The one thing Goldman Sachs is afraid of

Goldman Sachs is not afraid of anything. As a Alessio Rastani said on the BBC, governments don't run the world, Goldman Sachs runs the world.

It's CEOs and executives become high officials in the government, and then they bail it out with taxpayer money. It has weathered all the storms of the 20th and 21st century, and come out stronger every time. It's profits grow unquestioned and so do it's misdeeds.

But what is Goldman Sachs afraid of?

I speculate here that it is afraid of Public Media, like NPR and PBS.

Why?

For decades, Goldman Sachs was incredibly secretive. There were few books written about the institution. It's headquarters did not even have the name Goldman Sachs on it - it was just a gigantic, monolith building with the address numbers on the front entrance in New York City.

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Something happened at the end of the 2000s decade. Goldman Sachs started advertising.

Why does an investment bank (which is largely a hedge fund) need advertising? What product is it selling? Why do ordinary people need to know that Goldman Sachs does anything at all? They are not it's customers.

It is a good question - one you might ask about other companies like BASF &c. The Public Relations industry answered this question a few decades ago - defending polluters and companies who kill workers with campaigns like "Better living through plastics". Goldman Sachs and high finance are simply the latest people to the PR party.

Now, which outlets is Goldman Sachs advertising through?

Public nonprofit media, like PBS. I am right now, as I type, watching PBS Frontline, online, about US murderer and Mumbai attacker David Coleman Headley. Every ten minutes or so, in between the ambient music and dour, depressing Frontline-style narrative voice, I am told that Goldman Sachs is responsible for the 'mobile revolution'. SanDisk, in particular, is painted as 'engineers who see the future', whose creations are enabled only through the magic of the investment bankers at Goldman Sachs, who find them investors.

PBS didn't used to allow commercials. On broadcast television, they never did. Instead, they allowed only 'underwriting'. Corporations were allowed to provide very limited animations and graphics for the screen - but the voiceover was obviously some button down public television style of enunciation, and the text was bland and endeavored to be minimalistic in it's flaunting of the benefits of the donator corporation. Often they were simply under a single title with voiceoiver; for example: "Brought to you by the Mobil Corporation".

What has changed? I do not know what goes on inside the high offices of Public Media in the United States. There are many things one could speculate about, but I will refrain.

But something has to have changed - we can see it right there. The evidence is as plain as day.



But, one might ask, why has Goldman Sachs decided to become a major funder of public media?

It is certainly not to get customers. Their customers are billionaires.

It is to perform Public Relations.

But why Public Media? Why not daytime television?

Ahh.

That is the matter at hand.

Here I will speculate. Public Media is one of the few outlets investigating the financial crash of 2008. Shows like Frontline are one of the few means that ordinary people have to understand things like Credit Default Swaps, Collateralized Debt Obligations, and the relationship of Goldman Sachs to the government, the bailouts, and the Great Recession.

The introduction of Goldman Sachs to a public profile through advertising is an extraordinary event in it's history. The introduction of mass advertising to Public Media is also an extraordinary event in it's history.

I'm not saying there is proof they are trying to bribe public media into stopping doing stories on high finance and the corruption of our government and banking system.

I'm just saying.

If you were going to find out what is really going on inside Goldman and Public Media, it might be interesting to look into this possibility.

Military throws 9 million dollars down the toilet chasing the ghosts of Thomas Drake and Bradley Manning

Consider the ADAMS and PRODIGAL projects. They are both computer 'anomaly detection' systems whose goal is to find various "insider threats" inside the government before they can do damage.

But how do they define these insider threats?

First, consider DARPA's initial announcement of their ADAMS project:

"Each time we see an incident like a soldier in good mental health becoming homicidal or suicidal or an innocent insider becoming malicious we wonder why we didn’t see it coming."

Now, compare this with Georgia Tech's press release about their PRODIGAL project, which is part of ADAMS:

"When a soldier in good mental health becomes homicidal or a government employee abuses access privileges to share classified information, we often wonder why no one saw it coming."

Now. Who on earth could be a government employee abusing access privileges to share classified information. Note that they did not simply say 'a government employee sharing classified information'. They stuck that 'abusing access privileges' phrase in there.

One who has studied the whistleblower case of Thomas Drake case might find such a phrase familiar. Why? It comes straight out of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 - it is the only law they could find that Thomas Drake actually violated when he told reporter Siobhan Gorman of the Baltimore Sun about waste, fraud and abuse inside the NSA's Trailblazer program. They started out trying to put him in jail for 30 years on Espionage (spying) charges, but their case collapsed when the media and certain NGOs (like the Government Accountability Project) screamed from the rooftops about the persecution he was enduring for disagreeing with the illegal activities of the government. Drake did actually 'abuse access privilges', and that is a violation of a specific section of the CFAA that the government wound up having to charge him under, after the rest of their case against him collapsed.

The same law is being used against Bradley Manning. Stuck in the 34 charges against him, excepting all the military only stuff (like 'using a computer for other than its intended purpose') and the Espionage Act charges, there are also a number of CFAA charges against him.

What is the problem here with this system?

1. Bradley Manning was not in good mental health at the time of his 'leaking'

2. Thomas Drake did not share classified information

Would this system, even if it achieved it's goal, be able to catch Thomas Drake or Bradley Manning?

Thomas Drake should never even have been 'caught' in the first place, because he wasn't doing anything wrong. In fact, it was his superiors in the NSA who were engaging in 'anomalous' behavior and needed to be stopped, and that is what he tried to do, using the time honored tradition of the free press, just as the founding fathers envisioned when they created the Bill of Rights.

But the people who get to peek into the private communications of hundreds of millions of people with these systems are going to be, by definition, in the top ranks. They are the counterintelligence officers and analysts who will be in charge of reporting the results of these Cryptological Panopticons to their superiors in the government. The same sorts of folks that Thomas Drake was trying to blow the whistle on.

As for Manning - would the system have caught him before he gave out so much data? Perhaps. Perhaps not. Let's take some of the specific charges against him; the charges related specifically to allegedly releasing gunship video from helicopters.

Manning claims that he was not the only person who was viewing helicopter-gunship on that base in Iraq - and websites like apacheclips.com and youtube would seem to prove him right. All of those gunfight videos had to come from somewhere, and it certainly wasn't the local news anchors sitting in helicopter cockpits giving those tapes out to people to upload to the internet. It was insiders in the military, who wanted for various reasons to communicate their experience to the world - a fundamental impulse of human nature. Are you going to lock up all of those people alongside Manning?

Who then could this program possibly be targeted at?

Nidal Hassan, the insane man who murdered a bunch of soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas?

Perhaps. Execpt that his superiors already knew he was a wack-job. He simply fell through the bureaucratic cracks. Computers cannot fix problems in management or in the health care system of the military. There are plenty of unstable people who, as NPR has reported, cannot get the health care they need in the military system for various reasons.

What then, is the point of this ADAMS / PRODIGAL system?

Perhaps the desire is not so much to shut down legitimate threats, but to shut down the flow of information from the government to the population. This would fit the pattern of the recent Obama DOJ Espionage Act prosecutions of Leibowitz, Drake, Kim, Sterling, and Manning. Most of these cases have nothing to do with national security - they are simply about control of information, and a dysfunctional culture of overclassification and political retaliation based on the idea of 'state security'. Whoever decides what is 'anomalous' behavior will then get to more easily decide who to prosecute and persecute. If they lose more of these Espionage Act cases, they can still send a message to employees of the government: 'watch out, we are spying on you, and you will be fired'. That is a big enough threat to stop most would-be whistleblowers, and a much easier threat to carry out than jail time.

Then again maybe I am simply being too paranoid. Perhaps it is simply another jobs program. The military, amongst everything else it is, remains one of our nations biggest jobs agencies.

References

See the recent Fox News article on Georgia Techs PRODIGAL / ADAMS system

See wikipedia for ADAMS and PRODIGAL

See NPR reports on mental health treatment inside the VA system