Bruce Springsteen Security Concern Investigated
CIA found that Bruce Springsteen's private phone calls had been flagged "Serious Concern," the most severe notation, by an NSA speech-recognition system processing his telephone activity. CIA requested from NSA the complete transcripts of Springsteen's phone and fax communications since his return to the U.S. A temporary problem with NSA's main computer system meant that NSA could not comply with that request for two days.
In the meantime, Gus Fortan deliberated CIA's options. Bruce Springsteen had not been tailed, due to the difficulties in following a celebrity closely. His house had been staked out, but Springsteen was seldom home.
Internal inquiries had already been made regarding a candidate to keep closer tabs on Springsteen. An inquiry went out to FBI (as this was to be a CONUS operation, until Springsteen's yet unscheduled European tour) seeking an agent trained in undercover work who was also a musician of professional ability.
Although many FBI agents with exceptional musical ability stepped forward, an FBI Special Agent put in charge of the surveillance operation quickly realized that established connections in the professional music world were at least as important as musicianship in landing a role as a studio "cat." Only one agent, a classically-trained cellist with experience playing saxophone, was chosen to try to get an audition with Springsteen, but was ultimately unable to arrange for such an audition to take place as Springsteen had a saxophone player: a close friend and resident of Springsteen's home town, not likely to be replaced.
It appears that a second proposed plan was to hire Springsteen as CIA staff. In the world of intelligence, an individual who would appear to prove a grave risk to security can often be useful - either to "leak" falsified information (knowingly or unknowingly) or to be deployed as an undercover agent.
However, when CIA finally received from NSA a detailed record of Springsteen's telephone activity, concerns were immediately alleviated. The "Serious Concern" flag had been triggered by what the speech recognition system thought were repeated references to Colombia. The word actually spoken by Springsteen in all of the calls was "Columbia," used to indicate Springsteen's recording label, Columbia Records.
Plans to eliminate the perceived security risk were quickly dropped and, inappropriately, some attempts were made to destroy evidence of these plans.
Evidence uncovered by the Commission suggests that there may have been a contingency plan to neutralize Springsteen. A heavily redacted high-level memo bears closer scrutiny. Rarely are state-side assassinations of closely-guarded popular figures even considered. Obviously, such an action would have been considerably expensive.
The FBI's discovery of NSA's mistake, in combination with the fact that the agents staking out Springsteen's domicile had begun to be recognized by fans of Springsteen's music who had also been staking out Springsteen's domicile, led to a decision to discontinue monitoring Springsteen.
The decision also allowed Gus Fortan to turn his attention to a confidential memo from DEA regarding a further report on the lenguaje.
The report detailed a recent arrest by DEA agents working undercover in Little Rock, Arkansas. A man - a Hollywood screenwriter of lesser repute - had been arrested smuggling morphine from Mexico into America in the spines of unabridged Spanish/English dictionaries.
Hoping to penetrate deeper into the morphine dictionary organization, the DEA contracted the man as informant. The man had no qualms about operating as informant, and, according to his DEA handlers, seemed genuinely eager to betray his associates and connections in favor of a reduced sentence.
So enthusiastic was the man about this prospect, that he spoke freely and with great excitement about every criminal, petty or significant, he had ever known. The man also provided lists of Los Angeles police officers known to be corrupt, detailing cases of bribery and protection offered to influential dealers. The man further spoke of corrupt Mexican officials he was in contact with, who facilitated smuggling through Mexico in league with larger South American organizations and corrupt American Customs agents.
The impression of the informant's DEA handlers was that he was an outrageous narcissist and liar, but none of the informant's allegations could be easily disproven. It was unclear why the man would choose to reveal sensitive information irrelevant to the case for which he had been employed, and the conclusion reached was that the man was a shallow braggart who seemed to regard California narcotics enforcement as, if not a hoax, at least not something that could ever affect him personally. The fact of his own reduced sentence may have reinforced his attitude.
To our knowledge, none of the subject's allegations regarding corruption among Mexican or American state or federal officials were reported or investigated, which strikes this Commission as an oversight.
The incident was brought to Fortan's attention because the informant in question mentioned lenguaje, which was not known to have ever appeared in the United States. In fact, he boasted of dealing considerable quantities of tincture made from its extract to Los Angeles citizens of considerable prestige, including politicians, journalists, and Hollywood executives. The informant did not feel inclined to protect of these individuals' identities. While the informant had sold vast quantities of the tincture to professionals in the movie industry, and even to a speechwriter for former governor Pete Wilson, he claimed that his biggest customers by far were those involved in advertising. The man was even able to indicate specific television commercials which had been produced by some of his lenguaje customers, and went so far as to recite the commercials from memory.
In describing the collusion of corrupt American customs agents is facilitating the safe passage of lenguaje across the U.S. / Mexican border in exchange for payoffs, he emphasized that this corruption was tied to very highly-ranked officials in the executive branch. He even claimed to have heard references to "Clinton," which fact he reportedly reported with considerable pride.
The informant did not seem to have any sense that the lenguaje was anything more than another pleasure drug, and admitted to having used it frequently, as recently as on the day of his arrest.
Gus Fortan immediately began to follow up on this report.