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The NSA Provides Tech Support for Assassinations? Shocking!


Glenn Greenwald has announced that he is going to revolutionize the news business.   Ta Da!

Greenwald’s self-described “momentous” media venture will be financed by billionaire eBay creator Pierre Omidar, whose staff of computer geeks is savvy enough to have rolled out Obamacare without any glitches.  

Can we expect Greenwald to use his high tech media empire for good or evil?  Will he expose the contradictions of capitalism, and pillory billionaires like Omidar who could use their wealth to bail out Detroit, but instead buy luxury yachts and 5,800-square-foot beachfront homes in Hawaii?  

Or will he use his new found fortune to carve out a fiefdom in a media market overflowing with warlords like Arianna Huffington, Joan Walsh, Katrina vanden Heuvel and Amy Goodman; limousine liberals who make oodles of money marketing themselves as different from one another, the way Coke is different than Pepsi, while peddling the same sugar sweet, carbonated crap?

To prove he is a different sort of liberal capitalist, Greenwald will launch his media empire with a sensational “exposé” on the National Security Agency (NSA).   The exposé will be based on documents NSA contractor Edward Snowden pilfered and slipped into Greenwald’s hot little hands.

NSA spying is all the rage these days, and the perfect way to promote a capitalist venture.  But how deep will Greenwald go?  Will he, for example, tie his sugar daddy into the underlying political and economic need for global NSA surveillance?   We know that NSA spying in Mexico and France helped Americans “get an upper hand in diplomatic talks and find good investment opportunities,” as reported on RT.

Will Greenwald tell us which American corporations are profiting from NSA spying?  Will he tell us how, specifically, the CIA uses NSA intercepts to manipulate political affairs in foreign nations to America’s political and economic advantage?

It’s certainly not news that America is exceptional because it breaks all the laws in its role as the world’s omnipotent policeman, at home as well as abroad.   As Frank Donner explained 30 years ago in his book The Age of Surveillance, the defense of capitalism against all its failures requires massive political, economic, and security measures to suppress dissent, and knowledge. 

And the best way to suppress dissent and knowledge today is to drown them under a deluge of Dr. Pepper in their internet cradle.

To his credit, Greenwald has acknowledged this, and has condemned the corporate media for keeping the public ignorant of the devilish details of how and why the US goes about breaking the law, for the benefit of particular individuals.  But how, pray tell, can he break the mold if he’s part of the system?  

Perhaps it’s cynical to assume that as a venture capitalist, Greenwald and his media empire will not be revolutionary in the sense of focusing on, say, racism in America’s newsrooms, or rampaging Zionist settlers and inhumane Israeli oppression of Palestinians.  

Will he dispatch Jeremy Scahill to Gaza to expose how the CIA brings Hamas and Fatah in line with US and Israeli wishes? 

Or will he merely escalate the hype that drives American media in the new millennium? 

One wonders, precisely because Greenwald is kicking off his really big show with an exposé about how the NSA assists the CIA in its assassinations.   Such an exposé may prove to be anti-climactic, however, in so far as linking the NSA to CIA assassinations is as startling as showing that the administrative staff at a hospital assists doctors in providing medical care to patients.   

A little background is helpful in understanding why it may also be diversionary.

The NSA was formed in 1952 within the Department of Defense to coordinate military, State Dept., FBI and CIA signals intelligence.  It also manages DOD communications and electronic intelligence activities.

The NSA doesn’t do anything with the intelligence it collects.  It parcels information out to policy makers in the White House and to operational customers like the DEA, CIA, FBI, and military.  Some of the intelligence has strategic importance and some has tactical importance.    Thus, it’s helpful to differentiate tactics from strategy.

For example, as a strategy, the CIA sought to control the political climate in South Vietnam.  In doing this, the CIA ran a variety of secret operations to counter the infiltration of South Vietnam’s political parties by revolutionary forces.   At the same time, the CIA sought “compatible elements” (South Vietnamese willing to promote US policy at the expense of South Vietnam’s interests) to create a counterforce to steal the South Vietnamese political process away from nationalists. 

The NSA assisted the CIA in this strategic plan by monitoring the communications of both revolutionary and nationalist political cadre, so the CIA would know when best to intercept them, and how best to try to buy them off.  (The revolutionaries would always say yes, but were usually doubles.)

Controlling South Vietnam, like controlling America, was a dual-level scheme.   Apart from opposition to its strategy of controlling all political factions, the CIA was faced with the threat of terrorism at the tactical level.  The CIA sought to neutralize terrorists primarily through the use of paramilitary and special police forces organized at the Phoenix Directorate in Saigon, as well as through the joint CIA-military Special Operations Group (SOG). 

The Phoenix Directorate and SOG were engaged in widespread assassinations of low-level political cadre, whose status rated them as terrorists whether or not they engaged in terrorism.  The NSA helped in this particular capitalist venture, by pinpointing the location of targeted individuals.  Some put the number of assassinations at 25,000, others at over 40,000 – perhaps closer to 10O,000.   In any event, the purpose of widespread assassinations, the kind Obama is conducting worldwide, is psychological and designed to suppress resistance within broad populations.  Just as the assassination of Osama bin Laden did nothing to disrupt Al Qaeda, such assassination programs have little impact on organizations with de-centralized leadership and popular movements with a well-defined ideology.

To summarize so far: at the strategic level, the CIA sought to control its opponents, not to murder them.  In pursuit of strategic goals, the CIA operated over and above the tactical Phoenix Directorate, through a special unit in Saigon which could take whatever it wanted – people or information – from the Phoenix program.   When the Phoenix program identified a top ranking revolutionary, the CIA would not assassinate him or her, but would send that person to the National Interrogation Center and try to turn him or her into a penetration agent capable of influencing events or discovering enemy plans and strategies. 

The CIA’s special unit ran the same sort of operations against South Vietnamese officials who worked counter to US policy.   Again, they rarely killed them, but sought to control them.  

The CIA conducts the same types of strategic and tactical programs and operations today in nations around the world.   If you follow event closely in Afghanistan and Iraq, you will see this unfolding before your very eyes – the assassination of low level cadre and innocent civilians as part of a psywar campaign to terrorize the widespread resistance into submission; and the insidious control of strategic players in an attempt to further American political and economic policies. 

In a more sophisticated manner, US intelligence and security services are doing this in America on a strategic level, often through the corporate media.  Nothing has changed. 

The material Snowden gave Greenwald undoubtedly reveals NSA-supported CIA operations at the strategic level around the world; in the UN, in friendly nations like Mexico and France, as well as in hostile nations like Russia and China.   If Greenwald wants, he can probably outline how, for example, the CIA uses NSA-intercepted communications in Germany to assure that certain American corporations receive German government contracts.   And name the players.  He can probably show how, using NSA intercepts, the CIA manipulates events in the Philippines so that self-serving politicians who support US policy are elected.  Again name names.  And with luck, he can reveal the machinations of intelligence and security services in American politics and industry, including the media players.

Or he can sift through Snowden’s material, edit out the good stuff, and focus on tactical matters like assassinations, the exposure of which will have no effect on strategic CIA operations at home or abroad.  Indeed, the powers that be would be happy to have Greenwald cover its drone assassination program, so that more Zero Dark Thirty-style movies can be made, glorifying the heroic CIA.

By focusing on the NSA’s role in supporting CIA assassinations, Greenwald risks keeping the public focused on the sensational but ultimately insignificant tactical use of intelligence, and thus ignorant of how US intelligence and security agencies manipulate the political process.   In this way, like all the other soft drink sellers, he will serve only himself and his patron by not angering the powerful individuals who stand to be exposed as criminals, subverting democracy.

Or he can go what Snowden did and risk it all.   The choice is his.

Douglas Valentine is the author of five books, including The Phoenix Program.  See or write to him at

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