Friday, 31 January 2014

Leader of the Free World

Like a good, hardworking Southern Baptist, President Carter apparently didn't have time for something so silly as turkey pardoning, and so staffed it out to Roselyn, thereby completing her hat-trick of dubious photo-ops, alongside Jim Jones and John Wayne Gacy.

Arguably, this is an impeachable abuse of power - but only if you believe that turkeys are subject to the Man's Law, and can be indicted for anything other than having been born naturally tasty and delicious.

Baptists, it seems, are not big on Original Sin.

Ukraine and How the West Treats Comparable Events in Satellite and Non-Satellite Countries Differently - by Stephen Gowan

The uprising in Ukraine represents a struggle between the West and Russia to integrate Ukraine economically, and, ultimately, militarily, into their respective orbits. I take no side in the struggle. All the same, each side wants me, and you, to take sides. Since I live in the West, and have greater exposure to the pronouncements of people of state in the West, and to the Western mass media than I do to their Russian counterparts, I’ll concentrate herein on analyzing Western efforts to shape public opinion to support the Western side of the struggle.

First, a few points by way of background:

  • Ukraine is divided nationally between ethnic Ukrainians, who are concentrated in the West, and Russians, who are concentrated in the East, and especially in Crimea. Russians in Crimea and the East lean toward integration with Russia, while ethnic Ukrainians in the West tend to resent Russia’s historical domination of Ukraine.
  • Crimea, a peninsula jutting into the Black Sea, is the home to the Russian Black Sea fleet. The current president, Yanukovych, extended the Russian lease on the naval base.
  • Russian gas bound for Europe transits Ukraine.
  • Russia does not want Ukraine to be integrated into NATO, which it views, for sound reasons, as an anti-Russian military alliance.

For the West, integration of Ukraine into its orbit means:

• Expansion of Western business opportunities.

 • Growing isolation of Russia, one of the few countries strong enough to challenge US hegemony.

 • Influence over transit of Russian gas exports to Europe. 

• Military strategic advantage.

It’s instructive to contrast the treatment by Western states and mass media of the uprising in Ukraine with the concurrent uprisings in Egypt (which the West opposes) and Syria (which it supports.)


The Syrian uprising, contrary to its depiction by Western forces as a battle for democracy, is the latest, and most violent, eruption of an ongoing Islamist insurgency dating back to the 1960s and the Muslim Brotherhood’s efforts to oust the “infidel” non-sectarian Arab nationalist government. The insurgency has since mutated into one dominated by salafist, takfiri, and al-Qaeda-aligned fighters backed by hereditary Muslim tyrannies, the Qatari and Saudi royal dictatorships, and former colonial powers, Turkey, France and Britain. The Western narrative makes obligatory references to the Syrian government as a “regime”, complains about its authoritarian nature, insists the insurgency springs from the peaceful protests of pro-democracy activists, and celebrates the “moderate” rebels. The moderate rebels are, in the main, Muslim Brothers. To be sure, they’re moderate compared to the Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, but they’re not the secular liberal- or social-democrats so many in the West would like to believe they are.


In contrast, the uprising in Egypt against a military dictatorship that ousted an elected Muslim Brother as president is treated very differently. The dictatorship is not called a “dictatorship”, nor even a “regime”, but neutrally, a “military government.” The Muslim Brothers, who have taken to the streets in protest at the coup, and have been gunned down and locked up for their troubles, are not called “pro-democracy activists”, as the Muslim Brothers in Syria are, or even moderate rebels, but an “emerging Islamist insurgency.” Nor is the dictatorship which shot them down and locked them up called a “brutal” dictatorship. The Egyptian dictatorship calls the insurgents “terrorists”, which is dispassionately noted in Western news reports, while the Assad government’s depictions of Syrian insurgents who set off car bombs in crowded downtown streets as terrorists is dismissed as patent propaganda. Egypt’s military dictatorship has banned political parties, tossed political opponents in jail on trumped up charges, and arrested journalists. Over the weekend the Egyptian military killed somewhere between 50 and 60 demonstrators. This is mechanically documented in major Western newspapers. There are no calls for Western intervention.


The recent events in Ukraine are treated very differently. The deaths of a few rioters in Ukraine sparks fevered media coverage and denunciation in Western capitals, while the president’s attempts to quell the disorder by invoking laws restricting civil liberties is treated as a major assault on human rights. Compare that to the relative silence over the deaths of many more demonstrators in Egypt and the suspension of all political liberties in that country. If we should be exercised by the state of affairs in Ukraine, surely we should be incensed on a far grander scale by the state of affairs in Egypt.

The language of the Commercially-Controlled Media

Foreign governments stand in relation to the West as satellites, in which case they’re called "allies", or non-satellites, in which case they’re “enemies”, or, if they’re large enough, “rivals.” Comparable events in any two countries will be treated in Western mass media differently and using different language depending on whether the country is a satellite (ally) or non-satellite (enemy or rival). Hence, in Syria (a non-satellite) an elected government (elected, to be sure, under restrictive conditions) is called a “regime” headed by a “dictator”, while in Egypt (a satellite) a military-appointed government is not called a “regime” but a “government” and the de facto head of state (a dictator) is simply called “the head of the military.” In Egypt, an emerging insurgency led by Muslim Brothers and Islamist fanatics is called “an emerging Islamist insurgency”, but in Syria, an insurgency reignited by Muslim Brothers and now dominated by Islamist fanatics is called a “rebellion against dictatorship.” In Ukraine (a non-satellite so far as the government goes ahead with plans to align itself with Russia and not the EU) a crackdown on dissent which is mild compared to the crackdown in Egypt (or Bahrain or Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf monarchy satellite of the United States) is treated as a major transgression on human rights, one warranting some form of Western intervention. However, no intervention is called for to stay the hand of Egypt’s military. Through the deft use of language and selective emphasis and silence, Western states concoct and spread through the mass media an understanding of events in far off places that comport with the pursuit of their own interests (which, more narrowly, once you parse them out, are the interests of their wealthiest citizens as a class.)

Efforts to integrate Ukraine into the EU are motivated by the desire of Western states to secure advantages for their economic elite, while efforts to integrate Ukraine into Russia are aimed at garnering benefits for Russian enterprises and investors. 

The interests of the bulk of Ukrainians do not, however, enter into the equation. 

Their role is simply to produce wealth for investors—Russian or Western or both—while doing so for as little compensation in wages, salary, benefits and government services as possible to allow the investors to make off with as much as possible. The interests of the bulk of Ukraine’s citizens lie, neither with the EU nor Russian elites, but with themselves.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Is Howard Hughes Dead and Buried Off a Greek Island? - BY MAE BRUSSELL AND STEPHANIE CARUANA (From Playgirl magazine, December 1974)

Is Howard Hughes Dead and Buried Off a Greek Island?

A noted theorist on conspiracies, a contributing editor, and an informer named Tiger Eye bring us an unlikely tale. Or is it?
(From Playgirl magazine, December 1974)

   Howard Hughes is dead," said Tiger Eye. "He died on Tenos, a Greek island, on April 16, 1971. His coffin was lowered into the sea the next day, off the coast of Tenos.

   "Lots of people know, they just don't talk about it. It's called the Golden Silence -- omerta."

   Reference: a front-page article in Midnight, a Canadian newspaper, dated October 18, 1971, showing two photographs. In one, a feeble-looking man is seated in a wheelchair, his head covered with what appears to be a bandage or surgical cap. He is attended by two men and a woman, who, according to Midnight, "bears a startling resemblance to Jackie Kennedy Onassis." In the second snapshot, the two men are helping the paralyzed figure walk, while the woman looks on.

   "I took the pictures from the cruise ship Oriana, on which my wife and I were enjoying a 10-day holiday," explained [George] Duncastle. "We passed close to Skorpios, and the guide on board called our attention to the island."

   On August 30, 1971, Midnight had published an article with "eyewitness reports" about a mysterious, crippled old man on the Island of Skorpios. Midnight speculated, unbelievably, that the man was John F. Kennedy, who supposedly did not die in Dallas in 1963. As a result of this article, according to Midnight, a number of people came forward with additional information. Koula Markopolis, a Greek national and a registered nurse, told Midnight that she had been on Aristotle Onassis's personal payroll for two and a half months, from November, 1968, until January, 1969. Further she said:

   "I was hired because I have a good knowledge of English. Mr. Onassis told me that the patient I would be taking care of was an Englishman.

   "The job was on the Island of Tenos. I was paid a very high salary to go there ... [and told] that people who talk about Mr. Onassis's personal business do not work for him long.

   "There were three other nurses and two doctors at Mr. Onassis's private hospital on Tenos, but there was only one patient.... I thought at the time that he was about 50, but he could have been older or younger." [Hughes would have been 63 in 1968].

   "We had to feed him, bathe him, clean up after him. Sometimes he seemed to listen to us talk, but there was seldom any sign that he understood. Mostly he stared.

   "He was quite tall, probably well over six feet tall before he was injured." [Hughes was 6'3"]

   "He weighed practically nothing, just skin and bones, no muscles. He was helpless, like a baby. His body was wasted away."

   The Greek nurse said her patient was called Mr. Smith. Miss Markopolis describes his injury:

   "One of the worst I've ever seen..... The entire back of his head was a scarred mess. If had been operated on several times. There was a metal plate under the skin to protect the brain where the bone was broken away.

   "I was told that part of his brain had been removed years ago. From the condition of the man I could only assume that it was true. He really had no reason to be alive. He must have had tremendous will and a strong constitution before he was injured."

   Miss Markopolis left the employ of Aristotle Onassis in January, 1969.

   "Mr. Onassis ... gave me a large bonus and said he knew I would protect the privacy of 'my poor friend,' as he put it.

   "There was a paralyzed and brain-damaged man on Tanos. He was being taken care of like a prince by Mr. Onassis."

   Was Onassis's mysterious patient Howard Hughes? If so, who was back in the States minding the machinations of a billion-dollar empire? Or could it be that a "control center" existed somewhere else?

   Midnight quotes a tour guide on the Greek ship Hellas.

   "I saw [the man] in the wheelchair many times in three years past. Our ship always moved close to Skorpios to let tourists have a look at the island ... [the man] was there on nearly every good day.... This spring past it was [1971] that I last saw him. He is no longer there."


   According to Midnight, American Army Major David Cordrey said he saw the same man.

   Major Cordrey witnessed on April 18 of this year [1971], a burial service in the Ionian Sea.

   "Two high-powered speedboats [came] out from Skorpios end started clearing the waters around a rocky point at one end of the island," said the major.

   "Later in the day, people gathered on the rocky point. I was curious and watched through my binoculars. One was a priest. One was Jackie Onassis, and one was Ted Kennedy. They and the others went through a ceremony over a coffin, and then watched while it was lowered into the sea."

   But Tiger Eye said Howard Hughes died on April 16, 1971, and was buried the next day -- at Tenos in the Aegean Sea.

   Tenos is a Cycladic island, about 75 miles southeast of Athens, in the Aegean Sea.

    Skorpios is an Ionian Island, about 160 miles west of Athens, in the Ionian Sea.

   Was one man buried, or two? If so, who were they?

KEY YEAR: 1957

   Tiger Eye said that Howard Hughes had been helpless and out of the country since 1957.

   Could a shift from the natural desire of a powerful man for privacy, to a calculated effort by others to conceal the fact that he was no longer running the Hughes empire be distinguished?

   Much of the basic information about Howard Hughes's pre-1957 existence was published in Howard: The Amazing Mr. Hughes, by Noah Dietrich, Hughes's righthand man -- from 1925 to March 12, 1957.

   The background of the man who, in 1925, inherited the Hughes Tool Company, is well known. During the thirties, Hughes, the famous aviator, broke the record for an around-the-world flight and was greeted by a ticker-tape parade in New York City. He designed airplanes and angled unsuccessfully for government contracts. He adored women and had his picture taken with a stream of actresses and protegees. In 1942, he hired press agent John Meyer to curry favor with politicians, generals, and the like. (John Meyer is now press aide to Aristotle Onassis; one of his responsibilities is watching over Jackie.

   "During the late 1940s and through the 1950s Howard's political contributions ran between $100,000 and $400,000 per year," says Dietrich. Among the recipients were "councilmen and supervisors, tax assessors, sheriffs, D.A.'s, governors, Congressmen, Senators, judges, Vice-Presidents and Presidents."

   Johnny Meyer seasoned the bait with glamorous women. And it worked. In 1943, Hughes Aircraft was awarded its first large government contract -- for $70 million.

   Hughes's "reclusiveness" seems to date from a plane crash on July 7, 1946, when he was critically injured. Reports of his injuries vary. Dietrich mentions nine broken ribs, bad burns on the left hand, and left lung collapsed and filled with blood. Other accounts include severe facial burns, a skull fracture, and a crushed cheekbone that had to be removed. Hughes was left with facial scars and could no longer make normal use of his left hand. Apparently, he also suffered a hearing impairment, and became increasingly deaf.

   After his recovery, Hughes grew a mustache to help cover his scars. He became obsessed with the need to protect himself and spent nearly all his time in seclusion. He surrounded himself with ex-FBI men like Robert Maheu, ex-cops, and Mormons, who he thought might be more trustworthy than others. Tales of his eccentricities were never ending. Hughes and Dietrich did most of their business over the phone.

   Early in 1957, one of Hughes's Houston lawyers suggested that Dietrich have a guardian appointed for Hughes, because the lawyer believed he was out of his mind. Dietrich refused. Two weeks later, Dr. Verne Mason, Hughes's personal physician and by this time, Director of the Hughes Medical Foundation, made the same suggestion: "Declare Howard Hughes incompetent." Again, says Dietrich, he refused.

   On March 12, 1957, Dietrich quit, over the phone, in a conversation with "Hughes," who was supposedly then in residence at his very private bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel.


   According to many accounts, Howard Hughes "married" actress Jean Peters the very next day -- May 13, 1957. They'd dated on and off for a number of years. But Hughes had squired a string of actresses and had showed no inclination to settle down with any one of them.

   Stanton O'Keefe, in his book, The Real Howard Hughes Story, describes the marriage ceremony:

   "A classic example of Hughes's penchant for secrecy. It took place in Tonopah, Nevada. Senator Howard Cannon, who was then the city attorney of Las Vegas and a personal friend of Hughes, took care of all the legal arrangements -- including the trick maneuver that protected the validity of the marriage contract while allowing the couple to register under assumed names."

   The wedding was "announced" in Louella Parsons's column. Reporters combed Nevada, but were unable to find any trace of the marriage. One of them finally remarked, "The nearest I can come to it is that they were married by a Parson named Louella."

   For several years after their "marriage," Hughes and Jean Peters were supposed to be living in a Bel Air mansion, but the owner of the house never saw the "husband." The couple was not seen in public together in over thirteen years of marriage, and there is no record of their ever having been photographed with each other.

   After "Hughes" moved to Las Vegas late in 1966, their "marital life" consisted, or so it seemed, of devoted Jean Peters flying out from an empty house in Bel Air to visit "Howard" in Las Vegas for half an hour or so, every couple of weeks. After thirteen years of "marriage," Jean Peters filed for a divorce. It came through in June 1971. Jean allegedly got $2 million out of the deal.

   Was this "marriage" only an elaborate explanation of why Hughes stopped chasing movie actresses in 1957?

   If Hughes was buried at sea in April, 1971, was his "divorce" a ploy to quell persistent rumors that he was dead, or dying? Dead men don't get divorces. Or do they?

   Jean Peters isn't talking.

   When Dietrich faded from the scene in 1957, other men in the Hughes organization moved up -- among them, ex-FBI man Robert Maheu and Chester Davis.

   A San Francisco paper quotes Maheu: "In 1957 (Hughes) went to Montreal. Then he traveled to the Bahamas, where he stayed six or seven weeks on the fifth floor of the Emerald Beach Hotel in Nassau before returning to Los Angeles."

   But Maheu admitted that he himself had only seen "Hughes" twice, and briefly -- in 1954 and 1966 -- during the sixteen years he worked for his organization. Someone came back from Nassau to Los Angeles. Was it Hughes -- or a Hughes double?

   There are many photos of Howard Hughes circa 1947, a year after the plane crash which almost killed him. The face is slightly twisted; the mustache is a bit too long; and the smile is almost gone.

   In the Dietrich book we get our first look at the man who may have been Hughes's double. This photo shows a handsome, smiling "Hughes" at the controls of a plane. It is dated May 1, 1947, but it doesn't look like other pictures of Hughes taken at the same time. It looks like a photo of a man named Brucks Randell, taken in 1954. According to a story in the San Jose Mercury, January 24, 1972, Brucks Randell, a bit actor, was hired by a Hughes employee, Gerald Chouinard, to pose as Howard Hughes's double in 1957 and 1958, to "draw newsmen and others off the recluse's trail." "I did this on my own incentive because I was afraid to ask Hughes's permission," Chouinard said. "We fooled the press. We fooled everybody. We never had to say, 'This is Howard Hughes' anywhere we went. We never mentioned that name to anyone. 

We let people draw their own conclusions."

   Has anyone seen Brucks Randell recently -- the only (as far as we know) publicly identified Hughes double -- and during the critical years of 1957 and 1958?

   Early in 1958, Frank McCullough of Time sought to interview Hughes. McCullough made a list of about fifty questions and passed them along to a Hughes aide. Two days later, the phone rang, and a flat, nasal voice at the other end identified himself as Howard Hughes. "Hughes" called at all hours of the night, and engaged in long monologues. When McCullough insisted on a personal meeting, "Hughes" had him driven to an unfinished runway at Los Angeles International Airport. McCullough writes: "A lanky six-footer came ambling out of the dark, asked my name and stood there. I stuck out my hand and said, 'Good to meet you personally, Howard.' The figure beat a hasty retreat, clutching his right hand to his chest. 'Oh,' he explained, 'I can't shake hands. I was just sitting in my car eating a hot dog, and I got mustard on my hand. What's more, I was shaving and I cut my hand'. . . (Hughes is dreadfully afraid of picking up germs through human contact.)"

   Was "Hughes" also afraid of leaving unnecessary fingerprints lying around?

   "Hughes" took McCullough for a ride in a 707, with a co-pilot and Jean Peters. McCullough reports that "Hughes," the crack aviator, was a lousy pilot. When "Hughes" landed the plane it "hit hard, bounced about five times, and rolled to a screeching halt just before the fence."

    That was the first -- and last -- time "Howard and Jean" ever made a dual appearance.

    Was the lousy pilot really Howard Hughes or his double Brucks Randell? And who would have the motives to stage such an elaborate hoax?

   The "Hughes" mythology since 1957 is littered with references to various doubles.

   Robert Maheu, describing the "military maneuvers" used to transport "Hughes" from Boston to Las Vegas in November 1966, says that a man "posing as Hughes" got into one railway train, while "the realHughes" sneaked into another train.

   At the other end of the line, Maheu informs us, a "false Hughes" was carried "surreptitiously" through the lobby of the Desert Inn on a stretcher while "the real Hughes" strode unnoticed through the lobby with the rest of the mob.

    According to Omar Garrison's book, Howard Hughes in Las Vegas, "A favorite game among many Las Vegas residents. . . is 'watching for Hughes.' He has been reported -- in various disguises -- in restaurants, bars, casinos. . . at airports, and (in jest) walking across Lake Mead. . . Most of these sightings have been of a Hughes look-alike who, until 1968 [our italics], was employed by the invisible man as a decoy.

    "The Hughes stand-in was discharged for undisclosed reasons. . . Thereafter, he disappeared into a private home in Van Nuys, California, and has not been seen in public since."

    How do you "disappear" into a private home? And where does the back door take you?


   "Hughes" supposedly departed from the penthouse at the Desert Inn, Las Vegas, on Thanksgiving Eve, 1970. The timing is important. Rumors were rife that Hughes was ill or dying; demands were being made that he appear in person to reorganize his Las Vegas empire. Things were getting hot.

   Was it really Howard Hughes who departed from Las Vegas -- or was it, once more, the Hughes double?

    Then someone surfaced in the Bahamas. "Hughes" was quickly passed through Customs under the watchful eye of the U.S. Consul -- without ever making an appearance.


   After December, 1970, some descriptions of the rare "Hughes" sightings became increasingly bizarre.

   Was the real Hughes seriously ailing somewhere? Were careful preparations being made to see that even his death did not interfere with the smooth operation of the Hughes empire? And by whom?

    From the many conflicting descriptions of Hughes sightings in 1971 and 1972, there may even have been two Hughes doubles floating around the world for a time.

    One was described as a tall, scrawny, sickly, bearded semi-cripple, weighing less than one hundred pounds, with six-inch-long fingernails and scraggly white hair down to the middle of his back, who occasionally wore Kleenex boxes on his feet to avoid contact with the ground.

   The other "Hughes" was a vigorous, well-groomed executive, who wore a neat Van Dyke beard, kept his gray hair cut to the normal length, shook hands freely, was said to chat with visitors, and gave interviews every now and then -- but only to people like the President of Nicaragua, or else over the phone.

   Bob Rehak, the skipper of a luxury yacht who said he brought "Hughes" from the Bahamas to Florida in February 1972, gave a newspaper interview describing his "Hughes" this way: "He had this stringy beard, real thin, and it came halfway to his waist. His hair was real fine, too, down over his shoulders. . . During those twenty-two hours, he used up six to eight boxes (of tissues), wiping his chin, wiping his face, his hands, his spoon, nearly everything he touched."

   Rehak said his passenger constantly wrote notes on a yellow legal pad. "It was a funny thing -- after he got through writing something on a pad or using a box of Kleenex, his men would tear it up in little bits and throw it overboard."

   Tiger Eye insists that Hughes died in 1971. Yet the masquerade continued. Why?


   To quote Clifford Irving: "There are about two billion little reasons -- all of them green."

   Dietrich reports Howard Hughes's first "major" purchase of an election. It involved the contribution of $60,000 to a successful senatorial campaign in 1952. Hughes moved on to bigger things.

   A few weeks after the election in November 1956, Hughes negotiated a $205,000 "loan" to new Vice President Richard M. Nixon's brother, Donald. (See The Nixon-Hughes "Loan"; the "Loan" No One Repaid, by Nicholas North-Broome.) The loan was said to be for the purpose of bailing out Donald's failing restaurant, Nixon's, in Whittier, California. Specialite de la maison was the "Nixonburger." 

   "Security" for the loan was a vacant lot, assessed for tax purposes at $13,000. The lot belonged to Nixon's mother. The restaurant went bankrupt a few months later. No one knows what happened to the $205,000.

   Some observers have intimated that Hughes's loan to Donald, in effect, "bought" Vice President Nixon for Hughes. Shortly thereafter, the troubles of Hughes's airline, TWA, were over; an antitrust suit against Hughes Tool was quietly shelved; various investigations of other Hughes operations ground to a halt.

   But perhaps the nicest thing that happened to the Hughes empire is described by Dietrich:

   "Something curious happened one month after the loan was made [February 1957]. The Internal Revenue Service made a reversal and ruled that the Howard Hughes Medical Foundation was entitled to tax-exempt status. The request for tax exemption had twice been refused by the IRS and the Treasury Department. But early in 1957, Howard was able to win that status for his foundation, which owned all the stock in Hughes Aircraft."

   Result: All the proceeds from Hughes Aircraft, estimated as at least half a million dollars a year, are swallowed up by the Hughes Medical Foundation, with headquarters in Miami, Florida. The sole trustee of the Foundation is Howard Hughes. As a privately-owned, tax-exempt foundation, the Howard Hughes Medical Foundation is not required to render any account of how much money it receives, and how it is spent, except to the IRS.

   Was an open-ended money funnel set up, into which millions of tax-free dollars could disappear? Wouldn't the man who controlled such a funnel be in a position to control U.S. elections -- and thus, the United States -- through tax-free "contributions"?

   And what about the Hughes Vegas casinos which, oddly, lose money while the other casinos rake it in?

   Does the "lost" money find its way somehow into the "Hughes" tax-free Hughes Medical Foundation? 

Where does it go from there?

   Hughes has been reported to have tried to "buy" the Bahamas. Or was it Nicaragua?

   What about "buying" Biafra, reputed to be sitting on a pool of oil, and subjecting it to some "top secret medical research" -- conducted by a "top-secret" Hughes communications and weather satellite?

   Hank Greenspun, editor of the Las Vegas Sun, explained that the unsuccessful attempt to break into his files in the summer of 1972 was because his files contained "Hughes's game plans for the election of Presidents, Senators, and Governors..."

   If the price of a Vice-President is a quarter of a million dollars, what would a President cost?


   An article in the Los Angeles Times, January 28, 1971, described a computer which had been programmed to "write" the signature of Howard Hughes -- with a photo of the computer "signing" a piece of paper. Handwriting experts argued that the computer's signature was an obvious fake. "But," they added, "the digitizer-computer-plotter system could be used with greater sophistication to produce handwriting good enough to fool a handwriting expert."

   In 1968 a Hughes aide ordered a computer record prepared: "a chronological synopsis of every news story or book which had ever been published about Hughes, plus private material supplied by the Hughes Tool Company."

   The result was an inch-and-a-half-thick cross-referenced biography of Howard R. Hughes. "Only a few copies of the print-out were ever made. They were distributed only to top Hughes executives."

   Had the metamorphosis from man to machine begun?

   In January 1972, the Associated Press reports, in an effort to "prove" once and for all that Hughes was alive and well somewhere, seven handpicked (by the Hughes organization) reporters sat in a conference room, speaking with "a voice emanating from a small box . . . All agreed the voice was indeed that of Hughes. Two voiceprint experts concurred."

   The reporters agreed that the man they spoke to had to be Hughes, because of his detailed answers to some of the questions. But other observers found the answers inadequate. Even computers don't win them all.

   Sophisticated new photographic techniques can easily detect differences between one person's physiognomy and another's. Is this why around 1968, the Hughes organization was reported to be quietly buying up every old newsreel with Hughes in it that they could find?

    In 1972, the Hughes empire, disguised this time as Rosemont Enterprises, successfully suppressed the publication of Clifford Irving's "biography" of Hughes. But it simultaneously "allowed" other material to slip through to the public, in the form of excerpts from a Hughes "autobiography," My Life and Opinions, "edited" by Robert P. Eaton. Eaten claimed his book was based on two manuscripts given to him by Hughes in 1970, after a thirteen-year, "almost clandestine" friendship dating back to 1957. But Tiger Eye tells us Hughes had been out of the country and helpless all that time.

    The excerpts were published in the Ladies' Home Journal. February 1972 -- the same month that skipper Bob Rehak conveyed his "Howard Hughes" to Miami. They contained this remark by Hughes:

   "It is possible to keep a man's death hidden for several years through use of computerized voice tapes which can continue to communicate and even answer questions completely in character by means of telephone."
Eaten disclosed Hughes's desire to have his body deep-frozen after death, to be revived later when medical science developed the proper techniques.

"Hughes" speaking, via Eaten in Ladies' Home Journal:

   "If instructions were left that the estate was to remain the continued responsibility of the deceased, the computer would instruct those charged with its management by relaying instructions as though the deceased were still alive.

   "It is possible even now to select, by use of a computer, words, phrases, even inflections out of a mass of taped sounds in the subject's own voice, so that one would believe he was actually speaking to the person himself . . . [it is possible that] a man's death could actually be hidden for a number of years to all but a trusted and loyal few."

   Why was the Eaten book released? What purpose was it meant to serve? Could it have been to establish Hughes as a man whose dearest wish is to run his empire even from the grave if necessary? In accordance with an elaborate will, every effort would then be made by Howard Hughes's estate to keep the Hughes estate intact until its rightful owner could rise again from his icy tomb, like a second Christ, thanks to the theoretical miracles of scientific rejuvenation, and take the reins himself.

   Or was it to establish Hughes as a cryogenics "nut"? Then his "frozen remains" would remain securely sealed up in a capsule, safe from any possibly embarrassing examinations to determine whether they were Hughes's or a double.

    The capsule might even contain other items: a "voice box"; a cross-referenced biographical computer print-out; several thousand assorted, verified "fingerprints"; some old newsreels, and a magnetic tape that knows how to write Howard R. Hughes a million times without making a single mistake.

   Today, a $250 million ship, the 618-foot "Hughes" Glomar Explorer, is writing Howard Hughes's name across the bottom of the ocean. Like a giant phonograph needle, the Hughes rig circles the ocean floor, sucking up 5,000 tons of minerals a day.

    Hughes communications satellites encircle the globe, with the potential of reaching into every TV set in the world. In Las Vegas, Hughes casinos rake in the chips.

   Howard Hughes has recently been indicted in two criminal cases -- and is still a major recipient of multimillion-dollar government contracts -- paid for out of our tax dollars.

   Hughes has allegedly influenced every major election, contributing liberally to both Democrats and Republicans, up to the Presidential level, since 1956.

    Hughes's name has been linked with the Watergate conspiracy, at the highest level of our government.

   Hughes oil-well drill bits suck the oil from thousands of wells, Hughes airplanes ferry us back and forth, and Hughes police helicopters keep us in line.

    For the public, the questions remain.

   Is Howard Hughes dead?

   Are the gnarled remains of the legendary billionaire resting in a coffin at the bottom of the Aegean Sea? Is Howard Hughes a computer?

   Has Aristotle Onassis, like a great green octopus, got hold of yet another empire?

Based on material from Why Was Howard Hughes Kidnapped? Copyright 1974 by Mae Brussell and Stephanie Caruana.
Mae Brussell is a researcher who has spent ten years studying political assassinations and conspiracies in the United States. She teaches a course called Assassinations and Conspiracies at Monterey Peninsula College, and does a weekly radio news analysis over Station KLRB-FM, in Carmel, California.
Stephanie Caruana is a regular contributor to Playgirl, currently working with Mae Brussell.

Edward Snowden of the CIA Does Not Fear Assassination

In 2007, the CIA stationed you with a diplomatic cover in Geneva in Switzerland. Why did you join the CIA by the way?

I don’t think I can actually answer that one.

If it is what you were doing there, forget it. But why did you join the CIA?

In many ways, I think it’s a continuation of trying to do everything I could to prosecute the public good in the most effective way. It’s in line with the rest of my government service. I try to use my technical skills, in the most difficult positions I could find in the world. The CIA offered that.

If we look back, special forces, CIA, NSA, it’s not actually the description of a human rights activist or somebody who becomes a whistleblower. What happened to you?

I: Mr Snowden, did you sleep well the last couple of nights? Because I was reading that you asked for a kind of police protection. Are there any threats?

S: There are significant threats, but I sleep I sleep very well. There was an article that came out in an online outlet called Buzzfeed where they interviewed officials from the Pentagon, National Security Agency. They gave them anonymity to be able to say what they wanted. What they told the reporter was that they wanted to murder me. These individuals, and these are acting government officials. They would be happy, they would love to put a bullet in my head, poison me returning from the grocery story and, have me die in the shower.

But fortunately, you are still alive with us
Right, but I'm still alive. And i don't lose sleep because i've done what i feel that i did what i needed to do. The right thing to do Not going to be afraid.

The greatest feel I have, and I quote you, regarding these disclosures, is that nothing will change. That was one of your yoru greatest concerns at the time. But in the meantime, there is a vivid discussion about the situation with the NSA. Not only in America but in Germany and in Brazil. And president Obama was forced to go public to justify what the NSA was doing on legal grounds.
What we saw initially in response to the revelations was a sort of circling of the wagons of government around the NSA. Instead of circling around the public and protecting their rights, the political class circled around the security state and protected their rights. What is interesting is though that was the initial response, since then we've seen a softening. We've seen the president acknowledge that when he first said "we've drawn the right balance, there are no abuses," we've seen him and his officials admit there have been abuses. There have been thousands of violations of the NSA and other agency's authority every single year.

Is the speech of Obama recently, the beginning of a serious regulation?
It was clear from the president's speech that he wanted to make minor changes to preserve authorities that we don't need. The president created a review board from officials that are personal friends, from national security insiders, former deputy of CIA. People who had every incentive to be soft on these programs. To see them in the best possible light. But what they found was that these programs have no value. They've never stopped a terrorist attack in the United States, and they have marginal utility for other things. The only thing that the section 215 phone metadata program, it's actually a broader metadata program, a bulk collection program. A bulk collection means mass surveillance. program was in stopping or detecting 8500 dollar wire transfer from a cab driver in california. And it's this kind of review where insiders go "we don't need these programs, these programs don't make us safe. they take a tremendous amount of resources to run and they offer us no value. They go, we can modify these." The NSA operates under the President's executive order alone. he can end, or modify, or direct a change in their policy at any time.

For the first time President Obama did concede the NSA collects and stores trillions of data.
Every time you pick up the phone, dial a number, write an email, make a purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace. And the government has decided that it’s a good idea to collect it all. Everything. Even if you’ve never been suspected of any crime. Traditionally, the government would identify a subject, go to a judge, say “we suspect he’s committed this crime,” they would get a warrant, and then they could use the totality of their powers in pursuit of the investigation. nowadays what we see is they want to apply the totality of their powers in advance. Prior to an investigation.

You started this debate. Edward Snowden is, in the meantime, a household name for the whistleblower in the age of the internet. You were working til last summer for the NSA and during this time you collected secretly thousands of confidential documents. What was the decisive moment, or was there a long period of time, or something something happening? Why did you do this?
I would say sort of the breaking point is seeing the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper directly lie under oath to congress. There’s no saving an intelligence community that believes it can lie to the public and the legislators who need to be able to trust it and regulate its actions. See that really meant for me there was no going back. Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name and that which the government is doing against the public. But neither of these things, we were allowed to discuss, allowed to know. Even the wider body of our elected representatives were prohibited from knowing or discussing these programs. And that’s a dangerous thing. The only review we had was from a secret court, the Pfiza court(?), which is a sort of rubber stamp authority. When you are on the inside, when you go into work every day, when you sit down at the desk and you realize the power you have, you can wiretap the president of the United States. you can wiretap federal judge. And if you do it carefully, no one will ever know because the only way the NSA discovers abuses are from self-reporting.

We are not talking only of the NSA as far as this is concerned. There is a multi-lateral agreement for cooperation among the surfaces. And this alliance of intelligence operations is known as the Five Eyes. What agencies and countries belong to this alliance, and what is its purpose?
The five eyes alliance is sort of an artifact of the post-WWII era where the anglophone countries of the major powers banded together to sort of cooperate and share the costs of intelligence gathering infrastructure. So we have the UK’s GHTCQ, the US NSA, we have Canada’s CSEC, we have the Australian Signals Intelligence Directorate. We have New Zealand’s DSD. What the result of this was, over decades and decades, was a sort of supra-national intelligence organization that doesn’t answer to the laws of its own countries.

In many countries, as in America too, the agencies like the NSA are not allowed to spy within their own borders, on their own people. So the Brits, for example, they can spy on everybody but the Brits. But the NSA can conduct surveillance in England. In the very end, they could exchange their data and it would be, they would be strictly following the law.
If you ask the governments about this directly, they would deny it. And point to policy agreements between the members of five eyes saying they won’t spy on each others’ citizens. But there are a couple key points there. One is that the way they define spying is not the collection of data. The GHTCQ is collecting an incredible amount of data on British citizens, just as the NSA is gathering an enormous amount of data on US citizens. What they are saying is that they will not then target within that data. They won’t look for US citizens or British citizens. In addition, the policy agreements between them that say British won’t target US citizens, the US won’t target British citizens, are not legally binding. The actual memorandums of agreement state specifically on that they’re not intended to put a legal restriction on any government. The policies agreements that can be deviated from or broken at any time. So if they want to spy on a British citizen, they can spy on a British citizen. And then they can share that data with the British government which is itself forbidden from spying on UK citizens. So there is a sort of trading dynamic there. But it’s not open, it’s more a of a nudge and a wink. And beyond that, the key is to remember that the surveillance and the abuse doesn’t occur when people look at the data. It’s when people gather the data in the first place.

9:20 mark - taking a break.
How narrow is the cooperation of the German Secret Service with the NSA and the five eyes?
I would describe it as intimate. As a matter of fact, the first was I described it in a written interview was that German services and US services are in bed together. They not only share information, the information, the results for intelligence, but they share the tools and infrastructure. They work together against joint targets and services. And there’s a lot of danger in this. one of the major programs that face abuse in the NSA is what is called XkeyScore. It’s a front end search engine that allows them to look through all of the records they collect through worldwide everyday.

What could you do if you could sit, so to speak, in their place, with this sort of instrument?
You could read anyone’s email around the world. Anybody you’ve got an email address for, any website you can watch website to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at you can watch it. Any laptop that you are tracking, you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information. And what’s more, you can tag individuals using Xkeyscore where let’s say I saw you once and I thought what you were doing was interesting. or you just have access that is interesting to me. Let’s say you work at a major german corporation. And I want access to that network. I can track your username on a website, on a form somewhere. I can track your real name, I can track associations with your friends. And I can build what is called a fingerprint, which is network activity unique to you. Which means anywhere you go in the world, anywhere you try to sort of hide your online presence, hide your identity, the NSA you can find you and anyone who is allowed to use this, or who the NSA shares the software with, can do the same thing. Germany is one of the countries that has access to xkeyscore.

This sounds rather frightening. The question is: does the (?) deliver the data of Germans to the NSA?
Whether the BND does it directly, or knowingly, the NSA gets German data. Whether it’s provided I can’t speak to until it’s been reported because it would be classified and I prefer the journalists make the distinctions and the decisions about what is public interest and what should be published. However, it’s no secret that every country in the world has the data of their citizens in the NSA. Millions and millions and millions of data conniptions from Germans going about their daily lives, talking on their cell phones, sending SMS messages, visiting websites, buying things online. All of this ends up at the NSA. And it’s reasonable to suspect that the BND may be aware of it in some capacity. Now whether or not they actively provide the information, I.. should not say.

The BND basically argues “if we do this, we do this accidentally, and our filter didn’t work.”
Right. So the kind of things that they’re discussing there are two things. They’re talking about filtering of ingest which means when the NSA puts a secret server in a German telecommunications provider, or they hack a German router and they divert the traffic in a manner that lets them search through things. They’re saying “what I think is a German talking to another German, I’ll drop it.” But how do you know? You could say, “well, these people are speaking the German language, this IP address seems to be from a German company to another Germany company.” But that’s not accurate, and they wouldn’t dump all of that traffic. Because they’ll get people who are targets of interest, who are actively in Germany using German communications. So realistically what is happening is when they say there is no spying on Germans. They don’t mean the German data isn’t being gathered, they don’t mean that records aren’t being taken or stolen. What they mean is that they’re not intentionally searching for German citizens. And that’s sort of a fingers crossed behind the back promise. It’s not reliable.

What about other European countries, like Norway and Sweden. We have a lot of under water cables going through the Balitic Sea.
So this is sort of an expansion of the same idea. If the NSA isn’t collecting information on German citizens in Germany, are they as soon as it leaves German borders? and the answer is yes. Any single communication that transits the internet the NSA may intercept at multiple points. They might see it in Germany, they might see it in Sweden, they might see it in Norway or Finland. They might see it in Britian and they might see it in the United States. Any single one of these places that a German communication crosses, it’ll be ingested and added to the database.

So let’s come to our Southern European neighbors then. What about Italy, what about France, what about Spain?
It’s the same deal worldwide.

Does the NSA spy on Seimen’s, on Mercedis? On other successful German companies? For example, to prevail, to have the advantage of what is going on in a scientific and economic world?
I won’t want to preempt the editorial decisions of journalists.
But what I will say is there is no question that the US is engaged in economic spying. If there is information at Siemen’s that they think would be beneficial to the National interests, not the national security of the United States, they’ll go after that information and they’ll take it

there is this old saying.. you do whatever you can do. So the NSA is doing whatever is technically possible.
This is something that the president touched on last year. Where he said just because we can do something - and this was in relation to tapping Angela Merkel phones - Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean that we should. And that’s exactly what’s happened. The technological capabilities that have been provided because sort of weak security standards in internet protocols and cellular communications networks. Have meant that intelligence services can create systems that see everything.

Nothing annoyed the German government more than the fact that the NSA tapped the private phone of the German chancellor over the last 10 years obviously. Suddenly this invisible surveillance was connected to a known face. Was not connected to a kind of watery-sheddy terrorist background. Obama now promised to stop snooping on Merkel. Which raises the question - did the NSA tap already previous governments in Germany, previous Chancellors. When did they do this, and how long did they do this for?
This is a particularly difficult question for me to answer. Because there is information that I very strongly believe is in the public interest. However, as I’ve said before, I prefer for journalists to make those decisions in advance, review the material themselves and decide whether or not the public value of this information outweighs the reputational cost to the officials that ordered the surveillance. What I can say is we know Angela Merkel was monitored by the National Security Agency. The question is - how reasonable is it to assume that she is the only German official that was monitored? How reasonable is it to believe that she is the only prominent German face who the NSA was watching? I would suggest it seem unreasonable that if anyone was concerned about the intention of German leadership that they would only watch Merkel and not her aides. Not other prominent officials, not heads of ministry. Or even local government officials.

How does a young man from Elizabeth City in North Carolina, 30 years old, get in such a position in such a sensitive area?
That’s a very difficult question to answer. In general, I would say it highlights the dangers of privatizing government functions. I worked previously as an actual staff officer. A government employee for the CIA. But I have also served much more frequently as a contractor in a private capacity. What that means in - you have private, for-profit companies doing inherently governmental work like targeted espionage, surveillance, compromising foreign systems. And anyone who has the skills, who can convince a private company that they have the qualifications to do so, will be empowered by the government to do that. There is very little oversight, there’s very little review.

Have you been one of these classical computer kids? Sitting, red eyed, staring in the nights in the age of 12, 15, and your father was knocking on your door telling you to switch off the light, it’s too late now. Did you get your computer skills from that side? When did you get your first computer?
Right. I definitely have had a, shall we say, a deep informal education in computers and electronic technology. They’ve always been interesting and fascinating to me. The characterization of having your parents telling you to go to bed, I would say is fair.

If one looks to the little public data of your data, one discovers that you obviously wanted to join in 2004 the special forces to fight in Iraq. What motivated you at the time? Special forces, looking at you in this moment, means grim fighting and probably killing and.. did you ever get to Iraq?
No, I didn’t get to Iraq. one of the interesting things about the special forces is that they are not intended for direct combat. They are what is referred to as a force multiplier. They are inserted behind enemy lines. It is a squad that has a number of different specialties in it, and they teach and enable the local population to resist or to support US forces. In a way that allows the local population a chance to help determine their own destiny. And I felt that was an inherently noble thing at the time. in hindsight, some of the reasons that we went into Iraq were not well founded. And I think did a disservice to everyone involved?

What happened to your adventure then? Did you stay long with them? What happened to you?
No, I broke my legs when I was in training and was discharged.

So it was a short adventure?
It was a short adventure.

In 2007, the CIA stationed you with a diplomatic cover in Geneva in Switzerland. Why did you join the CIA by the way?

I don’t think I can actually answer that one.

If it is what you were doing there, forget it. But why did you join the CIA?

In many ways, I think it’s a continuation of trying to do everything I could to prosecute the public good in the most effective way. It’s in line with the rest of my government service. I try to use my technical skills, in the most difficult positions I could find in the world. The CIA offered that.

If we look back, special forces, CIA, NSA, it’s not actually the description of a human rights activist or somebody who becomes a whistleblower. What happened to you?

i think it tells a story, and that’s no matter how deeply an individual is embedded in the government, no matter how faithful to the government they are, no matter how strongly they believe in the causes of their government, as I did during the Iraq war… People can learn. People can discover the line between appropriate government behavior and actual wrong doing. And I think it became clear to me that that line had been crossed.

You worked for the NSA through a private contract with the name Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the big names in the business. what is the advantage for the US Government or the CIA to work through a private contractor to outsource a central government function?

Contracting culture of the National Security community in the United States is a complex topic. It’s driven by a number of interests between primarily limiting the number of direct government employees, at the same time as keeping lobbying groups and congress typically from very well funded businesses, such as Booz Allen Hamilton. The problem there is you end up in a situation where government policies are being influenced by private corporations who have interests that are completely divorced from the public good in mind. The result of that is what we saw at Booz Allen Hamilton where you have private individuals who have access to what the government alleges were millions and millions of records that they could walk out the door with at any time with no accountability. No oversight, no auditing, the government didn’t even know they were gone.

At the very end, you ended up in Russia. Many of the intelligence community suspect you made a deal. Classified material for asylum here in Russia.

The chief of the task force investigating me has recently as December said that their investigation had turned up no evidence or indicators at all that I had any outside help or contact or had made a deal of any kind. To accomplish my mission. I worked alone, I didn’t need anybody’s help. I don’t have any ties to foreign governments. i’m not a spy for Russia or China or any other country for that matter. If I am a traitor, who did I betray? I gave all of my information to the American public, to American journalists who were reporting on American issues. If they see that as treason, I think people really need to consider who do they think they’re working for? The public is supposed to be their boss, not their enemy. Beyond that, as far as my personal safety, I’ll never be fully safe until these systems have changed.

After your revelations, none of the European countries really offered you asylum. Where did you apply in Europe for asylum?

I can’t remember the list of countries with any specificity because there were many of them. But France, Germany were definitely in there, as was the UK. A number of European countries. All of whom unfortunately felt that doing the right thing was less important than supporting US political concerns.

One reaction to the NSA’s snooping is that countries like Germany are thinking of creating national Internets in attempt to force internet companies to keep their data in their own country. Does this work?

It’s not going to stop the NSA, let’s put it that way. The NSA goes where the data is. If the NSA can pull text messages out of a telecommunication network in China, they can probably manage to get Facebook messages out of Germany. Ultimately, the solution to that is not to try to stick everything in a walled garden, although that does raise the level of sophistication and complexity of taking the information. It’s also much better simply to secure the information internationally against everyone rather than playing let’s move the data. Moving the data isn’t fixing the problem. Securing the data is the problem.

President Obama in the very moment doesn’t care too much about the message of the leaks. And, together with the NSA, they do care very much more about catching the message in that context. Obama asked the Russian President several times to extradite you, but did not. It looks like you will stay probably the rest of your life in Russia. How do you feel about Russia in that context? I there a solution to that problem?

I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that these leaks didn’t cause harm. In fact, they served the public good. Because of that, I think it would be very difficult to maintain a sort of ongoing campaign of persecution against someone who the public agrees served the public interest.

The New York Times wrote a very long comment and demanded clemency for you. The headline “Edward Snowden, whistleblower.” And I quote from that “the public learning to great detail how the agency has extended its mandate and abused its authority” and the New York Times closes “President Obama should tell his aides to begin finding a way to end Mister Snowden’s vilification and give him an incentive to return home.” Did you get a call in between from the Whitehouse?

I’ve never received a call from the Whitehouse, and I’m not waiting by the phone. But i would welcome the opportunity to talk about how we can bring this to a conclusion that serves the interest of all parties. I think it’s clear - there are times where what is lawful is distinct from what is rightful. There are times throughout history, and it doesn’t take long for either an American or a German to think about times in the history of their country where the law provided the government to do things which were not right.

President Obama in the moment seems not quite convinced of that. Because he says you are charged with three felonies, and I quote “if you, Edward Snowden, believe in what you did you should go back to America, appear before the court with a lawyer and make your case.” Is this the solution?

It’s interesting because he mentions three felonies. What he doesn’t say is that the crimes he has charged me with are crimes that doesn’t allow me to make my case. They don’t allow me to defend myself in an open court to the public and convince a jury that what I did was to their benefit. The espionage act was never intended.. it’s from 1918.. it was never intended to prosecute journalistic sources. People who are informing the newspapers about information that is of public interest. It was intended for people who are selling documents in secret to foreign governments, who are bombing bridges, who were sabotaging communications. not people who were serving the public good. So I would say it’s illustrative that the president would choose to say “someone should face the music” when he knows the music is a show trial.

Edward Snowden, thank you so much for the interview.

Thank You.