Know Your Government: The Wartime Information Security Program
By Tony Muga
“That there should exist in America a shadow group of censors, surrounded by secrecy, that the conditions under which the unit might be activated by the President of the United States-and its mode of operation-are at best imprecisely defined, surely cannot be regarded as a comforting state of affairs in a democracy.” -David Wise
Few today have even heard of W.I.S.P., the Wartime Information Security Program. Initially, the idea came from Byron Price, a former Associated Press executive who oversaw a staff of more than two dozen during WW2; a staff that censored mail, cables and communications.
At wars end, Price contacted President Harry S. Truman via confidential memorandum and advised him that he should create a ‘Censorship Planning Commission’ that would be financed from the President’s secret funds.
During the Eisenhower administration (1958) the censorship code was developed and was last revised in 1963 during the Kennedy administration. David Wise explains the terms of the code in his book titled ‘The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy and Power’:
“The news media would not publish information about ‘war plans, or diplomatic negotiations,’ enemy attacks, troop movements, ships, military aircraft, missiles, production data, and travel movements of the President and ‘other high-ranking civilian or military officials.’ Weather forecasts would not be published or broadcast unless cleared, and even then, they would be published or broadcast only inside one state and within a 150-mile radius.”
(Author’s note: consider the latter part of this quote when researching/studying weather modification)
To start with, there would be eight censors who would determine how to interpret the seven-page single speed censorship code.
Later, during the Eisenhower administration, the group would be expanded to thirteen and would include the position of ‘Director of Censorship’ which was filled by Theodore F. Koop (described as ‘the affable, mild-mannered director of CBS News in Washington’).
These thirteen men would censor all American news media-television, radio, newspapers, and magazines at the command of the President. They alone would decide what the public was to read, see and hear.
The original eight were all members of the federal government’s Executive Reserve, described as an elite group of civilians who would move into various key government positions in the event of a national emergency.
This particular group would report on command to secret offices in Maryland where they would begin to censor information.
“thousands of other Executive Reservists would, if ordered, report to cable-heads and to other strategic locations across the country to censor all mail, cables, telephone calls, and other communications entering or leaving the country. There would be nothing voluntary about this program.”
According to David Wise, the few in Congress that actually knew about WISP assumed that it would never be activated unless Congress declared war.
Wise further states that:
“they [Congress] are wrong. The censors can be ordered into action and the code put into effect at any time the President of the United States wishes to do so. He would not necessarily have to declare a national emergency; there would not have to be a declaration of war.”
The devil is in the details. The standby Executive Order refers to the ‘present emergency situation’ (which could mean really just about anything) and the ‘Office of Censorship Basic Plan’ lists ‘contingencies’ that ‘may require imposition of censorship’ as ‘(a) general war; and (b) limited war, or conflicts of the ‘brush-fire’ type, in which U.S. Forces are involved elsewhere in the world on land, sea, or in the air.’
Also under the proposed standby law, “Whenever the President shall deem that the public safety demands it, he may cause to be intercepted, examined, and controlled communications by mail, cable, radio, television, or other means of transmission crossing the borders of the United States.”
On an interesting side note, according to the organizational chart of WISP’s Special Analysis Division or SAD, “one of its principal tasks was to prepare a ‘National Watchlist’, which Representative Moorhead charged would apparently contain the names of politically ‘questionable’ American citizens.”
With these facts in mind we can more easily understand the BP Gulf Disaster and Fukushima Meltdown media blackouts. Or at least, the legal reasoning behind it.
The sad fact is however, that corporate greed far outweighs the people’s need to be safe and healthy. I ask you, if a man fails to warn his neighbor that a bottle of poison has spilled over into his drink, and the neighbor dies as a result of drinking the poisonous cocktail, would not that man be responsible for his neighbor’s death?
Does government not have a duty and obligation to warn its citizens of danger? Or does government have more of a duty and obligation to protect the profit margins of global corporations at the expense, and even the lives, of law abiding, patriotic Americans?