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Posts Tagged ‘Watergate scandal

“Knowledge of means without knowledge of ends is animal training”*…

Spy vs.Spy

According to a March 1967 report entitled “Views on Trained Cats [Redacted] for [Redacted] Use,” the CIA stuffed a real, live cat with electronic spying equipment and attempted to train it to spy on America’s Cold War rivals.  The report states that Acoustic Kitty (as the project is commonly known) was a “remarkable scientific achievement.” Unfortunately, the report also states that the continued use of live cats as eavesdropping devices “would not be practical.”

According to Victor Marchetti [an ex-Deputy Director of the CIA]: “A lot of money was spent. They slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that. Finally they’re ready. They took it out to a park and pointed it at a park bench and said, ‘Listen to those two guys…’ They put him out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was dead!”…

Acoustic Kitty

For more on animal training adventures in the security services, see “The CIA’s Most Highly-Trained Spies Weren’t Even Human.”

Steve Martin

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As we study subterfuge, we might recall that it was on this date in 1974 that transcripts of the audiotaped White House conversations between President Richard Nixon and Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman were released to the public. Considered at the time a “smoking gun,” the transcripts confirmed Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate cover-up– and precipitated Nixon’s resignation three days later.

Transcripts of the Watergate tapes arriving on Capitol Hill to be turned over to the House Judiciary Committee.

source

The mechanics of minority rule…

In this visualization, we see the tipping point where minority opinion (shown in red) quickly becomes majority opinion. Over time, the minority opinion grows. Once the minority opinion reached 10 percent of the population, the network quickly changes as the minority opinion takes over the original majority opinion (shown in green).

 

 Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals…

“In general, people do not like to have an unpopular opinion and are always seeking to try locally to come to consensus. We set up this dynamic in each of our models,” said SCNARC Research Associate and corresponding paper author Sameet Sreenivasan. To accomplish this, each of the individuals in the models “talked” to each other about their opinion. If the listener held the same opinions as the speaker, it reinforced the listener’s belief. If the opinion was different, the listener considered it and moved on to talk to another person. If that person also held this new belief, the listener then adopted that belief.

“As agents of change start to convince more and more people, the situation begins to change,” Sreenivasan said. “People begin to question their own views at first and then completely adopt the new view to spread it even further. If the true believers just influenced their neighbors, that wouldn’t change anything within the larger system, as we saw with percentages less than 10.”

Read the full story at Physorg.com.

As we dress for the Tea Party, we might recall that it was on this date in 1974 that President Richard M. Nixon released subpoenaed White House recordings after being ordered to do so by the Supreme Court… well, sort of: six days later, on August 6, the White House released another tape, recorded days after the Watergate Break-in, on which it was clear that the President knew of the burglary and conspired in the cover-up.  Nixon resigned on August 8.

Nixon departing the White House after his resignation (source)

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