If Everyone knew...

X_Sparky 2011/03/25 14:18:18

If Everyone Knew | 5 facts that everyone should know – Private Prisons, CoIntelPro, MK-Ultra and Operation Northwoods.

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If Everyone Knew


The prison system in the United States is a profit-making industry.

Private corporations operate over 200 facilities nationwide and are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The War on Drugs, started by President Nixon in 1971, played a major role in the quickly expanding prison population in the United States. A decade later, while other arrests rose 28% during the 1980’s, drug-related arrests rose 126%. To help cope with the large influx of new prisoners, the full operation of a Tennesee jail was contracted to a private corporation in 1984. The following year, Corrections Corp. of America, an industry leader valued at over $2.9 billion, attempted to take over full operation of every facility in the state - only to be foiled due to strong opposition from the state government and public employees.

Corrections Corp of America prison guard’s arm patch
CCA houses 75,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities across the US.

Corrections Corp. of America and other private contractors later become members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit 501(c)(3) association that advocates “tough on crime” legislation that favors longer sentencing and higher incarceration rates. By 1999, to combat the rising prison population, Attorney General Janet Reno announced that seven new federal prisons would be built within the year – five of which would be privately operated. This trend continued until the US had the highest incarceration rate in the world – 754 inmates per 100k residents as of 2008. This is roughly 600% that of the rest of the civilized world, with England and Wales having 148, and Australia 126 inmates per 100k residents. To keep the money rolling in, Corrections Corp. of America spent $970,000 and GEO Group spent $660,000 influencing legislation in 2010 alone. As of 2010, private corporations house over 99,000 inmates in 260 facilities nationwide. Corrections Corp. of America’s stock is often listed as a “strong buy” on Nasdaq’s official website.

Since the United States also incarcerates more of its juvenile population than any other country in the world, this trend continued in juvenile detention as well. Like their adult counterparts, juvenile detention centers also push for higher incarceration rates - some to the point of bribing judges. In 2009, PA Child Care & Western PA Child Care paid two judges $2.6m to send more than 2,000 juveniles to their facilities. Dubbed the “Kids for Cash” scandal by the media, the kids sentenced rarely had representation in court and were imprisoned for crimes that almost never result in incarceration. For instance, Hillary Transue was sentenced to three months at a detention center for mocking her assistant principal on MySpace.



Six corporations control virtually all American media.

News Corp. owns over 27 television stations and over 150 newspapers. Time Warner has over 100 subsidaries including CNN, Time Magazine, and The CW.

In a democratic society, the most powerful tool is the media. The media shapes our beliefs, changes our perspectives, and informs us on which choices to make at the ballot box. It can shape public opinion, create heroes, villains, and change elections. The media decides which voices are heard – or silenced, which issues get covered – or ignored, which songs you get to hear and which wars the public will support. Without a free media, a democratic society could not function. This is the reason that the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution focuses on this very issue.

It is a little known fact that in the United States, the media – print media, broadcast media, and film media – are increasingly controlled by fewer and fewer people. And these people have their own views and ideas that they’d like to succeed, like anyone else.

Media ownership chart

To keep this in check, we have the benefit of having different sources of media to choose from. It’s considered good practice to get your information from as many different sources as possible, to eliminate any bias you may receive from using a single source. However, this is becoming increasingly difficult as time progresses. In the last 30 years, the number of media companies has went from more than 50 independent outlets, down to just six media conglomerates.

What this means for the average citizen is that they are exposed to fewer viewpoints. For example, Clear Channel Communications is the largest radio station group owner in the United States, with over 900 stations operating under their banner. Most of the songs you hear on the radio has been selected and approved by Clear Channel for airplay. In 2001, Clear Channel entered public discourse when they published a list of songs that would be removed from airplay following the 9/11 attacks. 166 songs in total, the list consisted of “all songs” by Rage Against the Machine, and a number of other songs, such as War Pigs by Black Sabbath and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan. Alien Ant Farm’s Smooth Criminal was listed, however, the version by Michael Jackson with the same lyrics, was not. For many, Clear Channel’s list was indicative of the dangers of one media company having too much control over the industry.

“The Big Six” is a term often used when describing the state of media consolidation in the United States. Virtually everything you see and hear, read and watch, is the product of one of six media companies – General Electric, Walt Disney, News Corp., Time Warner, Viacom, and CBS. They each own a multitude of news stations, film studios, newspapers, internet companies, and more.

For example, if you watch NBC News, A&E; and the History channel, you are watching exclusively General Electric content. General Electric also owns Universal Pictures, Crime & Investigation Network, and GE Aviation. GE Aviation produces critical parts for the F-14, F-15, F-16, F/A-18, F-22 and F-35 fighters. General Electric also owns over 3.3 million shares of Corrections Corp of America stock, valued at $84,158,446 as of 2010.

Walt Disney owns ABC (along with all networks operating under the ABC banner), ESPN, Lifetime, part of The History Channel, and over 20 other channels. Touchstone Pictures, Miramax, Pixar, Marvel Studios, and 277 radio stations across the United States are also owned by the Walt Disney corporation.

News Corp owns over 120 channels across the world, including Fox News Channel, FX, National Geographic, Sky News, and ESPN Star Sports. More than 150 newspapers worldwide are owned by News Corp, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, Market Watch and Dow Jones Newswire. 20th Century Fox Pictures, Fox Searchlight, and more than 15 other movie studios are also owned by News Corp.

Time Warner owns CNN, HBO, truTV, TNT, TBS, and over 20 more channels broadcast throughout the world. Time Warner also dominates Hollywood with their ownership of Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, Castle Rock, and others.

MTV, Comedy Central, Spike TV, BET and VH1 are subsidiaries of Viacom. Viacom also owns Paramount Pictures, MTV Films, and has a stake in Rhapsody. iFilm.com, XFire, GT.tv, GameTrailers.com, and Neopets are owned by Viacom as well.

CBS operates over 30 television stations and 130 radio stations across the United States. Book publisher Simon & Schuster, CNet.com, GameSpot, Last.fm, NCAAsports.com and NFL.com are also owned by CBS.



The FBI admits to infiltrating & disrupting peaceful political groups in the United States.

The Women’s and Civil Rights movements were among those targeted, with their members being beaten, imprisoned, and assassinated.

Following the end of the Second World War, communism was considered to be the #1 threat to American freedom. The Soviet Union’s ability to secure a nuclear weapon coupled with the spreading communist ideology, even in the United States, fueled a state of fear during this time. The iron curtain descended across Europe, dividing the capitalist western bloc from the communist eastern bloc. In Asia, communism spread throughout Korea, China, and Laos. In America, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) was gaining traction as a legitimate political party. The CIA was tasked with combating this threat abroad, and the FBI at home.

Church Committee Report on CoIntelPro
Congressional report on CoIntelPro

In 1956, the FBI instituted a Counter Intelligence Program (CoIntelPro) which among its goals, was to maintain “the existing social and political order.” This initially meant targeting the Communist Party USA, which was implicated in the passing of nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union several years prior. Operating in secrecy with very little oversight, CoIntelPro’s scope was widened to include any group the FBI considered “subversive.” Among these groups were the Womens’ Rights Movement, the Civil Rights movement, and the growing anti-war movement. Individual students demonstrating against the Vietnam War began being targeted by the FBI’s far reaching program, along with American luminaries such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Albert Einstein.

The assistant to the Director of the FBI, William C. Sullivan, described the methods employed during CoIntelPro as “rough, tough, and dirty.” The tactics ranged from selectively enforcing tax codes & government regulations, to fabricating evidence and using perjured testimony to illegally incarcerate Americans. The FBI conspired with local police departments to commit crimes ranging from illegal break-ins and vandalism, to assaults, beatings, and assassinations of American citizens.

CoIntelPro was successfully kept a secret until 1971, when a group called the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI burglarized an FBI Field Office in Media, Pennsylvania. Several dossiers acquired during the burglary were passed to news agencies, who initially refused to publish the information. Within the year, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover declared that CoIntelPro was over. In 1976, the Church Committee conducted an investigation into the actions of the FBI during CoIntelPro. While the Church Committee report can be read in its entirety, the documents seized during the investigation remain unreleased or heavily redacted to this day.



In 1977 it was revealed that random American citizens were abducted & tortured for research by the CIA.

Project MK Ultra was the code name for a series of covert activities in the early 1950’s.

Following the defeat of the Third Reich in 1945, the predecessor to the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), sought to recruit Nazi scientists for employment by the United States. Under the directions and supervision of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Operation Paperclip recruited German scientists who were experts in a wide array of sciences, ranging from rocketry to torture.

Using the newly gathered intelligence on torture, several programs were started which focused on the effects of drugs for interrogation purposes. The United States Navy started Project Chatter in 1947 and focused primarily on identifying and testing the use of drugs like mescaline on human and animal subjects. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) started Project Artichoke which focused on the use of hypnosis, forced morphine addiction, and the use of other chemicals and methods. The intelligence divisions of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and FBI were operating under Project Artichoke.

Washington Post article on MK-Ultra
Washington Post report on MK-Ultra

On April 13, 1953, Project Artichoke became Project MK-Ultra. MK-Ultra initially began its human experimentation on CIA employees and military personnel, but soon began to include prostitutes, the mentally ill and abducted American & Canadian citizens. Operation Midnight Climax was a project operating under the banner of MK-Ultra, which consisted of a web of CIA-run safe houses in San Francisco, Marin, and New York. Prostitutes on the CIA payroll were paid to lure clients to these safe houses, where the men would be drugged and monitored behind one way glass. This method of human experimentation was desired because the victims, when released, would be too embarrassed to discuss the events. In 1962, the use of these safe houses was significantly scaled back following the recommendation of CIA Inspector General John Earman.

With the CIA safe houses no longer in operation, human experimentation under MK-Ultra continued in Canada under the supervision of psychiatrist Donald Ewen Cameron, who served on the medical tribunal at the Nuremberg trials in the late 1940’s. From 1957-1964, Cameron was paid $69,000 by the CIA to conduct experiments at the Allan Memorial Institute of McGill University in Quebec, Canada. It was here that the most disturbing experimentation took place, which included heavy doses of LSD and electroshock therapy at 30-40 times the normal power. Subjects were also intentionally placed in comas for extended periods of time ranging from several weeks up to three months. Recordings of noise or simple statements would be played on a loop during this time, with the intention of brainwashing the patient. When awakened, the patients were severely and often permanently damaged. They suffered from losing control of their bodily functions, amnesia, forgetting how to speak, and some thought the doctors were their parents. Cameron later became first chairman of the World Psychiatric Association, as well as president of the American and Canadian psychiatric associations.

In 1973, CIA director Richard Helms ordered the destruction of all documents pertaining to MK-Ultra. Due to the destruction of these records, it is difficult or impossible to perform additional research into MK-Ultra or the 150 individually funded sub-projects that operated under the MK-Ultra banner. Regardless, in 1974 The New York Times reported that the CIA had conducted illegal domestic activities, including experiments on U.S. citizens, which prompted Congress to intervene and conduct investigations into the CIA’s activities. The Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission both released reports in 1975 that revealed that the CIA and Department of Defense conducted experiments on citizens without their consent. The Church Committee concluded in their report that “[p]rior consent was obviously not obtained from any of the subjects.” With the program now in the open, both the Canadian and American governments fight a number of court battles related to MK-Ultra’s experiments. The Canadian government settled out of court, paying each of the 127 victims $100,000 each. The American government aggressively contested any court cases relating to MK-Ultra, some of them successfully. Several plaintiffs received compensation through court orders, out-of-court settlements, and acts of Congress. President Ford and CIA director William Colby met with the family of Frank Olson, a man who died as a direct result of MK-Ultra, to publicly apoligize. Olson’s family also received $750,000 via a special act of Congress.



A plan to attack American cities to justify war with Cuba was approved by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962.

Rejected by President Kennedy, Operation Northwoods remained classified for 35 years.

At the start of 1959, an armed revolution by Fidel Castro succeeded in overthrowing the US-backed Cuban dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Castro became the first communist leader in the western hemisphere, just 90 miles from the American mainland.

The American government sought ways of replacing the Castro regime with one more in line with American policies, with President Eisenhower creating a plan to overthrow the Cuban government using anti-Castro forces from Cuba and the surrounding area. After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, it was desirable to use the United States military to conduct a large scale invasion of Cuba instead of relying on rebel fighters. However, it was important for the United States to not look like the aggressor.

Operation Northwoods was a 1962 plan drawn up by the Joint Chiefs of Staff which outlined ways to generate support for American military operations in Cuba. In a nutshell, it consisted of a number of attacks, some real and some simulated, that would be performed by American forces and then blamed on the Cuban government. The document, which has since been declassified and can be read in its entirety, outlined plans that ranged from blowing up unmanned drones and performing mock funerals, to conducting legitimate attacks on US military installations and blaming it on the Castro regime. At one point in the document, it states, “We could develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington.”

Declassified Operation Northwoods document
Declassified Northwoods document

On March 16, 1962, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Lemnitzer, presented Operation Northwoods to President Kennedy. Nothwoods was rejected and Lemnitzer was quickly removed from his seat of chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Operation Northwoods was successfully kept a secret until 1997, when the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review board declassified 1,521 secret military records dated 1962-64.

While Operation Northwoods was rejected and never put into action, elements of the plan sprung up elsewhere in American history. Operation Dirty trick was a plot to blame Castro if the 1962 Mercury space flight carrying John Glenn crashed, stating, “The objective is to provide irrevocable proof that, should the Mercury manned orbit flight fail, the fault lies with the Communists et al. Cuba [sic].” It continues, “This to be accomplished by manufacturing various pieces of evidence which would prove electronic interference on the part of the Cubans.” Even following the departure of General Lemnitzer, a Department of Defense policy paper in 1963 outlined the possibility of making it appear that Cuba attacked a member of the Organization of American States, where the attacked party would request American assistance, giving the US a way into all-out war with Cuba.

A significant battle during the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which paved the way for the Vietnam War that caused an estimated over 2 million deaths, was found to have “not happened” according to an internal NSA document declassified in 2005. The declassified NSA historical study stated, “[I]t is not simply that there is a different story as to what happened; it is that no attack happened that night. [...] In truth, Hanoi’s navy was engaged in nothing that night but the salvage of two of the boats damaged on August 2.”


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