Last Saturday the Ottawa Citizen published a feature titled “The story of ‘the Canadian vaccine’ that beat back Ebola“. According to the article, staff reporter Elizabeth Payne’s “research was supported by a travel grant from the International Development Research Centre.” The laudatory story concludes with Guinea’s former health minister thanking Canada “for the great service you have rendered to Guinea” and a man who received the Ebola vaccine showing “reporters a map of Canada that he had carved out of wood and displayed in his living room. ‘Because Canada saved my life.’”
A Crown Corporation that reports to Parliament through the foreign minister, the International Development Research Centre’s board is mostly appointed by the federal government. Unsurprisingly, the government-funded institution broadly aligns its positions with Canada’s international objectives.
IDRC funds various journalism initiatives and development journalism prizes. Canada’s aid agency has also doled out tens of millions of dollars on media initiatives over the years. The now defunct Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has funded a slew of journalism fellowships that generate aid-related stories, including a Canadian Newspaper Association fellowship to send journalists to Ecuador, Aga Khan Foundation Canada/Canadian Association of Journalists Fellowships for International Development Reporting, Canadian Association of Journalists/Jack Webster Foundation Fellowship. It also offered eight $6,000 fellowships annually for members of the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec, noted CIDA, “to report to the Canadian public on the realities lived in developing countries benefiting from Canadian public aid.”
Between 2005 and 2008 CIDA spent at least $47.5 million on the “promotion of development awareness.” According to a 2013 J–Source investigation titled “Some journalists and news organizations took government funding to produce work: is that a problem?”, more than $3.5 million went to articles, photos, film and radio reports about CIDA projects. Much of the government-funded reporting appeared in major media outlets. But, a CIDA spokesperson told J-Source, the aid agency “didn’t pay directly for journalists’ salaries” and only “supported media activities that had as goal the promotion of development awareness with the Canadian public.”
One journalist, Kim Brunhuber, received $13, 000 to produce “six television news pieces that highlight the contribution of Canadians to several unique development projects” to be shown on CTV outlets. While failing to say whether Brunhuber’s work appeared on the station, CTV spokesperson Rene Dupuis said another documentary it aired “clearly credited that the program had been produced with the support of the Government of Canada through CIDA.”
During the 2001–14 war in Afghanistan CIDA operated a number of media projects. A number of CIDA-backed NGOs sent journalists to Afghanistan and the aid agency had a contract with Montréal’s Le Devoir to “[remind] readers of the central role that Afghanistan plays in CIDA’s international assistance program.”
The military also paid for journalists to visit Afghanistan. Canadian Press envoy Jonathan Montpetit explained, “my understanding of these junkets is that Ottawa picked up the tab for the flight over as well as costs in-theatre, then basically gave the journos a highlight tour of what Canada was doing in Afghanistan.”
A number of commentators have highlighted the political impact of military sponsored trips, which date back decades. In Turning Around a Supertanker: media-military relations in Canada in the CNN age, Daniel Hurley writes, “correspondents were not likely to ask hard questions of people who were offering them free flights to Germany” to visit Canadian bases there. In his diary of the mid-1990s Somalia Commission of Inquiry, Peter Desbarats made a similar observation. “Some journalists, truly ignorant of military affairs, were happy to trade junkets overseas for glowing reports about Canada’s gallant peacekeepers.”
The various arms of Canadian foreign policy fund media initiatives they expect will portray their operations sympathetically. It’s one reason why Canadians overwhelmingly believe this country is a benevolent international actor even though Ottawa long advanced corporate interests and sided with the British and US empires.
The global mainstream media have loudly hailed the stunning success of the peoples uprising against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP in the light of its demise. In the last few years protests broke out all over Europe as the unelected bureaucrats steamed ahead with this unpopular trade deal, even after the results of the largest ever consultation study in the EU Commission’s history resulted in a 97% negative response of 150,000 people.
The emerging movement spawned enormous online activism never seen before, culminating in the largest petition in Europe’s history with a staggering collective of over 3.2 million signatures delivered by passionate foot-soldiers right to the epicentre of where the political elite inhabit in the EU. The beating heart of TTIP activism was Berlin, Paris and London. This is not to forget the huge protest effort made by citizens across almost all of the EU’s major cities.
When preparing for TTIP negotiations, 560 meetings took place between 2012 and 2013. Just 4% were represented by public interest and civil society. Unashamedly, the Commission allowed 92% of all TTIP meetings to be dominated by lobbyists and corporate trade associations Today, these shadowy agitators amount to over 30,000 grey suits stalking the halls of the Commission HQ in the de facto capital of the European Union in Brussels.
In May of this year Wikileaks confirmed that TTIP amounted to “a huge transfer of power from people to big business.” Greenpeace Netherlands then leaked 248 secret pages of the controversial trade deal between the U.S. and EU, exposing how environmental regulations, climate protections and consumer rights were effectively being “bartered away behind closed doors.” Tensions amongst civil society rose to fever pitch with the devastating news.
Der Spiegel Germany wrote “Protests Threaten Trans-Atlantic Trade Deal” as the leaks became public. With concerted effort activists seemingly brought the trade agreement to the brink of collapse within days. At the same time, Merkel’s grandly staged meeting with US President Barack Obama in Hanover was nothing more than showmanship. It aimed to show the strain of negotiations, as if somehow Germany (and therefore the EU) was going to get a better deal from TTIP and pacify the building rage of her citizens.
As if to rub salt into the wounds a report by TruePublica, published in The European Financial Review confirmed that corruption in the EU trading bloc had now reached 14 per cent of GDP – a staggering €1 trillion. By now 70 per cent of all European citizens believe corruption to be at the heart of their respective governments and the EU Commission itself, and that a corporate coup d’tat is taking the place of democratic principles that Europe fought so hard for over generations.
Then, out of the blue, an unexpected announcement is made last week. The media on all sides of the spectrum is broadly going along with the story that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and German Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel have agreed that negotiations between the EU and the US on TTIP, have essentially failed. That’s it – the deal is dead. Hoorah!
The Telegraph – “EU’s TTIP trade deal with the US has collapsed, says Germany”
The Independent – “TTIP negotiations should stop, French government says”
ZeroHedge – “The Americans Give Us Nothing”: France Effectively Kills TTIP’
RT – ‘TTIP negotiations between EU and US have de facto failed’ – German economy minister”
Not so fast. You don’t think that the American’s are going to let the biggest trade deal in human history fail just because 97% of citizens reject it do you? No, France and Germany just need a plan. After Brexit, Britain can stay out of the firing line of the protest movement for a while.
So, they looked to Japan. It had the same problem with its version of the trade deal similarly called TPP. Mass protests broke out as the same secret meetings gripped the political foreground. Its Prime Minister “Shinzo Abe, instructed the coalition early in the year not to “forcibly” proceed with the TPP negotiations until after elections, Kyodo News reported. Abe genuinely “feared a voter backlash in the Upper House elections” amid the growing scandal of a 242 page leaked document laying bare the bones of the deal. Having been elected June 11th, Abe now intends to force the deal through “this fall”.
I made enquiries with sources close to the ground on the EU/US TTIP deal along the same lines; was this simply a delaying tactic until after elections in 2017 for France’s Hollande and Germany’s Merkel? The response was not wholly unexpected.
“The seemingly early celebration of the end of TTIP has also surprised us a bit. Despite last week’s statements by the German and French trade ministers and the way these have been portrayed, we are continuing to campaign against the deal.”
In another exchange:
“The declarations of French and German leaders aim to: divert attention away from CETA, reduce the numbers in the streets of Germany on 17th September, put TTIP on hold while elections take place in France, Germany and the USA. The fifteenth round of TTIP negotiations will happen in the first week of October… This has been confirmed by our US friends.”
I then contacted Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO). It is a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making. They have been exposing the misinformation and propaganda of the EU Commission for years.
The CEO response to my same question was emphatic and quite clear:
“Public opposition to CETA and TTIP has led French and German leaders to please voters with words against TTIP. Unfortunately, the next round of TTIP negotiations is scheduled for early October and no EU leader has publicly said he or she will vote against CETA in the EU Council in October. This is clearly not the end of TTIP and CETA, just the beginning of electoral campaigns in France and Germany.”
Germany and France have taken the same stance as Japan on these trade agreements, they are not dead at all – they are lying.
I then spoke to Peter Koenig, an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources and posed the same question. He said:
“Following a debate on PressTV Edition Française, where I was one of the interviewees, the focus was on the German and French Ministers’ expressed conclusion that TTIP negotiations failed. I wrote an article “The TTIP is Dead”, hoping that spreading of this ‘promise’ by the highest authorities of the two key countries in the EU would make sure among the European populace that any deviation from this ‘promise’ would be perceived as a lie and receive strongest public expressions of protest.”
“In the meantime, it has become clear that the TTIP and TISA ‘deals’ are not at all dead. In fact, shortly after the German and French announcements, Jean-Claude Juncker, the unelected President of the European Commission, declared majestically that for him the negotiations are not dead.”
“There are other means to infiltrate the TTIP into the EU, i.e. through CETA and according to Juncker, doesn’t need ratification of each EU members’ parliament. Then there is TISA, the even more secret ‘trade agreement’ between 50 countries around the globe. TISA could easily be used to clandestinely impose TTIP rules on Europe.”
Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now confirmed what Peter Koenig is saying in a Guardian piece “Think TTIP is a threat to democracy? There’s another trade deal that’s already signed”
“TTIP is not alone. Its smaller sister deal between the EU and Canada is called CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). CETA is just as dangerous as TTIP; indeed it’s in the vanguard of TTIP-style deals, because it’s already been signed by the European commission and the Canadian government. It now awaits ratification over the next 12 months.
The one positive thing about CETA is that it has already been signed and that means that we’re allowed to see it. Its 1,500 pages show us that it’s a threat to not only our food standards, but also the battle against climate change, our ability to regulate big banks to prevent another crash and our power to renationalise industries.
CETA contains a new legal system, open only to foreign corporations and investors. Should the British government make a decision, say, to outlaw dangerous chemicals, improve food safety or put cigarettes in plain packaging, a Canadian company can sue the British government for “unfairness”. And by unfairness this simply means they can’t make as much profit as they expected. The “trial” would be held as a special tribunal, overseen by corporate lawyers.”
What is missing from this statement is that any American corporation headquartered in Canada can sue any nation in the EU via CETA for the same reasons – namely, loss of ‘expected’ profits. They don’t actually have to be Canadian corporations.
As Global Justice also confirms, Canada has itself fought and lost a plentiful and diverse range of legal cases brought by US corporations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) for “outlawing carcinogenic chemicals in petrol, reinvesting in local communities and halting the devastation of quarries.” If TTIP doesn’t bring this horrific erosion of democratic power to the shores of Europe, CETA will. ‘Brexit’ will mean for nothing. It will be sold to the British people as a global trade agreement which will be heralded as a great success and supported by much of the media who themselves have a vested interest in such deals.
In the end, does it matter if it’s called TTIP, CETA, TISA and the like, they are all shadowy unaccountable acronyms designed to enrich the few via extreme neoliberal capitalism under the guise of free trade.
Protest sign urging global conservation meeting to address the environmental damage from U.S. military bases. (Photo by Ann Wright)
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has come in for criticism due to its lack of attention to the detrimental effects of wars and military operations on nature. Considering the degree of harm to the environment coming from these human activities, one would think that the organization might have set aside some time at its World Conservation Congress this past week in Hawaii to specifically address these concerns.
Yet, of the more than 1,300 workshops crammed into the six-day marathon environmental meeting in Honolulu, followed by four days of discussion about internal resolutions, nothing specifically addressed the destruction of the environment by military operations and wars.
The heavy funding the IUCN gets from governments is undoubtedly the rationale for not addressing this “elephant in the room” at a conference for the protection of the endangered planet – a tragic commentary on a powerful organization that should acknowledge all anti-environmental pressures.
At a presentation at the USA Pavilion during the conference, senior representatives of the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy regaled the IUCN audience of conservationists with tales about caring for the environment, including protecting endangered species, on hundreds of U.S. military bases in the United States.
The presenters did not mention what is done on the over 800 U.S. military bases outside of the United States. In the one-hour military style briefing, the speakers failed to mention the incredible amounts of fossil fuels used by military aircraft, ships and land vehicles that leave mammoth carbon footprints around the world. Also not mentioned were wars that kill humans, animals and plants; military exercise bombing of entire islands and large swaths of land; and the harmful effects of the burn pits which have incinerated the debris of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Each military service representative focused on the need for training areas to prepare the U.S. military to “keep peace in the world.” Of course, no mention was made of “keeping the peace” through wars of choice that have killed hundreds of thousands of persons, animals and plants, and the bombing of the cultural heritage in many areas around the world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
Miranda Ballentine, Air Force Assistant Secretary for Installations, the Environment and Energy, said the U.S. Air Force has over 5,000 aircraft, more than all the airlines in the United States — yet she never mentioned how many gallons of jet fuel are used by these aircraft, nor how many people, animals and cultural sites the aircraft have bombed.
To give one some idea of the scale of the footprint of U.S. military bases, Ballentine said Air Force has over 160 installations, including 70 major installation covering over 9 million square miles of land, larger than the country of Switzerland, plus 200 miles of coastland.
Incredibly, Ballentine said that due to commercial development around military bases, military bases have become “islands of conservation” — conservation takes place inside the protected base while there are larger conservation issues outside the fence lines of the bases.
Adding to the mammoth size of the military base footprint, Dr. Christine Altendorf, the regional director of the U.S. Army’s Installation Management Command of the Pacific, said U.S. Army bases have 12.4 million acres of land, including 1.3 million acres of wetlands, 82,605 archeological sites, 58,887 National Historical Landmarks and 223 endangered species on 118 installations.
The U.S. Navy’s briefer, a Navy Commander, added to the inventory of military equipment, saying the Navy has 3,700 aircraft; 276 ships, including 10 aircraft carriers; 72 submarines. Seventy naval installations in the United States have 4 million acres of land and 500 miles of coastline. The Navy presenter said the Navy has never heard of a marine mammal that has been harmed by U.S. Naval vessels or acoustic experiments in the past ten years.
Only One Question
At the end of the three presentations, there was time for only one question — and luckily, my intense hand waving paid off and I got to ask: “How can you conserve nature when you are bombing nature in wars of choice around the world, practicing military operations in areas that have endangered species like on the islands of Oahu, Big Island of Hawaii, Pagan, Tinian, Okinawa and bombing islands into wastelands like the Hawaiian island of Koho’olawe and the Puerto Rican island of Vieques and now you want to use the North Marianas ‘Pagan’ Island as a bombing target. And how does the construction of the new South Korean naval base in pristine marine areas of Jeju Island that will be used by the U.S. Navy and the proposed construction at Henoko of the runways into the pristine Oura Bay in Okinawa fit into conservation of nature?”
Interestingly, in the large audience of approximately 100 people, not one of them applauded the question indicating that either audience was composed primarily of Department of Defense employees, or that the conservationists are uneasy about confronting the U.S. government and particularly the U.S. military about its responsibility for its large role in the destruction of much of the planet’s environment.
The Navy representative was the only person to respond to my question. He reiterated the national security necessity for military exercises to practice to “defend peace around the world.” To his credit, he acknowledged the role the public has in commenting on the possible impact of military exercises. He said that over 32,000 comments from the public have been made on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the possibility of artillery firing and aircraft bombing of the Northern Marianas island of Tinian — that has only 2,300 inhabitants.
Despite all odds, someone in Hawaii was able to get an exhibit of photographs of the cleanup of Koho’olawe placed on the third floor of the Hawaii Convention Center. There was no sign announcing the exhibition, just a series of photos with some explanation. In five days of attending the conference, I observed that 95 percent of the conference attendees who walked past the exhibition did not stop to look at it – until I stopped them and explained what it was about. Then, they were very interested.
A crater that was created on the Hawaiian island of Koho’olawe from massive explosions of TNT in 1965. (Photo from Hawaii Archive)
From 1941 to 1990, the island of Koho’olawe was used as a bombing range for U.S. military aircraft and naval vessels. One photograph in the exhibition showed the crater called “Sailor’s Hat” which was made by several massive explosions of TNT in 1965 to recreate and study the effects of large explosions on nearby ships and personnel to simulate in some manner the effects of a nuclear explosion. The crater affected the island’s fresh water aquifer and now no artesian water remains on the island.
After Hawaiians stopped the bombing through their protests and by staying on the island during bombings from the 1970s, the U.S. Navy returned Koho’olawe to the State of Hawaii in 2004 after a 10-year clean-up process. But only 66 percent of the surface has been cleared of unexploded ordnance (UXO), and only 10 percent cleared to a depth of 4 feet. Twenty-three percent of the surface remains uncleared and 100 percent of the waters surrounding the island have not been cleared of UXO, putting divers and ships at risk.
Okinawan Environmental Activists
Environmental activists from Okinawa had a booth at the IUCN at which they told about the attempt of the U.S. military and the national Japanese government to construct a runway complex into Oura Bay, a pristine marine area that that is the home of the protected species of marine mammal, the dugong.
The Deputy Governor of Okinawa and the Mayor of Nago city, Okinawa, both of whom have been key figures in the grassroots campaign to stop the construction of the runways and the lawsuits filed by the provincial government of Okinawa against the federal Japanese government, gave presentations about the citizens’ struggle against the construction of the runways.
However, there was no mention of the environmental effects on the marine environment from the construction of a huge new naval base on Jeju Island, South Korea, the site of the previous IUCN conference four years ago. At that conference, IUCN, no doubt at the request of the South Korean government, refused to allow citizen activists to have a booth inside the convention or make presentations like the Okinawans did this year. As a result, the Jeju Island campaigners were forced to stay outside the conference site.
Four years later in the 2016 WCC conference in Hawaii, the Government of Japan and the Province of Jeju Island sponsored a large multi-media pavilion about Jeju island which did not mention the construction of the new naval base and the destruction of the cultural heritage of the site nor the displacement of women divers who had dived at the location for generations.
On Sept. 3, local groups in Honolulu came to the Hawaii Convention Center with signs to remind the IUCN of the U.S. militarization of Asia and the Pacific. Signs and posters from local environmentalists cited the environmental impact from the huge 108,863-acre Pohakuloa bombing range on the Big Island of Hawaii, the largest U.S. military installation in the Pacific; the Aegis missile test center on the island of Kauai; and the four large U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine bases on the island of Oahu.
Other signs referenced the extensive number of U.S. military bases in Japan, Okinawa, South Korea, Guam and new U.S. military installations in the Philippines and Australia.
Ann Wright served 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She also served 16 years as a US diplomat in US Embassies in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. She was on the small team that reopened the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan in December 2001. She resigned from the US Department of State in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq.
Insys Therapeutics, which profits off of a painkiller 50 times more potent than heroin, has donated $500,000 to a campaign opposing marijuana legalization in the US state of Arizona.
The maker of the drug Subsys, a sublingual fentanyl spray, said that children are their main concern for fighting Proposition 205, which appears on the ballot this November.
“They want to be able to push their far more addictive, far more harmful and far more dangerous opioid drugs,” JP Holyoak, chair of the committee pushing Prop 205, told the Arizona Capitol Times.
Supporters of cannabis legalization say legal access to their natural non-addictive painkiller could eliminate the need for drugs like fentanyl, which contributes to America’s growing epidemic of opioid dependency that claims more lives each year than gunshot wounds or car crashes.
Prince died from an overdose of fentanyl and one third of Ohio’s 3,050 deaths caused by lethal drug consumption last year were linked to the drug, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
A 2014 study by John Hopkins University found that states which legalized medical marijuana had 25 percent less overdose deaths from prescription drugs than those where it remained illegal.
Insys said in a statement that its opposition to the legalization of cannabis was “because it fails to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens, and particularly its children.”
It did not address whether the outcome could have financial benefits for the company, although all of its profits come from the sale of its only product – the fentanyl-containing spray, according to its August filing.
Last month, Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, brought a lawsuit against Insys over claims they had deceptively marketed and sold their medication to doctors for uses other than cancer treatment, which the FDA has approved its sole use for.
Madigan said the company’s “desire for increased profits led it to disregard patients’ health and push addictive opioids for non-FDA approved purposes.”
Insys became the largest contributor to the anti-legalization campaign after donating to Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group opposing the initiative to regulate marijuana in the state under Prop 205.
Their donation was over 400 percent higher than the next largest donor, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, with $110,000.
Pro-legalization campaigners have called for the donation to be returned as it has now tainted the campaign against Prop 205.
“We hope that every Arizonan understands that Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy is now a complete misnomer. Their entire campaign is tainted by this money. Any time an ad airs against Proposition 205, the voters should know that it was paid for by highly suspect Big Pharma actors,” Holyoak said.
When questioned by the Arizona Capitol Times about donations made to the Marijuana Policy Project in support of Prop 205, Holyoak did not dispute that several out-of-state interest donors “stand to make millions if Prop 205 passes.”
Coincidentally, the recently-passed Bill 205 in Canada banned the sale of pill presses for making fentanyl.
Over the last few months I have been studying the media coverage of the assassination of JFK and the publication of the Warren Commission. It could be argued that the way the mainstream media accepted the official line is not very surprising given their record of recording political stories. However, what is striking is the way that the so-called Non-Communist Left (NCL) reported these events. These were people who controlled left of centre journals such as the Nation, New Republic and I.F. Stone Weekly. None of these journals were willing to question the idea that JFK had been killed by a lone gunman.
The only journal on the left that seemed to doubt the official interpretation of events was James Aronson, the editor of the National Guardian. In the first edition of the newspaper after the assassination, he used the headline: “The Assassination Mystery: Kennedy and Oswald Killings Puzzle the Nation”. Aronson could not understand why others on the left were not taking up a similar position.
In his book, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian (1978), Aronson recalled that soon after the assassination he was contacted by a journalist working for the New York Times, who asked him if Oswald subscribed to the National Guardian. Aronson replied he could find no record of Oswald receiving the newspaper. Aronson took this opportunity to raise questions about the newspaper’s investigation into the assassination: “I took advantage of the call to air my doubts about the lone assassin theory being fixed in the public mind. What was the New York Times doing to validate or disapprove this theory?” The journalist replied “Look, Jim, you worked here and you know the answer: don’t look this way – they won’t do it.” (1)
Mark Lane was probably the first person to write a detailed article questioning the official story of the assassination. He later pointed out: “The obvious choice, I thought, was the Nation. Its editor, Carey McWilliams, was an acquaintance. He had often asked me to write a piece for him… McWilliams seemed pleased to hear from me and delighted when I told him I had written something I wished to give to the Nation. When he learned of the subject matter, however, his manner approached panic.” McWilliams told Lane: “We cannot take it. We don’t want it. I am sorry but we have decided not to touch that subject.” Lane got the same response from the editors of Fact who said the subject matter was too controversial. It was also rejected by The Reporter, Look, Life and the Saturday Evening Post. (2)
James Aronson “heard that a maverick New York lawyer named Mark Lane had done some careful leg and brain work to produce a thesis casting doubt on the lone-assassin theory – and even whether Oswald had actually been involved in the crime.” (3) Aronson contacted Lane who told him that the article had been rejected by thirteen publications. Aronson offered to publish the article. Lane told him that “I would send it to him but I would not authorize him to publish it. He asked why. I said that I was seeking a broader, non-political publisher and that if the piece originated on the left, the subject would likely never receive the debate that it required.”
Lane now took the article to James Wechsler, an editor of the New York Post. He also rejected it and said that Lane would never find a publisher and “urged him to forget about it”. Lane now told him about Aronson’s offer. Wechsler, according to Lane was “furious” when he heard this news. “Don’t let them publish it… They’ll turn it into a political issue.” (4)
By this time the article had been turned down by seventeen publications and so Lane decided to let Aronson publish the article in the National Guardian. The 10,000 word article, published on 19th December, 1963, was the longest story in its fifteen-year history. It was presented as a lawyer’s report to the Warren Commission and titled A Brief for Lee Harvey Oswald. Aronson argued in the introduction: “The Guardian’s publication of Lane’s brief presumes only one thing: a man’s innocence, under US. Law, unless or until proved guilty. It is the right of any accused. A presumption of innocence is the rock upon which American jurisprudence rests… We ask all our readers to study this document… Any information or analysis based on fact that can assist the Warren Commission is in the public interest – an interest which demands that everything possible be done to establish the facts in this case.” (5)
Aronson later admitted: “Few issues of the Guardian created such a stir. Anticipating greater interest we had increased the press run by 5,000, but an article in the New York Times about our story brought a heavy demand at the newsstands and dealers were calling for additional copies. Before the month was out we had orders for 50,000 reprints.” (6)
Aronson offered the article to both the United Press International and the Associated Press but both agencies rejected it. However, the article was published in several European countries and was discussed in most leading newspapers throughout the world. Some newspapers attempted to rubbish the article by describing it as “left-wing propaganda”. Bertrand Russell wrote to The Times complaining about this treatment: “Mr. Lane is no more a left-winger than was President Kennedy. He attempted to publish his evidence… in virtually every established American publication but was unsuccessful. Only the National Guardian was prepared to print his scrupulously documented material… I think it important that no unnecessary prejudice against this valuable work of Mr. Lane should be aroused, so that his data concerning a vital event may be viewed with an open mind by people of all political persuasions.”
At first the national press attempted to ignore Lane’s article. The only other publication in the United States that was willing to discuss the issue was the New Republic. In an article published on 21st December, 1963, Jack Minnis and Staughton Lynd, the authors of Seeds of Doubt: Some Questions about the Assassination, raised questions about five different categories of evidence in the case. Minnis was the research director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, while Lynd was a history professor at Spelman College. Both men were also left-wing activists who were involved with the civil rights and peace movements. (7) However, after the publication of this article the New Republic left the subject alone.
In January, 1964, Walter Winchell made a vicious attack on Mark Lane and the National Guardian in his regular newspaper column. He described the newspaper as “a virtual propaganda arm of the Soviet Union” and called Lane an “agitator” seeking to abolish the Un-American Activities Committee. (8)
It is not surprising that Winchell led the attack on Mark Lane. He was a vital figure in the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird. Carl Bernstein has argued in his article, CIA and the Media: “Joseph Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty-five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap.” (9)
Deborah Davis, was the first person to expose the workings of Operation Mockingbird in her book, Katharine the Great (1979), a biography of Katharine Graham of the Washington Post. She explained how journalists were controlled in times of crisis: “This practice, the old intelligence principle translated, contained the seeds of political blackmail: Once the newsman or his organization has been compromised, the politician can threaten to expose its lack of independence unless he (it) cooperates further. Many Mockingbirds have been faced with this choice.” (10)
The origins of this intelligence operation dates back to May, 1940, when the British Security Coordination (BSC) was established in the United States. According to William Boyd: “Churchill’s task, as he himself saw it, was clear: somehow, in some way, the great mass of the population of the US had to be persuaded that it was in their interests to join the war in Europe, that to sit on the sidelines was in some way un-American. And so British Security Coordination came into being… The aim was to change the minds of an entire population: to make the people of America think that joining the war in Europe was a ‘good thing’ and thereby free Roosevelt to act without fear of censure from Congress or at the polls in an election.” (11)
One of the first agents recruited by BSC was Allen Dulles, the future head of the CIA. Other agents from the media included: Walter Winchell, Drew Pearson, Walter Lippmann, William Allen White, Dorothy Thompson, Raymond Gram Swing, Edward Murrow, Vincent Sheean, Helen Kirkpatrick, Eric Sevareid, Edmond Taylor, Rex Stout, Edgar Ansel Mowrer and Whitelaw Reid. William Stephenson, the head of the BSC, also worked closely with editors and publishers who were supporters of American intervention into the Second World War. This included Arthur Hays Sulzberger (New York Times), Henry Luce (Time Magazine and Life Magazine), Helen Rogers Reid (New York Herald Tribune), Barry Bingham (Louisville Courier-Journal), Paul C. Patterson (Baltimore Sun), Dorothy Schiff (New York Post) and Ralph Ingersoll (Picture Magazine). (12)
Franklin D. Roosevelt had assigned William Donovan to work closely with William Stephenson on BSC operations (they had in fact been close friends since the First World War). After the United States entered the war, Donovan became head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and he took over control of BSC’s media assets. After the war, the OSS was closed down but emerged two years later as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (13)
In the 1950s Operation Mockingbird was primarily concerned with the dangers of communism. However, it remained in place to be used by the CIA in times of national emergency. The assassination of JFK fell into this category and was successfully employed to make sure that the media did not openly discuss the guilt or innocence of Lee Harvey Oswald. (14)
The shaping of the media by the CIA became public knowledge in April 1976 when the Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities was published. “In examining the CIA’s past and present use of the U.S. media, the Committee finds two reasons for concern. The first is the potential, inherent in covert media operations, for manipulating or incidentally misleading the American public. The second is the damage to the credibility and independence of a free press which may be caused by covert relationships with the U.S. journalists and media organizations.” (15)
However, in November, 1963, the public was completely unaware of Operation Mockingbird, and the media cover-up operation was very successful. Journalists who wanted to write about their doubts had to find media organisations in Europe to publish their work. In March, 1964, Thomas G. Buchanan began publishing articles about the assassination in the French newspaper, L’ Express. Buchanan claimed in the newspaper that the Warren Commission had discovered that Jack Ruby knew Lee Harvey Oswald. He argued that Ruby lent him money to pay back the State Department for the $435.71 the U.S. had loaned Oswald when he returned from the Soviet Union.
These articles caught the attention of Richard Helms of the CIA. He sent a memo to John McCone, Director of the CIA: “Buchanan’s thesis is that the assassination of President Kennedy was the product of a rightest plot in the United States. He alleges in his articles that the slain Dallas policeman, Tippett (sic) was part of the plot against President Kennedy.” Helms went onto inform McCone that a “competent” CIA informant had disclosed that a book by Buchanan on the assassination would be published by Secker and Warburg on 15th May 1964. (17) The company had a reputation for publishing left-wing but anti-communist books. This included books by George Orwell, C. L. R. James, Simone de Beauvoir, Rudolf Rocker and Günter Grass.
Helms informant was right and Buchanan’s book, Who Killed Kennedy? was published in May, 1964. Buchanan appears to have been the first writer to suggest that Lyndon B. Johnson and “Texas oil interests” were responsible for Kennedy’s death. Buchanan argues that the assassination was funded by a Texas oilman. He does not name him but later it emerged he was referring to Haroldson L. Hunt. (18)
In the book Buchanan claims that Kennedy was killed by two gunmen. One fired from the railroad bridge. Another fired from the Texas School Book Depository. According to Buchanan, Oswald was aware of the conspiracy but did not fire any shots. Oswald believed that J. D. Tippit was going to help him escape. However, his real job was to kill him “while resisting arrest”. Oswald, realized what was happening and fired first.
When Who Killed Kennedy? was eventually published in the United States, it was mainly ignored. However, Time Magazine reviewed it and made much of the fact that Buchanan was a former member of the American Communist Party. (44) The left-wing British journalist, Cedric Belfrage, who had co-founded the National Guardian but had been deported from the United States in 1955 after refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), argued in the journal, Minority of One, that it was “irrelevant whether Buchanan was a former communist or a former Zen Buddhist”. Belfrage went on to state that what was important was Buchanan’s “common sense of the assassination and the American crisis it symbolizes”. (19)
Joachim Joesten, a freelance journalist, travelled to Dallas a few weeks after the assassination of Kennedy and spent four days there, interviewing witnesses and examining key locations. He came to the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was not a lone gunman. However, he did think that he was involved in the conspiracy to kill Kennedy. “I wish to make it absolutely clear that I believe Oswald innocent only as charged, but that he was involved with the conspirators in some way.” (20)
Joesten began work on his book, Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy? Like other early authors who questioned the official version, Joesten was forced to get his book published in England (Merlin Press). Before the book was published, Joesten, who was in Hamburg, received a letter from J. Lee Rankin of the Warren Commission, requesting a copy of the book. In March 1964, the United States Embassy in West Germany requested a meeting.
John Kelin, the author of Praise from a Future Generation (2007), has pointed out: “All copies of Joesten’s book manuscript were with either publishers or literary agents, so he was unable to comply with Rankin’s request. But he did sit down with the embassy man, whom he identified only as Mr. Morris… They met at the American Consulate in Hamburg on March 21, 1964… The two men talked for about four hours, during which time Joesten told Morris anything he had learned – why he believed Oswald was innocent of killing President Kennedy and Officer Tippit, and who he thought was really responsible.” (21)
Joesten later recalled that Morris seemed “particularly concerned with the fact that I believed Oswald had been connected with both the Central Intelligence Agency and with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Joesten also told Morris that he believed General Edwin Walker organised the assassination and that it “was a military-type operation with firing from both front and rear.” Joesten also speculated that Bernard Weissman was involved in the assassination. (22)
Joesten discovered that while he was in Hamburg FBI agents went to his home in New York City to interview his wife. “Since I had been located, I couldn’t help wondering if the FBI had simply used that excuse to enter my home, talk to my wife and, to put it plainly, snoop around.” The FBI agents recorded that Mrs. Joesten said her husband had returned from Dallas convinced of Oswald’s innocence. “Mrs. Joesten advised that she definitely feels that her husband is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.”
Joesten’s book, Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy?, was published in the United States by Carl Marzani in July 1964. Marzani, a former member of the American Communist Party, had been imprisoned and blacklisted during the early 1950s and in order to survive went into publishing and established the company Marzani & Munsell. According to Marzani he specialised in books that upset the status quo. In the book Joesten claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Dallas Police Department and a group of right-wing Texas oil millionaires conspired to kill Kennedy. He openly accused Police Chief Jesse Curry of being one of the key figures in the assassination.
Victor Perlo, reviewing the book in the New Times, commented that the book had been rejected by several publishers before Marzani accepted it. “The firm deserves credit for publishing and promoting the book, so that thousands of copies were sold in a short time, despite a blackout by commercial reviewers. Publisher-editor Carl Marzani edited the manuscript brilliantly… This reviewer approached the Joesten book with scepticism. Despite my low opinion of the Dallas police and the FBI, I’ve had enough experience to know that utterly senseless things do happen in America… But the Joesten book erased most of my scepticism.” (21)
The book was largely ignored by the mainstream media but was reviewed by Hugh Aynesworth in the Editor and Publisher. Aynesworth, a strong supporter of the lone gunman theory and a reporter with the Dallas Morning News, wrote: “Joesten, an ex-German who became a U.S. citizen in 1948… states that Oswald was an agent of both the FBI and the CIA (how’s that for a 24-year-old who couldn’t spell “wrist”?). It’s the same old tripe with some new flavouring.” Aynesworth uses the review to criticize Mark Lane: “Lane is the troublemaker who spent two days in Dallas in January on his investigation and now pretends to be an expert on all aspects of the weird tragedy.” (22)
Another left-wing foreign-born journalist in America was also taking a close interest in the case. Léo Sauvage, who was the political correspondent of Le Figaro, published an article on the assassination in Commentary Magazine in March 1964, where he suggested that there had been a cover-up. He pointed out that all the available evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald had “either been leaked or eagerly and even ruthlessly spelled out – whether true, half-true, or demonstrably false; whether pertinent, confused, or obviously irrelevant” by the Dallas Police. As early as 23rd November, 1963, Will Fritz of the Homicide Bureau proclaimed the case as “cinched” and the following day, only two hours after Jack Ruby “had disposed of Oswald in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters”, the case against him was declared “closed” by Police Chief Jesse Curry and by District Attorney Henry Wade. (23)
Sauvage was also amazed that by 3rd December, 1963, the FBI had leaked details of its report on the assassination to the media. This allowed the New York Journal American to headline the story with the words: “Oswald lone killer. FBI report to prove it”. Sauvage pointed out that “six days later the Justice Department, acting on instructions from the White House, delivered the now completed report directly” to the Warren Commission. Sauvage adds that on 10th December, the New York Times reported: “Oswald assassin beyond a doubt, FBI concludes. He acted alone and did not know Ruby, says report to Warren Inquiry Panel.”
Sauvage added: “Thus, after the press and television conviction of Lee Oswald in Dallas, a second press and television conviction took place in Washington. And just as the Dallas authorities had forced the hand of any jury that would have heard the Oswald case, so the FBI has forced the hand of the Warren Commission. With the help of all the mass media, Oswald’s guilt has now twice been sold to the public – despite the fact that no one had even so much as ventured to explain why a psychopathic regicide, acting (as we shall see) under circumstances that would make his capture inevitable, should renounce the ultimate satisfaction of glorying in his deed before the eyes of the world. I really do not see, therefore, why only those of us who are sceptical about the case against Oswald should await further information.”
John Kelin, the author of Praise from a Future Generation (2007) summed up Sauvage’s case against the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman: “Léo Sauvage raised a series of questions that, he declared, Oswald’s accusers should be forced to answer. Did Oswald have an alibi? Was the President’s throat wound one of entrance or of exit? Was Oswald a good enough rifleman to do what the authorities said he did? How many shots were fired? Why were no fingerprints found on the alleged assassination rifle? How come none of the theatre patrons who witnessed Oswald’s arrest came forward with impartial accounts of how he was taken into custody?” (24)
Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary Magazine added his support to Sauvage’s article: “Is the possibility of a treasonous political conspiracy to be ruled out? Not the least fantastic aspect of this whole fantastic nightmare is the ease with which respectable opinion in America has arrived at the conclusion that such a possibility is absurd; in most other countries, what is regarded as absurd is the idea that the assassination could have been anything but a political murder.” (25) Sauvage’s article greatly impressed a large number of people, including the commissioning editor of Random House and on 11th March, 1964, he signed a contract with the publisher to develop his ideas on the assassination into a full-length book.
Criticism of the lone-gunman theory did not only come from the left. In April, 1963, the ultra-conservative, Revilo P. Oliver suggested in an article Marxmanship in Dallas, that appeared in American Opinion, that Kennedy was a victim of a communist conspiracy. He also used the article to attack Kennedy’s liberal views on civil rights and his closeness to “Martin Luther King and other criminals engaged in inciting race war.” (26)
The following month, the veteran right-winger, Martin Dies, former chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUCA), argued in the same journal that Kennedy had been a victim of a communist conspiracy. However, at this time he did not have all the evidence: “I hope to discuss the circumstances linking the Soviet Union with Oswald’s murder of the President. Naturally such evidence must be circumstantial and based upon the dogmatic pattern of Communist behaviour. The Communists are too clever to leave any trace of connection with Oswald.” (27) It would seem that at this time Dies was unaware that Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and on his return had openly associated with left-wing groups such as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
Billy James Hargis, a member of the John Birch Society and a close friend of General Edwin Walker, who had been mentioned as a conspirator by Joachim Joesten in Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy?, also claimed a communist conspiracy had killed Kennedy. In his book, The Far Left (1964), he argued: “In spite of the absolute, indisputable evidence that Lee Oswald’s mind was moulded by Communist conspiracy propaganda, that his hatred was of the American free enterprise system and all it embraces, and that no one with even the remotest connection with what is considered to be the extreme right has any remote connection with the entire hideous affair… Do they really think the American people are that stupid? There is no doubt in my mind that the Communist assassin, Lee Oswald, intended to kill the President of the United States and disappear in the confused crowd, thus letting the conservative, anti-Communist element of Dallas take the blame. But it didn’t work. God is on the throne. He saw to it that Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended by a courageous Dallas policeman, Officer Tippit, who, in turn, gave his life for the cause of freedom in attempting to arrest the Communist assassin of the President.” (28)
Another figure on the right who published a book about the assassination of Kennedy in 1964 was James Evetts Haley. His book, A Texan Looks at Lyndon, blamed it on an old political enemy, Lyndon Baines Johnson. It was a best seller and it is claimed that in Texas only the Bible outsold Haley’s book that year. In the book Haley attempted to expose Johnson’s corrupt political activities. This included a detailed look at the relationship between Johnson and Billy Sol Estes. Haley pointed out that three men who could have provided evidence in court against Estes, George Krutilek, Harold Orr and Howard Pratt, all died of carbon monoxide poisoning from car engines. Haley also suggested that Johnson might have been responsible for the death of Kennedy: “Johnson wanted power and with all his knowledge of political strategy and his proven control of Congress, he could see wider horizons of power as Vice-President than as Senate Majority Leader. In effect, by presiding over the Senate, he could now conceive himself as virtually filling both high and important positions – and he was not far from wrong. Finally, as Victor Lasky pointed out, Johnson had nursed a lifetime dream to be President. As Majority leader he never could have made it. But as Vice-president fate could always intervene.” (29)
On 1st June 1964, The New York Times published a story by Anthony Lewis with the headline, “Panel to Reject Theories of Plot in Kennedy Death”. As Jerry Policoff has pointed out: “The story amounted to a detailed preview of the Warren Report three months before the commission completed taking testimony and nearly four months before the report was released.” (30)
The press almost universally supported the Warren Commission report. The New York Times said it was “a comprehensive and convincing account. The Washington Post commented that it was “deserving acceptance as the whole truth” and The Boston Herald suggested that the Warren Commission had provided a “tremendous service”.
What was even more damaging to those who believed that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy was that the progressive press, led by Cary McWilliams, the editor of The Nation, also supported the conclusions of the report. The main bombshell came on 8th October, when I. F. Stone, who had virtually made a living criticising government documents, pointed out in I. F. Stone’s Weekly, that “I believe the Commission has done a first-rate job, on a level that does our country proud and is worthy of so tragic an event. I regard the case against Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone killer of the President as conclusive.” (31) However, as John Kelin has pointed out, at the time Stone wrote this article: “the Warren Report had just been published and the twenty-six volumes of supporting evidence and testimony were still not available”. (32)
Stone then went on to criticise those who had argued that there had been a conspiracy. After attacking the work of Mark Lane he turned on Bertrand Russell, who he described as “my dear and revered friend”. He suggested that Russell had dismissed the conclusions of Warren Commission report without even reading it. This was completely untrue. As Russell’s assistant, Ralph Schoenman, later pointed out, he had been provided a copy of the report a week before its official release date. (33)
Stone then went onto to look at the two books that had already been published arguing that there had been a conspiracy: “The Joesten book is rubbish, and Carl Marzani – whom I defended against loose charges in the worst days of the witch hunt – ought to have had more sense of public responsibility than to publish it. Thomas G. Buchanan, another victim of witch hunt days, has gone in for similar rubbish in his book, Who Killed Kennedy? You couldn’t convict a chicken thief on the flimsy slap-together of surmise, half-fact and whole untruth in either book… All my adult life as a newspaperman I have been fighting, in defense of the Left and of a sane politics, against conspiracy theories of history, character assassination, guilt by association and demonology. Now I see elements of the Left using these same tactics in the controversy over the Kennedy assassination and the Warren Commission Report.”
Ray Marcus, who was a devoted follower of I.F. Stone and had subscribed to his journal since its first edition in January 1953, was deeply shocked by this article. Marcus later recalled: “What was totally lacking in I. F. Stone’s comments was any evidence of the critical analysis he normally employed on assessing official statements.” On 8th October, 1964, Marcus wrote Stone a long letter outlining the flaws in the Warren Report. Marcus argued that in order to accept the Warren Commission’s lone-gunman scenario, one must accept fifteen points as true. These points were explained in an eight page letter. Marcus never received a reply. (34)
Another journalist considered to be on the left at the time was Walter Lippmann. In his syndicated column, Today and Tomorrow on 29th September, 1964, Lippmann wrote that he was convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in assassinating John F. Kennedy. He added there was “no ground on which any contemporary man, here or abroad, should question the verdict”. (35) However, he later told his friend, Ronald Steel, that he suspected that Kennedy had been killed as part of a conspiracy. (36)
The complete acceptance by the media of the Warren Report caused problems for those wishing to publish books advocating a conspiracy. Léo Sauvage, who had already signed a contract with Random House, to publish his book, The Oswald Affair – an Examination of the Contradictions and Omissions of the Warren Report, was to be disappointed. A month after the publication of the report, a senior editor at Random House, Jason Epstein, wrote to Sauvage cancelling the contract: “The problem is that the Warren Report has put the Oswald matter in a different light from what I expected, and I’m now convinced that any book which attempts to question Oswald’s guilt would be out of touch with reality and could not be taken seriously by responsible critics.” (37) No other publisher in the United States was willing to bring out the book and so like other opponents of the lone gunman theory, Sauvage was forced to go to Europe to have his book published.
It has been suggested that the critics of the lone-gunman theory were particularly hurt by the support for the Warren Report from left-wing journalists. In a debate that took place on 4th December, 1964, Beverly Hills High School, Abraham Wirin, chief counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in California and a much respected figure on the left for over 30 years, told the audience that he tried to make up his own mind on important issues, but in the case of the Warren Commission he relied on the opinions of people who he could trust: “I consider Carey McWilliams and The Nation, as an individual and a newspaper, respectively, whose judgment I respect. I do not consider Carey McWilliams or The Nation, a person or a newspaper, which would participate in a fraud, or would condone it.” Wirin pointed out The Nation had carried an article in support of the Warren Report and added: “now, that carries a lot of weight with me.”
Wirin then went onto to discuss I.F. Stone’s support for the Warren Report: “Now Mr. Stone, who has defended the rights of the Left, of Communists and others to fair treatment and freedom throughout his life – who is no apologist for any Rightest… Very rarely does Mr. Stone ever commend a government agency. Very rarely. As very rarely do I.” Wirin then said something very strange: “I say thank God for Earl Warren. He saved us from a pogrom. He saved our nation. God bless him for what he has done in establishing that Oswald was the lone assassin.” (38)
Mark Lane, who was involved in the debate with Abraham Wirin, has suggested a reason why the left was so keen to support the conclusions of the Warren Report. He discovered a document dated 20th January, 1964, where President Lyndon Johnson had asked Earl Warren to squelch rumours that “were circulating in this country and overseas”. He added that these rumours were so potentially explosive that if they were “not quenched, they could conceivably lead the country to war which could cost 40 million lives”. (39)
Lane suggests that this may be connected to the memo that deputy attorney Nicholas Katzenbach sent to Lyndon Johnson, through Bill Moyers, his press secretary, on 25th November, 1963. Katzenbach insisted that: “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin, that he did not have confederates who are still at large, and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial. I think this objective may be satisfied by making public as soon as possible a complete and thorough FBI report on Oswald and the assassination.” (40)
Were the rumours that needed to be “quenched” the same as those circulated by Revilo P. Oliver, Martin Dies and Billy James Hargis in the days following the assassination? Lane argues in Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991): “The CIA had concluded that Oswald had acted alone; he had not involved others in his plans and no one had directed him. Warren was respectfully cautioned, however, that if the American people received the facts, surely they would demand, in the existing volatile atmosphere, still heaving with tragedy, and against the backdrop of an escalating cold war, that immediate action be taken against the Soviet Union and Cuba. Warren agreed. Under the circumstances, he was advised that since the fate of the world was now in his hands, it was imperative that the Oswald-Kostikov connection be suppressed.” (41) Is it possible that people like Walter Lippmann, I. F. Stone and Carey McWilliams had been told that the Soviets had been involved in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy and without their support a nuclear war could not be adverted?
Then we have those strange words of Abraham Wirin: “I say thank God for Earl Warren. He saved us from a pogrom. He saved our nation. God bless him for what he has done in establishing that Oswald was the lone assassin.” Why would Wirin use the word “pogrom”? Had key figures on the left such as I.F. Stone and Carey McWilliams been told that the conspiracy to kill Kennedy was in someway involved Jewish left-wingers? If that was the case, why would they be willing to believe such stories? It is indeed a strange puzzle. Maybe the answer lies in an article that had been written by Tom Braden that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on 20th May, 1967.
Braden, who had worked with Allen Dulles at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War, was considered to be an expert in psychological warfare. When Dulles joined the CIA in December 1950 as Deputy Director of Operations one of his first acts was to recruit Braden as his assistant. Braden suggested to Allen Dulles that he should be allowed to establish the International Organizations Division (IOD) to counteract Soviet propaganda. Dulles agreed and Cord Meyer was appointed as his deputy. The IOD helped established anti-Communist front groups in Western Europe.
The IOD was dedicated to infiltrating academic, trade and political associations. The objective was to control potential radicals and to steer them to the right. Braden oversaw the funding of groups such as the National Student Association, the Congress of Cultural Freedom, Communications Workers of America, the American Newspaper Guild, the United Auto Workers, National Council of Churches, the African-American Institute and the National Educational Association.
Braden later admitted that the CIA was putting around $900,000 a year into the Congress of Cultural Freedom. Some of this money was used to publish its journal, Encounter. Braden and the IOD also worked closely with anti-Communist leaders of the trade union movement such as George Meany of the Congress for Industrial Organization and the American Federation of Labor. This was used to fight Communism in its own ranks. As Braden said: “The CIA could do exactly as it pleased. It could buy armies. It could buy bombs. It was one of the first worldwide multinationals.” (42)
This remained a highly secret operation but in 1966 stories began to appear in the New York Times suggesting that the CIA had been secretly funding left-wing groups. This in fact, was not a new claim. Joseph McCarthy had made similar accusations in 1953. He had been given this information by J. Edgar Hoover who had described the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) as “Wisner’s gang of weirdos”. In August, 1953, Richard Helms, Wisner’s deputy at the OPC, told Cord Meyer, who was Braden’s deputy at the International Organizations Division, that Joseph McCarthy and the FBI had accused him of being a communist. The FBI added to the smear by announcing it was unwilling to give Meyer “security clearance”. (43)
In September, 1953, Meyer was shown the FBI file against him. It included allegations that his wife, Mary Pinchot Meyer, was a former member of the American Labor Party. It also listed several people linked to Meyer who had “supported pro-Communist policies or have been associated with Communist front organizations or organizations pro-Communist in their sympathies.” The list included the publisher Cass Canfield, the president and chairman of Harper & Brothers. Canfield had first met Allen Dulles in 1940 when they were both working for the British Security Coordination (BSC), a highly secret British intelligence unit based in the United States set up with the approval of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination Canfield played an important role in stopping books criticising the Warren Commission being published. Canfield had indeed been receiving money from the CIA to help publish left-wing but anti-communist books. He was along with Jason Epstein of Random House, who had blocked the publication Léo Sauvage’s The Oswald Affair – an Examination of the Contradictions and Omissions of the Warren Report, a key figure in the CIA sponsored Congress of Cultural Freedom.
McCarthy’s assistant, Roy Cohn, argues in his book McCarthy (1968) that they had discovered that communist agents had infiltrated the CIA in 1953: “Our files contained allegations gathered from various sources indicating that the CIA had unwittingly hired a large numbers of double agents – individuals who, although working for the CIA, were actually communist agents whose mission was to plant inaccurate data…. We also wanted to investigate charges that the CIA had granted large subsidies to pro-Communist organizations.” Cohn complained that this proposed investigation was stopped on the orders of the White House. “Vice-President Nixon was assigned to the delicate job of blocking it… Nixon spoke at length, arguing that an open investigation would damage national security, harm our relations with our allies, and seriously affect CIA operations, which depended on total secrecy… Finally, the three subcommittee members, not opposed to the inquiry before they went to dinner, yielded to Nixon’s pressure. So, too, did McCarthy, and the investigation, which McCarthy told me interested him more than any other, was never launched.” (44)
Allen Dulles refused permission for the FBI to interrogate Frank Wisner and Cord Meyer and Hoover’s investigation also came to an end. McCarthy was in fact right when he said that the CIA was funding what he considered to be pro-communist organisations. He was wrong however in believing they had infiltrated the organisation. As Frances Stonor Saunders, the author of Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War? (1999) has pointed out it was the other way round. This has been confirmed by some members of the left who received funding from the CIA during this period. As Arthur Schlesinger later explained, the NCL was supported by leading establishment figures such as Chip Bohlen, Isaiah Berlin, Averell Harriman and George Kennan: “We all felt that democratic socialism was the most effective bulwark against totalitarianism. This became an undercurrent – or even undercover – theme of American foreign policy during the period.” (45)
It might seem strange that the non-communist left should be paid to write articles and books attacking the Soviet Union. After all they would have done that anyway. However, the important aspect of this policy was to compromise these left-wing writers by paying them money or by funding their organisations. It also put them in position where they could call on their help in times of crisis such as the assassination of John Kennedy. The support of the NCL was vitally important in the cover-up of the assassination.
Why then did the CIA start leaking information about their funding of the NCL in 1966? The reason is that most of these sponsored journalists refused to support the government policy on Vietnam. In the case of Stone, he found it to his financial advantage to oppose the policy. Stone had barely 20,000 subscribers to I.F. Weekly before the outbreak of the war. By 1969 he had over 70,000. (46)
The story of CIA funding of Non-Communist Left journalists and organizations was fully broken in the press by a small-left-wing journal, Ramparts. The editor, Warren Hinckle, met a man by the name of Michael Wood, in January 1967, at the New York’s Algonquin Hotel. The meeting had been arranged by a public relations executive Marc Stone (the brother of I.F. Stone). Wood told Hinckle that the National Student Association (NSA) was receiving funding from the CIA. At first Hinkle thought he was being set-up. Why was the story not taken to I.F. Stone? (47)
However, after further research, Hinckle was convinced that the CIA had infiltrated the Non-Communist Left: “While the ADA-types and the Arthur Schlesinger model liberal kewpie dolls battled fascism by protecting their right flank with domestic Red-baiting and Cold War one-upmanship, the Ivy League delinquents who fled to the CIA – liberal lawyers, businessmen, academics, games-playing craftsmen – hatched a master plan of Germanic ambition that entailed nothing less than clandestine political control of the international operations of all important American professional and cultural organisations: journalists, educators, jurists, businessmen, et al. The standing CIA subsidy to the National Student Association was but one slice of a very complex pie.” Hinckle even had doubts about publishing the story. Sol Stern, who was writing the article for Ramparts, “advanced the intriguing contention that such a disclosure would be damaging to the enlightened men of the liberal internationalistic wing of the CIA who were willing to provide clandestine money to domestic progressive causes.” (48)
Hinckle did go ahead with the story and took full-page advertisements in the Tuesday editions of the New York Times and Washington Post: “In its March issue, Ramparts magazine will document how the CIA has infiltrated and subverted the world of American student leaders, over the past fifteen years.” For its exposé of the CIA, Ramparts received the George Polk Memorial Award for Excellence in Journalism and was praised for its “explosive revival of the great muckraking tradition.”
On 20th May 1967 Thomas Braden, the former head of the CIA’s International Organizations Division, that had been funding the NSA, wrote an article that was published in the Saturday Evening Post entitled, I’m Glad the CIA is Immoral Braden admitted that for more than 10 years, the CIA had subsidized progressive magazines such as Encounter through the Congress for Cultural Freedom – which it also funded – and that one of its staff was a CIA agent. He also admitted that he had paid money to left-wing trade union leaders such as Walter Reuther, Jay Lovestone, David Dubinsky and Irving Brown. (49)
According to Frances Stonor Saunders, the author of Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War? (1999): “The effect of Braden’s article was to sink the CIA’s covert association with the Non-Communist Left once and for all.” (50) Braden later admitted that the article had been commissioned by CIA asset, Stewart Alsop. (51) But why had the CIA decided to expose their agents in 1967. Was it because they were refusing to support government policy in Vietnam?
John Hunt, a CIA agent who worked very closely with Braden at the International Organizations Division, pointed out in a revealing interview: “Tom Braden was a company man… if he was really acting independently, would have had much to fear. My belief is that he was an instrument down the line somewhere of those who wanted to get rid of the NCL (Non-Communist Left). Don’t look for a lone gunman – that’s mad, just as it is with the Kennedy assassination… I do believe there was an operational decision to blow the Congress and the other programs out of the water.” (52)
By this time of course those figures on the Non-Communist Left such as I.F. Stone and Carey McWilliams knew they had been fooled by the CIA in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. However, all they could do was to keep their heads down and pretend it had not happened. Warren Hinkle admitted that as editor of Ramparts in November 1963, he had been reluctant to get involved in investigating the Kennedy assassination. Until he took up the case in 1967 he had left it up to the “amateurs”. He added the “nationwide grass-roots reinvestigation of the Kennedy assassination was an extraordinary phenomenon of an extraordinary decade”. (53)
A more detailed account of the way the media covered the JFK assassination can be found in my introduction of my ebook on the assassination.
1. James Aronson and Cedric Belfrage, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian (1978) page 296
2. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991) page 19
3. James Aronson and Cedric Belfrage, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian (1978) page 297
4. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991) page 20
5. James Aronson, National Guardian (19th December, 1963)
6. Mark Lane, The National Guardian (19th December, 1963)
7. Jack Minnis and Staughton Lind, Seeds of Doubt: Some Questions about the Assassination, New Republic (21st December, 1963)
8. Quoted by James Aronson and Cedric Belfrage, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian (1978) page 298
9. Carl Bernstein, CIA and the Media, Rolling Stone Magazine (20th October, 1977)
10. Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great (1979) page 190
11. William Boyd, The Guardian (19th August, 2006)
12. At the end of the Second World War the files of British Security Coordination were packed onto semitrilers and transported to Camp X in Canada. Stephenson wanted to have some record of the activities of the agency, “To provide a record which would be available for reference should future need arise for secret activities and security measures for the kind it describes.” He recruited former BSC agents, Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, to write the book. Stephenson told Dahl: “We don’t dare to do it in the United States, we have to do it on British territory.” Dahl commented: “He pulled a lot over Hoover… He pulled a few things over the White House, too, now and again. I wrote a little bit but eventually I called Bill and told him that it’s an historian’s job… This famous history of the BSC through the war in New York was written by Tom Hill and a few other agents.” Only twenty copies of the book were printed. Ten went into a safe in Montreal and ten went to Stephenson for distribution. The report was eventually published in 1998 as British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45.
Other books that contain interesting information on the work of the British Security Coordination include: Jennet Conant, The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington (2008), Thomas E. Mahl, Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44 (1998), Nicholas J. Cull, Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign Against American Neutrality (1996) and Bill Macdonald, The True Intrepid: Sir William Stephenson and the Unknown Agents (2001).
13. Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities (April, 1976)
14. ARRB Record Number 180-100092-10352
15. Thomas G. Buchanan, Who Killed Kennedy? (1964)
16. Time Magazine (12th June, 1964)
17. Cederic Belfrage, The Minority of One (October, 1964)
18. Joachim Joesten, Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy? (1964) page 11
19. John Kelin, Praise from a Future Generation (2007) page 169
20. CE 2709, Warren Commission Vol.26 pages 79-84
21. Victor Perlo, New Times (September 1964)
22. Hugh Aynesworth, Editor and Publisher (1st August, 1964)
23. Léo Sauvage, Commentary Magazine (March, 1964)
24. John Kelin, Praise from a Future Generation (2007) page 179
25. Norman Podhoretz, Commentary Magazine (March, 1964)
26. Revilo P. Oliver, Marxmanship in Dallas, American Opinion (February, 1964)
27. Martin Dies, Assassination and its Aftermath, American Opinion (March, 1964)
28. Billy James Hargis, Far Left (1964) page 146
29. James Evetts Haley. A Texan Looks at Lyndon (1964) page 199
30. Jerry Policoff, The Media and the Murder of John Kennedy, New Times (8th August, 1975). Included in Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond – A Guide to Cover-Ups and Investigations (1976)
31. I. F. Stone, I. F. Stone’s Weekly (5th October, 1964)
32. John Kelin, Praise from a Future Generation (2007) page 182
33. John Kelin, interview with Ralph Schoenman (14th August, 2000)
34. Ray Marcus, letter to I. F. Stone (8th October, 1964)
35. Walter Lippmann, Today and Tomorrow (29th September, 1964)
36. Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century (1999) page 543
37. Jason Epstein, letter to Léo Sauvage (4th November, 1964)
38. Abraham L. Wirin, speech, Beverly Hills High School (4th December, 1964)
39. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991) page 51
40. Nicholas Katzenbach, memo to Bill Moyers (25th November, 1963)
41. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991) page 53
42. Tom Braden, interview included in the Granada Television program, World in Action: The Rise and Fall of the CIA (June, 1975)
(43) Cord Meyer, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA (1980) pages 60-84
(44) Roy Cohn, McCarthy (1968) pages 63-65
(45) Arthur Schlesinger quoted by Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War? (1999) page 63
(46) D. D. Guttenplan, American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone (2011) page 432
(47) Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (2008) page 239
(48) Warren Hinckle, If you have a Lemon, Make Lemonade (1973) pages 172-179
(49) Tom Braden, Saturday Evening Post (20th May, 1967)
(50) Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War? (1999) page 398
(51) Tom Braden, interviewed by Frances Stonor Saunders (August 1996)
(52) John Hunt, interviewed by Frances Stonor Saunders (July 1997)
(53) Warren Hinckle, If you have a Lemon, Make Lemonade (1973) page 204
Brazil’s newly-installed President Michel Temer has signed legislation that essentially authorizes the identical financial accounting maneuver that was used to justify the impeachment bid against ousted President Dilma Rousseff’s just days after she was removed from office.
The law, announced Friday in the official gazette, expands the government’s ability to seek additional credits without securing authorization from Congress. As described by Brasil de Fato, the rule broadly opens the door for the budgetary maneuver known in Brazil as “pedaling,” in which the government borrows money from state banks to make the budget appear in a better position than it is.
This longstanding practice was used to propel the impeachment process that finally ousted Rousseff from office last Wednesday in a move widely condemned as a parliamentary coup.
Rousseff’s supporters repeatedly pointed out that the accounting trick had been used by many of her predecessors without scrutiny. Independent auditors also found her not guilty of breaking budgetary rules — a fact that did not stop the ill-footed impeachment process from going ahead.
According to Brazil’s Senate news agency Agencia Senado, the unelected Temer government gave pedaling a green-light, claiming that the rule change will make government budget management “more flexible,” including shuffling of expenditures associated with the federal infrastructure Growth Acceleration Program, better known as PAC.
The act allows the government to boost by as much as 20 percent the value of an expenditure by writing down by the value of another by a corresponding 20 percent, which, in fact, doubles the level allowed by previous administrative rules.
Rousseff was ousted Wednesday in a 61-20 Senate vote in favor of her impeachment, though she retained her so-called political rights to hold public office in a second vote.
The day after the impeachment ballot, Rousseff’s defense appealed to the Supreme Court to compel a second Senate impeachment vote, arguing that the process was unconstitutional on the grounds that the budgetary crime she is accused of is not an impeachable offense according to Brazilian law.
Rousseff’s rivals long attempted to paint the impeachment process as a campaign to root out government corruption. But aside from the fact that multiple other leaders have used the pedaling procedure, damning recordings released weeks after her suspension in May revealed that top opposition figures schemed with the Supreme Court and military command to ensure Rousseff’s ouster as part of a bid to stop corruption investigations against their allies.
Like many of his top allies and cabinet members, Temer — installed as president despite being banned from running for public office for eight years — is embroiled in multi-million dollar fraud scandals.
From the New York Times:
Where Has Hillary Clinton Been? Ask the Ultrarich
By AMY CHOZICK and JONATHAN MARTIN SEPT. 3, 2016
At a private fund-raiser Tuesday night at a waterfront Hamptons estate, Hillary Clinton danced alongside Jimmy Buffett, Jon Bon Jovi and Paul McCartney, and joined in a singalong finale to “Hey Jude.”
“I stand between you and the apocalypse,” a confident Mrs. Clinton declared to laughs, exhibiting a flash of self-awareness and humor to a crowd that included Calvin Klein and Harvey Weinstein and for whom the prospect of a Donald J. Trump presidency is dire.
Mr. Trump has pointed to Mrs. Clinton’s noticeably scant schedule of campaign events this summer to suggest she has been hiding from the public. But Mrs. Clinton has been more than accessible to those who reside in some of the country’s most moneyed enclaves and are willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to see her. In the last two weeks of August, Mrs. Clinton raked in roughly $50 million at 22 fund-raising events, averaging around $150,000 an hour, according to a New York Times tally.
And while Mrs. Clinton has faced criticism for her failure to hold a news conference for months, she has fielded hundreds of questions from the ultrarich in places like the Hamptons, Martha’s Vineyard, Beverly Hills and Silicon Valley.
“It’s the old adage, you go to where the money is,” said Jay S. Jacobs, a prominent New York Democrat.
Mrs. Clinton raised about $143 million in August, the campaign’s best month yet. At a single event on Tuesday in Sagaponack, N.Y., 10 people paid at least $250,000 to meet her, raising $2.5 million.
If Mr. Trump appears to be waging his campaign in rallies and network interviews, Mrs. Clinton’s second presidential bid seems to amount to a series of high-dollar fund-raisers with public appearances added to the schedule when they can be fit in. Last week, for example, she diverged just once from her packed fund-raising schedule to deliver a speech. …
The public has gotten used to seeing Mrs. Clinton’s carefully choreographed appearances and her somewhat halting speeches and TV interviews over the course of the long — and sometimes seemingly joyless — campaign, but donors this summer have glimpsed an entirely different person.
It is clear from interviews with more than a dozen attendees of Mrs. Clinton’s finance events this summer and a handful of pictures and videos of her at the closed-press gatherings that Mrs. Clinton, often described as warm and personable in small settings, whoever the audience, can be especially relaxed, candid and even joyous in this company.
… If she feels most at ease around millionaires, within the gilded bubble, it is in part because they are some of her most intimate friends.
“It’s like going to a wedding or a bar mitzvah — you catch up,” explained Mitchell Berger, a Democratic donor in Florida, about the familial nature of the events. …
Mr. Berger, who joined Mrs. Clinton last month at a donor event in Miami Beach, said many of the individual conversations before and after she speaks at the gatherings are centered more on grandchildren than weighty policy matters.
But when she has had a give-and-take this summer about issues, Mrs. Clinton, who has promised to “reshuffle the deck” in favor of the middle class and portrayed Mr. Trump as an out-of-touch billionaire, has almost exclusively been fielding the concerns of the wealthiest Americans. …
Another advantage to choosing private fund-raisers over town halls or other public events is that Mrs. Clinton can bask in an affectionate embrace as hosts try to limit confrontational engagements.
Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, a backer of Democrats and a friend of the Clintons’, made sure attendees did not grill Mrs. Clinton at the $100,000-per-couple lamb dinner Mrs. Forester de Rothschild hosted under a tent on the lawn of her oceanfront Martha’s Vineyard mansion.
“I said, ‘Let’s make it a nice night for her and show her our love,’” Mrs. Forester de Rothschild said.
Hillary, Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild, Bill, Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild (date unknown)
I can’t think of anything witty to say about Mrs. Forester de Rothschild, but I just wanted to help the reporters out with getting their point across by mentioning Mrs. Forester de Rothschild’s name a fourth and fifth time. And now a sixth: Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild. …
But Mr. and Mrs. Clinton have occupied a particular place in the social fabric of the enclave. Over the past several summers, they have spent the last two weeks of August in a rented 12,000-square-foot home with a heated pool in East Hampton and in a six-bedroom mansion with a private path to the beach in Sagaponack. This year, the former first couple stayed in the guesthouse of Steven Spielberg’s East Hampton compound built on nine acres overlooking Georgica and Lily Ponds.
Mr. Trump’s candidacy has allowed Mrs. Clinton to reach out to a new set of donors in the area who typically give to Republicans but dislike the current nominee. (Mr. Trump feels more at home at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., than in the Hamptons, where the exclusive Maidstone Club once denied him a full-time membership, according to The New York Post.)
So, is Trump a Golf Nazi or is he a victim of the Golf Nazis? This is all very confusing …
Let’s see if we can up this article’s Rothschild Index without doing too much work. From Wikipedia:
Lynn Forester de Rothschild
Born Lynn Forester
July 2, 1954 (age 62)
Bergen County, New Jersey
Alma mater Pomona College
Columbia Law School
Occupation E.L. Rothschild (CEO)
Title Lady de Rothschild
Spouse(s) Alexander H. Platt (m.1978; div.)
Andrew Stein (m.1983 – div. 1993)
Sir Evelyn de Rothschild (m. 2000)
Lynn Forester de Rothschild, Lady de Rothschild (born Lynn Forester; July 2, 1954) is the chief executive officer of E.L. Rothschild, a holding company she owns with her third husband, Sir Evelyn Robert de Rothschild, a member of the Rothschild family. The company manages investments in The Economist Group, owner of The Economist magazine, Congressional Quarterly and the Economist Intelligence Unit, E.L. Rothschild LP, a leading independent wealth management firm in the United States, as well as real estate, agricultural and food interests.
She publicly supports many politicians and is a known early Hillary Clinton supporter. She also rallies for a political movement called Inclusive Capitalism. She led the Conference of Inclusive Capitalism in London in 2014 and 2015 and founded the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism.
I think that gets the number of times the name “Rothschild” appears up to 17.
Oh, now the Rothschild Index is 18.
Wait, now the Rothschild Index is 19 …
I hadn’t actually been aware of the Rothschild-Economist magazine link, but now that I am, a lot more things make sense.
On Friday, the FBI released documents detailing its investigative process into Hillary Clinton’s alleged malfeasance as Secretary of State tied to the use of an unauthorized private email server that opponents contest placed America’s national security in peril by leaving it vulnerable to hacks from foreign powers.
The timing of the release, ahead of a three-day holiday weekend in the United States – a historic lull point in American media coverage as families across the country plan vacations and gather around the barbecue – appears to be the product of a careful stagecraft to limit the impact of the incendiary findings.
Notably, the FBI report included statements by a Hillary Clinton aide, Justin Cooper, who recalled “two instances where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile phones by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer” in stark violation to the mandate for evidence preservation placed on public figures if they have receive a subpoena or if it was foreseeable to a reasonable person that they may be in the future.
Hillary Clinton had at least 13 mobile devices according to the investigation, used by the former Secretary of State to send official emails using her private email server, in a practice some are likening to a mobster’s use of burner phones to avoid detection by authorities.
Her top aide, Huma Abedin, chalked up the unusual use of mobile devices to Clinton’s age and technological ignorance suggesting that Hillary would use a new phone for a few days before reverting back to an older, more familiar model.
It has also been established in the FBI investigatory findings that Hillary Clinton’s IT team wiped the email server erasing any potentially incriminating evidence after she had already received a subpoena from the House Select Committee on Benghazi – an act that appears to meet federal criminal standards for destruction of evidence and failure to preserve documents when under an obligation by subpoena.
Hillary received a subpoena from the House Select Committee on March 4, 2015 instructing her to preserve and deliver all emails from her personal servers, but three weeks later a staffer with Platte River Networks (PRN), Hillary’s IT team that managed the homebrew server, permanently erased the contents of the former Secretary of State’s email archive with a program called Bleach Bit.
The FBI findings show that the PRN staff member “was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s email data on the PRN server.”
Federal officials appear to have decided not to pursue criminal charges against the low-level IT staffer who was not the target of the investigation and were unable to find a definitive link between Hillary and the destruction of evidence – such as a direct order by Secretary Clinton to delete the documents.
It is established that there was a conference call between the PRN staff member and “President [Bill] Clinton’s Staff” immediately before the deletion of emails, but the contents of that call are unknown.
The U.S. military has won only a single major war since the end of World War II (the Gulf War of 1990-91). But U.S. military contractors continue to win major budget wars in Congress nearly every year, proving that no force on earth can resist their lobbying prowess and political clout.
Consider the steady march to victory of the biggest single weapons program in history — the planned purchase of advanced Lockheed-Martin F-35 jets by the Air Force, Navy, and Marines at a total projected cost of more than $1 trillion.
The Air Force and Marines have both declared the Joint Strike Fighter ready for combat, and Congress is now forking over billions of dollars a year to acquire what is slated to become a fleet of 2,400 jets.
Yet the world’s most expensive fighter bomber still doesn’t work properly and may never perform as advertised. That’s not “dezinformatsiya” from Russian “information warfare” specialists. That’s the official opinion of the Pentagon’s top weapons evaluator, Michael Gilmore.
In an Aug, 9 memo obtained by Bloomberg News, Gilmore warned senior Pentagon officials that the F-35 program “is actually not on a path toward success but instead on a path toward failing to deliver” the aircraft’s promised capabilities. He said the program “is running out of time and money to complete the planned flight testing and implement the required fixes and modifications.”
The military testing czar reported that complex software problems and testing deficiencies “continue to be discovered at a substantial rate.” As a result, the planes may fail to track moving targets on the ground, warn pilots when enemy radar systems spot them, or make use of a newly designed bomb. Even the F-35’s gun may not function properly.
The internal Pentagon assessment was just the latest in a long list of devastating critical assessments and development setbacks for the plane. They include repeated groundings of the plane due to fires and other safety issues; the discovery of dangerous engine instability; and helmets that can cause fatal whiplash. The plane even got soundly beaten in a mock engagement with a much older (and cheaper) F-16.
Last year, an article in the conservative National Review argued that “the biggest threat the U.S. military faces over the next few decades is not the carrier-killing Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile, or the proliferation of inexpensive quiet diesel-electric attack subs, or even Chinese and Russian anti-satellite programs. The biggest threat comes from the F-35 . . . For this trillion-dollar-plus investment we get a plane far slower than a 1970s F-14 Tomcat, a plane with less than half the range of a 40-year-old A-6 Intruder . . . and a plane that had its head handed to it by an F-16 during a recent dogfight competition.”
Likening the F-35 to a previous failed fighter jet program, retired Air Force Colonel Dan Ward observed last year, “Perhaps the truly best scenario for the Joint Strike Fighter is for it to follow in the footsteps of the F-22 and provide a combat capability that is irrelevant to actual military needs. That way, when the whole fleet gets grounded because of an unsolvable flaw, the impact on our defense posture would be nil.”
Lockheed’s “Pay-to-Play Ad Agency”
Coming to the program’s defense most recently was military analyst Dan Goure, in the blog of the respected magazine, The National Interest. Goure belittled critics in the Pentagon’s Operational Test and Evaluation Office as “green eyeshade people, like the goblins at Gringott’s in the Harry Potter series.”
Describing the F-35 as “a revolutionary platform,” he declared, “Its ability to operate undetected in hostile airspace, gathering information and even targeting data on enemy air and ground targets, before launching surprise attacks demonstrates a decisive advantage over existing threat systems. . . . The Joint Strike Fighter test program is making progress at an accelerated rate. More to the point, even before it has completed the rigid performance template laid out by DOT&E, the F-35 has demonstrated capabilities that far exceed any current Western fighter.”
If that reads a bit like a Lockheed-Martin marketing brochure, consider the source. In his article, Goure identified himself only as a vice president of the Lexington Institute, which bills itself as “a nonprofit public-policy research organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.”
What Goure didn’t say — and the Lexington Institute doesn’t generally disclose — is that “it receives contributions from defense giants Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and others, which pay Lexington to ‘comment on defense,’” according to a 2010 profile in Politico.
Earlier the same year, Harper’s contributor Ken Silverstein called the widely quoted think tank “the defense industry’s pay-to-play ad agency.” He added, “Outfits like Lexington produce the press conferences, position papers and op-eds that keep military money flowing to defense contractors.”
Goure’s indirect association with Lockheed gives a hint as to why programs like the F-35 continue to thrive despite performance failures, gigantic cost overruns, and schedule delays that would otherwise trigger headline-grabbing congressional investigations and produce streams of indignant rhetoric from Fox News commentators about government failure.
Promoting the New Cold War
Think tanks like the Lexington Institute are prime movers behind the domestic propaganda campaign to revive the Cold War against the diminished Russian state and justify weapons programs like the F-35.
As Lee Fang observed recently in The Intercept, “The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.”
Thus the Lockheed-funded Aerospace Industries Association warns that the Obama administration is failing to spend enough on “aircraft, ship and ground combat systems” to adequately address “Russian aggression on NATO’s doorstep.” The Lockheed- and Pentagon-funded Center for European Policy Analysis issues a stream of alarmist reports about Russian military threats to Eastern Europe.
And the highly influential Atlantic Council — funded by Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon, the U.S. Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, and even the Ukrainian World Congress — promotes articles like “Why Peace is Impossible with Putin” and declares that NATO must “commit to greater military spending” to deal with “a revanchist Russia.”
Origins of NATO’s Expansion
The campaign to portray Russia as a menace, led by contractor-funded pundits and analysts, began soon after the Cold War ended. In 1996, Lockheed executive Bruce Jackson founded the U.S. Committee on NATO, whose motto was “Strengthen America, Secure Europe. Defend Values. Expand NATO.”
Its mission ran directly contrary to promises by the George H.W. Bush administration not to expand the Western military alliance eastward after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Joining Jackson were such neo-conservative hawks as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Robert Kagan. One neocon insider called Jackson — who went on to co-found the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq — “the nexus between the defense industry and the neoconservatives. He translates us to them, and them to us.”
The organization’s intense and highly successful lobbying efforts did not go unnoticed. In 1998, the New York Times reported that “American arms manufacturers, who stand to gain billions of dollars in sales of weapons, communication systems and other military equipment if the Senate approves NATO expansion, have made enormous investments in lobbyists and campaign contributions to promote their cause in Washington. . . .
“The four dozen companies whose main business is arms have showered candidates with $32.3 million since the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe at the beginning of the decade. By comparison, the tobacco lobby spent $26.9 million in that same period, 1991 to 1997.”
A spokesman for Lockheed said, ”We’ve taken the long-term approach to NATO expansion, establishing alliances. When the day arrives and those countries are in a position to buy combat aircraft, we certainly intend on being a competitor.”
The lobbying worked. In 1999, against Russian opposition, NATO absorbed the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland. In 2004, it added Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Albania and Croatia joined next in 2009. Most provocatively, in 2008 NATO invited Ukraine to join the Western alliance, setting the stage for the dangerous conflict between NATO and Russia over that country today.
The fortunes of American arms makers soared. “By 2014, the twelve new [NATO] members had purchased close to $17 billion worth of American weapons,” according to Andrew Cockburn, “while . . . Romania celebrated the arrival of Eastern Europe’s first $134 million Lockheed Martin Aegis Ashore missile-defense system.”
Last fall, Washington Business Journal reported that “if anyone is benefitting from the unease between Russia and the rest of the world, it would have to be Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp. (NYSE: LMT). The company is positioned to make large profits off what could very well be an international military spending spree by Russia’s neighbors.”
Citing a big contract to sell missiles to Poland, the newspaper added, “Officials from Lockheed aren’t explicitly declaring that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine is good for business, but they aren’t shying away from recognizing the opportunity that Poland is presenting them as Warsaw continues to embark on a massive military modernization project — one that has accelerated as tensions grip Eastern Europe.”
Lockheed’s Lobby Machine
Lockheed continues to pump money into the American political system to ensure that it remains the nation’s largest military contractor. From 2008 to 2015, its lobbying expenditures exceeded $13 million in all but one year. The company sprinkled business from the F-35 program into 46 states and claims that it generates tens of thousands of jobs.
Among the 18 states enjoying a claimed economic impact of more than $100 million from the fighter jet is Vermont — which is why the F-35 gets the support even of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
As he told one town hall meeting, “It employs hundreds of people. It provides a college education for hundreds of people. So for me the question is not whether we have the F-35 or not. It is here. The question for me is whether it is located in Burlington, Vermont or whether it is located in Florida.”
In 1961, President Eisenhower observed that the “conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry” had begun to influence “every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government.”
In his famous farewell address to the nation, Eisenhower warned that “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
How right he was. But not even Ike could have imagined the extravagant costs to the nation of failing to hold that complex at bay — ranging from a trillion-dollar fighter jet program to the needless and far more dangerous resurrection of the Cold War a quarter century after the West achieved victory.
Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012). Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews were “Risky Blowback from Russian Sanctions”; “Neocons Want Regime Change in Iran”; “Saudi Cash Wins France’s Favor”; “The Saudis’ Hurt Feelings”; “Saudi Arabia’s Nuclear Bluster”; “The US Hand in the Syrian Mess”; and “Hidden Origins of Syria’s Civil War.” ]
Was the impeachment process against Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff justified? Is interim President Michel Temer credible? How will the people of Brazil react and are we likely to see protests escalating?
Suspended Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was impeached on Wednesday, after the final vote in Senate. She was ruled to have mishandled Brazil’s budget, and misrepresented the state of the economy prior to her reelection in 2014.
Michel Temer, former Vice President under Rousseff, became acting president of Brazil in May after the start of the impeachment of Rousseff.
Watchdog groups say about 60 percent of the country’s lawmakers, as well as interim President Temer, who may potentially form a new government, have been accused of corruption and fraud.
Maria Mendonca, professor at the University of Rio de Janeiro called the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff “very sad for Brazil” and “a very sad day for democracy”. The result of the 2014 elections, when Dilma was reelected, “was not respected.”
“It is a process that reminds us of the military coup in 1964. That was not a real trial, because most Senators already had a position – they made up their minds even before the whole trial started. There was no legal basis for the impeachment. The public prosecutor already had cleared Dilma of all charges in terms of the mechanisms of basically issuing debt to pay for social programs, which is a regular mechanism in Brazil and also in other countries,” she told RT.
In her opinion, the impeachment was “a way for unpopular corrupt politicians to take power without going through an electoral process.”
According to Mendonca, it is now difficult to predict how the situation is going to develop and whether protests by Rousseff’s supporters – that have been going on for days now – may escalate.
“I think we’re going to stay in a situation of limbo for a while, of uncertainty, because the main rules of democracy were broken,” she said.
She added though that “the media in Brazil can manipulate public opinion,” and has been doing so since the beginning of the impeachment process.
“But once people realize that we’re going to have more instability: cuts in social programs, in health care, education, and we’re going to have more serious economic crisis, then people will realize that this was a manipulative process to get rid of a president that was democratically elected; and to implement austerity measures that would make the situation even more unstable politically and economically,” Mendonca said.
Good for Brazil in longer term
David Riedel, economic analyst from Riedel Research Group argues that Rousseff’s impeachment “is a good move” for Brazil as in the longer term it would benefit from a more “business friendly government.”
Dilma Rousseff has run “a very populist regime; she’s been giving a lot of support to social programs and other things,” he told RT. “I think you’ll probably see some social unrest, as those goodies and those free benefits start to be taken away from the population. But it’s a good move for Brazil in the medium and longer term. They needed to take this step. They were successful with the Olympics, which were great, and now they need to be successful in this transition of power to, I would argue, a more business friendly government, which is going to be very good for investors.”
If Michel Temer – who is running the country at the moment and is likely to become the next Brazilian President – “takes advantage of this populist, very expensive spending that the Rousseff and [Luiz Inacio] Lula [da Silva], before her, administrations had under way – that can protect the currency; it can help improve the investment environment,” Riedel said.
“International investors want Brazil to be a success – so they will give them the benefit without doubt if they see things headed in the right direction. So if they are business friendly and investor friendly and cut back on the profligate spending that has been such an issue across Latin America, I think that investors would give them a second look,” the analyst said.
Absolutely no justification
An independent investigation found there were no grounds for launching action.
Political scientist Daniel Shaw from the City University of New York says there’s “absolutely no justification” for the impeachment “from the prospective of millions of Brazilians who voted for Dilma Rousseff and now see the democratically elected president unconstitutionally removed from power.”
But in the minds of the Brazilian rich, the bourgeoisie –“they feel like they don’t need justification to continue to push things in a rightward direction and to continue to exploit the majority of Brazilians,” he said.
WikiLeaks has revealed that Brazil’s new interim president, Temer, was an embassy informant for US intelligence.
Some also suggest that the US could have orchestrated the “coup” against Rousseff.
Commenting, Shaw said: “If we look critically at the history of US foreign policy and how they’d been involved in supporting dictatorships from Pinochet to Somoza across Latin America, when all of the FOI requests are complete in 10-15 years, there’s no question there’ll come out the role that the US State Department played.”
“They are against the leftward trend that’s been going on since 1999 with Venezuela at the helm and, of course Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador. This is a blow, an attack not just on the Brazilian people but on the entire progressive current that was sweeping across Latin America,” he added.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump headlined a $25,000-per-ticket fundraiser at the California home of Saul Fox, a private equity CEO and secret donor behind the “Children of Israel.”
Forty people attended the Monday fundraiser including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who arrived with Trump.
The visit was the billionaire’s first visit to San Jose since a clash between his supporters and protesters in the Silicon Valley city.
Fox is one of the many political donors who use so-called ‘ghost corporations’ to conceal their identity.
It was revealed only earlier this month that he was the main donor behind ‘Children of Israel,’ who have donated $734,000 to the Republican party so far this year, according to The Intercept.
This includes a $400,000 donation to the Super PAC Stand for Truth, which supported Ted Cruz’s presidential run, as well as $334,000 to the RNC.
Shaofen Gao, a realtor in Silicon Valley with no history of making political contributions, was listed as the registered agent for Children of Israel in mid-2015, but a later filing revealed that the sole person behind the money was Fox.
Fox hasn’t commented on why he channeled the money through the company, keeping his identity hidden. In addition to the company’s donations, Fox himself has also donated to the GOP.
Most recently, he donated $100,000 to speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s aptly-titled fundraiser “Team Ryan” as well as a $25,000 donation to Trump’s joint fundraising committee.
Fox’s 2016 donations also include $2,700 to Mike Huckabee’s presidential bid and the $5,400 maximum to the campaigns of both Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v FEC decision in 2010, the 2016 election cycle has seen an unprecedented influx of corporate donations with one out of every €8 collected by super PACs coming from ‘ghost corporations,’ according to the Washington Post.
In 2015, Children of Israel gave $50,000 to Pursuing America’s Greatness, a super PAC supporting Huckabee’s run, as well as $100,000 to a pro-Huckabee group.
Even if everyone does it, that does not make it right. That excuse did not work for you in 6th grade when you were caught smoking in the girl’s room and it should not be accepted from a presidential candidate or her supporters in the media.
Many politicians do crappy things. That is not an excuse for you to also do them. See above.
“Well, at least I wasn’t indicted” is not a very high standard for the presidency.
“There is no proof of quid pro quo.” What do you mean by proof? A notarized statement “This guy gave us money, so let’s sell him weapons?” Reality doesn’t work that way so spare us the strawman argument. Phone calls are made. Conversations happen. Minions learn quickly what their boss wants. People at the Clintons’ level rarely leave paper trails behind and when they do, they delete them before the FBI arrives to pick up the server.
If someone offers you millions of dollars for essentially no work (i.e., a speech) they are going to want something in return. If you want more money, you will need to give something to them.
“All they wanted was a meeting with the secretary to offer their views.” Sure, maybe. But in Washington the currency is closeness to power. For a wealthy person, buying just material things loses its charm after awhile. They buy access, they buy the appearance of power, they buy chances to take those photos of themselves with prominent world leaders all rich people have on their walls. You look like a sap, arm candy in return for cash. Quid pro quo can mean a meeting, a visa issued, an arms deal made.
Follow the money. Always follow the money.
If the secretary of state’s name is Clinton and the foundation receiving the money is named Clinton, they are part of the same thing.
If you put classified material on an unclassified server, that is wrong. It exposes that material to America’s adversaries. Presidents should simply not do that. No one else in government has ever knowingly been allowed to do that.
There is such a thing inside the U.S. government called retroactive classification. You may not like it, and you may have convinced sops in the media to pretend with you it does not exist, but it is real. I’ll Google it for you, here, and here. Someone please call CNN and pass them those links.
The Clinton Foundation as a charity has done some good deeds. But do not conflate those with its role as a money laundering tool. The two are very separate functions of the same organization. And you can have the first without the second. In fact, that’s how good charities work.
Avoiding even the appearance of unethical behavior is important. Persons throughout the government watch what their senior leaders do as signals as to what they can get away with. Leadership matters, and that means staying clean and making sure everyone sees that you are clean. You lead by example, one way or the other.
When global leaders come to wonder if you can be bought off for some “donations,” they will either lose respect for you, or want to buy you off themselves. They will not simply ignore it.
Putin could really not give a sh*t which assclown is elected president. He’ll go on acting in his country’s best interests no matter who is in the White House, as he has done through multiple administrations already. Get over yourself.
Hiding from the press and not holding press conferences seems like the behavior of a petulant six-year-old.
It is not leadership nor is it presidential to be caught as a liar and a prevaricator on a regular basis. People do not trust you; not voters, not the Congresspeople you will need to work with, not other world leaders you will have to negotiate with.
The lesser of two evils is still evil. Why do you want to knowingly vote for evil?