Night Of First Ed Snowden Story, Streets In Front Of Guardian's NY Office & Home Of Its US Editor Suddenly Dug Up

from the hmm... dept

The Guardian is running a fascinating excerpt from Luke Harding's upcoming book, entitled The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man. The excerpt is entitled How Edward Snowden went from loyal NSA contractor to whistleblower, but that's not entirely accurate. Most of that story has already been told, and what's repeated of Snowden's thought process isn't particularly new or enlightening. What is much more interesting are some of the details in the immediate run up and aftermath to the Guardian publishing that first story on a Wednesday evening. First, there's the way the US government tried to pressure the Guardian not to run the story:
Events were moving at speed. MacAskill had tapped out a four-word text from Hong Kong: "The Guinness is good." This code phrase meant he was now convinced Snowden was genuine. Gibson decided to give the NSA a four-hour window to comment, so the agency had an opportunity to disavow the story. By British standards, the deadline was fair: long enough to make a few calls, agree a line. But for Washington, where journalist-administration relations sometimes resemble a country club, this was nothing short of outrageous. In London, the Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, headed for the airport for the next available New York flight.

The White House sent in its top guns for a conference call with the Guardian. The team included FBI deputy director Sean M Joyce, a Boston native with an action-man resume – investigator against Colombian narcotics, counter-terrorism officer, legal attache in Prague. Also patched in was Chris Inglis, the NSA's deputy director. He was a man who interacted with journalists so rarely, he was considered by many to be a mythical entity. Then there was Robert S Litt, the general counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Litt was clever, likable, voluble, dramatic, lawyerly and prone to rhetorical flourishes. On the Guardian side were Gibson and Millar, sitting in Gibson's small office, with its cheap sofa and unimpressive view of Broadway.

By fielding heavyweights, the White House had perhaps reckoned it could flatter, and if necessary bully, the Guardian into delaying publication. Gibson explained that the editor-in-chief – in the air halfway across the Atlantic – was unavailable. She said: "I'm the final decision-maker." After 20 minutes, the White House was frustrated. The conversation was going in circles. Finally, one of the team could take no more. Losing his temper, he shouted, "You don't need to publish this! No serious news organisation would publish this!" Gibson replied, "With the greatest respect, we will take the decisions about what we publish."
"Gibson" is Janine Gibson, the Guardian US's editor. But the really scary part of the story is what came next, which, as far as I know, hadn't been reported anywhere else until now:
That evening, diggers arrived and tore up the sidewalk immediately in front of the Guardian's US office, a mysterious activity for a Wednesday night. With smooth efficiency, they replaced it. More diggers arrived outside Gibson's home in Brooklyn. Soon, every member of the Snowden team was able to recount similar unusual moments: "taxi drivers" who didn't know the way or the fare; "window cleaners" who lingered next to the editor's office. "Very quickly, we had to get better at spycraft," Gibson says.
Some of those may be coincidences. When you think the world is out to get you, plenty of ordinary activity may look extra suspicious. Of course, on the flip side, as the saying goes: just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. The story of having diggers tearing up the sidewalk that night, both in front of the Guardian's office and in front of Gibson's home, are the ones that seem extra suspicious and extra troubling. Remember, this came right about the same time that the DOJ was getting shellacked for targeting journalists, and was in the middle of promising that it wasn't going to do that any more. But, what are promises when you have an angry surveillance state coming down on you, knowing that a bunch of their most stupid programs were about to be exposed?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:08am

    Digging up sidewalk for what purpose?

    Plant a bug? What kind? How would it work?

    Tap phone / internet connections? Couldn't this be done elsewhere?

    Add a kill switch on electrical or other utility service?

    Plant a bomb?

    Break in through some non-obvious entrance? Or do something to enable future such break in's to office?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:16am

    Photo?

    In hindsight, the easiest way to check would have been to try to take a picture of the diggers.

    If they start screaming about how its a violation of their rights or that your interfering with their duties, then they must be law enforcement of some kind.

    No one else would care.

     

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  3.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:19am

    Re: Digging up sidewalk for what purpose?

    Along with the other stuff mentioned, assuming it was intentional, it was probably a not-so-subtle way of saying 'See, we can make your lives as miserable as we want, any time we want, if you cross us, so don't.'

     

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  4.  
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    AdamR (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:20am

    How about just for the effect?

    The effect can more terrorizing than anything that they were planing on doing.

     

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  5.  
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    dfed (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:24am

    "If we give them potholes, they'll have to get new suspension and maybe pop tires!"

    I'd say it's sinister stuff, but given the assclowns we're talking about I wouldn't be surprised if potholes were the aim.

     

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  6.  
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    Baldaur Regis (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:25am

    That evening, diggers arrived and tore up the sidewalk immediately in front of the Guardian's US office, a mysterious activity for a Wednesday night.
    Couldn't the government have found a cheaper, less labor-intensive way to intimidate, like just knocking on the door? For make no mistake, this was a black op, as evinced by the next line:
    With smooth efficiency, they replaced it.
    Were this a legitimate job, the sidewalk would have been a mess for at least 'two weeks', a flexible length of time in contractor-speak which means 'when the money runs out'.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:25am

    The tails system?

    Oh where is this found?

     

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  8.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:27am

    Re: Re: Digging up sidewalk for what purpose?

    More like old fashioned watching to see who comes and goes. Not all communication is done with technology.

     

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  9.  
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    Geno0wl (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:29am

    I would need some serious proof of that. I find that completely unbelievable. Not from the "they would do that" perspective, but from the "they are competent enough to ACTUALLY do that" perspective.
    I mean our government is rather inept at handling construction contracts. You are telling me they formed a contract, hired a crew, and got materials/people all on site within 24 hours?

     

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  10.  
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    Namel3ss (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:31am

    Remember what FDR said...

    In politics there are no coincidences. If something happened, you can bet it was planned that way.

    This level of happenstance? No way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:34am

    Neither Snowden nor this "story", months late, is THE STORY.

    Complete distraction. Standard propaganda, ginning up "men in black", NSA as all-knowing with secret army mobilized instantly, while diverting from facts. And of course Mike puts it out.

    Meanwhile, NSA and the co-conspirator corporations (especially Google) go right on spying and increasing their spying.

    Exposed: Google’s “Smart Home” Surveillance Plans

    http://www.activistpost.com/2014/02/exposed-googles-smart-home-surveillance.html

    Edward Snowden: Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, and the rest of our internet titans must ask themselves why they aren't fighting for our interests the same way -- Ed, those soul-less amoral entities care only about the billions they get BEING snoops! (65 of 195)

    04:33:36[f-090-0]

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:41am

    Probably explosives were dumped there.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:49am

    Physical surveillance or reconnaissance which ever term suits them. It's to be expected. coincidence maybe but given the circumstances It's hardly unbelievable.

    My additional ponderings are about the book and Snowden himself, will receive a portion of the sales/profits for his defense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Humble Fumble (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:01am

    Digging up sidewalk for what purpose?

    Tempest?

     

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  15.  
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    ArkieGuy (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:04am

    Maybe not

    No one said they hired a crew.... The US has Corps of Engineer guys pretty much everywhere (with equipment, supplies, etc) that are very skilled. Match a few of them with a couple of spy types, and I can absolutely see the events described being executed.

    With that said, I'm with you on the still needing proof, but it's certainly possible.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:08am

    They were digging up a hill to die on, clearly.

    Only problem is, that it was a mountain of stupid.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:08am

    Re:

    The Federal Government has such crews on stand-by.

    Since this is military they are called Core of Engineers or Seabees.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:12am

    Re:

    Wow.. If only real contractors worked that fast.

    Finally, something the FBI/CIA/NSA/ICE actually does a good job with.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:23am

    Re: Neither Snowden nor this "story", months late, is THE STORY.

    EXPOSED: Google bought a company!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    any moose cow word, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:28am

    "You don't need to publish this! No [beholden] news organization would publish this!"

    FTFY

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Joe2, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:33am

    Re:

    The CIA ain't the mafia. They're not union men. Well not a _labor_ union. ;) If you want it done fast, there are people who aren't going to drag it out just for padding hours and expenses. Although, to be fair, they were probably not CIA.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:43am

    Start a fund-raiser to re-dig those locations.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:05am

    Re:

    Couldn't the government have found a cheaper, less labor-intensive way...


    This is the government you're talking about here....

     

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  24.  
    icon
    william (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:15am

    [quote]The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World's Most Wanted Man[\quote]

    I have a problem with the title of the book. It has the simple mistake that most US people make, ie. USA =\= World.

    A more appropriate title would be:

    The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of Ministry of Love's Most Wanted Man

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    edpo, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:19am

    Re: The tails system?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:24am

    "With the greatest respect, we will take the decisions about what we publish."

    I love this response. It's the perfectly polite "Fuck you." The only thing I would have added if I were her was to remind them that they were on the Guardian's turf not the NSA's and that they were only invited there and told about it before it went to press as a matter of courtesy to allow them time to formulate a response. That courtesy did not HAVE to have been extended and doesn't have to be in the future.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Sunhawk (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:33am

    Re: Neither Snowden nor this "story", months late, is THE STORY.

    "A distraction," comes the blue bugle
    At a story that's naught but frugal.
    He cares not for scandals,
    Or NSA handles
    And everything's the fault of Google.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:34am

    Re:

    I think the title is specifically referring to during the time period right after the story broke and his name was released. And by "wanted" the author is not just referring to the fact that the US "wanted" to capture him but also journalists all over the world that "wanted" to find him and interview him but didn't know exactly where he was and even when he was at the time. Even when he was in the airport in Russia but no one could get a picture of him and he didn't speak to many at all. Journalists even followed a plane to Cuba based on a rumor that he was on it only to find an empty seat when it arrived. He WAS the "World's Most Wanted Man" during that period of time clearly but "wanted" by many different people for many different reasons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Sunhawk (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:38am

    Re:

    To be honest, something like that is more likely to be an excuse to have some people hang around outside the locations in hopes of seeing Snowden or someone else of interest coming.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:39am

    Anyone willing to do a public service and do some backwards engineering

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:44am

    Finally! Those shovel-ready jobs that President Obama promised!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Baron von Robber, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 10:59am

    I would dig up...

    ...the area right next to where they dug up to see what lines they messed with. On my property of course.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    art guerrilla (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Digging up sidewalk for what purpose?

    exactly...
    could *possibly* have some 'real' practical reason to plant bugs/whatever; BUT, far more likely that it is just muscle-flexing to show those mere citizens that they didn't know who they were messing with: THE biggest, baddest ORGANIZED krime syndicate in the world, the USG ! !!
    fuckers...

    i REALLY don't get it: are they TRYING to get us to the point where we hang them all ? because i'm having trouble seeing what the end game is, otherwise...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Baldaur Regis (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 12:06pm

    Re:

    When the French swear at you, it's poetry; when the British swear at you, it's education.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    william (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 12:15pm

    Re: Re:

    I see, that makes much more sense. thanks for the clarification. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 12:19pm

    Re: Digging up sidewalk for what purpose?

    Best place to gather intelligence is closest to the source.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 12:39pm

    Re:

    Geno0wl (profile), Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:29am

    I would need some serious proof of that. I find that completely unbelievable. Not from the "they would do that" perspective, but from the "they are competent enough to ACTUALLY do that" perspective.
    I mean our government is rather inept at handling construction contracts. You are telling me they formed a contract, hired a crew, and got materials/people all on site within 24 hours?


    Follow the money... always do this... you will find that once the Management steps the freak back and just writes a check leaving the technical details to the pros then stuff gets done done done in ways you would not believe.

    The machine is well oiled to work against you... just not well oiled to work for you.

    I work in IT, management is the beginning, middle, & end of every problem. Mixed in behind that are the full of themselves pro's talked at by people that don't know what they want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Maybe not

    "The US has Corps of Engineer guys..."

    Hell, let's not bring those guys into it - I mean, they *really* bungled that 245-Trioxin containment issue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 1:03pm

    Re: Digging up sidewalk for what purpose?

    i'd assume to tap telecommmunications lines.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Neither Snowden nor this "story", months late, is THE STORY.

    "EXPOSED: Google bought a company!"

    And used it to exploit the masses in every conceivable manner.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    [name withheld], Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 5:10pm

    BS to promote the book.

    I am sure Snoweden put everybody remotely associated with him on a priority list at all alphabet suop agences, but this is not how they operate, according to open records.

    BTW, repair of public sidewalks in Brooklyn is responsibility of property owner next to it. Nice shot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 5:11pm

    omg wtf 2 sidewalks

    Anomaly hunting. Conspiracy Theories 101.

    These "side" detail isn't evidence of secret US Gov surveillance.

    cf, Snowden for the evidence of secret US Gov surveillance.

    Sidewalk works is sidewalk works. Unless you found a paper trail?

    Don't blame Luke Harding for painting pretty pictures with his words, even non-fiction writers must do this; for a book isn't much of a good book if it doesn't enjoy any readership.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 7:25pm

    LOL

    "If you publish this information we'll, we'll, DIG UP YOUR SIDEWALK,, and I don't know... REPLACE IT !!!.

    Then you'll know we mean business."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 9:05pm

    Response to: Geno0wl on Feb 3rd, 2014 @ 8:29am

    turnkey tyranny

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 12:38am

    Re: Digging up sidewalk for what purpose?

    Tax dollars hard at work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 2:25am

    Re: Digging up sidewalk for what purpose?

    Tap phone / internet connections? Couldn't this be done elsewhere?

    Add a kill switch on electrical or other utility service?


    Something along those lines maybe. I'd bet a lot of coins on a direct tap into the cables going to the house but I wouldn't rule out the kill switch. I wouldn't be surprised if they had stingrays permanently installed near the places.

    Full scale surveillance ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 3:06am

    I wonder how many microphones and pressure sensors they installed under the new sidewalk...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
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    ListeninonU (profile), Feb 4th, 2014 @ 11:57am

    Data Access

    http://it.slashdot.org/story/09/07/12/0259246/stealing-data-via-electrical-outlet

    This link should enlighten you to how information can easily be achieved via electrical power sources.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    ListeninonU, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 12:01pm

    Electrical outlets can be used as a collection source

    Every computer emits electronic impulses. They can be recorded, measured and broken down to identify exactly what you are doing on your computer and anything else using electrical power.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 1:57pm

    " "Very quickly, we had to get better at spycraft," Gibson says. "

    QUICK, lets watch every episode of "Get Smart".. !!!

    oh, a lazy window washer !!!

    An American taxi driver who does not go the shortest way !!!! or does not "know" the correct fair !! (for a tourist!).

    and doing council road/pave works at NIGHT ! on a week day! (in a city!)..
    why would they do that AT NIGHT, and not at the very busiest time possible ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Electrical outlets can be used as a collection source

    "Every computer emits electronic impulses. They can be recorded, measured and broken down to identify exactly what you are doing on your computer and anything else using electrical power."

    actually no, not every computer emits 'impulses' it is easy to secure a computer from tempest hazards with shielding.

    No, you cannot identify exactly what you are doing, at best you might be able to get a fuzzy picture of your monitor (from the radiation from the cables), but little else, and even less now with digital monitors, that makes it almost impossible, with RBG monitors its slightly easier.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 2:06pm

    Perhaps the scurvy dogs were looking for the Bill of Rights and Constitution they buried nearly 15 years ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 2:07pm

    Re:

    OMG!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2014 @ 2:09pm

    Re: Re:

    I can list a lot of Countries that would not agree with that title.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 5th, 2014 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Data Access

    I remember during the days where most of the world, unlike lucky Canada (then) had cheap symmetric cable modem service starting 1998. You had to buy the modem which was very expensive, around 500 dollars, but then it was 24,95 a month for 8/8. Anyways, I remember how research was done then to have the internet go through regular electrical plugs and that it would be 5-6 times faster than ISDN...

    So I guess it could be done.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Feb 7th, 2014 @ 12:50pm

    USMOB

    The more we learn about the US Federal Government's clandestine operations, the more it resembles something else that is very familiar - the MAFIA.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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