Donate $100 for the Cryptome archive of 65.000 files from June 1996 to the present

26 February 2005

A writes:

You may know this already, but despite the airiness of "Laughter Is the Best Medicine," Reader's Digest is actually a conservative rag that has often served as a direct conduit for govt propaganda. Just do a Google search for ["Reader's Digest" CIA]. Here a couple represenative snippets:

John Heidenry. THEIRS WAS THE KINGDOM: LILA AND DEWITT WALLACE AND THE STORY OF THE READER'S DIGEST. New York, W. W. Norton. This is an informative book that portrays the close relationship between the CIA and the Reader's Digest — as the latter frightened everyone with Cold War tales. The book names individuals, publications and books authored as part of CIA's propaganda. Much information from this book has been entered in CIABASE.

Readers who have instinctively disliked Reader's Digest will have their worst suspicions confirmed in "American Dreamers," a new book from former Digest managing editor Peter Canning. Among other things, Canning details how, in the 1940s and 50s, the State Department and CIA fed content to the Digest and helped its international editions thrive. He also notes the magazine's numerous pro-Vietnam War editorials, and the way Nixon speeches found their way into the magazine under the byline "The Editors."

24 February 2005.

Thanks to A, who notes that the article below might be a payback for Cryptome's publication of this Department of Justice fingerpointing at the Reader's Digest:


U.S. Department of Justice
April 1997


Stories of crimes contained in popular literature and magazines also constitute a rich source of bombmaking information. For example, the August 1993 edition of Reader's Digest contains an account of efforts by law enforcement officers to track down the killer of United States Court of Appeals Judge Robert S. Vance and attorney Robert Robinson. That article contained a detailed description of the explosive devices used by the bomber in committing the murders, including such information as the size of the pipe bombs, how the bombs were constructed, and what type of smokeless powder was used in their construction.4 According to the Arson and Explosives Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, in a bombing case originating in Topeka, Kansas, the devices were patterned after the bomb used to kill Judge Vance. Upon questioning, the suspect admitted to investigators that he constructed the bomb based on information contained in the Reader's Digest article.

4 See "Hunt for a Mad Bomber," Reader's Digest 77, 79 (August 1993).

23 February 2005. Thanks to the mother of a poster on Sport Shooter for calling attention to this article.

Michael Crowley warned Cryptome his piece would be hostile. Thank you, we cheered.

Source: Hardcopy, Reader's Digest, March 2005, pp. 33-35.



[Cartoon of Islamist web viewing "NUKEM.COM" offering "Site Maps, Security Overrides, Suggestions. Download Now! It's Safe - It's Easy - It's Protected by the Constitution"]

Let's Shut Them Down

These websites are an invitation to terrorists

In the weeks before New York City hosted the Republican National Convention last August, security officials spent millions securing the area around Madison Square Garden against a possible terrorist attack. They set up barricades, installed extra cameras on buildings, and assigned extra police to the streets. John Young, a 69-year-old New Yorker, was also surveying the neighborhoods. He spent hours wandering around midtown Manhattan, snapping photos of unprotected local streets and other vulnerable areas near the convention site. He even snapped the location of a major pipeline that carries highly explosive natural gas into Manhattan.

Young was not working for the NYPD or the FBI. Nor was he a part of a terrorist plot. A self-employed architect, he claims to be just a concerned citizen, someone who thinks we're all safer if there are no government secrets.

So what did he do with all that sensitive information? He posted it on the popular website he runs, which typically gets 50,000 visitors in a day. Young featured dozens of maps and pictures, as well as observations about ways terrorists might attack the convention. Just trying to help, Young says.

Security officials didn't see it that way. The company that owned the gas main took down a sign, photographed by Young, to make the line harder to spot. Young has been visited by FBI agents in the past, who made it clear they expect him to report suspicious inquiries to the Bureau.

Young may well have put lives at risk, but he doesn't regret it. "The more information you have, the better protected you are," he argues. Young has no shortage of information on his website: maps, aerial photographs and security details about everything from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve to a chemical weapons depot in Alabama to nuclear-weapons storage sites in Georgia and New Mexico.

You'd think that websites like Young's would be illegal, especially since the Internet is one of the most critical battlegrounds in our war against radical Islamists. Terrorists not only use encrypted online messages to communicate, but they scan the Web for intelligence. "We shouldn't kid ourselves. Our adversaries are all reading the Internet," says Roger Cressey, a former White House national security official. "So those preaching freedom of information need to be very careful."

Yet there's little anyone can do to stop people like Young. "You're protected by the First Amendment guarantee of free speech. It's hard to prosecute someone who uses public sources to pull together information -- even when that information clearly shouldn't be revealed," says Stewart Baker, a technology lawyer and former general counsel for the National Security Agency. "If the material is leaked to you, you can probably punish that too. Unfortunately, it's not illegal to be a jerk."

Recently I surfed the Web and checked out Young's site. Among other items, I found detailed maps showing how to reach a secret government bunker that's reportedly one of Vice President Dick Cheney's emergency hideouts. There were also photos of the front entrance. Young isn't the only one using cyberspace in a grossly irresponsible way. Another website gave me personal information about government officials and police officers, including their home addresses.

To understand what nuts and zealots can do with this sort of information, recall what happened in the early 1990s when three abortion doctors were killed after pro-life extremists created "wanted" posters displaying the physicians' names and photographs. A few years later, a website showed pictures of other abortion doctors, and listed the murdered ones with their names crossed out. Eventually the site's Web server shut it down.

No wonder police officers are unnerved by the growing number of anti-cop websites. One of them includes photographs at a demonstration who are as identified as plainclothes cops.

At another site are the home addresses and phone numbers of hundreds of officials around the country, from federal judges to mayors to attorneys general. You can bet this isn't about sending people birthday cards. Who else but crackpots or cold-blooded terrorists would want maps and aerial photos of the home of CIA officials like director Porter Goss -- as John Young cheerfully provides.

How frustrating that politicians who want to stand up to these websites find themselves stymied. When Anthony Weiner, a Democratic member of Congress from New York, discovered the home addresses of undercover officers, he proposed a bill that would make such disclosures illegal. "Free speech does not include the ability to terrorize officers," Representative Weiner said in a press release.

Well, maybe it does. When others have pressed for similar legislation on the state level, they've found that it's extremely difficult to clamp down on a site unless it publishes a clear and open threat or calls for a terror attack on a specific target.

That may leave Weiner and every other concerned citizen hoping that Web-hosting providers will shut down dangerous websites voluntarily. But don't count on it.

Perhaps if more of us complain, that could change. One thing's for certain: We can't persuade the people who get a thrill exposing dangerous facts to sober up. When I asked John Young if there was anything he wouldn't reveal on his site -- a fault in the President's Secret Service detail, for instance -- he said, "Well, I'm actually looking for that information right now." Wonderful.

Cryptome adds:

Much of the "sensitive information" is on Cryptome's Eyeball Series.

The Republican National Convention stuff: