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Archive for January, 2018

The Unabomber and I Agree on One Thing: The Discovery Channel Series Was Chock Full of Inaccuracies

Theodore Kaczynski (FBI photo)

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

A few months ago, I wrote a critique of the Discovery Channel series, “Manhunt: Unabomber.” My concern shared by a number of agents that were on the Unabom Task Force was that the series portrayed a minor player on the UTF, Jim Fitzgerald, as the agent who broke the case and was involved in key aspects of the investigation. None of which was true. The series then built on that fiction by depicting a relationship between Fitzgerald and the Unabomber/Ted Kaczynski that never happened. *

Now, it seems that Ted Kaczynski is also critical of the Discovery Channel series, and in a weird twist Kaczynski cites my critique to bolster his position.

Kaczynski was responding to a letter he received from a woman (I will call her Jane Doe.) asking him about certain aspects of the Unabomber series. Jane sent the letter to Kaczynski at the federal maximum-security penitentiary at Florence, Colorado, where he is incarcerated.  Specifically, Jane’s inquiry was about the series indicating that Kaczynski’s criminal activity was at least in part due to Kaczynski’s participation in a psychological study while an undergrad at Harvard in 1959. According to the TV series, the study at Harvard was part of a secret CIA project code named MK Ultra.

Mind Control Program

MK Ultra was a CIA program initiated in 1953 to develop techniques and drugs to be used for interrogation to elicit information and/or confessions through “mind control.” The program was a response to Soviet, Chinese and North Korean use of mind-control techniques (also referred to as brainwashing) on US prisoners during the Korean War – the “Manchurian Candidate” phenomenon. **

Much is still not known about the MK Ultra project as many records were destroyed. It is known that the project involved about 80 institutions in Canada and the US including at least 44 colleges and universities, also some hospitals and prisons. Some of the institutions were not aware of that the CIA was sponsoring the studies. The CIA used front organizations to hide their involvement.

Some of the participants weren’t even aware they were participating in a study. This was especially true in the project’s efforts to develop mind-controlling drugs. LSD was one of the main drugs experimented with and sometimes administered without the subjects’ knowledge.

One of the CIA’s primary concerns was that there were “moles,” double agents, controlled by the Soviets within the US’ and its allies’ intelligence services. There was a fixation on developing techniques and drugs that could be used to elicit the truth from suspected moles or their handlers.

It has been theorized and the Discovery Channel Unabomber series portrays as fact that the personality study that Kaczynski participated in at Harvard which was supervised by Professor Henry A. Murray was part of the MK Ultra project. This study, it is alleged, was so traumatizing that it resulted in psychological damage to Kaczynski which led to his later criminal acts.

Professor Murray used 22 Harvard undergrads in his study including Kaczynski. The studies were controversial and, among other things, were designed to measure people’s reactions under extreme stress. This had the legitimate goal of trying to determine what personality traits are most beneficial in dealing with stress. Consequentially, a large portion of Murray’s study involved the use of personality traits questionnaires. (Prof. Murray was one of the pioneers in developing the ubiquitous personality questionnaires, e.g., would you rather be in a room full of people or in the woods by yourself.)

There does not seem to be any evidence that Prof. Murray’s studies were connected to the CIA MK Ultra project although Prof. Murray did work with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II, helping to produce a psychological profile of Adolph Hitler. The OSS became the CIA after the War.

But even if Prof. Murray’s studies were part of the MK Ultra project, Kaczynski in his response to Jane Doe’s letter debunks the theory that his participation in the study caused such psychological damage to him that it resulted in his serial bombings.

Kaczynski’s Letter 

This is a portion of Kaczynski’s letter addressing the Discovery Channel Unabomber series:

“From several people I’ve received letters concerning that Discovery Channel series about me, and it’s clear from their letters that the Discovery series is even worse than most of the other media stories about me. In fact, the greater part of it is pure fiction. Among other things, they apparently passed on to their viewers the tale through the agency of Harvard professor H. A. Murray I was repeatedly “tortured” as part of the an “MK-Ultra” mind-control program conducted by the CIA. The truth is that in the course of the Murray study there was one and only one unpleasant experience. It lasted about half an hour and could not have been described as “torture” even in the loosest sense of the word. Mostly the Murray study consisted of interviews and the filling-out of pencil-and-paper personality tests. The CIA was not involved.

“Since people may find it difficult to believe that the media would broadcast such a conglomeration of outright lies, I’m sending you herewith a copy of an article by FBI agent Greg Stejskal in which Stejskal confirms that the greater part of the Discovery series is fiction. Stejskal’s purpose is to defend the honor of the FBI, not to tell the truth about Ted Kaczynski (in fact, not all of his statements about me are strictly accurate), but the fact that Discovery lied about the FBI investigation should make it easier for people to believe that they lied about me too.”

It is an interesting and sort of tantalizing theory that a CIA mind-control project caused Kaczynski’s later criminal acts – he became a “Manchurian Candidate” run amuck. But Kaczynski dispels that whole notion.

Kaczynski already provided the reasoning and motivation behind his bombings in his 35,000-word manifesto.

For the record I’m ambivalent about being in common cause with Ted Kaczynski regarding the factual accuracy of the Discovery Channel Unabomber series, but in a sense, we both have an interest in protecting the integrity of the historical record.

** The Manchurian Candidate, a 1959 novel, by Richard Condon adapted into a movie in 1962 and again in 2004. It’s a political thriller about a soldier in the Korean War who while a POW through various mind control techniques used by the Soviets and Chinese is turned into an unwitting assassin for a communist conspiracy in the U.S.

Stejskal: Unabomber Agrees With Me on the Inaccuracy of the Discovery Channel Series

Theodore Kaczynski (FBI photo)

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent for 31 years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office.

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

A few months ago, I wrote a critique of the Discovery Channel series, “Manhunt: Unabomber.” My concern shared by a number of agents that were on the Unabom Task Force was that the series portrayed a minor player on the UTF, Jim Fitzgerald, as the agent who broke the case and was involved in key aspects of the investigation. None of which was true. The series then built on that fiction by depicting a relationship between Fitzgerald and the Unabomber/Ted Kaczynski that never happened. *

Now, it seems that Ted Kaczynski is also critical of the Discovery Channel series, and in a weird twist Kaczynski cites my critique to bolster his position.

Kaczynski was responding to a letter he received from a woman (I will call her Jane Doe.) asking him about certain aspects of the Unabomber series. Jane sent the letter to Kaczynski at the federal maximum-security penitentiary at Florence, Colorado, where he is incarcerated.  Specifically, Jane’s inquiry was about the series indicating that Kaczynski’s criminal activity was at least in part due to Kaczynski’s participation in a psychological study while an undergrad at Harvard in 1959. According to the TV series, the study at Harvard was part of a secret CIA project code named MK Ultra.

Mind Control Program

MK Ultra was a CIA program initiated in 1953 to develop techniques and drugs to be used for interrogation to elicit information and/or confessions through “mind control.” The program was a response to Soviet, Chinese and North Korean use of mind-control techniques (also referred to as brainwashing) on US prisoners during the Korean War – the “Manchurian Candidate” phenomenon. **

Much is still not known about the MK Ultra project as many records were destroyed. It is known that the project involved about 80 institutions in Canada and the US including at least 44 colleges and universities, also some hospitals and prisons. Some of the institutions were not aware of that the CIA was sponsoring the studies. The CIA used front organizations to hide their involvement.

Greg Stejskal

Some of the participants weren’t even aware they were participating in a study. This was especially true in the project’s efforts to develop mind-controlling drugs. LSD was one of the main drugs experimented with and sometimes administered without the subjects’ knowledge.

One of the CIA’s primary concerns was that there were “moles,” double agents, controlled by the Soviets within the US’ and its allies’ intelligence services. There was a fixation on developing techniques and drugs that could be used to elicit the truth from suspected moles or their handlers.

It has been theorized and the Discovery Channel Unabomber series portrays as fact that the personality study that Kaczynski participated in at Harvard which was supervised by Professor Henry A. Murray was part of the MK Ultra project. This study, it is alleged, was so traumatizing that it resulted in psychological damage to Kaczynski which led to his later criminal acts.

Professor Murray used 22 Harvard undergrads in his study including Kaczynski. The studies were controversial and, among other things, were designed to measure people’s reactions under extreme stress. This had the legitimate goal of trying to determine what personality traits are most beneficial in dealing with stress. Consequentially, a large portion of Murray’s study involved the use of personality traits questionnaires. (Prof. Murray was one of the pioneers in developing the ubiquitous personality questionnaires, e.g., would you rather be in a room full of people or in the woods by yourself.)

There does not seem to be any evidence that Prof. Murray’s studies were connected to the CIA MK Ultra project although Prof. Murray did work with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II, helping to produce a psychological profile of Adolph Hitler. The OSS became the CIA after the War.

Read more »

Trump Lobbied AG Sessions Not to Recuse Himself from Russia Probe

Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before Congress about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump instructed his White House attorney to urge Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the probe into alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign, is aware of the president’s instructions to White House lawyer Donald F. McGahn, the New York Times and Associated Press report

The pair had a discussion just before Sessions announced he was stepping aside because of conflict-of-interest concerns, leaving the issue to his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.

About two months later, in May, Trump fired his FBI director James Comey, who claimed the president pressured him to drop the investigation. That prompted Rosenstein to appoint Mueller to lead the probe, following mounting allegations that Trump was trying to obstruct justice.

News that the president tried to prevent his attorney general from recusing himself raises more questions about whether Trump was trying to influence the election.

Legal Pot in Limbo After Sessions Invites Federal Crackdown

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has compared marijuana to heroin, blamed pot for spikes in violence and declared that “good people don’t smoke it,” just threw the blossoming  cannabis industry into chaos.

The longtime, zealous opponent of pot is rolling back Obama-era directives that discouraged federal prosecutors from busting growers and sellers in states where laws permit medicinal or recreational marijuana use.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In a memo to U.S. attorneys Thursday, Sessions told U.S. attorneys they are once again permitted to pursue marijuana prosecutions in any state because federal law prohibits the possession and sale of pot.

“It is the mission of the Department of Justice to enforce the laws of the United States, and the previous issuance of guidance undermines the rule of law and the ability of our local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement partners to carry out this mission,” Sessions said in a statement. “Therefore, today’s memo on federal marijuana enforcement simply directs all U.S. Attorneys to use previously established prosecutorial principles that provide them all the necessary tools to disrupt criminal organizations, tackle the growing drug crisis, and thwart violent crime across our country.”

A total of 36 states have legalized marijuana for either medicinal or recreational use.

The impact of Sessions’ memo won’t be immediately clear because enforcement is up to the discretion of each federal prosecutor.

Trump Fires Back at Bannon with Cease-And-Desist Letter

Steve Bannon, via Twitter

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s lawyers sent a cease-and-desist letter to former White House chief adviser Steve Bannon, claiming he violated a non-disclosure agreement signed as part of working on Trump’s campaign.

ABC reports the letter orders Bannon to refrain from making disparaging comments about Trump or his family. 

The notice was sent on the same day that excerpts of a new book about the Trump campaign and administration were revealed in the Guardian. Bannon, who was forced out of the White House after seven months on the job, mocked Trump, his family and the campaign’s inner circle, accusing some of them of breaking the law.

“You have breached the Agreement by, among other things, communicating with author Michael Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members, and the Company [the Trump campaign], disclosing Confidential Information to Mr. Wolff, and making disparaging statements and in some cases outright defamatory statements to Mr. Wolff about Mr. Trump, his family members,” Trump attorney Charles Harder wrote.

In the excerpts, Bannon said it was “treasonous” and “unpatriotic” for Trump’s son Donald Jr., son-in-law Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort to meet with a Russian lawyer at the Trump Tower during the 2016 election. Bannon also suggested there was “zero” chance Trump was not aware of the meeting.

Allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the presidential allegations prompted the appointment of a special counsel, Robert Mueller, in May. Since then, four members of Trump’s inner circle have been indicted – and two have already pleaded guilty and plan to cooperate with the special counsel’s team.

Feds Request Records for $285M Loan to a Kushner Family Company

President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A $285 million loan that Deutsche Bank issued to one of Jared Kushner’s family companies just a month before Election Day has raised the eyebrows of federal prosecutors.

Brooklyn-based prosecutors requested record related to the loan, which provided Kushner Cos., a real estate company, $74 million more than what was paid for the property, the Washington Post reports

Calling it a “routine” transaction, a spokesman for the firm said the company is cooperating with federal officials.

In October 2016, the company entered into a refinancing deal connected to the 2015 purchase of four primarily empty retail floors of the former New York Times.

Kushner, the son-in-law of Trump, was simultaneously running the company while helping lead the campaign. 

Trump Allies: Mueller’s Grand Jury Is Unfair Because It’s Predominately Black

File photo of President Trump protesters in Ypsilanti, Mi. Photo by Steve Neavling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The sputtering campaign to discredit the Trump-Russia investigation opened up a new line of attack – the demographics of the grand jury charged with handing down indictments for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

An unnamed Trump associate and witness who “recently testified” grumbled to a New York Post columnist that the grand jury was mostly African American and looked like “a Black Lives Matter rally.” 

The only white man in the room was a prosecutor.

“The grand jury room looks like a Bernie Sanders rally,” the source said. “Maybe they found these jurors in central casting, or at a Black Lives Matter rally in Berkeley.”

Eleven of the 2o jurors are black and two were wearing “peace T-shirts,” making it impossible for Trump to get “a fair shake,” the witness complained.

Following the New York Post column, Fox & Friends c0-host Brian Kilmeade joined the attack.

The grand jury is “not even emblematic of something that might be, perhaps, demographically pursuing justice,” Kilmeade said.

The demographic makeup should be no surprise. The grand jury meets Fridays in Washington D.C., where nearly half of the residents are black.

Since Mueller impaneled the grand jury in August, it has handed down indictments against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business partner Richard Gates on charges of money laundering and conspiracy and failing to register as foreign agents.

As the investigation intensifies, so too do the attacks. Trump has referred to the probe as a political “witch hunt.”

Manafort Sues DOJ, Claims Special Counsel Probe Exceeded Authority

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, filed suit against the Justice Department, arguing the special counsel investigation has exceeded its authority by indicated him on charges unrelated to the presidential campaign. 

Manafort, who also sued Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, said his indictment on conspiracy and money laundering charges are unrelated to whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to undermine the presidential election.

Therefore, Manafort alleges in the suit. Mueller does not authorize the special counsel “carte blanche to investigate and pursue criminal charges in connection with anything he stumbles across while investigating, no matter how remote.” 

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May to investigate allegations that Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia.

Manafort and his former campaign aide Rick Gates were charged in October and originally placed on house arrest.

Rosenstein’s lawsuit seeks to stop Mueller from investigating issues that are unrelated to Russian and alleged collusion.

“Mr. Mueller’s investigation of Mr. Manafort has extended far beyond links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump,” the lawsuit states. “The investigation has focused on Mr. Manafort’s offshore business dealings that date back to as early as 2005—about a decade before the Trump presidential campaign launched—and have been known to the United States government for many years.”

The Justice Department dismissed the lawsuit as “frivolous.”

“But the defendant is entitled to file whatever he wants,” the Justice statement said, USA Today reports