What Was Hastings Working On? - WhoWhatWhy

What Was Hastings Working On?

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At the time of his death in a mysterious one-car crash and explosion, journalist Michael Hastings was researching a story that threatened to expose powerful entities and government-connected figures. That story intersected with the work of two controversial government critics—the hacktivist Barrett Brown and the on-the-run surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Any probe into Hastings’s untimely death needs to take into account this complex but essential background.

But First, the Raw Facts

A little over 12 hours before his car was incinerated on an LA straightaway on June 18, 2013, Hastings sent out a short email headed, “FBI Investigation, re: NSA.” In it, he said that the FBI had been interviewing his “close friends and associates,” and advised the recipients — including colleagues at the website Buzzfeed — “[It] may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.” He added, “I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the radat [sic] for a bit.”


From: Michael Hastings

Date: Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Subject: FBI Investigation, re: NSA


Hey [5 REDACTED WORDS] the Feds are interviewing my “close friends and associates.” Perhaps if the authorities arrive “Buzzfeed GQ”, er HQ, may be wise to immediately request legal counsel before any conversations or interviews about our news-gathering practices or related journalism issues.

Also: I’m onto a big story, and need to go off the radat for a bit.

All the best, and hope to see you all soon.



The next day, Hastings went “off the radar” permanently.

Here is a video that shows a lateral view of Hastings’s speeding car just before it crashed.  (It shows at about 0.07.)

Following publication of the email by KTLA, the FBI quickly denied that the Bureau was ever investigating Hastings.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation and ProjectPM — the research wiki that Brown was involved with — are in the process of filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to learn if indeed Hastings was the subject of an FBI probe.

The FBI denial notwithstanding, a number of clues indicate that the proximity of Hastings to Brown and the work of ProjectPM may have been what spawned the purported investigation in the first place.

Deep Background

When the FBI raided the Dallas home of journalist Barrett Brown in March 2012, the travails of the Vanity Fair and Guardian contributor didn’t get much ink — that is, until Michael Hastings published an exclusive on the Brown raid on Buzzfeed.

The story included a copy of the search warrant that revealed why the government was so interested in Brown: Along with colleagues at the research wiki he started, ProjectPM (PPM), Brown was looking into a legion of shadowy cybersecurity firms whose work for the government raised all sorts of questions about privacy and the rule of law.

Since Hastings was familiar with the government contractors listed in the search warrant, he was also potentially culpable in whatever “crimes” the feds believed Brown and PPM were guilty of. Is this why he was being investigated in the days before his fatal crash on June 18, 2013?  By then, Hastings had established a reputation as a fearless muckraker, whose stories often stripped the haloes from the powerful and well-connected:

–       The besmirched “runaway” Special Forces general Stanley McChrystal, whose career Hastings had dispatched in a 2010 article for Rolling Stone

–       The saintly General “King” David Petraeus—former commander of Central Command (CENTCOM), International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

–       Daniel Saunders—a former assistant US attorney for the Central District of California

–       Former Secretary of State and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, with whose staff Michael had many pointed exchanges regarding State’s Benghazi spin.

“To Maintain and Cultivate an Enemies List”

In his profile on the blogging consortium True/Slant, Hastings confided that his “secret ambition” was “to maintain and cultivate an enemies list.” Such ironic distancing was Hastings’s way of making palatable an inherently cynical view of the world.  He knew that power corrupted, and to effect change it was necessary to point out the Emperor’s glaringly naked flesh.

In this manner, he was much like his blogging colleague at True/Slant, Barrett Brown. So much so, in fact, that the latter approached Hastings to work on a project that would change the way the public viewed the murky world of intelligence contracting in the post-9/11 era.

Michael Hastings interviews General Odierno in Baghdad, Iraq, October 2009

Michael Hastings interviews General Odierno in Baghdad, Iraq, October 2009

For those unfamiliar with Brown’s tale, WhoWhatWhy has been chronicling his trials since February 2013.  He is currently in federal custody in Ft. Worth, Texas, facing over a hundred years behind bars for researching 70,000 hacked emails obtained from the cybersecurity firm HBGary Federal and its parent company HBGary. At no point is the government alleging he was involved in the hack itself. His putative “crime” is doing what investigative reporters are supposed to do: digging for the truth about breaches of the public trust.

To do this, Brown pioneered a collaborative wiki where researchers and journalists could sift through these emails and create an encyclopedia from the information contained within. This was known as ProjectPM (PPM).

In 2009, Brown invited Hastings to join forces on PPM, but Hastings’s interest was tempered by other commitments. When the two spoke next, Hastings told Brown he was working on something big.

“Not One of Us”

Hastings was referring to his impending 2010 article, “The Runaway General,” for Rolling Stone, in which he quoted several high-ranking military officials from within Gen. McChrystal’s inner circle disparaging their civilian command. The article caused a stir in official Washington, and eventually led to McChrystal being relieved of duty by President Obama.

Amid the fallout from this journalistic coup, an interesting narrative began forming in certain sectors of the press: “Michael Hastings is not one of us.” Hastings had broken one of the rules governing Washington’s hermetic circle of “access journalism” by quoting his subjects without their express permission.  Elsewhere, most working reporters would call this, well, journalism.

Brown was quick to defend Hastings, penning an article for Vanity Fair titled, “Why The Hacks Hate Michael Hastings.” Later, the two blurbed each other’s books, further cementing their professional relationship.

One thing they shared was a deep discontent with the mainstream media. Indeed, Brown says, they were “obsessed with coming up with ways to change the dynamic.”

The busy Hastings never fully immersed himself in the work of PPM. “[Hastings] was an outlet for us to pass things to,” says Alan Ross, better known on PPM’s Internet relay chat (IRC) as Morpeth. “His relationship was one of talking to Barrett in my experience, rather than direct involvement in PPM.”  He was “more of an associate than a member.”

“Get ready for your mind to be blown.”

For Hastings, Brown was clearly a confidential source—the type that flourishes best when kept in the dark and away from other reporters. Yet on January 24, 2013, Hastings tweeted that he was finally beginning to work on the Brown story, telling his interlocutors to “get ready for your mind to be blown.”

Kevin Gallagher, the administrator of Brown’s legal defense fund at FreeBarrettBrown.org, said Brown and Hastings hadn’t been able to talk securely in eight or nine months, but that after a few months of back and forth with Brown’s lawyers Hastings finally planned on interviewing him in custody in June.

After whistleblower Snowden’s bombshell revelations of dragnet surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), Hastings wrote an article on June 7 that referenced Brown for the first time since April 2012. Titled “Why Democrats Love To Spy On Americans,” it lambasted supposedly liberal Democrats for their Bush-like surveillance fixation and their unrelenting war on those who seek to expose the operations of the surveillance state:

“Transparency supporters, whistleblowers, and investigative reporters, especially those writers who have aggressively pursued the connections between the corporate defense industry and federal and local authorities involved in domestic surveillance, have been viciously attacked by the Obama administration and its allies in the FBI and DOJ.


Barrett Brown, another investigative journalist who has written for Vanity Fair, among others [sic] publications, exposed the connections between the private contracting firm HB Gary (a government contracting firm that, incidentally, proposed a plan to spy on and ruin the reputation of the Guardian’s [Glenn] Greenwald) and who is currently sitting in a Texas prison on trumped up FBI charges regarding his legitimate reportorial inquiry into the political collective known sometimes as Anonymous.”

The article ended with “Perhaps more information will soon be forthcoming.”

The fact that he planned to interview Brown was corroborated by documentarian Vivien Weisman, who told WhoWhatWhy that she spoke to Hastings about it at a Los Angeles book signing for “Dirty Wars” in May 2013. And the editor of Buzzfeed reportedly confirmed that Hastings was in the midst of working on the Brown expose at the time of his death.

Knowing this prompts the question: what angle of the PPM research was Hastings about to tackle?

The evidence seems to point to another shadowy project revealed in the cache of hacked emails that PPM was sifting through: Romas/COIN.

Your Data Is Mine

Gallagher, who was briefed on the last discussion Hastings had with Brown before the planned interview, says, “Hastings had specifically asked about Romas/COIN.”

Romas/COIN was the name given to a program through which the U.S had been conducting “a secretive and immensely sophisticated campaign of mass surveillance and data mining against the Arab world,” according to emails hacked from the cybersecurity firm HBGary Federal. Evidently, this program allows the intelligence community to “monitor the habits, conversations, and activity of millions of individuals at once.”

ProjectPM logo

ProjectPM logo

Over the course of a year, Aaron Barr, CEO of HBGary Federal, sought out various companies to form a consortium that could wrest control of Romas/COIN from the current contract holder, Northrop Grumman. Eventually the consortium included no less than 12 different firms — ranging from niche software companies to behemoths like Google, Apple, and even Disney.

From the emails, it’s clear that “mobile phone software and applications constitute a major component of the program,” concludes the entry in ProjectPM. Periodic references to “semantic analysis,” “Latent Semantic Indexing,” and “specialized linguistics” indicate that the government agency overseeing the contract was clearly interested in automated dissection of spoken or written communication. This is the hallmark of NSA surveillance.

Is it possible that this consortium planned on developing mobile phone software and applications with bugs that would allow the US government to hack into targets’ phones and give it access to all of the communications within?

As detailed by New York Times national security reporter Mark Mazzetti, mobile phone intrusion has been par for the course in the military’s signals intelligence work abroad.


Claims of government surveillance capabilities embedded in private-company software are bolstered by recent reporting on the sale of “zero-day exploits” to government agencies.

“Zero-day exploits” refer to security vulnerabilities that are taken advantage of before the vulnerability becomes publicly known. As the jargon implies, there are zero days between the time the hole is discovered and the initial attack.

Endgame Systems, one such company cashing in on this new market, was of particular interest to Brown and ProjectPM. Deep in the cache of Aaron Barr’s emails are indications of just how secret the work of Endgame is.

In an email to employee John Farrell, then-Endgame CEO Chris Rouland states: “Please let HBgary know we don’t ever want to see our name in a press release.”

Farrell forwarded that note to Barr with the following explanation:

“Chris wanted me to pass this along. We’ve been very careful NOT to have public face on our company. Please ensure Palantir and your other partners understand we’re purposefully trying to maintain a very low profile. Chris [Rouland] is very cautious based on feedback we’ve received from our government clients. If you want to reconsider working with us based on this, we fully understand.”

One look at Endgame’s product line explains a lot about their wariness. Their premier software, “Bonesaw,” shows what a powerful asset the corporation has become to America’s intelligence agencies.

Bonesaw is a targeting application that tracks servers and routers around the world. It maps out all the hardware attached to the Internet. Through these access points, NSA and Cyber Command can hack into or launch attacks against adversaries. The Bonesaw program functions essentially as a user-friendly map.

That map has at its disposal the geolocation and Internet address of every device connected to the Internet around the globe. By designating a country and city — like Beijing, China for example — and the name or address of a target — say, a People’s Liberation Army research facility — a user can find out what software is running on all of the computers inside the facility, what entry points to those computers exist, and a menu of custom exploits that can be used to sneak in.

Sock Puppets and Other Tricks

Other clues as to what ProjectPM-related material may have led the FBI to investigate Michael Hastings can be found in his published work.

Endgame Systems CEO Nathaniel Fick. Formerly of the Center for a New American Security, Fick took over for Endgame in November 2012.

Endgame Systems CEO Nathaniel Fick. Formerly of the Center for a New American Security, Fick took over for Endgame in November 2012.

In a May 18, 2012, article on propaganda efforts by the State Department, Hastings referred to a “program being developed by the Pentagon [that] would design software to create “sock puppets” on social media outlets.” The HBGary emails are littered with references to this type of “persona management” technology.

Principal among these was a June 2010 United States Air Force (USAF) contract from the 6th Contracting Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. It sought providers of “persona management software” that would allow 50 users to control up to 500 fictional personae.

These sock puppets were required to be “replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally, and geographically consistent.” In other words, avatars so convincing they could fool the people with whom they were interacting into believing they were real.

MacDill Air Force Base is home to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the section of the military that oversees and coordinates all special-forces activity globally. USSOCOM lists under its “core activities” the employment of psychological operations (PSYOPS) and information operations (IO)—exactly the type of activity this “sockpuppeting” technology would be employed in.

To put it another way: a clone army for future psywars.

Gone With The Mercedes

Given the information currently available it is impossible to know with certainty what angle in the Brown case Michael Hastings was pursuing at the time of his death.

But Hastings’s credibility and national security contacts would have served him well in digging deeper into ProjectPM’s cache of hacked emails, perhaps exposing to the light of public scrutiny other secretive government contractors in the manner that Brown had begun. (See the “Team Themis” affair.)

With that potential suddenly snuffed out, it’s not surprising the Internet is abuzz with speculation over Hastings’s death. We’ve contributed to the investigation surrounding it but, with so few hard facts at hand, now is not the time to speculate about whether foul play was involved. What’s clear is that an important voice in the grand tradition of investigative journalism has been silenced.

Hopefully, more information will come to light, and we will know with a fair degree of certainty what Michael Hastings was working on that attracted the government’s watchful eye. That is, unless all of his information was incinerated with him in the early hours of that June morning.

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Correction (8/14): The definition of zero-day exploit has been amended to include attacks that occur before the victim becomes aware of the vulnerability

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90 responses to “What Was Hastings Working On?”

  1. Avatar Randy Bramstedt says:

    I was able to view radar data from the Los Angeles basin on the night of Michael Hastings’ death around 4:15 a.m. that fateful evening. PASSUR radar was the source and I was not the only one to review the radar returns.

    It was very clear in the hours before Hastings’ death that general aviation traffic was non-existent or very light in the greater downtown area.

    What was very clear was that 1 particular aircraft was flying behind Hastings’ car as it proceeded down Highland Ave. The aircraft was at about 1500 feet of altitude and about 1 mile behind. This is certainly within the range of FLIR and radio control. This aircraft was the only one in the area.

    Upon further review, this aircraft had been looping around the southern San Fernando Valley hours before the accident and then proceeded south along Highland after 4:00 a.m. The movements of the craft matched the areas where Hastings was traveling that night based on police information.

    Someone should pursue this. It appears that the aircraft headed south past the accident scene and suspiciously hovered in place at 1200 feet exactly at the time of the accident. Eventually the aircraft circled the downtown area in a counter-clockwise manner, landing at LAPD Hooper Helipad or some other rooftop helipad in the immediate area. It appears though that LAPD Hooper Helipad was the landing place. This would imply joint cooperation between the LAPD and possibly U.S. government intelligence agencies.

  2. Avatar vicfnj says:

    If you understand Stevens was CIA it makes perfect sense why there was little security. He was retrieiving, buying back weapons, he had sold to militias, according to Beck, and they got made whenthey saw the cia now as ambassador, and they plausibly requested he be there to buy back the weapons as he sold them, because they were pissed, Hilary and Petreas could violate diplomatic protocol, and thought he was bad for libia. Glenn Beck reported this with lots more explanation. But it hasn’t been picked up.

  3. Avatar Jerry H says:

    The mandate of the NSA & every civilian contractor is to exceed their mandate. How many civilian contractors were hired just b4 & post 911? 800,000 plus? And another army of publicly funded security added on to what already was security in triplicate. How many were recently furloughed? Many thousands. Enough to affect the economies of Virginia, Maryland, DC which received a Cheney Bush post 911 stimulus designed to dwarf everything else in the US budget & ultimately bankrupt the country. Republicans can be counted on to put a stop to sequester cuts. Cuts are for social programs not for shadow Gov.

    What do Republicans do when kicked out of the WH? Exactly what you would expect. After spending every dime, every earmark, cut taxes during war for the first time in history…they talk about austerity & balanced budgets. They get the credit of the country downgraded and blackmail the President & the country with laughable hypocrisy & “concerns” (newspeak) about debt ceilings. Rebrand as Tea Party & declare that “Bush wasn’t conservative enough”. No word about the guy who ran the show for the 1st 4 years, Dick Cheney.

    Golly, don’t I realize *how ridiculous* it is to talk about the two major parties in the face of the security in triplicate bureaucracy that actually rules our lives & blah blah blah. I also realize that a major subtheme of the GOP is to downgrade politics & discourage voting from as many different directions as possible. That mission has been accomplished. Americans don’t vote & when they don’t Republicans win b/c their core voters always vote their way. We have seen the result of same recently.

  4. Avatar queenvictrola says:

    I think this is all about mind control. This mindset is very paranoid and dystopian. None of us ever wanted to go here, and whether or not they realize it, the idiots who work for private, taxpayer funded security firms, who swore to uphold the constitution, then turn around and behave like death camp stasi, do not want to go there either. Feel “free” yet? The elite are very frightened of the rest of us. They should be. They’re getting busted out along with their very fascist agenda.

  5. Evidently, this program allows the intelligence community to “monitor the habits, conversations, and activity of millions of individuals at once.”

    This information is used to train the supercomputer to process and dissect content that is being retrieved from the minds of the populace. The above quote could be interpreted as wanting to know the past, present, and future activity of everyone on earth.

    But that is not enough for the global elite. So artificial intelligence will add the forth element to the “past, present, future” formula. That element is predictive programming or probable outcome.

    If “they” don’t like the probable outcome or result concluded from the “p.p.f.” expression or equation, another factor or variable of ‘their’ choosing will be inserted.

    The surveillance state is the control state, mind control.

    (Opinion based on past and current experience.)

  6. Avatar 2cents says:

    He had all the goods on the ENDGAME CO.and he was gonna publish all of it.That’s why he had an accident.

  7. Avatar autumnal says:

    Ahh Runaway General ….runaway car.

    • Avatar Jay Warren Clark says:

      “Runaway General…runaway car.” Very perceptive. Do you think it was done this way to “send a message.” Certainly many have taken it that way. Clearly there has been almost no indignant concern by main stream journalists about the strange circumstances of Hastings’ death, eh? Of course most of them had “the message” long before Hastings was murdered. But then why belabor the obvious. “God hates a coward,” they say. But these morons serve a higher power, “bread” and a bit of status–not to mention a benefits package worth, roughly, about 30 pieces of silver I would guess. JWC

  8. Avatar Ricarrdo estavans says:

    The ruling class have murdered presidents.

    • Avatar squitz says:

      Exactly. If they can kill JFK in his prime in broad daylight, they can certainly kill Michael Hastings. I’m not saying its a certainty – to claim any certainties at this point in time would be foolish. But to rule anything out would also be foolish

  9. Avatar Keith Alexander says:

    This loquacious witness who said Hastings emailed him out of fear of being watched and that his body was cremated w/o families permission has been outed as a liar; nothing he said is true.

    You guys are so gullible, why? No doubt Hastings was murdered along with Barnaby Jack, but falling into the easily seen traps of the national security state is just plain prole-like.

    Study Cointelpro moar.

  10. Avatar mayday says:

    good work. Until the mainstream media can be unwound from the govt corruption, truth will never be uncovered. Glasses up for the hard work of these true Americans that have the guts to expose those that undermine our democracy. Thank you Hastings. May your work pay off & those guilty of your death be punished to the fullest, especially this current president.

  11. Avatar Dan Feidt~hongpong says:

    Handy summary of important and overlooked intersections. I’ll add that someone pretty knowledgeable indicated to me ProjectPM should no longer be considered “safe” if it ever was, i.e. it is not safe to trust the wiki hosting system or personas involved. Perhaps use tor with javascript-disabled browser if you are looking at the ProjectPM wiki for example.

  12. Avatar onertwo says:

    Just one correction: Barrett Brown is not a hacker (as you noted in the introduction), but rather an author and journalist. He’s stated before that he has little in the way of computer skills.

    • Avatar Keith Alexander says:

      Put journalist in quotes and it’s the truth.

    • Avatar yij says:

      like a sports journalist who previously was a celebrity news journalist, a fashion journalist or even a weather reporter.

      Because someone who specifically focuses on a very specific area is not a real journalist. Those other “tv personalities” are the real journalists.

      How twisted this world has became

  13. Avatar Keith Alexander says:

    Wow what a shoddy blog; it incorrectly defines what a zero day is as well as undermines its own assertions in the penultimate paragraph.

    • Avatar Bluebird_of_Fastidiousness says:

      You just wanted a chance to use the word ‘penultimate’.

    • Avatar colinjames71 says:

      Good one

    • Avatar ChristianStork says:

      Zero Day is not defined incorrectly. According to SearchSecurity on TechTarget.com, a zero-day exploit “is one that takes advantage of a security
      vulnerability on the same day that the vulnerability becomes generally
      known. There are zero days between the time the vulnerability is
      discovered and the first attack.” This is the same definition found elsewhere throughout my research, and the one I conveyed in the article. Nor do I ever assert that Hastings was murdered—I never touch that topic. I only discuss why the FBI was likely investigating him. If you assumed differently until the penultimate paragraph, then you weren’t reading close enough.

    • Avatar Keith Alexander says:

      The blog defines Zero day absolutely incorrectly and for a piece of “investigation” journalism cuts its own legs off in its conclusions.

      This blog is typical grasping at straws sprinkled with computer illiterate terms that is the hallmark of the “citizen journalism” age we are in.

    • Avatar onedavide says:

      Are you Keith Alexander who is head of NSA?

    • Avatar Keith Alexander says:

      “Zero-day exploits” refer to security vulnerabilities that are taken advantage of on the same day that the vulnerability becomes known to the victim”, is what you wrote and is not just wrong but doesnt even come close to defining what a zero day is.

      “We’ve contributed to the investigation surrounding it but, with so few hard facts at hand, now is not the time to speculate about whether foul play was involved”, thus rendering your entire post laughably pointless.

      Amateurish at best; youre just recycling every web rumour without trying to gird them with fact. Brown is in jail bc he stupidly threatened an FBI agent and families lives and not for “fighting the power”.

      A person is more ignorant after reading your piece than before.

    • Avatar ChristianStork says:

      Again: nowhere does the article assert that Hastings was murdered, and thus, disclosing that it isn’t our place to speculate with so few facts at hand is not contradictory at all. Also, if you wish to correct the record on the definition of a zero day exploit, please do—I’ve cited sources, perhaps you ought to do the same.

    • Avatar Keith Alexander says:

      I believe that would be your editors job or is this dreadful post a wiki now?

      I know what a 0day is but you and your less computer-literate readers do not; hardly my problem.

      I notice further down in the comments another intelligent person also brought your mis-definition of a 0day to your attention but ignorance prevails, I guess.

      If an “investigative” journalist cant bother to correct his mistake, you can hardly take to task MSM over their flubs now can you?

    • Avatar Keith Alexander says:

      Your entire post pratically begs for the conclusion he was taken out by the national security state bc of what he knew.

      You then link (incorrectly and without a shred of hard evidence) Hasting with Brown also implying whoever messes with the national security state gets taken out of circulation.

      Disingenuous journalism 101.

    • Avatar Frank von Winkhorst says:

      Why are you wasting your time arguing with a stooge?

  14. Avatar obmaclot says:

    I wonder what happened to his work? I hope he gave it to someone to reveal it. I think its extremely valuable to the people that his story gets out. I hope it does.

    • Avatar Frank von Winkhorst says:

      Right after the murder, Rolling Stone was claiming they were going to go ahead with publishing the article. Haven’t heard a word since. Either they are playing it close to the vest, or they have been gotten to.

  15. Avatar Chuck says:

    Excellent piece.

  16. Avatar sprockethawk says:

    This is a most excellent piece. One thing though. You write early on: ” Hastings sent out a short email headed, “FBI Investigation, re: NSA.” In it, he said that the FBI had been interviewing his “close friends and associates,” but, unless I missed something, I was surprised that you have not confirmed with some of his friends and colleagues that they had been interviewed by the feds. Has this been confirmed?

    • Avatar sgtdoom says:

      If you check out other videos posted in the comments section of previous Russ Baker articles on this subject, you will see vids where that friend of his in Afghanistan confirms this.

    • Avatar sprockethawk says:

      Okay, thanks, but it really should be linked in the blog itself. While I often take a look at some of the comments (depending on time), I am mostly interested in the primary text and that’s why I came here.

  17. Avatar Carol Newquist says:

    The sock puppets are all over reddit and the gawker network.

    They’re all over the place, period. For example, the comments section at Clusterfuck Nation is swarming with sock puppets. Some are quite sophisticated, providing an incredible amount of personal history, a little too over-the-top, and then engaging in smear campaigns to run anyone off who steps outside their predefined boundaries. And that’s what it’s all about; ensuring discussion, to include dissent, stays within definable and controlled/contained boundaries and sometimes those boundaries are a honey trap to ensnare people in subversion.

    I saw Three Days of the Condor last night for the 20th time at least. I seem to catch it every year, or other year, and never grow tired of it. It really should be categorized as a docudrama so true to reality is it. Needless to say, I love this movie and I love Faye Dunaway in it. That was 1975. Look how far it’s come. They’re working on teleportation as we speak. Imagine what they’ll do with that since all technology is considering for weaponization first.

    • Re-watch “Network” as well! “Wag the Dog”, “V is for Vendetta” …. I wish someone would do a modern version of “Tale of Two Cities”..
      I wish I had hope that something could change this country to try to live up to the spirit of the Constitution, but it looks more and more doubtful.

    • Avatar Frank von Winkhorst says:

      Having been reduced to preapproval status at the Guardian website, I can tell you that control of discussion by the authorities is not limited to internet only news sources. My crime, suggesting the possible revelations in Snowden’s insurance file that even the psychos at NSA would be ashamed of. Apparently, extrapolation from known facts using one’s thought processes is verboten.

  18. Avatar Vichy Chicago says:

    More intersections of intelligence agencies and financial services.

    The company mentioned in EndGame’s email, Palantir, also partnered with Thomson Reuters on an analytics platform called QA Studio. If it had a back door, it could reveal what stocks, sectors, markets, etc those users were interested in.


    • Avatar edwardrynearson says:


    • Avatar sgtdoom says:

      Well, Thomson Reuters has an interesting recent financial history behind them (not enough time or room to elaborate), and they purchased some time back, ClearForest (now called Calais), the text analytics software developed by the Banksters for their G.R.I.D. (Global Regulatory Information Database, which came into existence shortly after the “demise” of Total Information Awareness and is managed by the Regulatory Data Corporation, which is owned by Bain Capital) and used at the FBI, NSA, NASDAQ, and major banks. It was funded by the same private equity firm Walden, which originally financed Narus, which is now a Boeing subsidiary.

      Of course, those execs from Palantir, along with Stratfor, attended the recent Bilderberg forum (what was especially interesting was so did Lawrence Lessig???). So the guy who failed to notify Aaron Swartz of a radical downgrading in his punishment that was proposed by the federal prosecutors (Lessig, his attorney, that is) is now attending Bilderberg forums? Palantir promoted their services in targeting and tarnishing WikiLeaks, while Stratfor was hacked by Anonymous, and Carl Bildt, the major dood working on the exradition of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange from the UK, also attended that Bilderberg forum, ‘natch!

    • Avatar $2769588 says:

      I’d be surprised if Bloomberg doesn’t already do that for someone.

  19. Avatar INVERSE says:

    No doubt the sock puppets and the NSA are trolling this web site and those who comment. Essentially the article acts as bait to the cyber trawlers.

    • Avatar undrgrndgirl says:

      so, should it not have been published?

    • Avatar Frank von Winkhorst says:

      You mean like our very own Keith Alexander?

      Just curious: Why do you distinguish between sock puppets and NSA? I’d be interested in seeing a hypothetical Venn diagram of the puppets (I prefer to call them “stooges”) and their employers.

  20. Avatar N. Furthermore says:

    Excellent piece. Thanks for posting this.

    I worked in the corporate security industry for over a decade, and my impression is that it’s a moral cesspool. Sadly, Americans are thoroughly clueless about these unregulated mercenary security/intelligence firms who systematically lie to the public on behalf of federal agencies.

    Perhaps the worst thing about the ignorance is that these are not new problems. Operation Mockingbird for example (a major domestic disinformation campaign) occurred in the 1950s.

    Generally, the corporate media won’t touch this stuff with a ten-foot pole. Among the results of that collusion between the government and fake journalists has been the quiet re-emergence of a new form of the FBI’s infamous Cointelpro – as claimed this year in the Nation and CounterPunch.

    For a full analysis (and archive of related articles) on that very dark business, search “fight gang stalking.”

    • Avatar cstahnke says:

      Project Mockingbird is now not a project but the norm. All mainstream media is PR/Intel disinformation/propaganda mind-control–and it sort of evolved into it over many decades of concerted effort starting with the Creel Committee in WWI. It’s a stunning story that only outsiders talk about but is the main political tool used by the power-elite.

    • Avatar sgtdoom says:

      And so much involving Edward Bernays, that PR/advertising socipathic genius.

    • Avatar sgtdoom says:

      Generally, the corporate media won’t touch this stuff with a ten-foot pole.

      Of course, a most splendid special from Canada a few years back, on MK ULTRA, was viewed throughout Europe and Canada, but not allowed in the US media market!

      It demonstrated the extraordinardy width and breadth of the program and its (unwitting) test subjects: not only in the USA, but Canada, Europe and Asia.

    • Avatar Moriarty says:

      MK-ULTRA was “experimental” Mind Control – which could be traced back to the CIA. MH-CHAOS

      (and other programs – ARTICHOKE etc.) which involve “Operational” Mind Control continued on after Ultra ended – using ‘plausibly deniable’ cut-outs. Hence the rise of “Cults” like “the Peoples’ Temple” (Jim Jones), WorldVision, The Church of Scientology etc….

      Missed by most folks (and of course the Corporate/Intel Community media) was that both Mark David Chapman and John Hinckley had both spent several months abroad (SE Asia) in WorldVision camps, prior to returning home – with well worn copies of “Catcher in the Rye”, and assassination missions advancing US Establishment/CIA interests.

      “Keith Alexander” – are we sure that that isn’t (Ret.) Col. John B. Alexander ? Sounds exactly like one of those “sock puppets” referenced in the article above.

      Anyone interested in Mind Control, MOCKINGBIRD, MH-CHAOS etc. should look for books and research by Alex Constantine, He’s a (Mae) Brussell – sprout whose work is always well sourced and foot-noted.

    • Avatar Frank von Winkhorst says:

      “‘Keith Alexander’ – are we sure that that isn’t (Ret.) Col. John B.
      Alexander ? Sounds exactly like one of those ‘sock puppets’ referenced
      in the article above.”

      What stands out in that guy’s posts is that he clearly lacks anything resembling a conscience, as discussed by Lobaczewski (Lobachevski) in his Political Ponerology.

  21. Avatar SP says:

    Recently, I asked somebody here who said that war is a racket, “Why do we let them run this racket?” I got no response, but I know the answer. Like King Claudius in Hamlet, we are
    “…still possess’dOf those effects for which I did the murder,
    My crown, mine own ambition and my queen.
    May one be pardon’d and retain the offence?”

    Our “effects” are our relatively comfortable lives as Americans. Maybe we did not personally commit any murder, but we enjoy the fruits of the Military Industrial Complex’s world domination. So, our words are nothing more than a guilty conscience half-wishing that it wasn’t so. We know how to stop them. We know whence their power comes. We know what to do. But we won’t do it. We want to keep our “crown,” our “ambition” and our “queen.” Our words fly up, but our thoughts remain below. Words without thoughts never to Heaven go.

    • Sorry, but I disagree. With the electronic “voting” machines, it’s as easy to steal 2 million votes as two. Our “supreme” court equates money with “free speech”. You can’t throw “representatives” out of office if you can’t vote them out. They represent giant corporations, not “we the people”. We need big changes, and there are more people, everyday NOT living in “relative” comfort while they are thrown out of their homes. Americans are NOT satisfied with the Military Industrial Complex known as the USA.

    • Truth flows so beautiful.

  22. Avatar J says:

    Great article! We are definitely entering into a brave new world. I think what we need to do now to counter is to flood their system with mindless terrorist chatter; like pressure cooker black backpack pick up near the twin towers bin laden ak47 m16 grenade mass kill slayer death train station pipe bomb fertilizer Timothy Mcviegh Unibomber cocaine heroin drop off gas station kill murder death biological weapon baseball bat in Barack’s white momma booty shaking Eric Holder crack deal Boston Marathon dirty bomb rape Lindsay Graham surface to air missile Sandusky ketamine injection LSD butt grab on the subway Eric Snowden Mohammed atta DMT at the church bong hot synagogue fire mosque orgy hole suck

    • Avatar $2769588 says:

      The algorithms have already identified you as “decoy – no immediate threat” precisely because you’re trying so hard to demonstrate your ignorance of data mining with keyword salad.

      By contrast, the interesting keywords are secret, objective-dependent, and only so when uttered in particular contexts by particular people in contact with others who are credible threats. Your post has already been processed and stored for all that it’s worth to them, and even then for only so long as they think you might not be a USPER.

      FBI, of course, is a whole other story. Their reason for being is to make sure the 99% who are not citizens but “resources” know and stay in their place.

    • Avatar Frank von Winkhorst says:

      As an alternative, might I suggest something along the lines of William Burroughs’ cut up and fold in techniques? There are, in fact, various websites that allow you to cut and paste various mainstream blatherings and generate a cut up from them. It’s even possible sometimes to “see the future” using this technique: tomorrow’s hedalines today.

      The mining contact then for algorithms with being have keyword. Others only is already salad who so to identified.

      By are long make you contrast credible as sure as the threats they the decoy interesting Your think 99 – keywords post you who no are has might are immediate secret already not not threat objective-dependent citizens precisely and processed but because resources you’re stored.

      FBI know when so uttered all course stay hard in that is into particular demonstrate contexts worth whole place you ignorance particular them story of people and their data in even reason.

    • Avatar Keith Alexander says:

      Like how u put “crack deal” right after our nations first Black atty gen. Ur hardly better than the national security state itself.

    • Avatar Frank von Winkhorst says:

      Don’t forget Operation Cheeseburger.

    • Avatar felon says:


  23. Avatar GuyMontag425 says:

    “Endgame Systems CEO Nathaniel Fick. Formerly of the
    Center for a New American Security, Fick took over for Endgame in November

    I discuss Fick’s connection to the whitewash of Gen. McChrystal’s role in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s friendly-fire death on p. 84 on my post “More Lies Borne Out by Facts, If Not the Truth” at the Feral Firefighter blog. That page also has links to some previous pieces discussing Hastings, Brown, and Endgame.

    • Avatar sgtdoom says:

      Also, on the BoD of CNAS, Richard Armitage, who was the Bushie asst.sec’y of state during the attempts on President Chavez’s life, and was on the BoD of ClearPoint during its collusion in the corruption of the 2000 presidential election results in the state of Florida, and was on the BoD of that oil company in Kuwait which was doing that slant drilling into the sovereign terrioty of a country called Iraq, preceding the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
      And some other interesting hedge funds’ types on CNAS board as well.

    • Avatar CoffeePot says:

      But what binds the secrets?

    • Avatar Frank von Winkhorst says:

      Also, on President Chavez’s life, and was on the attempts on
      the BoD of a country called Iraq, preceding the BoD of a country
      called Iraq, preceding the Iraqi invasion of a country called
      Iraq, preceding the 2000 presidential election results in the
      Bushie asst.sec’y of ClearPoint during its collusion in Kuwait
      which was doing that slant drilling into the BoD of the BoD of
      state of CNAS, Richard Armitage, who was on the attempts on the

  24. Much good info and web of sources. Fascinating! Greenwald says he has 20,000 of Snowden’s files in hand. One may hope that Hastings was equally provident, and that we will yet see this material.

  25. Avatar stan kass says:

    this works just like anonymous does. Take one down, ten more join in.

  26. Avatar Anders Aronsson says:

    Your definition of “Zero-day exploit” is not quite right. This is what Wikipedia says:

    “Zero-day exploits (the software and/or strategies that use a security hole to carry out a successful attack) are used or shared by attackers before the developer of the target software knows about the vulnerability.”


    • Avatar ChristianStork says:

      That is a correct definition in Wikipedia. So is the one employed in the article however. A Zero day attack “is an attack that exploits a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application, meaning that the attack occurs on “day zero” of awareness of the vulnerability. This means that the developers have had zero days to address and patch the vulnerability,” as the other two introductory sentences in the Wikipedia entry note, and as was conveyed in the article. By using the exploit it exposes itself to the target software. Thus, it is “taken advantage of on the same day that the vulnerability becomes known to the victim,” as written.

    • Avatar Keith Alexander says:

      You are wrong. Your defensiveness and ego will not allow you to correct your embarrassing error; what kind of journalist refuses to check his work?

      Your definition of 0day is not just wrong but nonsensical; but, oh well!

    • Avatar CoffeePot says:

      Your cache smells like purfume
      and stinks. _Mg

    • Avatar frostyboy says:

      Hello “Keith” – I’ve been tracing your comments thru this thread. By all metrics, you appear to be one of those sock puppets. Congratulations in outing yourself through your aggressive and repetitive obfuscation.

    • Avatar the_real_Orangutan says:

      Give it a rest. You are engaged in silly nitpicking.

    • Avatar Keith Alexander says:

      “The same way a secret passage in the wall of a bank can be used to access the safe, but once the robbery has occurred, the bank becomes aware of the entry point”

      …just wow….

    • Avatar Anders Aronsson says:

      That’s a false analogy. If a security breach is detected by the victim it’s not really much of a breach since it was caught right away. Successful breaches are either not detected at all or detected much later when damage has already been done.

    • Avatar ChristianStork says:

      You’re correct, thanks for the tip. The article has been amended to reflect this broader understanding.

    • Avatar Frank von Winkhorst says:

      Quoting Wikipedia? Might as well quote the Book of Mormon.

    • Avatar SO says:

      Wikipedia is more credible than YOU.

      Instead of painting The Wiki-pedia with one “it’s all trash” brush, learn to appreciate it and use it.

      You can always check the sources, and, if a claim is unsourced, then you can start comparing it to the Book of Morons.

  27. Avatar Jill Kelley says:

    Check on the affinities between fbi run lulzsec getting into various contractor systems, then check fbi insider-threat solicitations, then see also same fbi running snowden about USB keys in the exact same groups. There are more FBI insider-threats than just snowden, kids! Sensitive-But-Unclassified, SBU Patrick W Kelley and Jill Kelley?

  28. Avatar facereplacer says:

    The sock puppets are all over reddit and the gawker network.

  29. Avatar Yusev says:

    A lot of people burn up in house fires
    and now underground.
    who were not listening to the radio
    surrounded by candy wrappers
    someone teach them
    to be strong
    is wrong
    asked how we want to be
    I mean we’re not watching the
    soul admit sub-75 road signs
    and charlie
    clean up this mess
    there ya go

  30. Avatar Kayvon Afshari says:

    Very well researched. Glad this is contributing to the national discussion on privacy and cyber-surveillance.

  31. Avatar SO says:

    I have long suspected that gummint sock puppets roamed the web.

    • Avatar INVERSE says:

      These “sock puppets” may well be some of those who have posted comments about this story. Trolling comments provides alot of insight into the readership and may flush out fresh meat to feed the monster

    • Avatar McCoyote says:

      They also do things like send your representatives emails that appear to come from you (perhaps misleading, perhaps threatening/scary). Its a spook free for all out there and its all about slurping down those tax dollars and rolling the corpse of the middle class for loose change.

  32. Avatar Gregg Housh says:

    Very well written piece. Thanks for all your hard work.