In the paranoid world of post 9/11 America the Intelligence community attempted to claw back some respectability, but their gullibility left them open to con men and fake solutions
When Mr. Snowden proved all the tin-foil hatted conspiracy nuts right by proving the NSA really were listening in our every call and reading all our emails, the reputation of US Intelligence hit a new low. From allies to enemies it would appear the NSA monitored everyone, regardless, We were all potential threats, all guilty enough to be scrutinized, our privacy and freedom wholly ignored in the star spangled fight against terrorism by an over-funded, poorly supervised, agency that simply over-reached the bounds of good taste and decency in pursuit of an illusive, some might say illusionary, enemy.
The blanket monitoring of populations has never had good connotations. It is the tool of authoritarian dictatorships and totalitarian regimes to track and destroy opposition or dissent, and whilst it is perfectly possible the NSA might possibly be the world’s first instance in recorded history of its benign use, the odds are stacked heavily against it. However their greatest crime is not that they sacrificed the basis of freedom and democracy on the paranoid alter of security, however horrific that may be, no, their biggest crime was getting caught doing it.
Reno Casino Regular Cons CIA
• Fake system to find messages in TV broadcasts
• French engineers discover it a hoax
• Bush White House acted on intelligence it gave
The NSA’s efforts to safeguard the United States somewhat brought into question by their inability to keep their own office network secure from a computer nerd with a pen drive and a grudge, they are unfortunately not alone in having fumbled the ball. When Mr. Snowden’s revelations hit the headlines the world was aghast, none more so that the other US Intelligence agencies, but they themselves had already long since gifted away their ability to criticize given their catalog of errors, mistakes and stupidity.
The recent release of a report into the rendition and torture of quite a number of innocent people by the CIA has once again proven that the US did whatever it liked, breaking whatever rules of law and human decency necessary, in pursuit of what transpired to be fleeting apparitions of threat rather than any real threat at all. Their enhanced interrogation techniques producing few results of any worth, and indeed merely caused most of those tortured to simply say anything at all, however fictional, to avoid a continuation of the torture.
Hidden Messages, Crouching CIA
However it is not just men kidnapped, abused and tortured that have lied to US Intelligence. Far from it. In the post 9/11 era where it would seem the “tuuuurrrrrists” and “evil doers” of George W Bush’s childishly simplistic nightmares were bestowed with the power to do anything, there were enemies lurking in every suburb, airports were just bomb-factories with a coffee kiosk and anyone with a middle eastern background a potential suicide bomber. This paranoia was stoked and fed upon by unscrupulous individuals and organizations that sought to profit from the new status quo of fear.
Gambling news headlines screaming of perceived threats would galvanize spending there were a plethora of people who saw the profits that were going to be available in a world where security against an all but invisible threat was the new paramount concern. Fraudsters in the UK began selling fake bomb detectors in greater numbers than ever before, their international trade only ending but recently with their trial and conviction, whilst in the US a gambler in Reno decided that his risk and reward ratio wasn’t high enough, and looked to dip into the CIA’s pockets.
It was simple for Dennis Montgomery to manage this in the US gambling laws concerning intelligence material and personnel would keep his position and actual claims so convoluted no one would catch him out. He was right…….for a time. His claim was that he had technology to find hidden messages inside the broadcasts of Al Jazerra the middle eastern based news broadcaster, and the US Intelligence community, whose attitudes to foreigners now bordered on the xenophobic, believed him, despite it being the most ridiculous idea since chocolate teapots.
In the Winter of 2003 he fed the US information that Al Qaeda were planning an attack on the US that would involve the crashing of several Air France jets into targets across the country. The CIA then shared this information with the Bush White House who promptly grounded a number of flights around the world. With flight numbers, schedules and even the coordinates of targets produced by Montgomery the CIA assured the White House the threat was real. The disruption to holiday travel that Christmas far more the result of security than terrorism.
US Nearly Shoots Down A Passenger Jet
It was after this incident that the French demanded a look at this software that could supposedly decode messages hidden in news broadcasts and get their national airline’s flights grounded, and were provided with it. Their engineers didn’t take very long to establish that there were nowhere near enough pixels in an Al Jazerra broadcast to hide a message, and that the entire system was just an elaborate hoax. A hoax that at one point had so completely taken-in the US spooks that the White House had even considered shooting down a passenger jet over the Atlantic based on its “intelligence”.
That a man who had, just years before, been attempting to sell anti-card counting systems to Reno casinos, without much luck because they didn’t work anywhere near as well as advertised, could work his way up from a lowly DoD contractor to one of the CIA’s most prized sources of intelligence (all of which proved to be fake) in such a short space of time indicates just how willing the US was to clutch at straws in order to be seen to be doing something, regardless of how stupid it actually was. Interagency rivalry kept his dubious nature a secret.
This meant he amassed millions in Department of Defense contracts over the years simply by changing his target to a different agency, who guarded their new technical wonder from the prying eyes of even those already hoodwinked by that self same system. He remained mobile betting they’d not have the necessary joined up thinking to catch him out, and he was right, Even today he still claims his software was of great value during the war on terror but couldn’t possibly reveal anything about it due to ongoing security concerns.
That’s right, the Reno con man who fooled the CIA doesn’t languish in jail for his crimes, he’s still under contract and evidently still making a profit from the stupidity and gullibility of people willing to believe technology can solve all their problems (the CIA’s being a lack of intelligence apparently). It will be interesting, as more and more revelations about the post 9/11 paranoia are made public, to see just how many lives this nasty little fraudster and his unbelievably naive friends at the CIA brought to a premature end in the pursuit of profit and the pipe dream of total security.