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Five Things the US Government Would Prefer You Didn't Know

Jeevan Sivasubramaniam Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.



Five Things the US Government Would Prefer You Didn't Know

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As Bea Edwards' latest book reveals, the US government, in cahoots with private companies, is taking away rights from citizens while also prying more and more into our personal lives. So it's only fair that as concerned citizens, we pry right back to determine exactly what kind of government supposedly represents us.

As it turns out, our government has a few secrets of its own that it would prefer people not know. Here are just five:

1. They run legitimate-sounding companies as fronts for intelligence gathering.

There are certain kinds of companies that never pay taxes, don't have office space, and have few if any legitimate employees. These are usually intelligence fronts or shells. The Gibraltar Steamship Company never actually shipped anything, they were created exclusively for activities related to the Bay of Pigs invasion. Air America was supposedly a commercial civilian air carrier that traveled all over Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war but actually carried out clandestine CIA operations. And let's not forget Brewster Jennings & Associates at 101 Arch Street in Boston, MA -- a thoroughly fictitious company that counted CIA operative Valerie Plame as an "employee."

2. They do not share information with the public and offer no reasons why.

The Freedom of Information Act was at one time heralded as a major step towards a transparent government serving a citizenry that wished to remain informed. While some documents are considered important for national security, others seem to be protected for no obvious reason. For example, there are seven reports on US naval mines and a few reports on "secret inks" being used by German forces that remain sealed to this day despite being from 1918. They are:

  • "Detection of Secret Ink" (January 1, 1918); Report
  • "Memo: Heingelman to Marlenck (October 30, 1918); Memo
  • "Invisible photography and writing, synthetic inks" (January 1, 1918 and June 14, 1918); 2 pamphlets
  • " US Naval Mines, Mine Anchor, Mark VI" (January 26 and May 1,1918); 2 reports
  • Ordnance Pamphlet 575 "Enemy Mines" (June 1, 1918); pamphlet

What possible security threat could such documents from almost a century ago pose? Or rather, do they contain details about something else?

3. They do not always take citizens' safety into account.

Nuclear tests are meant to be conducted under stringent controls and yet there have been confirmed reports of radiation leakage into civilian-populated areas. These events happened as recently as April, 1986 (code name Mighty Oak) where radiation reached Medlins Ranch, NV; in March, 1986 (code name Glencoe) where radiation reached Lathrop Wells, NV; and in 1985 (code name Misty Rain) where radiation was detected at Reed Ranch Road and Rachel, NV.

4. They can be hypocritical when it comes to money and powerful corporations.

There are certain key nations that are considered enemy states to the US -- that is, these countries are supposedly involved in actions that intentionally undermine the US government and plot against the nation in several ways. These nations include North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, and others. Just the same, the following US corporations have been permitted to conduct business in such nations: Chevron, Dupont, Down, Exxon, Halliburton, JP Morgan Chase, American Express, Honeywell, and about forty others.

5. They will lie outright.

There are too many examples here but the one that most comes to mind is the "absolute and conclusive" proof that Iraq had WMDs under Saddam Hussein, despite inspectors and others finding no reason to suggest as much. Watergate, Guantanamo, the Pentagon Papers, and so on -- there's a stretch of lies that goes all the way back to the violated peace treaties with American Indians.

Sources: Nevada Operations Office, US Dept. of Energy DOE/NV-317 (Rev.1) UC-702, Aug 1996; National Archives and Records Administration FOIA request NGC04-003; Foreign Relations, Guatemala, 1952-1954, State Department; False Claims Act and Qui Tam Quarterly Review, various issues 1995-2004; and The Book of Lists by Russ Kick, MJF Publishers, New York, 2004