by rthieme on December 2, 2015





an astonishing new novel, regularly $30, NOW $20 + $5 mailing

in one complete volume or three volumes

UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry

Hard-cover: regularly $35, now $30 + $5 mailing or

Soft-cover: regularly $30, now $25 + mailing

Mind Games

regularly $20, now $15 + $5 mailing

Read all three books and you’ll never see the world the same way again. You will leave the comfortable room of your life and venture forth into the universe.

It’s all out there … it’s only a matter of going.

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Richard Thieme


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FOAM a new novel from Richard Thieme is HERE!

by rthieme on September 6, 2015


a stunning new novel from Richard Thieme available at Amazon in a single volume print edition and in three print volumes as well as three e book volumes for Kindle and Nook.


What does it mean to be human? What is the human condition? Can a person be transformed by the power of love – even if they come from another planet?

These central concerns of the novel are also the concerns of the unusual protagonist of FOAM: extraterrestrial Jack Teufel, who appears in the sagebrush in Utah one day in a flash of light and travels to a city “somewhere in the upper Midwest” in the middle of a bitter winter.

The tale follows Jack as he practices being human by using the internet, cable TV, and other media, seeking to understand human beings, and wandering into serendipitous contact with a skein of characters whose diverse paths fold into a satisfying and unexpected unity.

At the same time, his more-than-human brain broadcasts his encounters to a vast galactic audience for whom “humans are the funniest species in seventeen galaxies … and one of the sexiest.”

A student of improv, Jack tries to always say “yes.”

FOAMs disparate cast members include:

Heidi, with whom Jack hooks up at the bus station when he arrives in the Midwest, who is completing training as a masseuse and making money on the side with fetish sites;

Her favorite model, Roni, unbalanced by her lover Jimi’s transition into a male identity as Jimmy;

Her go-to guru for strength and support, Dr. James John Gillespie, who leads small groups to discover that the “paranormal” is normal;

Bobby Jakus,  who knows Gillespie is right, as he already communes with discarnate spirits through automatic writing;

Bobby takes a job with janitor Juicy Fruit, where he meets Pancho Sanchez a hard core hacker who partners with Don Coyote (a righteous vigilante patrolling the mean streets of cyberspace) in pursuit of corruption in cyberspace and beyond;

Rupert Rapell, coping with a midlife crisis by having an affair with Carrie Fischetti at the bank where they work – and where Rapell does his fair share of corrupting more than cyberspace;

Bunny Isadora, a customer at the Oasis Café, who confronts Jack as a “walk-in Nordic” from another planet.

Dade the barista at the cafe who provides the illusion of stability in a coffee shop likened to purgatory.

By the time most major characters arrive at two climactic meetings – the men at Sex Addicts Anonymous and the women at Women Who Love Too Much Anon – Jack is in danger of going native and must choose between remaining on earth or returning to “The Skein,” a network of trans-galactic sentience, from which he believes he came.

The narrative is wildly satirical and laugh-out-loud funny as well as deeply touching as it explores the power of love to make an alien soul more human.

The novel draws on the rich experiences of the author, Richard Thieme, over a lifetime of exploring spirituality, religion, sexuality, technology, and the worlds of hackers, security professionals, spies, and in a serious scholarly work of history, the relationship between governments and UFOs.

Four appendices support the narrative – a short story, “Species, Lost in Apple-eating Time,” about the evolution of consciousness (published in anotherrealm and Mind Games); an interview with Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell about his life-changing experiences returning from the moon; an interview with Joe McMoneagle, a remote viewer in the Stargate Program; and an interesting idea from Bucky Fuller.

Praise for Richard Thieme

Your mind is a door I didn’t know existed.”

The depth, complexity and texture of Thieme’s thought processes break the mold.” – Brian Snow, Senior Technical Director, NSA (ret.)

I quite liked your story. I’ve been reading science fiction lately and yours was right up there.” – John Updike, author

Give me Richard Thieme. His mind is in orbit but his feet are on the ground.” – Dan Geer, CISO, In-Q-Tel (CIA)

I am deeply grateful to you … one seldom finds one so sympathetic and discerning. Once on a snowy morning in Moscow, Boris Spassky declaimed four pages of Bullet Park in Russian. I was very encouraged as I am by you.” – John Cheever, author

Thieme’s very imaginative writing has a complexity that raises the narrative to the fringes of slipstream. We’re left wondering what’s real and what’s not.” – Steven Pirie, The Future Fire, UK

Thieme takes us to the edges of cliffs we know are there but rarely visit. He wonderfully weaves together life, mystery, and passion with creativity and imagination.” – Clinton C. Brooks, Senior Adviser for Homeland Security and Asst. Deputy Director, NSA (ret.)

Richard Thieme earned his ‘wings’ in cyberspace. He shares his intelligence – his brilliance, really – as he steers his starship through the stars.” – Jennifer Leigh Marais, science writer in South Africa.

Beautiful descriptions and intriguing concepts” – The Fix (UK)

Thieme is truly an oracle for the Matrix generation.” – Kim Zetter, author of Countdown to Zero Day.

Richard Thieme: GENIUS!” – Thuthuka Sithole, a Zulu security researcher in South Africa

Richard Thieme sees deeply into the nature of the human spirit and expresses with great clarity what he observes.” – Joel Garreau,, Washington Post

You are a practitioner of wu wei, the effort to choose the elegant appropriate contribution to each and every issue you address.” – Hal McConnell, NSA analyst (ret.)

Richard Thieme’s clarity of thinking is refreshing and his insights are profound.” – Bruce Schneier, author and security guru

Richard Thieme teaches experts to see with ‘beginners’ eyes’ and hackers to think like philosophers. More than a great thinker, Thieme is an original soul. When you read Richard Thieme, you believe in the Matrix.” – Sol Tzvi, Senior Security Practitioner, formerly with Microsoft Israel, rock star, and entrepreneur

Richard Thieme has inspired me to see myself and the world around me in a different light. His writing represents a glimpse into the inner workings of a most extraordinary mind.” – Becky Bace. NSA (ret.)

Thieme’s writing illuminates unorthodox but deeply profound ways of understanding ourselves and everything around us.” – Jennifer Granick, Director of Civil Liberties at the Stanford University Center for Internet and Society

Thieme’s words more than inspire, they teach us how to think. The reader is left reeling, dizzy with insight.” – Robin Roberts, CIA R&D (ret.)

Richard Thieme is the real Enoch Root” – anonymous

A Review of FOAM

A book that will prompt a “WTF?”, in a really, really good way – at least for some readers

January 10, 2016

Richard Thieme is not the sort of author who will appeal to everyone, but those who are willing or able to tune into his particular wavelength will find the FOAM trilogy to be worth the trip (choice of words intentional). As with Philip K. Dick, the plot is almost beside the point, being a delivery vehicle for ideas and insights which will linger independent of the story. Not that the story doesn’t also hold many charms, it’s just that this is not the sort of book where the story is all there is to it.

The plot is one consisting of many disparate characters increasingly intertwined in a six degrees of Kevin Bacon sort of way, but without the connections and intermingling seeming overly contrived. It’s the sort of story that might been seen if one were given the ability to observe what happens to those one interacts with daily in the hours when they are not in one’s presence. Truth is stranger and more complex than any fiction that humans can create, and Thieme’s book is one of those stories where the author’s view of the truth is put forward in the guise of plausible fiction – a more easily digested and familiar form to deliver the dose of “WTF?” (think of P.K. Dick or maybe Haruki Murakami) that is also provided gratis as part of the deal.

Richard Thieme is also a speaker, consultant and observer of the human condition (including time spent as a priest) in “real” life, and those who have interacted with him in those roles will find this book to be enjoyable on another level, as references familiar and obscure are woven throughout the tale. Much as an audience member who is also a musician can find pleasure in noticing the fragmentary riffs that a musical performer has appropriated from many sources and playfully inserted into an epic solo, those who have been exposed to Thieme’s work in other contexts will recognize recurring pop-culture touchstones and themes (pardon the pun) from various sources. We are all products of our experiences, and both Thieme and his characters rely on shared experiences and reference point to establish bonds and communicate – sort of like that Star Trek TNG episode where the alien species communicates by way of references to history, myths and legends, allowing a short phrase to convey not only direct meaning, but contextual reference and nuance derived from shared knowledge of the source narrative.

What’s it all about? It would be easy to tersely sum up the plot, but doing so would likely lead many to either dismiss it or flock to it, with both groups likely missing the point in the process. The context is the content. The best that I can say without prejudicing the prospective reader is that it’s ultimately about being conscious and being human, with the recognition of all the glories and flaws inherent to both conditions. Perhaps the most interesting character is the one that does not covertly appear – the overarching entity consisting of the interactions of all the characters and contexts presented, which is in its own way a character on a larger stage that is left to the reader’s imagination.

Should you read the book? Maybe, maybe not. It’s not the sort of book that will please everybody.

If you’ve gotten through this review and become at least mildly curious about what exactly could be in this book that I’m tap-dancing around, you might be the sort who will at least give Thieme a chance. You might like his style and ideas, or you might not, but books aren’t all that expensive, so how much have you really got to lose? Donate the thing to the local library or to a thrift store if it doesn’t meet your needs, or give it to a friend (or enemy) whose neurons need to be tweaked a bit.

If you are the sort of reader who would prefer a nice, neat plot summary filling in the usual check boxes in one of any number of familiar genres and formulaic templates, this book at the very least is going to prove difficult to pigeon-hole. Even for you folks, it might be worth giving this a chance. It might change your life, or at least change the boundaries of your choice of reading materials.


Why We Are All a Bit Crazy

by rthieme on January 11, 2015

Why we’re all a bit crazy

James Jesus Angleton embodied the inevitable trajectory of a person committed to counterintelligence. Maybe he got a little crazy at the end but that might explain why we are all getting a little crazy, too.

Angleton was director of counterintelligence for the CIA from 1954 until 1974. Fans of spy fiction might think of him as John Le Carre’s George Smiley, but that portrait puts a benign and smiling face on the grimace that counterintelligence practitioners can’t completely hide.

For 20 years, Angleton’s job was to doubt everything. This enigmatic figure presented puzzles for people to solve in every conversation, stitched designer lies into every narrative, trusted no one.

The task of counterintelligence is to figure out what the other side is doing, how it is deceiving us, what double agents it has planted in our midst. CI is predicated on double-deceiving and triple-deceiving the other side into believing fictions nested within fictions, always leavened with some facts, just enough to seem real.

Counterintelligence is a dangerous game. You have to be willing to sacrifice pawns to save queens. Those pawns may be loyal agents but nothing you have told them, no promises or pledges, can stand in the way of letting them go when you have to, letting them be tortured or killed or imprisoned for life to protect a plan of action.

Angleton came to suspect everyone. Whenever a mole was uncovered in our ranks, he believed that he had been allowed to discover that mole to protect a bigger one, higher up.

You see how the Moebius strip twists back onto itself. Every successful operation is suspect. If you discover double agents in your own ranks, it is because the other side wanted you to find them. The more important the agent you uncover, that is how much more important must be the one you have not yet found.

Example. The Americans built a tunnel under the Berlin Wall so they could tap Soviet military traffic. In fact, a mole working for the Soviets told them about the taps. But he told the KGB, not the military whose traffic was tapped. The KGB did not tell the military because then the military might alter the traffic, which would signal that the Soviets knew about the taps. That, in turn, would mean there was a mole. So to protect the mole, the traffic was allowed to continue unimpeded.

The Americans, once they knew about the mole, concluded that the intercepted traffic had been bogus because the operation had been compromised from the beginning, when in fact the Soviets had let the Americans tap the traffic, saving their mole for future operations.

You get the idea. It’s not that we know that they know that we know but whether or not they know that we know that they know that we know.

It takes a particular kind of person to do this sort of work. Not everyone is cut out for distrusting everybody and everything, for thinking that whatever they accomplish, they were allowed to do it to protect something more important. Daily life for most people means accepting the facts of life at face value and trusting the transactions in which we are engaged, trusting the meaning of words, trusting that there is firm ground under our feet.

Otherwise we inevitably tend where Angleton tended. Every defector considered a plant, every double agent considered a triple agent, everyone in the American network considered compromised. Angleton tore the agency apart, looking for the mole he was sure the moles he found were protecting.

I am struck lately by how many plain people, mainstream folks uninvolved in intelligence work, volunteer that they distrust every word uttered by the government or the media. How many treat all the news as leaks or designer lies that must be deconstructed to find a motive, plan or hidden agenda. Daily life has become an exercise in counterintelligence just to figure out what’s going on.

It’s not a question of party politics. This is deeper than that. It’s about trying to find our balance as we teeter precariously on the Moebius strip of cover and deception that cloaks our public life, that governs the selling of the latest war, that called the air in New York clean instead of lethal, that has darkened the life of a formerly free people who enjoyed constitutional rights as if there’s a midday eclipse. We see our own civil affairs through a glass darkly and nobody really knows what’s what.

As the envelope of secrecy within which our government works has become less and less transparent, the projection of wild scenarios onto that blank space where the truth was once written has become more evident. But that only makes sense. The inability to know what is true unless you are a specialist in investigative work makes our feelings of dissonance, our craziness, understandable.

We are all getting a little crazy about now. We are becoming the confused and confusing person of James Jesus Angleton in a vast undifferentiated mass, a citizenry treated as if we are the enemy of our own government. We spend too much time trying to find that coherent story that makes sense of the contradictory narratives fed to us day and night by an immense iron-dark machine riding loud in our lives.

It got to be too much and at last they let Angleton go into that good night in which he had long lived where nothing was what it seemed and everyone was suspect. So he retired and went fishing. But where can we go? On what serene lake should we go fish, listening to the cry of the loons, trailing our hands in the cold water because cold is at least a fact we can feel, one of the few in a world gone dark and very liquid?

Richard Thieme ( is a Milwaukee-based author and professional speaker. He has spoken about security issues for the National Security Agency, the Secret Service, and the FBI and at the security/hacker conference Def Con for 19 years.


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This speech was given at Def Con 22 in Las Vegas in August 2014, the 19th year I spoke at Def Con. A graphic represntations of speakers at Def Con over the year showed that I had spoken there more than anyone else, which means the company of a LOT of greater people.


Video and additional files of
“The Only Way to Tell the Truth is in Fiction: The Dynamics of Life in the National Security State” – my talk at Def Con 22 (2014)



One might (or might not) notice that the first part of the title of the closing keynote for the final HITB Kuala Lumpur last week is the same as my first keynote for Def Con in 1996. I was asked to scan the future and see what blips appeared on radar and this limited overview was aimed at that. Some in the audience at Def Con 4 – who have moved on to significant work in corporate, government, the intelligence community, recall the prediction that they would be thought leaders in the next century. That “long view” which experienced teachers have lets those on the edge of their dotage see possibilities inherent in younger colleagues who do not yet know how powerful and present they will be.

the full description:

Hacking as Practice etc: How hackers frame the pictures in which others live

Radical hacking is a state of mind, an approach to life, the universe, everything, a practice that must be understood with humility, explored with persistence, and mastered with grace and a flair for style.

It begins in the beginning. In Zen we hear of “beginners’ eyes,” which look with no preconceptions and see clearly what is there. That also means – Zen again – that we can distinguish what’s in our own minds, our perceptual apparatus itself, and what’s “out there.” The boundary where those meet, where we half create and half perceive the reality in which we live, is the fertile gray area where radical hacking takes place.

This is why the future of hacking is in a way already there, a mold for possibility that draws us into itself. Those who allow the future to reach back to them and show them the way look like pioneers, creative geniuses, but really, they’re just hackers.

The future does not exist, from another point of view, or it exists, but not in the ways we think it does. It’s not “there” in an objective way, it’s there as a possibility, actualized or made real only when we instantiate it. If that sounds like quantum physics, maybe it is: studies testing ESP have detected hits at a rate greater than chance for the next perception, the next event, suggesting the future is already held in suspension and available to us here and now.


the future as how we hold ourselves here and now as possibilities for action. What we call the future is a range of possibilities and when we choose one, it happens in the eternal now, in the always present now. And all is always now.

possibilities for hacking aligned with these insights based on my experience. They constitute reality. Reality, as Dick said, is that which, when we no longer believe in it, refuses to go away.That zone of hacking that echoes the past but anticipates the future lies on the edges, the edges of social constructions of reality that we share. If we live inside those constructions as if they are “real,” we become sheep among prowling wolves. But if we refuse to believe in our beliefs and hold them lightly and remain open to possibilities, … mastery.

The necessity for mastering radical hacking is a non-trivial imperative of our time. It is mandated by the untimely stories hackers must invent by making and doing and creating which are contrary to the constructed realities of our time, the consensus realities which people believe uncritically. They are untimely because they cause cognitive dissonance and intolerable pain for those who inhabit the consensus, the “userspace” of our digitally reinvented world, which is why the act of hacking requires courage, discipline, the management of one’s ego, and a willingness to go as insane as a shaman, remembering how to return to the village of the present, the village of the damned.

There’s a practical level to all this. Do you want to live in Moscow owned by keepers who never feed their pets for free?

the ghosts of the past are the torchlights that illuminate the future, and hackers worthy of the name live by that light, the torchlight of doubt and chaos.


as Langdon Winner said:

“To invent a new technology requires that society also invents the kinds of people who will use it; older practices, relationships, and ways of defining people’s identities fall by the wayside and new practices, relationships, and identities take root. In case after case, the move to computerize and digitize means many preexisting cultural forms have suddenly gone liquid, losing their former shape as they are retailored for computerized expression.”


Giving terror events less frightening names may ease fears

by Richard Thieme

Acts of terror are primarily intended to 1) degrade trust by a people in the ability of their government to defend and protect them and 2) deliver blows to the economy and bleed critical resources into protecting against attacks.

By that measure, Sept. 11, 2001, was a success. Billions of dollars shifted to the national security enterprise, diverted from other productive uses, and a good chunk were devoted to what Bruce Schneier calls “security theater,” the Transportation Security Administration at airports, for example, showy activities intended to reassure the public that all is well.

In addition, 9-11 triggered a policy that is extraordinarily expensive and not a little controversial: Once it was decided that all attacks must be prevented, and the long coastline of national life, an interface with countless bays and inlets, must be defended in its entirety, that no casualties are acceptable, it became imperative to intercept and process all communications, all the time, all over the world. If one must stop every attack, one must know every plot.

We still don’t know how to debate all that properly. The distinction between foreign and domestic disappeared as the world of digitized information and communications became ubiquitous. That meant that prohibitions against “unreasonable search and seizure” became blurry.

The context of our lives has so changed since that amendment was added to the Constitution that its application is confusing in a world without walls. The FBI, intended as a national police force, has operations all over the world, and the CIA, created for intelligence gathering and covert action in all countries except ours, now operates domestically as well. The implications of the computer revolution made that inevitable — all identities, all structures, all political boundaries, have been transformed.

In this looking-glass world, when is an act of terror not an act of terror?

An act of terror is aimed above all at the mind of society. That mind’s perception of events is as important as the events themselves. Therefore, turning an act of terror into an anomaly, an accident, a criminal act, alleviates the particular fear that follows an act of terror. Accidents happen, after all, it’s an imperfect world, and when they do, we may not like them, but we don’t cower in fear or assail the government for not preventing them.

Shortly after 9-11, I was alerted to two interesting phenomena.

A friend from one of the agencies suggested I take a look at train derailments. I did what I could to do the research and learned that they had increased and often involved toxic payloads such as chemicals. I learned that implements designed to do nothing but derail trains had been stolen from federal yards. Where did I learn this? Exclusively from small local newspapers.

It took digging around to find the stories and soon they disappeared. They never made it into the national media, which might have amplified the stories, imprinting them indelibly on the mind of society as it did after 9-11 with repeated showings of the towers falling, giving the nation post traumatic stress. All of those incidents were ignored or reported as anomalous facts or turned into “accidents.” As a result, they were not “acts of terror,” nary a one, and they vanished from the forgetful mind of society which is in any case so easily distracted.

The second alert from my friend concerned the number of exotic diseases carried by people crossing the Mexican border. “Looks like they’re up,” he said. “Why? I think they’re practicing.”

Keep in mind that even more than dirty bombs, more than cyber attacks, many charged with defending the homeland fear biological attacks above all else. When I am asked what keeps me awake at night, I respond that a senior technologist at CIA told me he can’t sleep. What keeps him up? Reading FISA intercepts that detail the hopes and dreams of terrorists, what they want to do, what they are trying to do. At the top of the list of his nightmares are biological attacks.

My friend was suggesting that some of those apprehended at the border with unusual pathogens in their bodies were trying to be “suicide carriers.” Dying by a sudden explosion of a bomb attached to your body or dying by a disease is sixes to someone committed to being a martyr.

Think of the current enterovirus epidemic or the raging plague of Ebola. Then think of the impact of the spread of such diseases by design, using weaponized pathogens. It’s not easy, but if death can be delayed long enough for carriers to scatter, then spread disease through contact, a suicide carrier will have done his or her job.

I am not suggesting that terror is behind those two outbreaks. I am not suggesting that all train derailments or epidemics are intentional. Let’s not connect dots prematurely, like so many blogs and shout shows. Diseases do happen. We flinch, then wash our hands. We take the next train.

But when such events are intentional, it takes the terror out of terror to characterize them as “natural.” And I am suggesting that such plots are at the top of the list of attacks that would meet the objectives of terror defined above.

So it seems to be a successful strategy to label events with less frightening names. A man beheads a co-worker but of course he did not get the idea from an ISIL tape. A man takes down the air traffic control system but of course it wasn’t “a terror attack” — no, both guys just…snapped.

Move on. Nothing to see here.

And for heaven’s sake, keep spending. Consumer spending is 70% of our economy (a suicidal path by itself in a world that honors production, not consumption), so keep shopping, as President George W. Bush urged after 9-11. Add to debts that will never be paid, and — oh, why go on. It’s all just life, isn’t it? Things just happen to happen.

And, hey — how about those Packers?

Richard Thieme ( is a Milwaukee-based author and professional speaker. He has spoken about security issues for the National Security Agency, the Secret Service and the FBI as well as speaking for Def Con 19 years. He recently returned from keynoting conferences in Australia for corporate and government security pr


Remembering Gary Webb Ten Years Later

by rthieme on October 16, 2014

Seeing “Kill the Messenger” reminded me that I wrote this ten years ago. Webb and his example meant a lot to me. But it also prompted an endless echo in my mind. If we don’t tell the truth, then they win, he said, and after they stripped him of his reason to live – more effective than killing him, because the only marks on the body are his own – the left-over human being will do the job for them. The words, “who won? who won? …” echo endlessly down the hallways of time.

I have learned the silence can be as effective as ridicule for “controversializing” a person and shifting the focus from what they say to a false image of who they are. Accompanied by changing what they say to “what we say they said” as they did with Webb, an individual does not have the resources of the “authoritative voice” magnified by those in the media who amplify it for a multiplicity of reasons. (The absurd or ignorant comments made about my recent book written by a team of scholars and dedicated researchers over five years, “UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry” and tin-foil-hat wearing accusations are a case in point. Our historical analysis of how the government set policies and executed them over fifty years is supported by nearly one thousand citations, making the data bullet proof, all to government documents and other primary sources. We speculate about nothing – we don’t mention aliens, or interpret in any way the phenomenology of the “thing itself” in ways that continue to baffle our physicists – we simply present a narrative more supported by voluminous corroboration than most “news” – which has resulted in the book being in over 50 university libraries – and it is ignored, muffled by a combination of “they wrote a book about aliens” (not mentioned) and “say nothing, move on.”

For the 21 years I have worked as a writer and professional speaker, I have tried to speak with what someone in an audience in Canberra last month said was “fearless honesty.” That effort, on the margins and the edges, eclipsed by shout shows fighting for shelf space in the narrowing American mind, is all I can do. But when I revisit Gary’s trajectory – the CIA admitted what he said, not what they said he said at the time and savaged him for saying, only ten years later – I am mindful of the loss of innocence his death meant for me, how his words became ironic or tragic, a true “Chinatown moment.” Only ten years were needed for the admission of illegality and criminal activity to be irrelevant. Accountability? To Congress? to “the people?” It went away long ago. The best safest response to knowing that is, as I hear often from audiences –

“I don’t want to know that!”

Because knowing precipitates choices we would rather not make. Not wanting to know is an inevitable predictable response to the magnified power and untouchability of structures we have created.

This is offered in celebration and support of those who tell the truth as best they can, constrained as they are by jobs and families and serious concerns about reputation and career, much less avoiding jail, whether journalists or far-seeing individuals who see the big picture long before others can get it in focus, and are ridiculed for seeing and saying it clearly. It works best to not ask the question, “who wins?” not when a well-meaning colleague then takes us by the arm and gets us home, saying, “It’s Chinatown, Jake. It’s Chinatown.”…/my-last-talk-with-gary-webb/

“I Knew It Was the Truth and That’s What Kept Me Going”

My Last Talk with Gary Webb


The San Jose Mercury News reports that “Gary Webb, a former Mercury News investigative reporter, author and legislative staffer who ignited a firestorm with his controversial stories, died Friday in an apparent suicide in his suburban Sacramento home. He was 49.”

I was heartsick. Just knowing that Webb was alive was enough to keep me going through difficult nights.

The Mercury News says that “Webb, an award-winning journalist, was … perhaps best known for sparking a national controversy with a 1996 story that contended supporters of a CIA-backed guerrilla army in Nicaragua helped trigger America’s crack-cocaine epidemic in the 1980s. The ‘Dark Alliance’ series in the Mercury News came under fire by other news organizations, and the paper’s own investigation concluded the series did not meet its standards. Mr. Webb resigned a year and a half after the series appeared in the paper. He then published his book, `Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion.’

Of course the newspaper did not report that he resigned only after months of commuting to a dead-end assignment 150 miles from his family and home to which he had been exiled. Forced to work so far from his family, Webb grew depressed and made a sane choice.

So he was not a stranger to depression. Conspiracy stories are already suggesting that his suicide was something else, but I know he would want more than anything for solid investigative work to stitch together all of the pieces, that we not impose a pattern prematurely. That’s what he did for his stories and it’s the least we can do for him.

Besides, why kill him now? As I said in my blog-piece three days ago:

Voices of clarity and conscience are effectively controlled and spun into irrelevance rather than silenced. Marginalization is more effective than assassination it leaves no dead heroes as leaders, after all – and there’s no blood.

Webb understood that.

His Dark Alliance series was attacked not for what it said (the CIA initially denied then later admitted there were connections between operatives and drug cartels) but for what attackers claimed it said. Webb expected that kind of distortion and created a web site loaded with primary documents, transcripts and audio tapes of interviews so interested parties could read and hear for themselves what sources had said. It was one of the first times the Web was used to support a mainstream story that way and the site had over a million hits.

But a person can only say “I didn’t say that … I didn’t say that …so many times. The mass mind soon accepts the oft-repeated distortion as reality.

Or as a friend, a political consultant, recently said, “You can’t always change reality but you can always change the facts.”

Or as Joseph E. Levine said, “You can fool all of the people all of the time if the advertising is right and the budget is big enough.”

Or as I said three days ago:

the manipulation of the herd by the substitution of symbols and images largely irrelevant to matters at hand, used so efficiently in the recent election, makes persons of clarity and conscience feel impotent and ineffective.

In May 2000, I was exploring a story with some dark edges to it. I was anxious and needed encouragement to persist. I asked Gary about the consequences of his investigation and its impact on his life. Above all, was it worth it?

“Yes,” he said. “The CIA admitted it. I know it was the truth, and that’s what kept me going. I knew I was right.

He added, “My eyes were wide open. I knew what I was getting into. My kids suffered but I had the paper behind me – I thought.” After his paper withdrew its support, he drew on the energy of people who knew the truth of the streets. “Support came from all sorts of places,” he said. “Especially African Americans.”

And his wife? “She was OK with it,” he laughed. “She was used to me getting death threats.”

Webb joked that colleagues often said he was naive rather than cynical. We agreed that a cynic might be nothing but a disappointed idealist. If we accept reality as it is without expectations to the contrary, we’re never disappointed.

Gary spoke of his work in terms that I used for ministry. He had been mentored by a journalist who taught him that his work was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Thats what the best bishops taught me too.

I was once asked by Jean Feraca on Wisconsin Public Radio, why are so many of your heroes assassinated?

She rattled off Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Jesus.

Maybe, I said, assassination is the ultimate form of censorship for those who cant help but tell the truth.

Dark Alliance was Gary Webb’s best shot at doing that.

“You get one chance in a lifetime to do the right thing,” he said. “If you don’t do it, you surrender, and then they win.”

The passion for truth and justice is not a sprint. It’s a long-distance run that requires a different kind of training, a different degree of commitment. Our eye must be on a goal that we know we will never reach in our lifetimes. Faith is the name of believing in the transcendent, often despite all evidence to the contrary.

But what are the options?

Webb knew what he was up against. He said of the CIA, “Richard, these are the worst people on earth that you’re dealing with – they lie, plant stories, discredit and worse for a living and have the resources and the experience.

But somebody’s got to do it [tell the truth]. Otherwise they win.

The choice is to do the work – or surrender.”

And I am grieving for someone who did the work. And never surrendered.

Rest in peace.

RICHARD THIEME is an author and public speaker focused on change, the human side of technology, and the issues that matter to us most. A collection of his work, “Islands in the Clickstream,” was published this year by Syngress Publishing.


by rthieme on October 14, 2014

Apparently Jack Teufel, who comes he is certain from another system, another point space-time as it were, and who will appear in a fictionalized account (to protect the never-innocent, above all himself) called FOAM, has begun to write a blog. It can be found here:



The End of the Greeks! Interesting!


I have been reading a graphic novel about the Greeks. The older ones, as you count years, not the swarthy hairy bumblers of the present day who cannot even calibrate their commerce to the moment or the real. Then they fill the streets with cries and shouts, selfish whining clods upset with the world for not devoting itself to their mama-baby-happiness.

But I digress.

The rationality of Greeks, it went away and the mind of society dissolved into a new way of thinking about things for about a thousand years. Not one single Greek or Greek-like other took on apocalyptic stories because they were so absurd. They didn’t compute. The rational Greeks could not comprehend the absurd, so the 78% of the human brain, as I think about my own human brain and use it for a template to understand others (how else does a human do it, after all? Mirror neurons and all that), that 78% was disengaged, so I infer that those four fifths of the lobes and folds unused by the Greeks were tuned in that detour into the “supernatural” (which is natural) and the “paranormal” (which is normal), tuned to the architectonic structure of something more than space-time and therefore opened the portal to the deep transformational power of that realm … they could not comprehend that. Nor understand the necessity of entering absurd worlds in order to leapfrog tiddlywinkwise the limitations of their “upper-level” thinking.

The challenge then to the one reader reading these words – you! I mean – is to entertain those worlds, enter into the images of those wild-assed imaginative adventures, while at the same time not believing too much in what you must believe in order to do that.

This practice requires a precarious balance on the cusp. That takes practice, yes, looking at where the water goes and not at the rocks. Then you can go where the water goes.

Humans in their twenty-first (ha!) century are on the cusp again. They have been on the cusp before. Many times, in point of fact. They think of it as a fork in the road but it is more like standing at five or six points and having more choices than binary thinking allows. Regardless of what humans choose, this time, if you do not factor in that crazy realm with harlequin colors spattered throughout, in which richer reality resides, then you doom yourselves like the Greeks to a dead-end. You will hit the wall with the kind of splat! with which my graphic novel is filled.

 Splat!  Pow! Wham!


Such creative evocative words from the pens and inks of tale-tellers, emphasis when needed, to make exclamatory points. And yes, I the casual reader from a different system, approve this message.


But why, you may ask, do such thoughts fill my head, even before the first latte or cappuccino of the day? On which I now depend to kickstart my brain?

This is why …



Heidi came by after her massage class. I could smell the scented oil on her hands and reflect with regret that I was not the body on which those hands worked their supple magic. She is learning massage in fact, not as a pretense to bring the lonely client to a come, after which he is lonelier than before. She studies the magical arts of the ancients in order to reiki their major centers even when they don’t know it.

When she bustled into the coffee shop in her blue parka, the furry hood up, her eyes full of light, exuding life and a warmth for which we in this deadly cold city must otherwise wait many months, I felt an updraft, a warm springlike breeze and I smelled the scent of blossoms despite the icy streets outside. That was a new feeling and I log it here for reference. In what you call the “future.”

She told me of an exchange of energies with her sample client that was for once reciprocal. It moved like a loop of infinity, an eight on its side, from her hands through the energies arranged as a body and back through her hands to her brain. That was pretty interesting, in itself. Could she discern the meaning or intent of the energy? I asked. She thought for a pretty little moment, then shook her bleached blonde middle-aged head—young middle-aged, she makes me say, late thirties, we pretend. No, not that I’m aware of, said the woman onto whom I latched from the moment I rose on the steps at the station, tired from my long journey from Utah and beyond. Ah ha, said her new fond friend (that’s me). Then the energy never turned the corner. Never became information, I mean. That is quite a primordial experience, good for building on but not an end in itself.


Uh-huh, she said, as if she understood. Which she could not do, of course, until it does turn into information that she can receive and integrate into her thoughts as best she can. That for some reason made her speak of religions (you see the link with the prior page) and why she can not belong to one. She was ready to confide that the men to whom she like a magnet went boing! sprong! and bounded toward their attracting force, a Lorenz attractor as it were which she could never reach, had used or abused her, one way or another, some with subtlety and guile, playing with her brain, one bad actor more overtly with the back of his dastardly hand, so she was reluctant to enter into systems headed by domineering men like Jesus or Mohammad or Moses, all of whom could be … well, she paused, insufferable, as we were discussing, because they felt so superior to normal human beings like me.

She went on in that vein with energy and vigor for quite some time. But this is what I noticed most.

My body as I mentioned was already trained by her skillful hand to crave and expect sex, to love the rituals she made, building through subtle interaction until I was well inside her spell, every time I saw her. But it was quite a while, sitting there and listening, before I even thought of that. Before I thought of sex, I am saying. Huh! I said to myself. I had fallen into listening, don’t you see, and in my attentive focus, was attuned to my friend Heidi and her alacrity of spirit and her energy and strength and the way her face, so animated, tickled me quite pink. And in that attentiveness, my dick did not even stir, not for a while, as I said, because I was lost in the folds of her soul. Manifesting itself in words and gestures and demeanor, all at once. When I realized that, of course, it sprang to life, but it did not seem right to act on the impulse. Whoa! I said to myself. Because that too was a new thing.

This seems worthy of remarking. It seems important to me as I continue to try to understand humans from within their own frame. A frame I try at the same time to build out into dimensions they cannot comprehend as we interact in a casual manner, spylike so they don’t suspect they are being played, like pulling a single point on the screen slowly with my mouse and watching the rhombus on the monitor change how it defines … everything.

Everything. I am saying. Everything that is.


21 years of ThiemeWorks On September 1 2014

by rthieme on August 19, 2014

On September 1, 1993, the first year it was permitted to engage in commercial enterprises on the then-new Internet, I took a leap of faith and launched ThiemeWorks as a platform for professional speaking, writing, and consulting. 21 years later … have mouth, will travel … still applies.

Unspeakable gratitude for the thousands of partners who have collaborated, cooperated, and provided opportunities. Long may we wave.

















The Hague



Wodz Poland

Victoria BC






Eilat/Tel Aviv

Kuala Lumpur


closer to home …



New York


San Francisco CA

San Diego CA

Monterey CA







Kansas City

Burlington VT


San Antonio




New Orleans

Baton Rouge




Louisville KY

Murray KY





Sun Valley ID

Los Alamos NM


Des Moines

St. Louis

Las Vegas

Lake Tahoe


Washington DC

Fort Meade MD

Arlington VA

Norfolk VA

Hampton VA

Charlottesville VA

Springfield VA

Lafayette IN

Indianapolis IN


local …


Milwaukee WI

Madison WI

Green Bay WI

Eau Claire WI

La Crosse WI

Sheboygan WI

Racine WI

Kenosha WI

Appleton WI

Waukesha WI

Beloit WI

Whitewater WI

Port Washington WI

Mequon WI

Shorewood WI

Whitefish Bay WI

Brookfield WI

Wauwatosa WI

Oconomowoc WI

Clintonville WI

Green Lake WI

Ripon WI

Grafton WI

Random Lake WI

Butler WI

New Berlin WI

West Allis WI

St. Francis WI

Burlington WI

West Bend WI

Waterford WI

Delafield WI

Muskego WI

Mukwonago WI

Elm Grove WI

Pewaukee WI

Menominee WI

Chippewa Falls WI

Antigo WI

Greendale WI

Hartland WI

Franklin WI

Germantown WI

Lake Geneva WI

Janesville WI

McFarland WI

Wales WI

Oostburg WI

Fontana WI

Manitowoc WI

Mishicot WI


and …


Crystal Lake IL

Zion IL

Grays Lake IL

Waukegan IL

Lake Forest IL

Winnetka IL

Wilmette IL

Northbrook IL

Hillside IL

Galena IL

Oak Park IL



My topic for Def Con 22 in August. The 19th year at Def Con, beginning with Def Con 4 in 1996.

The Only Way to Tell the Truth is in Fiction: The Dynamics of Life in the National Security State

Over a decade ago, a friend at the National Security Agency told Richard Thieme that he could address the core issues they discussed in a context of “ethical considerations for intelligence and security professionals” only if he wrote fiction. “It’s the only way you can tell the truth,” he said.

Three dozen published short stories and one novel-in-progress (FOAM) later, one result is “Mind Games,” published in 2010 by Duncan Long Publishing, a collection of stories that illuminates “non-consensual realities:” the world of hackers; the worlds of intelligence professionals; encounters with other intelligent life forms; and deeper states of consciousness.

A recent scholarly study of “The Covert Sphere” by Timothy Melley documents the way the growth and influence of the intelligence community since World War 2 has created precisely the reality to which that NSA veteran pointed. The source of much of what “outsiders” believe is communicated through novels, movies, and television programs. But even IC “insiders” rely on those sources as compartmentalization prevents the big picture from coming together because few inside have a “need to know.”

Thieme asked a historian at the NSA what historical events they could discuss with a reasonable expectation that their words denoted the same details. “Anything up to 1945,” the historian said with a laugh – but he wasn’t kidding.

Point taken.

This fascinating presentation illuminates the mobius strip on which all of us walk as we make our way through the labyrinth of security and intelligence worlds we inhabit of necessity, all of us some of the time and some of us all of the time. It discloses why “post-modernism” is not an affectation but a necessary condition of modern life. It addresses the words of an NSA intelligence analyst who responded to one of Thieme’s stories by saying, “most of this isn’t fiction, but you have to know which part to have the key to the code.” This talk does not provide that key, but it does provide the key to the key. It also throws into relief everything else you hear – whether from the platform or in the hallways – inside this conference. And out there in the “real world.”

“Nothing is what it seems.”