secrecy {fragments}

~ musings on secrecy ~

Archive for the ‘national security’ Category

Issue 2

Secrecy and Society issue #2 is finally published. Among the articles included in the issue is my article on the Psychological Strategy Board.


Written by S.

February 20, 2018 at 10:20 pm


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into the history of the Psychological Strategy Board through the CIA’s CREST system, I’m amazed at the richness of historical documents and especially how they provide a snapshot of post-WWII ideology.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

Integrity of Info / Fact Checking / “Fake News”

With the election results now in, what is termed “fake news”  is big news lately. The Washington Post recently posted a guide titled The Fact Checker’s Guide for Detecting Fake News. Poynter has a guide; HuffPo has a cheat sheet too. Consortium News weighed in on the matter, and so did OpEd News. Facebook now has assistance from Snopes,, Politifact, ABC News, and AP to “make reporting hoaxes easier and disrupt the financial incentives of fake news spammers.”  This focus is fine and good, but what are we really talking about when we discuss fake news?

From where I sit as a former academic librarian, now college instructor and scholar, “fake news” has been with us a very long time in the guise of propaganda and its various forms, even seeping into the territory of information warfare and conspiracy theory building (see my Lexicon  and Goldman & Maret for definitions). Moreover, fake news is deeply intertwined with critical/analytical thinking and types of literacy (critical media literacy, data literacy, global critical media literacy, information, media-information literacy, news literacy, and research literacy). More importantly, librarians and teachers have been consistently – actively – involved in teaching literacies at the ground level from public libraries, academic libraries through the educational system  for decades. 

There’s oodles to say on the subject of news fakery, such as how specific literacies intersect and mesh with critical thinking skills and analytical reasoning, as well as  the long scholarly history of  fields and disciplines involved in confronting “fake news” (albeit using a different term and concept), such as journalism, media ecology, sociology (critical information studies, sociology of knowledge, social constructivism). Here I bracket a deeper discussion to share a few things from a course I recently taught at the School of Information, San Jose State University titled titled INFO 281-14, Integrity of Information.

Below I share a few notes from the first week of the course and a checklist I developed with the brave students who took the course with me the first time out; perhaps this info will shift thinking away from “fake” to more serious and significant issues on what I think of as conditions of information.


Abbreviated first week notes:

U.S. federal agencies first began using the concept of integrity with information quality and security with the 1995 Paperwork Reduction Act, P.L. 104-13, often referred to as the PRA. Described, but not defined in Sec. 3504 (B) of the PRA as “the integrity, objectivity, impartiality, utility, and confidentiality of information collected for statistical purposes,” by its association with these adjectives, integrity of information has a link to the roots of integrity as complete, whole, perhaps trustworthy information. In a new book titled Intelligence and Information Policy for National Security: Key Terms and Concepts that I co-edited with Dr. Jan Goldman, I included several uses of the information integrity/integrity of information concept (II). Below I briefly share these definitions so you can get a feel for how integrity is related to accuracy and credibility of information.

First, the Office of Management and Budget (2001) or OMB, while it does not define integrity, describes its features and associates the II concept with information quality throughout the life cycle of information.1 OMB directed federal agencies to develop guidelines and principles on information quality:

It is crucial that information Federal agencies disseminate meets these guidelines. In this respect, the fact that the Internet enables agencies to communicate information quickly and easily to a wide audience not only offers great benefits to society, but also increases the potential harm that can result from the dissemination of information that does not meet basic information quality guidelines.

Secondly, the U.S. Department of Defense Center for Development of Security Excellence (2012) took the step of defining II as

The state that exists when information is unchanged from its source and has not been accidentally or intentionally modified, altered, or destroyed.

We can further enlarge our view of II through the remarks of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper (2015) in the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. You might have seen Director Clapper’s statements in the news:

In the future, however, we might also see more cyber operations that will change or manipulate electronic information in order to compromise its integrity (i.e., accuracy and reliability) instead of deleting it or disrupting access. (p.3)

Successful cyber operations targeting the integrity of information would need to overcome any institutionalized checks and balances designed to prevent the manipulation of data, for example, market monitoring and clearing functions in the financial sector. (p.4)

Note that Clapper’s comments associate information integrity/integrity of information with accuracy, manipulation, and reliability. Clapper’s highlighting of these features suggests that information, especially in the online sphere, can be altered as to become disinformation, lies, misinformation, and/or propaganda; in other words, information is tampered with in order to present a specific perspective and to actively influence and/or mislead the reader by either omitting important details or flat out manipulating them.


1 OMB (2000) defines the information life cycle as “the stages through which information passes, typically characterized as creation or collection, processing, dissemination, use, storage, and disposition.”


Center for Development of Security Excellence. (2012). Glossary of security terms and definitions. U.S. Department of Defense, November 2012. Retrieved from

Clapper, J.R. (2015).Statement for the record: Worldwide threat assessment of the US intelligence community.Office of the Director of National Intelligence, February 26. Senate Armed Services Committee. Retrieved from

Office of Management and Budget. (2001). Guidelines for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of Information disseminated by federal agencies. Retrieved from


Here’s a copy of a research checklist I developed out of the course: Process_checklist

Written by S.

December 12, 2016 at 6:44 pm

Insect Cyborgs & HI-MEMS/MAVS/NAVS

Under the Freedom of Information Act, in July 2015 I requested the following information from DARPA:

DARPA’s role in the development and application of Hybrid Insect Microelectromechanical Systems and microelectromechanical (HI-MEMS) systems. My request also includes release of records on the following subjects:

• Bioelectronic neuromuscular interfaces for insect cyborg flight control
• The Controlled Biological and Biomimetic Systems Program
• Insect-based MAVS/NAVS (Micro and Nano Air Vehicles)
• Insect cyborgs
• Microfluidic control of insect locomotor activity
• Radio-frequency system for neural flight control
• The use of Hybrid Insect Microelectromechanical Systems and microelectromechanical (MEMS) specifically related to bees

DARPA released 88 pages, including one report by Amit Lal titled “ Microsystems, Scaling, and Integration” found in DTIC.  Page 70 of the .pdf contains the header “Key Experiments in 1940s,” which is suggestive of a deepening interest – perhaps even by ARPA, the predecessor of DARPA – in creating “technology to reliably integrate microsystems payloads on insects to enable insect cyborgs” (p. 68).  Reading these documents can’t help but bring up those perennial ethical questions regarding human use and exploitation of animals in war, combat, and surveillance. Here’s the 88 page doc released under FOIA: 15-f-1559-case-documents.

Below is a short bib of materials that helped me grasp the finer points of this Promethean technology; I also included several items that sparked my interest in cyborgs and domination a while back, such as Donna Haraway’s complex work and Chris Hables Gray Cyborg Citizen (Chris was a member of my doc committee). Also included is a brand spanking new article by Hutson on the subject of insect cyborgs.

I’ll leave readers with a quote from Adam Dodd (2014) that sums up the current reality of projects involving HI-MEMS:

DARPA has no problem calling a cyborg a cyborg; indeed, the agency is not known for downplaying its own science fictional aspirations — quite the opposite, DARPA’S use of the term anchors my own: I am not discussing the cyborg as a material abstraction, as “a condensed figuration of both material reality and feminist/popular imagination… as an entry point into the contemporary turn to ontological issues within feminist theory and technoscience studies” (Âsberg, 2010, p. 1), though such discussions are not without utility. I am discussing, critiquing, and indeed reporting on, the cyborg as a material entity that exists in the here and now. (p. 162)


A Short Bib

Alberts, David, and Papp, Daniel S. (eds.). (2001). Information Age Anthology: The Information Age Military. Volume III. Center for Advanced Concepts and Technology, Advanced Concepts, Technologies, and Information Strategies Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University: Washington, DC.

Armstrong, Robert, Drapeau, Mark D., Loeb, Cheryl A., and Valdes, James J. (eds.). (2010). Bio-Inspired Innovation and National Security. Center for Technology and National Security Policy, National Defense University Press: Washington, DC. 

Chung, Aram J., and David Erickson. (2008). Microfluidic Control of Insect Locomotor Activity. In Proceedings of IMECE 2008 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, October 31-November 6, 2008, Boston  (pp. 949-952).  (google scholar)

Delaney, Lois. (2011). Military Applications of Apiculture: The (Other) Nature of War. Masters of Military Studies Research Paper, Marine Corps University. ADA600636.

Dodd, Adam. (2014). The Trouble with Insect Cyborgs. Society & Animals 22, no. 2: 153-173. (google scholar)

Gray, Chris Hables. (2000). Cyborg Citizen: Politics in the Posthuman Age. New York: Routledge.

Hundley, Richard O., and Eugene C. Gritton. (1994). Future Technology-Driven Revolutions in Military Operations. Results of a Workshop. RAND-DB-110-ARPA.

Hutson, Matthew. (2016, November). Even Bugs Will Be Bugged. The Atlantic.

Kick, Russ. (2016, August 22). The Navy’s Remote-Controlled Sharks. The Memory Hole 2.

Kladitis, Paul E. (2010). How Small Is Too Small? Technology into 2035. Wright  Flyer Paper No. 46. Air University, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB.

Lal, Amit. Microsystems, Scaling, and Integration (Briefing charts). (2007). DARPA Microsystems Technology Symposium, San Jose, California on March 5-7. ADA 503730. (Included in the above FOIA release and DTIC).

U.S. Department of Defense. (2007). Unmanned Systems Roadmap 2007-2032. ADA475002.


Black Mirror 3 (BM3) ep. 6 titled “Hated in the Nation” is pure synchronicity in terms of my FOIA post. The opening segment of this episode is a chilling announcement of extinction of the Siberian Crane, but also showed the dystopian replacement for honeybees: ATIs or autonomous cyborg bees, who replicate, create hives, and operate in the natural world via pattern recognition. The solar-fueled bees were activated “for the second summer” to pollinate in BM3’s futuretechnoworld. In a twist I didn’t see coming, the cyborg bees are dual use technology (tech that has civilian as well as military and/or national security applications). You can read more about the episode 6 at Thrillist as well as catch a glimpse at the cyborg pollinators. It’s important to note that a DARPA document included in the FOIA release (if I’m interpreting the doc correctly) excluded bees as “insects too unpredictable (temperature, wind, humidity, mating, feeding, etc.)” (p.56) .

See the 2016 interview with Eye in the Sky director Gavin Hood on the use of nano hummingbirds and the micro RPA/M.A.V. (Microaerial Vehicle) beetle depicted in the film.

As bee populations dwindle, robot bees may pick up some of their pollination slack (Khan, Los Angeles Times 2017): “Scientists in Japan say they’ve managed to turn an unassuming drone into a remote-controlled pollinator by attaching horsehairs coated with a special, sticky gel to its underbelly.”

And now the bee drone prototype.
Photo of the “robotic flower pollinator”courtesy of CNN (2/15/2017).



And “rise of the robot pollinators” on The Salt (March 3, 2017).

Written by S.

October 23, 2016 at 12:55 am