Although people around the world are becoming increasingly aware of the United States’ global geography of surveillance, covert action, and other secret programs, much of this landscape is invisible in our everyday lives.
The drone war, for example, seems to happen “somewhere else” while surveillance programs take place among the (largely) invisible infrastructures and digital protocols of the internet and other communications networks. Moreover, the state agencies responsible for secret programs strive to make them as invisible as possible. In this talk, artist Trevor Paglen discusses his work attempting to “see” the various aspects of the secret state. In examples ranging from tracking spy satellites to foraging through the bureaucratic refuse of CIA front companies, Paglen will discuss methods used to identify and exploit structural contradictions in classified programs which render them visible, and comment on the aesthetics and politics of attempting to “see” secrecy.
The internet, GPS, voice recognition programs like Siri – many of the technologies that we use today were developed with national security in mind. These inventions and many others began as projects of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Defense Department’s secretive military research agency. For more than fifty years, DARPA has held to a singular and enduring mission: to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security. The genesis of that mission and of DARPA itself dates to the Cold War and the launch of Sputnik in 1957, and a commitment by the United States that it would be the initiator and not the victim of strategic technological surprises. Working with innovators inside and outside of government, DARPA has repeatedly delivered on that mission, transforming revolutionary concepts and even seeming impossibilities into practical capabilities. The ultimate results have included not only game-changing military capabilities such as precision weapons and stealth technology, but also major innovations in modern civilian society.
How do they do it? What makes this military organization such fertile ground for invention? What technologies with useful daily applications have failed to enter into civilian use? Can Silicon Valley learn from DARPA, or vice versa? Drawing on extensive interviews, declassified memos and inside sources, investigative journalist Annie Jacobsen will share insights into this top-secret organization.
Speaker Annie Jacobsen is an Investigative Journalist and Author [of The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top-Secret Military Research Agency].
The conversation is moderated by Andrew Becker, Reporter, The Center for Investigative Reporting.
Host Len Osanic with Jim DiEugenio on Black Op Radio #755 10/29/15
David Talbot discusses his book “The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government“
The second interview of David Talbot on Democracy Now.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Our guest is David Talbot. His book is The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government. He’s the founder and former CEO and editor-in-chief of Salon. Let’s start with the title, The Devil’s Chessboard. Why did you call it that, David?
DAVID TALBOT:The Devil’s Chessboard refers to the fact that the Dulles brothers—John Foster Dulles, who’s secretary of state under Eisenhower, and his brother, Allen Dulles, who I focus on, head of the CIA—they loved to play chess with each other. They would go at it for hours, even when Allen Dulles was about to be married. He kept his wife-to-be waiting around while the two brothers went at it. And they tended to look at the world as their chessboard. People were pawns to be manipulated. So I felt that was a—you know, an apt metaphor.
But, Amy, I wanted to go back to what you were talking about—alternative media—before this. I think—I just want to underline what you were saying about how essential it is to have countervoices. They are the lifeblood of democracy. And shows like yours and public radio are just essential. You know, my book is having a hard time getting through the media gatekeepers. They don’t want to hear about this, and in part because the CIA, particularly under Allen Dulles, but even today, are masters at manipulating the media. I’ve been on shows and been bumped. I was scheduled to be on shows at the last minute, strangely. I was supposed to write something for Politico magazine. Someone there called the book a “masterpiece.” They wanted the book to be, you know, showcased there. Instead, I was bumped from Politico. And an article based on recently leaked CIA documents—conveniently leaked—was written by a former New York Timesreporter, Phil Shenon, and what he did was to basically accuse Fidel Castro of assassinating President Kennedy. This has been a CIA disinformation line for years. So the CIA is still manipulating the media, and it’s essential that independent media exists, like this. […]