US Journalists operating under a "D-Notice?"

12-06-1997


THE FOSTER DEATH: U.S. JOURNALISTS OPERATING UNDER A "D-NOTICE?"

In *Above Top Secret* (ISBN: 0-688-09202-0), author Timothy Good describes a British government mechanism known as a "D-Notice":

A D-Notice is a formal letter of request circulated confidentially to newspaper editors, warning them that an item of news, which may be protected under the [British] Official Secrets Act, is regarded by the defense authorities as a secret affecting national security. It has no legal authority and can only be regarded as a letter of advice or request, but it warns that "whether or not any legal sanction would attach to the act of publication, publication is considered to be contrary to the national interest."

...since a D-Notice warns an editor that publication of a given news item may violate the [Official Secrets] Act, the effect is similar to censorship.

Does the United States have some sort of similar mechanism? Has the U.S. government ever contacted prominent news outlets, suggesting that pursuit of a particular story could adversely affect national security? At least one instance comes to mind: ABC News had reportedly been set to air a story on how the U.S. government seems to have had prior knowledge that the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was about to be bombed. The story was pulled at the last minute, however, reportedly due to concerns that its airing might greatly weaken and even topple the U.S. government.

In "The Secret Report and the Death Warrant" (CN 9.02), Sherman H. Skolnick describes how the late Vincent Foster was employed for years by the National Security Agency (NSA), and may have been doing some "freelance" work on the side:

The report goes on to show that since the early 1980s, Foster held the equivalent rank of Military General with the super-secret satellite spying and code-cracking operation of the U.S., the National Security Agency [NSA]. Foster continued this work for the few months before his death in the Clinton White House. Travelling for NSA, hundreds of thousands of miles, Foster was the master-mind of an NSA Project that tracked wire transfers between banks worldwide -- trillions of dollars per day, of banks both friend and foe. Because of being on top of this enterprise, Foster never believed that project might someday find his purported foreign secret coded accounts that could finger him as having violated various American espionage laws.

Skolnick's allegations are corroborated in a classic series of reports by J. Orlin Grabbe, "Allegations Regarding Vince Foster, the NSA, and Banking Transactions Spying." [1] Further support for claims that Vince Foster was a high-ranking NSA official appear in a story in the May 15, 1996 Washington Times newspaper ("Spy Agency Holds Large File On Foster," by Bill Gertz.) Referring to revelations contained in the April 24, 1996 issue of Strategic Investment newsletter, the Washington Times article reports that "secret documents held by the electronic spying agency [NSA] indicate Mr. Foster's death was a matter of 'highly sensitive national security.'"

There's that word: "national security." Was Foster's death a "national security" matter and, for that reason, were prominent news outlets in the U.S. given some version of the "D-Notice?" That would explain why most mainstream journalists here have been so remarkably blind regarding inconsistencies surrounding Foster's supposed "suicide." Furthermore, given that Foster was a high-ranking NSA employee and had apparently violated his trust by engaging in espionage, it ought to be considered whether Foster had been secretly sentenced to death by some sort of secret tribunal. A clue to this possibility is found in Dr. Stanton Friedman's book, *Top Secret/Majic* (ISBN: 1-56924-741-2). Friedman writes about mere =civilians= and the possible extreme penalty they can be subject to for violations of "national security":

Civilians unfortunate enough to be caught up in the security web were made to sign silence agreements ending with the phrase "upon penalty of death" according to a witness who very quietly spoke to me about it after a lecture.

If a civilian can potentially be secretly found "guilty" and sentenced to death, then the same fate could definitely await high-ranking NSA officials who violate their trust and engage in espionage.

But why, if Foster had been secretly sentenced to death, was the sentence executed so sloppily? Surely NSA could have done a neater job of terminating the errant Foster. Widely reported as a deep-level cohort of Foster was Hillary Rodham Clinton. If Ms. Clinton had been involved in Foster's alleged espionage, then a poorly executed termination of Foster might have been designed to embarrass the First Lady, weaken her influence, and thereby incidentally punish her as well.

[1] Grabbe's reports are archived at http://www.aci.net/kalliste/
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