Friday, October 14, 2011

Operation Northwoods - 49 years later

Joint Chiefs of Staff 1962. Public domain work of US government.

Beginning with the title “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba”, the Joint Chiefs of Staff set out to produce evidence of a phony attack to justify an invasion of Cuba in 1962. Among the "evidence," shooting down a civilian airliner, burning crops, and carrying out a terrorism campaign throughout Florida and even up to Washingotn DC are considered par for the course, acceptable prey for the beast. In a nation founded "For the people, by the people," a small intelligence elite contemplates killing thousands and blaming it on someone else to kill thousands more and gain influence with the grimmest of sobriety. Even law it seems is worthless to them. In typical bureaucratic fashion, the majority of the concern on the first page is with whose agency will be assigned responsibility for doing it.

Prior to the Freedom of Information Act, both this operation and an experimentation with human mind control known as MKULTRA were totally classified, with no clear timeline for the information to eventually be released. Even with such an act, many executive level documents can remain classified with a proper judicial review. However, in 1976, less then 9 years after the law had come in to effect that revealed these horrifying actions of our government, the "Government in the Sunshine Act" created the following exemptions:
  1. Information relating to national defense,
  2. Related solely to internal personnel rules and practices,
  3. Related to accusing a person of a crime,
  4. Related to information where disclosure would constitute a breach of privacy,
  5. Related to investigatory records where the information would harm the proceedings,
  6. Related to information which would lead to financial speculation or endanger the stability of any financial institution, and
  7. Related to the agency's participation in legal proceedings.
That "protects" nearly all documents worth declassifying. As if this wasn't enough, further legislative and other actions have extended exemption 1 (Reagan, executive order 12356), created a new exemption for law enforcement (Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986), increased response time deadlines to act requests (20 days instead of 10, Electronic Freedom of Information Act of 1996) and restricted access to presidential records (Bush, executive order 13223). Later, a ban on foreign requests (Intelligence Authorization Act of 2002), further extending the deadline to 30 days (Open Government Act of 2007), and allowing reclassification of previously declassified work (Obama, executive order 13526) after undesirable requests were added to the bill. Later executive orders revoked some extent of 12356 and 13223, while the OPEN act also required extensive paper trails on redactions or deletions from declassified documents, but the fact that IT CAN BE DONE remains troubling.

Now it is true that some military materials really must be protected, but surely we can find a better, more legally protective phrasing then "Information relating to national defense"! What does that even mean? And why does law enforcement get a free pass, except for the case of harming a judicial proceeding? Wasn't law enforcements protection in clause (5) more then enough without this additional "Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986" thingamajigger? And what, precisely, would "lead to financial speculation or endanger the stability of any financial institution"? Just how much would that cover, when one considers how many actions have an effect on the economy? And why do executive orders get to extend the act, should that not be the responsibility of congress?

The reality is that government will always be up to evil deeds, and the only thing that stands against them is the common people and interested parties. We must learn to "counter ambition with ambition" as James Madison phrased it. Secrecy except when 100% necessary is the best way government can thwart that process, and the best way that government can eventually take all power for itself. Even when it is necessary, it is a tragedy, and still harms our nation.

John F. Kennedy eventually rejected Operation Northwoods, but it was at his desk, ready to sign, and with the stroke of one pen thousands of innocent people would've died to start a pointless war with a nation that did not attack us. Since then, the act that released the information about Northwoods has been curtailed and limited by amendment after amendment from bill after bill and many executive orders. The court system would also be subverted to frame innocent men and women of bombings and murders. In the foulest of all corruptions, government would shatter law.

Northwoods showed once again, along with what Congress has done since, that the only one you can count on to look out for you is you, and that there are no limits to the cruelty and lies of an over-expanded government. There is no reason to believe that a Northwoods could not occur today, and even less reason to believe that man like Obama, unlike Kennedy, would sign it. Indeed, it is even possible that "Fast and Furious" may be part of such an operation, a thought that occurred to me immediately after it happened. Though I am not personally of the opinion that 9/11 was such an operation, and part of my reason for this comes from my own examination of Al Qaidas apparent game plan, it is easy to understand from whence the paranoia came. Truth is, we have much reason to be afraid, and more reason to act to end the tyranny of an oversecretive, overextended, legally subversive government, and to end this tyranny in the most law-abiding, peaceful way possible: at the polls. Just as the British did with HM James of York, so we can do with our own corrupt elites.


dennis hodgson said...

A quote from JK Galbraith, who was US ambassador to India under Kennedy, that may be relevant: "He [Kennedy] told me, with much feeling, of the recklessness of the advice he had received during the [Cuban missile] crisis. The worst, he said, was from those who were afraid to be sensible."

Thank goodness Kennedy was sensible enough to ignore this advice, as he was to veto this Northwoods plan.

Jeremy Janson said...

Indeed Dennis, thank God, though we must also plan for the possibility that others would not be so wise. Thanks for having a look by the way - your prescence here is much appreciated.