government spending

Sharyl Attkisson — Stonewalled — Videos

Posted on March 18, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), College, Computers, Computers, Documentary, Education, External Hard Drives, Faith, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, government, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Links, Literacy, Mobile Phones, National Security Agency (NSA), National Security Agency (NSA_, Non-Fiction, Philosophy, Political Correctness, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Psychology, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulations, Security, Spying, Strategy, Success, Talk Radio, Technology, Terrorism, Video, War, Wealth, Weapons, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Image result for Sharyl Attkisson -- Stonewalled

Sharyl Attkisson: Presidents CAN authorize ILLEGAL surveillance and nobody would ever know!

Sharyl Attkisson Talks “Stonewalled”

Sharyl Attkisson: CBS Had Hidden Clip of Obama Contradicitng Himself on the 2012 Benghazi Attack

Malzberg | Sharyl Attkisson to discuss her new book “Stonewalled” | Part 1

[youtube-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjAoVEhlrPc]

Malzberg | Sharyl Attkisson to discuss her new book “Stonewalled” | Part 2

Sharyl Attkisson: why she left CBS

 

Sharyl Attkisson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sharyl Attkisson
AttkissonB52.jpg

Attkisson on USAF B-52 in 1999, one of the first journalists to fly on a combat mission over Kosovo
Born January 26, 1961 (age 56)
Sarasota, Florida, United States
Education University of Florida
Occupation Writer, journalist, television correspondent
Website sharylattkisson.com

Sharyl Attkisson (born January 26, 1961)[1] is an American author and host of the weekly Sunday public affairs program Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson, which airs on television stations operated by the Sinclair Broadcast Group.[2] She was formerly an investigative correspondent in the Washington bureau for CBS News. She had also substituted as anchor for the CBS Evening News. She resigned from CBS News on March 10, 2014 after 21 years with the network. Her book Stonewalled reached number 3 on New York Times e-book non-fiction best seller list in November 2014[3] and number 5 on The New York Times combined print and e-book non-fiction best-seller list the same week.[4]

Contents

 [show] 

Early life

Attkisson was born in 1961 in Sarasota, Florida.[5] Her step-father is an orthopedic surgeon, and her brother is an emergency room physician. Attkisson graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in broadcast journalism in 1982.[6]

Career

Attkisson began her broadcast journalism career in 1982, aged 22, as a reporter at WUFT-TV, the PBS station in Gainesville, Florida. She later worked as an anchor and reporter at WTVX-TV Fort Pierce/West Palm Beach, Florida from 1982–1985, WBNS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Columbus, Ohio from 1985–86, and WTVT Tampa, Florida (1986–1990).[7]

1990s

From 1990–1993, Attkisson was an anchor for CNN, and also served as a key anchor for CBS space exploration coverage in 1993.[8] Attkisson left CNN in 1993,[9] moving to CBS, where she anchored the television news broadcast CBS News Up to the Minute and became an investigative correspondent based in Washington, D.C.[7]

She served on the University of Florida‘s Journalism College Advisory Board (1993–1997) and was its chair in 1996.[7] The University gave her an Outstanding Achievement Award in 1997. From 1997 to 2003, Attkisson simultaneously hosted CBS News Up to the Minute and the PBS health-news magazine HealthWeek.[10]

2000s

Attkisson received an Investigative Reporters and Editors (I.R.E.) Finalist award for Dangerous Drugs in 2000.[11] In 2001, Attkisson received an Investigative Emmy Award nomination for Firestone Tire Fiasco from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.[12]

In 2002, she co-authored a college textbook, Writing Right for Broadcast and Internet News; later that same year she won an Emmy Award for her Investigative Journalism about the American Red Cross.[7] The award was presented in New York City on September 10, 2002.[13] Attkisson was part of the CBS News team that received RTNDA-Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2005 for Overall Excellence.[11]

In 2006, Attkisson served as Capitol Hill correspondent for CBS,[14] as one of a small number of female anchors covering the 2006 midterms.[15] Attkisson was part of the CBS News team that received RTNDA-Edward R. Murrow Awards in 2008 for Overall Excellence.[11]

In 2008, Attkisson reported that a claim by Hillary Clinton to have dodged sniper fire in Bosnia was unfounded: Clinton’s trip to Bosnia was risky, Attkisson said, but no real bullets were dodged. Attkisson was on the trip with Clinton.[16] The day after Attkisson’s report on the CBS Evening News, Clinton admitted there was no sniper fire and said she “misspoke.” [17][18]In 2009, Attkisson won an Investigative Emmy Award for Business and Financial Reporting for her exclusive reports on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the bank bailout.[11] The award was presented on December 7 at Fordham University‘s Lincoln Center Campus in New York City.[19]

2010s[edit]

Attkisson returned to the University of Florida as a keynote speaker at the College of Journalism and Communications in 2010.[6] That same year, she received an Emmy Award nomination for her investigations into members of Congress, and she also received a 2010 Emmy Award nomination for her investigation into waste of tax dollars.[20] In July 2011, Attkisson was nominated for an Emmy Award for her Follow the Money investigations into Congressional travel to the Copenhagen climate summit, and problems with aid to Haiti earthquake victims.[11][21]

In 2011, Paul Offit criticized Attkisson’s reporting on vaccines in his book Deadly Choices as “damning by association” and lacking sufficient evidence.[22] Dr. Offit has been criticized for providing false information about Attkisson and his vaccine industry ties. [23] Attkisson has been identified in the medical literature as using problematic rhetorical tactics that “imply that because there is no conclusive answer to certain problems, vaccines remain a plausible culprit.”[24] Attkisson’s reporting was cited favorably in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine by neurosurgeon Jon Poling who wrote that Offit had “misrepresented” the case of Hannah Poling v. HHS, and that Offit’s remarks on the case were “not evidence based.”[25]

In 2012, CBS News accepted an Investigative Reporting Award given to Attkisson’s reporting on ATF’s Fast and Furious gunwalker controversy. The award was from Accuracy in Media, a non-profit news media watchdog group, and was presented at a Conservative Political Action Conference.[26]

In June 2012, Attkisson’s investigative reporting for the Gunwalker story also won the CBS Evening News the Radio and Television News Directors Association’s National Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Video Investigative Reporting. The award was presented October 8, 2012 in New York City.[27] In July 2012, Attkisson’s Gunwalker: Fast and Furious reporting received an Emmy Award[28]

On March 10, 2014, Attkisson resigned from CBS News.[29] She stated that the parting was “amicable”.[30] Politico reported that according to sources within CBS there had been tensions leading to “months of hard-fought negotiations” – that Attkisson had been frustrated over what she perceived to be the network’s liberal bias and lack of dedication to investigative reporting, as well as issues she had with the network’s corporate partners, while some[who?] within the network saw her reporting as agenda-driven and doubted her impartiality.[30]

Later that year came the release of her New York Times Best Seller, Stonewalled: One Reporter’s Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington (Harpers),[4] in which she accused CBS of protecting the Obama administration by not giving enough coverage to such stories as the 2012 Benghazi attack and slow initial enrollments under Obamacare.[31]

In February 2015, Attkisson gave a TEDx talk at the University of Nevada. In the talk, she said that astroturfing was swaying public opinion, legislation and media outlets.[32]

Report of Attkisson’s computer being hacked[edit]

In May 2013, while still employed at CBS, Attkisson alleged that her personal and work computers had been “compromised” for more than two years.[33] CBS News stated that it had investigated her work computer and found evidence of multiple unauthorized accesses by a third party in late 2012.[34] The U.S. Department of Justice denied any involvement.[35] In her 2014 book, she alleged that her personal computer was hacked with keystroke logging spyware, enabling an intruder to read all her e-mail messages and gain access to the passwords for her financial accounts.[36]

In late January 2015, Attkisson appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee[37] during a confirmation hearing for Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to replace outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. Attkisson’s testimony concentrated on the Justice Department under Holder and was not related to Lynch’s qualifications.[by whom?] As part of her appearance in front of that committee, a report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) was released[38] stating that “their investigation was not able to substantiate… allegations that Attkisson’s computers were subject to remote intrusions by the FBI, other government personnel, or otherwise” and the deletion seen in Attkinsson’s video “appeared to be caused by the backspace key being stuck, rather than a remote intrusion”.[39][40][41] “CBS News told the OIG that they did not conduct any analysis on her personal computer.”[42]

In February 2015, The Washington Examiner clarified that the OIG did not examine Attkisson’s compromised CBS News computer,[42] the OIG only inspected Attkisson’s personal devices.[43]

In March 2015, Attkisson and her family filed a suit against Holder, Patrick R. Donahoe and unnamed agents of the US Department of Justice, the US Postal Service and the United States in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia claiming to have been subject to illegal surveillance activities.[44][45]

Personal life[edit]

Attkisson has reached third-degree black belt in taekwondo.[5] She is married and has a daughter.[46]

References[edit]

  1. Jump up^ Gill, Kay (2007). Who, a Directory of Prominent People. Omnigraphics. ISBN 9780780808096. Retrieved December 4, 2012.
  2. Jump up^ Erik Wemple (April 22, 2015). “Sinclair Broadcast Group to launch Sunday show hosted by Sharyl Attkisson”. The Washington Post. Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved November 22, 2015.
  3. Jump up^ “NYT Best Seller List”. The New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  4. ^ Jump up to:a b “Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Nonfiction”. The New York Times]]. November 23, 2014. Retrieved November 4, 2015.
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b “Sharyl Attkisson, Investigative Correspondent”. CBS. Archived from the original on November 21, 2013. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b “21st Century Newsroom”. University of Florida. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “Sharyl Attkisson full biography”. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on August 16, 2013. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  8. Jump up^ Hogan, Alfred. “Televising the Space Age: A descriptive chronology of CBS News special coverage of space exploration from 1957 to 2003” (PDF). University of Maryland. p. 260. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  9. Jump up^ “TV Notes”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 28, 1993. p. 42. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  10. Jump up^ “Sharyl Attkisson–About This Person”. The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  11. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e “Sharyl Attkisson profile”. CBS News. Archived from the original on November 19, 2013. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  12. Jump up^ “The 22nd Annual News and Documentary Emmy Award Nominees Announced by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences” (PDF). National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. July 19, 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 29, 2014. Retrieved December 29, 2014. Correspondent Sharyl Attkisson
  13. Jump up^ “23rd Annua; News & Documentary Emmy Awards – With Prominent 9/11 Coverage”. Emmyonline.org. Archived from the original on November 23, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  14. Jump up^ “Sharyl Attkisson Is Named Cbs News Capitol Hill Correspondent”. CBS Corporation. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  15. Jump up^ Stanley, Alessandra (November 8, 2006). “Election Coverage Still a Men’s Club”. The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  16. Jump up^ “Video shows tarmac welcome, no snipers”. Tampa Bay Times. March 25, 2008. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  17. Jump up^ “Clinton says she “misspoke’ about dodging sniper fire”. NYT.com. New York Times. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  18. Jump up^ “Clinton say she “misspoke” about sniper fire”. CNN.com. CNN. Retrieved November 7, 2016.
  19. Jump up^ “7th Annual Business & Financial Emmy Awards – Nominations”. Emmyonline.org. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  20. Jump up^ “Full List of Nominations for the 2010 News and Documentary Emmy Awards: Television Industry news, TV ratings, analysis, celebrity event photos”. TVWeek. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  21. Jump up^ Attkisson 2011 Emmy nomination, emmyonline.tv; accessed October 28, 2014.
  22. Jump up^ Offit, Paul (2011). Deadly Choices: How the Anti-Vaccine Movement Threatens Us All. ISBN 0465023568.
  23. Jump up^ “Corrections for April 18”. Orange County Register. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  24. Jump up^ Kata, Anna (28 May 2012). “Anti-vaccine activists, Web 2.0, and the postmodern paradigm – An overview of tactics and tropes used online by the anti-vaccination movement”. Vaccine. 30 (25): 3778–3779. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.11.112.
  25. Jump up^ Poling, Jon (7 August 2008). “Vaccines and Autism Revisited”. NEJM. 359 (10): 655–656. doi:10.1056/NEJMc086269.
  26. Jump up^ “Loesch, Attkisson to receive AIM awards”. Politico. February 7, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2012.
  27. Jump up^ “2012 National Edward R. Murrow Award Winners”. Radio Television Digital News Association. Retrieved June 13, 2012.
  28. Jump up^ “33rd Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards nominations” (PDF). Emmyonline.tv. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  29. Jump up^ Macneal, Caitlin (March 10, 2014). “CBS Investigative Reporter Sharyl Attkisson Resigns From Network”. Talking Points Memo. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  30. ^ Jump up to:a b Byers, Dylan (March 10, 2014). “Sharyl Attkisson resigns from CBS News”. Politico. Retrieved March 11, 2014.
  31. Jump up^ Smith, Kyle (October 25, 2014), “Ex-CBS reporter’s book reveals how liberal media protects Obama”, New York Post, retrieved November 3, 2014
  32. Jump up^ “Astroturf and manipulation of media messages”. YouTube.com. TEDxUniversityofNevada. February 6, 2015. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
  33. Jump up^ Mirkinson, Jack (May 21, 2013). “CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson: My Computers Were Compromised, ‘Could Be Some Relationship’ To DOJ Scandals”. The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  34. Jump up^ “CBS News Confirms Sharyl Attkisson’s Computer Breached”. The Huffington Post. June 14, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  35. Jump up^ “Sharyl Attkisson’s Computer Not Compromised, DOJ Says”. The Huffington Post. May 22, 2013. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  36. Jump up^ Smith, Kyle; Golding, Bruce (October 27, 2014), “Ex-CBS reporter: Government agency bugged my computer”, New York Post, retrieved October 28, 2014
  37. Jump up^ “Why is Sharyl Attkisson testifying at Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearing?”. Washington Post.
  38. Jump up^ “DOJ OIG Report – Sharyl Attkisson”. scribd.com.
  39. Jump up^ Hattem, Julian. “Watchdog: Attkisson wasn’t hacked, had ‘delete’ key stuck”. TheHill. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
  40. Jump up^ Groch-Begley, Hannah; Strupp, Joe (October 31, 2014). “Computer Security Experts: Attkisson Video Of Purported “Hacking” Likely Just A Stuck Backspace Key”. Media Matters for America. Retrieved January 5, 2015.
  41. Jump up^ Fisher, Max (October 31, 2014). “The video of Sharyl Attkisson getting “hacked” actually just shows a stuck delete key”. Vox. Retrieved November 2, 2014.
  42. ^ Jump up to:a b “Media Matters report on Attkisson claims”. Media Matters for America. January 29, 2015.
  43. Jump up^ T. Becket Adams (February 3, 2015). “Sharyl Attkisson: What was left out of reports on hacking”. The Washington Examiner. Retrieved 22 November 2015. The IG did not rule out computer intrusions. It did not substantiate but neither did it rule out.
  44. Jump up^ Attkisson sues government over computer intrusions, Washington Post; Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  45. Jump up^ Editorial Opinion re Attkisson, Washington Post; Retrieved March 6, 2015.
  46. Jump up^ “Attkisson biography”. Televisionnewscenter.org. Retrieved March 11, 2014.

External links[edit]

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National Security Agency Is Spying On All American Who Use The Internet and Telephone System and They Collect and Store All Your Communications — Includes Trump and Associates — No Warrant Required If President Obama Designates You A Target — Congress Is Enabling The Turnkey Two Party Tyranny — Warrentless Searches — Congress Does Nothing To Stop It! — Videos

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[youtube-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjAoVEhlrPc]

Malzberg | Sharyl Attkisson to discuss her new book “Stonewalled” | Part 2

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Published on Jul 8, 2013

The NSA warrantless surveillance controversy (AKA “Warrantless Wiretapping”) concerns surveillance of persons within the United States during the collection of foreign intelligence by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) as part of the war on terror. Under this program, referred to by the Bush administration as the “terrorist surveillance program”, part of the broader President’s Surveillance Program, the NSA was authorized by executive order to monitor, without search warrants, the phone calls, Internet activity (Web, e-mail, etc.), text messaging, and other communication involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies within the U.S. Critics, however, claimed that it was in an effort to attempt to silence critics of the Bush Administration and their handling of several hot button issues during its tenure. Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. Subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.

During the Obama Administration, the NSA has officially continued operating under the new FISA guidelines. However, in April 2009 officials at the United States Department of Justice acknowledged that the NSA had engaged in “overcollection” of domestic communications in excess of the FISA court’s authority, but claimed that the acts were unintentional and had since been rectified.

All wiretapping of American citizens by the National Security Agency requires a warrant from a three-judge court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. After the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the Patriot Act, which granted the President broad powers to fight a war against terrorism. The George W. Bush administration used these powers to bypass the FISA court and directed the NSA to spy directly on al Qaeda in a new NSA electronic surveillance program. Reports at the time indicate that an “apparently accidental” “glitch” resulted in the interception of communications that were purely domestic in nature.[5] This action was challenged by a number of groups, including Congress, as unconstitutional.

The exact scope of the program is not known, but the NSA is or was provided total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications going between some of the nation’s largest telecommunication companies’ major interconnected locations, including phone conversations, email, web browsing, and corporate private network traffic.[6] Critics said that such “domestic” intercepts required FISC authorization under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[7] The Bush administration maintained that the authorized intercepts are not domestic but rather foreign intelligence integral to the conduct of war and that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF).[8] FISA makes it illegal to intentionally engage in electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act or to disclose or use information obtained by electronic surveillance under appearance of an official act knowing that it was not authorized by statute; this is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 or up to five years in prison, or both.[9] In addition, the Wiretap Act prohibits any person from illegally intercepting, disclosing, using or divulging phone calls or electronic communications; this is punishable with a fine or up to five years in prison, or both.[10]

After an article about the program, (which had been code-named Stellar Wind), was published in The New York Times on December 16, 2005, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales confirmed its existence.[11][12][13] The Times had posted the exclusive story on their website the night before, after learning that the Bush administration was considering seeking a Pentagon-Papers-style court injunction to block its publication.[14] Critics of The Times have alleged that executive editor Bill Keller had withheld the story from publication since before the 2004 Presidential election, and that the story that was ultimately published by The Times was essentially the same as reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau had submitted in 2004.[15] In a December 2008 interview with Newsweek, former Justice Department employee Thomas Tamm revealed himself to be the initial whistle-blower to The Times. The FBI began investigating leaks about the program in 2005, with 25 agents and 5 prosecutors on the case.

FBI’s Patriot Act Abuse of National Security Letters and illegal NSA spying

If you think you can handle the truth, well here it is folks

National Security Agency

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“NSA” redirects here. For other uses, see NSA (disambiguation) and National Security Agency (disambiguation).
Not to be confused with NASA or National Security Council.
National Security Agency
Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Seal of the National Security Agency
Flag of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

Flag of the National Security Agency
National Security Agency headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland.jpg
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland
Agency overview
Formed November 4, 1952; 64 years ago[1]
Preceding agency
  • Armed Forces Security Agency
Headquarters Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S.
39°6′32″N 76°46′17″WCoordinates: 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W
Motto “Defending Our Nation. Securing The Future.”
Employees Classified (30,000–40,000 estimate)[2][3][4][5]
Annual budget Classified (estimated $10.8 billion, 2013)[6][7]
Agency executives
Parent agency United States Department of Defense
Website www.nsa.gov

The National Security Agency (NSA) is an intelligence organization of the United States federal government responsible for global monitoring, collection, and processing of information and data for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, a discipline known as signals intelligence (SIGINT). NSA is concurrently charged with protection of U.S. government communications and information systems against penetration and network warfare.[8][9] Although many of NSA’s programs rely on “passive” electronic collection, the agency is authorized to accomplish its mission through active clandestine means,[10] among which are physically bugging electronic systems[11] and allegedly engaging in sabotage through subversive software.[12][13] Moreover, NSA maintains physical presence in a large number of countries across the globe, where its Special Collection Service (SCS) inserts eavesdropping devices in difficult-to-reach places. SCS collection tactics allegedly encompass “close surveillance, burglary, wiretapping, breaking and entering”.[14][15]

Unlike the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), both of which specialize primarily in foreign human espionage, NSA does not unilaterally conduct human-source intelligence gathering, despite often being portrayed so in popular culture. Instead, NSA is entrusted with assistance to and coordination of SIGINT elements at other government organizations, which are prevented by law from engaging in such activities without the approval of the NSA via the Defense Secretary.[16] As part of these streamlining responsibilities, the agency has a co-located organization called the Central Security Service (CSS), which was created to facilitate cooperation between NSA and other U.S. military cryptanalysis components. Additionally, the NSA Director simultaneously serves as the Commander of the United States Cyber Command and as Chief of the Central Security Service.

Originating as a unit to decipher coded communications in World War II, it was officially formed as the NSA by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, it has become one of the largest U.S. intelligence organizations in terms of personnel and budget,[6][17] operating as part of the Department of Defense and simultaneously reporting to the Director of National Intelligence.

NSA surveillance has been a matter of political controversy on several occasions, such as its spying on anti-Vietnam-war leaders or economic espionage. In 2013, the extent of some of the NSA’s secret surveillance programs was revealed to the public by Edward Snowden. According to the leaked documents, the NSA intercepts the communications of over a billion people worldwide, many of whom are United States citizens, and tracks the movement of hundreds of millions of people using cellphones. Internationally, research has pointed to the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries through “boomerang routing”.[18]

Contents

 [show] 

History

Army predecessor

The origins of the National Security Agency can be traced back to April 28, 1917, three weeks after the U.S. Congress declared war on Germany in World War I. A code and cipher decryption unit was established as the Cable and Telegraph Section which was also known as the Cipher Bureau. It was headquartered in Washington, D.C. and was part of the war effort under the executive branch without direct Congressional authorization. During the course of the war it was relocated in the army’s organizational chart several times. On July 5, 1917, Herbert O. Yardley was assigned to head the unit. At that point, the unit consisted of Yardley and two civilian clerks. It absorbed the navy’s cryptoanalysis functions in July 1918. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, and MI-8 moved to New York City on May 20, 1919, where it continued intelligence activities as the Code Compilation Company under the direction of Yardley.[19][20]

Black Chamber

Western Union allowed MI-8 to monitor telegraphic communications passing through the company’s wires until 1929.[21]

MI-8 also operated the so-called “Black Chamber“.[22] The Black Chamber was located on East 37th Street in Manhattan. Its purpose was to crack the communications codes of foreign governments. Jointly supported by the State Department and the War Department, the chamber persuaded Western Union, the largest U.S. telegram company, to allow government officials to monitor private communications passing through the company’s wires.[23]

Other “Black Chambers” were also found in Europe. They were established by the French and British governments to read the letters of targeted individuals, employing a variety of techniques to surreptitiously open, copy, and reseal correspondence before forwarding it to unsuspecting recipients.[24]

Despite the American Black Chamber’s initial successes, it was shut down in 1929 by U.S. Secretary of State Henry L. Stimson, who defended his decision by stating: “Gentlemen do not read each other’s mail”.[21]

World War II and its aftermath

During World War II, the Signal Security Agency (SSA) was created to intercept and decipher the communications of the Axis powers.[25] When the war ended, the SSA was reorganized as the Army Security Agency (ASA), and it was placed under the leadership of the Director of Military Intelligence.[25]

On May 20, 1949, all cryptologic activities were centralized under a national organization called the Armed Forces Security Agency (AFSA).[25]This organization was originally established within the U.S. Department of Defense under the command of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[26] The AFSA was tasked to direct Department of Defense communications and electronic intelligence activities, except those of U.S. military intelligence units.[26] However, the AFSA was unable to centralize communications intelligence and failed to coordinate with civilian agencies that shared its interests such as the Department of State, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).[26] In December 1951, President Harry S. Truman ordered a panel to investigate how AFSA had failed to achieve its goals. The results of the investigation led to improvements and its redesignation as the National Security Agency.[27]

The agency was formally established by Truman in a memorandum of October 24, 1952, that revised National Security Council Intelligence Directive (NSCID) 9.[28] Since President Truman’s memo was a classified document,[28] the existence of the NSA was not known to the public at that time. Due to its ultra-secrecy the U.S. intelligence community referred to the NSA as “No Such Agency”.[29]

Vietnam War

In the 1960s, the NSA played a key role in expanding America’s commitment to the Vietnam War by providing evidence of a North Vietnamese attack on the American destroyer USS Maddox during the Gulf of Tonkin incident.[30]

A secret operation, code-named “MINARET“, was set up by the NSA to monitor the phone communications of Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker, as well as major civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King, Jr., and prominent U.S. journalists and athletes who criticized the Vietnam War.[31] However, the project turned out to be controversial, and an internal review by the NSA concluded that its Minaret program was “disreputable if not outright illegal”.[31]

The NSA mounted a major effort to secure tactical communications among U.S. forces during the war with mixed success. The NESTOR family of compatible secure voice systems it developed was widely deployed during the Vietnam War, with about 30,000 NESTOR sets produced. However a variety of technical and operational problems limited their use, allowing the North Vietnamese to exploit intercepted U.S. communications.[32]:Vol I, p.79

Church Committee hearings

Further information: Watergate scandal and Church Committee

In the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, a congressional hearing in 1975 led by Sen. Frank Church[33] revealed that the NSA, in collaboration with Britain’s SIGINT intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), had routinely intercepted the international communications of prominent anti-Vietnam war leaders such as Jane Fonda and Dr. Benjamin Spock.[34] Following the resignation of President Richard Nixon, there were several investigations of suspected misuse of FBI, CIA and NSA facilities.[35] Senator Frank Church uncovered previously unknown activity,[35]such as a CIA plot (ordered by the administration of President John F. Kennedy) to assassinate Fidel Castro.[36] The investigation also uncovered NSA’s wiretaps on targeted American citizens.[37]

After the Church Committee hearings, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 was passed into law. This was designed to limit the practice of mass surveillance in the United States.[35]

From 1980s to 1990s

In 1986, the NSA intercepted the communications of the Libyan government during the immediate aftermath of the Berlin discotheque bombing. The White House asserted that the NSA interception had provided “irrefutable” evidence that Libya was behind the bombing, which U.S. President Ronald Reagan cited as a justification for the 1986 United States bombing of Libya.[38][39]

In 1999, a multi-year investigation by the European Parliament highlighted the NSA’s role in economic espionage in a report entitled ‘Development of Surveillance Technology and Risk of Abuse of Economic Information’.[40] That year, the NSA founded the NSA Hall of Honor, a memorial at the National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland.[41] The memorial is a, “tribute to the pioneers and heroes who have made significant and long-lasting contributions to American cryptology”.[41] NSA employees must be retired for more than fifteen years to qualify for the memorial.[41]

NSA’s infrastructure deteriorated in the 1990s as defense budget cuts resulted in maintenance deferrals. On January 24, 2000, NSA headquarters suffered a total network outage for three days caused by an overloaded network. Incoming traffic was successfully stored on agency servers, but it could not be directed and processed. The agency carried out emergency repairs at a cost of $3 million to get the system running again. (Some incoming traffic was also directed instead to Britain’s GCHQ for the time being.) Director Michael Hayden called the outage a “wake-up call” for the need to invest in the agency’s infrastructure.[42]

War on Terror

After Osama bin Laden moved to Afghanistan in the 1980s, the NSA recorded all of his phone calls via satellite, logging over 2,000 minutes of conversation[43]

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the NSA created new IT systems to deal with the flood of information from new technologies like the Internet and cellphones. ThinThread contained advanced data mining capabilities. It also had a “privacy mechanism”; surveillance was stored encrypted; decryption required a warrant. The research done under this program may have contributed to the technology used in later systems. ThinThread was cancelled when Michael Hayden chose Trailblazer, which did not include ThinThread’s privacy system.[44]

Trailblazer Project ramped up in 2002. SAIC, Boeing, CSC, IBM, and Litton worked on it. Some NSA whistleblowers complained internally about major problems surrounding Trailblazer. This led to investigations by Congress and the NSA and DoD Inspectors General. The project was cancelled in early 2004. Several whistleblowers were later arrested and charged with violating federal espionage laws.

Turbulence started in 2005. It was developed in small, inexpensive “test” pieces, rather than one grand plan like Trailblazer. It also included offensive cyber-warfare capabilities, like injecting malware into remote computers. Congress criticized Turbulence in 2007 for having similar bureaucratic problems as Trailblazer.[45] It was to be a realization of information processing at higher speeds in cyberspace.[46]

Global surveillance disclosures

The massive extent of the NSA’s spying, both foreign and domestic, was revealed to the public in a series of detailed disclosures of internal NSA documents beginning in June 2013. Most of the disclosures were leaked by former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden.

Scope of surveillance

It was revealed that the NSA intercepts telephone and Internet communications of over a billion people worldwide, seeking information on terrorism as well as foreign politics, economics[47] and “commercial secrets”.[48] In a declassified document it was revealed that 17,835 phone lines were on an improperly permitted “alert list” from 2006 to 2009 in breach of compliance, which tagged these phone lines for daily monitoring.[49][50][51] Eleven percent of these monitored phone lines met the agency’s legal standard for “reasonably articulable suspicion” (RAS).[49][52]

A dedicated unit of the NSA locates targets for the CIA for extrajudicial assassination in the Middle East.[53] The NSA has also spied extensively on the European Union, the United Nations and numerous governments including allies and trading partners in Europe, South America and Asia.[54][55]

The NSA tracks the locations of hundreds of millions of cellphones per day, allowing it to map people’s movements and relationships in detail.[56]It reportedly has access to all communications made via Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, YouTube, AOL, Skype, Apple and Paltalk,[57] and collects hundreds of millions of contact lists from personal email and instant messaging accounts each year.[58] It has also managed to weaken much of the encryption used on the Internet (by collaborating with, coercing or otherwise infiltrating numerous technology companies), so that the majority of Internet privacy is now vulnerable to the NSA and other attackers.[59][60]

Domestically, the NSA collects and stores metadata records of phone calls,[61] including over 120 million US Verizon subscribers,[62] as well as Internet communications,[57] relying on a secret interpretation of the Patriot Act whereby the entirety of US communications may be considered “relevant” to a terrorism investigation if it is expected that even a tiny minority may relate to terrorism.[63] The NSA supplies foreign intercepts to the DEA, IRS and other law enforcement agencies, who use these to initiate criminal investigations. Federal agents are then instructed to “recreate” the investigative trail via parallel construction.[64]

The NSA also spies on influential Muslims to obtain information that could be used to discredit them, such as their use of pornography. The targets, both domestic and abroad, are not suspected of any crime but hold religious or political views deemed “radical” by the NSA.[65]

Although NSA’s surveillance activities are controversial, government agencies and private enterprises have common needs, and sometimes cooperate at subtle and complex technical levels. Big data is becoming more advantageous, justifying the cost of required computer hardware, and social media lead the trend. The interests of NSA and Silicon Valley began to converge as advances in computer storage technology drastically reduced the costs of storing enormous amounts of data and at the same time the value of the data for use in consumer marketing began to rise. On the other hand, social media sites are growing as voluntary data mining operations on a scale that rivals or exceeds anything the government could attempt on its own.[66]

According to a report in The Washington Post in July 2014, relying on information provided by Snowden, 90% of those placed under surveillance in the U.S. are ordinary Americans, and are not the intended targets. The newspaper said it had examined documents including emails, text messages, and online accounts that support the claim.[67]

Legal accountability

Despite President Obama’s claims that these programs have congressional oversight, members of Congress were unaware of the existence of these NSA programs or the secret interpretation of the Patriot Act, and have consistently been denied access to basic information about them.[68] Obama has also claimed that there are legal checks in place to prevent inappropriate access of data and that there have been no examples of abuse;[69] however, the secret FISC court charged with regulating the NSA’s activities is, according to its chief judge, incapable of investigating or verifying how often the NSA breaks even its own secret rules.[70] It has since been reported that the NSA violated its own rules on data access thousands of times a year, many of these violations involving large-scale data interceptions;[71] and that NSA officers have even used data intercepts to spy on love interests.[72] The NSA has “generally disregarded the special rules for disseminating United States person information” by illegally sharing its intercepts with other law enforcement agencies.[73] A March 2009 opinion of the FISC court, released by court order, states that protocols restricting data queries had been “so frequently and systemically violated that it can be fairly said that this critical element of the overall … regime has never functioned effectively.”[74][75] In 2011 the same court noted that the “volume and nature” of the NSA’s bulk foreign Internet intercepts was “fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe”.[73] Email contact lists (including those of US citizens) are collected at numerous foreign locations to work around the illegality of doing so on US soil.[58]

Legal opinions on the NSA’s bulk collection program have differed. In mid-December 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled that the “almost-Orwellian” program likely violates the Constitution, and wrote, “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval. Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. Indeed, I have little doubt that the author of our Constitution, James Madison, who cautioned us to beware ‘the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power,’ would be aghast.”[76]

Later that month, U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled that the NSA’s collection of telephone records is legal and valuable in the fight against terrorism. In his opinion, he wrote, “a bulk telephony metadata collection program [is] a wide net that could find and isolate gossamer contacts among suspected terrorists in an ocean of seemingly disconnected data” and noted that a similar collection of data prior to 9/11 might have prevented the attack.[77]

An October 2014 United Nations report condemned mass surveillance by the United States and other countries as violating multiple international treaties and conventions that guarantee core privacy rights.[78]

Official responses

On March 20, 2013 the Director of National Intelligence, Lieutenant General James Clapper, testified before Congress that the NSA does not wittingly collect any kind of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans, but he retracted this in June after details of the PRISM program were published, and stated instead that meta-data of phone and Internet traffic are collected, but no actual message contents.[79] This was corroborated by the NSA Director, General Keith Alexander, before it was revealed that the XKeyscore program collects the contents of millions of emails from US citizens without warrant, as well as “nearly everything a user does on the Internet”. Alexander later admitted that “content” is collected, but stated that it is simply stored and never analyzed or searched unless there is “a nexus to al-Qaida or other terrorist groups”.[69]

Regarding the necessity of these NSA programs, Alexander stated on June 27 that the NSA’s bulk phone and Internet intercepts had been instrumental in preventing 54 terrorist “events”, including 13 in the US, and in all but one of these cases had provided the initial tip to “unravel the threat stream”.[80] On July 31 NSA Deputy Director John Inglis conceded to the Senate that these intercepts had not been vital in stopping any terrorist attacks, but were “close” to vital in identifying and convicting four San Diego men for sending US$8,930 to Al-Shabaab, a militia that conducts terrorism in Somalia.[81][82][83]

The U.S. government has aggressively sought to dismiss and challenge Fourth Amendment cases raised against it, and has granted retroactive immunity to ISPs and telecoms participating in domestic surveillance.[84][85] The U.S. military has acknowledged blocking access to parts of The Guardian website for thousands of defense personnel across the country,[86][87] and blocking the entire Guardian website for personnel stationed throughout Afghanistan, the Middle East, and South Asia.[88]

Organizational structure

Michael S. Rogers, the director of the NSA.

The NSA is led by the Director of the National Security Agency (DIRNSA), who also serves as Chief of the Central Security Service (CHCSS) and Commander of the United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) and is the highest-ranking military official of these organizations. He is assisted by a Deputy Director, who is the highest-ranking civilian within the NSA/CSS.

NSA also has an Inspector General, head of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), a General Counsel, head of the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) and a Director of Compliance, who is head of the Office of the Director of Compliance (ODOC).[89]

Unlike other intelligence organizations such as CIA or DIA, NSA has always been particularly reticent concerning its internal organizational structure.

As of the mid-1990s, the National Security Agency was organized into five Directorates:

  • The Operations Directorate, which was responsible for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Technology and Systems Directorate, which develops new technologies for SIGINT collection and processing.
  • The Information Systems Security Directorate, which was responsible for NSA’s communications and information security missions.
  • The Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate, which provided staff support and general direction for the Agency.
  • The Support Services Directorate, which provided logistical and administrative support activities.[90]

Each of these directorates consisted of several groups or elements, designated by a letter. There were for example the A Group, which was responsible for all SIGINT operations against the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and G Group, which was responsible for SIGINT related to all non-communist countries. These groups were divided in units designated by an additional number, like unit A5 for breaking Soviet codes, and G6, being the office for the Middle East, North Africa, Cuba, Central and South America.[91][92]

Structure

As of 2013, NSA has about a dozen directorates, which are designated by a letter, although not all of them are publicly known. The directorates are divided in divisions and units starting with the letter of the parent directorate, followed by a number for the division, the sub-unit or a sub-sub-unit.

The main elements of the organizational structure of the NSA are:[93]

  • F – Directorate only known from unit F6, the Special Collection Service (SCS), which is a joint program created by CIA and NSA in 1978 to facilitate clandestine activities such as bugging computers throughout the world, using the expertise of both agencies.[94]
  • G – Directorate only known from unit G112, the office that manages the Senior Span platform, attached to the U2 spy planes.[95]
  • I – Information Assurance Directorate (IAD), which ensures availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation of national security and telecommunications and information systems (national security systems).
  • J – Directorate only known from unit J2, the Cryptologic Intelligence Unit
  • L – Installation and Logistics
  • M – Human Resources
  • Q – Security and Counterintelligence
  • R – Research Directorate, which conducts research on signals intelligence and on information assurance for the U.S. Government.[96]
  • S – Signals Intelligence Directorate (SID), which is responsible for the collection, analysis, production and dissemination of signals intelligence. This directorate is led by a director and a deputy director. The SID consists of the following divisions:
    • S1 – Customer Relations
    • S2 – Analysis and Production Centers, with the following so-called Product Lines:
      • S2A: South Asia, S2B: China and Korea, S2C: International Security, S2E: Middle East/Asia, S2F: International Crime, S2G: Counter-proliferation, S2H: Russia, S2I: Counter-terrorism, S2J: Weapons and Space, S2T: Current Threats
    • S3 – Data Acquisition, with these divisions for the main collection programs:
      • S31 – Cryptanalysis and Exploitation Services (CES)
      • S32 – Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber-espionage and reportedly is “the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate, consisting of over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers.”[97]
      • S33 – Global Access Operations (GAO), which is responsible for intercepts from satellites and other international SIGINT platforms.[98] A tool which details and maps the information collected by this unit is code-named Boundless Informant.
      • S34 – Collections Strategies and Requirements Center
      • S35 – Special Source Operations (SSO), which is responsible for domestic and compartmented collection programs, like for example the PRISM program.[98] Special Source Operations is also mentioned in connection to the FAIRVIEW collection program.[99]
  • T – Technical Directorate (TD)
  • Directorate for Education and Training
  • Directorate for Corporate Leadership
  • Foreign Affairs Directorate, which acts as liaison with foreign intelligence services, counter-intelligence centers and the UKUSA-partners.
  • Acquisitions and Procurement Directorate
  • Information Sharing Services (ISS), led by a chief and a deputy chief.[100]

In the year 2000, a leadership team was formed, consisting of the Director, the Deputy Director and the Directors of the Signals Intelligence (SID), the Information Assurance (IAD) and the Technical Directorate (TD). The chiefs of other main NSA divisions became associate directors of the senior leadership team.[101]

After president George W. Bush initiated the President’s Surveillance Program (PSP) in 2001, the NSA created a 24-hour Metadata Analysis Center (MAC), followed in 2004 by the Advanced Analysis Division (AAD), with the mission of analyzing content, Internet metadata and telephone metadata. Both units were part of the Signals Intelligence Directorate.[102]

A 2016 proposal would combine the Signals Intelligence Directorate with the Information Assurance Directorate into a Directorate of Operations.[103]

Watch centers

The NSA maintains at least two watch centers:

  • National Security Operations Center (NSOC), which is the NSA’s current operations center and focal point for time-sensitive SIGINT reporting for the United States SIGINT System (USSS). This center was established in 1968 as the National SIGINT Watch Center (NSWC) and renamed into National SIGINT Operations Center (NSOC) in 1973. This “nerve center of the NSA” got its current name in 1996.[104]
  • NSA/CSS Threat Operations Center (NTOC), which is the primary NSA/CSS partner for Department of Homeland Security response to cyber incidents. The NTOC establishes real-time network awareness and threat characterization capabilities to forecast, alert, and attribute malicious activity and enable the coordination of Computer Network Operations. The NTOC was established in 2004 as a joint Information Assurance and Signals Intelligence project.[105]

Employees

The number of NSA employees is officially classified[4] but there are several sources providing estimates. In 1961, NSA had 59,000 military and civilian employees, which grew to 93,067 in 1969, of which 19,300 worked at the headquarters at Fort Meade. In the early 1980s NSA had roughly 50,000 military and civilian personnel. By 1989 this number had grown again to 75,000, of which 25,000 worked at the NSA headquarters. Between 1990 and 1995 the NSA’s budget and workforce were cut by one third, which led to a substantial loss of experience.[106]

In 2012, the NSA said more than 30,000 employees worked at Fort Meade and other facilities.[2] In 2012, John C. Inglis, the deputy director, said that the total number of NSA employees is “somewhere between 37,000 and one billion” as a joke,[4] and stated that the agency is “probably the biggest employer of introverts.”[4] In 2013 Der Spiegel stated that the NSA had 40,000 employees.[5] More widely, it has been described as the world’s largest single employer of mathematicians.[107] Some NSA employees form part of the workforce of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that provides the NSA with satellite signals intelligence.

As of 2013 about 1,000 system administrators work for the NSA.[108]

Security issues

The NSA received criticism early on in 1960 after two agents had defected to the Soviet Union. Investigations by the House Un-American Activities Committee and a special subcommittee of the United States House Committee on Armed Services revealed severe cases of ignorance in personnel security regulations, prompting the former personnel director and the director of security to step down and leading to the adoption of stricter security practices.[109] Nonetheless, security breaches reoccurred only a year later when in an issue of Izvestia of July 23, 1963, a former NSA employee published several cryptologic secrets.

The very same day, an NSA clerk-messenger committed suicide as ongoing investigations disclosed that he had sold secret information to the Soviets on a regular basis. The reluctance of Congressional houses to look into these affairs had prompted a journalist to write, “If a similar series of tragic blunders occurred in any ordinary agency of Government an aroused public would insist that those responsible be officially censured, demoted, or fired.” David Kahn criticized the NSA’s tactics of concealing its doings as smug and the Congress’ blind faith in the agency’s right-doing as shortsighted, and pointed out the necessity of surveillance by the Congress to prevent abuse of power.[109]

Edward Snowden‘s leaking of the existence of PRISM in 2013 caused the NSA to institute a “two-man rule“, where two system administrators are required to be present when one accesses certain sensitive information.[108] Snowden claims he suggested such a rule in 2009.[110]

Polygraphin

Defense Security Service (DSS) polygraph brochure given to NSA applicants

The NSA conducts polygraph tests of employees. For new employees, the tests are meant to discover enemy spies who are applying to the NSA and to uncover any information that could make an applicant pliant to coercion.[111] As part of the latter, historically EPQs or “embarrassing personal questions” about sexual behavior had been included in the NSA polygraph.[111] The NSA also conducts five-year periodic reinvestigation polygraphs of employees, focusing on counterintelligence programs. In addition the NSA conducts periodic polygraph investigations in order to find spies and leakers; those who refuse to take them may receive “termination of employment”, according to a 1982 memorandum from the director of the NSA.[112]

File:NSApolygraphvideo.webm

NSA-produced video on the polygraph process

There are also “special access examination” polygraphs for employees who wish to work in highly sensitive areas, and those polygraphs cover counterintelligence questions and some questions about behavior.[112] NSA’s brochure states that the average test length is between two and four hours.[113] A 1983 report of the Office of Technology Assessment stated that “It appears that the NSA [National Security Agency] (and possibly CIA) use the polygraph not to determine deception or truthfulness per se, but as a technique of interrogation to encourage admissions.”[114]Sometimes applicants in the polygraph process confess to committing felonies such as murder, rape, and selling of illegal drugs. Between 1974 and 1979, of the 20,511 job applicants who took polygraph tests, 695 (3.4%) confessed to previous felony crimes; almost all of those crimes had been undetected.[111]

In 2010 the NSA produced a video explaining its polygraph process.[115] The video, ten minutes long, is titled “The Truth About the Polygraph” and was posted to the Web site of the Defense Security Service. Jeff Stein of The Washington Post said that the video portrays “various applicants, or actors playing them — it’s not clear — describing everything bad they had heard about the test, the implication being that none of it is true.”[116] AntiPolygraph.org argues that the NSA-produced video omits some information about the polygraph process; it produced a video responding to the NSA video.[115] George Maschke, the founder of the Web site, accused the NSA polygraph video of being “Orwellian“.[116]

After Edward Snowden revealed his identity in 2013, the NSA began requiring polygraphing of employees once per quarter.[117]

Arbitrary firing

The number of exemptions from legal requirements has been criticized. When in 1964 the Congress was hearing a bill giving the director of the NSA the power to fire at will any employee,The Washington Post wrote: “This is the very definition of arbitrariness. It means that an employee could be discharged and disgraced on the basis of anonymous allegations without the slightest opportunity to defend himself.” Yet, the bill was accepted by an overwhelming majority.[109]

Insignia and memorials

Seal of the U.S. National Security Agency.svg

The heraldic insignia of NSA consists of an eagle inside a circle, grasping a key in its talons.[118] The eagle represents the agency’s national mission.[118] Its breast features a shield with bands of red and white, taken from the Great Seal of the United States and representing Congress.[118] The key is taken from the emblem of Saint Peter and represents security.[118]

When the NSA was created, the agency had no emblem and used that of the Department of Defense.[119] The agency adopted its first of two emblems in 1963.[119] The current NSA insignia has been in use since 1965, when then-Director, LTG Marshall S. Carter (USA) ordered the creation of a device to represent the agency.[120]

The NSA’s flag consists of the agency’s seal on a light blue background.

National Cryptologic Memorial

Crews associated with NSA missions have been involved in a number of dangerous and deadly situations.[121] The USS Liberty incident in 1967 and USS Pueblo incident in 1968 are examples of the losses endured during the Cold War.[121]

The National Security Agency/Central Security Service Cryptologic Memorial honors and remembers the fallen personnel, both military and civilian, of these intelligence missions.[122] It is made of black granite, and has 171 names carved into it, as of 2013 .[122] It is located at NSA headquarters. A tradition of declassifying the stories of the fallen was begun in 2001.[122]

NSANet (NSA’s intranet)

Behind the Green Door – Secure communications room with separate computer terminals for access to SIPRNET, GWAN, NSANET, and JWICS

NSANet stands for National Security Agency Network and is the official NSA intranet.[123] It is a classified network,[124] for information up to the level of TS/SCI[125] to support the use and sharing of intelligence data between NSA and the signals intelligence agencies of the four other nations of the Five Eyes partnership. The management of NSANet has been delegated to the Central Security Service Texas (CSSTEXAS).[126]

NSANet is a highly secured computer network consisting of fiber-optic and satellite communication channels which are almost completely separated from the public Internet. The network allows NSA personnel and civilian and military intelligence analysts anywhere in the world to have access to the agency’s systems and databases. This access is tightly controlled and monitored. For example, every keystroke is logged, activities are audited at random and downloading and printing of documents from NSANet are recorded.[127]

In 1998, NSANet, along with NIPRNET and SIPRNET, had “significant problems with poor search capabilities, unorganized data and old information”.[128] In 2004, the network was reported to have used over twenty commercial off-the-shelf operating systems.[129] Some universities that do highly sensitive research are allowed to connect to it.[130]

The thousands of Top Secret internal NSA documents that were taken by Edward Snowden in 2013 were stored in “a file-sharing location on the NSA’s intranet site” so they could easily be read online by NSA personnel. Everyone with a TS/SCI-clearance had access to these documents and as a system administrator, Snowden was responsible for moving accidentally misplaced highly sensitive documents to more secure storage locations.[131]

National Computer Security Center

The DoD Computer Security Center was founded in 1981 and renamed the National Computer Security Center (NCSC) in 1985. NCSC was responsible for computer security throughout the federal government.[132] NCSC was part of NSA,[133] and during the late 1980s and the 1990s, NSA and NCSC published Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria in a six-foot high Rainbow Series of books that detailed trusted computing and network platform specifications.[134] The Rainbow books were replaced by the Common Criteria, however, in the early 2000s.[134]

Facilities

Headquarters

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, 2013

Headquarters for the National Security Agency is located at 39°6′32″N 76°46′17″W in Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, although it is separate from other compounds and agencies that are based within this same military installation. Ft. Meade is about 20 mi (32 km) southwest of Baltimore,[135] and 25 mi (40 km) northeast of Washington, DC.[136] The NSA has its own exit off Maryland Route 295 South labeled “NSA Employees Only”.[137][138] The exit may only be used by people with the proper clearances, and security vehicles parked along the road guard the entrance.[139]

NSA is the largest employer in the U.S. state of Maryland, and two-thirds of its personnel work at Ft. Meade.[140] Built on 350 acres (140 ha; 0.55 sq mi)[141] of Ft. Meade’s 5,000 acres (2,000 ha; 7.8 sq mi),[142] the site has 1,300 buildings and an estimated 18,000 parking spaces.[136][143]

NSA headquarters building in Fort Meade (left), NSOC (right)

The main NSA headquarters and operations building is what James Bamford, author of Body of Secrets, describes as “a modern boxy structure” that appears similar to “any stylish office building.”[144] The building is covered with one-way dark glass, which is lined with copper shielding in order to prevent espionage by trapping in signals and sounds.[144] It contains 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2), or more than 68 acres (28 ha), of floor space; Bamford said that the U.S. Capitol “could easily fit inside it four times over.”[144]

The facility has over 100 watchposts,[145] one of them being the visitor control center, a two-story area that serves as the entrance.[144] At the entrance, a white pentagonal structure,[146] visitor badges are issued to visitors and security clearances of employees are checked.[147] The visitor center includes a painting of the NSA seal.[146]

The OPS2A building, the tallest building in the NSA complex and the location of much of the agency’s operations directorate, is accessible from the visitor center. Bamford described it as a “dark glass Rubik’s Cube“.[148] The facility’s “red corridor” houses non-security operations such as concessions and the drug store. The name refers to the “red badge” which is worn by someone without a security clearance. The NSA headquarters includes a cafeteria, a credit union, ticket counters for airlines and entertainment, a barbershop, and a bank.[146] NSA headquarters has its own post office, fire department, and police force.[149][150][151]

The employees at the NSA headquarters reside in various places in the Baltimore-Washington area, including Annapolis, Baltimore, and Columbia in Maryland and the District of Columbia, including the Georgetown community.[152]

Power consumption

Due to massive amounts of data processing, NSA is the largest electricity consumer in Maryland.[140]

Following a major power outage in 2000, in 2003 and in follow-ups through 2007, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA was at risk of electrical overload because of insufficient internal electrical infrastructure at Fort Meade to support the amount of equipment being installed. This problem was apparently recognized in the 1990s but not made a priority, and “now the agency’s ability to keep its operations going is threatened.”[153]

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE, now Constellation Energy) provided NSA with 65 to 75 megawatts at Ft. Meade in 2007, and expected that an increase of 10 to 15 megawatts would be needed later that year.[154] In 2011, NSA at Ft. Meade was Maryland’s largest consumer of power.[140] In 2007, as BGE’s largest customer, NSA bought as much electricity as Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland.[153]

One estimate put the potential for power consumption by the new Utah Data Center at US$40 million per year.[155]

History of headquarters

Headquarters at Fort Meade circa 1950s

When the agency was established, its headquarters and cryptographic center were in the Naval Security Station in Washington, D.C. The COMINT functions were located in Arlington Hall in Northern Virginia, which served as the headquarters of the U.S. Army‘s cryptographic operations.[156]Because the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb and because the facilities were crowded, the federal government wanted to move several agencies, including the AFSA/NSA. A planning committee considered Fort Knox, but Fort Meade, Maryland, was ultimately chosen as NSA headquarters because it was far enough away from Washington, D.C. in case of a nuclear strike and was close enough so its employees would not have to move their families.[157]

Construction of additional buildings began after the agency occupied buildings at Ft. Meade in the late 1950s, which they soon outgrew.[157] In 1963 the new headquarters building, nine stories tall, opened. NSA workers referred to the building as the “Headquarters Building” and since the NSA management occupied the top floor, workers used “Ninth Floor” to refer to their leaders.[158] COMSEC remained in Washington, D.C., until its new building was completed in 1968.[157] In September 1986, the Operations 2A and 2B buildings, both copper-shielded to prevent eavesdropping, opened with a dedication by President Ronald Reagan.[159] The four NSA buildings became known as the “Big Four.”[159] The NSA director moved to 2B when it opened.[159]

Fort Meade shooting[edit]

On March 30, 2015, shortly before 9 am, a stolen sports utility vehicle approached an NSA police vehicle blocking the road near the gate of Fort Meade, after it was told to leave the area. NSA officers fired on the SUV, killing the 27-year-old driver, Ricky Hall (a transgender person also known as Mya), and seriously injuring his 20-year-old male passenger. An NSA officer’s arm was injured when Hall subsequently crashed into his vehicle.[160][161]

The two, dressed in women’s clothing after a night of partying at a motel with the man they’d stolen the SUV from that morning, “attempted to drive a vehicle into the National Security Agency portion of the installation without authorization”, according to an NSA statement.[162] FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said the incident is not believed to be related to terrorism.[163]In June 2015 the FBI closed its investigation into the incident and federal prosecutors have declined to bring charges against anyone involved.[164]

An anonymous police official told The Washington Post, “This was not a deliberate attempt to breach the security of NSA. This was not a planned attack.” The two are believed to have made a wrong turn off the highway, while fleeing from the motel after stealing the vehicle. A small amount of cocaine was found in the SUV. A local CBS reporter initially said a gun was found,[165]but her later revision does not.[166] Dozens of journalists were corralled into a parking lot blocks away from the scene, and were barred from photographing the area.[167]

Computing[edit]

In 1995, The Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA is the owner of the single largest group of supercomputers.[168]

NSA held a groundbreaking ceremony at Ft. Meade in May 2013 for its High Performance Computing Center 2, expected to open in 2016.[169] Called Site M, the center has a 150 megawatt power substation, 14 administrative buildings and 10 parking garages.[149] It cost $3.2 billion and covers 227 acres (92 ha; 0.355 sq mi).[149] The center is 1,800,000 square feet (17 ha; 0.065 sq mi)[149] and initially uses 60 megawatts of electricity.[170]

Increments II and III are expected to be completed by 2030, and would quadruple the space, covering 5,800,000 square feet (54 ha; 0.21 sq mi) with 60 buildings and 40 parking garages.[149] Defense contractors are also establishing or expanding cybersecurity facilities near the NSA and around the Washington metropolitan area.[149]

Other U.S. facilities

Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado

Utah Data Center

As of 2012, NSA collected intelligence from four geostationary satellites.[155] Satellite receivers were at Roaring Creek Station in Catawissa, Pennsylvania and Salt Creek Station in Arbuckle, California.[155] It operated ten to twenty taps on U.S. telecom switches. NSA had installations in several U.S. states and from them observed intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and Asia.[155]

NSA had facilities at Friendship Annex (FANX) in Linthicum, Maryland, which is a 20 to 25-minute drive from Ft. Meade;[171] the Aerospace Data Facility at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora outside Denver, Colorado; NSA Texas in the Texas Cryptology Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; NSA Georgia at Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia; NSA Hawaii in Honolulu; the Multiprogram Research Facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and elsewhere.[152][155]

On January 6, 2011 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to begin construction on NSA’s first Comprehensive National Cyber-security Initiative (CNCI) Data Center, known as the “Utah Data Center” for short. The $1.5B data center is being built at Camp Williams, Utah, located 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, and will help support the agency’s National Cyber-security Initiative.[172] It is expected to be operational by September 2013.[155]

In 2009, to protect its assets and to access more electricity, NSA sought to decentralize and expand its existing facilities in Ft. Meade and Menwith Hill,[173] the latter expansion expected to be completed by 2015.[174]

The Yakima Herald-Republic cited Bamford, saying that many of NSA’s bases for its Echelon program were a legacy system, using outdated, 1990s technology.[175] In 2004, NSA closed its operations at Bad Aibling Station (Field Station 81) in Bad Aibling, Germany.[176] In 2012, NSA began to move some of its operations at Yakima Research Station, Yakima Training Center, in Washington state to Colorado, planning to leave Yakima closed.[177] As of 2013, NSA also intended to close operations at Sugar Grove, West Virginia.[175]

International stations

RAF Menwith Hill has the largest NSA presence in the United Kingdom.[174]

Following the signing in 1946–1956[178] of the UKUSA Agreement between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who then cooperated on signals intelligence and ECHELON,[179] NSA stations were built at GCHQ Bude in Morwenstow, United Kingdom; Geraldton, Pine Gap and Shoal Bay, Australia; Leitrim and Ottawa, Canada; Misawa, Japan; and Waihopai and Tangimoana,[180] New Zealand.[181]

NSA operates RAF Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, which was, according to BBC News in 2007, the largest electronic monitoring station in the world.[182] Planned in 1954, and opened in 1960, the base covered 562 acres (227 ha; 0.878 sq mi) in 1999.[183]

The agency’s European Cryptologic Center (ECC), with 240 employees in 2011, is headquartered at a US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt in Germany. A 2011 NSA report indicates that the ECC is responsible for the “largest analysis and productivity in Europe” and focusses on various priorities, including Africa, Europe, the Middle East and counterterrorism operations.[184]

In 2013, a new Consolidated Intelligence Center, also to be used by NSA, is being built at the headquarters of the United States Army Europe in Wiesbaden, Germany.[185] NSA’s partnership with Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German foreign intelligence service, was confirmed by BND president Gerhard Schindler.[185]

Thailand

Thailand is a “3rd party partner” of the NSA along with nine other nations.[186] These are non-English-speaking countries that have made security agreements for the exchange of SIGINT raw material and end product reports.

Thailand is the site of at least two US SIGINT collection stations. One is at the US Embassy in Bangkok, a joint NSA-CIA Special Collection Service (SCS) unit. It presumably eavesdrops on foreign embassies, governmental communications, and other targets of opportunity.[187]

The second installation is a FORNSAT (foreign satellite interception) station in the Thai city of Khon Kaen. It is codenamed INDRA, but has also been referred to as LEMONWOOD.[187] The station is approximately 40 ha (100 acres) in size and consists of a large 3,700–4,600 m2 (40,000–50,000 ft2) operations building on the west side of the ops compound and four radome-enclosed parabolic antennas. Possibly two of the radome-enclosed antennas are used for SATCOM intercept and two antennas used for relaying the intercepted material back to NSA. There is also a PUSHER-type circularly-disposed antenna array (CDAA) array just north of the ops compound.[188][189]

NSA activated Khon Kaen in October 1979. Its mission was to eavesdrop on the radio traffic of Chinese army and air force units in southern China, especially in and around the city of Kunming in Yunnan Province. Back in the late 1970s the base consisted only of a small CDAA antenna array that was remote-controlled via satellite from the NSA listening post at Kunia, Hawaii, and a small force of civilian contractors from Bendix Field Engineering Corp. whose job it was to keep the antenna array and satellite relay facilities up and running 24/7.[188]

According to the papers of the late General William Odom, the INDRA facility was upgraded in 1986 with a new British-made PUSHER CDAA antenna as part of an overall upgrade of NSA and Thai SIGINT facilities whose objective was to spy on the neighboring communist nations of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.[188]

The base apparently fell into disrepair in the 1990s as China and Vietnam became more friendly towards the US, and by 2002 archived satellite imagery showed that the PUSHER CDAA antenna had been torn down, perhaps indicating that the base had been closed. At some point in the period since 9/11, the Khon Kaen base was reactivated and expanded to include a sizeable SATCOM intercept mission. It is likely that the NSA presence at Khon Kaen is relatively small, and that most of the work is done by civilian contractors.[188]

Mission

NSA’s eavesdropping mission includes radio broadcasting, both from various organizations and individuals, the Internet, telephone calls, and other intercepted forms of communication. Its secure communications mission includes military, diplomatic, and all other sensitive, confidential or secret government communications.[190]

According to the Washington Post, “[e]very day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications. The NSA sorts a fraction of those into 70 separate databases.”[191]

Because of its listening task, NSA/CSS has been heavily involved in cryptanalytic research, continuing the work of predecessor agencies which had broken many World War II codes and ciphers (see, for instance, Purple, Venona project, and JN-25).

In 2004, NSA Central Security Service and the National Cyber Security Division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed to expand NSA Centers of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education Program.[192]

As part of the National Security Presidential Directive 54/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 23 (NSPD 54), signed on January 8, 2008 by President Bush, the NSA became the lead agency to monitor and protect all of the federal government’s computer networks from cyber-terrorism.[9]

Operations

Operations by the National Security Agency can be divided in three types:

  • Collection overseas, which falls under the responsibility of the Global Access Operations (GAO) division.
  • Domestic collection, which falls under the responsibility of the Special Source Operations (SSO) division.
  • Hacking operations, which falls under the responsibility of the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

Collection overseas

Echelon

Main article: ECHELON

Echelon was created in the incubator of the Cold War.[193] Today it is a legacy system, and several NSA stations are closing.[175]

NSA/CSS, in combination with the equivalent agencies in the United Kingdom (Government Communications Headquarters), Canada (Communications Security Establishment), Australia (Defence Signals Directorate), and New Zealand (Government Communications Security Bureau), otherwise known as the UKUSA group,[194] was reported to be in command of the operation of the so-called ECHELON system. Its capabilities were suspected to include the ability to monitor a large proportion of the world’s transmitted civilian telephone, fax and data traffic.[195]

During the early 1970s, the first of what became more than eight large satellite communications dishes were installed at Menwith Hill.[196] Investigative journalist Duncan Campbell reported in 1988 on the ECHELON surveillance program, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global signals intelligence SIGINT, and detailed how the eavesdropping operations worked.[197] In November 3, 1999 the BBC reported that they had confirmation from the Australian Government of the existence of a powerful “global spying network” code-named Echelon, that could “eavesdrop on every single phone call, fax or e-mail, anywhere on the planet” with Britain and the United States as the chief protagonists. They confirmed that Menwith Hill was “linked directly to the headquarters of the US National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade in Maryland”.[198]

NSA’s United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibited the interception or collection of information about “… U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations….” without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. borders. Alleged Echelon-related activities, including its use for motives other than national security, including political and industrial espionage, received criticism from countries outside the UKUSA alliance.[199][200]

Protesters against NSA data mining in Berlin wearing Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden masks.

Other SIGINT operations overseas

The NSA is also involved in planning to blackmail people with “SEXINT“, intelligence gained about a potential target’s sexual activity and preferences. Those targeted had not committed any apparent crime nor were charged with one.[201]

In order to support its facial recognition program, the NSA is intercepting “millions of images per day”.[202]

The Real Time Regional Gateway is a data collection program introduced in 2005 in Iraq by NSA during the Iraq War that consisted of gathering all electronic communication, storing it, then searching and otherwise analyzing it. It was effective in providing information about Iraqi insurgents who had eluded less comprehensive techniques.[203] This “collect it all” strategy introduced by NSA director, Keith B. Alexander, is believed by Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian to be the model for the comprehensive worldwide mass archiving of communications which NSA is engaged in as of 2013.[204]

BoundlessInformant

Edward Snowden revealed in June 2013 that between February 8 and March 8, 2013, the NSA collected about 124.8 billion telephone data items and 97.1 billion computer data items throughout the world, as was displayed in charts from an internal NSA tool codenamed Boundless Informant. It was reported that some of these data reflected eavesdropping on citizens in countries like Germany, Spain and France.[205]

BoundlessInformant employs big data databases, cloud computing technology, and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) to analyze data collected worldwide by the NSA.[206]

Bypassing encryption

In 2013, reporters uncovered a secret memo that claims the NSA created and pushed for the adoption of the Dual_EC_DRBG encryption standard that contained built-in vulnerabilities in 2006 to the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the International Organization for Standardization (aka ISO).[207][208] This memo appears to give credence to previous speculation by cryptographers at Microsoft Research.[209] Edward Snowden claims that the NSA often bypasses encryption altogether by lifting information before it is encrypted or after it is decrypted.[208]

XKeyscore rules (as specified in a file xkeyscorerules100.txt, sourced by German TV stations NDR and WDR, who claim to have excerpts from its source code) reveal that the NSA tracks users of privacy-enhancing software tools, including Tor; an anonymous email service provided by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and readers of the Linux Journal.[210][211]

Domestic activity

NSA’s mission, as set forth in Executive Order 12333 in 1981, is to collect information that constitutes “foreign intelligence or counterintelligence” while not “acquiring information concerning the domestic activities of United States persons”. NSA has declared that it relies on the FBI to collect information on foreign intelligence activities within the borders of the United States, while confining its own activities within the United States to the embassies and missions of foreign nations.[212] The appearance of a ‘Domestic Surveillance Directorate’ of the NSA was soon exposed as a hoax in 2013.[213][214]

NSA’s domestic surveillance activities are limited by the requirements imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for example held in October 2011, citing multiple Supreme Court precedents, that the Fourth Amendment prohibitions against unreasonable searches and seizures applies to the contents of all communications, whatever the means, because “a person’s private communications are akin to personal papers.”[215] However, these protections do not apply to non-U.S. persons located outside of U.S. borders, so the NSA’s foreign surveillance efforts are subject to far fewer limitations under U.S. law.[216] The specific requirements for domestic surveillance operations are contained in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA), which does not extend protection to non-U.S. citizens located outside of U.S. territory.[216]

George W. Bush administration

George W. Bush, president during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, approved the Patriot Act shortly after the attacks to take anti-terrorist security measures. Title 1, 2, and 9 specifically authorized measures that would be taken by the NSA. These titles granted enhanced domestic security against terrorism, surveillance procedures, and improved intelligence, respectively. On March 10, 2004, there was a debate between President Bush and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Acting Attorney General James Comey. The Attorney Generals were unsure if the NSA’s programs could be considered constitutional. They threatened to resign over the matter, but ultimately the NSA’s programs continued.[217] On March 11, 2004, President Bush signed a new authorization for mass surveillance of Internet records, in addition to the surveillance of phone records.This allowed the president to be able to override laws such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which protected civilians from mass surveillance. In addition to this, President Bush also signed that the measures of mass surveillance were also retroactively in place.[218]

Warrantless wiretaps

On December 16, 2005, The New York Times reported that, under White House pressure and with an executive order from President George W. Bush, the National Security Agency, in an attempt to thwart terrorism, had been tapping phone calls made to persons outside the country, without obtaining warrants from the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a secret court created for that purpose under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[219]

One such surveillance program, authorized by the U.S. Signals Intelligence Directive 18 of President George Bush, was the Highlander Project undertaken for the National Security Agency by the U.S. Army 513th Military Intelligence Brigade. NSA relayed telephone (including cell phone) conversations obtained from ground, airborne, and satellite monitoring stations to various U.S. Army Signal Intelligence Officers, including the 201st Military Intelligence Battalion. Conversations of citizens of the U.S. were intercepted, along with those of other nations.[220]

Proponents of the surveillance program claim that the President has executive authority to order such action, arguing that laws such as FISA are overridden by the President’s Constitutional powers. In addition, some argued that FISA was implicitly overridden by a subsequent statute, the Authorization for Use of Military Force, although the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld deprecates this view. In the August 2006 case ACLU v. NSA, U.S. District Court Judge Anna Diggs Taylor concluded that NSA’s warrantless surveillance program was both illegal and unconstitutional. On July 6, 2007 the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the decision on the grounds that the ACLU lacked standing to bring the suit.[221]

On January 17, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit, CCR v. Bush, against the George W. Bush Presidency. The lawsuit challenged the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of people within the U.S., including the interception of CCR emails without securing a warrant first.[222][223]

In September 2008, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class action lawsuit against the NSA and several high-ranking officials of the Bush administration,[224] charging an “illegal and unconstitutional program of dragnet communications surveillance,”[225] based on documentation provided by former AT&T technician Mark Klein.[226]

As a result of the USA Freedom Act passed by Congress in June 2015, the NSA had to shut down its bulk phone surveillance program on November 29 of the same year. The USA Freedom Act forbids the NSA to collect metadata and content of phone calls unless it has a warrant for terrorism investigation. In that case the agency has to ask the telecom companies for the record, which will only be kept for six months.

AT&T Internet monitoring

In May 2006, Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee, alleged that his company had cooperated with NSA in installing Narus hardware to replace the FBI Carnivore program, to monitor network communications including traffic between American citizens.[227]

Data mining

NSA was reported in 2008 to use its computing capability to analyze “transactional” data that it regularly acquires from other government agencies, which gather it under their own jurisdictional authorities. As part of this effort, NSA now monitors huge volumes of records of domestic email data, web addresses from Internet searches, bank transfers, credit-card transactions, travel records, and telephone data, according to current and former intelligence officials interviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The sender, recipient, and subject line of emails can be included, but the content of the messages or of phone calls are not.[228]

A 2013 advisory group for the Obama administration, seeking to reform NSA spying programs following the revelations of documents released by Edward J. Snowden.[229] mentioned in ‘Recommendation 30’ on page 37, “…that the National Security Council staff should manage an interagency process to review on a regular basis the activities of the US Government regarding attacks that exploit a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application.” Retired cyber security expert Richard A. Clarke was a group member and stated on April 11 that NSA had no advance knowledge of Heartbleed.[230]

Illegally obtained evidence

In August 2013 it was revealed that a 2005 IRS training document showed that NSA intelligence intercepts and wiretaps, both foreign and domestic, were being supplied to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and were illegally used to launch criminal investigations of US citizens. Law enforcement agents were directed to conceal how the investigations began and recreate an apparently legal investigative trail by re-obtaining the same evidence by other means.[231][232]

Barack Obama administration

In the months leading to April 2009, the NSA intercepted the communications of American citizens, including a Congressman, although the Justice Department believed that the interception was unintentional. The Justice Department then took action to correct the issues and bring the program into compliance with existing laws.[233] United States Attorney General Eric Holder resumed the program according to his understanding of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act amendment of 2008, without explaining what had occurred.[234]

Polls conducted in June 2013 found divided results among Americans regarding NSA’s secret data collection.[235] Rasmussen Reports found that 59% of Americans disapprove,[236] Gallup found that 53% disapprove,[237] and Pew found that 56% are in favor of NSA data collection.[238]

Section 215 metadata collection

On April 25, 2013, the NSA obtained a court order requiring Verizon‘s Business Network Services to provide metadata on all calls in its system to the NSA “on an ongoing daily basis” for a three-month period, as reported by The Guardian on June 6, 2013. This information includes “the numbers of both parties on a call … location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls” but not “[t]he contents of the conversation itself”. The order relies on the so-called “business records” provision of the Patriot Act.[239][240]

In August 2013, following the Snowden leaks, new details about the NSA’s data mining activity were revealed. Reportedly, the majority of emails into or out of the United States are captured at “selected communications links” and automatically analyzed for keywords or other “selectors”. Emails that do not match are deleted.[241]

The utility of such a massive metadata collection in preventing terrorist attacks is disputed. Many studies reveal the dragnet like system to be ineffective. One such report, released by the New America Foundation concluded that after an analysis of 225 terrorism cases, the NSA “had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism.”[242]

Defenders of the program say that while metadata alone can’t provide all the information necessary to prevent an attack, it assures the ability to “connect the dots”[243] between suspect foreign numbers and domestic numbers with a speed only the NSA’s software is capable of. One benefit of this is quickly being able to determine the difference between suspicious activity and real threats.[citation needed] As an example, NSA director General Keith Alexander mentioned at the annual Cybersecurity Summit in 2013, that metadata analysis of domestic phone call records after the Boston Marathon bombing helped determine that[clarification needed] another attack in New York was baseless.[243]

In addition to doubts about its effectiveness, many people argue that the collection of metadata is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. As of 2015, the collection process remains legal and grounded in the ruling from Smith v. Maryland (1979). A prominent opponent of the data collection and its legality is U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who issued a report in 2013[244] in which he stated: “I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval…Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment”.

The PRISM program[edit]

PRISM: a clandestine surveillance program under which the NSA collects user data from companies like Microsoft and Facebook.

Under the PRISM program, which started in 2007,[245][246] NSA gathers Internet communications from foreign targets from nine major U.S. Internet-based communication service providers: Microsoft,[247] Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple. Data gathered include email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, VoIP chats such as Skype, and file transfers.

June 2015 – WikiLeaks: Industrial espionage

In June 2015, Wikileaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on French companies.[248]

July 2015 – WikiLeaks: Espionage against German federal ministries[edit]

In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents, which showed that NSA spied on federal German ministries since 1990s.[249][250] Even Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cellphones and phone of her predecessors had been intercepted.[251]

Claims of prevented terrorist attacks

Former NSA director General Keith Alexander claimed that in September 2009 the NSA prevented Najibullah Zazi and his friends from carrying out a terrorist attack.[252] However, this claim has been debunked and no evidence has been presented demonstrating that the NSA has ever been instrumental in preventing a terrorist attack.[253][254][255][256]

Hacking operations

Besides the more traditional ways of eavesdropping in order to collect signals intelligence, NSA is also engaged in hacking computers, smartphones and their networks. These operations are conducted by the Tailored Access Operations (TAO) division.

NSA’s China hacking group

According to the Foreign Policy magazine, “… the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, has successfully penetrated Chinese computer and telecommunications systems for almost 15 years, generating some of the best and most reliable intelligence information about what is going on inside the People’s Republic of China.”[257][258]

Syrian internet blackout

In an interview with Wired magazine, Edward Snowden said the Tailored Access Operations division accidentally caused Syria‘s internet blackout in 2012.[259]

Suspected responsibility for hacking operations by the Equation Group[edit]

The espionage group named the Equation Group, described by discoverers Kaspersky Labs as one of the most advanced (if not the most advanced) in the world as of 2015,[260]:31 and connected to over 500 malware infections in at least 42 countries over many years, is suspected of being a part of NSA.[261][262] The group’s known espionage methods have been documented to include interdiction (interception of legitimate CDs sent by a scientific conference organizer by mail),[260]:15 and the “unprecedented” ability to infect and be transmitted through the hard drive firmware of several of the major hard drive manufacturers, and create and use hidden disk areas and virtual disk systems for its purposes, a feat demanding access to the manufacturer’s source code of each to achieve.[260]:16–18 The methods used to deploy the tools demonstrated “surgical precision”, going so far as to exclude specific countries by IP and allow targeting of specific usernames on discussion forums.[260]:23–26 The techniques and knowledge used by the Equation Group are considered in summary to be “out of the reach of most advanced threat groups in the world except [this group].[260]:31

Software backdoors

Linux kerne

Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux kernel, joked during a LinuxCon keynote on September 18, 2013 that the NSA, who are the founder of SELinux, wanted a backdoor in the kernel.[263]However, later, Linus’ father, a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), revealed that the NSA actually did this.[264]

When my oldest son [Linus Torvalds] was asked the same question: “Has he been approached by the NSA about backdoors?” he said “No”, but at the same time he nodded. Then he was sort of in the legal free. He had given the right answer, [but] everybody understood that the NSA had approached him.

— Nils Torvalds, LIBE Committee Inquiry on Electronic Mass Surveillance of EU Citizens – 11th Hearing, 11 November 2013[265]
Microsoft Windows
Main article: _NSAKEY

_NSAKEY was a variable name discovered in Microsoft‘s Windows NT 4 Service Pack 5 (which had been released unstripped of its symbolic debugging data) in August 1999 by Andrew D. Fernandes of Cryptonym Corporation. That variable contained a 1024-bit public key.

IBM Notes

IBM Notes was the first widely adopted software product to use public key cryptography for client–server and server–server authentication and for encryption of data. Until US laws regulating encryption were changed in 2000, IBM and Lotus were prohibited from exporting versions of Notes that supported symmetric encryption keys that were longer than 40 bits. In 1997, Lotus negotiated an agreement with the NSA that allowed export of a version that supported stronger keys with 64 bits, but 24 of the bits were encrypted with a special key and included in the message to provide a “workload reduction factor” for the NSA. This strengthened the protection for users of Notes outside the US against private-sector industrial espionage, but not against spying by the US government.[266][267]

Boomerang routing

While it is assumed that foreign transmissions terminating in the U.S. (such as a non-U.S. citizen accessing a U.S. website) subject non-U.S. citizens to NSA surveillance, recent research into boomerang routing has raised new concerns about the NSA’s ability to surveil the domestic Internet traffic of foreign countries.[18] Boomerang routing occurs when an Internet transmission that originates and terminates in a single country transits another. Research at the University of Toronto has suggested that approximately 25% of Canadian domestic traffic may be subject to NSA surveillance activities as a result of the boomerang routing of Canadian Internet service providers.[18]

Hardware implanting

Intercepted packages are opened carefully by NSA employees
A “load station” implanting a beacon

A document included in NSA files released with Glenn Greenwald‘s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) and other NSA units gain access to hardware. They intercept routers, servers and other network hardware being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they are delivered. This was described by an NSA manager as “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they preposition access points into hard target networks around the world.”[268]

Computers seized by the NSA due to interdiction are often modified with a physical device known as Cottonmouth.[269]Cottonmouth is a device that can be inserted in the USB port of a computer in order to establish remote access to the targeted machine. According to NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group implant catalog, after implanting Cottonmouth, the NSA can establish Bridging (networking) “that allows the NSA to load exploit software onto modified computers as well as allowing the NSA to relay commands and data between hardware and software implants.”[270]

Role in scientific research and development[

NSA has been involved in debates about public policy, both indirectly as a behind-the-scenes adviser to other departments, and directly during and after Vice Admiral Bobby Ray Inman‘s directorship. NSA was a major player in the debates of the 1990s regarding the export of cryptography in the United States. Restrictions on export were reduced but not eliminated in 1996.

Its secure government communications work has involved the NSA in numerous technology areas, including the design of specialized communications hardware and software, production of dedicated semiconductors (at the Ft. Meade chip fabrication plant), and advanced cryptography research. For 50 years, NSA designed and built most of its computer equipment in-house, but from the 1990s until about 2003 (when the U.S. Congress curtailed the practice), the agency contracted with the private sector in the fields of research and equipment.[271]

Data Encryption Standard

FROSTBURG was the NSA’s first supercomputer, used from 1991 to 1997

NSA was embroiled in some minor controversy concerning its involvement in the creation of the Data Encryption Standard (DES), a standard and public block cipher algorithm used by the U.S. government and banking community. During the development of DES by IBM in the 1970s, NSA recommended changes to some details of the design. There was suspicion that these changes had weakened the algorithm sufficiently to enable the agency to eavesdrop if required, including speculation that a critical component—the so-called S-boxes—had been altered to insert a “backdoor” and that the reduction in key length might have made it feasible for NSA to discover DES keys using massive computing power. It has since been observed that the S-boxes in DES are particularly resilient against differential cryptanalysis, a technique which was not publicly discovered until the late 1980s, but which was known to the IBM DES team.

The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reviewed NSA’s involvement, and concluded that while the agency had provided some assistance, it had not tampered with the design.[272][273] In late 2009 NSA declassified information stating that “NSA worked closely with IBM to strengthen the algorithm against all except brute force attacks and to strengthen substitution tables, called S-boxes. Conversely, NSA tried to convince IBM to reduce the length of the key from 64 to 48 bits. Ultimately they compromised on a 56-bit key.”[274][275]

Advanced Encryption Standard

The involvement of NSA in the selection of a successor to Data Encryption Standard (DES), the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), was limited to hardware performance testing (see AES competition).[276] NSA has subsequently certified AES for protection of classified information (for at most two levels, e.g. SECRET information in an unclassified environment[clarification needed]) when used in NSA-approved systems.[277]

NSA encryption systems

STU-III secure telephones on display at the National Cryptologic Museum

The NSA is responsible for the encryption-related components in these legacy systems:

  • FNBDT Future Narrow Band Digital Terminal[278]
  • KL-7 ADONIS off-line rotor encryption machine (post-WWII – 1980s)[279][280]
  • KW-26 ROMULUS electronic in-line teletypewriter encryptor (1960s–1980s)[281]
  • KW-37 JASON fleet broadcast encryptor (1960s–1990s)[280]
  • KY-57 VINSON tactical radio voice encryptor[281]
  • KG-84 Dedicated Data Encryption/Decryption[281]
  • STU-III secure telephone unit,[281] phased out by the STE[282]

The NSA oversees encryption in following systems which are in use today:

The NSA has specified Suite A and Suite B cryptographic algorithm suites to be used in U.S. government systems; the Suite B algorithms are a subset of those previously specified by NIST and are expected to serve for most information protection purposes, while the Suite A algorithms are secret and are intended for especially high levels of protection.[277]

SHA

The widely used SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash functions were designed by NSA. SHA-1 is a slight modification of the weaker SHA-0 algorithm, also designed by NSA in 1993. This small modification was suggested by NSA two years later, with no justification other than the fact that it provides additional security. An attack for SHA-0 that does not apply to the revised algorithm was indeed found between 1998 and 2005 by academic cryptographers. Because of weaknesses and key length restrictions in SHA-1, NIST deprecates its use for digital signatures, and approves only the newer SHA-2 algorithms for such applications from 2013 on.[287]

A new hash standard, SHA-3, has recently been selected through the competition concluded October 2, 2012 with the selection of Keccak as the algorithm. The process to select SHA-3 was similar to the one held in choosing the AES, but some doubts have been cast over it,[288][289] since fundamental modifications have been made to Keccak in order to turn it into a standard.[290] These changes potentially undermine the cryptanalysis performed during the competition and reduce the security levels of the algorithm.[288]

Dual_EC_DRBG random number generator

Main article: Dual_EC_DRBG

NSA promoted the inclusion of a random number generator called Dual_EC_DRBG in the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology‘s 2007 guidelines. This led to speculation of a backdoor which would allow NSA access to data encrypted by systems using that pseudo random number generator.[291]

This is now deemed to be plausible based on the fact that the output of the next iterations of the PRNG can provably be determined if the relation between two internal elliptic curve points is known.[292][293] Both NIST and RSA are now officially recommending against the use of this PRNG.[294][295]

Clipper chip

Main article: Clipper chip

Because of concerns that widespread use of strong cryptography would hamper government use of wiretaps, NSA proposed the concept of key escrow in 1993 and introduced the Clipper chip that would offer stronger protection than DES but would allow access to encrypted data by authorized law enforcement officials.[296] The proposal was strongly opposed and key escrow requirements ultimately went nowhere.[297] However, NSA’s Fortezza hardware-based encryption cards, created for the Clipper project, are still used within government, and NSA ultimately declassified and published the design of the Skipjack cipher used on the cards.[298][299]

Perfect Citizen

Main article: Perfect Citizen

Perfect Citizen is a program to perform vulnerability assessment by the NSA on U.S. critical infrastructure.[300][301] It was originally reported to be a program to develop a system of sensors to detect cyber attacks on critical infrastructure computer networks in both the private and public sector through a network monitoring system named Einstein.[302][303] It is funded by the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative and thus far Raytheon has received a contract for up to $100 million for the initial stage.

Academic research

NSA has invested many millions of dollars in academic research under grant code prefix MDA904, resulting in over 3,000 papers (as of 2007-10-11). NSA/CSS has, at times, attempted to restrict the publication of academic research into cryptography; for example, the Khufu and Khafre block ciphers were voluntarily withheld in response to an NSA request to do so. In response to a FOIA lawsuit, in 2013 the NSA released the 643-page research paper titled, “Untangling the Web: A Guide to Internet Research,[304] ” written and compiled by NSA employees to assist other NSA workers in searching for information of interest to the agency on the public Internet.[305]

Patents

NSA has the ability to file for a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under gag order. Unlike normal patents, these are not revealed to the public and do not expire. However, if the Patent Office receives an application for an identical patent from a third party, they will reveal NSA’s patent and officially grant it to NSA for the full term on that date.[306]

One of NSA’s published patents describes a method of geographically locating an individual computer site in an Internet-like network, based on the latency of multiple network connections.[307] Although no public patent exists, NSA is reported to have used a similar locating technology called trilateralization that allows real-time tracking of an individual’s location, including altitude from ground level, using data obtained from cellphone towers.[308]

Legality

File:Ron Wyden and James Clapper - 12 March 2013.webm

Excerpt of James Clapper‘s false testimony to Congress on NSA surveillance programs

In the United States, at least since 2001,[309] there has been legal controversy over what signal intelligence can be used for and how much freedom the National Security Agency has to use signal intelligence.[310] The government has made, in 2015, slight changes in how it uses and collects certain types of data,[311] specifically phone records. President Barack Obama has asked lawyers and his national security team to look at the tactics that are being used by the NSA. President Obama made a speech on January 17, 2014 where he defended the national security measures, including the NSA, and their intentions for keeping the country safe through surveillance. He said that it is difficult to determine where the line should be drawn between what is too much surveillance and how much is needed for national security because technology is ever changing and evolving. Therefore, the laws cannot keep up with the rapid advancements.

President Obama did make some changes to national security regulations and how much data can be collected and surveyed.[citation needed] The first thing he added, was more presidential directive and oversight so that privacy and basic rights are not violated. The president would look over requests on behalf of American citizens to make sure that their personal privacy is not violated by the data that is being requested. Secondly, surveillance tactics and procedures are becoming more public, including over 40 rulings of the FISC that have been declassified.[citation needed] Thirdly, further protections are being placed on activities that are justified under Section 702, such as the ability to retain, search and use data collected in investigations, which allows the NSA to monitor and intercept interaction of targets overseas. Finally, national security letters, which are secret requests for information that the FBI uses in their investigations, are becoming less secretive. The secrecy of the information requested will not be indefinite and will terminate after a set time if future secrecy is not required.[citation needed] Concerning the bulk surveillance of American’s phone records, President Obama also ordered a transition from bulk surveillance under Section 215 to a new policy that will eliminate unnecessary bulk collection of metadata.

As of May 7, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was wrong and that the NSA program that has been collecting Americans’ phone records in bulk is illegal.[312] It stated that Section 215 cannot be clearly interpreted to allow government to collect national phone data and, as a result, expired on June 1, 2015. This ruling “is the first time a higher-level court in the regular judicial system has reviewed the N.S.A. phone records program.” [313] The new bill getting passed later in May taking its place is known as the U.S.A. Freedom Act, which will enable the NSA to continue hunting for terrorists by analyzing telephone links between callers but “keep the bulk phone records in the hands of phone companies.”[313] This would give phone companies the freedom to dispose the records in an 18-month period. The White House argued that this new ruling validated President Obama’s support of the government being extracted from bulk data collection and giving power to the telecommunications companies.

Previously, the NSA paid billions of dollars to telecommunications companies in order to collect data from them.[314] While companies such as Google and Yahoo! claim that they do not provide “direct access” from their servers to the NSA unless under a court order,[315] the NSA had access to emails, phone calls and cellular data users.[316] With this new ruling, telecommunications companies would not provide the NSA with bulk information. The companies would allow the disposal of data in every 18 months,[313] which is arguably putting the telecommunications companies at a higher advantage.

This ruling made the collecting of phone records illegal, but it did not rule on Section 215’s constitutionality. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already put forth a new bill to re-authorize the Patriot Act.[317] Defenders of this surveillance program are claiming that judges who sit on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had ruled 37 times that this kind of collection of data is, in fact, lawful.[317] The FISC is the court specifically mandated to grant surveillance orders in the name of foreign intelligence. The new ruling made by the Second District Court of Appeals now retroactively dismisses the findings of the FISC on this program.

See also

Notes

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Agency

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Three Years Behind The Curve Too Late Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) Increases Target Federal Funds Rate to .75-1.0% — Financial Repression of Savers Slowly Continues — Videos

Posted on March 15, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Banking, Blogroll, Books, Business, College, Communications, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Corruption, Crisis, Documentary, Economics, Education, Employment, Faith, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, History of Economic Thought, Language, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Macroeconomics, media, Monetary Policy, Money, Movies, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Politics, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Sociology, Speech, Strategy, Television, Trade Policiy, Tutorials, Video, Water, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Yellen Calms Fears Fed’s Policy Trigger Finger Is Getting Itchy

March 15, 2017, 1:00 PM CDT March 15, 2017, 5:02 PM CDT
  • Policy makers still project three total rate hikes for 2017
  • FOMC sticks with ‘gradual’ plan for removing accommodation

Fed Raises Benchmark Lending Rate a Quarter Point

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sought to reassure investors that the central bank’s latest interest-rate increase wasn’t a paradigm shift to a trigger-happy policy driven by fears of faster inflation.

Speaking to reporters after the Fed’s quarter percentage-point move on Wednesday, Yellen said the central bank was willing to tolerate inflation temporarily overshootingits 2 percent goal and that it intended to keep its policy accommodative for “some time.”

“The simple message is the economy’s doing well. We have confidence in the robustness of the economy and its resilience to shocks,” she said.

As a result, the Fed is sticking with its policy of gradually raising interest rates, Yellen said. In their first forecasts in three months, Fed policy makers penciled in two more quarter-point rate increases this year and three in 2018, unchanged from their projections in December.

Today’s decision “does not represent a reassessment of the economic outlook or of the appropriate course for monetary policy,” the Fed chief said.

Speculation of a more aggressive Fed had mounted in recent days after a host of central bank officials, including Yellen herself, went out of their way to telegraph to financial markets that a rate hike was imminent. The expectations were further fueled by news of rising inflation.

Stocks Advance

Stocks rose and bond yields fell as investors viewed the statement from the Federal Open Market Committee and Yellen’s remarks afterward as a sign that the Fed isn’t in a hurry to remove monetary stimulus. The FOMC raised the target range for the federal funds rate to 0.75 percent to 1 percent, as expected, but Yellen’s lack of urgency to snuff out inflation was a surprise.

R.J. Gallo, a fixed-income investment manager at Federated Investors in Pittsburgh, said the chorus of Fed speakers before this meeting led investors to expect a move up in the number of projected rate hikes this year, and even upgrades by Fed officials in the levels of inflation and growth they anticipated.

None of that materialized.

“You didn’t get any of those things,” Gallo said, which explains why Treasury yields quickly dropped after the Fed released the FOMC statement and a new set of economic projections. “The expectation that Fed was getting more hawkish had to come out of the market.”

The U.S. economy has mostly met the central bank’s goals of full employment and stable prices, and may get further support if President Donald Trump delivers promised fiscal stimulus. Investor and business confidence has soared since Trump won the presidency in November, buoyed by his vows to cut taxes, lift infrastructure spending and ease regulations.

Still, the data don’t show an economy that’s heating up rapidly — a point Yellen herself made after the third rate hike since the 2007-2009 recession ended. In fact, the economy may have “more room to run,” she said.

Stronger business and consumer confidence hasn’t yet translated into increased investment and spending, said Yellen.

“It’s uncertain just how much sentiment actually impacts spending decisions, and I wouldn’t say at this point that I have seen hard evidence of any change in spending decisions,” said the Fed Chair. “Most of the business people that we’ve talked to also have a wait-and-see attitude.”

Retail sales in February grew at the slowest pace since August, a government report showed earlier Wednesday. The Atlanta Fed’s model for GDP predicts an expansion of 0.9 percent in the first quarter, less than a third the pace Trump is aiming for.

Fiscal Stimulus

Asked about the potential for a fiscal boost, Yellen made clear the Fed is still waiting for more concrete policy plans to emerge from the Trump administration before adapting monetary policy in reaction.

“There is great uncertainty about the timing, the size and the character of policy changes that may be put in place,” Yellen said. “I don’t think that’s a decision or set of decisions that we need to make until we know more about what policy changes will go into effect.”

Yellen disputed suggestions that the Fed was on a collision course with the Trump administration over its plans to foster faster economic growth through tax cuts and deregulation. “We would welcome stronger economic growth in the context of price stability,” she said.

She said she had met Trump briefly and had gotten together a couple of times with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to discuss the economy and financial regulation.

Further underscoring their lack of urgency, Fed officials repeated a commitment to maintain their balance-sheet reinvestment policy until rate increases were well under way. Yellen said officials had discussed the process of reducing the balance sheet gradually, but had made no decisions and would continue to debate the topic.

Policy makers forecast inflation will reach 1.9 percent in the fourth quarter this year, and 2 percent in both 2018 and 2019, according to quarterly median estimates released with the FOMC statement. The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation rose 1.9 percent in the 12 months through January, just shy of its target.

Yellen pointed out, though, that core inflation continues to run somewhat further below 2 percent. That rate, which strips out food and energy costs, stood at 1.7 percent in January. The Fed’s new forecast for the core rate at the end of this year edged up to 1.9 percent, from 1.8 percent in December.

“The committee will carefully monitor actual and expected inflation developments relative to its symmetric inflation goal,” the Fed said. Discussing the word symmetric in the statement, Yellen said during her press conference that the Fed was not shooting to push inflation over 2 percent but recognized that it could temporarily go above it. Two percent is a target, she reiterated, not a ceiling.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-15/fed-raises-benchmark-rate-as-inflation-approaches-2-target

Changes in the federal funds rate will always affect the U.S. dollar. When the Federal Reserve increases the federal funds rate, it normally reduces inflationary pressure and works to appreciate the dollar.

Since June 2006, however, the Fed has maintained a federal funds rate of close to 0%. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the federal funds rate fluctuated between 0-0.25%, and is now 0.75%.

The Fed used this monetary policy to help achieve maximum employment and stable prices. Now that the 2008 financial crisis has largely subsided, the Fed will look to increase interest rates to continue to achieve employment and to stabilize prices.

Inflation of the U.S. Dollar

The best way to achieve full employment and stable prices is to set the inflation rate of the dollar at 2%. In 2011, the Fed officially adopted a 2% annual increase in the price index for personal consumption expenditures as its target. When the economy is weak, inflation naturally falls; when the economy is strong, rising wages increase inflation. Keeping inflation at a growth rate of 2% helps the economy grow at a healthy rate.

Adjustments to the federal funds rate can also affect inflation in the United States. The Fed controls the economy by increasing interest rates when the economy is growing too fast. This encourages people to save more and spend less, reducing inflationary pressure. Conversely, when the economy is in a recession or growing too slowly, the Fed reduces interest rates to stimulate spending, which increases inflation.

During the 2008 financial crisis, the low federal funds rate should have increased inflation. Over this period, the federal funds rate was set near 0%, which encouraged spending and would normally increase inflation.

However, inflation is still well below the 2% target, which is contrary to the normal effects of low interest rates. The Fed cites one-off factors, such as falling oil prices and the strengthening dollar, as the reasons why inflation has remained low in a low interest environment.

The Fed believes that these factors will eventually fade and that inflation will increase above the target 2%. To prevent this eventual increase in inflation, hiking the federal funds rate reduces inflationary pressure and cause inflation of the dollar to remain around 2%.

Appreciation of the U.S. Dollar

Increases in the federal funds rate also result in a strengthening of the U.S. dollar. Other ways that the dollar can appreciate include increases in average wages and increases in overall consumption. However, although jobs are being created, wage rates are stagnant.

Without an increase in wage rates to go along with a strengthening job market, consumption won’t increase enough to sustain economic growth. Additionally, consumption remains subdued due to the fact that the labor force participation rate was close to its 35-year low in 2015. The Fed has kept interest rates low because a lower federal funds rate supports business expansions, which leads to more jobs and higher consumption. This has all worked to keep appreciation of the U.S. dollar low.

However, the U.S. is ahead of the other developed markets in terms of its economic recovery. Although the Fed raises rates cautiously, the U.S. could see higher interest rates before the other developed economies.

Overall, under normal economic conditions, increases in the federal funds rate reduce inflation and increase the appreciation of the U.S. dollar.

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/101215/how-fed-fund-rate-hikes-affect-us-dollar.asp

Financial repression

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Not to be confused with economic repression, a type of political repression.

Financial repression refers to “policies that result in savers earning returns below the rate of inflation” in order to allow banks to “provide cheap loans to companies and governments, reducing the burden of repayments”.[1] It can be particularly effective at liquidating government debt denominated in domestic currency.[2] It can also lead to a large expansions in debt “to levels evoking comparisons with the excesses that generated Japan’s lost decade and the Asian financial crisis” in 1997.[1]

The term was introduced in 1973 by Stanford economists Edward S. Shaw and Ronald I. McKinnon[3][4] in order to “disparage growth-inhibiting policies in emerging markets“.

Mechanism

Financial repression consists of the following:[5]

  1. Explicit or indirect capping of interest rates, such as on government debt and deposit rates (e.g., Regulation Q).
  2. Government ownership or control of domestic banks and financial institutions with barriers that limit other institutions from entering the market.
  3. High reserve requirements.
  4. Creation or maintenance of a captive domestic market for government debt, achieved by requiring banks to hold government debt via capital requirements, or by prohibiting or disincentivising alternatives.
  5. Government restrictions on the transfer of assets abroad through the imposition of capital controls.

These measures allow governments to issue debt at lower interest rates. A low nominal interest rate can reduce debt servicing costs, while negative real interest rates erodes the real value of government debt.[5] Thus, financial repression is most successful in liquidating debts when accompanied by inflation and can be considered a form of taxation,[6] or alternatively a form of debasement.[7]

The size of the financial repression tax for 24 emerging markets from 1974 to 1987. Their results showed that financial repression exceeded 2% of GDP for seven countries, and greater than 3% for five countries. For five countries (India, Mexico, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe) it represented approximately 20% of tax revenue. In the case of Mexico financial repression was 6% of GDP, or 40% of tax revenue.[8]

Financial repression is categorized as “macroprudential regulation“—i.e., government efforts to “ensure the health of an entire financial system.[2]

Examples

After World War II

Financial repression “played an important role in reducing debt-to-GDP ratios after World War II” by keeping real interest rates for government debt below 1% for two-thirds of the time between 1945 and 1980, the United States was able to “inflate away” the large debt (122% of GDP) left over from the Great Depression and World War II.[2] In the UK, government debt declined from 216% of GDP in 1945 to 138% ten years later in 1955.[9]

China

China‘s economic growth has been attributed to financial repression thanks to “low returns on savings and the cheap loans that it makes possible”. This has allowed China to rely on savings-financed investments for economic growth. However, because low returns also dampens consumer spending, household expenditures account for “a smaller share of GDP in China than in any other major economy”.[1] However, as of December 2014, the People’s Bank of China “started to undo decades of financial repression” and the government now allows Chinese savers to collect up to a 3.3% return on one-year deposits. At China’s 1.6% inflation rate, this is a “high real-interest rate compared to other major economies”.[1]

After the 2008 economic recession

In a 2011 NBER working paper, Carmen Reinhart and Maria Belen Sbrancia speculate on a possible return by governments to this form of debt reduction in order to deal with high debt levels following the 2008 economic crisis.[5]

“To get access to capital, Austria has restricted capital flows to foreign subsidiaries in central and eastern Europe. Select pension funds have also been transferred to governments in France, Portugal, Ireland and Hungary, enabling them to re-allocate toward sovereign bonds.”[10]

Criticism

Critics[who?] argue that if this view was true, investors (i.e., capital-seeking parties) would be inclined to demand capital in large quantities and would be buying capital goods from this capital. This high demand for capital goods would certainly lead to inflation and thus the central banks would be forced to raise interest rates again. As a boom pepped by low interest rates fails to appear these days in industrialized countries, this is a sign that the low interest rates seem to be necessary to ensure an equilibrium on the capital market, thus to balance capital-supply—i.e., savers—on one side and capital-demand—i.e., investors and the government—on the other. This view argues that interest rates would be even lower if it were not for the high government debt ratio (i.e., capital demand from the government).

Free-market economists argue that financial repression crowds out private-sector investment, thus undermining growth. On the other hand, “postwar politicians clearly decided this was a price worth paying to cut debt and avoid outright default or draconian spending cuts. And the longer the gridlock over fiscal reform rumbles on, the greater the chance that ‘repression’ comes to be seen as the least of all evils”.[11]

Also, financial repression has been called a “stealth tax” that “rewards debtors and punishes savers—especially retirees” because their investments will no longer generate the expected return, which is income for retirees.[10][12] “One of the main goals of financial repression is to keep nominal interest rates lower than they would be in more competitive markets. Other things equal, this reduces the government’s interest expenses for a given stock of debt and contributes to deficit reduction. However, when financial repression produces negative real interest rates (nominal rates below the inflation rate), it reduces or liquidates existing debts and becomes the equivalent of a tax—a transfer from creditors (savers) to borrowers, including the government.”[2]

See also

Reform:

General:

References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c d “China Savers Prioritized Over Banks by PBOC”. Bloomberg. November 25, 2014.
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b c d Carmen M. Reinhart, Jacob F. Kirkegaard, and M. Belen Sbrancia, “Financial Repression Redux”, IMF Finance and Development, June 2011, p. 22-26
  3. Jump up^ Shaw, Edward S. Financial Deepening in Economic Development. New York: Oxford University Press, 1973
  4. Jump up^ McKinnon, Ronald I. Money and Capital in Economic Development. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1973
  5. ^ Jump up to:a b c Carmen M. Reinhart and M. Belen Sbrancia, “The Liquidation of Government Debt”, IMF, 2011, p. 19
  6. Jump up^ Reinhart, Carmen M. and Rogoff, Kenneth S., This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2008, p. 143
  7. Jump up^ Bill Gross, “The Caine Mutiny Part 2”, PIMCO
  8. Jump up^ Giovannini, Alberto and de Melo, Martha, “Government Revenue from Financial Repression”, The American Economic Review, Vol. 83, No. 4 Sep. 1993 (pp. 953-963)
  9. Jump up^ “The great repression”. The Economist. 16 June 2011.
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b “Financial Repression 101”. Allianz Global Investors. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  11. Jump up^ Gillian Tett, “Policymakers learn a new and alarming catchphrase”, Financial Times, May 9, 2011
  12. Jump up^ Amerman, Daniel (September 12, 2011). “The 2nd Edge of Modern Financial Repression: Manipulating Inflation Indexes to Steal from Retirees & Public Wor

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_repression

Federal funds rate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

10 year treasury compared to the Federal Funds Rate

Federal funds rate and capacity utilization in manufacturing.

In the United States, the federal funds rate is the interest rate at which depository institutions (banks and credit unions) lend reserve balances to other depository institutions overnight, on an uncollateralized basis. Reserve balances are amounts held at the Federal Reserve to maintain depository institutions’ reserve requirements. Institutions with surplus balances in their accounts lend those balances to institutions in need of larger balances. The federal funds rate is an important benchmark in financial markets.[1][2]

The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The federal funds target rate is determined by a meeting of the members of the Federal Open Market Committee which normally occurs eight times a year about seven weeks apart. The committee may also hold additional meetings and implement target rate changes outside of its normal schedule.

The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to influence the supply of money in the U.S. economy[3] to make the federal funds effective rate follow the federal funds target rate.

Mechanism

Financial Institutions are obligated by law to maintain certain levels of reserves, either as reserves with the Fed or as vault cash. The level of these reserves is determined by the outstanding assets and liabilities of each depository institution, as well as by the Fed itself, but is typically 10%[4] of the total value of the bank’s demand accounts (depending on bank size). In the range of $9.3 million to $43.9 million, for transaction deposits (checking accounts, NOWs, and other deposits that can be used to make payments) the reserve requirement in 2007-2008 was 3 percent of the end-of-the-day daily average amount held over a two-week period. Transaction deposits over $43.9 million held at the same depository institution carried a 10 percent reserve requirement.

For example, assume a particular U.S. depository institution, in the normal course of business, issues a loan. This dispenses money and decreases the ratio of bank reserves to money loaned. If its reserve ratio drops below the legally required minimum, it must add to its reserves to remain compliant with Federal Reserve regulations. The bank can borrow the requisite funds from another bank that has a surplus in its account with the Fed. The interest rate that the borrowing bank pays to the lending bank to borrow the funds is negotiated between the two banks, and the weighted average of this rate across all such transactions is the federal funds effective rate.

The nominal rate is a target set by the governors of the Federal Reserve, which they enforce by open market operations and adjusting the interest paid on required and excess reserve balances. That nominal rate is almost always what is meant by the media referring to the Federal Reserve “changing interest rates.” The actual federal funds rate generally lies within a range of that target rate, as the Federal Reserve cannot set an exact value through open market operations.

Another way banks can borrow funds to keep up their required reserves is by taking a loan from the Federal Reserve itself at the discount window. These loans are subject to audit by the Fed, and the discount rate is usually higher than the federal funds rate. Confusion between these two kinds of loans often leads to confusion between the federal funds rate and the discount rate. Another difference is that while the Fed cannot set an exact federal funds rate, it does set the specific discount rate.

The federal funds rate target is decided by the governors at Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings. The FOMC members will either increase, decrease, or leave the rate unchanged depending on the meeting’s agenda and the economic conditions of the U.S. It is possible to infer the market expectations of the FOMC decisions at future meetings from the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Fed Funds futures contracts, and these probabilities are widely reported in the financial media.

Applications

Interbank borrowing is essentially a way for banks to quickly raise money. For example, a bank may want to finance a major industrial effort but may not have the time to wait for deposits or interest (on loan payments) to come in. In such cases the bank will quickly raise this amount from other banks at an interest rate equal to or higher than the Federal funds rate.

Raising the federal funds rate will dissuade banks from taking out such inter-bank loans, which in turn will make cash that much harder to procure. Conversely, dropping the interest rates will encourage banks to borrow money and therefore invest more freely.[5] This interest rate is used as a regulatory tool to control how freely the U.S. economy operates.

By setting a higher discount rate the Federal Bank discourages banks from requisitioning funds from the Federal Bank, yet positions itself as a lender of last resort.

Comparison with LIBOR

Though the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) and the federal funds rate are concerned with the same action, i.e. interbank loans, they are distinct from one another, as follows:

  • The target federal funds rate is a target interest rate that is set by the FOMC for implementing U.S. monetary policies.
  • The (effective) federal funds rate is achieved through open market operations at the Domestic Trading Desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York which deals primarily in domestic securities (U.S. Treasury and federal agencies’ securities).[6]
  • LIBOR is based on a questionnaire where a selection of banks guess the rates at which they could borrow money from other banks.
  • LIBOR may or may not be used to derive business terms. It is not fixed beforehand and is not meant to have macroeconomic ramifications.[7]

Predictions by the market

Considering the wide impact a change in the federal funds rate can have on the value of the dollar and the amount of lending going to new economic activity, the Federal Reserve is closely watched by the market. The prices of Option contracts on fed funds futures (traded on the Chicago Board of Trade) can be used to infer the market’s expectations of future Fed policy changes. Based on CME Group 30-Day Fed Fund futures prices, which have long been used to express the market’s views on the likelihood of changes in U.S. monetary policy, the CME Group FedWatch tool allows market participants to view the probability of an upcoming Fed Rate hike. One set of such implied probabilities is published by the Cleveland Fed.

Historical rates

As of December 16, 2008, the most recent change the FOMC has made to the funds target rate is a 75 to 100 basis point cut from 1.0% to a range of zero to 0.25%. According to Jack A. Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank, one reason for this unprecedented move of having a range, rather than a specific rate, was because a rate of 0% could have had problematic implications for money market funds, whose fees could then outpace yields.[8] This followed the 50 basis point cut on October 29, 2008, and the unusually large 75 basis point cut made during a special January 22, 2008 meeting, as well as a 50 basis point cut on January 30, 2008, a 75 basis point cut on March 18, 2008, and a 50 basis point cut on October 8, 2008.[9]

Federal funds rate history and recessions.png

Explanation of federal funds rate decisions

When the Federal Open Market Committee wishes to reduce interest rates they will increase the supply of money by buying government securities. When additional supply is added and everything else remains constant, price normally falls. The price here is the interest rate (cost of money) and specifically refers to the Federal Funds Rate. Conversely, when the Committee wishes to increase the Fed Funds Rate, they will instruct the Desk Manager to sell government securities, thereby taking the money they earn on the proceeds of those sales out of circulation and reducing the money supply. When supply is taken away and everything else remains constant, price (or in this case interest rates) will normally rise.[10]

The Federal Reserve has responded to a potential slow-down by lowering the target federal funds rate during recessions and other periods of lower growth. In fact, the Committee’s lowering has recently predated recessions,[9] in order to stimulate the economy and cushion the fall. Reducing the Fed Funds Rate makes money cheaper, allowing an influx of credit into the economy through all types of loans.

The charts linked below show the relation between S&P 500 and interest rates.

  • July 13, 1990 — Sept 4, 1992: 8.00%–3.00% (Includes 1990–1991 recession)[11][12]
  • Feb 1, 1995 — Nov 17, 1998: 6.00–4.75 [13][14][15]
  • May 16, 2000 — June 25, 2003: 6.50–1.00 (Includes 2001 recession)[16][17][18]
  • June 29, 2006 — (Oct. 29 2008): 5.25–1.00[19]
  • Dec 16, 2008 — 0.0–0.25[20]
  • Dec 16, 2015 — 0.25-0.50[21]
  • Dec 14, 2016 — 0.50-0.75[22]
  • Mar 15, 2017 — 0.75-1.00[23]

Bill Gross of PIMCO suggested that in the prior 15 years ending in 2007, in each instance where the fed funds rate was higher than the nominal GDP growth rate, assets such as stocks and/or housing fell.[24]

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ “Fedpoints: Federal Funds”. Federal Reserve Bank of New York. August 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  2. Jump up^ “The Implementation of Monetary Policy”. The Federal Reserve System: Purposes & Functions (PDF). Washington, D.C.: Federal Reserve Board. 24 August 2011. p. 4. Retrieved 2 October 2011.
  3. Jump up^ “Monetary Policy, Open Market Operations”. Federal Reserve Bank. 2008-01-30. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  4. Jump up^ “Reserve Requirements”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  5. Jump up^ “Fed funds rate”. Bankrate, Inc. March 2016.
  6. Jump up^ Cheryl L. Edwards (November 1997). Gerard Sinzdak. “Open Market Operations in the 1990s” (PDF). Federal Reserve Bulletin (PDF).
  7. Jump up^ “BBA LIBOR – Frequently asked questions”. British Bankers’ Association. March 21, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-02-16.
  8. Jump up^ “4:56 p.m. US-Closing Stocks”. Associated Press. December 16, 2008.[dead link]
  9. ^ Jump up to:a b “Historical Changes of the Target Federal Funds and Discount Rates, 1971 to present”. New York Federal Reserve Branch. February 19, 2010. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008.
  10. Jump up^ David Waring (2008-02-19). “An Explanation of How The Fed Moves Interest Rates”. InformedTrades.com. Archived from the original on 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2009-07-20.
  11. Jump up^ “$SPX 1990-06-12 1992-10-04 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  12. Jump up^ “$SPX 1992-08-04 1995-03-01 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  13. Jump up^ “$SPX 1995-01-01 1997-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  14. Jump up^ “$SPX 1996-12-01 1998-10-17 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  15. Jump up^ “$SPX 1998-09-17 2000-06-16 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  16. Jump up^ “$SPX 2000-04-16 2002-01-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  17. Jump up^ “$SPX 2002-01-01 2003-07-25 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  18. Jump up^ “$SPX 2003-06-25 2006-06-29 (rate rise chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  19. Jump up^ “$SPX 2006-06-29 2008-06-01 (rate drop chart)”. StockCharts.com.
  20. Jump up^ “Press Release”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2008.
  21. Jump up^ “Open Market Operations”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System. December 16, 2015.
  22. Jump up^ “Decisions Regarding Monetary Policy Implementation”. Board of Governors of The Federal Reserve System.
  23. Jump up^ Cox, Jeff (2017-03-15). “Fed raises rates at March meeting”. CNBC. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
  24. Jump up^ Shaw, Richard (January 7, 2007). “The Bond Yield Curve as an Economic Crystal Ball”. Retrieved 3 April 2011.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_funds_rate

Monetary policy of the United States

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from U.S. monetary policy)
United States M2 money supply
% change in money supply
Money supply changes monthly basis

Monetary policy concerns the actions of a central bank or other regulatory authorities that determine the size and rate of growth of the money supply.

In the United States, the Federal Reserve is in charge of monetary policy, and implements it primarily by performing operations that influence short-term interest rates.

Money supply[edit]

Main article: Money supply

The money supply has different components, generally broken down into “narrow” and “broad” money, reflecting the different degrees of liquidity (‘spendability’) of each different type, as broader forms of money can be converted into narrow forms of money (or may be readily accepted as money by others, such as personal checks).[1]

For example, demand deposits are technically promises to pay on demand, while savings deposits are promises to pay subject to some withdrawal restrictions, and Certificates of Deposit are promises to pay only at certain specified dates; each can be converted into money, but “narrow” forms of money can be converted more readily. The Federal Reserve directly controls only the most narrow form of money, physical cash outstanding along with the reserves of banks throughout the country (known as M0 or the monetary base); the Federal Reserve indirectly influences the supply of other types of money.[1]

Broad money includes money held in deposit balances in banks and other forms created in the financial system. Basic economics also teaches that the money supply shrinks when loans are repaid;[2][3] however, the money supply will not necessarily decrease depending on the creation of new loans and other effects. Other than loans, investment activities of commercial banks and the Federal Reserve also increase and decrease the money supply.[4] Discussion of “money” often confuses the different measures and may lead to misguided commentary on monetary policy and misunderstandings of policy discussions.[5]

Structure of modern US institutions[edit]

Federal Reserve[edit]

Monetary policy in the US is determined and implemented by the US Federal Reserve System, commonly referred to as the Federal Reserve. Established in 1913 by the Federal Reserve Act to provide central banking functions,[6] the Federal Reserve System is a quasi-public institution. Ostensibly, the Federal Reserve Banks are 12 private banking corporations;[7][8][9] they are independent in their day-to-day operations, but legislatively accountable to Congress through the auspices of Federal Reserve Board of Governors.

The Board of Governors is an independent governmental agency consisting of seven officials and their support staff of over 1800 employees headquartered in Washington, D.C.[10] It is independent in the sense that the Board currently operates without official obligation to accept the requests or advice of any elected official with regard to actions on the money supply,[11]and its methods of funding also preserve independence. The Governors are nominated by the President of the United States, and nominations must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.[12]

The presidents of the Federal Reserve Banks are nominated by each bank’s respective Board of Directors, but must also be approved by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is generally considered to have the most important position, followed by the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.[12] The Federal Reserve System is primarily funded by interest collected on their portfolio of securities from the US Treasury, and the Fed has broad discretion in drafting its own budget,[13] but, historically, nearly all the interest the Federal Reserve collects is rebated to the government each year.[14]

The Federal Reserve has three main mechanisms for manipulating the money supply. It can buy or sell treasury securities. Selling securities has the effect of reducing the monetary base (because it accepts money in return for purchase of securities), taking that money out of circulation. Purchasing treasury securities increases the monetary base (because it pays out hard currency in exchange for accepting securities). Secondly, the discount rate can be changed. And finally, the Federal Reserve can adjust the reserve requirement, which can affect the money multiplier; the reserve requirement is adjusted only infrequently, and was last adjusted in 1992.[15]

In practice, the Federal Reserve uses open market operations to influence short-term interest rates, which is the primary tool of monetary policy. The federal funds rate, for which the Federal Open Market Committee announces a target on a regular basis, reflects one of the key rates for interbank lending. Open market operations change the supply of reserve balances, and the federal funds rate is sensitive to these operations.[16]

In theory, the Federal Reserve has unlimited capacity to influence this rate, and although the federal funds rate is set by banks borrowing and lending funds to each other, the federal funds rate generally stays within a limited range above and below the target (as participants are aware of the Fed’s power to influence this rate).

Assuming a closed economy, where foreign capital or trade does not affect the money supply, when money supply increases, interest rates go down. Businesses and consumers have a lower cost of capital and can increase spending and capital improvement projects. This encourages short-term growth. Conversely, when the money supply falls, interest rates go up, increasing the cost of capital and leading to more conservative spending and investment. The Federal reserve increases interest rates to combat Inflation.

U.S. Treasury[edit]

Private commercial banks[edit]

When money is deposited in a bank, it can then be lent out to another person. If the initial deposit was $100 and the bank lends out $100 to another customer the money supply has increased by $100. However, because the depositor can ask for the money back, banks have to maintain minimum reserves to service customer needs. If the reserve requirement is 10% then, in the earlier example, the bank can lend $90 and thus the money supply increases by only $90. The reserve requirement therefore acts as a limit on this multiplier effect. Because the reserve requirement only applies to the more narrow forms of money creation (corresponding to M1), but does not apply to certain types of deposits (such as time deposits), reserve requirements play a limited role in monetary policy.[17]

Money creation[edit]

Main article: Money creation

Currently, the US government maintains over US$800 billion in cash money (primarily Federal Reserve Notes) in circulation throughout the world,[18][19] up from a sum of less than $30 billion in 1959. Below is an outline of the process which is currently used to control the amount of money in the economy. The amount of money in circulation generally increases to accommodate money demanded by the growth of the country’s production. The process of money creation usually goes as follows:

  1. Banks go through their daily transactions. Of the total money deposited at banks, significant and predictable proportions often remain deposited, and may be referred to as “core deposits.” Banks use the bulk of “non-moving” money (their stable or “core” deposit base) by loaning it out.[20] Banks have a legal obligation to keep a certain fraction of bank deposit money on-hand at all times.[21]
  2. In order to raise additional money to cover excess spending, Congress increases the size of the National Debt by issuing securities typically in the form of a Treasury Bond[22] (see United States Treasury security). It offers the Treasury security for sale, and someone pays cash to the government in exchange. Banks are often the purchasers of these securities, and these securities currently play a crucial role in the process.
  3. The 12-person Federal Open Market Committee, which consists of the heads of the Federal Reserve System (the seven Federal governors and five bank presidents), meets eight times a year to determine how they would like to influence the economy.[23] They create a plan called the country’s “monetary policy” which sets targets for things such as interest rates.[24]
  4. Every business day, the Federal Reserve System engages in Open market operations.[25] If the Federal Reserve wants to increase the money supply, it will buy securities (such as U.S. Treasury Bonds) anonymously from banks in exchange for dollars. If the Federal Reserve wants to decrease the money supply, it will sell securities to the banks in exchange for dollars, taking those dollars out of circulation.[26][27] When the Federal Reserve makes a purchase, it credits the seller’s reserve account (with the Federal Reserve). The money that it deposits into the seller’s account is not transferred from any existing funds, therefore it is at this point that the Federal Reserve has created High-powered money.
  5. By means of open market operations, the Federal Reserve affects the free reserves of commercial banks in the country.[28] Anna Schwartz explains that “if the Federal Reserve increases reserves, a single bank can make loans up to the amount of its excess reserves, creating an equal amount of deposits”.[26][27][29]
  6. Since banks have more free reserves, they may loan out the money, because holding the money would amount to accepting the cost of foregone interest[28][30] When a loan is granted, a person is generally granted the money by adding to the balance on their bank account.[31]
  7. This is how the Federal Reserve’s high-powered money is multiplied into a larger amount of broad money, through bank loans; as written in a particular case study, “as banks increase or decrease loans, the nation’s (broad) money supply increases or decreases.”[3] Once granted these additional funds, the recipient has the option to withdraw physical currency (dollar bills and coins) from the bank, which will reduce the amount of money available for further on-lending (and money creation) in the banking system.[32]
  8. In many cases, account-holders will request cash withdrawals, so banks must keep a supply of cash handy. When they believe they need more cash than they have on hand, banks can make requests for cash with the Federal Reserve. In turn, the Federal Reserve examines these requests and places an order for printed money with the US Treasury Department.[33] The Treasury Department sends these requests to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (to make dollar bills) and the Bureau of the Mint (to stamp the coins).
  9. The U.S. Treasury sells this newly printed money to the Federal Reserve for the cost of printing.[citation needed] This is about 6 cents per bill for any denomination.[34] Aside from printing costs, the Federal Reserve must pledge collateral (typically government securities such as Treasury bonds) to put new money, which does not replace old notes, into circulation.[35]This printed cash can then be distributed to banks, as needed.

Though the Federal Reserve authorizes and distributes the currency printed by the Treasury (the primary component of the narrow monetary base), the broad money supply is primarily created by commercial banks through the money multiplier mechanism.[29][31][36][37] One textbook summarizes the process as follows:

“The Fed” controls the money supply in the United States by controlling the amount of loans made by commercial banks. New loans are usually in the form of increased checking account balances, and since checkable deposits are part of the money supply, the money supply increases when new loans are made …[38]

This type of money is convertible into cash when depositors request cash withdrawals, which will require banks to limit or reduce their lending.[39][32] The vast majority of the broad money supply throughout the world represents current outstanding loans of banks to various debtors.[38][40][41] A very small amount of U.S. currency still exists as “United States Notes“, which have no meaningful economic difference from Federal Reserve notes in their usage, although they departed significantly in their method of issuance into circulation. The currency distributed by the Federal Reserve has been given the official designation of “Federal Reserve Notes.”[42]

Significant effects[edit]

Main article: Monetary policy

In 2005, the Federal Reserve held approximately 9% of the national debt[43] as assets against the liability of printed money. In previous periods, the Federal Reserve has used other debt instruments, such as debt securities issued by private corporations. During periods when the national debt of the United States has declined significantly (such as happened in fiscal years 1999 and 2000), monetary policy and financial markets experts have studied the practical implications of having “too little” government debt: both the Federal Reserve and financial markets use the price information, yield curve and the so-called risk free rate extensively.[44]

Experts are hopeful that other assets could take the place of National Debt as the base asset to back Federal Reserve notes, and Alan Greenspan, long the head of the Federal Reserve, has been quoted as saying, “I am confident that U.S. financial markets, which are the most innovative and efficient in the world, can readily adapt to a paydown of Treasury debt by creating private alternatives with many of the attributes that market participants value in Treasury securities.”[45] In principle, the government could still issue debt securities in significant quantities while having no net debt, and significant quantities of government debt securities are also held by other government agencies.

Although the U.S. government receives income overall from seigniorage, there are costs associated with maintaining the money supply.[41][46] Leading ecological economist and steady-state theorist Herman Daly, claims that “over 95% of our [broad] money supply [in the United States] is created by the private banking system (demand deposits) and bears interest as a condition of its existence,”[41] a conclusion drawn from the Federal Reserve’s ultimate dependence on increased activity in fractional reserve lending when it exercises open market operations.[47]Economist Eric Miller criticizes Daly’s logic because money is created in the banking system in response to demand for the money,[48] which justifies cost.[citation needed]

Thus, use of expansionary open market operations typically generates more debt in the private sector of society (in the form of additional bank deposits).[49] The private banking system charges interest to borrowers as a cost to borrow the money.[3][31][50] The interest costs are borne by those that have borrowed,[3][31] and without this borrowing, open market operations would be unsuccessful in maintaining the broad money supply,[30] though alternative implementations of monetary policy could be used. Depositors of funds in the banking system are paid interest on their savings (or provided other services, such as checking account privileges or physical security for their “cash”), as compensation for “lending” their funds to the bank.

Increases (or contractions) of the money supply corresponds to growth (or contraction) in interest-bearing debt in the country.[3][30][41] The concepts involved in monetary policy may be widely misunderstood in the general public, as evidenced by the volume of literature on topics such as “Federal Reserve conspiracy” and “Federal Reserve fraud.”[51]

Uncertainties

A few of the uncertainties involved in monetary policy decision making are described by the federal reserve:[52]

  • While these policy choices seem reasonably straightforward, monetary policy makers routinely face certain notable uncertainties. First, the actual position of the economy and growth in aggregate demand at any time are only partially known, as key information on spending, production, and prices becomes available only with a lag. Therefore, policy makers must rely on estimates of these economic variables when assessing the appropriate course of policy, aware that they could act on the basis of misleading information. Second, exactly how a given adjustment in the federal funds rate will affect growth in aggregate demand—in terms of both the overall magnitude and the timing of its impact—is never certain. Economic models can provide rules of thumb for how the economy will respond, but these rules of thumb are subject to statistical error. Third, the growth in aggregate supply, often called the growth in potential output, cannot be measured with certainty.
  • In practice, as previously noted, monetary policy makers do not have up-to-the-minute information on the state of the economy and prices. Useful information is limited not only by lags in the collection and availability of key data but also by later revisions, which can alter the picture considerably. Therefore, although monetary policy makers will eventually be able to offset the effects that adverse demand shocks have on the economy, it will be some time before the shock is fully recognized and—given the lag between a policy action and the effect of the action on aggregate demand—an even longer time before it is countered. Add to this the uncertainty about how the economy will respond to an easing or tightening of policy of a given magnitude, and it is not hard to see how the economy and prices can depart from a desired path for a period of time.
  • The statutory goals of maximum employment and stable prices are easier to achieve if the public understands those goals and believes that the Federal Reserve will take effective measures to achieve them.
  • Although the goals of monetary policy are clearly spelled out in law, the means to achieve those goals are not. Changes in the FOMC’s target federal funds rate take some time to affect the economy and prices, and it is often far from obvious whether a selected level of the federal funds rate will achieve those goals.

Opinions of the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve is lauded by some economists, while being the target of scathing criticism by other economists, legislators, and sometimes members of the general public. The former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke, is one of the leading academic critics of the Federal Reserve’s policies during the Great Depression.[53]

Achievements

One of the functions of a central bank is to facilitate the transfer of funds through the economy, and the Federal Reserve System is largely responsible for the efficiency in the banking sector. There have also been specific instances which put the Federal Reserve in the spotlight of public attention. For instance, after the stock market crash in 1987, the actions of the Fed are generally believed to have aided in recovery. Also, the Federal Reserve is credited for easing tensions in the business sector with the reassurances given following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.[54]

Criticisms

The Federal Reserve has been the target of various criticisms, involving: accountability, effectiveness, opacity, inadequate banking regulation, and potential market distortion. Federal Reserve policy has also been criticized for directly and indirectly benefiting large banks instead of consumers. For example, regarding the Federal Reserve’s response to the 2007–2010 financial crisis, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz explained how the U.S. Federal Reserve was implementing another monetary policy —creating currency— as a method to combat the liquidity trap.[55]

By creating $600 billion and inserting this directly into banks the Federal Reserve intended to spur banks to finance more domestic loans and refinance mortgages. However, banks instead were spending the money in more profitable areas by investing internationally in emerging markets. Banks were also investing in foreign currencies which Stiglitz and others point out may lead to currency wars while China redirects its currency holdings away from the United States.[56]

Auditing

The Federal Reserve is subject to different requirements for transparency and audits than other government agencies, which its supporters claim is another element of the Fed’s independence. Although the Federal Reserve has been required by law to publish independently audited financial statements since 1999, the Federal Reserve is not audited in the same way as other government agencies. Some confusion can arise because there are many types of audits, including: investigative or fraud audits; and financial audits, which are audits of accounting statements; there are also compliance, operational, and information system audits.

The Federal Reserve’s annual financial statements are audited by an outside auditor. Similar to other government agencies, the Federal Reserve maintains an Office of the Inspector General, whose mandate includes conducting and supervising “independent and objective audits, investigations, inspections, evaluations, and other reviews of Board programs and operations.”[57] The Inspector General’s audits and reviews are available on the Federal Reserve’s website.[58][59]

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has the power to conduct audits, subject to certain areas of operations that are excluded from GAO audits; other areas may be audited at specific Congressional request, and have included bank supervision, government securities activities, and payment system activities.[60][61] The GAO is specifically restricted any authority over monetary policy transactions;[60] the New York Times reported in 1989 that “such transactions are now shielded from outside audit, although the Fed influences interest rates through the purchase of hundreds of billions of dollars in Treasury securities.”[62] As mentioned above, it was in 1999 that the law governing the Federal Reserve was amended to formalize the already-existing annual practice of ordering independent audits of financial statements for the Federal Reserve Banks and the Board;[63] the GAO’s restrictions on auditing monetary policy continued, however.[61]

Congressional oversight on monetary policy operations, foreign transactions, and the FOMC operations is exercised through the requirement for reports and through semi-annual monetary policy hearings.[61] Scholars have conceded that the hearings did not prove an effective means of increasing oversight of the Federal Reserve, perhaps because “Congresspersons prefer to bash an autonomous and secretive Fed for economic misfortune rather than to share the responsibility for that misfortune with a fully accountable Central Bank,” although the Federal Reserve has also consistently lobbied to maintain its independence and freedom of operation.[64]

Fulfillment of wider economic goals

By law, the goals of the Fed’s monetary policy are: high employment, sustainable growth, and stable prices.[65]

Critics say that monetary policy in the United States has not achieved consistent success in meeting the goals that have been delegated to the Federal Reserve System by Congress. Congress began to review more options with regard to macroeconomic influence beginning in 1946 (after World War II), with the Federal Reserve receiving specific mandates in 1977 (after the country suffered a period of stagflation).

Throughout the period of the Federal Reserve following the mandates, the relative weight given to each of these goals has changed, depending on political developments.[citation needed] In particular, the theories of Keynesianism and monetarism have had great influence on both the theory and implementation of monetary policy, and the “prevailing wisdom” or consensus view of the economic and financial communities has changed over the years.[66]

  • Elastic currency (magnitude of the money multiplier): the success of monetary policy is dependent on the ability to strongly influence the supply of money available to the citizens. If a currency is highly “elastic” (that is, has a higher money multiplier, corresponding to a tendency of the financial system to create more broad money for a given quantity of base money), plans to expand the money supply and accommodate growth are easier to implement. Low elasticity was one of many factors that contributed to the depth of the Great Depression: as banks cut lending, the money multiplier fell, and at the same time the Federal Reserve constricted the monetary base. The depression of the late 1920s is generally regarded as being the worst in the country’s history, and the Federal Reserve has been criticized for monetary policy which worsened the depression.[67] Partly to alleviate problems related to the depression, the United States transitioned from a gold standard and now uses a fiat currency; elasticity is believed to have been increased greatly.[68]

The value of $1 over time, in 1776 dollars.[70]

  • Stable prices – While some economists would regard any consistent inflation as a sign of unstable prices,[71] policymakers could be satisfied with 1 or 2%;[72] the consensus of “price stability” constituting long-run inflation of 1-2% is, however, a relatively recent development, and a change that has occurred at other central banks throughout the world. Inflation has averaged a 4.22% increase annually following the mandates applied in 1977; historic inflation since the establishment of the Federal Reserve in 1913 has averaged 3.4%.[73] In contrast, some research indicates that average inflation for the 250 years before the system was near zero percent, though there were likely sharper upward and downward spikes in that timeframe as compared with more recent times.[74] Central banks in some other countries, notably the German Bundesbank, had considerably better records of achieving price stability drawing on experience from the two episodes of hyperinflation and economic collapse under the country’s previous central bank.

Inflation worldwide has fallen significantly since former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker began his tenure in 1979, a period which has been called the Great Moderation; some commentators attribute this to improved monetary policy worldwide, particularly in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.[75][76]BusinessWeek notes that inflation has been relatively low since mid-1980s[77] and it was during this time that Volcker wrote (in 1995), “It is a sobering fact that the prominence of central banks [such as the Federal Reserve] in this century has coincided with a general tendency towards more inflation, not less. By and large, if the overriding objective is price stability, we did better with the nineteenth-century gold standard and passive central banks, with currency boards, or even with ‘free banking.'”.

  • Sustainable growth – The growth of the economy may not be sustainable as the ability for households to save money has been on an overall decline[78] and household debt is consistently rising.[79]

Cause of The Great Depression

Money supply decreased significantly between Black Tuesday and the Bank Holiday in March 1933 when there were massive bank runs

Monetarists who believe that the Great Depression started as an ordinary recession but significant policy mistakes by monetary authorities (especially the Federal Reserve) caused a shrinking of the money supply which greatly exacerbated the economic situation, causing a recession to descend into the Great Depression.

Public confusion

The Federal Reserve has established a library of information on their websites, however, many experts have spoken about the general level of public confusion that still exists on the subject of the economy; this lack of understanding of macroeconomic questions and monetary policy, however, exists in other countries as well. Critics of the Fed widely regard the system as being “opaque“, and one of the Fed’s most vehement opponents of his time, Congressman Louis T. McFadden, even went so far as to say that “Every effort has been made by the Federal Reserve Board to conceal its powers….”[80]

There are, on the other hand, many economists who support the need for an independent central banking authority, and some have established websites that aim to clear up confusion about the economy and the Federal Reserve’s operations. The Federal Reserve website itself publishes various information and instructional materials for a variety of audiences.

Criticism of government interference

Some economists, especially those belonging to the heterodox Austrian School, criticize the idea of even establishing monetary policy, believing that it distorts investment. Friedrich Hayek won the Nobel Prize for his elaboration of the Austrian business cycle theory.

Briefly, the theory holds that an artificial injection of credit, from a source such as a central bank like the Federal Reserve, sends false signals to entrepreneurs to engage in long-term investments due to a favorably low interest rate. However, the surge of investments undertaken represents an artificial boom, or bubble, because the low interest rate was achieved by an artificial expansion of the money supply and not by savings. Hence, the pool of real savings and resources have not increased and do not justify the investments undertaken.

These investments, which are more appropriately called “malinvestments”, are realized to be unsustainable when the artificial credit spigot is shut off and interest rates rise. The malinvestments and unsustainable projects are liquidated, which is the recession. The theory demonstrates that the problem is the artificial boom which causes the malinvestments in the first place, made possible by an artificial injection of credit not from savings.

According to Austrian economics, without government intervention, interest rates will always be an equilibrium between the time-preferences of borrowers and savers, and this equilibrium is simply distorted by government intervention. This distortion, in their view, is the cause of the business cycle. Some Austrian economists—but by no means all—also support full reserve banking, a hypothetical financial/banking system where banks may not lend deposits. Others may advocate free banking, whereby the government abstains from any interference in what individuals may choose to use as money or the extent to which banks create money through the deposit and lending cycle.

Reserve requirement

The Federal Reserve regulates banking, and one regulation under its direct control is the reserve requirement which dictates how much money banks must keep in reserves, as compared to its demand deposits. Banks use their observation that the majority of deposits are not requested by the account holders at the same time.

Currently, the Federal Reserve requires that banks keep 10% of their deposits on hand.[81] Some countries have no nationally mandated reserve requirements—banks use their own resources to determine what to hold in reserve, however their lending is typically constrained by other regulations.[82] Other factors being equal, lower reserve percentages increases the possibility of Bank runs, such as the widespread runs of 1931. Low reserve requirements also allow for larger expansions of the money supply by actions of commercial banks—currently the private banking system has created much of the broad money supply of US dollars through lending activity. Monetary policy reform calling for 100% reserves has been advocated by economists such as: Irving Fisher,[83] Frank Knight,[84] many ecological economists along with economists of the Chicago School and Austrian School. Despite calls for reform, the nearly universal practice of fractional-reserve banking has remained in the United States.

Criticism of private sector involvement

Historically and to the present day, various social and political movements (such as social credit) have criticized the involvement of the private sector in “creating money”, claiming that only the government should have the power to “make money”. Some proponents also support full reserve banking or other non-orthodox approaches to monetary policy. Various terminology may be used, including “debt money”, which may have emotive or political connotations. These are generally considered to be akin to conspiracy theories by mainstream economists and ignored in academic literature on monetary policy.

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monetary_policy_of_the_United_States

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The Rise and Fall of The Roman Empire — Videos

Posted on March 11, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Constitution, Corruption, Crisis, Cult, Culture, Documentary, Economics, Elections, Employment, European History, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, history, Illegal, Immigration, Language, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Political Correctness, Politics, Psychology, Raves, Religious, Security, Speech, Strategy, Success, Torture, Video, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weather, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , |

Will Durant — Why Rome Fell

The Truth About The Fall of Rome: Modern Parallels

Are We Rome? Ben Powell Compares the U.S. with the Roman Empire

Are We Rome

DECLINE of EMPIRES: The Signs of Decay

The Judge on the Decline and Fall of Roman Empire and Future of America

The 7 Signs Of An Empire In Decline

The Roman Empire – Episode 1: The Rise of the Roman Empire (History Documentary)

The Roman Empire – Episode 2: Legions of Conquest (History Documentary)

The Roman Empire – Episode 3: Seduction of Power (History Documentary)

The Roman Empire – Episode 4: Grasp Of An Empire (History Documentary)

The Roman Empire – Episode 5: Cult Of Order (History Documentary)

The Roman Empire – Episode 6: The Fall Of The Roman Empire (History Documentary)

The Roman Empire – Episode 7: Letters From The Roman Front (History Documentary)

Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire – Episode 8: Wrath of the Gods (Documentary)

Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire – Episode 9: The Soldier’s Emperor (Documentary)

Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire – Episode 10: Constantine the Great (Documentary)

Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire – Episode 11: The Barbarian General (Documentary)

Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire – Episode 12: The Puppet Master (Documentary)

Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire – Episode 13: The Last Emperor (Documentary)

[History] The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume 1, Part 1, Audiobook

[History] The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Volume 1, Part 2, Audiobook

[History Audiobook] The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 2, Part 1

[History Audiobook] The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 2, Part 2

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Rise and fall of rome)
This article is about the book. For the historical events, see History of the Roman Empire and Fall of the Western Roman Empire. For the historiography spawned by Gibbon’s theories, see Historiography of the fall of the Western Roman Empire. For publication details and chapter listings, see Outline of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Author Edward Gibbon
Country England
Language English
Subject History of the Roman Empire
Publisher Strahan & Cadell, London
Publication date
1776–89
Media type Print
LC Class DG311

Edward Gibbon (1737–1794).

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire[1] is a book of history written by the English historian Edward Gibbon, which traces the trajectory of Western civilization (as well as the Islamic and Mongolian conquests) from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium. It was published in six volumes. Volume I was published in 1776 and went through six printings.[2] Volumes II and III were published in 1781;[3][4] volumes IV, V, and VI in 1788–89.[5][6][7] The original volumes were published in quarto sections, a common publishing practice of the time. The work covers the history, from 98 to 1590, of the Roman Empire, the history of early Christianity and then of the Roman State Church, and the history of Europe, and discusses the decline of the Roman Empire in the East and West. Because of its relative objectivity and heavy use of primary sources, unusual at the time, its methodology became a model for later historians. This led to Gibbon being called the first “modern historian of ancient Rome”.[8]

Contents

Thesis

Gibbon offers an explanation for the fall of the Roman Empire, a task made difficult by a lack of comprehensive written sources, though he was not the only historian to attempt the task.[9]

According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions in large part due to the gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizens.[10] They had become weak, outsourcing their duty to defend their empire to barbarian mercenaries, who then became so numerous and ingrained that they were able to take over the Empire. Romans, he believed, were unwilling to live a tougher, military lifestyle. In addition, Gibbon argued that Christianity created a belief that a better life existed after death, which fostered an indifference to the present among Roman citizens, thus sapping their desire to sacrifice for a larger purpose. He also believed that Christianity’s comparative pacifism tended to hamper the traditional Roman martial spirit. Finally, like other Enlightenment thinkers and British citizens of the age steeped in institutional anti-Catholicism, Gibbon held in contempt the Middle Ages as a priest-ridden, superstitious Dark Age. It was not until his own era, the “Age of Reason,” with its emphasis on rational thought, it was believed, that human history could resume its progress.[11]

Gibbon saw the Praetorian Guard as the primary catalyst of the empire’s initial decay and eventual collapse, a seed planted by Augustus when the empire was established. His writings cite repeated examples of the Praetorian Guard abusing their power with calamitous results, including numerous instances of imperial assassination and incessant demands for increased pay.

He compared the reigns of Diocletian (284–305) and Charles V (1519–1556), noting superficial similarities. Both were plagued by continual war and compelled to excessive taxation to fund wars, both chose to abdicate as Emperors at roughly the same age, and both chose to lead a quiet life upon their retirement. However, Gibbon argues that these similarities are only superficial and that the underlying context and character of the two rulers is markedly different.

Style

Gibbon’s style is frequently distinguished by an ironically detached and somewhat dispassionate yet critical tone. He occasionally lapsed into moralization and aphorism:

[A]s long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters.

The influence of the clergy, in an age of superstition, might be usefully employed to assert the rights of mankind; but so intimate is the connection between the throne and the altar, that the banner of the church has very seldom been seen on the side of the people (Chapter Three p. 52).

History…is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortune of mankind (ibid. p. 69).

If we contrast the rapid progress of this mischievous discovery [of gunpowder] with the slow and laborious advances of reason, science, and the arts of peace, a philosopher, according to his temper, will laugh or weep at the folly of mankind (Chapter 65, p. 68).[Page numbers in which edition? clarification needed]

Citations and footnotesen humorous style, and have been called “Gibbon’s table talk.”[12] They provide an entertaining moral commentary on both ancient Rome and 18th-century Great Britain. This technique enabled Gibbon to compare ancient Rome to his own contemporary world. Gibbon’s work advocates a rationalist and progressive view of history.

Gibbon’s citations provide in-depth detail regarding his use of sources for his work, which included documents dating back to ancient Rome. The detail within his asides and his care in noting the importance of each document is a precursor to modern-day historical footnoting methodology.

The work is notable for its erratic but exhaustively documented notes and research. John Bury, following him 113 years later with his own History of the Later Roman Empire, commended the depth and accuracy of Gibbon’s work. Unusually for 18th century historians, Gibbon was not content with second-hand accounts when the primary sources were accessible. “I have always endeavoured”, Gibbon wrote, “to draw from the fountain-head; that my curiosity, as well as a sense of duty, has always urged me to study the originals; and that, if they have sometimes eluded my search, I have carefully marked the secondary evidence, on whose faith a passage or a fact were reduced to depend.”[13] The Decline and Fall is a literary monument and a massive step forward in historical method.[14]

Criticism

Numerous tracts were published criticizing his work. In response, Gibbon defended his work with the 1779 publication of, A Vindication … of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.[15] His remarks on Christianity aroused particularly vigorous attacks, but in the mid-twentieth century, at least one author claimed that “church historians allow the substantial justness of [Gibbon’s] main positions.”[16]

Number of Christian martyrs

Gibbon challenged Church history by estimating far smaller numbers of Christian martyrs than had been traditionally accepted. The Church’s version of its early history had rarely been questioned before. Gibbon, however, knew Church writings were secondary sources, and he shunned them in favor of primary sources.

Christianity as a contributor to the fall and to stability: chapters XV, XVI

Volume I was originally published in sections, as was common for large works at the time. The first two were well received and widely praised. The last quarto in Volume I, especially Chapters XV and XVI, was highly controversial, and Gibbon was attacked as a “paganist“. Voltaire was deemed to have influenced Gibbon’s claiming that Christianity was a contributor to the fall of the Roman Empire. As one pro-Christian commenter put it in 1840:

As Christianity advances, disasters befall the [Roman] empire—arts, science, literature, decay—barbarism and all its revolting concomitants are made to seem the consequences of its decisive triumph—and the unwary reader is conducted, with matchless dexterity, to the desired conclusion—the abominable Manicheism of Candide, and, in fact, of all the productions of Voltaire’s historic school—viz., “that instead of being a merciful, ameliorating, and benignant visitation, the religion of Christians would rather seem to be a scourge sent on man by the author of all evil.”[17]

Gibbon thought that Christianity had hastened the Fall, but also ameliorated the results:

As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal that the introduction, or at least the abuse of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers’ pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity. Faith, zeal, curiosity, and more earthly passions of malice and ambition, kindled the flame of theological discord; the church, and even the state, were distracted by religious factions, whose conflicts were sometimes bloody and always implacable; the attention of the emperors was diverted from camps to synods; the Roman world was oppressed by a new species of tyranny; and the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country. Yet party-spirit, however pernicious or absurd, is a principle of union as well as of dissension. The bishops, from eighteen hundred pulpits, inculcated the duty of passive obedience to a lawful and orthodox sovereign; their frequent assemblies and perpetual correspondence maintained the communion of distant churches; and the benevolent temper of the Gospel was strengthened, though confirmed, by the spiritual alliance of the Catholics. The sacred indolence of the monks was devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age; but if superstition had not afforded a decent retreat, the same vices would have tempted the unworthy Romans to desert, from baser motives, the standard of the republic. Religious precepts are easily obeyed which indulge and sanctify the natural inclinations of their votaries; but the pure and genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial, though imperfect, effects on the barbarian proselytes of the North. If the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors (chap. 38).[18]

Tolerant paganismast 200 years, and whose most eminent representative is Gibbon. Gibbon had written:

The various modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world were all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosophers as equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful.

Drake counters:

With such deft strokes, Gibbon enters into a conspiracy with his readers: unlike the credulous masses, he and we are cosmopolitans who know the uses of religion as an instrument of social control. So doing, Gibbon skirts a serious problem: for three centuries prior to Constantine, the tolerant pagans who people the Decline and Fall were the authors of several major persecutions, in which Christians were the victims. …Gibbon covered this embarrassing hole in his argument with an elegant demur. Rather than deny the obvious, he adroitly masked the question by transforming his Roman magistrates into models of Enlightenment rulers — reluctant persecutors, too sophisticated to be themselves religious zealots.

Misinterpretation of Byzantium

Others such as John Julius Norwich, despite their admiration for his furthering of historical methodology, consider Gibbon’s hostile views on the Byzantine Empire flawed and blame him somewhat for the lack of interest shown in the subject throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.[19] This view might well be admitted by Gibbon himself: “But it is not my intention to expatiate with the same minuteness on the whole series of the Byzantine history.”[20] However the Russian historian George Ostrogorsky writes, “Gibbon and Lebeau were genuine historians — and Gibbon a very great one — and their works, in spite of factual inadequacy, rank high for their presentation of their material.”[21]

Gibbon’s reflections

Gibbon’s initial plan was to write a history “of the decline and fall of the city of Rome”, and only later expanded his scope to the whole Roman Empire.[22]

Although he published other books, Gibbon devoted much of his life to this one work (1772–89). His autobiography Memoirs of My Life and Writings is devoted largely to his reflections on how the book virtually became his life. He compared the publication of each succeeding volume to a newborn child.[23]

Editions

Gibbon continued to revise and change his work even after publication. The complexities of the problem are addressed in Womersley’s introduction and appendices to his complete edition.

  • In-print complete editions
    • J.B. Bury, ed., 7 volumes (London: Methuen, 1909–1914), currently reprinted (New York: AMS Press, 1974). ISBN 0-404-02820-9.
    • Hugh Trevor-Roper, ed., 6 volumes (New York: Everyman’s Library, 1993–1994). The text, including Gibbon’s notes, is from Bury but without his notes. ISBN 0-679-42308-7 (vols. 1–3); ISBN 0-679-43593-X (vols. 4–6).
    • David Womersley, ed., 3 volumes. hardback-(London: Allen Lane, 1994); paperback-(New York: Penguin Books, 2005;1994). Includes the original index, and the Vindication (1779), which Gibbon wrote in response to attacks on his caustic portrayal of Christianity. The 2005 print includes minor revisions and a new chronology. ISBN 0-7139-9124-0 (3360 p.); ISBN 0-14-043393-7 (v.1, 1232 p.); ISBN 0-14-043394-5 (v.2, 1024 pages); ISBN 0-14-043395-3 (v.3, 1360 pages)
  • In-print abridgements
    • David Womersley, ed., 1 volume (New York: Penguin Books, 2000). Includes all footnotes and seventeen of the original seventy-one chapters. ISBN 0-14-043764-9, 848 pages
    • Hans-Friedrich Mueller, ed., one volume abridgment (New York: Random House, 2003). Includes excerpts from all seventy-one chapters. It eliminates footnotes, geographic surveys, details of battle formations, long narratives of military campaigns, ethnographies and genealogies. Based on the Rev. H.H. [Dean] Milman edition of 1845 (see also Gutenberg etext edition). ISBN 0-375-75811-9, (trade paper, 1312 pages); ISBN 0-345-47884-3 (mass market paper, 1536 pages)

Legacy

Many writers have used variations on the series title (including using “Rise and Fall” in place of “Decline and Fall”), especially when dealing with large nations or empires. Piers Brendon notes that Gibbon’s work, “became the essential guide for Britons anxious to plot their own imperial trajectory. They found the key to understanding the British Empire in the ruins of Rome.”[24]

and in film:

and in television:

The title and author are also cited in Noël Coward‘s comedic poem “I Went to a Marvellous Party“.[25] And in the poem “The Foundation of Science Fiction Success“, Isaac Asimov acknowledged that his Foundation series—an epic tale of the fall and rebuilding of a galactic empire—was written “with a tiny bit of cribbin’ / from the works of Edward Gibbon”.[26]

In 1995, an established journal of classical scholarship, Classics Ireland, published punk musician’s Iggy Pop‘s reflections on the applicability of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire to the modern world in a short article, Caesar Lives, (Vol. 2, 1995) in which he noted “America is Rome. Of course, why shouldn’t it be? We are all Roman children, for better or worse… I learn much about the way our society really works, because the system-origins – military, religious, political, colonial, agricultural, financial – are all there to be scrutinized in their infancy. I have gained perspective.” [27]

See also

Notes

  1. Jump up^ sometimes shortened to Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  2. Jump up^ Edward Gibbon (1776). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I. W. Strahan and T. Cadell.
  3. Jump up^ Edward Gibbon (1781). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. II.
  4. Jump up^ Edward Gibbon (1781). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. III.
  5. Jump up^ Edward Gibbon (1788). The History Of The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire. IV. Strahan and Cadell.
  6. Jump up^ Edward Gibbon (1788). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. V. W. Strahan and T. Cadell.
  7. Jump up^ Edward Gibbon (1788). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. VI.
  8. Jump up^ David S. Potter (2006-05-22). A Companion to the Roman Empire. Wiley. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-631-22644-4.
  9. Jump up^ see for example Henri Pirenne’s (1862–1935) famous thesis published in the early 20th century. As for sources more recent than the ancients, Gibbon certainly drew on Montesquieu‘s short essay, Considérations sur les causes de la grandeur des Romains et de leur décadence, and on previous work published by Bossuet (1627-1704) in his Histoire universelle à Monseigneur le dauphin (1763). see Pocock, EEG. for Bousset, pp. 65, 145; for Montesquieu, pp. 85–88, 114, 223.
  10. Jump up^ J.G.A. Pocock, “Between Machiavelli and Hume: Gibbon as Civic Humanist and Philosophical Historian,” Daedalus 105,3(1976), 153–169; and in Further reading: Pocock, EEG, 303–304; FDF, 304–306.
  11. Jump up^ J.G.A. Pocock, “Between Machiavelli and Hume: Gibbon as Civic Humanist and Philosophical Historian,” Daedulus 105,3(1976), 153–169; and in Further reading: Pocock, EEG, 303–304; FDF, 304–306.
  12. Jump up^ Saunders, Dero A., ed. (1952). Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. New York: Penguin. p. 23 (Introduction).
  13. Jump up^ Preface to Gibbon’s Volume the Fourth in David Womersley ed., Edward Gibbon – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 2 (New York: Penguin Books, 1994), p. 520.
  14. Jump up^ In the early 20th century, biographer Sir Leslie Stephen [“Gibbon, Edward (1737–1794),” Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 7, (Oxford, 1921), p. 1134.] summarized The History‘s reputation as a work of unmatched erudition, a degree of professional esteem which remains as strong today as it was then:

    The criticisms upon his book…are nearly unanimous. In accuracy, thoroughness, lucidity, and comprehensive grasp of a vast subject, the History is unsurpassable. It is the one English history which may be regarded as definitive. …Whatever its shortcomings, the book is artistically imposing as well as historically unimpeachable as a vast panorama of a great period.

  15. Jump up^ Edward Gibbon (1779). A vindication of some passages in the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire: By the author..Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell, in the Strand.
  16. Jump up^ The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. IV, eds. S.M. Jackson, et al. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1952), 483–484. online.
  17. Jump up^ Dublin review: a quarterly and critical journal. Burns, Oates and Washbourne. 1840. pp. 208–. JItKAAAAcAAJ. p. 208 image at Google Books
  18. Jump up^ General Observations On The Fall Of The Roman Empire In The West. Fall In The West — The Decline And Fall Of The Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon. At Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Calvin College Computer Science. http://www.ccel.org/g/gibbon/decline/volume1/chap39.htm
  19. Jump up^ John Julius Norwich, Byzantium (New York: Knopf, 1989); Byzantium: the apogee (London and New York: Viking Press, 1991).
  20. Jump up^ Preface of 1782 online.
  21. Jump up^ Georgije Ostrogorski History of the Byzantine State(1986) p. 5 online
  22. Jump up^ Gibbon, Edward (1781). The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. 3. chapter 36, footnote 43. If I prosecute this History, I shall not be unmindful of the decline and fall of the city of Rome; an interesting object, to which my plan was originally confined.
  23. Jump up^ Patricia B. Craddock, Edward Gibbon, Luminous Historian. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1989), 249–266.
  24. Jump up^ Piers Brendon, The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997 (2008) p. xv
  25. Jump up^ Link to notes on the poem here [1]. Excerpt: “If you have any mind at all, Gibbon’s divine Decline and Fall, Seems pretty flimsy, No more than a whimsy… .”
  26. Jump up^ Asimov, Isaac (October 1954). “The Foundation of S. F. Success”. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. p. 69.
  27. Jump up^ “Classics Ireland”. Ucd.ie. Retrieved September 8, 2010.

Further readingnd Intertextuality in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Newark: Associated University Presses, 1999); ISBN 0-87413-658-X.

  • Craddock, Patricia. “Historical Discovery and Literary Invention in Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall’,” Modern Philology 85,4(May 1988), 569–587.
  • Drake, H.A., “Lambs into Lions: explaining early Christian intolerance,” Past and Present 153(1996), 3–36. Oxford Journals
  • Furet, Francois. “Civilization and Barbarism in Gibbon’s History,” Daedalus 105,3(1976), 209–216.
  • Gay, Peter. Style in History (New York: Basic Books, 1974); ISBN 0-465-08304-8.
  • Ghosh, Peter R. “Gibbon’s Dark Ages: Some Remarks on the Genesis of the Decline and Fall,” Journal of Roman Studies 73(1983), 1–23.
  • Homer-Dixon, Thomas “The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity and the Renewal of Civilization”, 2007 ISBN 978-0-676-97723-3, Chapter 3 pp. 57–60
  • Kelly, Christopher. “A Grand Tour: Reading Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall’,” Greece & Rome 2nd ser., 44,1 (Apr. 1997), 39–58.
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo. “Eighteenth-Century Prelude to Mr. Gibbon,” in Pierre Ducrey et al., eds., Gibbon et Rome à la lumière de l’historiographie moderne (Geneva: Librairie Droz, 1977).
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo. “Gibbon from an Italian Point of View,” in G.W. Bowersock et al., eds., Edward Gibbon and the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 1977).
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo. “Declines and Falls,” American Scholar 49(Winter 1979), 37–51.
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo. “After Gibbon’s Decline and Fall,” in Kurt Weitzmann, ed. Age of Spirituality : a symposium (Princeton: 1980); ISBN 0-89142-039-8.
  • Pocock, J.G.A. Barbarism and Religion, 4 vols. all Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • Roberts, Charlotte Edward Gibbon and the Shape of History. 2014 Oxford University Press 9780198704836
  • Trevor-Roper, H.R. “Gibbon and the Publication of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1776–1976,” Journal of Law and Economics 19,3 (Oct. 1976), 489–505.
  • Womersley, David. The Transformation of ‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’ (Cambridge: 1988).
  • Womersley, David, ed. Religious Scepticism: Contemporary Responses to Gibbon (Bristol, England: Thoemmes Press, 1997).
  • Wootton, David. “Narrative, Irony, and Faith in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall,” History and Theory 33,4 (Dec., 1994), 77–105.

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_the_Decline_and_Fall_of_the_Roman_Empire

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George Orwell — Videos

Posted on March 7, 2017. Filed under: Blogroll, Books, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), College, Computers, Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Fiction, Food, Freedom, government spending, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Love, media, Movies, Newspapers, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Political Correctness, Politics, Press, Programming, Psychology, Quotations, Radio, Rants, Raves, Religious, Security, Speech, Technology, Terrorism, Video, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, World War II, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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George Orwell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
George Orwell
A photo showing the head and shoulders of a middle-aged man with black hair and a slim moustache.

Orwell’s press card portrait, 1943
Born Eric Arthur Blair
25 June 1903
Motihari, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now East Champaran, Bihar, India)
Died 21 January 1950 (aged 46)
University College Hospital, London, England, United Kingdom
Resting place Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Pen name George Orwell
Occupation Novelist, essayist, journalist, critic
Alma mater Eton College
Genre Dystopia, roman à clef, satire
Subject Anti-fascism, anti-Stalinism, democratic socialism, literary criticism, news, polemic
Notable works Animal Farm
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Years active 1928–1950
Spouse Eileen O’Shaughnessy
(m. 1935; her death 1945)
Sonia Brownell
(m. 1949; his death 1950)

Signature Eric Blair ("George Orwell")

Eric Arthur Blair (25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950),[1] better known by the pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist, essayist, journalist, and critic. His work is marked by lucid prose, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and outspoken support of democratic socialism.[2][3]

Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction, and polemical journalism. He is best known for the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945) and the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949). His non-fiction works, including The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), documenting his experience of working class life in the north of England, and Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, are widely acclaimed, as are his essays on politics, literature, language, and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.[4]

Orwell’s work continues to influence popular and political culture, and the term Orwellian – descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices – has entered the language together with many of his neologisms, including cold war, Big Brother, Thought Police, Room 101, memory hole, newspeak, doublethink, and thoughtcrime.[5]

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Life

Early years

Blair family home at Shiplake, Oxfordshire

Eric Arthur Blair was born on 25 June 1903, in Motihari, Bengal Presidency (present-day Bihar), in British India.[6] His great-grandfather Charles Blair was a wealthy country gentleman in Dorset who married Lady Mary Fane, daughter of the Earl of Westmorland, and had income as an absentee landlord of plantations in Jamaica.[7] His grandfather, Thomas Richard Arthur Blair, was a clergyman.[8] Although the gentility passed down the generations, the prosperity did not; Eric Blair described his family as “lower-upper-middle class“.[9] His father, Richard Walmesley Blair, worked in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service.[10] His mother, Ida Mabel Blair (née Limouzin), grew up in Moulmein, Burma, where her French father was involved in speculative ventures.[7] Eric had two sisters: Marjorie, five years older, and Avril, five years younger. When Eric was one year old, his mother took him and his sister to England.[11][n 1] His birthplace and ancestral house in Motihari has been declared a protected monument of historical importance.[12]

In 1904, Ida Blair settled with her children at Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. Eric was brought up in the company of his mother and sisters, and apart from a brief visit in mid-1907,[13] they did not see the husband and father Richard Blair until 1912.[8] His mother’s diary from 1905 describes a lively round of social activity and artistic interests.

Before the First World War, the family moved to Shiplake, Oxfordshire where Eric became friendly with the Buddicom family, especially their daughter Jacintha. When they first met, he was standing on his head in a field. On being asked why, he said, “You are noticed more if you stand on your head than if you are right way up.”[14] Jacintha and Eric read and wrote poetry, and dreamed of becoming famous writers. He said that he might write a book in the style of H. G. Wells‘s A Modern Utopia. During this period, he also enjoyed shooting, fishing and birdwatching with Jacintha’s brother and sister.[14]

Playing fields at St. Cyprian’s. Blair’s time at the school inspired his essay “Such, Such Were the Joys“.

At the age of five, Eric was sent as a day-boy to a convent school in Henley-on-Thames, which Marjorie also attended. It was a Roman Catholic convent run by French Ursuline nuns, who had been exiled from France after religious education was banned in 1903.[15] His mother wanted him to have a public school education, but his family could not afford the fees, and he needed to earn a scholarship. Ida Blair’s brother Charles Limouzin recommended St Cyprian’s School, Eastbourne, East Sussex.[8] Limouzin, who was a proficient golfer, knew of the school and its headmaster through the Royal Eastbourne Golf Club, where he won several competitions in 1903 and 1904.[16] The headmaster undertook to help Blair to win a scholarship, and made a private financial arrangement that allowed Blair’s parents to pay only half the normal fees. In September 1911 Eric arrived at St Cyprian’s. He boarded at the school for the next five years, returning home only for school holidays. He knew nothing of the reduced fees, although he “soon recognised that he was from a poorer home”.[17] Blair hated the school[18] and many years later wrote an essay “Such, Such Were the Joys“, published posthumously, based on his time there. At St. Cyprian’s, Blair first met Cyril Connolly, who became a writer. Many years later, as the editor of Horizon, Connolly published several of Orwell’s essays.

While at St Cyprian’s, Blair wrote two poems that were published in the Henley and South Oxfordshire Standard.[19][20] He came second to Connolly in the Harrow History Prize, had his work praised by the school’s external examiner, and earned scholarships to Wellington and Eton. But inclusion on the Eton scholarship roll did not guarantee a place, and none was immediately available for Blair. He chose to stay at St Cyprian’s until December 1916, in case a place at Eton became available.[8]

In January, Blair took up the place at Wellington, where he spent the Spring term. In May 1917 a place became available as a King’s Scholar at Eton. He remained at Eton until December 1921, when he left midway between his 18th and 19th birthday. Wellington was “beastly”, Orwell told his childhood friend Jacintha Buddicom, but he said he was “interested and happy” at Eton.[21] His principal tutor was A. S. F. Gow, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, who also gave him advice later in his career.[8] Blair was briefly taught French by Aldous Huxley. Stephen Runciman, who was at Eton with Blair, noted that he and his contemporaries appreciated Huxley’s linguistic flair.[22] Cyril Connolly followed Blair to Eton, but because they were in separate years, they did not associate with each other.[23]

Blair’s academic performance reports suggest that he neglected his academic studies,[22] but during his time at Eton he worked with Roger Mynors to produce a College magazine, The Election Times, joined in the production of other publications – College Days and Bubble and Squeak – and participated in the Eton Wall Game. His parents could not afford to send him to a university without another scholarship, and they concluded from his poor results that he would not be able to win one. Runciman noted that he had a romantic idea about the East,[22] and the family decided that Blair should join the Imperial Police, the precursor of the Indian Police Service. For this he had to pass an entrance examination. His father had retired to Southwold, Suffolk, by this time; Blair was enrolled at a crammer there called Craighurst, and brushed up on his Classics, English, and History. He passed the entrance exam, coming seventh out of the 26 candidates who exceeded the pass mark.[8][24]

Policing in Burma

Blair pictured in a passport photo during his Burma years

Blair’s maternal grandmother lived at Moulmein, so he chose a posting in Burma. In October 1922 he sailed on board SS Herefordshire via the Suez Canal and Ceylon to join the Indian Imperial Police in Burma. A month later, he arrived at Rangoon and travelled to the police training school in Mandalay. After a short posting at Maymyo, Burma’s principal hill station, he was posted to the frontier outpost of Myaungmya in the Irrawaddy Delta at the beginning of 1924.

Working as an imperial policeman gave him considerable responsibility while most of his contemporaries were still at university in England. When he was posted farther east in the Delta to Twante as a sub-divisional officer, he was responsible for the security of some 200,000 people. At the end of 1924, he was promoted to Assistant District Superintendent and posted to Syriam, closer to Rangoon. Syriam had the refinery of the Burmah Oil Company, “the surrounding land a barren waste, all vegetation killed off by the fumes of sulphur dioxide pouring out day and night from the stacks of the refinery.” But the town was near Rangoon, a cosmopolitan seaport, and Blair went into the city as often as he could, “to browse in a bookshop; to eat well-cooked food; to get away from the boring routine of police life”.[25] In September 1925 he went to Insein, the home of Insein Prison, the second largest jail in Burma. In Insein, he had “long talks on every conceivable subject” with Elisa Maria Langford-Rae (who later married Kazi Lhendup Dorjee). She noted his “sense of utter fairness in minutest details”.[26]

British Club in Katha (in Orwell’s time, it occupied only the ground floor)

In April 1926 he moved to Moulmein, where his maternal grandmother lived. At the end of that year, he was assigned to Katha in Upper Burma, where he contracted dengue fever in 1927. Entitled to a leave in England that year, he was allowed to return in July due to his illness. While on leave in England and on holiday with his family in Cornwall in September 1927, he reappraised his life. Deciding against returning to Burma, he resigned from the Indian Imperial Police to become a writer. He drew on his experiences in the Burma police for the novel Burmese Days (1934) and the essays “A Hanging” (1931) and “Shooting an Elephant” (1936).

In Burma, Blair acquired a reputation as an outsider. He spent much of his time alone, reading or pursuing non-pukka activities, such as attending the churches of the Karen ethnic group. A colleague, Roger Beadon, recalled (in a 1969 recording for the BBC) that Blair was fast to learn the language and that before he left Burma, “was able to speak fluently with Burmese priests in ‘very high-flown Burmese.'”[27] Blair made changes to his appearance in Burma that remained for the rest of his life. “While in Burma, he acquired a moustache similar to those worn by officers of the British regiments stationed there. [He] also acquired some tattoos; on each knuckle he had a small untidy blue circle. Many Burmese living in rural areas still sport tattoos like this – they are believed to protect against bullets and snake bites.”[28] Later, he wrote that he felt guilty about his role in the work of empire and he “began to look more closely at his own country and saw that England also had its oppressed …”

London and Paris

Blair’s 1927 lodgings in Portobello Road, London

In England, he settled back in the family home at Southwold, renewing acquaintance with local friends and attending an Old Etonian dinner. He visited his old tutor Gow at Cambridge for advice on becoming a writer.[29] In 1927 he moved to London.[30] Ruth Pitter, a family acquaintance, helped him find lodgings, and by the end of 1927 he had moved into rooms in Portobello Road;[31] a blue plaque commemorates his residence there.[32] Pitter’s involvement in the move “would have lent it a reassuring respectability in Mrs Blair’s eyes.” Pitter had a sympathetic interest in Blair’s writing, pointed out weaknesses in his poetry, and advised him to write about what he knew. In fact he decided to write of “certain aspects of the present that he set out to know” and “ventured into the East End of London – the first of the occasional sorties he would make to discover for himself the world of poverty and the down-and-outers who inhabit it. He had found a subject. These sorties, explorations, expeditions, tours or immersions were made intermittently over a period of five years.”[33]

In imitation of Jack London, whose writing he admired (particularly The People of the Abyss), Blair started to explore the poorer parts of London. On his first outing he set out to Limehouse Causeway, spending his first night in a common lodging house, possibly George Levy’s ‘kip’. For a while he “went native” in his own country, dressing like a tramp, adopting the name P. S. Burton and making no concessions to middle-class mores and expectations; he recorded his experiences of the low life for use in “The Spike“, his first published essay in English, and in the second half of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).

Rue du Pot de Fer, on the Left Bank, in the 5th arrondissement, where Blair lived in Paris

In early 1928 he moved to Paris. He lived in the rue du Pot de Fer, a working class district in the 5th Arrondissement.[8] His aunt Nellie Limouzin also lived in Paris and gave him social and, when necessary, financial support. He began to write novels, including an early version of Burmese Days, but nothing else survives from that period.[8] He was more successful as a journalist and published articles in Monde, a political/literary journal edited by Henri Barbusse (his first article as a professional writer, “La Censure en Angleterre”, appeared in that journal on 6 October 1928); G. K.’s Weekly, where his first article to appear in England, “A Farthing Newspaper”, was printed on 29 December 1928;[34] and Le Progrès Civique (founded by the left-wing coalition Le Cartel des Gauches). Three pieces appeared in successive weeks in Le Progrès Civique: discussing unemployment, a day in the life of a tramp, and the beggars of London, respectively. “In one or another of its destructive forms, poverty was to become his obsessive subject – at the heart of almost everything he wrote until Homage to Catalonia.”[35]

He fell seriously ill in February 1929 and was taken to the Hôpital Cochin in the 14th arrondissement, a free hospital where medical students were trained. His experiences there were the basis of his essay “How the Poor Die“, published in 1946. He chose not to identify the hospital, and indeed was deliberately misleading about its location. Shortly afterwards, he had all his money stolen from his lodging house. Whether through necessity or to collect material, he undertook menial jobs like dishwashing in a fashionable hotel on the rue de Rivoli, which he later described in Down and Out in Paris and London. In August 1929, he sent a copy of “The Spike” to John Middleton Murry‘s New Adelphi magazine in London. The magazine was edited by Max Plowman and Sir Richard Rees, and Plowman accepted the work for publication.

Southwold

Southwold – North Parade

In December 1929, after nearly two years in Paris, Blair returned to England and went directly to his parents’ house in Southwold, which remained his base for the next five years. The family was well established in the town and his sister Avril was running a tea-house there. He became acquainted with many local people, including Brenda Salkeld, the clergyman’s daughter who worked as a gym-teacher at St Felix Girls’ School, Southwold. Although Salkeld rejected his offer of marriage, she remained a friend and regular correspondent for many years. He also renewed friendships with older friends, such as Dennis Collings, whose girlfriend Eleanor Jacques was also to play a part in his life.[8]

In early 1930 he stayed briefly in Bramley, Leeds, with his sister Marjorie and her husband Humphrey Dakin, who was as unappreciative of Blair as when they knew each other as children. Blair was writing reviews for Adelphi and acting as a private tutor to a disabled child at Southwold. He then became tutor to three young brothers, one of whom, Richard Peters, later became a distinguished academic.[36] “His history in these years is marked by dualities and contrasts. There is Blair leading a respectable, outwardly eventless life at his parents’ house in Southwold, writing; then in contrast, there is Blair as Burton (the name he used in his down-and-out episodes) in search of experience in the kips and spikes, in the East End, on the road, and in the hop fields of Kent.”[37] He went painting and bathing on the beach, and there he met Mabel and Francis Fierz, who later influenced his career. Over the next year he visited them in London, often meeting their friend Max Plowman. He also often stayed at the homes of Ruth Pitter and Richard Rees, where he could “change” for his sporadic tramping expeditions. One of his jobs was domestic work at a lodgings for half a crown (two shillings and sixpence, or one-eighth of a pound) a day.[38]

Blair now contributed regularly to Adelphi, with “A Hanging” appearing in August 1931. From August to September 1931 his explorations of poverty continued, and, like the protagonist of A Clergyman’s Daughter, he followed the East End tradition of working in the Kent hop fields. He kept a diary about his experiences there. Afterwards, he lodged in the Tooley Street kip, but could not stand it for long, and with financial help from his parents moved to Windsor Street, where he stayed until Christmas. “Hop Picking”, by Eric Blair, appeared in the October 1931 issue of New Statesman, whose editorial staff included his old friend Cyril Connolly. Mabel Fierz put him in contact with Leonard Moore, who became his literary agent.

At this time Jonathan Cape rejected A Scullion’s Diary, the first version of Down and Out. On the advice of Richard Rees, he offered it to Faber and Faber, but their editorial director, T. S. Eliot, also rejected it. Blair ended the year by deliberately getting himself arrested,[39] so that he could experience Christmas in prison, but the authorities did not regard his “drunk and disorderly” behaviour as imprisonable, and he returned home to Southwold after two days in a police cell.

Teaching career

In April 1932 Blair became a teacher at The Hawthorns High School, a school for boys in Hayes, West London. This was a small school offering private schooling for children of local tradesmen and shopkeepers, and had only 14 or 16 boys aged between ten and sixteen, and one other master.[40] While at the school he became friendly with the curate of the local parish church and became involved with activities there. Mabel Fierz had pursued matters with Moore, and at the end of June 1932, Moore told Blair that Victor Gollancz was prepared to publish A Scullion’s Diary for a £40 advance, through his recently founded publishing house, Victor Gollancz Ltd, which was an outlet for radical and socialist works.

At the end of the summer term in 1932, Blair returned to Southwold, where his parents had used a legacy to buy their own home. Blair and his sister Avril spent the holidays making the house habitable while he also worked on Burmese Days.[41] He was also spending time with Eleanor Jacques, but her attachment to Dennis Collings remained an obstacle to his hopes of a more serious relationship.

The pen name “George Orwell” was inspired by the River Orwell in the English county of Suffolk[42]

“Clink”, an essay describing his failed attempt to get sent to prison, appeared in the August 1932 number of Adelphi. He returned to teaching at Hayes and prepared for the publication of his book, now known as Down and Out in Paris and London. He wished to publish under a different name to avoid any embarrassment to his family over his time as a “tramp”.[43] In a letter to Moore (dated 15 November 1932), he left the choice of pseudonym to Moore and to Gollancz. Four days later, he wrote to Moore, suggesting the pseudonyms P. S. Burton (a name he used when tramping), Kenneth Miles, George Orwell, and H. Lewis Allways.[44] He finally adopted the nom de plume George Orwell because, as he told Eleanor Jacques, “It is a good round English name.” Down and Out in Paris and London was published on 9 January 1933, as Orwell continued to work on Burmese Days. Down and Out was successful and was next published by Harper & Brothers in New York.

In mid-1933 Blair left Hawthorns to become a teacher at Frays College, in Uxbridge, Middlesex. This was a much larger establishment with 200 pupils and a full complement of staff. He acquired a motorcycle and took trips through the surrounding countryside. On one of these expeditions he became soaked and caught a chill that developed into pneumonia. He was taken to Uxbridge Cottage Hospital, where for a time his life was believed to be in danger. When he was discharged in January 1934, he returned to Southwold to convalesce and, supported by his parents, never returned to teaching.

He was disappointed when Gollancz turned down Burmese Days, mainly on the grounds of potential suits for libel, but Harper were prepared to publish it in the United States. Meanwhile, Blair started work on the novel A Clergyman’s Daughter, drawing upon his life as a teacher and on life in Southwold. Eleanor Jacques was now married and had gone to Singapore and Brenda Salkield had left for Ireland, so Blair was relatively isolated in Southwold – working on the allotments, walking alone and spending time with his father. Eventually in October, after sending A Clergyman’s Daughter to Moore, he left for London to take a job that had been found for him by his aunt Nellie Limouzin.

Hampstead

Orwell’s former home at 77 Parliament Hill, Hampstead, London

This job was as a part-time assistant in Booklovers’ Corner, a second-hand bookshop in Hampstead run by Francis and Myfanwy Westrope, who were friends of Nellie Limouzin in the Esperanto movement. The Westropes were friendly and provided him with comfortable accommodation at Warwick Mansions, Pond Street. He was sharing the job with Jon Kimche, who also lived with the Westropes. Blair worked at the shop in the afternoons and had his mornings free to write and his evenings free to socialise. These experiences provided background for the novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936). As well as the various guests of the Westropes, he was able to enjoy the company of Richard Rees and the Adelphi writers and Mabel Fierz. The Westropes and Kimche were members of the Independent Labour Party, although at this time Blair was not seriously politically active. He was writing for the Adelphi and preparing A Clergyman’s Daughter and Burmese Days for publication.

At the beginning of 1935 he had to move out of Warwick Mansions, and Mabel Fierz found him a flat in Parliament Hill. A Clergyman’s Daughter was published on 11 March 1935. In early 1935 Blair met his future wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy, when his landlady, Rosalind Obermeyer, who was studying for a master’s degree in psychology at University College London, invited some of her fellow students to a party. One of these students, Elizaveta Fen, a biographer and future translator of Chekhov, recalled Orwell and his friend Richard Rees “draped” at the fireplace, looking, she thought, “moth-eaten and prematurely aged.”[45] Around this time, Blair had started to write reviews for the New English Weekly.

Orwell’s time as a bookseller is commemorated with this plaque in Hampstead

In June, Burmese Days was published and Cyril Connolly’s review in the New Statesman prompted Orwell (as he then became known) to re-establish contact with his old friend. In August, he moved into a flat in Kentish Town, which he shared with Michael Sayers and Rayner Heppenstall. The relationship was sometimes awkward and Orwell and Heppenstall even came to blows, though they remained friends and later worked together on BBC broadcasts.[46] Orwell was now working on Keep the Aspidistra Flying, and also tried unsuccessfully to write a serial for the News Chronicle. By October 1935 his flatmates had moved out and he was struggling to pay the rent on his own. He remained until the end of January 1936, when he stopped working at Booklovers’ Corner.

The Road to Wigan Pier

At this time, Victor Gollancz suggested Orwell spend a short time investigating social conditions in economically depressed northern England.[n 2] Two years earlier J. B. Priestley had written about England north of the Trent, sparking an interest in reportage. The depression had also introduced a number of working-class writers from the North of England to the reading public.

On 31 January 1936, Orwell set out by public transport and on foot, reaching Manchester via Coventry, Stafford, the Potteries and Macclesfield. Arriving in Manchester after the banks had closed, he had to stay in a common lodging-house. The next day he picked up a list of contacts sent by Richard Rees. One of these, the trade union official Frank Meade, suggested Wigan, where Orwell spent February staying in dirty lodgings over a tripe shop. At Wigan, he visited many homes to see how people lived, took detailed notes of housing conditions and wages earned, went down Bryn Hall coal mine, and used the local public library to consult public health records and reports on working conditions in mines.

During this time, he was distracted by concerns about style and possible libel in Keep the Aspidistra Flying. He made a quick visit to Liverpool and during March, stayed in south Yorkshire, spending time in Sheffield and Barnsley. As well as visiting mines, including Grimethorpe, and observing social conditions, he attended meetings of the Communist Party and of Oswald Mosley – “his speech the usual claptrap – The blame for everything was put upon mysterious international gangs of Jews” – where he saw the tactics of the Blackshirts – “one is liable to get both a hammering and a fine for asking a question which Mosley finds it difficult to answer.”[48] He also made visits to his sister at Headingley, during which he visited the Brontë Parsonage at Haworth, where he was “chiefly impressed by a pair of Charlotte Brontë‘s cloth-topped boots, very small, with square toes and lacing up at the sides.”[49]

A former warehouse at Wigan Pier is named after Orwell

No 2 Kits Lane, Wallington, Hertfordshire. Orwell’s residence c. 1936–1940

The result of his journeys through the north was The Road to Wigan Pier, published by Gollancz for the Left Book Club in 1937. The first half of the book documents his social investigations of Lancashire and Yorkshire, including an evocative description of working life in the coal mines. The second half is a long essay on his upbringing and the development of his political conscience, which includes an argument for Socialism (although he goes to lengths to balance the concerns and goals of Socialism with the barriers it faced from the movement’s own advocates at the time, such as ‘priggish’ and ‘dull’ Socialist intellectuals, and ‘proletarian’ Socialists with little grasp of the actual ideology). Gollancz feared the second half would offend readers and added a disculpatory preface to the book while Orwell was in Spain.

Orwell needed somewhere he could concentrate on writing his book, and once again help was provided by Aunt Nellie, who was living at Wallington, Hertfordshire in a very small 16th-century cottage called the “Stores”. Wallington was a tiny village 35 miles north of London, and the cottage had almost no modern facilities. Orwell took over the tenancy and moved in on 2 April 1936.[50] He started work on The Road to Wigan Pier by the end of April, but also spent hours working on the garden and testing the possibility of reopening the Stores as a village shop. Keep the Aspidistra Flying was published by Gollancz on 20 April 1936. On 4 August Orwell gave a talk at the Adelphi Summer School held at Langham, entitled An Outsider Sees the Distressed Areas; others who spoke at the school included John Strachey, Max Plowman, Karl Polanyi and Reinhold Niebuhr.

Orwell’s research for The Road to Wigan Pier led to him being placed under surveillance by the Special Branch from 1936, for 12 years, until one year before the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four.[51]

Orwell married Eileen O’Shaughnessy on 9 June 1936. Shortly afterwards, the political crisis began in Spain and Orwell followed developments there closely. At the end of the year, concerned by Francisco Franco‘s military uprising, (supported by Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and local groups such as Falange), Orwell decided to go to Spain to take part in the Spanish Civil War on the Republican side. Under the erroneous impression that he needed papers from some left-wing organisation to cross the frontier, on John Strachey‘s recommendation he applied unsuccessfully to Harry Pollitt, leader of the British Communist Party. Pollitt was suspicious of Orwell’s political reliability; he asked him whether he would undertake to join the International Brigade and advised him to get a safe-conduct from the Spanish Embassy in Paris.[52] Not wishing to commit himself until he had seen the situation in situ, Orwell instead used his Independent Labour Party contacts to get a letter of introduction to John McNair in Barcelona.

The Spanish Civil War

The square in Barcelona renamed in Orwell’s honour

Orwell set out for Spain on about 23 December 1936, dining with Henry Miller in Paris on the way. The American writer told Orwell that going to fight in the Civil War out of some sense of obligation or guilt was ‘sheer stupidity,’ and that the Englishman’s ideas ‘about combating Fascism, defending democracy, etc., etc., were all baloney.’[53] A few days later, in Barcelona, Orwell met John McNair of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) Office who quoted him: “I’ve come to fight against Fascism”.[54] Orwell stepped into a complex political situation in Catalonia. The Republican government was supported by a number of factions with conflicting aims, including the Workers’ Party of Marxist Unification (POUM – Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista), the anarcho-syndicalist Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) and the Unified Socialist Party of Catalonia (a wing of the Spanish Communist Party, which was backed by Soviet arms and aid). The ILP was linked to the POUM so Orwell joined the POUM.

After a time at the Lenin Barracks in Barcelona he was sent to the relatively quiet Aragon Front under Georges Kopp. By January 1937 he was at Alcubierre 1,500 feet (460 m) above sea level, in the depth of winter. There was very little military action, and Orwell was shocked by the lack of munitions, food, and firewood, and other extreme deprivations.[55] Orwell, with his Cadet Corps and police training, was quickly made a corporal. On the arrival of a British ILP Contingent about three weeks later, Orwell and the other English militiaman, Williams, were sent with them to Monte Oscuro. The newly arrived ILP contingent included Bob Smillie, Bob Edwards, Stafford Cottman and Jack Branthwaite. The unit was then sent on to Huesca.

Meanwhile, back in England, Eileen had been handling the issues relating to the publication of The Road to Wigan Pier before setting out for Spain herself, leaving Nellie Limouzin to look after The Stores. Eileen volunteered for a post in John McNair’s office and with the help of Georges Kopp paid visits to her husband, bringing him English tea, chocolate, and cigars.[56] Orwell had to spend some days in hospital with a poisoned hand[57] and had most of his possessions stolen by the staff. He returned to the front and saw some action in a night attack on the Nationalist trenches where he chased an enemy soldier with a bayonet and bombed an enemy rifle position.

In April, Orwell returned to Barcelona.[57] Wanting to be sent to the Madrid front, which meant he “must join the International Column”, he approached a Communist friend attached to the Spanish Medical Aid and explained his case. “Although he did not think much of the Communists, Orwell was still ready to treat them as friends and allies. That would soon change.”[58] This was the time of the Barcelona May Days and Orwell was caught up in the factional fighting. He spent much of the time on a roof, with a stack of novels, but encountered Jon Kimche from his Hampstead days during the stay. The subsequent campaign of lies and distortion carried out by the Communist press,[59] in which the POUM was accused of collaborating with the fascists, had a dramatic effect on Orwell. Instead of joining the International Brigades as he had intended, he decided to return to the Aragon Front. Once the May fighting was over, he was approached by a Communist friend who asked if he still intended transferring to the International Brigades. Orwell expressed surprise that they should still want him, because according to the Communist press he was a fascist.[60] “No one who was in Barcelona then, or for months later, will forget the horrible atmosphere produced by fear, suspicion, hatred, censored newspapers, crammed jails, enormous food queues and prowling gangs of armed men.”[61]

After his return to the front, he was wounded in the throat by a sniper’s bullet. At 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) Orwell was considerably taller than the Spanish fighters[62] and had been warned against standing against the trench parapet. Unable to speak, and with blood pouring from his mouth, Orwell was carried on a stretcher to Siétamo, loaded on an ambulance and after a bumpy journey via Barbastro arrived at the hospital at Lérida. He recovered sufficiently to get up and on 27 May 1937 was sent on to Tarragona and two days later to a POUM sanatorium in the suburbs of Barcelona. The bullet had missed his main artery by the barest margin and his voice was barely audible. It had been such a clean shot that the wound immediately went through the process of cauterisation. He received electrotherapy treatment and was declared medically unfit for service.[63]

By the middle of June the political situation in Barcelona had deteriorated and the POUM – painted by the pro-Soviet Communists as a Trotskyist organisation – was outlawed and under attack. The Communist line was that the POUM were “objectively” Fascist, hindering the Republican cause. “A particularly nasty poster appeared, showing a head with a POUM mask being ripped off to reveal a Swastika-covered face beneath.”[64] Members, including Kopp, were arrested and others were in hiding. Orwell and his wife were under threat and had to lie low,[n 3] although they broke cover to try to help Kopp.

Finally with their passports in order, they escaped from Spain by train, diverting to Banyuls-sur-Mer for a short stay before returning to England. In the first week of July 1937 Orwell arrived back at Wallington; on 13 July 1937 a deposition was presented to the Tribunal for Espionage & High Treason, Valencia, charging the Orwells with “rabid Trotskyism“, and being agents of the POUM.[65] The trial of the leaders of the POUM and of Orwell (in his absence) took place in Barcelona in October and November 1938. Observing events from French Morocco, Orwell wrote that they were ” – only a by-product of the Russian Trotskyist trials and from the start every kind of lie, including flagrant absurdities, has been circulated in the Communist press.”[66] Orwell’s experiences in the Spanish Civil War gave rise to Homage to Catalonia (1938).

Rest and recuperation

Laurence O’Shaughnessy’s former home, the large house on the corner, 24 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, London[67]

Orwell returned to England in June 1937, and stayed at the O’Shaughnessy home at Greenwich. He found his views on the Spanish Civil War out of favour. Kingsley Martin rejected two of his works and Gollancz was equally cautious. At the same time, the communist Daily Worker was running an attack on The Road to Wigan Pier, misquoting Orwell as saying “the working classes smell”; a letter to Gollancz from Orwell threatening libel action brought a stop to this. Orwell was also able to find a more sympathetic publisher for his views in Frederic Warburg of Secker & Warburg. Orwell returned to Wallington, which he found in disarray after his absence. He acquired goats, a rooster he called “Henry Ford”, and a poodle puppy he called “Marx”[68][69][70] and settled down to animal husbandry and writing Homage to Catalonia.

There were thoughts of going to India to work on the Pioneer, a newspaper in Lucknow, but by March 1938 Orwell’s health had deteriorated. He was admitted to Preston Hall Sanatorium at Aylesford, Kent, a British Legion hospital for ex-servicemen to which his brother-in-law Laurence O’Shaughnessy was attached. He was thought initially to be suffering from tuberculosis and stayed in the sanatorium until September. A stream of visitors came to see him including Common, Heppenstall, Plowman and Cyril Connolly. Connolly brought with him Stephen Spender, a cause of some embarrassment as Orwell had referred to Spender as a “pansy friend” some time earlier. Homage to Catalonia was published by Secker & Warburg and was a commercial flop. In the latter part of his stay at the clinic Orwell was able to go for walks in the countryside and study nature.

The novelist L. H. Myers secretly funded a trip to French Morocco for half a year for Orwell to avoid the English winter and recover his health. The Orwells set out in September 1938 via Gibraltar and Tangier to avoid Spanish Morocco and arrived at Marrakech. They rented a villa on the road to Casablanca and during that time Orwell wrote Coming Up for Air. They arrived back in England on 30 March 1939 and Coming Up for Air was published in June. Orwell spent time in Wallington and Southwold working on a Dickens essay and it was in July 1939 that Orwell’s father, Richard Blair, died.

Second World War and Animal Farm

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Orwell’s wife Eileen started working in the Censorship Department of the Ministry of Information in central London, staying during the week with her family in Greenwich. Orwell also submitted his name to the Central Register for war work, but nothing transpired. “They won’t have me in the army, at any rate at present, because of my lungs”, Orwell told Geoffrey Gorer. He returned to Wallington, and in late 1939 he wrote material for his first collection of essays, Inside the Whale. For the next year he was occupied writing reviews for plays, films and books for The Listener, Time and Tide and New Adelphi. On 29 March 1940 his long association with Tribune began[71] with a review of a sergeant’s account of Napoleon‘s retreat from Moscow. At the beginning of 1940, the first edition of Connolly’s Horizon appeared, and this provided a new outlet for Orwell’s work as well as new literary contacts. In May the Orwells took lease of a flat in London at Dorset Chambers, Chagford Street, Marylebone. It was the time of the Dunkirk evacuation and the death in France of Eileen’s brother Lawrence caused her considerable grief and long-term depression. Throughout this period Orwell kept a wartime diary.

Orwell was declared “unfit for any kind of military service” by the Medical Board in June, but soon afterwards found an opportunity to become involved in war activities by joining the Home Guard. He shared Tom Wintringham‘s socialist vision for the Home Guard as a revolutionary People’s Militia. His lecture notes for instructing platoon members include advice on street fighting, field fortifications, and the use of mortars of various kinds. Sergeant Orwell managed to recruit Frederic Warburg to his unit. During the Battle of Britain he used to spend weekends with Warburg and his new Zionist friend, Tosco Fyvel, at Warburg’s house at Twyford, Berkshire. At Wallington he worked on “England Your England” and in London wrote reviews for various periodicals. Visiting Eileen’s family in Greenwich brought him face-to-face with the effects of the blitz on East London. In mid-1940, Warburg, Fyvel and Orwell planned Searchlight Books. Eleven volumes eventually appeared, of which Orwell’s The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius, published on 19 February 1941, was the first.[72]

Early in 1941 he started writing for the American Partisan Review which linked Orwell with The New York Intellectuals, like him anti-Stalinist, but committed to staying on the Left,[73] and contributed to Gollancz anthology The Betrayal of the Left, written in the light of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (although Orwell referred to it as the Russo-German Pact and the Hitler-Stalin Pact[74]). He also applied unsuccessfully for a job at the Air Ministry. Meanwhile, he was still writing reviews of books and plays and at this time met the novelist Anthony Powell. He also took part in a few radio broadcasts for the Eastern Service of the BBC. In March the Orwells moved to a seventh-floor flat at Langford Court, St John’s Wood, while at Wallington Orwell was “digging for victory” by planting potatoes.

One could not have a better example of the moral and emotional shallowness of our time, than the fact that we are now all more or less pro Stalin. This disgusting murderer is temporarily on our side, and so the purges, etc., are suddenly forgotten.

— George Orwell, in his war-time diary, 3 July 1941[75]

In August 1941, Orwell finally obtained “war work” when he was taken on full-time by the BBC’s Eastern Service. He supervised cultural broadcasts to India to counter propaganda from Nazi Germany designed to undermine Imperial links. This was Orwell’s first experience of the rigid conformity of life in an office, and it gave him an opportunity to create cultural programmes with contributions from T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, E. M. Forster, Ahmed Ali, Mulk Raj Anand, and William Empson among others.

At the end of August he had a dinner with H. G. Wells which degenerated into a row because Wells had taken offence at observations Orwell made about him in a Horizon article. In October Orwell had a bout of bronchitis and the illness recurred frequently. David Astor was looking for a provocative contributor for The Observer and invited Orwell to write for him – the first article appearing in March 1942. In early 1942 Eileen changed jobs to work at the Ministry of Food and in mid-1942 the Orwells moved to a larger flat, a ground floor and basement, 10a Mortimer Crescent in Maida Vale/Kilburn – “the kind of lower-middle-class ambience that Orwell thought was London at its best.” Around the same time Orwell’s mother and sister Avril, who had found work in a sheet-metal factory behind Kings Cross Station, moved into a flat close to George and Eileen.[76]

Orwell at the BBC in 1941. Despite having spoken on many broadcasts, no recordings of Orwell’s voice are known to survive.[77][78][79]

At the BBC, Orwell introduced Voice, a literary programme for his Indian broadcasts, and by now was leading an active social life with literary friends, particularly on the political left. Late in 1942, he started writing regularly for the left-wing weekly Tribune[80]:306[81]:441 directed by Labour MPs Aneurin Bevan and George Strauss. In March 1943 Orwell’s mother died and around the same time he told Moore he was starting work on a new book, which turned out to be Animal Farm.

In September 1943, Orwell resigned from the BBC post that he had occupied for two years.[82]:352 His resignation followed a report confirming his fears that few Indians listened to the broadcasts,[83] but he was also keen to concentrate on writing Animal Farm. Just six days before his last day of service, on 24 November 1943, his adaptation of the fairy tale, Hans Christian Andersen‘s The Emperor’s New Clothes was broadcast. It was a genre in which he was greatly interested and which appeared on Animal Farms title-page.[84] At this time he also resigned from the Home Guard on medical grounds.[85]

In November 1943, Orwell was appointed literary editor at Tribune, where his assistant was his old friend Jon Kimche. Orwell was on staff until early 1945, writing over 80 book reviews[86] and on 3 December 1943 started his regular personal column, “As I Please“, usually addressing three or four subjects in each.[87] He was still writing reviews for other magazines, including Partisan Review, Horizon, and the New York Nation and becoming a respected pundit among left-wing circles but also a close friend of people on the right such as Powell, Astor and Malcolm Muggeridge. By April 1944 Animal Farm was ready for publication. Gollancz refused to publish it, considering it an attack on the Soviet regime which was a crucial ally in the war. A similar fate was met from other publishers (including T. S. Eliot at Faber and Faber) until Jonathan Cape agreed to take it.

In May the Orwells had the opportunity to adopt a child, thanks to the contacts of Eileen’s sister Gwen O’Shaughnessy, then a doctor in Newcastle upon Tyne. In June a V-1 flying bomb struck Mortimer Crescent and the Orwells had to find somewhere else to live. Orwell had to scrabble around in the rubble for his collection of books, which he had finally managed to transfer from Wallington, carting them away in a wheelbarrow.

Another bombshell was Cape’s reversal of his plan to publish Animal Farm. The decision followed his personal visit to Peter Smollett, an official at the Ministry of Information. Smollett was later identified as a Soviet agent.[88][89]

The Orwells spent some time in the North East, near Carlton, County Durham, dealing with matters in the adoption of a boy whom they named Richard Horatio Blair.[90] By September 1944 they had set up home in Islington, at 27b Canonbury Square.[91] Baby Richard joined them there, and Eileen gave up her work at the Ministry of Food to look after her family. Secker & Warburg had agreed to publish Animal Farm, planned for the following March, although it did not appear in print until August 1945. By February 1945 David Astor had invited Orwell to become a war correspondent for the Observer. Orwell had been looking for the opportunity throughout the war, but his failed medical reports prevented him from being allowed anywhere near action. He went to Paris after the liberation of France and to Cologne once it had been occupied by the Allies.

It was while he was there that Eileen went into hospital for a hysterectomy and died under anaesthetic on 29 March 1945. She had not given Orwell much notice about this operation because of worries about the cost and because she expected to make a speedy recovery. Orwell returned home for a while and then went back to Europe. He returned finally to London to cover the 1945 general election at the beginning of July. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story was published in Britain on 17 August 1945, and a year later in the US, on 26 August 1946.

Jura and Nineteen Eighty-Four

Animal Farm struck a particular resonance in the post-war climate and its worldwide success made Orwell a sought-after figure.

For the next four years Orwell mixed journalistic work – mainly for Tribune, The Observer and the Manchester Evening News, though he also contributed to many small-circulation political and literary magazines – with writing his best-known work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in 1949.

Barnhill on the Isle of Jura off the west coast of Scotland

In the year following Eileen’s death he published around 130 articles and a selection of his Critical Essays, while remaining active in various political lobbying campaigns. He employed a housekeeper, Susan Watson, to look after his adopted son at the Islington flat, which visitors now described as “bleak”. In September he spent a fortnight on the island of Jura in the Inner Hebrides and saw it as a place to escape from the hassle of London literary life. David Astor was instrumental in arranging a place for Orwell on Jura.[92] Astor’s family owned Scottish estates in the area and a fellow Old Etonian Robin Fletcher had a property on the island. In late 1945 and early 1946 Orwell made several hopeless and unwelcome marriage proposals to younger women, including Celia Kirwan (who was later to become Arthur Koestler‘s sister-in-law), Ann Popham who happened to live in the same block of flats and Sonia Brownell, one of Connolly’s coterie at the Horizon office. Orwell suffered a tubercular haemorrhage in February 1946 but disguised his illness. In 1945 or early 1946, while still living at Canonbury Square, Orwell wrote an article on “British Cookery”, complete with recipes, commissioned by the British Council. Given the post-war shortages, both parties agreed not to publish it.[93] His sister Marjorie died of kidney disease in May and shortly after, on 22 May 1946, Orwell set off to live on the Isle of Jura.

Barnhill[94] was an abandoned farmhouse with outbuildings near the northern end of the island, situated at the end of a five-mile (8 km), heavily rutted track from Ardlussa, where the owners lived. Conditions at the farmhouse were primitive but the natural history and the challenge of improving the place appealed to Orwell. His sister Avril accompanied him there and young novelist Paul Potts made up the party. In July Susan Watson arrived with Orwell’s son Richard. Tensions developed and Potts departed after one of his manuscripts was used to light the fire. Orwell meanwhile set to work on Nineteen Eighty-Four. Later Susan Watson’s boyfriend David Holbrook arrived. A fan of Orwell since school days, he found the reality very different, with Orwell hostile and disagreeable probably because of Holbrook’s membership of the Communist Party.[95] Susan Watson could no longer stand being with Avril and she and her boyfriend left.

Orwell returned to London in late 1946 and picked up his literary journalism again. Now a well-known writer, he was swamped with work. Apart from a visit to Jura in the new year he stayed in London for one of the coldest British winters on record and with such a national shortage of fuel that he burnt his furniture and his child’s toys. The heavy smog in the days before the Clean Air Act 1956 did little to help his health about which he was reticent, keeping clear of medical attention. Meanwhile, he had to cope with rival claims of publishers Gollancz and Warburg for publishing rights. About this time he co-edited a collection titled British Pamphleteers with Reginald Reynolds. As a result of the success of Animal Farm, Orwell was expecting a large bill from the Inland Revenue and he contacted a firm of accountants of which the senior partner was Jack Harrison. The firm advised Orwell to establish a company to own his copyright and to receive his royalties and set up a “service agreement” so that he could draw a salary. Such a company “George Orwell Productions Ltd” (GOP Ltd) was set up on 12 September 1947 although the service agreement was not then put into effect. Jack Harrison left the details at this stage to junior colleagues.[96]

Orwell left London for Jura on 10 April 1947.[8] In July he ended the lease on the Wallington cottage.[97] Back on Jura he worked on Nineteen Eighty-Four and made good progress. During that time his sister’s family visited, and Orwell led a disastrous boating expedition, on 19 August,[98] which nearly led to loss of life whilst trying to cross the notorious gulf of Corryvreckan and gave him a soaking which was not good for his health. In December a chest specialist was summoned from Glasgow who pronounced Orwell seriously ill and a week before Christmas 1947 he was in Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, then a small village in the countryside, on the outskirts of Glasgow. Tuberculosis was diagnosed and the request for permission to import streptomycin to treat Orwell went as far as Aneurin Bevan, then Minister of Health. David Astor helped with supply and payment and Orwell began his course of streptomycin on 19 or 20 February 1948.[99] By the end of July 1948 Orwell was able to return to Jura and by December he had finished the manuscript of Nineteen Eighty-Four. In January 1949, in a very weak condition, he set off for a sanatorium at Cranham, Gloucestershire, escorted by Richard Rees.

The sanatorium at Cranham consisted of a series of small wooden chalets or huts in a remote part of the Cotswolds near Stroud. Visitors were shocked by Orwell’s appearance and concerned by the short-comings and ineffectiveness of the treatment. Friends were worried about his finances, but by now he was comparatively well-off. He was writing to many of his friends, including Jacintha Buddicom, who had “rediscovered” him, and in March 1949, was visited by Celia Kirwan. Kirwan had just started working for a Foreign Office unit, the Information Research Department, set up by the Labour government to publish anti-communist propaganda, and Orwell gave her a list of people he considered to be unsuitable as IRD authors because of their pro-communist leanings. Orwell’s list, not published until 2003, consisted mainly of writers but also included actors and Labour MPs.[88][100] Orwell received more streptomycin treatment and improved slightly. In June 1949 Nineteen Eighty-Four was published to immediate critical and popular acclaim.

Final months and death

University College Hospital in London where Orwell died

Orwell’s health had continued to decline since the diagnosis of tuberculosis in December 1947. In mid-1949, he courted Sonia Brownell, and they announced their engagement in September, shortly before he was removed to University College Hospital in London. Sonia took charge of Orwell’s affairs and attended him diligently in the hospital, causing concern to some old friends such as Muggeridge. In September 1949, Orwell invited his accountant Harrison to visit him in hospital, and Harrison claimed that Orwell then asked him to become director of GOP Ltd and to manage the company, but there was no independent witness.[96] Orwell’s wedding took place in the hospital room on 13 October 1949, with David Astor as best man.[101] Orwell was in decline and visited by an assortment of visitors including Muggeridge, Connolly, Lucian Freud, Stephen Spender, Evelyn Waugh, Paul Potts, Anthony Powell, and his Eton tutor Anthony Gow.[8] Plans to go to the Swiss Alps were mooted. Further meetings were held with his accountant, at which Harrison and Mr and Mrs Blair were confirmed as directors of the company, and at which Harrison claimed that the “service agreement” was executed, giving copyright to the company.[96] Orwell’s health was in decline again by Christmas. On the evening of 20 January 1950, Potts visited Orwell and slipped away on finding him asleep. Jack Harrison visited later and claimed that Orwell gave him 25% of the company.[96] Early on the morning of 21 January, an artery burst in Orwell’s lungs, killing him at age 46.[102]

Orwell had requested to be buried in accordance with the Anglican rite in the graveyard of the closest church to wherever he happened to die. The graveyards in central London had no space, and fearing that he might have to be cremated against his wishes, his widow appealed to his friends to see whether any of them knew of a church with space in its graveyard.

George Orwell’s grave in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire

David Astor lived in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, and arranged for Orwell to be interred in All Saints’ Churchyard there.[103] Orwell’s gravestone bears the simple epitaph: “Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born June 25th 1903, died January 21st 1950”; no mention is made on the gravestone of his more famous pen name.

Orwell’s son, Richard Horatio Blair, was brought up by Orwell’s sister Avril. He maintains a public profile as patron of the Orwell Society.[104] He gives interviews about the few memories he has of his father.

In 1979, Sonia Brownell brought a High Court action against Harrison, who had in the meantime transferred 75% of the company’s voting stock to himself and had dissipated much of the value of the company. She was considered to have a strong case, but was becoming increasingly ill and eventually was persuaded to settle out of court on 2 November 1980. She died on 11 December 1980, aged 62.[96]

Literary career and legacy

During most of his career, Orwell was best known for his journalism, in essays, reviews, columns in newspapers and magazines and in his books of reportage: Down and Out in Paris and London (describing a period of poverty in these cities), The Road to Wigan Pier (describing the living conditions of the poor in northern England, and class division generally) and Homage to Catalonia. According to Irving Howe, Orwell was “the best English essayist since Hazlitt, perhaps since Dr Johnson.”[105]

Modern readers are more often introduced to Orwell as a novelist, particularly through his enormously successful titles Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four. The former is often thought to reflect degeneration in the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution and the rise of Stalinism; the latter, life under totalitarian rule. Nineteen Eighty-Four is often compared to Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; both are powerful dystopian novels warning of a future world where the state machine exerts complete control over social life. In 1984, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Ray Bradbury‘s Fahrenheit 451 were honoured with the Prometheus Award for their contributions to dystopian literature. In 2011 he received it again for Animal Farm.

Coming Up for Air, his last novel before World War II is the most “English” of his novels; alarms of war mingle with images of idyllic Thames-side Edwardian childhood of protagonist George Bowling. The novel is pessimistic; industrialism and capitalism have killed the best of Old England, and there were great, new external threats. In homely terms, Bowling posits the totalitarian hypotheses of Borkenau, Orwell, Silone and Koestler: “Old Hitler’s something different. So’s Joe Stalin. They aren’t like these chaps in the old days who crucified people and chopped their heads off and so forth, just for the fun of it … They’re something quite new – something that’s never been heard of before”.

Literary influences

In an autobiographical piece that Orwell sent to the editors of Twentieth Century Authors in 1940, he wrote: “The writers I care about most and never grow tired of are: Shakespeare, Swift, Fielding, Dickens, Charles Reade, Flaubert and, among modern writers, James Joyce, T. S. Eliot and D. H. Lawrence. But I believe the modern writer who has influenced me most is W. Somerset Maugham, whom I admire immensely for his power of telling a story straightforwardly and without frills.” Elsewhere, Orwell strongly praised the works of Jack London, especially his book The Road. Orwell’s investigation of poverty in The Road to Wigan Pier strongly resembles that of Jack London’s The People of the Abyss, in which the American journalist disguises himself as an out-of-work sailor to investigate the lives of the poor in London. In his essay “Politics vs. Literature: An Examination of Gulliver’s Travels” (1946) Orwell wrote: “If I had to make a list of six books which were to be preserved when all others were destroyed, I would certainly put Gulliver’s Travels among them.”

Other writers admired by Orwell included: Ralph Waldo Emerson, George Gissing, Graham Greene, Herman Melville, Henry Miller, Tobias Smollett, Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad and Yevgeny Zamyatin.[106] He was both an admirer and a critic of Rudyard Kipling,[107][108] praising Kipling as a gifted writer and a “good bad poet” whose work is “spurious” and “morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting,” but undeniably seductive and able to speak to certain aspects of reality more effectively than more enlightened authors.[109] He had a similarly ambivalent attitude to G. K. Chesterton, whom he regarded as a writer of considerable talent who had chosen to devote himself to “Roman Catholic propaganda”.[110]

Orwell as literary critic

Throughout his life Orwell continually supported himself as a book reviewer, writing works so long and sophisticated they have had an influence on literary criticism. He wrote in the conclusion to his 1940 essay on Charles Dickens,

When one reads any strongly individual piece of writing, one has the impression of seeing a face somewhere behind the page. It is not necessarily the actual face of the writer. I feel this very strongly with Swift, with Defoe, with Fielding, Stendhal, Thackeray, Flaubert, though in several cases I do not know what these people looked like and do not want to know. What one sees is the face that the writer ought to have. Well, in the case of Dickens I see a face that is not quite the face of Dickens’s photographs, though it resembles it. It is the face of a man of about forty, with a small beard and a high colour. He is laughing, with a touch of anger in his laughter, but no triumph, no malignity. It is the face of a man who is always fighting against something, but who fights in the open and is not frightened, the face of a man who is generously angry – in other words, of a nineteenth-century liberal, a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.

George Woodcock suggested that the last two sentences characterised Orwell as much as his subject.[111]

Orwell wrote a critique of George Bernard Shaw‘s play Arms and the Man. He considered this Shaw’s best play and the most likely to remain socially relevant, because of its theme that war is not, generally speaking, a glorious romantic adventure. His 1945 essay In Defense of P.G. Wodehouse contains an amusing assessment of his writing and also argues that his broadcasts from Germany (during the war) did not really make him a traitor. He accused The Ministry of Information of exaggerating Wodehouse’s actions for propaganda purposes.

Reception and evaluations of Orwell’s works

Arthur Koestler mentioned Orwell’s “uncompromising intellectual honesty [which] made him appear almost inhuman at times.”[112] Ben Wattenberg stated: “Orwell’s writing pierced intellectual hypocrisy wherever he found it.”[113] According to historian Piers Brendon, “Orwell was the saint of common decency who would in earlier days, said his BBC boss Rushbrook Williams, ‘have been either canonised – or burnt at the stake'”.[114] Raymond Williams in Politics and Letters: Interviews with New Left Review describes Orwell as a “successful impersonation of a plain man who bumps into experience in an unmediated way and tells the truth about it.”[115] Christopher Norris declared that Orwell’s “homespun empiricist outlook – his assumption that the truth was just there to be told in a straightforward common-sense way – now seems not merely naïve but culpably self-deluding”.[116] The American scholar Scott Lucas has described Orwell[117] as an enemy of the Left. John Newsinger has argued[118] that Lucas could only do this by portraying “all of Orwell’s attacks on Stalinism [-] as if they were attacks on socialism, despite Orwell’s continued insistence that they were not.”

Orwell’s work has taken a prominent place in the school literature curriculum in England,[119] with Animal Farm a regular examination topic at the end of secondary education (GCSE), and Nineteen Eighty-Four a topic for subsequent examinations below university level (A Levels). Alan Brown noted that this brings to the forefront questions about the political content of teaching practices. Study aids, in particular with potted biographies, might be seen to help propagate the Orwell myth so that as an embodiment of human values he is presented as a “trustworthy guide”, while examination questions sometimes suggest a “right ways of answering” in line with the myth.[120][clarification needed]

Historian John Rodden stated: “John Podhoretz did claim that if Orwell were alive today, he’d be standing with the neo-conservatives and against the Left. And the question arises, to what extent can you even begin to predict the political positions of somebody who’s been dead three decades and more by that time?”[113]

In Orwell’s Victory, Christopher Hitchens argues, “In answer to the accusation of inconsistency Orwell as a writer was forever taking his own temperature. In other words, here was someone who never stopped testing and adjusting his intelligence”.[121]

John Rodden points out the “undeniable conservative features in the Orwell physiognomy” and remarks on how “to some extent Orwell facilitated the kinds of uses and abuses by the Right that his name has been put to. In other ways there has been the politics of selective quotation.”[113] Rodden refers to the essay “Why I Write“, in which Orwell refers to the Spanish Civil War as being his “watershed political experience”, saying “The Spanish War and other events in 1936–37, turned the scale. Thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against totalitarianism and for Democratic Socialism as I understand it.” (emphasis in original)[113] Rodden goes on to explain how, during the McCarthy era, the introduction to the Signet edition of Animal Farm, which sold more than 20 million copies, makes use of “the politics of ellipsis”:

If the book itself, Animal Farm, had left any doubt of the matter, Orwell dispelled it in his essay Why I Write: ‘Every line of serious work that I’ve written since 1936 has been written directly or indirectly against Totalitarianism … dot, dot, dot, dot.’ “For Democratic Socialism” is vaporised, just like Winston Smith did it at the Ministry of Truth, and that’s very much what happened at the beginning of the McCarthy era and just continued, Orwell being selectively quoted.[113]

Fyvel wrote about Orwell: “His crucial experience … was his struggle to turn himself into a writer, one which led through long periods of poverty, failure and humiliation, and about which he has written almost nothing directly. The sweat and agony was less in the slum-life than in the effort to turn the experience into literature.”[122][123]

In October 2015 Finlay Publisher, for the Orwell Society, published George Orwell ‘The Complete Poetry’, compiled and presented by Dione Venables.[124]

Influence on language and writing

In his essay “Politics and the English Language” (1946), Orwell wrote about the importance of precise and clear language, arguing that vague writing can be used as a powerful tool of political manipulation because it shapes the way we think. In that essay, Orwell provides six rules for writers:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.[125]

Andrew N. Rubin argues, “Orwell claimed that we should be attentive to how the use of language has limited our capacity for critical thought just as we should be equally concerned with the ways in which dominant modes of thinking have reshaped the very language that we use.”[126]

The adjective Orwellian connotes an attitude and a policy of control by propaganda, surveillance, misinformation, denial of truth, and manipulation of the past. In Nineteen Eighty-Four Orwell described a totalitarian government that controlled thought by controlling language, making certain ideas literally unthinkable. Several words and phrases from Nineteen Eighty-Four have entered popular language. Newspeak is a simplified and obfuscatory language designed to make independent thought impossible. Doublethink means holding two contradictory beliefs simultaneously. The Thought Police are those who suppress all dissenting opinion. Prolefeed is homogenised, manufactured superficial literature, film and music, used to control and indoctrinate the populace through docility. Big Brother is a supreme dictator who watches everyone.

Orwell may have been the first to use the term cold war to refer to the state of tension between powers in the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc that followed the Second World War, in his essay, “You and the Atom Bomb”, published in Tribune, 19 October 1945. He wrote:

We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. James Burnham‘s theory has been much discussed, but few people have yet considered its ideological implications – this is, the kind of world-view, the kind of beliefs, and the social structure that would probably prevail in a State which was at once unconquerable and in a permanent state of ‘cold war’ with its neighbours.[127]

Museum

In 2014 it was announced that Orwell’s birthplace, a bungalow in Motihari, Bihar, in India would become the world’s first Orwell museum.[10][128]

Modern Culture

In 2014 a play written by playwright Joe Sutton titled Orwell in America was first performed. It is a fictitious account of Orwell doing a book tour in America (something he never did in his lifetime). It moved to Off-Broadway in 2016.[129]

Personal life

Childhood

Jacintha Buddicom‘s account Eric & Us provides an insight into Blair’s childhood.[130] She quoted his sister Avril that “he was essentially an aloof, undemonstrative person” and said herself of his friendship with the Buddicoms: “I do not think he needed any other friends beyond the schoolfriend he occasionally and appreciatively referred to as ‘CC'”. She could not recall his having schoolfriends to stay and exchange visits as her brother Prosper often did in holidays.[131] Cyril Connolly provides an account of Blair as a child in Enemies of Promise.[23] Years later, Blair mordantly recalled his prep school in the essay “Such, Such Were the Joys“, claiming among other things that he “was made to study like a dog” to earn a scholarship, which he alleged was solely to enhance the school’s prestige with parents. Jacintha Buddicom repudiated Orwell’s schoolboy misery described in the essay, stating that “he was a specially happy child”. She noted that he did not like his name, because it reminded him of a book he greatly disliked – Eric, or, Little by Little, a Victorian boys’ school story.[132]

Connolly remarked of him as a schoolboy, “The remarkable thing about Orwell was that alone among the boys he was an intellectual and not a parrot for he thought for himself”.[23] At Eton, John Vaughan Wilkes, his former headmaster’s son recalled, “… he was extremely argumentative – about anything – and criticising the masters and criticising the other boys … We enjoyed arguing with him. He would generally win the arguments – or think he had anyhow.”[133] Roger Mynors concurs: “Endless arguments about all sorts of things, in which he was one of the great leaders. He was one of those boys who thought for himself …”[134]

Blair liked to carry out practical jokes. Buddicom recalls him swinging from the luggage rack in a railway carriage like an orangutan to frighten a woman passenger out of the compartment.[14] At Eton he played tricks on John Crace, his Master in College, among which was to enter a spoof advertisement in a College magazine implying pederasty.[135] Gow, his tutor, said he “made himself as big a nuisance as he could” and “was a very unattractive boy”.[136] Later Blair was expelled from the crammer at Southwold for sending a dead rat as a birthday present to the town surveyor.[137] In one of his As I Please essays he refers to a protracted joke when he answered an advertisement for a woman who claimed a cure for obesity.[138]

Blair had an interest in natural history which stemmed from his childhood. In letters from school he wrote about caterpillars and butterflies,[139] and Buddicom recalls his keen interest in ornithology. He also enjoyed fishing and shooting rabbits, and conducting experiments as in cooking a hedgehog[14] or shooting down a jackdaw from the Eton roof to dissect it.[134] His zeal for scientific experiments extended to explosives – again Buddicom recalls a cook giving notice because of the noise. Later in Southwold his sister Avril recalled him blowing up the garden. When teaching he enthused his students with his nature-rambles both at Southwold[140] and Hayes.[141] His adult diaries are permeated with his observations on nature.

Relationships and marriage

Buddicom and Blair lost touch shortly after he went to Burma, and she became unsympathetic towards him. She wrote that it was because of the letters he wrote complaining about his life, but an addendum to Eric & Us by Venables reveals that he may have lost her sympathy through an incident which was, at best, a clumsy attempt at seduction.[14]

Mabel Fierz, who later became Blair’s confidante, said: “He used to say the one thing he wished in this world was that he’d been attractive to women. He liked women and had many girlfriends I think in Burma. He had a girl in Southwold and another girl in London. He was rather a womaniser, yet he was afraid he wasn’t attractive.”[142]

Brenda Salkield (Southwold) preferred friendship to any deeper relationship and maintained a correspondence with Blair for many years, particularly as a sounding board for his ideas. She wrote: “He was a great letter writer. Endless letters, and I mean when he wrote you a letter he wrote pages.”[22] His correspondence with Eleanor Jacques (London) was more prosaic, dwelling on a closer relationship and referring to past rendezvous or planning future ones in London and Burnham Beeches.[143]

When Orwell was in the sanatorium in Kent, his wife’s friend Lydia Jackson visited. He invited her for a walk and out of sight “an awkward situation arose.”[144] Jackson was to be the most critical of Orwell’s marriage to Eileen O’Shaughnessy, but their later correspondence hints at a complicity. Eileen at the time was more concerned about Orwell’s closeness to Brenda Salkield. Orwell had an affair with his secretary at Tribune which caused Eileen much distress, and others have been mooted. In a letter to Ann Popham he wrote: “I was sometimes unfaithful to Eileen, and I also treated her badly, and I think she treated me badly, too, at times, but it was a real marriage, in the sense that we had been through awful struggles together and she understood all about my work, etc.”[145]Similarly he suggested to Celia Kirwan that they had both been unfaithful.[146] There are several testaments that it was a well-matched and happy marriage.[147][148][149]

Blair was very lonely after Eileen’s death, and desperate for a wife, both as companion for himself and as mother for Richard. He proposed marriage to four women, including Celia Kirwan, and eventually Sonia Brownell accepted.[150] Orwell had met her when she was assistant to Cyril Connolly, at Horizon literary magazine.[151] They were married on 13 October 1949, only three months before Orwell’s death. Some maintain that Sonia was the model for Julia in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Religious views

Orwell regularly participated in the social and civic life of the church, and yet was an atheist, both critical of religious doctrine and of religious organisations. He attended Holy Communion at the Church of England regularly,[152] and makes allusions to Anglican rites in his book A Clergyman’s Daughter. He was extremely well-read in Biblical literature and could quote lengthy passages from the Book of Common Prayer from memory.[153] However, his forensic knowledge of the Bible came coupled with unsparing criticism of its philosophy, and as an adult he could not bring himself to believe in its tenets. He said clearly in part V of his essay, “Such, Such Were the Joys“: “Till about the age of fourteen I believed in God, and believed that the accounts given of him were true. But I was well aware that I did not love him.”[154] Of his regular Church attendance, he said: “It seems rather mean to go to HC [Holy Communion] when one doesn’t believe, but I have passed myself off for pious & there is nothing for it but to keep up with the deception.”[155]Despite this, he had two Anglican marriages and left instructions for an Anglican funeral.[156] Orwell directly contrasted Christianity with secular humanism in his essay “Lear, Tolstoy and the Fool“, finding the latter philosophy more palatable and less “self-interested.” Literary critic James Wood wrote that in the struggle, as he saw it, between Christianity and humanism, “Orwell was on the humanist side, of course—basically an unmetaphysical, English version of Camus’s philosophy of perpetual godless struggle.”[157]

Orwell’s writing was often explicitly critical of religion, and Christianity in particular. He found the church to be a “selfish … church of the landed gentry” with its establishment “out of touch” with the majority of its communicants and altogether a pernicious influence on public life.[158] In their 1972 study, The Unknown Orwell, the writers Peter Stansky and William Abrahams noted that at Eton Blair displayed a “sceptical attitude” to Christian belief.[159] Crick observed that Orwell displayed “a pronounced anti-Catholicism”.[160] Evelyn Waugh, writing in 1946, acknowledged Orwell’s high moral sense and respect for justice but believed “he seems never to have been touched at any point by a conception of religious thought and life.”[161] His contradictory and sometimes ambiguous views about the social benefits of religious affiliation mirrored the dichotomies between his public and private lives: Stephen Ingle wrote that it was as if the writer George Orwell “vaunted” his unbelief while Eric Blair the individual retained “a deeply ingrained religiosity”. Ingle later noted that Orwell did not accept the existence of an afterlife, believing in the finality of death while living and advocating a moral code based on Judeo-Christian beliefs.[162][163]

Political views

Orwell liked to provoke arguments by challenging the status quo, but he was also a traditionalist with a love of old English values. He criticised and satirised, from the inside, the various social milieux in which he found himself – provincial town life in A Clergyman’s Daughter; middle-class pretension in Keep the Aspidistra Flying; preparatory schools in “Such, Such Were the Joys”; colonialism in Burmese Days, and some socialist groups in The Road to Wigan Pier. In his Adelphi days he described himself as a “Toryanarchist.”[164][165]

In 1928, Orwell began his career as a professional writer in Paris at a journal owned by the French Communist Henri Barbusse. His first article, “La Censure en Angleterre“, was an attempt to account for the ‘extraordinary and illogical’ moral censorship of plays and novels then practised in Britain. His own explanation was that the rise of the “puritan middle class,” who had stricter morals than the aristocracy, tightened the rules of censorship in the 19th century. Orwell’s first published article in his home country, “A Farthing Newspaper”, was a critique of the new French daily the Ami de Peuple. This paper was sold much more cheaply than most others, and was intended for ordinary people to read. Orwell pointed out that its proprietor François Coty also owned the right-wing dailies Le Figaro and Le Gaulois, which the Ami de Peuple was supposedly competing against. Orwell suggested that cheap newspapers were no more than a vehicle for advertising and anti-leftist propaganda, and predicted the world might soon see free newspapers which would drive legitimate dailies out of business.[166]

The Spanish Civil War played the most important part in defining Orwell’s socialism. He wrote to Cyril Connolly from Barcelona on 8 June 1937: “I have seen wonderful things and at last really believe in Socialism, which I never did before.”[167][168] Having witnessed the success of the anarcho-syndicalist communities, for example in Anarchist Catalonia, and the subsequent brutal suppression of the anarcho-syndicalists, anti-Stalin communist parties and revolutionaries by the Soviet Union-backed Communists, Orwell returned from Catalonia a staunch anti-Stalinist and joined the Independent Labour Party, his card being issued on 13 June 1938.[169] Although he was never a Trotskyist, he was strongly influenced by the Trotskyist and anarchist critiques of the Soviet regime, and by the anarchists’ emphasis on individual freedom. In Part 2 of The Road to Wigan Pier, published by the Left Book Club, Orwell stated: “a real Socialist is one who wishes – not merely conceives it as desirable, but actively wishes – to see tyranny overthrown.” Orwell stated in “Why I Write” (1946): “Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it.”[170] Orwell was a proponent of a federal socialist Europe, a position outlined in his 1947 essay “Toward European Unity,” which first appeared in Partisan Review. According to biographer John Newsinger,

the other crucial dimension to Orwell’s socialism was his recognition that the Soviet Union was not socialist. Unlike many on the left, instead of abandoning socialism once he discovered the full horror of Stalinist rule in the Soviet Union, Orwell abandoned the Soviet Union and instead remained a socialist – indeed he became more committed to the socialist cause than ever.”[60]

In his 1938 essay “Why I joined the Independent Labour Party,” published in the ILP-affiliated New Leader, Orwell wrote:

For some years past I have managed to make the capitalist class pay me several pounds a week for writing books against capitalism. But I do not delude myself that this state of affairs is going to last forever … the only régime which, in the long run, will dare to permit freedom of speech is a Socialist régime. If Fascism triumphs I am finished as a writer – that is to say, finished in my only effective capacity. That of itself would be a sufficient reason for joining a Socialist party.[171]

Towards the end of the essay, he wrote: “I do not mean I have lost all faith in the Labour Party. My most earnest hope is that the Labour Party will win a clear majority in the next General Election.”[172]

Orwell was opposed to rearmament against Nazi Germany – but he changed his view after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the outbreak of the war. He left the ILP because of its opposition to the war and adopted a political position of “revolutionary patriotism”. In December 1940 he wrote in Tribune (the Labour left’s weekly): “We are in a strange period of history in which a revolutionary has to be a patriot and a patriot has to be a revolutionary.” During the war, Orwell was highly critical of the popular idea that an Anglo-Soviet alliance would be the basis of a post-war world of peace and prosperity. In 1942, commenting on journalist E. H. Carr‘s pro-Soviet views, Orwell stated: “all the appeasers, e.g. Professor E. H. Carr, have switched their allegiance from Hitler to Stalin.”[173]

On anarchism, Orwell wrote in The Road to Wigan Pier: “I worked out an anarchistic theory that all government is evil, that the punishment always does more harm than the crime and the people can be trusted to behave decently if you will only let them alone.” He continued and argued that “it is always necessary to protect peaceful people from violence. In any state of society where crime can be profitable you have got to have a harsh criminal law and administer it ruthlessly.”

In his reply (dated 15 November 1943) to an invitation from the Duchess of Atholl to speak for the British League for European Freedom, he stated that he did not agree with their objectives. He admitted that what they said was “more truthful than the lying propaganda found in most of the press” but added that he could not “associate himself with an essentially Conservative body” that claimed to “defend democracy in Europe” but had “nothing to say about British imperialism.” His closing paragraph stated: “I belong to the Left and must work inside it, much as I hate Russian totalitarianism and its poisonous influence in this country.”[174]

Orwell joined the staff of Tribune as literary editor, and from then until his death, was a left-wing (though hardly orthodox) Labour-supporting democratic socialist.[175] On 1 September 1944, about the Warsaw uprising, Orwell expressed in Tribune his hostility against the influence of the alliance with the USSR over the allies: “Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Do not imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the sovietic regime, or any other regime, and then suddenly return to honesty and reason. Once a whore, always a whore.” According to Newsinger, although Orwell “was always critical of the 1945–51 Labour government’s moderation, his support for it began to pull him to the right politically. This did not lead him to embrace conservatism, imperialism or reaction, but to defend, albeit critically, Labour reformism.”[176] Between 1945 and 1947, with A. J. Ayer and Bertrand Russell, he contributed a series of articles and essays to Polemic, a short-lived British “Magazine of Philosophy, Psychology, and Aesthetics” edited by the ex-Communist Humphrey Slater.[177][178]

Writing in early 1945 a long essay titled “Antisemitism in Britain,” for the Contemporary Jewish Record, Orwell stated that anti-Semitism was on the increase in Britain, and that it was “irrational and will not yield to arguments.” He argued that it would be useful to discover why anti-Semites could “swallow such absurdities on one particular subject while remaining sane on others.”[179] He wrote: “For quite six years the English admirers of Hitler contrived not to learn of the existence of Dachau and Buchenwald. … Many English people have heard almost nothing about the extermination of German and Polish Jews during the present war. Their own anti-Semitism has caused this vast crime to bounce off their consciousness.”[180] In Nineteen Eighty-Four, written shortly after the war, Orwell portrayed the Party as enlisting anti-Semitic passions against their enemy, Goldstein.

Orwell publicly defended P.G. Wodehouse against charges of being a Nazi sympathiser – occasioned by his agreement to do some broadcasts over the German radio in 1941 – a defence based on Wodehouse’s lack of interest in and ignorance of politics.[181]

Special Branch, the intelligence division of the Metropolitan Police, maintained a file on Orwell for more than 20 years of his life. The dossier, published by The National Archives, states that, according to one investigator, Orwell had “advanced Communist views and several of his Indian friends say that they have often seen him at Communist meetings.” MI5, the intelligence department of the Home Office, noted: “It is evident from his recent writings – ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ – and his contribution to Gollancz’s symposium The Betrayal of the Left that he does not hold with the Communist Party nor they with him.”[182]

Social interactions

Orwell was noted for very close and enduring friendships with a few friends, but these were generally people with a similar background or with a similar level of literary ability. Ungregarious, he was out of place in a crowd and his discomfort was exacerbated when he was outside his own class. Though representing himself as a spokesman for the common man, he often appeared out of place with real working people. His brother-in-law Humphrey Dakin, a “Hail fellow, well met” type, who took him to a local pub in Leeds, said that he was told by the landlord: “Don’t bring that bugger in here again.”[183] Adrian Fierz commented “He wasn’t interested in racing or greyhounds or pub crawling or shove ha’penny. He just did not have much in common with people who did not share his intellectual interests.”[184] Awkwardness attended many of his encounters with working-class representatives, as with Pollitt and McNair,[185] but his courtesy and good manners were often commented on. Jack Common observed on meeting him for the first time, “Right away manners, and more than manners – breeding – showed through.”[186]

In his tramping days, he did domestic work for a time. His extreme politeness was recalled by a member of the family he worked for; she declared that the family referred to him as “Laurel” after the film comedian.[38] With his gangling figure and awkwardness, Orwell’s friends often saw him as a figure of fun. Geoffrey Gorer commented “He was awfully likely to knock things off tables, trip over things. I mean, he was a gangling, physically badly co-ordinated young man. I think his feeling [was] that even the inanimate world was against him …”[187] When he shared a flat with Heppenstall and Sayer, he was treated in a patronising manner by the younger men.[188] At the BBC, in the 1940s, “everybody would pull his leg,”[189] and Spender described him as having real entertainment value “like, as I say, watching a Charlie Chaplin movie.”[190] A friend of Eileen’s reminisced about her tolerance and humour, often at Orwell’s expense.[148] Psychiatrist Michael Fitzgerald has speculated that Orwell’s social and physical awkwardness, limited interests and monotone voice were the result of Asperger syndrome.[191]

One biography of Orwell accused him of having had an authoritarian streak.[192] In Burma, he struck out at a Burmese boy who, while “fooling around” with his friends, had “accidentally bumped into him” at a station, resulting in Orwell falling “heavily” down some stairs.[193] One of his former pupils recalled being beaten so hard he could not sit down for a week.[194] When sharing a flat with Orwell, Heppenstall came home late one night in an advanced stage of loud inebriation. The upshot was that Heppenstall ended up with a bloody nose and was locked in a room. When he complained, Orwell hit him across the legs with a shooting stick and Heppenstall then had to defend himself with a chair. Years later, after Orwell’s death, Heppenstall wrote a dramatic account of the incident called “The Shooting Stick”[195] and Mabel Fierz confirmed that Heppenstall came to her in a sorry state the following day.[196]

Orwell got on well with young people. The pupil he beat considered him the best of teachers, and the young recruits in Barcelona tried to drink him under the table – though without success. His nephew recalled Uncle Eric laughing louder than anyone in the cinema at a Charlie Chaplin film.[147]

In the wake of his most famous works, he attracted many uncritical hangers-on, but many others who sought him found him aloof and even dull. With his soft voice, he was sometimes shouted down or excluded from discussions.[197] At this time, he was severely ill; it was wartime or the austerity period after it; during the war his wife suffered from depression; and after her death he was lonely and unhappy. In addition to that, he always lived frugally and seemed unable to care for himself properly. As a result of all this, people found his circumstances bleak.[198] Some, like Michael Ayrton, called him “Gloomy George,” but others developed the idea that he was a “secular saint.”

Although Orwell was frequently heard on the BBC for panel discussion and one-man broadcasts, no recorded copy of his voice is known to exist.[199]

Lifestyle

“By putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk, whereas one is likely to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round”

– One of Orwell’s eleven rules for making tea from his essay “A Nice Cup of Tea“, appearing in the London Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.[200]

Orwell was a heavy smoker, who rolled his own cigarettes from strong shag tobacco, despite his bronchial condition. His penchant for the rugged life often took him to cold and damp situations, both in the long term, as in Catalonia and Jura, and short term, for example, motorcycling in the rain and suffering a shipwreck. Described by The Economist as “perhaps the 20th century’s best chronicler of English culture“,[201] Orwell considered fish and chips, association football, the pub, strong tea, cut price chocolate, the movies, and radio among the chief comforts for the working class.[202] Orwell enjoyed strong tea – he had Fortnum & Mason‘s tea brought to him in Catalonia.[8] His 1946 essay, “A Nice Cup of Tea“, appeared in the London Evening Standard article on how to make tea, with Orwell writing, “tea is one of the mainstays of civilisation in this country and causes violent disputes over how it should be made”, with the main issue being whether to put tea in the cup first and add the milk afterward, or the other way round, on which he states, “in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject”.[203] He appreciated English beer, taken regularly and moderately, despised drinkers of lager[204] and wrote about an imagined, ideal British pub in his 1946 English Standard article, “The Moon Under Water“.[205] Not as particular about food, he enjoyed the wartime “Victory Pie”[206] and extolled canteen food at the BBC.[189] He preferred traditional English dishes, such as roast beef and kippers.[207] Reports of his Islington days refer to the cosy afternoon tea table.[208]

His dress sense was unpredictable and usually casual.[209] In Southwold, he had the best cloth from the local tailor[210] but was equally happy in his tramping outfit. His attire in the Spanish Civil War, along with his size-12 boots, was a source of amusement.[211][212]David Astor described him as looking like a prep school master,[213] while according to the Special Branch dossier, Orwell’s tendency to dress “in Bohemian fashion” revealed that the author was “a Communist”.[214]

Orwell’s confusing approach to matters of social decorum – on the one hand expecting a working-class guest to dress for dinner,[215] and on the other, slurping tea out of a saucer at the BBC canteen[216] – helped stoke his reputation as an English eccentric.

Views on homosexuality

Orwell was openly homophobic, at a time when such prejudice was not uncommon. Speaking at the 2003 George Orwell Centenary Conference, Daphne Patai said: “Of course he was homophobic. That has nothing to do with his relations with his homosexual friends. Certainly he had a negative attitude and a certain kind of anxiety, a denigrating attitude towards homosexuality. That is definitely the case. I think his writing reflects that quite fully.”[217]

Orwell used the homophobic epithets “Nancy” and “pansy” as terms of abuse, notably in his expressions of contempt for what he called the “pansy Left”, and “nancy poets”, i.e. left-wing homosexual or bisexual writers and intellectuals such as Stephen Spender and W. H. Auden.[218] The protagonist of Keep the Aspidistra Flying, Gordon Comstock, conducts an internal critique of his customers when working in a bookshop, and there is an extended passage of several pages in which he concentrates on a homosexual male customer, and sneers at him for his “Nancy” characteristics, including a lisp, which he identifies in detail, with some disgust.[219] Dr Thomas S Veale, in The Banality of Virtue: A Multifaceted view of George Orwell as champion of the common man, refers to Orwell’s “homophobia most probably based on the perceived weakness of homosexuals and their preferences’ betrayal of the natural order”. Stephen Spender, however, “thought Orwell’s occasional homophobic outbursts were part of his rebellion against the public school”.[220]

Biographies of Orwell

Orwell’s will requested that no biography of him be written, and his widow Sonia Brownell repelled every attempt by those who tried to persuade her to let them write about him. Various recollections and interpretations were published in the 1950s and ’60s, but Sonia saw the 1968 Collected Works[138] as the record of his life. She did appoint Malcolm Muggeridge as official biographer, but later biographers have seen this as deliberate spoiling as Muggeridge eventually gave up the work.[221] In 1972, two American authors, Peter Stansky and William Abrahams,[222] produced The Unknown Orwell, an unauthorised account of his early years that lacked any support or contribution from Sonia Brownell.

Sonia Brownell then commissioned Bernard Crick, a left-wing professor of politics at the University of London, to complete a biography and asked Orwell’s friends to co-operate.[223] Crick collated a considerable amount of material in his work, which was published in 1980,[82] but his questioning of the factual accuracy of Orwell’s first-person writings led to conflict with Brownell, and she tried to suppress the book. Crick concentrated on the facts of Orwell’s life rather than his character, and presented primarily a political perspective on Orwell’s life and work.[224]

After Sonia Brownell’s death, other works on Orwell were published in the 1980s, with 1984 being a particularly fruitful year for Orwelliana. These included collections of reminiscences by Coppard and Crick[137] and Stephen Wadhams.[22]

In 1991, Michael Shelden, an American professor of literature, published a biography.[26] More concerned with the literary nature of Orwell’s work, he sought explanations for Orwell’s character and treated his first-person writings as autobiographical. Shelden introduced new information that sought to build on Crick’s work.[223] Shelden speculated that Orwell possessed an obsessive belief in his failure and inadequacy.

Peter Davison‘s publication of the Complete Works of George Orwell, completed in 2000,[225] made most of the Orwell Archive accessible to the public. Jeffrey Meyers, a prolific American biographer, was first to take advantage of this and published a book in 2001[226] that investigated the darker side of Orwell and questioned his saintly image.[223] Why Orwell Matters (released in the UK as Orwell’s Victory) was published by Christopher Hitchens in 2002.[227]

In 2003, the centenary of Orwell’s birth resulted in biographies by Gordon Bowker[228] and D. J. Taylor, both academics and writers in the United Kingdom. Taylor notes the stage management which surrounds much of Orwell’s behaviour,[8] and Bowker highlights the essential sense of decency which he considers to have been Orwell’s main motivation.[229][230]

Ancestry

Bibliography

Main article: George Orwell bibliography

Novels

Nonfiction

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Orwell

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American Conservative Union CPAC 2017 — Videos

Posted on February 26, 2017. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Economics, Education, Employment, Federal Government, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, government, government spending, Health Care, Heroes, history, Illegal, Immigration, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Obamacare, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Religious, Security, Speech, Video, War, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Image result for cpac 2017  Trump Speech at CPAC 2017 (FULL) | ABC News

 CPAC 2017 – Dr. Larry Arnn

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CPAC 2017 – Vice President Mike Pence’s full #CPAC Speech #CPAC2017

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CPAC 2017 – When did World War III Begin? Part B

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CPAC 2017 – Wayne LaPierre, NRA

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Dore Gold — Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism — Videos

Posted on February 22, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Books, Corruption, Crime, Crisis, Education, Faith, Family, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government spending, history, Islam, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Money, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Rants, Raves, Religious, Terrorism, Video, Wahhabism, War, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , |

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Book | Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism

Wahhabism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wahhabism (Arabic: الوهابية‎‎, al-Wahhābiya(h)) or Wahhabi mission[1] (/wəˈhɑːbi, wɑː/;[2] Arabic: الدعوة الوهابية‎‎, ad-Da’wa al-Wahhābiya(h) ) is a sect,[3][4][5][6] religious movement or branch of Islam.[7][8][9][10] It has been variously described as “ultraconservative”,[11] “austere”,[7] “fundamentalist”,[12] or “puritan(ical)”[13][14] and as an Islamic “reform movement” to restore “pure monotheistic worship” (tawhid) by devotees,[15] and as a “deviant sectarian movement”,[15] “vile sect”[16] and a distortion of Islam by its opponents.[7][17] The term Wahhabi(ism) is often used polemically and adherents commonly reject its use, preferring to be called Salafi or muwahhid.[18][19][20] The movement emphasises the principle oftawhid[21] (the “uniqueness” and “unity” of God).[22] It claims its principal influences to be Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780–855) and Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328), both belonging to the Hanbalischool,[23] although the extent of their actual influence upon the tenets of the movement has been contested.[24][25]

Wahhabism is named after an eighteenth-century preacher and activist, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792).[26] He started a reform movement in the remote, sparsely populated region of Najd,[27] advocating a purging of such widespread Sunni practices as the intercession of saints, and the visitation to their tombs, both of which were practiced all over the Islamic world, but which he considered idolatry (shirk), impurities and innovations in Islam (Bid’ah).[9][22] Eventually he formed a pact with a local leader Muhammad bin Saudoffering political obedience and promising that protection and propagation of the Wahhabi movement mean “power and glory” and rule of “lands and men.”[28]

The alliance between followers of ibn Abd al-Wahhab and Muhammad bin Saud’s successors (the House of Saud) proved to be a durable one. The House of Saud continued to maintain its politico-religious alliance with the Wahhabi sect through the waxing and waning of its own political fortunes over the next 150 years, through to its eventual proclamation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, and then afterwards, on into modern times. Today Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab’s teachings are the official, state-sponsored form of Sunni Islam[7][29] in Saudi Arabia.[30] With the help of funding from Saudi petroleum exports[31] (and other factors[32]), the movement underwent “explosive growth” beginning in the 1970s and now has worldwide influence.[7] The US State Department has estimated that over the past four decades Riyadh has invested more than $10bn (£6bn) into charitable foundations in an attempt to replace mainstream Sunni Islam with the harsh intolerance of its Wahhabism.[33]

The “boundaries” of Wahhabism have been called “difficult to pinpoint”,[34] but in contemporary usage, the terms Wahhabi and Salafi are often used interchangeably, and they are considered to be movements with different roots that have merged since the 1960s.[35][36][37] However, Wahhabism has also been called “a particular orientation within Salafism”,[38] or an ultra-conservative, Saudi brand of Salafism.[39][40] Estimates of the number of adherents to Wahhabism vary, with one source (Mehrdad Izady) giving a figure of fewer than 5 million Wahhabis in the Persian Gulf region (compared to 28.5 million Sunnis and 89 million Shia).[30][41]

The majority of mainstream Sunni and Shia Muslims worldwide strongly disagree with the interpretation of Wahhabism and consider it a “vile sect”.[16] Islamic scholars, including those from the Al-Azhar University, regularly denounce Wahhabism with terms such as “Satanic faith”.[16] Wahhabism has been accused of being “a source of global terrorism”,[42][43]inspiring the ideology of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),[44] and for causing disunity in Muslim communities by labelling Muslims who disagreed with the Wahhabi definition of monotheism as apostates[45] (takfir) and justifying their killing.[46][47][48] It has also been criticized for the destruction of historic shrines of saints, mausoleums, and other Muslim and non-Muslim buildings and artifacts.[49][50][51]

Definitions and etymology

Definitions

Some definitions or uses of the term Wahhabi Islam include:

  • “a corpus of doctrines”, and “a set of attitudes and behavior, derived from the teachings of a particularly severe religious reformist who lived in central Arabia in the mid-eighteenth century” (Gilles Kepel)[52]
  • “pure Islam” (David Commins, paraphrasing supporters’ definition),[17] that does not deviate from Sharia law in any way and should be called Islam and not Wahhabism. (King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the King of the Saudi Arabia)[53]
  • “a misguided creed that fosters intolerance, promotes simplistic theology, and restricts Islam’s capacity for adaption to diverse and shifting circumstances” (David Commins, paraphrasing opponents’ definition)[17]
  • “a conservative reform movement … the creed upon which the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded, and [which] has influenced Islamic movements worldwide” (Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim world)[54]
  • “a sect dominant in Saudi Arabia and Qatar” with footholds in “India, Africa, and elsewhere”, with a “steadfastly fundamentalist interpretation of Islam in the tradition of Ibn Hanbal” (Cyril Glasse)[21]
  • an “eighteenth-century reformist/revivalist movement for sociomoral reconstruction of society”, “founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab” (Oxford Dictionary of Islam).[55]
  • originally a “literal revivification” of Islamic principles that ignored the spiritual side of Islam, that “rose on the wings of enthusiasm апd longing and then sank down into the lowlands of pharisaic self-righteousness” after gaining power and losing its “longing and humility” (Muhammad Asad)[56]
  • “a political trend” within Islam that “has been adopted for power-sharing purposes”, but cannot be called a sect because “It has no special practices, nor special rites, and no special interpretation of religion that differ from the main body of Sunni Islam” (Abdallah Al Obeid, the former dean of the Islamic University of Medina and member of the Saudi Consultative Council)[34]
  • “the true salafist movement”. Starting out as a theological reform movement, it had “the goal of calling (da’wa) people to restore the ‘real’ meaning of tawhid (oneness of God or monotheism) and to disregard and deconstruct ‘traditional’ disciplines and practices that evolved in Islamic history such as theology and jurisprudence and the traditions of visiting tombs and shrines of venerated individuals.” (Ahmad Moussalli)[57]
  • a term used by opponents of Salafism in hopes of besmirching that movement by suggesting foreign influence and “conjuring up images of Saudi Arabia”. The term is “most frequently used in countries where Salafis are a small minority” of the Muslim community but “have made recent inroads” in “converting” the local population to Salafism. (Quintan Wiktorowicz)[18]
  • a blanket term used inaccurately to refer to “any Islamic movement that has an apparent tendency toward misogyny, militantism, extremism, or strict and literal interpretation of the Quran and hadith” (Natana J. DeLong-Bas)[58]

Etymology

According to Saudi writer Abdul Aziz Qassim and others, it was the Ottomans who “first labelled Abdul Wahhab’s school of Islam in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism”. The British also adopted it and expanded its use in the Middle East.[59]

Naming controversy: Wahhabis, Muwahhidun, and Salafis

Wahhabis do not like – or at least did not like – the term. Ibn Abd-Al-Wahhab was averse to the elevation of scholars and other individuals, including using a person’s name to label an Islamic school.[18][46][60]

According to Robert Lacey “the Wahhabis have always disliked the name customarily given to them” and preferred to be called Muwahhidun (Unitarians).[61] Another preferred term was simply “Muslims” since their creed is “pure Islam”.[62] However, critics complain these terms imply non-Wahhabis are not monotheists or Muslims,[62][63] and the English translation of that term causes confusion with the Christian denomination (Unitarian Universalism).

Other terms Wahhabis have been said to use and/or prefer include ahl al-hadith (“people of hadith”), Salafi Da’wa or al-da’wa ila al-tawhid[64] (“Salafi preaching” or “preaching of monotheism”, for the school rather than the adherents) or Ahl ul-Sunna wal Jama’a (“people of the tradition of Muhammad and the consensus of the Ummah”),[38] Ahl al-Sunnah (“People of the Sunna”),[65] or “the reform or Salafi movement of the Sheikh” (the sheikh being ibn Abdul-Wahhab).[66] Early Salafis referred to themselves simply as “Muslims”, believing the neighboring Ottoman Caliphate was al-dawlah al-kufriyya (a heretical nation) and its self-professed Muslim inhabitants actually non-Muslim.[45][67][68][69] The prominent 20th-century Muslim scholar Nasiruddin Albani, who considered himself “of the Salaf,” referred to Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab‘s activities as “Najdi da’wah.”[70]

Many, such as writer Quinton Wiktorowicz, urge use of the term Salafi, maintaining that “one would be hard pressed to find individuals who refer to themselves as Wahhabis or organizations that use ‘Wahhabi’ in their title, or refer to their ideology in this manner (unless they are speaking to a Western audience that is unfamiliar with Islamic terminology, and even then usage is limited and often appears as ‘Salafi/Wahhabi’).”[18] A New York Timesjournalist writes that Saudis “abhor” the term Wahhabism, “feeling it sets them apart and contradicts the notion that Islam is a monolithic faith.”[71] Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for example has attacked the term as “a doctrine that doesn’t exist here (Saudi Arabia)” and challenged users of the term to locate any “deviance of the form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia from the teachings of the Quran and Prophetic Hadiths“.[72][73] Ingrid Mattsonargues that, “‘Wahhbism’ is not a sect. It is a social movement that began 200 years ago to rid Islam of rigid cultural practices that had (been) acquired over the centuries.”[74]

On the other hand, according to authors at Global Security and Library of Congress the term is now commonplace and used even by Wahhabi scholars in the Najd,[9][75] a region often called the “heartland” of Wahhabism.[76]Journalist Karen House calls Salafi, “a more politically correct term” for Wahhabi.[77]

In any case, according to Lacey, none of the other terms have caught on, and so like the Christian Quakers, Wahhabis have “remained known by the name first assigned to them by their detractors.”[61]

Wahhabis and Salafis

Many scholars and critics distinguish between Wahhabi and Salafi. According to American scholar Christopher M. Blanchard,[78] Wahhabism refers to “a conservative Islamic creed centered in and emanating from Saudi Arabia,” while Salafiyya is “a more general puritanical Islamic movement that has developed independently at various times and in various places in the Islamic world.”[46]

However, many call Wahhabism a more strict, Saudi form of Salafi.[79][80] Wahhabism is the Saudi version of Salafism, according to Mark Durie, who states Saudi leaders “are active and diligent” using their considerable financial resources “in funding and promoting Salafism all around the world.”[81] Ahmad Moussalli tends to agree Wahhabism is a subset of Salafism, saying “As a rule, all Wahhabis are salafists, but not all salafists are Wahhabis”.[57]

Hamid Algar lists three “elements” Wahhabism and Salafism had in common.

  1. above all disdain for all developments subsequent to al-Salaf al-Salih (the first two or three generations of Islam),
  2. the rejection of Sufism, and
  3. the abandonment of consistent adherence to one of the four or five Sunni Madhhabs (schools of fiqh).

And “two important and interrelated features” that distinguished Salafis from the Wahhabis:

  1. a reliance on attempts at persuasion rather than coercion in order to rally other Muslims to their cause; and
  2. an informed awareness of the political and socio-economic crises confronting the Muslim world.[82]

Hamid Algar and another critic, Khaled Abou El Fadl, argue Saudi oil-export funding “co-opted” the “symbolism and language of Salafism”, during the 1960s and 70s, making them practically indistinguishable by the 1970s,[83]and now the two ideologies have “melded”. Abou El Fadl believes Wahhabism rebranded itself as Salafism knowing it could not “spread in the modern Muslim world” as Wahhabism.[35]

History

The Wahhabi mission started as a revivalist movement in the remote, arid region of Najd. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the Al Saud dynasty, and with it Wahhabism, spread to the holy cities of Meccaand Medina. After the discovery of petroleum near the Persian Gulf in 1939, it had access to oil export revenues, revenue that grew to billions of dollars. This money – spent on books, media, schools, universities, mosques, scholarships, fellowships, lucrative jobs for journalists, academics and Islamic scholars – gave Wahhabism a “preeminent position of strength” in Islam around the world.[84]

In the country of Wahhabism’s founding – and by far the largest and most powerful country where it is the state religion – Wahhabi ulama gained control over education, law, public morality and religious institutions in the 20th century, while permitting as a “trade-off” doctrinally objectionable actions such as the import of modern technology and communications, and dealings with non-Muslims, for the sake of the consolidation of the power of its political guardian, the Al Saud dynasty.[85]

However, in the last couple of decades of the twentieth century several crises worked to erode Wahhabi “credibility” in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world – the November 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque by militants; the deployment of US troops in Saudi during the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq; and the 9/11 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.[86]

In each case the Wahhabi establishment was called on to support the dynasty’s efforts to suppress religious dissent – and in each case it did[86] – exposing its dependence on the Saudi dynasty and its often unpopular policies.[87][88]

In the West, the end of the Cold War and the anti-communist alliance with conservative, religious Saudi Arabia, and the 9/11 attacks created enormous distrust towards the kingdom and especially its official religion.[89]

Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab

The founder of Wahhabism, Mohammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab, was born around 1702-03 in the small oasis town of ‘Uyayna in the Najd region, in what is now central Saudi Arabia.[90] He studied in Basra,[91] in what is now Iraq, and possibly Mecca and Medina while there to perform Hajj, before returning to his home town of ‘Uyayna in 1740. There he worked to spread the call (da’wa) for what he believed was a restoration of true monotheistic worship (Tawhid).[92]

The “pivotal idea” of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teaching was that people who called themselves Muslims but who participated in alleged innovations were not just misguided or committing a sin, but were “outside the pale of Islam altogether,” as were Muslims who disagreed with his definition. [93]

This included not just lax, unlettered, nomadic Bedu, but Shia, Sunnis such as the Ottomans.[94] Such infidels were not to be killed outright, but to be given a chance to repent first.[95] With the support of the ruler of the town – Uthman ibn Mu’ammar – he carried out some of his religious reforms in ‘Uyayna, including the demolition of the tomb of Zayd ibn al-Khattab, one of the Sahaba (companions) of the prophet Muhammad, and the stoning to death of an adulterous woman. However, a more powerful chief (Sulaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Ghurayr) pressured Uthman ibn Mu’ammar to expel him from ‘Uyayna.[citation needed]

Alliance with the House of Saud

Further information:

1744–1818

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after unification in 1932

The ruler of nearby town, Muhammad ibn Saud, invited ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab to join him, and in 1744 a pact was made between the two. [96] Ibn Saud would protect and propagate the doctrines of the Wahhabi mission, while ibn Abdul Wahhab “would support the ruler, supplying him with ‘glory and power.'” Whoever championed his message, ibn Abdul Wahhab promised, “will, by means of it, rule the lands and men.” [28] Ibn Saud would abandon un-Sharia taxation of local harvests, and in return God might compensate him with booty from conquest and sharia compliant taxes that would exceed what he gave up.[97] The alliance between the Wahhabi mission and Al Saud family has “endured for more than two and half centuries,” surviving defeat and collapse.[96][98] The two families have intermarried multiple times over the years and in today’s Saudi Arabia, the minister of religion is always a member of the Al ash-Sheikh family, i.e., a descendent of Ibn Abdul Wahhab.[99]

According to most sources, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab declared jihad against neighboring tribes, whose practices of praying to saints, making pilgrimages to tombs and special mosques, he believed to be the work of idolaters/unbelievers.[47][63][95][100]

One academic disputes this. According to Natana DeLong-Bas, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab was restrained in urging fighting with perceived unbelievers, preferring to preach and persuade rather than attack.[101] [102][103] It was only after the death of Muhammad bin Saud in 1765 that, according to DeLong-Bas, Muhammad bin Saud’s son and successor, Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad, used a “convert or die” approach to expand his domain,[104] and when Wahhabis adopted the takfir ideas of Ibn Taymiyya.[105]

However, various scholars, including Simon Ross Valentine, have strongly rejected such a view of Wahhab, arguing that “the image of Abd’al-Wahhab presented by DeLong-Bas is to be seen for what it is, namely a re-writing of history that flies in the face of historical fact”.[106] Conquest expanded through the Arabian Peninsula until it conquered Mecca and Medina the early 19th century.[107][108] It was at this time, according to DeLong-Bas, that Wahhabis embraced the ideas of Ibn Taymiyya, which allow self-professed Muslim who do not follow Islamic law to be declared non-Muslims – to justify their warring and conquering the Muslim Sharifs of Hijaz.[105]

One of their most noteworthy and controversial attacks was on Karbala in 1802. There, according to a Wahhabi chronicler `Uthman b. `Abdullah b. Bishr: “The Muslims” – as the Wahhabis referred to themselves, not feeling the need to distinguish themselves from other Muslims, since they did not believe them to be Muslims –

scaled the walls, entered the city … and killed the majority of its people in the markets and in their homes. [They] destroyed the dome placed over the grave of al-Husayn [and took] whatever they found inside the dome and its surroundings … the grille surrounding the tomb which was encrusted with emeralds, rubies, and other jewels … different types of property, weapons, clothing, carpets, gold, silver, precious copies of the Qur’an.”[109][110]

Wahhabis also massacred the male population and enslaved the women and children of the city of Ta’if in Hejaz in 1803.[111]

Saud bin Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad bin Saud managed to establish his rule over southeastern Syria between 1803 and 1812. However, Egyptian forces acting under the Ottoman Empire and led by Ibrahim Pasha, were eventually successful in counterattacking in a campaign starting from 1811.[112] In 1818 they defeated Al-Saud, leveling the capital Diriyah, executing the Al-Saud emir, exiling the emirate’s political and religious leadership,[98][113] and otherwise unsuccessfully attempted to stamp out not just the House of Saud but the Wahhabi mission as well.[114] A second, smaller Saudi state (Emirate of Nejd) lasted from 1819–1891. Its borders being within Najd, Wahhabism was protected from further Ottoman or Egyptian campaigns by the Najd’s isolation, lack of valuable resources, and that era’s limited communication and transportation.[115]

By the 1880s, at least among townsmen if not Bedouin, Wahhabi strict monotheistic doctrine had become the native religious culture of the Najd.[116]

Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud

Ibn Saud, the first king of Saudi Arabia

Further information: History of Saudi Arabia

In 1901, Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud, a fifth generation descendent of Muhammad ibn Saud,[117] began a military campaign that led to the conquest of much of the Arabian peninsula and the founding of present-day Saudi Arabia, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.[118] The result that safeguarded the vision of Islam-based on the tenets of Islam as preached by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhabwas not bloodless, as 40,000 public executions and 350,000 amputations were carried out during its course, according to some estimates.[119][120][121][122]

Under the reign of Abdul-Aziz, “political considerations trumped religious idealism” favored by pious Wahhabis. His political and military success gave the Wahhabi ulama control over religious institutions with jurisdiction over considerable territory, and in later years Wahhabi ideas formed the basis of the rules and laws concerning social affairs, and shaped the kingdom’s judicial and educational policies.[123] But protests from Wahhabi ulama were overridden when it came to consolidating power in Hijaz and al-Hasa, avoiding clashes with the great power of the region (Britain), adopting modern technology, establishing a simple governmental administrative framework, or signing an oil concession with the U.S. [124] The Wahhabi ulama also issued a fatwa affirming that “only the ruler could declare a jihad”[125] (a violation of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab’s teaching according to DeLong-Bas.[102])

As the realm of Wahhabism expanded under Ibn Saud into areas of Shiite (Al-Hasa, conquered in 1913) and pluralistic Muslim tradition (Hejaz, conquered in 1924–25), Wahhabis pressed for forced conversion of Shia and an eradication of (what they saw as) idolatry. Ibn Saud sought “a more relaxed approach”.[126]

In al-Hasa, efforts to stop the observance of Shia religious holidays and replace teaching and preaching duties of Shia clerics with Wahhabi, lasted only a year.[127]

In Mecca and Jeddah (in Hejaz) prohibition of tobacco, alcohol, playing cards and listening to music on the phonograph was looser than in Najd. Over the objections of Wahhabi ulama, Ibn Saud permitted both the driving of automobiles and the attendance of Shia at hajj.[128]

Enforcement of the commanding right and forbidding wrong, such as enforcing prayer observance and separation of the sexes, developed a prominent place during the second Saudi emirate, and in 1926 a formal committee for enforcement was founded in Mecca.[21][129] [130]

While Wahhabi warriors swore loyalty to monarchs of Al Saud, there was one major rebellion. King Abdul-Aziz put down rebelling Ikhwan – nomadic tribesmen turned Wahhabi warriors who opposed his “introducing such innovations as telephones, automobiles, and the telegraph” and his “sending his son to a country of unbelievers (Egypt)”. [131] Britain had aided Abdul-Aziz, and when the Ikhwan attacked the British protectorates of Transjordan,Iraq and Kuwait, as a continuation of jihad to expand the Wahhabist realm, Abdul-Aziz struck, killing hundreds before the rebels surrendered in 1929.[132]

Connection with the outside

Before Abdul-Aziz, during most of the second half of the 19th century, there was a strong aversion in Wahhabi lands to mixing with “idolaters” (which included most of the Muslim world). Voluntary contact was considered by Wahhabi clerics to be at least a sin, and if one enjoyed the company of idolaters, and “approved of their religion”, an act of unbelief.[133] Travel outside the pale of Najd to the Ottoman lands “was tightly controlled, if not prohibited altogether”.[134]

Over the course of its history, however, Wahhabism has become more accommodating towards the outside world.[135] In the late 1800s, Wahhabis found Muslims with at least similar beliefs – first with Ahl-i Hadith in India,[136]and later with Islamic revivalists in Arab states (one being Mahmud Sahiri al-Alusi in Baghdad).[137] The revivalists and Wahhabis shared a common interest in Ibn Taymiyya‘s thought, the permissibility of ijtihad, and the need to purify worship practices of innovation.[138] In the 1920s, Rashid Rida, a pioneer Salafist whose periodical al-Manar was widely read in the Muslim world, published an “anthology of Wahhabi treatises,” and a work praising the Ibn Saud as “the savior of the Haramayn [the two holy cities] and a practitioner of authentic Islamic rule”.[139][140]

In a bid “to join the Muslim mainstream and to erase the reputation of extreme sectarianism associated with the Ikhwan,” in 1926 Ibn Saud convened a Muslim congress of representatives of Muslim governments and popular associations.[141] By the early 1950s, the “pressures” on Ibn Saud of controlling the regions of Hejaz and al-Hasa – “outside the Wahhabi heartland” – and of “navigating the currents of regional politics” “punctured the seal” between the Wahhabi heartland and the “land of idolatry” outside.[142][143]

A major current in regional politics at that time was secular nationalism, which, with Gamal Abdul Nasser, was sweeping the Arab world. To combat it, Wahhabi missionary outreach worked closely with Saudi foreign policy initiatives. In May 1962, a conference in Mecca organized by Saudis discussed ways to combat secularism and socialism. In its wake, the World Muslim League was established.[144] To propagate Islam and “repel inimical trends and dogmas”, the League opened branch offices around the globe.[145] It developed closer association between Wahhabis and leading Salafis, and made common cause with the Islamic revivalist Muslim Brotherhood, Ahl-i Hadith and the Jamaat-i Islami, combating Sufism and “innovative” popular religious practices[144] and rejecting the West and Western “ways which were so deleterious of Muslim piety and values.”[146] Missionaries were sent to West Africa, where the League funded schools, distributed religious literature, and gave scholarships to attend Saudi religious universities. One result was the Izala Society which fought Sufism in Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon.[147]

An event that had a great effect on Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia[148] was the “infiltration of the transnationalist revival movement” in the form of thousands of pious, Islamist Arab Muslim Brotherhood refugees from Egypt following Nasser’s clampdown on the brotherhood[149] (and also from similar nationalist clampdowns in Iraq[150] and Syria[151]), to help staff the new school system of (the largely illiterate) Kingdom.[152]

The Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology differed from the more conservative Wahhabism which preached loyal obedience to the king. The Brotherhood dealt in what one author (Robert Lacey) called “change-promoting concepts” like social justice, and anticolonialism, and gave “a radical, but still apparently safe, religious twist” to the Wahhabi values Saudi students “had absorbed in childhood”. With the Brotherhood’s “hands-on, radical Islam”, jihad became a “practical possibility today”, not just part of history.[153]

The Brethren were ordered by the Saudi clergy and government not to attempt to proselytize or otherwise get involved in religious doctrinal matters within the Kingdom, but nonetheless “took control” of Saudi Arabia’s intellectual life” by publishing books and participating in discussion circles and salons held by princes.[154] In time they took leading roles in key governmental ministries,[155] and had influence on education curriculum.[156] An Islamic university in Medina created in 1961 to train – mostly non-Saudi – proselytizers to Wahhabism,[157] became “a haven” for Muslim Brother refugees from Egypt.[158] The Brothers’ ideas eventually spread throughout the kingdom and had great effect on Wahhabism – although observers differ as to whether this was by “undermining” it[148][159] or “blending” with it.[160][161]

Growth

In the 1950s and 60s within Saudi Arabia, the Wahhabi ulama maintained their hold on religious law courts, and presided over the creation of Islamic universities and a public school system which gave students “a heavy dose of religious instruction”.[162] Outside of Saudi the Wahhabi ulama became “less combative” toward the rest of the Muslim world. In confronting the challenge of the West, Wahhabi doctrine “served well” for many Muslims as a “platform” and “gained converts beyond the peninsula.”[162][163]

A number of reasons have been given for this success. The growth in popularity and strength of both Arab nationalism (although Wahhabis opposed any form of nationalism as an ideology, Saudis were Arabs, and their enemy the Ottoman caliphate was ethnically Turkish),[32] and Islamic reform (specifically reform by following the example of those first three generations of Muslims known as the Salaf);[32] the destruction of the Ottoman Empire which sponsored their most effective critics;[164] the destruction of another rival, the Khilafa in Hejaz, in 1925.[32]

Not least in importance was the money Saudi Arabia earned from exporting oil.[84]

Petroleum export era

See also: Petro-Islam

The pumping and export of oil from Saudi Arabia started during World War II, and its earnings helped fund religious activities in the 1950s and 60s. But it was the 1973 oil crisis and quadrupling in the price of oil that both increased the kingdom’s wealth astronomically and enhanced its prestige by demonstrating its international power as a leader of OPEC. By 1980, Saudi Arabia was earning every three days the income from oil it had taken a year to earn before the embargo.[165] Tens of billions of US dollars of this money were spent on books, media, schools, scholarships for students (from primary to post-graduate), fellowships and subsidies to reward journalists, academics and Islamic scholars, the building of hundreds of Islamic centers and universities, and over one thousand schools and one thousand mosques.[166][167] [168] During this time, Wahhabism attained what Gilles Kepel called a “preeminent position of strength in the global expression of Islam.”[84]

Afghanistan jihad

The “apex of cooperation” between Wahhabis and Muslim revivalist groups was the Afghan jihad.[169]

In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, a Muslim Brother cleric with ties to Saudi religious institutions,[170] issued a fatwa[171] declaring defensive jihad in Afghanistan against the atheist Soviet Union, “fard ayn”, a personal (or individual) obligation for all Muslims. The edict was supported by Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti (highest religious scholar), Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz, among others.[172][173]

Between 1982 and 1992 an estimated 35,000 individual Muslim volunteers went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and their Afghan regime. Thousands more attended frontier schools teeming with former and future fighters. Somewhere between 12,000 and 25,000 of these volunteers came from Saudi Arabia.[174] Saudi Arabia and the other conservative Gulf monarchies also provided considerable financial support to the jihad — $600 million a year by 1982.[175]

By 1989, Soviet troops had withdrawn and within a few years the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul had collapsed.[citation needed]

This Saudi/Wahhabi religious triumph further stood out in the Muslim world because many Muslim-majority states (and the PLO) were allied with the Soviet Union and did not support the Afghan jihad.[176] But many jihad volunteers (most famously Osama bin Laden) returning home to Saudi and elsewhere were often radicalized by Islamic militants who were “much more extreme than their Saudi sponsors.”[176]

“Erosion” of Wahhabism

Grand Mosque seizure

Main article: Grand Mosque Seizure

In 1979, 400–500 Islamist insurgents, using smuggled weapons and supplies, took over the Grand mosque in Mecca, called for an overthrow of the monarchy, denounced the Wahhabi ulama as royal puppets, and announced the arrival of the Mahdi of “end time“. The insurgents deviated from Wahhabi doctrine in significant details,[177] but were also associated with leading Wahhabi ulama (Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz knew the insurgent’s leader, Juhayman al-Otaybi).[178] Their seizure of Islam‘s holiest site, the taking hostage of hundreds of hajj pilgrims, and the deaths of hundreds of militants, security forces and hostages caught in crossfire during the two-week-long retaking of the mosque, all shocked the Islamic world[179] and did not enhance the prestige of Al Saud as “custodians” of the mosque.

The incident also damaged all the prestige of the Wahhabi establishment. Saudi leadership sought and received Wahhabi fatawa to approve the military removal of the insurgents and after that to execute them.[180] But Wahhabi clerics also fell under suspicion for involvement with the insurgents.[181] In part as a consequence, Sahwa clerics influenced by Brethren’s ideas were given freer rein. Their ideology was also thought more likely to compete with the recent Islamic revolutionism/third-worldism of the Iranian Revolution.[181]

Although the insurgents were motivated by religious puritanism, the incident was not followed by a crackdown on other religious purists, but by giving greater power to the ulama and religious conservatives to more strictly enforce Islamic codes in myriad ways[182] – from the banning of women’s images in the media to adding even more hours of Islamic studies in school and giving more power and money to the religious police to enforce conservative rules of behaviour.[183][184][185]

1990 Gulf War

In August 1990 Iraq invaded and annexed Kuwait. Concerned that Saddam Hussein might push south and seize its own oil fields, Saudis requested military support from the US and allowed tens of thousands of US troops to be based in the Kingdom to fight Iraq.[186]

But what “amounted to seeking infidels’ assistance against a Muslim power” was difficult to justify in terms of Wahhabi doctrine.[187][188]

Again Saudi authorities sought and received a fatwa from leading Wahhabi ulama supporting their action. The fatwa failed to persuade many conservative Muslims and ulama who strongly opposed US presence, including the Muslim Brotherhood-supported the Sahwah “Awakening” movement that began pushing for political change in the Kingdom.[189] Outside the kingdom, Islamist/Islamic revival groups that had long received aid from Saudi and had ties with Wahhabis (Arab jihadists, Pakistani and Afghan Islamists) supported Iraq, not Saudi.[190]

During this time and later, many in the Wahhabi/Salafi movement (such as Osama bin Laden) not only no longer looked to the Saudi monarch as an emir of Islam, but supported his overthrow, focusing on jihad (Salafist jihadists) against the US and (what they believe are) other enemies of Islam.[191][192] (This movement is sometimes called neo-Wahhabi or neo-salafi.[57][193])

After 9/11

The 2001 9/11 attacks on Saudi’s putative ally, the US, that killed almost 3,000 people and caused at least $10 billion in property and infrastructure damage[194] were assumed by many, at least outside the kingdom, to be “an expression of Wahhabism”, since the Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.[195] A backlash in the formerly hospitable US against the kingdom focused on its official religion that came to be considered by “some … a doctrine of terrorism and hate.”[89]

Inside the kingdom, Crown Prince Abdullah addressed the country’s religious, tribal, business and media leadership following the attacks in a series of televised gatherings calling for a strategy to correct what has gone wrong. According to author Robert Lacey, the gatherings and later articles and replies by a top cleric, Abdullah Turki, and two top Al Saud princes, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Prince Talal bin Abdul Aziz, served as an occasion to sort out who had the ultimate power in the kingdom – the Al Saud dynasty and not the ulema. It was declared that it has always been the role of executive rulers in Islamic history to exercise power and the job of the religious scholars to advise, never to govern.[196]

In 2003–04, Saudi Arabia saw a wave of Al-Qaeda-related suicide bombings, attacks on Non-Muslim foreigners (about 80% of those employed in the Saudi private sector are foreign workers[197] and constitute about 30% of the country’s population[198]) and gun battles between Saudi security forces and militants. One reaction to the attacks was a trimming back of the Wahhabi establishment’s domination of religion and society. “National Dialogues” were held that “included Shiites, Sufis, liberal reformers, and professional women.”[199] In 2009, as part of what some called an effort to “take on the ulema and reform the clerical establishment”, King Abdullah issued a decree that only “officially approved” religious scholars would be allowed to issue fatwas in Saudi Arabia. The king also expanded the Council of Senior Scholars (containing officially approved religious scholars) to include scholars fromSunni schools of Islamic jurisprudence other than the Hanbali madhabShafi’i, Hanafi and Maliki schools.[200]

Relations with the Muslim Brotherhood have deteriorated steadily. After 9/11, the then interior minister Prince Nayef, blamed the Brotherhood for extremism in the kingdom,[201] and he declared it guilty of “betrayal of pledges and ingratitude” and “the source of all problems in the Islamic world”, after it was elected to power in Egypt.[202] In March 2014 the Saudi government declared the Brotherhood a “terrorist organization”.[186]

In April 2016, Saudi Arabia has stripped its religious police, who enforce Islamic law on the society and known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice), from their power to follow, chase, stop, question, verify identification, or arrest any suspected persons when carrying out duties. They are asked to only report suspicious behaviour to regular police and anti-drug units, who will decide whether to take the matter further.[203][204]

Memoirs of Mr. Hempher

A widely circulated but discredited apocryphal description of the founding of Wahhabism[205][206] known as Memoirs of Mr. Hempher, The British Spy to the Middle East (other titles have been used),[207] alleges that a British agent named Hempher was responsible for creation of Wahhabism. In the “memoir”, Hempher corrupts Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, manipulating him[208] to preach his new interpretation of Islam for the purpose of sowing dissension and disunity among Muslims so that “We, the English people, … may live in welfare and luxury.”[207]

Practices

As a religious revivalist movement that works to bring Muslims back from what it believes are foreign accretions that have corrupted Islam,[209] and believes that Islam is a complete way of life and so has prescriptions for all aspects of life, Wahhabism is quite strict in what it considers Islamic behavior. As a result, it has been described as the “strictest form of Sunni Islam”.[210]

This does not mean however, that all adherents agree on what is required or forbidden, or that rules have not varied by area or changed over time. In Saudi Arabia the strict religious atmosphere of Wahhabi doctrine is visible in the conformity in dress, public deportment, and public prayer,[211] and makes its presence felt by the wide freedom of action of the “religious police“, clerics in mosques, teachers in schools, and judges (who are religious legal scholars) in Saudi courts.[212]

Commanding right and forbidding wrong

Wahhabism is noted for its policy of “compelling its own followers and other Muslims strictly to observe the religious duties of Islam, such as the five prayers”, and for “enforcement of public morals to a degree not found elsewhere”.[213]

While other Muslims might urge abstention from alcohol, modest dress, and salat prayer, for Wahhabis prayer “that is punctual, ritually correct, and communally performed not only is urged but publicly required of men.” Not only is wine forbidden, but so are “all intoxicating drinks and other stimulants, including tobacco.” Not only is modest dress prescribed, but the type of clothing that should be worn, especially by women (a black abaya, covering all but the eyes and hands) is specified.[75]

Following the preaching and practice of Abdul Wahhab that coercion should be used to enforce following of sharia, an official committee has been empowered to “Command the Good and Forbid the Evil” (the so-called “religious police”)[213][214] in Saudi Arabia – the one country founded with the help of Wahhabi warriors and whose scholars and pious[citation needed] dominate many aspects of the Kingdom’s life. Committee “field officers” enforce strict closing of shops at prayer time, segregation of the sexes, prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcohol, driving of motor vehicles by women, and other social restrictions.[215]

A large number of practices have been reported forbidden by Saudi Wahhabi officials, preachers or religious police. Practices that have been forbidden as Bida’a (innovation) or shirk and sometimes “punished by flogging” during Wahhabi history include performing or listening to music, dancing, fortune telling, amulets, television programs (unless religious), smoking, playing backgammon, chess, or cards, drawing human or animal figures, acting in a play or writing fiction (both are considered forms of lying), dissecting cadavers (even in criminal investigations and for the purposes of medical research), recorded music played over telephones on hold or the sending of flowers to friends or relatives who are in the hospital.[121][216][217][218][219][220] Common Muslim practices Wahhabis believe are contrary to Islam include listening to music in praise of Muhammad, praying to God while visiting tombs (including the tomb of Muhammad), celebrating mawlid (birthday of the Prophet),[221] the use of ornamentation on or in mosques.[222] The driving of motor vehicles by women is allowed in every country but Wahhabi-dominated Saudi Arabia[223] and the famously strict Taliban practiced dream interpretation is discouraged by Wahhabis.[224]

Wahhabism emphasizes “Thaqafah Islamiyyah” or Islamic culture and the importance of avoiding non-Islamic cultural practices and non-Muslim friendship no matter how innocent these may appear,[225][226] on the grounds that the Sunna forbids imitating non-Muslims.[227] Foreign practices sometimes punished and sometimes simply condemned by Wahhabi preachers as unIslamic, include celebrating foreign days (such as Valentine’s Day[228] orMothers Day[225][227]) shaving, cutting or trimming of beards,[229] giving of flowers,[230] standing up in honor of someone, celebrating birthdays (including the Prophet’s), keeping or petting dogs.[219] Wahhabi scholars have warned against taking non-Muslims as friends, smiling at or wishing them well on their holidays.[71]

Wahhabis are not in unanimous agreement on what is forbidden as sin. Some Wahhabi preachers or activists go further than the official Saudi Arabian Council of Senior Scholars in forbidding (what they believe to be) sin. Several wahhabis have declared football forbidden for a variety of reasons including it is a non-Muslim, foreign practice, because of the revealing uniforms and because of the foreign non-Muslim language used in matches.[231][232] The Saudi Grand Mufti, on the other hand has declared football permissible (halal). [233]

Senior Wahhabi leaders in Saudi Arabia have determined that Islam forbids the traveling or working outside the home by a woman without their husband’s permission – permission which may be revoked at any time – on the grounds that the different physiological structures and biological functions of the different genders mean that each sex is assigned a different role to play in the family.[234] As mentioned before, Wahhabism also forbids the driving of motor vehicles by women. Sexual intercourse out of wedlock may be punished with beheading[235] although sex out of wedlock is permissible with a slave women (Prince Bandar bin Sultan was the product of “a brief encounter” between his father Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz – the Saudi defense minister for many years – and “his slave, a black servingwoman”),[236] or was before slavery was banned in Saudi Arabia in 1962.[237]

Despite this strictness, senior Wahhabi scholars of Islam in the Saudi kingdom have made exceptions in ruling on what is haram. Foreign non-Muslim troops are forbidden in Arabia, except when the king needed them to confront Saddam Hussein in 1990; gender mixing of men and women is forbidden, and fraternization with non-Muslims is discouraged, but not at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Movie theaters and driving by women are forbidden, except at the ARAMCO compound in eastern Saudi, populated by workers for the company that provides almost all the government’s revenue. The exceptions made at KAUST are also in effect at ARAMCO.[238]

More general rules of what is permissible have changed over time. Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud imposed Wahhabi doctrines and practices “in a progressively gentler form” as his early 20th-century conquests expanded his state into urban areas, especially the Hejab.[239] After vigorous debate Wahhabi religious authorities in Saudi Arabia allowed the use of paper money (in 1951), the abolition of slavery (in 1962), education of females (1964), and use of television (1965).[237] Music, the sound of which once might have led to summary execution, is now commonly heard on Saudi radios. [239] Minarets for mosques and use of funeral markers, which were once forbidden, are now allowed. Prayer attendance which was once enforced by flogging, is no longer.[240]

Appearance

The uniformity of dress among men and women in Saudi Arabia (compared to other Muslim countries in the Middle East) has been called a “striking example of Wahhabism’s outward influence on Saudi society”, and an example of the Wahhabi belief that “outward appearances and expressions are directly connected to one’s inward state.”[222] The “long, white flowing thobe” worn by men of Saudi Arabia has been called the “Wahhabi national dress”.[241]Red-and-white checkered or white head scarves known as Ghutrah are worn. In public women are required to wear a black abaya or other black clothing that covers every part of their body other than hands and eyes.

A “badge” of a particularly pious Salafi or Wahhabi man is a robe too short to cover the ankle, an untrimmed beard,[242] and no cord (Agal) to hold the head scarf in place.[243] The warriors of the Ikhwan Wahhabi religious militia wore a white turban in place of an agal.[244]

Wahhabiyya mission

Wahhabi mission, or Dawah Wahhabiyya, is to spread purified Islam through the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim. [245