est sow, four states still outlaw either premarital or extramarital sex, or co-habiting with your partner prior to marriage. While the laws are effectively never enforced, the fact they’re still on the statute books attests to America’s unique mix of religious piety and deep-seated desire to mimic the guys from Deliverance.

8. The Highest Paid Public Employee in 39 States is a Sports Coach

Go to any other country in the Western world – Canada, Germany, the Czech Republic, New Zealand, wherever – and the highest-paid public employee will be someone working in a selfless capacity. They’ll be the guys and gals running universities, or public hospitals, or the local council. America, though, laughs in the face of such devotion to the public good. Instead of rewarding headmasters or doctors or teachers, the highest public pay package in 39 states goes to sports coaches. Specifically, guys coaching football or men’s basketball.

We’re not talking comparatively small sums, either. The salaries involved would be enviable in the private sector. University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, for example, rakes in over $7 million, plus bonuses, likely making him one of the highest-paid public employees not living in a corrupt dictatorship. For those from outside the states, this seems less extravagant, and more like an absolute inability to get priorities right.

Only Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New York, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont and both Dakotas refuse to award their highest public pay packet to a football or men’s basketball coach. Interestingly, both Hawaii and Vermont, as you’ll remember from a second ago, still technically allow bestiality. We’re really not sure what to make of that.

7. Over Half of All Americans Don’t Hold a Valid Passport

In 2014, polling company YouGov revealed only 8% of Britons had never left their country of birth to travel abroad. While this is maybe not all that super-impressive (Britain is tiny and France is close), it puts the US to shame. The same poll found only 50% of Americans would admit to ever having left the country. That’s nearly 160 million people who have never been to Canada or Mexico, let alone Europe or Asia.

For people who were born in Europe, that’s almost like saying you’ve never seen a glass of water. The idea of not going abroad from time to time is alien. In places like Germany, over 90% of the population hold a valid passport, and you better believe they use it.

But that’s Europe, we hear you cry, it’s a small continent with, like, a bazillion countries. Well, first, we’re pretty sure you’re exaggerating there, bud. Secondly, look at Australia, a country nearly as big as the US, and more cut-off from the rest of the world. According to official data, one third of the population goes abroad every single year. That compares to 50% of Americans over their entire lifetimes. Clearly, the US is a travel-averse country.

6. 30% of Americans Prefer Saving Money to Vital Medical Treatment

Compared to other developed nations, healthcare in the US is expensive. You can blame that on too much Obamacare, or not enough of it, but the fact remains that public systems, private systems, and public-private systems elsewhere in the world all deliver better service at lower cost. This alone can seem staggering to foreigners. Then there’s the American attitude to health. Faced with a serious illness or injury, around 30 percent of Americans would rather walk it off than pay for treatment.

 This… simply doesn’t happen elsewhere. Norway has the second most-expensive healthcare in the world, and pretty much no-one there avoids necessary treatment. Japan has an insurance-based, private system with payments often covered by employers, just like the US, and people don’t skip out on medical care. To find other people choosing money over hospitalization, you have to leave the developed world behind and start poking around in poorer countries where wages are low and healthcare unaffordable.

We’re not trying to rag on American healthcare here. America has some of the best doctors and hospitals going. But the idea that you’d choose money over health (or that you’d have to choose)? To non-Americans, that’s insane.

5. 7 States Have Custody Rights for Rapists

OK, let’s turn to some really, really dark stuff now. There exists a certain subsection of guys who like to rape women. Occasionally, this results in their victims getting pregnant. Depending on where they live and their religious convictions, the women may then decide to carry the baby to term. Now, here’s where it gets creepy. In around 7 states, it’s perfectly legal for the rapist-father to sue for custody of his newborn child.

Imagine that for a second. You’ve been violently assaulted, gone through the hell of guilt and self-recrimination, been courageous enough to bring the resulting baby into the world… and now you’re forced to watch as the D-bag who hurt you decides he wants to be a father to your son/daughter. Well, if you live in Alabama, Mississippi, Maryland, New Mexico, North Dakota, Wyoming or Minnesota, that can totally happen.

In addition, there are 20 more states where it might be legal. In Indiana, for example, you can only block the rapist from seeking custody if you remember to do so within 3 months of your baby being born. This is some seriously dark stuff, and we guarantee that if you mention it to anyone from elsewhere in the developed world, their jaws will drop so low they hit the ground. Sure, some Middle East states may have even-worse laws, but that’s not really a benchmark to aspire to.

4. America Has More Self-Identified Patriots than Anywhere Else on Earth

In July 2016, Gallup released the results of their yearly patriotism poll. They found 52% of Americans call themselves “extremely patriotic”, the lowest level in polling history. The news triggered a slew of introspective articles by American writers, wondering what had gone wrong. For those reading elsewhere in the world, it felt like stepping through the looking glass. 52% is such a good score it leaves other countries eating the USA’s dust.

Such levels of patriotism simply don’t exist in the rest of the developed world. In a similar survey by YouGov, only 13% of Brits thought their country was “the best in the world.” That was the highest score in the EU. Germany and France got only 5% each. The second and third highest-ranking countries globally, India and Australia, scored 34% and 36%. But the US? The US busted through the 40% mark, with an additional 32% claiming America was at the very least “better than most other countries.”

For the majority of foreigners, the idea of showing US-levels of patriotism is simply alien. You will never see a flag in every yard in any other country on Earth. But that’s the US public for you: optimistic to a tee. Even if they’re unhappy with their current government, folks still believe that the idea of America itself is worth believing in.

3. Americans are More Likely to Get Bitten by Other Americans than Rats

The stereotype is that Americans likes three things: football, fast food, and violence (often all at once). It’s true that America’s murder rate is crazy-high. It’s also true that the national sport is getting drunk and starting bar-fights. But surely it’s not as bad as all that?

Well, we hate to break it to you, but this arresting statistic says otherwise. If you live in America, you are more likely to be bitten by another American than you are by a rat.

To be clear, this isn’t because US rats are particularly docile or rare on the ground. Cities like New York are completely infested, and people get bitten all the freakin’ time. There are over 40,000 rat bites recorded in America each year. The only trouble is, there are at least 45,000 human bites recorded right alongside them.

Again, this is a freaky fact for Americans, too. But, also again, it’s just something that doesn’t happen in most other countries. Sure, drunks in Britain like to hit each other, and Italian soccer hooligans are violent as heck, but biting enough people to outstrip rats? It’s something we can’t imagine happening anywhere else.

2. Americans Take ‘Fast Food’ Extremely Literally

The US is the birthplace of fast food. It’s the nation that brought the world the drive-thru, perfected the snack, and coined the phrase “lunch is for wimps.” Foreigners know all this intellectually. But confront them with a statistic like the following, and it’ll still blow their minds. Americans, you see, are the 3rd fastest eaters on Earth. On an average day, Americans spend only 74 minutes eating, nearly the lowest in the world.

That’s only slightly over 20 minutes each for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and far less if you include time put aside for eating snacks. If you live in the USA, this probably doesn’t seem so weird to you (the working lunch is an American specialty), but if you live elsewhere… man, you’re probably wondering how the heck they do it. In France, the average eating time is 135 minutes a day. In Turkey, it’s 162 minutes. Even in Japan, where people work far longer hours than in the US, they still manage to put aside 117 minutes a day for chow. The only other countries to spend as little time eating are Canada (72 minutes) and Mexico (under 70 minutes).

This is probably to do with both the American hard work ethic and fast food culture, which prioritizes productivity over relaxation. The same can be seen in a related statistic on cooking times. Nowhere else on Earth do people spend as little time cooking each day as in America.

1. Government Departments Have Official Advice for Reporting Elvis Sightings

One of the things foreigners know about the US is that it’s full of wackos seeing wacko things. There’s a reason The X-Files was so popular 20 years ago. But it’s one thing to hear about guys filming shaky footage of Bigfoot on their cell phone. It’s another entirely to hear that actual US government departments have official advice for reporting Elvis sightings.

Here, for example, is a link to the Federal government’s official website for copyright. Hover your mouse over the link. See that it ends .gov? It’s impossible for anyone not representing a government entity to register a .gov address. This site is legit. It’s part of the Federal government, and paid for by taxpayers’ money. And it includes official advice on how to copyright your sighting of Elvis.

 This isn’t a joke section put up by some lighthearted bureaucrat indulging a whim. It’s completely, mind-bogglingly serious. Which means the government was getting deluged with enough requests about Elvis sightings that they went to the trouble to post official advice about it. OK, say it with me now, altogether: only in America.

American Oddities

wif-fun-facts-001

– WIF Fun Facts

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 184

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 184

…The hard working people of the Midwest will be spared a case of the dreaded Dianetics, which should not be confused with Diuretics…

The Chicago Stadium holds over 21,000 people, for events like these that do not require a wooden court, skating ice, or rodeo dirt. Political conventions and circuses also take advantage of its cavernous interior. Truman was not nominated there, but Democrat F.D.R. was. Economically ill-timed Herbert Hoover and ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’ Thomas Dewey were Republican conventioneers. And rumor has it that idyllic Roy Rodgers lassoed to Dale Evans into matrimony, wowing the crowd with his six-shooter… how can a girl resist?

And isn’t it a crying shame, that the very run of Billy Graham Crusades takes the dates once promised to the departed Langston Richard Cannon and his Spiritual Engineering gaggle. The hard working people of the Midwest will be spared a case of the dreaded Dianetics, which should not be confused with Diuretics, though they have similar results in different parts of the body, 2 feet apart.

One thing for sure, the many thousands seeking charismatic attention will not be causing much of a ruckus on their own. Neither would the weather on Saturday March 10th, with a warm front pushing the thermometer near 60 degrees, though the penalty paid comes in the form of a foggy drizzle. But signs of an early spring are a gift from God, having paid the price of a usually harsh upper Midwest winter.

The stage is set for another attempt at causing revival. Actual revivals are normally born of prohibitionist personalities, because it is easier to guilt a person into becoming a believer, if you can point out their debauched behavior. Graham, however, has found more upbeat ways to bring his audience closer to their God, like convincing a life-long scientist to profess his belief that, in his field of expertise, he readily accepts the parameters of a divine Creation over the speculation of random Evolution.

Alongside Willard Libby will be a 500 person choir, a full orchestra (both recruit locally) Youth for Christ International speaker Charles Templeton and popular baritone George Beverly Shea.

Footnote: More than a few of the people attending each evening mention President Truman’s radio address touting Billy Graham as the reason they came out.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 183

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 183

Chapter Sixteen

PRECIPITOUS

Libby thoughts-001

…Random ramblings from the principles of Libby Affair…

“Are you saying the landing gear locks were disabled or was there a mechanical failure?” Ace Bannion asks the Civil Aeronautics Board inspector the same question for the second time. They are standing next to the fallen Angel of Blue Ridge.

You were mugged? You have to be crapping me!” Constance has just found out that Worth Moore was beaten on afternoon of the plane crash. She is getting tired of F M’s assault on all things Libby.

“I’m so sorry Worth! I cannot believe that you are a target. That means none of us are safe.” The CCPI 2nd female is genuinely worried about a man for… maybe the first time. She tends to him like a Florence, not a Fanny.

Did you hear about that crash out at Midway Airport? It was Rev Graham’s plane and Ace Bannion was the pilot.” Eddie Dombroski speaks to wife Edie from a place of sympathy. Even as he is on the mend, he still feels like a member of the team.

“I am 90 percent sure that Forever Mastadon is fronted by the Department of Justice. The FBI is up to their neck at 5046 and way in over their heads when it comes to knowing what this whole battle is about.” Agent Daniels is up front with his assessment of the Libby Affair.

“Half of my staff are either bandaged or in splints. Do you want me to carry on with the Chicago Stadium alter call?” Reverend Billy Graham is speaking to his Lord, a habit that he will never lose and an example of living his faith.

“What do I have to do to put an end to these people? The Divine One is set against the Great Deception.” Pentateuch would be talking to L. Dick Cannon directly, had he been up front with the man and told him who he really was. Instead Cannon slithers away to his true delusional followers.

“Maybe we should abandon Project Forever Mastadon. Would it be the end of the world if “they” find out that humankind has only been around for 20 thousand years?” Gilbert Conroy, the science dork, asks the Deputy Attorney General Ross.

“My fellow Americans, I speak to you as a believer, a believer in the grace of Jesus Christ, not as your President,” President Harry Truman is making good on his promise that he would use his weekly radio address to urge his fellow Americans to affirm their faith in God.

”Is a scientific breakthrough worth all the trouble it has caused?” Willard Libby wonders.

Not-so-random orders from the top…

“Gabriel.”

“I am here Lord.”

“It is time.”

“I understand.”

…dot dot dot…


CONSTANCE CARAWAY P.I.

WIF Grammar 101-001

Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 172

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 172

…We were expecting to get away earlier, but the Blue Ridge Angel has to undergo some sort of Federal inspection…

Blue Ridge Angel-001

“When he gets there, make sure you have a 24 hour bodyguard for him.” Constance knows that the world is about to find out that his (Libby) demise was greatly exaggerated. “And do not trust anyone and I mean anyone. If President Truman personally invites him to the White House, have him produce 2 forms of identification.”

“Billy knows what is at stake,” Ace being the de facto security chief for the Crusades, which is akin to being the FCC censor for the Mickey Mouse Club.

Meeting Ace at the airport this time does not mean Meigs Field, but rather Midway Airport. “That whole airport has a footprint of one square mile,” he tells her, as if she would know the difference. With houses and businesses on all four sides, passenger planes must literally drop from the sky, in order to have enough runway length to come to a stop.

“What time are you flying in?”

“We are leaving out of Kansas City tomorrow night at 5:00. We were expecting to get away earlier, but the Blue Ridge Angel has to undergo some sort of Federal inspection before they would let us out; took their sweet time at that.”

“Don’t you find that a bit odd?”

“The CAA has been a little prickly lately, word has it that there are changes afoot, seeing that jet airplanes crash faster than props. Plus, Kansas City is a regional hub, so they are grabbing planes and pilots left and right,” Ace relates. “And like the IRS, they have us by the shorthairs.”

“You’ll be okay, didn’t you ‘gradiate’ from the Wilbur Wright Flying School?”

“Civil Aeronautics Administration approved, summa cum lousy. Hey, if you think theySumma Cum Lousy-001 are bad automobile drivers out there, take a ride with an inexperienced airplane jockey,” Ace is one of the world’s most experienced civilian flyers out there and has seen his share of close calls. When the plane can carry 30 or so people, like the one he is about to take off in – in a few minutes, the potentialRelated image death toll far exceeds any single car accident. “I’ll see you at about 7:30. That should give me time to park this thing and take care of my entire Bible toting army.”

“Is any of the Good Book rubbing off on you?” she can only hope.

“I’ve turned a few pages,” there may be hope for him after all.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 169

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 169

Chapter Fifteen

 RAINMAKER

DOJ

Department of Justice Building

“It seems we have a problem in Chicago.”

On the fifth floor of the U.S. Department of Justice building, at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue in the nation’s capital, there is an unadvertised meeting between Deputy Attorney General, a newly created position in 1950, and the Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s STB (Science and Technology Branch), who is now reporting on the special project under his watch, in the Operational Technology Division.

Urgent and Secret Agenda 03-20-1951

  • Department of Justice-Deputy Attorney General Ross Malone
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation
    • Science and Technology Branch – Executive Assistant Director Gilbert Conroy
    • Ops Technology Division
  • Subject: Project Forever Mastadon

Need-to-Know Priority 1-1A-1B

“You are aware of our building at 5046 Greenwood, correct,” Gilbert Conroy needs to confirm that he and Deputy Malone are on the same page.

“Chicago — yes of course. We’ve had that building or at least owned that property since goshdamned Ulysses Grant, but I try to keep my distance from it. It appears that we have lost control of who has access.”

Project Mastadon has been operational since 1942, taking over that Chicago address from Project Tora Tora.”

Tora saved us the embarrassment of having the training center at Navy Pier bombed into tomorrow back in WWII, spent some time there myself, perfect cover.” Gilbert Conroy has been a part of many covert-ops. “But this Mastadon thing has become a real reach for the department. What are we try to protect this time… the theory of evolution? From what we at Ops Technology hear, Willard Libby is on the Libby Dead or Alive-001verge of turning modern anthropology on its ear.”

“Libby is dead,” Malone informs Gilbert.

“The hell you say! We didn’t kill him, did we?”

“Not exactly, but our Forever Mastadon operatives did.”

“Shit!” the business of protecting the nation’s interests can become smutty. “But what does that have to do with Greenwood?”

“When we hired a guy named P. Joseph Winters to run Mastadon we thought he was a legitimate business executive who could provide us solid organizational skills and the shared vision of a scientific community, separate from religious right-wing Creationists.”

Way to go!


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


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