secrecy {fragments}

~ musings on secrecy ~

Archive for the ‘history’ Category

CFP / Secrecy and Society

Call for Papers for volume 1, issue 2 of Secrecy and Society on the subject of secrecy and authoritarianism.

This call for papers is a response to resurgent political trends, especially in the wake of recent world events and social movements. In Issue 2 of Secrecy and Society, we address the subject of secrecy and authoritarianism, including how ideology and popular beliefs are constituted through knowledge claims such as “alternative facts,” disinformation, disingenuous rhetoric, “populist conspiracy theory,” “post-truth,” and propaganda.

We welcome papers that also propose novel theories and methods that conceptualize these subjects. The inspiration for this special section is Richard Hofstadter’s paranoid style in politics, history as conspiracy, and ideas on anti-intellectualism. We encourage scholars, including doctoral students, from around the globe to submit their work.

In addition to papers on the theme of secrecy and authoritarianism, submissions that address any aspect of secrecy and society will be considered.

CFP is here.

Written by S.

February 25, 2017 at 1:07 am

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As I delve more fully into the history of the Psychological Strategy Board through the CIA’s CREST system, I’m amazed at the richness of historical documents and especially how they provide a snapshot of post-WWII ideology. One document in particular titled Preliminary Staff Meeting National Psychological Strategy Board (NPSB) is a record of a May 8, 1951 meeting with “General W. B. Smith, General Magruder, Admiral Stevens, Assistant Secretary Barrett, Mr. Allan Dulles, Mr. Frank Wisner, Mr. Philip Davidson, Mr. Max Millikan, and Mr. H. A. Winston, Recorder.” Among the topics discussed at the meeting was the purpose and mission of the new Psychological Board, covert and overt psychological warfare, NSC 10/2, the VOA (Voice of America), World Bank loans and the State Department.

Around page 3 (count when scrolling as there aren’t assigned page numbers), Allen Dulles asks General Walter B. Smith to recount the “lie detector story he told yesterday,”

General Smith: We had a man who refused to take the lie detector test. They told him that his chief took it, Smith took it, Dulles took it, and that he ought to take it. Still he objected. Finally he said, ‘Well, if you force me to, I’ll tell you why I don’t want to take it.’

Fast forward, the gist of Smith’s story is the “man” didn’t want to be subjected to a polygraph as he had cheated on his wife during the war and might be asked about being faithful. What follows is a revealing statement from Gen. Smith regarding sex, loyalty, and security that ends with a question:

In these cases I have only one question: that we get these name checks. You would be surprised at the number of elderly gentlemen who come to work for the Government and whose lady visitors slip away from the house early in the morning. The only question is, are there any homosexuals involved? (p.4)

The minutes reflect no response to Gen. Smith’s question, but instead shift to the business of locating a (pro forma) director of the fledgling PSB:

Assume: First, the director is a front. You can get planning and operations in the absence of a director. (p.5)

 

Ah, to be a fly on the wall.

Written by S.

February 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm

Japanese-American Internment

Today is the somber anniversary of Executive Order 9066  (February 19, 1942) that led to the institutionalized, forced roundup (“mass migration” as mentioned in the film below) and detention of Japanese-American citizens. Marking the 75th anniversary, Russ Kick @ Memory Hole 2 created an accessible list from NARA records of the approximately 104,000 individuals sent to internment camps.

 

 

In honor of these individuals, I post a work begun in library school during the reparations and redress movement titled The Desert Years: An Annotated Bibliography of Japanese-American lnternment in Arizona and the United States during World War ll. The foreword is written by my mother-in-law Monica Itoi Sone, whose name appears on the roster with her siblings, parents, and future husband.

The Desert Years is mentioned in an online exhibition on internment camps in Arizona, but this is the first time the bibliography appears in digital format. I scanned two versions of the bibliography from a tightly bound issue and hope it serves as a memory tool.

The Desert Years (color scan) | The Desert Years (black/white scan)

Written by S.

February 20, 2017 at 12:08 am

Approximate History: The PSB and Black Projects

For the past several years, one of my side research projects has been rummaging through the deep archive to discover the role of the Psychological Strategy Board (PSB) in black projects such as BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, perhaps even MKULTRA. Generally speaking, these projects involved research and development into “brainwashing,” interrogation and assassination techniques, propaganda and “messaging,” drug testing on a variety of animals and people (especially LSD 25 & 41), as well as exploration of novel plants and technologies to affect sleep, behavior, and mood. In part, I credit Christopher Simpson’s research on the PSB in his Science of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare, 1945-1960 for piquing my interest.

Per Truman Directive 128, the PSB was established in June, 1951

for the formulation and promulgation, as guidance to the departments and agencies responsible for psychological operations, of over-all national psychological objectives, policies and programs, and for the coordination and evaluation of the national psychological effort.

PSB membership included the “Undersecretary of State, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and the Director of Central Intelligence, or, in their absence, their appropriate designees, and “an appropriate representative of the head of each such other department or agency of the Government as may, from time to time, be determined by the Board.” The PSB was abolished in September, 1953 and its activities transferred to the Eisenhower administration’s Operations Coordinating Board by way of Executive Order 10483.

PSB’s records – many still classified – are split between the Truman and Eisenhower presidential libraries, but also appear in spades within the CIA’s CREST collection; I’ve submitted Mandatory Declassification Reviews,  (one successful for the release of the PSB’s Biographic Register for the years 1952-53), filed appeals, become cozy with the collections at Truman and Eisenhower, traveled to NARA to use the CIA’s CREST collection, then used FOIA to obtain docs that weren’t full text .pdf in the online version. This week, all changed. The CIA made the Web version of CREST completely full text. No more FOIA to CIA or making a pilgrimage to NARA.

For an upcoming article to be published later this year, I’ll establish the PSB had knowledge of these black projects through its founding mission as it oversaw the “national psychological effort.” Three DCIs served on the Board, so their records, memos, and internal directives are essential in constructing the history of the PSB. At this critical point in the research process, access is everything. As I sift through and cross check the Black Vault MKULTRA collection (records obtained by John Marks and donated to the National Security Archive after his FOIA battle and completion of the groundbreaking 1979 The Search for the “Manchurian Candidate”: The CIA and Mind Control) and comparing documents with the CREST collection, certain patterns are already appearing. Some documents are indeed duplicates between the two collections, but many are not.

In 1977, CIA located 18 cartons of documents on Bluebird and Artichoke. At the time, CIA determined the “newly discovered materials failed to reveal any information which would contradict or change that information previously furnished to investigating bodies.”*  While this may be good news for researchers like me who hope to reconstruct the history of the PSB, CIA, and clandestine projects,** it doesn’t imply the full story is told. New associations can now be made with this open access, ones that reclaim history and voice.


Notes

* The “investigating bodies” CIA refers to are the

  • Rockefeller Commission (June 1975)
  • Kennedy Commission hearings (Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, Subcommittee on Health), September 10, 12, and November 7, 1975 (and its report, Biomedical and Behavioral Research: Human-Use Experimentation Programs of the Department of Defense and Central Intelligence Agency
  • The mothership of all hearings, the 1976 Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, commonly referred to as the Church hearings.
  • Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (1977), Project MKULTRA, the CIA’s Program of Research in Behavioral Modification

** It was revealed during the Kennedy hearings (Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, Subcommittee on Health 1975, 280) that former CIA DCI Richard M. Helms ordered project files destroyed.

Written by S.

January 18, 2017 at 7:18 pm

The EDS and CO

Today the Army begins destruction of decades old mustard gas at the Pueblo Chemical Depot. The technology used to destroy the chemical weapons is the Explosive Destructive System or EDS. I first learned about the EDS while serving on the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Restoration Advisory Board and attending an alternative tech meeting hosted by the NSCMP (Non-Stockpile Chemical Materiel Project).

The lost history of how the EDS came to Colorado – to the United States really – is documented at one of my other blogs as the puzzling case of the NSCMP and RMA. Enjoy reading about bureaucracy!

Written by S.

April 16, 2015 at 4:04 pm