How Torture Derailed The War On Terror After 9/11

Former FBI agent Ali Soufan interrogated dozens of Al-Qaida members and other extremists in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. He says he got valuable information by preparing carefully for interviews and building rapport with his subjects. When CIA contractors used coercive techniques — like waterboarding — Soufan says subjects ceased cooperating, or gave bad information to make the torment stop. Soufan’s 2011 memoir about his experiences appeared with large portions redacted by the CIA. After a legal battle, the redacted material is now restored in a new version, called ‘Black Banners (Declassified).’



Endorsement: Nisi Shawl

Nisi Shawl

“Like a literary Rubik’s Cube, puzzling and full of compellingly offbeat traps and escapes, Wilderness of Mirrors depicts a wide, strange world in which modern nations compete to harness and weaponize monsters, enslaving malevolent spirits using arcane mathematics and the death tolls of bloody wars.  Ned Hayes writes with stunning empathy of a truly global cast of characters – an Arab professor of linguistics, and an aging female Chinese intelligence officer – who stumble through a landscape of political expedients toward a tempting yet horrific reality.  Captivating.”

– Nisi Shawl, Nebula-nominated author of Everfair

Wind of Change: Did the CIA Write Music to Change the Course of the Cold War?

It’s 1990. The Berlin Wall just fell. The Soviet Union is on the verge of collapse. And the soundtrack to the revolution is one of the best selling songs of all time, the metal ballad “Wind of Change,” by the Scorpions.

Decades later, journalist Patrick Radden Keefe heard a rumor: the song wasn’t written by the Scorpions. It was written by the CIA. This is his journey to find the truth.

Wind of Change is an Original Series on Spotify. Highly Recommended! 

Endorsement from David Huddle

“A considerable achievement… powerful
and elegant… morally complex and challenging.”

Wilderness of Mirrors is “about the events of 9-11 and the War on Terror, but of course it’s also generally about many other topics—religion, history, international politics, the American intelligence community, the psychological make-up of a dedicated intelligence agent, conspiracy theory, and American foreign policy… the novel provides a scathing critique of the CIA and the NSA and their roles in moving the country toward the precarious place it now occupies in international affairs.”

– DAVID HUDDLE, former military intelligence specialist and award-winning author of The Story of a Million Years and My Immaculate Assassin

When the NSA Feared Psychics


A classified government document opens with “an odd sequence of events relating to parapsychology has occurred within the last month” and concluded with an alarming question about psychics nuking cities so that they became lost in time and space. If this sounds like a plot out of science fiction, it is – but it’s also a NSA memo from 1977.

The first “event” raised by the NSA note is a CIA report which mentioned KGB research into parapsychology. According to this, the KGB used hobbyists and non-governmental researchers to talk to western scientists. This allowed the KGB to collect useful information without putting themselves into a position to accidentally leak confidential information to westerners. According to the NSA note, this tactic yielded “high grade western scientific data.”

The next event described by the NSA note was what appeared to be a Russian provocation, though exactly what sort was a matter of some debate. In June 1977, an American journalist was detained in Russia for receiving a Soviet paper on parapsychology. The paper allegedly documented “PSI” (i.e. psychic) particles within the living cell, allegedly providing a physical basis for parapsychology.

This struck American intelligence as being a form of entrapment, though the goal was uncertain. Some thought it was an effort to provoke radio chatter which the Soviets could trace to get a better idea of the U.S.’s interest and activities. Another theory was that it was simply a warning to the West to stay away from sensitive Soviet research. A third theory was that it was “a double-think ploy to pretend interest in a clumsy manner to make us think that this was really just a deception to trick the West into believing there was interest when there really was none.” While this last theory might sound paranoid, this is how denial and deception operate – and it’s something that Russian counterintelligence has long excelled at.

The section concluded with a note that there had supposedly been a successful demonstration of “telekinetic power” in a Soviet military sponsored research lab, and the alleged discovery of a new type of energy “perhaps even more important than that of Atomic energy.”

The third event was the apparent postulation by “some physicists along with the famous evolutionist, Teilhard de Chardin” that the universe was more of a “great thought” than a “great machine.” According to this view, “the ‘unified field’ on ground of reality is awareness.” The note cited telekinetic experiments and postulated that “awareness focusing” could produce “a new form of energy that moves or perhaps alters matter.”

The report cited British scientists experiencing “poltergeist phenomena” after testing Uri Geller. Objects allegedly left the room, some of which apparently reappeared later. Supposedly, this didn’t surprise unnamed scientists who found it no harder to believe that objects could disappear and reappear than it was to believe in the “detected particles emerging from energy and dissolving or disappearing back into energy.”

From these premises, two types of telekinetic weapons were hypothesized: a telekinetic time bomb and the equivalent of a psychic nuke that could dislodge a city in time and space.

The first involved a member of the command and control staff being kidnapped and subjected to trauma that would allow him to be “suggestively programmed to develop telekinetic effects under stress at work.” The theory was that when an emergency situation arose and the officer was subjected to stress, objects would begin to move and disappear independently “and communications would become impossible.”

The second hypothetical weapon was even more elaborate and potentially terrifying. Citing a prediction of “a massive change which will alter the direction, time, space and energy-matter relationship of our world,” the note wondered what would happen if a group of psychics were brought together. If ten people who were “evidencing disruptive telekinetic phenomena” were brought into one area, would it “cause a chain reaction, causing much matter to reverse direction and sink back into a sea of energy or be displaced in time and space”? The memo concluded by wondering if such an event reach a “critical mass” and affect an entire city.

By an interesting coincidence, the “Philadelphia Experiment” hoax bears some superficial resemblance to the theorized weapon in the NSA note. According various versions of the hoax, the USS Eldridge was temporarily rendered invisible or transported through time and space. The incident is even listed on NSA’s webpage of paranormal topics that they don’t have records on. However, there were other papers prepared on the perceived potential of weaponizing psychic abilities, some of which will be explored later. For now, you can read the NSA note here.

Intercept: Long Lines NSA Listening Station

An investigation by The Intercept indicates that the Long Lines skyscraper is one of the most important National Security Agency surveillance sites on U.S. soil — a covert monitoring hub that is used to tap into phone calls, faxes, and internet data.

Project X,” a short film by Henrik Moltke and Laura Poitras. This article is the product of a joint reporting project between The Intercept and Field of Vision.

Documents obtained by The Intercept from the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden do not explicitly name 33 Thomas Street as a surveillance facility. However — taken together with architectural plans, public records, and interviews with former AT&T employees conducted for this article — they provide compelling evidence that 33 Thomas Street has served as an NSA surveillance site, code-named TITANPOINTE.Inside 33 Thomas Street there is a major international “gateway switch,” according to a former AT&T engineer, which routes phone calls between the United States and countries across the world. A series of top-secret NSA memos suggest that the agency has tapped into these calls from a secure facility within the AT&T building. The Manhattan skyscraper appears to be a core location used for a controversial NSA surveillance program that has targeted the communications of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and at least 38 countries, including close U.S. allies such as Germany, Japan, and France.

The Snowden documents provide new information about how NSA equipment has been integrated as part of AT&T’s network in New York City, revealing in unprecedented detail the methods and technology the agency uses to vacuum up communications from the company’s systems.

The NSA declined to comment for this story.

>> Read the complete story at the Intercept here 

Veterans of the NSA’s psychic wars

By M Best (Patreon)
A version of this article appeared previously on Glomar Disclosure

There’s quite a bit of information out there about the CIA’s foray into extrasensory espionage. Now there’s more information from the veterans of the NSA’s psychic wars, which they foresaw being waged well into the ’90s and beyond.

The NSA document, dated from early 1981, calls for a number of steps to be taken, including identifying the potential for mind control.

Once the individuals had been identified, the Agency wanted to create “cadre’s of talented synergized gifted people … for special problem solving tests.” However, the NSA was afraid that these people could be hard to control “Consciousless [sic] or morbid people of talent must be strictly screened out of active programs because of the danger of severe mental illness and unscrupulous violation of security.”

Beyond personnel available to the NSA, the Agency wanted to build a database of psychics around the world.

Additional NSA documents, produced by the government later in the year after MKULTRA had been shut down and all mind control programs had been disavowed, show the government’s continued interest in researching mind control techniques, no matter how esoteric they seemed.

A number of predictions were made about the development of psychic warfare, including that subconscious mind control through telepathy would be possible “by 1990.” The report concluded grimly that “there is no known countermeasure to prevent such applications.”

At least one prediction came true – CREST documents show psychic trials still being performed as late as 1992.

The NSA’s guidelines are embedded below:

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Image via National Security Agency

CIA Use of Overseas Personnel

Central characters in the novel Wilderness of Mirrors work for the CIA under cover as clergy or journalists. Some readers have made inquiries about whether or not the CIA ever actually sent officers into foreign countries disguised in this manner.

In fact, as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Activities — in 1975 — demonstrated that the CIA regularly used both journalists and members of religious orders to gather information and to control and deliver secret government activities, including the overthrow of governments.

Read for yourself here: This is the complete Senate Select Committee Report on Intelligence Activities. This kind of covert activity, using U.S. citizens, was relatively common practice, leading to great distrust of the United States by people around the world.

There were, of course, unintended bad effects of such activity. For example, the report clearly calls out the downside of using journalistic cover: “The danger of CIA propaganda contaminating U.S. media—”fallout”— occurs in virtually any instance of propaganda use. The possibility is quite real even when the CIA does not use any U.S. journalist or publication in carrying out the propaganda project. Where a CIA propaganda campaign causes stories to appear in many prestigious news outlets around the world, as occurred at the time of the Chilean elections in 1970, it is truly impossible to insulate the United States from propaganda fallout.”

In terms of clergy, the CIA was forthright to the committee (as far as we know), but not so forthright when they sent pastors into the field as CIA operatives. “The CIA has informed the Committee of a total of 14 covert arrangements which involved direct operational use of 21 individuals…. in six or seven cases, the CIA paid salaries, bonuses, or expenses to the religious personnel, or helped to fund projects run by them. Most of the individuals were used for covert action purposes. Several were involved in large covert action projects of the mid-sixties, which were directed at “competing” with communism in the Third World.”

Given this report, and all that we know about the CIA around the world in the 1960s-1990s, it seems clear that my use of CIA personnel under clergy and journalistic cover is a pretty mild treatment of a well known activity, described in the Church report excerpted here: