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Google hiring 1,000 journalists in effort to control American news flow

It’s about controlling information offline and online

By Alex Christoforou | The Duran | September 19, 2017

Google is learning from its mistakes.

Not being able to place Hillary Clinton in office, the search monopoly has decided that online influence over what Americans think, say, and do is not enough to guarantee the right woman enters the White House.

Google is now embarking on a 5 year plan, where they will seed 1,000 aspiring, liberal left journalists into America’s local media markets.

Poynter reports that the Google News Lab will be working with Report For America (RFA) to hire 1,000 journalists all around the country.

Many local newsrooms have been cut to the bone so often that there’s hardly any bone left. But starting early next year, some may get the chance to rebuild, at least by one.

On Monday, a new project was announced at the Google News Lab Summit that aims to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms in the next five years. Report For America takes ideas from several existing organizations, including the Peace Corps, Americorps, Teach for America and public media.

Unlike foreign or domestic service programs or public media, however, RFA gets no government funding. But they are calling RFA a national service project. That might make some journalists uncomfortable – the idea of service and patriotism. But at its most fundamental, local journalism is about protecting democracy, said co-founder Charles Sennott, founder and CEO of the GroundTruth Project.

“I think journalism needs that kind of passion for public service to bring it back and to really address some of the ailments of the heart of journalism,” he said.

Here’s how RFA will work: On one end, emerging journalists will apply to be part of RFA. On the other, newsrooms will apply for a journalist. RFA will pay 50 percent of that journalist’s salary, with the newsroom paying 25 percent and local donors paying the other 25 percent. That reporter will work in the local newsroom for a year, with the opportunity to renew.

Zerohedge reports…

Of course, while the press release above tries to tout the shared financial responsibility of these 1,000 journalists, presumably as a testament to their ‘independence’, it took about 35 seconds to figure out that the primary funder of the journalists’ salaries, RFA, is funded by none other than Google News Lab.

Meanwhile, as a further testament to RFA’s ‘independence, we noticed that their Advisory Board is flooded with reputable, ‘impartial’ news organizations like the New York Times, NPR, CBS, ABC, etc….

We are sure that these 1,000 journalists will never be called upon by Google to report on the news in a way that benefits the giant search company.

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tangier Island

By Paul Homewood | Not A Lot Of People Know That | July 10, 2017

CBS have a report on rising sea levels at Tangier Island, in Chesapeake Bay here

The video is worth watching. The CBS reporter makes the usual attempts to blame it on “climate change”, but the locals know too much to fall for that old pony.
They know that sea levels have been rising, and land eroding, since 1850.

And they are right. Tide gauges in the area, such Sewell Point, Norfolk, confirm that sea levels have been steadily rising for a long time, long before recent rises in emissions of CO2.


https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?stnid=8638610

The rate of rise is 4.6mm/yr, nearly three times the global rate. But there is a very good reason for this – the land is sinking.
Chesapeake Bay is the site of an ancient impact crater, caused by a comet or meteor. As a result the land has been subsiding ever since. Estimates by proper scientists suggest it is sinking at a rate of up to 3mm/yr.
For instance this recent study by John Boon et al found (Sewell Pt is SWPT):


https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2017/02/03/sea-level-rise-at-norfolk-va/

In other words, this accounts for two thirds of the sea level rise.

The study also found no acceleration in the rate of sea level rise:

The sea in Chesapeake Bay is doing what it always has, and no amount of windmills and solar panels will have the slightest effect.

July 11, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

The CIA and deep state have controlled US media and Hollywood for decades

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | February 27, 2017

Many have expressed their shock and horror that the ‘documentary’ on the White Helmets organisation has won the Oscar for Best Documentary.

The White Helmets purports to be an aid organisation but has been widely discredited as such. What is more, the organisation has been exposed as a handsomely funded western propaganda tool. Even worse, the White Helmets have been exposed as actively supporting (both materially and in terms of PR) the criminal acts of groups like Al-Qaeda/Al-Nusra. The Syrian government which considers the group a terrorist organisation has been totally vindicated. The UN consequently do not recognise the White Hemlets as any sort of aid agency.

Why then did the Hollywood elite honour such a dangerous group? One could say, with a great deal of truth, that the Hollywood elite are out of touch, bordering on the mad, but there is a far more devious reason behind the awarding of a terrorist group.

The truth of the matter is that the US government, typically through the CIA, has for years influenced US news media, the artistic elite and Hollywood, using both willing and unwilling accomplices to propagandise a pro-deep state narrative.

In the 1950s, the young CIA didn’t waste time in this respect. Operation Mockingbird was a CIA initiative wherein US journalists at organisations like the New York Times and CBS were fed propaganda stories to send out to their then virtually monopolised share of American readers and viewers.

Many journalists were paid by the CIA to promote such stories. In other cases, naive journalists were simply given the information and put it out as real news, when in fact it was what today we would call ‘fake news’.

But the CIA didn’t limit their activities to media. The so-called Congress for Cultural Freedom funded artistic performances, publications and exhibitions designed to promote the CIA’s version of the ‘American way’, even though ironically, much of the work promoted was overwhelmingly rejected by Middle America.

The CIA supported all sorts of causes and art forms that many in America found anathema to traditional conservative tastes, ranging from the Abstract Expressionist movement in painting to radical feminism.

Much of the CIA’s meddling in media and creative industries was kept under wraps until the 1970s when many in Congress began questioning the modus operandi of the CIA in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. The full extent of Operation Mockingbird was not however fully revealed until pertinent information became declassified in 2007.

Much has been reported of so-called Hollywood blacklists against real and alleged communists at the height of the McCarthy era, but little in the mainstream media has been said of the CIA’s influence on Hollywood.

In 2012, much of the CIA’s influence on Hollywood in the post Cold War era was laid bear in a book by Tricia Jenkins called The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television.

Whilst many thought the era of big CIA would diminish with the end of the Cold War, Jenkins’s book has demonstrated that such ties continue. The rapid expansion of the surveillance state under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and the current deep state war on alternative media, has only entrenched the position of portions of the US government in actively trying to influence the narratives that audiences often ignorantly consume.

The media-industrial complex/media-entertainment complex is not a conspiracy theory. The trail of influence and money which both directly and indirectly weighs on the content put out by Hollywood and the US mainstream media is very real. It is both historical fact and sadly it is also part of the present reality.

It is for this reason alone that no one should be surprised that Al-Qaeda’s helpers, the White Helmets won an Oscar. What still is more surprising is that many in America do not question why the terrorist organisation blamed for the 9-11 attacks is now lionised as a sound alternative to the secular government of Syria.

February 28, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

All the News That Fits the Agenda

Mainstream journalists have betrayed their calling

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • February 7, 2017

The Editorial page of The Washington Post newspaper generally holds to its current progressive-dominated program consisting of anti-racism, pro-diversity plus multiculturalism, “choice,” LGBTQ “rights,” and, ironically, constant war. It is not noted for its sense of humor except on Saturday morning when it runs a number of cartoons ridiculing Donald Trump.

All of which contributed to my surprise when I read a piece on January 29th penned by no less than Fred Hiatt, the Editorial and opinion pages editor. Fred, a Harvard graduate, of course, has been around at The Post since 2000. His foreign policy is pure John McCain and his domestic policy is Elizabeth Warren. Apparently kicking around people overseas is okay while in the United States white male Christian heterosexuals in particular can be targeted with impunity, but no one else.

Hiatt’s piece entitled “Trump considers the media his enemy. We shouldn’t treat him as ours” is the type of faux high-minded nonsense that one expects from the new breed of journalist that considers that reporting a story is not enough. For them, it is far more important to actually be the story through selective use of available information and the random insertion of opinion disguised as fact.

But back to Hiatt’s clearly robust sense of humor. He cited presidential adviser Stephen Bannon’s labeling the media the “opposition party,” noting that press-phobia is not exactly unusual for any White House, but warning “it is vital that we not become that party.” Rather than take on the Administration aggressively by exposing its lies, shutting it out or “be[ing] the voice of the other side,” the media should not “answer dishonest or partisan journalism” with “more partisan journalism, which would only harm our credibility.”

Hiatt’s answer to the “dishonest or partisan” journalism problem is “professionalism: to do your jobs according to the highest standards, as always.” He then adds “So far, I believe The Post has been setting the standard in this difficult job. It is not boasting for me to say so…” Regarding his own particularly bailiwick the “opinion side of the house… it is important to maintain a thoughtful perspective.”

Fred Hiatt cites a number of examples of Trump’s failings, including how, regarding immigration, “favoring one religion over another… defaces our democracy.” Surely Hiatt is aware that in practice immigration into the U.S. has frequently favored one religion or nationality or culture over others. During the past 50 years it has worked favorably for Cubans, Irishmen and Vietnamese Christians. Russian Jews benefited particularly as they were admitted as refugees under the 1975 Jackson-Vanik Amendment even though they were not notably persecuted and only had to prove that they were Jewish.

Jackson-Vanik was one of the first public assertions of neoconism, having reportedly been drafted in the office of Senator Henry Jackson by no less than Richard Perle and Ben Wattenberg. Its provision favoring Jews was expanded by the 1990 Lautenberg Amendment which widened the field to include Iranian Jews. As refugees instead of immigrants they received welfare, health insurance, job placement, English language classes, and the opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship after only five years.

Hiatt’s apparent ignorance about how his Russian-Jewish neocon buddies like Max Boot arrived here is particularly noted as he is also Jewish. And Boot is far from alone. Steve Sailer reports that journalist Julia Ioffe, who complains regularly about American racism, Vladimir Putin and also Donald Trump, entered the U.S. under the Russian-Jewish waiver in 1990, bringing 60 of her family members along with her. One suspects that selective immigration policies are okay for Fred when it is one’s own tribe but immoral when it somehow involves Donald Trump.

Hiatt’s editorial page has also roundly condemned Donald Trump for his decision to restrict immigration from seven Muslim majority countries, conveniently ignoring the fact that President Barack Obama first came up with the exact same list of Muslim countries for special vetting in the December 2015 Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act.

Now consider Hiatt’s more general allegations regarding partisan and dishonest journalism for a minute. Anyone who regularly read either The Washington Post or New York Times during the recently concluded electoral campaign would have noted that the mainstream media was extremely hostile to Donald Trump and everything that he represented. It was and still is the “opposition,” as Bannon put it. The Post‘s journalists have been daily running multiple pieces, both in the news and opinion sections, criticizing everything relating to Trump for months including his wife’s clothing choices and there is no sign that it will stop anytime soon. And they have not been shy about it, criticizing not only his policies but also his appearance and character. The lampooning and sharp critique continue now that Trump is president. It is not that Trump is or should be immune from criticism – to be sure he has many legitimate detractors all across the political spectrum – but it is a question of how the critique is packaged and whether he is being treated fairly.

In fact, The Washington Post might well be the current leader when it comes to partisanship, fake news and heavily editorialized alleged “news reporting,” particularly when it comes to Russia, Iran or Donald Trump. It featured a completely fabricated story describing how a utility in Vermont had been hacked by the Russians without checking with the utility first. It also ran a front page piece on how hundreds of U.S. based media outlets and alternative websites were Russian “useful idiots” spreading Kremlin produced fake news and propaganda, basing its assessment on a questionable anonymously produced website called PropOrNot. Both stories were replayed widely in the national media before it was determined that they were completely wrong.

In support of its domestic agenda, The Post also ran a story describing how Planned Parenthood provides a broad range of women’s health services, including mammograms, which turned out to be untrue while failing to mention that it also performs 300,000 abortions each year. However one feels about Planned Parenthood, is that balanced and fact based reporting?

Apart from completely fake news, The Post is a master at editorializing what it describes as its news coverage. In a front page story on February 2nd, “Trump badgered, bragged and abruptly ended phone call with Australian leader,” paragraph four reads “Trump’s behavior suggests that he is capable of subjecting world leaders, including close allies, to a version of the vitriol he frequently employs against political adversaries and news organizations in speeches and on Twitter.” Does that pass the smell test for news reporting? Does “badgered, bragged”? And it later turned out that the call was not ended abruptly.

People like Fred Hiatt are precisely the reason why Donald Trump was elected by a public tired of arrogance, lies and media condescension. Fred’s hypocrisy is so blatant that anyone who dips into his newspaper to find enlightenment instead comes away reeking of propaganda, and particularly low propaganda at that. No Fred, The Washington Post is not the “highest standard” of journalism. It is hardly journalism at all. And the same goes for the crew at The New York Times as well as Charley Rose at CBS News, Wolf Blitzer at CNN and Rachel Maddow at MSNBC. Liars and knaves, every one of them.

The mainstream media talking heads want wars with Russia and Iran as well as heavy-handed intervention in Syria, hate Trump and everything he stands for, and love the whole world and its wonderful multicultural promise. Of course, their children go to private schools and will never be unemployed or have to put on a uniform or struggle to pay a mortgage while those pesky immigrants they love from a distance will never be able to afford to move in next door. Their understanding of flyover America and its problems is nil and their love of country is negotiable as they pursue higher ratings and more pats on the head from Hollywood celebrities, preening politicians and the country’s oligarchs. Steve Bannon was absolutely right when he said “the media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Nothing Important Happened in Syria on Tuesday, Nov. 29

By Paul Larudee | Dissident Voice | November 30, 2016

On Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, after more than five years of fighting in Aleppo, Syrian government forces recaptured a major portion of the “rebel” enclave often called “east Aleppo”.

It now should be called “southeast Aleppo”, and soon perhaps just “Aleppo”. Thousands of grateful Syrian civilians ran into the arms of the soldiers, and were provided with food, shelter, transportation, medical services, and other needs.

They recounted horror stories of how the “rebels”, under the leadership of the extremist al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra (AKA Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), denied them food and water and shot at them when they tried to leave (after confiscating their mobile phones so that no one could hear their story). Nevertheless, hundreds of fighters decided to accept the government offer of amnesty, and laid down their arms, while the rest retreated into the shrinking enclave.

The main water pumping station for the entire city had been in this liberated section of the city, and government engineers promise that service will soon be restored for the first time in many years.

It is a major turning point in the Syrian war, signaling the beginning of the end for efforts by the US, NATO and the Arabian monarchies to create “regime change” and a failed state in place of the secular government supported by the vast majority of Syrian citizens.

But apparently none of this is of any importance. After following what I thought were exciting developments through Twitter, Facebook, RT, and various alternative media sites, I flipped through the evening news of the three major US television networks (ABC, NBC & CBS) to see what sort of coverage they might have. I was expecting denunciations, accusations of Russian and Syrian atrocities, and the usual lies and distortions.

Instead, I found nothing at all. There was no coverage of Syria. Apparently, nothing of any consequence had happened. Instead, there was a story about how a group of US workers had won the lottery and had all become millionaires.

Silly me! I had thought it was a historic turning point. I can only imagine that the lavishly funded Aleppo Media Center and White Helmets “impartial” “volunteer” organizations were too busy running for their lives, along with their head-chopping heroes, to concoct their stories and stage their imitation rescue and black flag operations, and distribute them to the western media. Without these sources, the corporate media were left with nothing to report except stories that contradicted everything they had been reporting for months and years.

Silence is golden.

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.

November 30, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

How CBS News Aided the JFK Cover-up

By James DiEugenio | Consortium News | April 22, 2016

In the mid-1960s, amid growing skepticism about the Warren Commission’s lone-gunman findings on John F. Kennedy’s assassination, there was a struggle inside CBS News about whether to allow the critics a fair public hearing at the then-dominant news network. Some CBS producers pushed for a debate between believers and doubters and one even submitted a proposal to put the Warren Report “on trial,” according to internal CBS documents.

But CBS executives, who were staunch supporters of the Warren findings and had personal ties to some commission members, spiked those plans and instead insisted on presenting a defense of the lone-gunman theory while dismissing doubts as baseless conspiracy theories, the documents show.

Though it may be hard to remember – amid today’s proliferation of cable channels and Internet sites – CBS, along with NBC and ABC, wielded powerful control over what the American people got to see, hear and take seriously in the 1960s. By slapping down any criticism of the Warren Commission, CBS executives effectively prevented the case surrounding the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy from ever receiving the full airing that it deserved.

Beyond that historical significance, the internal documents – compiled by onetime CBS News assistant producer Roger Feinman – show how a major mainstream news organization green-lights one approach to presenting sensitive national security news while blocking another. The documents also shed light on how senior news executives, who have bought into one interpretation of the facts, are highly resistant to revisit the evidence.

Buying In

CBS News jumped onboard the blue-ribbon Warren Commission’s findings as soon as they were released on Sept. 27, 1964, just over 10 months after President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 22, 1963. In a special report, CBS and its anchor Walter Cronkite preempted regular programming and, with the assistance of reporter Dan Rather, devoted two commercial-free hours to endorsing the main tenets of that report.

However, despite Cronkite and Rather giving the Warren Report their public embrace, other people, who were not in the employ of the mainstream media, examined critically the report and the accompanying 26 volumes. Some of these citizens were lawyers and others were professors, the likes of Vincent Salandria and Richard Popkin. They came to the conclusion that CBS had been less than rigorous in its examination.

By 1967, the analyses challenging the Warren Report’s conclusions had become widespread, including popular books by Edward Epstein, Mark Lane, Sylvia Meagher and Josiah Thompson. Thompson’s book, Six Seconds in Dallas, was excerpted and placed on the cover of the wide-circulation magazine Saturday Evening Post. Lane was appearing on talk shows. Prosecutor Jim Garrison had announced a reopening of the JFK case in New Orleans. The dam was threatening to break.

The doubts about the Warren Report had even spread into the ranks at CBS News, where correspondent Daniel Schorr and Washington Bureau chief Bill Small recommended a fair and critical look at the report’s methodology and findings. Top prime-time producer Les Midgley later joined the effort.

CBS News vice president Gordon Manning sent the proposal on to CBS News president Richard Salant in August 1966, but it was declined. Manning tried again in October, suggesting an open debate between the critics of the Warren Report and former Commission counsels, moderated by a law school dean or the president of the American Bar Association. The idea was to give the two sides a chance to make their best points before the viewing public.

Zapruder Evidence

One month after Manning’s debate proposal, Life Magazine published a front-page story in which the Warren Commission’s verdict was questioned by photographic evidence from the Zapruder film (which the magazine owned). Life also interviewed Texas Gov. John Connally who disagreed that he and Kennedy had been hit by the same shot, a claim that undercut the “single bullet theory” at the heart of the Warren Report.

Without the assertion that a single bullet inflicted multiple wounds on Kennedy and Connally, who was riding in front of the President, the commission’s verdict collapses. The magazine story ended with a call to reopen the case. Indeed, Life had put together a small journalistic team to do its own internal investigation.

A few days after this issue appeared, Manning again pressed for a CBS special. This time he suggested the title “The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald,” with a panel of law school deans reviewing the evidence against Oswald in a mock trial, including evidence that the Warren Commission had not included. In other words, there would be a chance for American “jurors” to weigh the evidence that might have been presented against Oswald if he had lived and to make a judgment on his guilt. Again, this approach offered the potential for a reasonably balanced examination of the Kennedy assassination.

At this point, Manning was joined by producer Midgley, who had produced the two-hour 1964 CBS special. Midgley’s suggestion differed from Manning’s in that he wanted to title the show “The Warren Report on Trial.” Midgley suggested a three-night, three-hour series with one night given over to the commission defenders, one night including all the witnesses that the commission overlooked or discounted, and the last night including a verdict produced by legal experts. But the title itself suggested a level of skepticism that had not been part of the earlier proposals.

The Higher-ups Intervene

However, then CBS senior executives began to intervene. On Dec. 1, 1966, Salant wrote a memo to John Schneider, president of CBS Broadcast Group, telling him that he might refer the proposal to the CBS News Executive Committee (CNEC). According to information that a former CBS assistant producer Roger Feinman obtained during a legal hearing against CBS, plus secondary sources, CNEC was a secretive group that was created in the wake of Edward R. Murrow’s departure from CBS.

Murrow was a true investigative reporter who became famous through his reports on Sen. Joe McCarthy’s abuses and the mistreatment of migrant farm workers. The upper management at CBS did not like the controversies that these reports generated among influential segments of the American power structure. There was a perceived need to tamp down on such wide-ranging and independent-minded investigations. After all, the CBS executives were part of that power structure.

CBS News president Salant epitomized that blurring of high-level corporate journalism and America’s ruling class. Salant had gone to Exeter Academy, Harvard, and then Harvard Law School. He was handpicked from the network’s Manhattan legal firm by CBS President Frank Stanton to join his management team.

CBS News president Richard Salant

CBS News president Richard Salant

During World War II, Stanton had worked in the Office of War Information, the psychological warfare branch. In the 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower had appointed Stanton to a small committee to organize how the United States would survive a nuclear attack. From 1961-67, Stanton was chairman of Rand Corporation, a CIA-associated think tank.

The other two members of CNEC were Sig Mickelson, who had preceded Salant as CBS News president and then became a director of Time-Life Broadcasting, and CBS founder Bill Paley, who had also served in the World War II psy-war  branch of the Office of War Information and – after the war – let CIA Director Allen Dulles have the spy agency informally debrief CBS overseas correspondents.

When Salant turned the Warren Commission issue over to CNEC, the prospects for any objective or skeptical treatment of the JFK case faded. “The establishment of CNEC effectively curtailed the news division’s independence,” Feinman later wrote about his discoveries.

Further, Salant had no journalistic experience and was in almost daily communication with Stanton, whose background was in government propaganda.

Scaling Back

The day after Salant informed CNEC about the proposed JFK assassination special, Salant told CBS News vice president Manning that he was wavering on the mock trial concept. Salant’s next move was even more ominous. He sent both Manning and prime-time news producer Midgley to California to talk to two lawyers about the project.

One of the attorneys was Edwin Huddleson, a partner in the San Francisco firm of Cooley, Godward, Castro and Huddleson. Huddleson attended Harvard Law with Salant and, like Stanton, was on the board of the Rand Corporation. The other lawyer was Bayless Manning, Dean of Stanford Law School. They told the CBS representatives that they were against the network undertaking the project on the grounds of “the national interest” and because of the topic’s “political implications.”

CBS News vice president Manning reported that both attorneys advised the CBS team to ignore the critics of the Warren Commission or to appoint a special panel to critique their books, in other words, to put the critics on trial. Huddleson also steered the CBS team to cooperative scientists who would counter the critics.

On his return to CBS headquarters, Manning saw the writing on the wall. He knew what his CBS superiors really wanted and it wasn’t some no-holds-barred examination of the Warren Commission’s flaws. So, he suggested a new title for the series, “In Defense of the Warren Report,” and wrote that CBS should dismiss “the inane, irresponsible, and hare-brained challenges of Mark Lane and others of that stripe.”

Out on a Limb

Manning’s defection from an open-minded treatment of the evidence to a one-sided Warren Commission defense left producer Midgley out on a limb. However, unaware of what Salant was up to, on Dec. 14, 1966, Midgley circulated a memo about how he planned on approaching the Warren Report project. He proposed running experiments that were more scientific than “the ridiculous ones run by the FBI.” He still wanted a mock trial to show how the operation of the Commission was “almost incredibly inadequate.”

In response, Salant circulated an anonymous, undated, paragraph-by-paragraph rebuttal to Midgley’s plan, which Feinman’s later investigation determined was written by Warren Commissioner John McCloy, then Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and the father of Ellen McCloy, Salant’s administrative assistant.

John J. McCloy, one of the Warren Commission members.

John J. McCloy

In this memo, McCloy wrote that “the chief evidence that Oswald acted alone and shot alone is not to be found in the ballistics and pathology of the assassination, but in the fact of his loner life.” As many Warren Commission critics have noted, it was this approach – discounting or ignoring the medical and ballistics evidence, but concentrating on Oswald’s alleged social life – that was a fatal flaw of the Warren Report.

Despite the familial conflict of interest, Ellen McCloy was added to the distribution list for almost all memos related to the Kennedy assassination project and thus could serve as a secret back-channel between CBS and her father.

A Stonewall Defense

Clearly, the original idea for a fresh examination of the Warren Commission and the evidence that had arisen since its report was published in 1964 had been turned on its head. The CBS brass wanted a defense, not a critique.

Salant asked producer Midgley, “Is the question whether Oswald was a CIA or FBI informant really so substantial that we have to deal with it?” Midgley, increasingly alone out on the limb, replied, “Yes, we must treat it.”

As the initial plan for a forthright examination of the Warren Commission’s shortcomings was transformed into a stonewall defense of the official findings, there was still the problem of Midgley, the last holdout. But eventually his head was turned, too.

While the four-night special was in production, Midgley became engaged to Betty Furness, a former actress-turned-television-commercial pitchwoman whom President Lyndon Johnson appointed as his special assistant for consumer affairs, even though her only experience in the field had been selling Westinghouse appliances for 11 years on television. She was sworn in on April 27, 1967, which was about two months before the CBS production aired. Two weeks after it was broadcast, Midgley and Furness were married.

As Kai Bird’s biography of McCloy, The Chairman, makes clear, Johnson and McCloy were friends and colleagues. But there is another point about how Midgley was convinced to go along with McCloy’s view of the Warren Commission. Around the same time he married Furness, he received a significant promotion, elevated to executive editor of the network’s flagship news program, “The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.” This made him, in essence, the top news editor at CBS, a decision that required the consultation and approval of Salant, Cronkite and Stanton – and very likely the CNEC.

So, instead of a serious investigation into the murder of President Kennedy – at a time when there was the possibility of effective national action to get at the truth – CBS News delivered a stalwart defense of the Warren Commission’s conclusions and heaped ridicule on anyone who dared question those findings.

Shaping that approach was not only the influence of Warren Commission member John McCloy, an icon of the Establishment, but the carrots and sticks applied to senior CBS producers, such as Gordon Manning and Les Midgley, who initially favored a more skeptical approach but were convinced to abandon that goal.

Curious Consultants

Once McCloy was brought onboard, the complexion of CBS’s treatment of the JFK assassination changed. CBS hired consultants who were rabidly pro-Warren Report to appear as on-air experts while others would be hidden in the shadows. In addition to the clandestine role of McCloy, some of these consultants included Dallas police officer Gerald Hill, physicist Luis Alvarez and reporter Lawrence Schiller.

Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

Lee Harvey Oswald

Officer Hill was just about everywhere in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. He was at the Texas School Book Depository where Oswald worked and allegedly shot the President from the sixth floor; Hill was at the murder scene of Officer J. D Tippit, who was allegedly shot by Oswald after he fled Dealey Plaza; and he was at the Texas Theater where Oswald was arrested.

Hill appeared in the CBS 1967 program show as a speaker. But Roger Feinman found out that Hill also was paid for six weeks work on the show as a consultant. During his consulting, Hill revealed that the police did a “fast frisk” on Oswald while in the theater. They found nothing in his pockets at the time, which begs the question of where the bullets the police said they found in his pockets later at the station came from. That question did not arise during the program since CBS never revealed the contradiction. (Click here and go to page 20 of the transcript.)

Physicist Luis Alvarez, who had a served as an adviser to the CIA and to the U.S. military in the Vietnam War, spent a considerable amount of time lending his name to articles supporting the Warren Report and conducting questionable experiments supporting its findings. As demonstrated by authors Josiah Thompson (in 2013) and Gary Aguilar (in 2014), Alvarez misrepresented some data in some of his JFK experiments. (Click here and go to the 37:00 mark for Aguilar’s presentation.)

Making Fun

The same year of the 1967 CBS broadcast, reporter Lawrence Schiller had co-written a book entitled The Scavengers and Critics of the Warren Report, a picaresque journey through America where Schiller interviewed some of the prominent – and not so prominent – critics of the report and caricatured them hideously.

Secretly, he had been an informant for the FBI for many years keeping an eye on people like Mark Lane and Jim Garrison, whom Schiller attacked despite discovering witnesses who attested to Garrison’s suspect Clay Shaw using the alias Clay Bertrand, a key point in Garrison’s case. The relevant documents were not declassified until the Assassination Records and Reviews Board was set up in the 1990s. [See Destiny Betrayed, Second Edition, by James DiEugenio, p. 388]

This cast of consultants – along with McCloy – influenced the direction of the 1967 CBS Special Report. The last thing these consultants wanted to do was to expose the faulty methodology that the Warren Commission had employed.

Longtime CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite.

Longtime CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite.

As in 1964, Walter Cronkite manned the anchor desk and Dan Rather was the main field reporter. Again, CBS could find no serious problems with the Warren Report.  The critics were misguided, CBS said. After all, Cronkite and Rather had done a seven-month inquiry.

‘Unimpeachable Credentials’ 

In the broadcast, Cronkite names the men on the Warren Commission as their pictures appear on screen. He calls them “men of unimpeachable credentials” but left out the fact that President Kennedy fired Commissioner Allen Dulles from the CIA in 1961 for lying to him about the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

When Cronkite got to the crux of the program, he said the Warren Commission assured the American people that they would get the most searching investigation in history. Then, Cronkite showed books and articles critical of the commission and mentioned that polls showed that a majority of Americans had lost faith in the Warren Report.

At that point, the network special revealed its purpose, to discredit the critics and reassure the public that these people could not be trusted.

Cronkite went through a list of points that the critics had raised, including key issues such as how many shots were fired and how quickly they could be discharged from the suspect rifle. On each point, Cronkite took the Warren Commission’s side, saying Oswald fired three shots from the sixth floor with the rifle attributed to him by the Warren Commission. Two of three were direct hits – to Kennedy’s head and shoulder area – within six seconds.

One way that CBS fortified the case for just three shots was Alvarez’s examination of the Zapruder film, Abraham Zapruder’s 26-second film of Kennedy’s assassination taken from Zapruder’s position in Dealey Plaza, a sequence that CBS did not actually show.

Alvarez proclaimed that by doing something called a “jiggle analysis,” he computed that there were three shots fired during the film. What the jiggle amounted to was a blurring of frames on the film (presumably because Zapruder would have flinched at the sound of gunshots).

Dan Rather took this Alvarez idea to Charles Wyckoff, a professional photo analyst in Massachusetts. Agreeing with Alvarez, at least on camera, Wyckoff mapped out the three areas of “jiggles.” The Alvarez/Wyckoff formula was simple: three jiggles, three shots.

But as Feinman found out through his legal discovery and hearings, there was a big problem with this declaration. Wyckoff had actually discovered four jiggles, not three. Therefore, by the Alvarez formula, there was a second gunman and thus a conspiracy.

Wyckoff’s on-camera discussion of this was cut out and not included in the official transcript. But it is interesting to note just how committed Wyckoff was to the CBS agenda, for he tried to explain the fourth jiggle as Zapruder’s reaction to a siren. As Feinman noted, how Wyckoff could determine this from a silent 8 mm film is puzzling. But the point is, this analysis did not support the commission. It undermined the Warren Report and was left on the cutting-room floor.

There were other problems with the Alverez-Wyckoff “jiggle” theory, since the first jiggle was at around Zapruder frame 190, or a few frames previous to that, which would have meant that Oswald would have had to be firing through the branches of an oak tree, which is why the Warren Commission moved this shot up to frame 210.

But CBS left itself an out, claiming  there was an opening in the tree branches at frame 186 and Oswald could have fired at that point. But that is patently ridiculous, since the opening at frame 186 lasted for 1/18th of a second. To say that Oswald anticipated a less than split-second opening, and then steeled himself in a flash to align the target, aim, and fire is all stuff from the realm of comic book super heroes. Yet, in its blind obeisance to the Warren Report, this is what CBS had reduced itself to.

Another way that CBS tried to bolster the Warren Report was to have Wyckoff purchase other Bell and Howell movie cameras (since CBS was not allowed to handle the actual Zapruder camera.) After winding up these cameras, CBS hypothesized that Zapruder’s camera might have been running a little slow, giving Oswald a longer firing sequence.

The problem with this theory, however, was that both the FBI and Bell and Howell had tested the speed of Zapruder’s actual camera. Even Dick Salant commented that this was “logically inconclusive and unpersuasive,” but it stayed in the program.

The Shot Sequence

But why did Rather and Wyckoff have to stoop this low? The answer is because of the results of their rifle firing tests. As the critics of the Warren Report had pointed out, the commission had used two tests to see if Oswald could have gotten off three shots in the allotted 5.6 seconds indicated by the Zapruder film.

These tests ended up as failing to prove Oswald could have performed this feat of marksmanship. What made it worse is that the commission had used very proficient riflemen to try and duplicate what the commission said Oswald had done. [See Sylvia Meagher, Accessories After the Fact, p. 108]

So CBS tried again. This time they set up a track with a sled on it to simulate the back of Kennedy’s head. They then elevated a firing point to simulate the sixth floor “sniper’s nest,” though there were differences from Dealey Plaza including the oak tree and a rise in the street in the real crime scene. Nevertheless, the CBS experimenters released the target on its sled and had a marksman named Ed Crossman fire his three shots.

Crossman had a considerable reputation in the field, but – even though he was given a week to practice with a version of the Mannlicher Carcano rifle – his results were not up to snuff. According to a report by producer Midgley, Crossman never broke 6.25 seconds (longer than Oswald’s purported 5.6 seconds) and – even with an enlarged target – he got only two of three hits in about 50 percent of his attempts.

Crossman explained that the rifle had a sticky bolt action and a faulty viewing scope. But what the professional sniper did not know is that the actual rifle in evidence was even harder to work. Crossman said that to perform such a feat on the first time out would require a lot of luck.

However, since that evidence did not fit the show’s agenda, it was discarded, both the test and the comments. To resolve that problem, CBS called in 11 professional marksmen who first went to an indoor firing range and practiced to their heart’s content, though the Warren Commission could find no evidence that Oswald practiced.

The 11 men then took 37 runs at duplicating what Oswald was supposed to have done. There were three instances where two out of three hits were recorded in 5.6 seconds. The best time was achieved by Howard Donahue on his third attempt after his first two attempts were complete failures.

But CBS claimed that the average recorded time was 5.6 seconds, without including the 17 attempts that were thrown out because of mechanical failure. CBS also didn’t tell the public the surviving average was 1.2 hits out of three with an enlarged target.

The truly striking characteristic of these trials was the number of instances where the shooter could not get any result at all. More often than not, once the clip was loaded, the bolt action jammed. The sniper had to realign the target and fire again. According to the Warren Report, that could not have happened with Oswald.

There is also the anomaly of James Tague, who was struck by one bullet that the Warren Commission said had ricocheted off the curb of a different street, about 260 feet away from the limousine. But how could Oswald have missed by that much if he was so accurate on his other two shots? That was another discrepancy deleted by the CBS editors.

The Autopsy Disputes

CBS also obscured what was said by the two chief medical witnesses after the assassination; by Dr. Malcolm Perry from Parkland Hospital in Dallas, where Kennedy was taken after he was hit, and James Humes, the chief pathologist at the autopsy examination at Bethesda Medical Center that evening.

In their research for the series, CBS had discovered a transcript of Dr. Perry’s press conference that the Warren Commission did not have. But CBS camouflaged what Perry said on Nov. 22, 1963, specifically about Kennedy’s anterior neck wound. Perry said it had the appearance to him of being an entrance wound, and he said this three times.

Cronkite tried to characterize the conference as Perry being rushed out to the press and badgered. But that wasn’t true, since the press conference was about two hours after Perry had done a tracheotomy over the front neck wound. The performance of that incision had given Perry the closest and most deliberate look at that wound.

Perry therefore had the time to recover from the pressure of the operation and there was no badgering of Perry. Newsmen were simply asking him questions about the wounds he saw. Perry had the opportunity to answer the questions on his own terms. Again, CBS seemed intent on concealing evidence of a possible second assassin — because Oswald could not have fired at Kennedy from the front.

Commander James Humes, the pathologist, did not want to appear on the program, but was pressured by Attorney General Ramsey Clark, possibly with McCloy’s assistance. As Feinman discovered, the preliminary talks with Humes were done through a friend of his at the church he attended.

There were two things that Humes said in these early discussions that were bracing. First, he said that he recalled an x-ray of the President, which showed a malleable probe connecting the rear back wound with the front neck wound. Second, he said that he had orders not to do a complete autopsy. He would not reveal who gave him these orders, except to say that it was not Robert Kennedy. [Charles Crenshaw, Trauma Room One, p. 182]

The significance of the malleable probe is that, if Humes was correct, the front and back wounds would have come from the same bullet. However, we learned almost 30 years later from the Assassination Records Review Board that other witnesses also saw a malleable probe go through Kennedy’s back, but said the probe did not go through the body since the wounds did not connect. However, x-rays that might confirm the presence of the probe are missing. [DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, pgs. 116-18]

Location of the Wounds

On camera, Humes also said the posterior body wound was at the base of the neck. Dan Rather then showed Humes the drawings made of the wound in the back as depicted by medical illustrator Harold Rydberg for the Warren Commission, also depicting the wound as being in the neck, which Humes agreed with on camera. He added that they had reviewed the photos and referred to measurements and this all indicated the wound was in the neck.

Even for CBS — and Warren Commissioner John McCloy — this must have been surprising since the autopsy photos do not reveal the wound to be at the base of the neck but clearly in the back. (Click here and scroll down.) CBS should have sent its own independent expert to the archive because Humes clearly had a vested interest in seeing his autopsy report bolstered, especially since it was under attack by more than one critic.

Autopsy photo of President John F. Kennedy.

Autopsy photo of President Kennedy

The second point that makes Humes’s interview curious is his comments on the Rydberg drawings’ accuracy. These do not coincide with what Rydberg said later, not understanding why he was chosen to make these drawings for the Warren Commission since he was only 22 and had been drawing for only one year. There were many other veteran illustrators in the area the Warren Commission could have called upon, but Rydberg came to believe that it was his inexperience that caused the commission to pick him.

When Humes and Dr. Thornton Boswell appeared before him, they had nothing with them: no photos, no x-rays, no official measurements, speaking only from memory, nearly four months after the autopsy, Rydberg said. [DiEugenio, Reclaiming Parkland, pgs. 119-22] The Rydberg drawings have become infamous for not corresponding to the pictures, measurements, or the Zapruder film.

For Humes to endorse these on national television – and for CBS to allow this without any fact-checking – shows what a case of false journalism the special had become.

Limiting Access

CBS also knew that Humes said he had been limited in what he was allowed to do in the Kennedy autopsy, a potentially big scoop if CBS had followed it. Instead, the public had to wait another two years for the story to surface at Garrison’s trial of Clay Shaw when autopsy doctor Pierre Finck took the stand in Shaw’s defense. Finck said the same thing: that Dr. Humes was limited in his autopsy practice on Kennedy. [ibid, p. 115]

The difference was that this disclosure would have had much more exposure, impact and vibrancy if CBS had broken it in 1967 rather than having the fact come up during Garrison’s prosecution, in part, because the press corps’ hostility toward Garrison distorted the trial coverage.

So, in the summer of 1967, CBS again had come to the defense of the official story with a four-hour, four-night extravaganza that again endorsed the findings of the Warren Commission.

At the time of broadcast, it was the most expensive documentary CBS ever produced. It concluded: Acting alone, Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy. Acting alone, Jack Ruby killed Oswald. And Oswald and Ruby did not know each other. All the controversy was Much Ado about Nothing.

Unwinding the Back Story

In 1967, the clandestine relationship between CBS News President Salant and Warren Commissioner McCloy was known to very few people. In fact, as assistant producer Roger Feinman later deduced, it was likely known only to the very small circle in the memo distribution chain. That Salant deliberately wished to keep it hidden is indicated by the fact that he allowed McCloy to write these early memos anonymously.

As Feinman concluded, McCloy’s influence over the program was almost certainly a violation of the network’s own guidelines, which prohibit conflicts of interest in the news production, probably another reason Salant kept McCloy’s connection hidden.

In the 1970s, after Feinman was fired over a later dispute regarding another example of CBS News’ highhanded handling of the JFK assassination – and then obtained internal documents as part of a legal hearing on his dismissal – he briefly thought of publicizing the whole affair (which he eventually decided against doing).

But Feinman wrote to Warren Commissioner McCloy in March 1977 about the ex-commissioner’s clandestine role in the four-night special a decade earlier. McCloy declined to be interviewed on the subject, but added that he did not recall any contribution he made to the special.

But Feinman persisted. On April 4, 1977, he wrote McCloy again. This time he revealed that he had written evidence that McCloy had participated extensively in the production of the four-night series. Very quickly, McCloy got in contact with Salant and wrote that he did not recall any such back-channel relationship.

In turn, Salant contacted Midgley and told the producer to check his files to see if there was any evidence that would reveal a CBS secret collaboration with McCloy. Salant then wrote back to McCloy saying that at no time did Ellen McCloy ever act as a conduit between CBS News and her father.

However, in 1992 in an article for The Village Voice, both Ellen McCloy and Salant were confronted with memos that revealed Salant was lying in 1977. McCloy’s daughter admitted to the clandestine courier relationship. Salant finally admitted it also, but he tried to say there was nothing unusual about it.

Reassuring Americans

So, in 1967, CBS News had again reassured the American people that there was no conspiracy in President Kennedy’s murder, just a misguided lone gunman who had done it all by himself. Anyone who thought otherwise was confused, deceptive or delusional.

However, in 1975, eight years after the broadcast, two events revived interest in the JFK case again. First, the Church Committee was formed in Congress to explore the crimes of the CIA and FBI, revealing that before Kennedy was killed, the CIA had farmed out the assassination of Fidel Castro to the Mafia, a fact that was kept from the Warren Commission even though one of its members, Allen Dulles, had been CIA director when the plots were formulated.

Longtime CBS anchor Dan Rather

Longtime CBS anchor Dan Rather

Secondly, in the summer of 1975, in prime time, ABC broadcast the Zapruder film, the first time that the American public had seen the shocking image of President Kennedy’s head being knocked back and to the left by what appeared to be a shot from his front and right, a shot Oswald could not have fired.

The confluence of these two events caused a furor in Washington and the creation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) to reopen the JFK case.

Having become a chief defender of the original Warren Commission findings, CBS News moved preemptively to influence the new investigation by planning another special about the JFK case.

CBS’s Sixty Minutes decided to do a story on whether or not Jack Ruby and Lee Oswald knew each other. After several months of research, Salant killed the project with the investigative files turned over to senior producer Les Midgley before becoming the basis for the 1975 CBS special, which was entitled The American Assassins.

Originally this was planned as a four-night special. One night each on the JFK, RFK, Martin Luther King and the George Wallace shootings. But at the last moment, in a very late press release, CBS announced that the first two nights would be devoted to the JFK case. Midgley was the producer, but this time Cronkite was absent. Rather took his place behind the desk.

In general terms, it was more of the same. The photographic consultant was Itek Corporation, a company that was very close to the CIA, having helped build the CORONA spy satellite system. Itek’s CEO in the mid-1960s, Franklin Lindsay, was a former CIA officer. With Itek’s help, CBS did everything they could to move their Magic Bullet shot from about frame 190 to about frames 223-226.

Yet, Josiah Thompson, who appeared on the show, had written there was no evidence Gov. Connally was hit before frames 230-236. Further, there are indications that President Kennedy is clearly hit as he disappears behind the Stemmons Freeway sign at about frame 190, e.g., his head seems to collapse both sideways and forward in a buckling motion.

But with Itek in hand, this became the scenario for the CBS version of the “single bullet theory.” It differed from the Warren Commission’s in that it did not rely upon a “delayed reaction” on Connally’s part to the same bullet.

Ballistics Tests

CBS also employed Alfred Olivier, a research veterinarian who worked for Army wound ballistics branch and did tests with the alleged rifle used in the assassination. He was a chief witness for junior counsel Arlen Specter before the Warren Commission. [See Warren Commission, Volume V, pgs. 74ff]

For CBS in 1975, Olivier said that the Magic Bullet, CE 399, was not actually “pristine.” For CBS and Dan Rather, this made the “single bullet theory” not impossible, just hard to believe.

Apparently, no one explained to Rather that the only deformation on the bullet is a slight flattening at the base, which would occur as the bullet is blasted through the barrel of a rifle. There is no deformation at its tip where it would have struck its multiple targets. There is only a tiny amount of mass missing from the bullet.

In other words, as more than one author has written, it has all the indications of being fired into a carton of water or a bale of cotton. If CBS had interviewed the legendary medical examiner Milton Helpern of New York — not far from CBS headquarters — that is pretty much what he would have said. [Henry Hurt, Reasonable Doubt, p. 69.]

Rather realized, without being explicit, that something was wrong with Kennedy’s autopsy. He called the autopsy below par and reversed field on his opinion about pathologist Humes, whose experience Rather had praised in 1967. In the 1975 broadcast, Rather said that neither Humes nor Boswell were qualified to perform Kennedy’s autopsy and that parts of it were botched.

But let us make no mistake about what CBS was up to here. The entire corporate upper structure — Salant, Stanton, Paley — had overrun the working producers and journalists, including Midgley, Manning and Schorr. And those subordinates decided not to utter a peep to the outside world about what had happened.

Not only Cronkite and Rather participated in this appalling exercise, so too did Eric Sevareid, appearing at the end of the last show and saying that there are always those who believe in conspiracies, whether it be about Yalta, China or Pearl Harbor. He then poured it on by saying some people still think Hitler is alive and concluding that it would be impossible to cover up the assassination of a President.

But simply in examining how a major news outlet like CBS handled the evidence shows precisely how something as dreadful and significant as the murder of a President could be covered up.

Much of this history also would have remained unknown, except that Roger Feinman, an assistant producer at CBS News, had become a friend and follower of the estimable Warren Commission critic Sylvia Meagher. So, Feinman knew that the Warren Commission was a deeply flawed report and that CBS had employed some very questionable methods in the 1967 special in order to conceal those flaws.

When the assassination issue returned in the mid-1970s, Feinman began to write some memoranda to those in charge of the renewed CBS investigation warning that they shouldn’t repeat their 1967 performance. His first memo went to CBS president Dick Salant. Many of the other memos were directed to the Office of Standards and Practices.

In preparing these memos, Feinman researched some of the odd methodologies that CBS used in 1967. Since he had been at CBS for three years, he got to know some of the people who had worked on that series. They supplied him with documents and information which revealed that what Cronkite and Rather were telling the audience had been arrived at through a process that was as flawed as the one the Warren Commission had used.

Feinman requested a formal review of the process by which CBS had arrived at its forensic conclusions. He felt the documentary had violated company guidelines in doing so.

Establishment Strikes Back

As Feinman’s memos began to circulate through the executive and management suites – including Salant’s and Vice-President Bill Small’s – it was made clear to him that he should cease and desist from his one-man campaign. When he wouldn’t let up, CBS moved to terminate its dissident employee.

Roger Feinman

Roger Feinman

But since Feinman was working under a union contract, he had certain administrative rights to a fair hearing, including the process of discovery through which he could request certain documents to make his case. His research allowed him to pinpoint where these documents would be and who prepared them.

On Sept. 7, 1976, CBS succeeded in terminating Feinman. But the collection of documents he secured through his hearing was extraordinary, allowing outsiders for the first time to see how the 1967 series was conceived and executed. Further, the documents took us into the group psychology of a large media corporation when it collides with controversial matters involving national security.

Only Roger Feinman, who was not at the top of CBS or anywhere near it, had the guts to try to get to the bottom of the whole internal scandal.

And Feinman paid a high personal price for doing so. Feinman’s contribution to American history did not help him get his journalistic career back on track. When he passed away in the fall of 2011, he was freelancing as a computer programmer.

[This article is largely based on the script for the documentary film Roger Feinman was in the process of reediting at the time of his death in 2011. The reader can view that here.]



James DiEugenio is a researcher and writer on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and other mysteries of that era. His most recent book is Reclaiming Parkland.

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes

By Matt Peppe | Just The Facts Blog | November 29, 2015

In a dramatic segment on CBS News’ 60 Minutes titled “The Last Prisoner of the Cold War,” former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) subcontractor Alan Gross tells of horrifying experiences in captivity: “They threatened to hang me, they threatened to pull out my fingernails, they said I’d never see the light of day.”

Gross portrays a harrowing ordeal. He purports to have feared for his safety and his life, as if he was chained in a medieval dungeon at the whims of an arbitrary monarch. This description likely sounds credible to many Americans who view the Cuban government as their own government and media have portrayed it for the last 55 years: a totalitarian dictatorship with no respect for human rights or the rule of law.

The opportunistic Gross, who earned more than $500,000 from his work for USAID, undoubtedly understands that he could cash in on the American public’s preconceptions of Cuba by dramatizing his experience there. Perhaps this occurred to Gross during his imprisonment, when he told a second cousin that “when he comes back he’s going to have a big book deal.” One might even venture to guess his 60 Minutes interview might be an audition for such a pay day.

Such nightmarish conditions have certainly been documented in Cuba. Whistleblowers have described “sexual abuse by medical personnel, torture by other medical personnel, brutal beatings out of frustration, fear, and retribution … torturous shackling, positional torture” and other practices – in Guantanamo Bay, by U.S. military personnel on detainees kidnapped and held indefinitely without charges or due process.

In the rest of Cuba, which is governed by the Revolutionary regime, such stories are virtually unheard of. Professor and author Salim Lamrani compared human rights reports among Latin American countries and found many credible accusations of torture, but for Cuba he observed: “Not a single case of torture against prisoners is noted by Amnesty International. It has to be emphasised that of all the reports by Amnesty about the countries of Latin America, the report on Cuba is by far the least condemnatory.”

“Since the year 1959, there has not been one single case of extra-judicial execution, enforced disappearance or torture,” stated Maria Esther Reus, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Cuba, in the Cuban government’s presentation to the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of the U.N. Human Rights Council. “The prison system constitutes an example of Cuba’s humanism. Cuba has developed programmes that are directed towards transforming prisons into schools. The goal is to ensure that human beings who have served their sentences are fully reintegrated into society.”

While the latest Amnesty report on Cuba notes that the government has not granted permission for a visit by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, Cuba is far from alone.

The U.N. Special Rapporteur himself noted in his latest report that the U.S. government had not allowed him access to the Guantanamo Bay detention center. Additionally, he has not been granted access to visit U.S. federal and state prisons. He did not mention the Cuban government at all in the report.

Gross’s Covert Mission

Narrating the 60 Minutes segment, Scott Pelley says, “Gross was hired by the U.S. Agency for International Development. USAID is America’s charity, delivering aid all around the world. But in Cuba its mission was different. USAID asked Gross to set up independent internet connections for the Jewish community. Only five percent of Cubans were online. But bypassing government censorship was illegal.”

Actually, according to the World Bank, 14.3 percent of Cubans had internet access in 2009  when Gross was imprisoned. This number has more than doubled over the last six years as the Cuban government has expanded internet access through programs such as public WiFi zones. Of course, this was done independently without any help from the U.S. government or subcontractors like Gross working on their behalf.

Pelley’s claim that Gross’s mission was merely to help the Jewish community in Cuba obtain internet access is easily debunked. During each of his five trips to Cuba, Gross traveled under a tourist visa and represented himself as a member of a Jewish humanitarian group, rather than an agent of the U.S. government. Jewish leaders in Cuba said they already had access to the internet, and were not aware of Gross’s connections to the U.S. government.

An Associated Press investigation discovered that Gross was well aware the misrepresentation of his activities in the country put him at serious risk. The AP quotes Gross saying that “(t)his is very risky business in no uncertain terms,” and “(d)etection of satellite signals will be catastrophic.”

Gross’s employer, Development Alternative, Inc. (DAI), had received a $28 million contract from USAID to carry out a democracy project in 2008. Tracey Eaton writes in his Along the Malecón blog that “Gross said in court documents he was coordinating some of his activities with the Pan American Development Foundation, or PADF, another organization that had received U.S. government funds to try to hasten Cuba’s transition to democracy.”

In a memo to DAI, Gross wrote that the “ICTs Para la Isla pilot project” was designed to “lay a practical groundwork (emphasis in original) that will facilitate and enable the better management of larger-scale and more comprehensive transition-to-democracy initiatives.” Therefore, Gross’s mission was clearly political, rather than humanitarian. His professed mission to help Jewish groups was merely a cover for his clandestine activities on behalf of a government whose official policy for more than half a century has been the replacement of the Revolutionary government in Cuba.

Gross was bringing into the country highly sophisticated computer equipment including satellite phones and a mobile phone chip to disguise satellite signals. Cuban law prohibits importing such equipment without legal authorization.

60 Minutes’ claim that “Cuban authorities locked (Gross) up for helping its citizens get unrestricted Internet access” is at best a vast oversimplification, if not an outright fabrication. In reality, Gross was convicted under Cuba’s Article 11 of Law 88, “Protection of National and Economic Independence.”

The law stipulates imprisonment of 3 to 8 years for anyone who “directly or through a third party, receives, distributes or participates in the distribution by financial means, materials or of another nature, proceeds of the Government of the United States, its agencies, dependencies, representatives, functionaries or other private entities.”

As Lamrani points out, “(t)his severity is not unique to Cuban legislation. US law prescribes similar penalties for this type of crime. The Foreign Agents Registration Act prescribes that any un-registered agent ‘who requests, collects, supplies or spends contributions, loans, money or any valuable object in his own interest’ may be liable to a sentence of five years in prison.”

Gross’s Detainment and Treatment By Cuban Authorities

Gross was held not in a regular prison but in a military hospital for the duration of his detainment. Cuban authorities not only took pains to ensure Gross was granted appropriate medical care, but were extremely accommodating to allow him time with his wife Judy.

It seems unlikely that Gross was abused or mistreated while serving his sentence. According to the Associated Press, Gross’s lawyer Jared Genser said Judy “arrived in Cuba on Sept. 5 (2012) and was allowed to visit her husband on four days, three at the military hospital and once at a guarded home near the capital. He said there is no sign that Gross is being ill-treated.” He also told the AP “(Gross) is being treated fine.”

Gross, who suffered from arthritis, lost significant weight while held in confinement and developed a mass in his shoulder. He was treated by Cuban medical staff, and there is no evidence poor conditions contributed to his medical issues.

New York rabbi and gastroenterologist Elie Abadie was allowed to visit Gross in the military hospital, where he determined “through the exam he personally performed and also through the extensive information supplied by the team of Cuban doctors who have attended (Gross)” that Gross was in a good state of health.

Gross petitioned to see his mother before she passed away from cancer, but as Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs official Josefina Vidal noted: “neither the Cuban penitentiary system nor the U.S. penitentiary system provide the possibility for inmates to travel abroad, no matter the reason.” The week after his mother died, Gross’s wife was allowed to visit him again in Cuba.

The Obama Administration’s Rejection of Cuba’s Humanitarian Proposal

In early 2014, Gross began a hunger strike because of what he called “mistruths, deceptions, and inaction by both governments … because of the lack of any reasonable or valid effort to resolve this shameful ordeal.” He ended his hunger strike a week later, stating he would not resume his protest “when both governments show more concern for human beings and less malice toward each other.”

Despite Gross assigning blame to both governments, there is ample evidence that the Cuban government made much more than a reasonable effort to resolve his case, while it was the U.S. government – alone – that refused do so.

Two years earlier in 2012, the highest ranking Cuban diplomat in Washington, Jorge Bolaños, had proposed a prisoner swap of Gross for the Cuban Five (more on them shortly). Bolaños expressed his government’s desire to “find a humanitarian solution to the case on a reciprocal basis.” But the Obama administration flatly said no, and continued to unilaterally demand Gross’s release without engaging the Cuban government on their offer.

On Dec. 17, 2014, the negotiated solution that freed Gross was the exact same deal the Cuban government had proposed three years earlier. It bears repeating that this offer was on the table all along and could have been agreed to by the Obama administration at any time.

If the agreement was fair last December, why was it not fair when it was first offered three years before? The U.S. government alone holds the blame – with Obama, as the head of his administration, owning the lion’s share – for rejecting a clearly reasonable offer that resulted in Gross remaining detained unnecessarily for two and a half extra years.

Without any controversy, the U.S. government could have secured his release before he developed health complications, before his mother died, and before he began his hunger strike. The U.S. government obstinately refused, continuously, for three years to even consider a deal that later appeared to be a no-brainer for both sides.

Faulting both governments for the delay in obtaining Gross’s release is asinine historical revisionism. It is merely an unmerited attempt to create a fictional balance based on the assumption that the U.S. government in its righteousness must be justified in its quarrels with other governments.

The Cuban Five

One cannot discuss the case of Alan Gross without at the same time discussing the aforementioned Cuban Five, who Gross was eventually swapped for. Unlike Gross, who was acting as a mercenary assisting the U.S. government carry out covert political operations, the members of the Cuban Five were fighting a very real threat of terrorism against the Cuban people emanating from the United States. Their operation was not in any way politically subversive, and did not interfere with the U.S. government’s sovereignty.

They were in Florida to infiltrate terrorist organizations and disrupt plots these groups were planning on Cuban territory. Thousands of Cubans have been killed by contra-revolutionary terrorism since 1959 by groups who enjoy safe haven inside the United States, including 73 people whose plane was blown up over the Caribbean in 1978 and an Italian man killed in a restaurant bombing in Havana in 1997. As author Stephen Kimber writes, if the roles were reversed and the Cuban Five were working for the U.S. government, they “would be American heroes.”

The Five – as they are known in their home country – were convicted on trumped up conspiracy charges. The group’s leader Gerardo Hernández was convicted on the most outrageous, unfounded charge of conspiracy to commit murder. He received two life sentences plus fifteen years.

By any objective comparison, the conditions the Cuban Five faced in confinement were far worse than those of Gross. Each member of the Five was held in solitary confinement for 17 months prior to trial. They spent nearly three years without being able to communicate with each other or their families. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded in 2005 that “the depravation of liberty of these five persons” was “arbitrary.”

Olga, the wife of René González, and Adriana, the wife of Hernández, were denied visas to visit their husbands for 10 years, until after the Cuban government allowed Judy Gross to visit her husband. The U.S. government had previously deemed the Cuban wives “a threat to the stability and national security of the United States.”

Amnesty International stated its concern “that such a blanket or permanent bar on visits with their wives constitutes additional punishment and is contrary to international standards for the humane treatment of prisoners and states’ obligation to protect family life.”

González, the first member of the group to be paroled, was freed after 13 years.

The three members of the Five who were released in December 2014 had spent more than 16 years each in prison. That is, more than three times longer than Gross.

Needless to say, 60 Minutes does not make this comparison between Gross and the Cuban Five. But 60 Minutes – a standard bearer of American journalism – does achieve an important function of the American Free Press: demonizing official enemies while keeping the microscope away from one’s own government, lest any inconvenient analysis might raise doubts about their inherent superiority and benevolence.

November 30, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

60 Minutes Provides Platform for US Military to Hype Imaginary China and Russia Threat

By Matt Peppe | Just the Facts | August 2, 2015

The CBS news program 60 Minutes on Sunday aired an extended segment titled “The Battle Above” that relayed the concerns of various US military personnel that China and Russia could pose a threat to the vast system of American satellites that are used for military purposes and for commercial use by banks, telecommunications companies, farmers and others.

“Top military and intelligence leaders are now worried those satellites are vulnerable to attack. They say China, in particular, has been actively testing anti-satellite weapons that could, in effect, knock out America’s eyes and ears,” said correspondent David Martin.

Gen. John Hyten, head of the 38,000-person Space Command unit of the US Air Force, tells all his troops that there is a “contested environment” in space with multiple countries not allied with the U.S. possessing capabilities that could potentially threaten American satellites. “It’s a competition that I wish wasn’t occurring, but it is. And if we’re threatened in space, we have the right to self-defense, and we’ll make sure we can execute that right,” Hyten says.

While the Pentagon admits spending $10 billion per year on space, 60 Minutes reports that when you add in other indirect costs the actual total reaches $25 billion. And Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James says the Pentagon plans to spend an additional $5 billion over the next 5 years on protecting its satellites.

Hyten describes the ambitions and activities of foreign actors in space as essentially an existential threat not just to the U.S. military but to the American economy. This is a useful narrative for an agency that is seeking billions of dollars to extend its current dominance.

Without a discernible threat, it would be difficult to justify such outlandish expenditures as the X-37B space plane. The plane is able to return to earth after voyaging for 20 months into space, allowing anything included in the payload to be later retrieved. The purpose of the plane is as yet undisclosed. But Hyten’s response when asked if it will one day be used as a weapons system – that he can’t answer – is revealing.

The military officials interviewed by 60 Minutes frame the issue as one in which the U.S. is acting purely in self-defense and within international law. Martin mentions that there is a 1967 U.N. treaty that calls for the peaceful use of space, but says in practice it does not resolve much. When he asks if this means it’s every country for himself, Lee James says, “Pretty much.”

60 Minutes makes much of anti-satellite weapons tests that China conducted in 2007, nearly a decade ago. China’s foreign ministry told the news program that it has not conducted any tests since and is “committed to the peaceful use of outer space.”

Are China’s declarations just empty rhetoric to conceal their true ambitions? And what threat do Russia and other countries like North Korea actually pose?

60 Minutes fails to mention that the United Nations has actively been dealing with the threat of weapons in space, and it is the United States itself – not China or Russia – that has been most forceful in rejecting limits on weapons programs and an arms race in space.

In its most recent session, the UN General Assembly passed two resolutions directly related to the use of weapons in space – one of which the U.S. government outright opposed and the other which it abstained from voting on.

UNGA resolution 69/31, “Prevention of an arms race in outer space” passed by a margin of 178-0 with 2 abstentions (the United States and Israel). The resolution affirmed that “the exploration and use of outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, shall be for peaceful purposes and shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries” and recalled that all States must “observe the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations regarding the use or threat of use of force in their international relations, including in their space activities.”

The General Assembly also passed resolution 69/32, “No first placement of weapons in outer space,” passed by a margin of 126-4 with 26 abstentions. China, Russia, North Korea and Iran all voted in favor of this measure, while the United States, Israel and US allies Georgia and Ukraine were the only nations voting against it.

The resolution “urges an early start of substantive work based on the updated draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space” that was submitted at the Conference on Disarmament. The draft treaty was submitted by two states: China and Russia.

In their story, 60 Minutes serves the role of Pentagon PR mouthpiece, allowing US military officials to hype the threat of China and Russia by presenting a narrative based on little more than their own paranoia.

If they wanted to realistically assess the threat of an arms race in space and determine who is responsible, 60 Minutes would have examined the extensive actions and voting record of the United States, China, Russia, and other states in the diplomatic arena to deal with such a threat. This would demonstrate emphatically that the United States has stood virtually alone in the world in opposing peaceful cooperation and de-escalation of military action in space. But apparently 60 Minutes finds it easier to simply take the Pentagon’s arguments and analysis at face value.

The DoD’s scare tactics of creating an imaginary threat – in the form Washington’s familiar punching bags China and Russia – allow them to frame their space program as an imperative reaction to legitimate national security threats, rather than as a superfluous, aggressive expansion of their unchallenged hegemony that extends not just around the globe, but thousands of miles into the reaches of outer space.

August 3, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Fact-Resistant ‘Group Think’ on Syria

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 20, 2015

On Sunday evening, CBS’s “60 Minutes” presented what was pitched as a thorough examination of the infamous sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, on Aug. 21, 2013, with anchor Scott Pelley asserting that “none of what we found will be omitted here.” But the segment – while filled with emotional scenes of dead and dying Syrians – made little effort to determine who was responsible.

Pelley’s team stuck to the conventional wisdom from the rush-to-judgment “white paper” that the White House issued on Aug. 30, 2013, just nine days after the incident, blaming the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad. But Pelley ignored contrary evidence that has emerged in the 20 months since the attack, including what I’ve been told are dissenting views among U.S. intelligence analysts.

The segment also played games with the chronology of the United Nations inspectors who had been invited to Damascus by Assad to investigate what he claimed were earlier chemical attacks carried out by Syrian rebels, a force dominated by Islamic extremists, including Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the even more brutal Islamic State.

Though Pelley starts the segment by interviewing a Syrian who claimed he witnessed a sarin attack in Moadamiya, a suburb south of Damascus, Pelley leaves out the fact that Moadimiya was the first area examined by the UN inspectors and that their field tests found no evidence of sarin. Nor does Pelley note that UN laboratories also found no sarin or other chemical agents on the one missile that the inspectors recovered from Moadamiya.

The two labs did have a dispute over whether trace elements of some chemicals found in Moadamiya might have been degraded sarin. But those disputed positives made no sense because when the UN inspectors went to the eastern suburb of Zamalka two and three days later, their field equipment immediately registered positive for sarin and the two labs confirmed the presence of actual sarin.

So, if the sarin had not degraded in Zamalka, why would it have degraded sooner in Moadamiya? The logical explanation is that there was no sarin associated with the Moadamiya rocket but the UN laboratories were under intense pressure from the United States to come up with something incriminating that would bolster the initial U.S. rush to judgment.

The absence of actual sarin from the rocket that struck Moadamiya also raises questions about the credibility of Pelley’s first witness. Or possibly a conventional rocket assault on the area ruptured some kind of chemical containers that led panicked victims to believe they too were under a chemical attack.

That seemed to be a working hypothesis among some U.S. intelligence analysts even as early as the Aug. 30, 2013 “white paper,” which was called a U.S. “Government Assessment,” an unusual document that seemed to ape the form of a “National Intelligence Estimate,” which would reflect the consensus view of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies and include analytical dissents.

By going with this new creation – a “Government Assessment,” which was released by the White House press office, not the Office of Director of National Intelligence – the State Department, which was then itching for war with Syria, got to exclude any dissents to the hasty conclusions. But the intelligence analysts managed to embed one dissent as a cutline to a map which was included with the “white paper.”

The cutline read: “Reports of chemical attacks originating from some locations may reflect the movement of patients exposed in one neighborhood  to field hospitals and medical facilities in the surrounding area. They may also reflect confusion and panic triggered by the ongoing artillery and rocket barrage, and reports of chemical use in other neighborhoods.”

In other words, some U.S. intelligence analysts were already questioning the assumption of a widespread chemical rocket assault on the Damascus suburbs – and the strongest argument for the State Department’s finger-pointing at Assad’s military was the supposedly large number of rockets carrying sarin.

Possible ‘False Flag’

However, if there had been only one sarin-laden rocket, i.e., the one that landed in Zamalka, then the suspicion could shift to a provocation – or “false-flag” attack – carried out by Islamic extremists with the goal of tricking the U.S. military into destroying Assad’s army and essentially opening the gates of Damascus to a victory by Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State.

That was what investigative journalist Seymour Hersh concluded in ground-breaking articles describing the alleged role of Turkish intelligence in assisting these Islamic extremists in securing the necessary materials and expertise to produce a crude form of sarin.

In December 2013, Hersh reported that he found a deep schism within the U.S. intelligence community over how the case was sold to pin the blame on Assad. Hersh wrote that he encountered “intense concern, and on occasion anger” when he interviewed American intelligence and military experts “over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence.”

According to Hersh, “One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote.

“A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening.

“The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy.”

Despite Hersh’s legendary reputation dating back to the My Lai massacre story during the Vietnam War and revelations about CIA abuses in the 1970s, his first 5,500-word article — as well as a second article — appeared in the London Review of Books, a placement that suggests the American media’s “group think” blaming the Assad regime remained hostile to any serious dissent on this topic.

Much of the skepticism about the Obama administration’s case on the Syrian sarin attack has been confined to the Internet, including our own Consortiumnews.com. Indeed, Hersh’s article dovetailed with much of what we had reported in August and September of 2013 as we questioned the administration’s certainty that Assad’s regime was responsible.

Our skepticism flew in the face of a “group think” among prominent opinion leaders who joined in the stampede toward war with Syria much as they did in Iraq a decade earlier. War was averted only because President Barack Obama was informed about the intelligence doubts and because Russian President Vladimir Putin helped arrange a compromise in which Assad agreed to surrender his entire chemical weapons arsenal, while still denying any role in the sarin attack.

A Short-Range Rocket

Later, when rocket scientists — Theodore A. Postol, a professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Richard M. Lloyd, an analyst at the military contractor Tesla Laboratories — analyzed the one home-made, sarin-laden rocket that landed in Zamalka, they concluded that it could have traveled only about two to three kilometers, meaning that it would have been fired from an area controlled by the rebels, not the government.

That finding destroyed a conclusion reached by Human Rights Watch and the New York Times, which vectored the suspected paths of the two rockets — one from Moadamiya and one from Zamalka — to where the two lines intersected at a Syrian military base about 9.5 kilometers from the points of impact. Not only did the vectoring make no sense because only the Zamalka rocket was found to contain sarin but the rocket experts concluded that it couldn’t even fly a third of the way from the military base to where it landed.

After touting its original Assad-did-it claim on the front page on Sept. 17, 2013, the Times snuck its retraction below the fold on page 8 in an article published on Dec. 29, 2013, between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

But none of these doubts were examined in any way in Pelley’s “60 Minutes” presentation. Instead, Pelley simply pointed the finger at the Syrian government, citing U.S. intelligence. Pelley said: “The rockets were types used by the Syrian army and they were launched from land held by the dictatorship. U.S. intelligence believes the Syrian army used sarin in frustration after years of shelling and hunger failed to break the rebels.”

Pelley did note one anomaly to the conventional wisdom: Why would Assad have ordered a chemical attack outside Damascus after inviting in a team of UN inspectors to examine another site? Pelley then shrugs off that contradiction while offering no alternative scenario and leaving the clear impression that the attack was carried out by the Syrian government.

When I asked the Office of Director of National Intelligence about the “60 Minutes” segment, spokesperson Kathleen C. Butler responded with this e-mailed response: “The intelligence community assess[es] with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack against opposition elements in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013. The intelligence community assesses that the scenario in which the opposition executed the attack on August 21 is highly unlikely.”

In a subsequent e-mail, she added that there was “full consensus on the assessment.”  [For more details on the sarin incident, see Consortiumnews.com’sThe Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

Clueless over Iraq

Pelley has built a highly successful CBS career by always parroting the official line of the U.S. government no matter how obviously false it is. For instance, in 2008, he conducted an interview with FBI interrogator George Piro who had questioned Iraq’s Saddam Hussein before his execution.

Pelley wondered why Hussein had kept pretending that he had weapons of mass destruction when a simple acknowledgement that they had been destroyed would have spared his country the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

“For a man who drew America into two wars and countless military engagements, we never knew what Saddam Hussein was thinking,” Pelley said in introducing the segment on the interrogation of Hussein about his WMD stockpiles. “Why did he choose war with the United States?”

The segment never mentioned the fact that Hussein’s government did disclose that it had eliminated its WMD, including a 12,000-page submission to the UN on Dec. 7, 2002, explaining how its WMD stockpiles had been destroyed. In fall 2002, Hussein’s government also allowed teams of UN inspectors into Iraq and gave them free rein to examine any site of their choosing.

Those inspections only ended in March 2003 when President George W. Bush decided to press ahead with war despite the UN Security Council’s refusal to authorize the invasion and its desire to give the UN inspectors time to finish their work.

But none of that reality was part of the faux history that Pelley delivered to the American public. He preferred the officially sanctioned U.S. account, as embraced by Bush in speech after speech, that Saddam Hussein “chose war” by defying the UN over the WMD issue and by misleading the world into believing that he still possessed these weapons.

In line with Bush’s made-up version of history, Pelley pressed Piro on the question of why Hussein was hiding the fact that Iraq no longer had WMD. Piro said Hussein explained to him that “most of the WMD had been destroyed by the UN inspectors in the ‘90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.”

“So,” Pelley asked, “why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk, why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?”

After Piro mentioned Hussein’s lingering fear of neighboring Iran, Pelley felt he was close to an answer to the mystery: “He believed that he couldn’t survive without the perception that he had weapons of mass destruction?”

But, still, Pelley puzzled over why Hussein’s continued in his miscalculation. Pelley asked: “As the U.S. marched toward war and we began massing troops on his border, why didn’t he stop it then? And say, ‘Look, I have no weapons of mass destruction,’ I mean, how could he have wanted his country to be invaded?”

On Sunday, Pelley was reprising that role as the ingénue foreign correspondent trying to decipher the mysterious ways of the Orient.

Just as Pelley couldn’t figure why Hussein had “wanted his country to be invaded” — when no one at “60 Minutes” thought to mention that Hussein and his government had fully disclosed their lack of WMD to save their country from being invaded — Pelley couldn’t fully comprehend why the Assad regime would have launched a sarin gas attack with UN inspectors sitting in Damascus.

The possibility that the attack actually was a provocation by Al-Qaeda or Islamic State extremists — who have demonstrated their lack of compassion for innocents and who had a clear motive for getting the U.S. military to bomb Assad’s army — was something that Pelley couldn’t process. The calculation was too much for him even after last week’s disclosure that Syrian rebels had staged a 2013 kidnapping/rescue of NBC’s correspondent Richard Engel, whose abduction was falsely blamed on Assad’ allies.

Inviting a Massacre

Besides being an example of shallow reporting and shoddy journalism – using highly emotional scenes while failing to seriously investigate who was responsible – the “60 Minutes” episode could also be a prelude to a far worse human rights crime, which could follow the defeat of the Syrian army and a victory by Al-Qaeda or its spin-off, the Islamic State.

Right now, the only effective fighting force holding off that victory – and the very real possibility of a massacre of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other religious minorities – is the Syrian army. Some of those Syrian Christians, now allied with Assad, are ethnic Armenians whose ancestors fled the Turkish genocide a century ago.

The recent high-profile comment by Pope Francis about the Armenian genocide can be understood in the context of the impending danger to the survivors’ descendants if the head-chopping Islamic State prevails in the Syrian civil war, the possibility that these Sunni extremists backed by Turkey and Saudi Arabia might finish the job that the Ottoman Empire began a century ago.

Yet, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the American neocons are still set on the overthrow of the Assad government and continue to pretend that Obama could have averted the Syrian crisis if he had only bombed or invaded Syria several years ago.

The Washington Post’s neocon editorial page editor Fred Hiatt recited that theme in an op-ed on Monday that made a major point out of the Assad government’s alleged use of something called “barrel bombs” — as if some crude explosive device is somehow less humane than the more sophisticated weapons that were used to slaughter countless innocents by the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel in Gaza and Lebanon and now Saudi Arabia in Yemen.

“Obama could have destroyed Assad’s helicopters or given the resistance the weapons to do so,” Hiatt said, arguing the neocon assertion that to have intervened earlier would have somehow prevented the rise of Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State. But that is another simplistic argument since there were terrorist elements in the Syrian civil war from the beginning and many of the so-called “moderates” who were trained and armed by the United States have since joined forces with the extremists. [See Consortiumnews.com’sSyrian Rebels Embrace Al-Qaeda.”]

The key question for Syria’s future is how can a realistic political settlement be reached between Assad’s government and whatever reasonable opposition remains. But such a complex and difficult solution is not advanced by irresponsible journalism at CBS and the Washington Post.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

April 21, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Why is Hollywood Rewarding Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin for Glamorizing the CIA?

Legitimizing Torture, Lies and Killer Drones

By Dave Clennon | CounterPunch | January 25, 2015

The Screen Actors Guild has nominated Claire Danes of “Homeland” for its Best Actress Award.  It has also nominated Danes, Mandy Patinkin and the rest of the “Homeland” cast for the Outstanding Ensemble Award.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Danes for its Golden Globe Award. Danes did not win, but the nomination was a valuable honor for her, and for “Homeland.”

In addition, “Homeland” will be a strong candidate for Emmy nominations, in several categories (Best Drama, writer, director, etc.) in June.

“Homeland” dramatizes the actions of a fictional Central Intelligence Agency.

The CIA is pleased with the way it is portrayed on “Homeland.”  The Agency invited the show’s cast and producers to come on a friendly visit to its headquarters in Virginia.  CIA Director John Brennan gave actor Mandy Patinkin (Brennan’s fictional counterpart) a tour of his office. USA Today reported, “Patinkin … was struck by the CIA director’s sincerity. ‘I thought he had a wonderful heart,’ [Patinkin] said.”

Later, CIA officials attended a screening of “Homeland”‘s third season premiere at D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The C.I.A. likes “Homeland.”

“Homeland” likes the C.I.A.

The problem is that the C.I.A. has a long history of incompetence and, what is more disturbing, a long history of criminal activity.

I believe that most creative endeavors in film and television have a moral dimension.

Specifically, I believe there can be a powerful connection between real-world government criminality and the mass entertainment which we, the people, consume.

Well-crafted dramas can promote our tolerance of immoral behavior.

danes

Actors physically embody the moral implications of the story they help to tell.  For two years, beginning in 2001, I acted in a CBS series, “The Agency.” It showed glimpses of the darker side of the CIA, but each episode implied that the Agency’s morally questionable actions were necessary to safeguard the American people, and therefore, not immoral. Not evil. Taking money for spreading that lie plagued my conscience.

The greatest shame of my career was a  fall 2002 episode which dramatized, convincingly, the proposition that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was actively engaged in the development of nuclear weapons.  The Bush Administration was warning Americans that the WMD “smoking-gun” could appear in the form of “a mushroom cloud.”  And on “The Agency,” we were confirming Bush’s lies in the minds of viewers in at least 13 million households. Members of Congress were nervously contemplating a resolution giving Bush the power to invade Iraq, and more than 13 million of their constituents were seeing persuasive dramatic “proof” that an invasion was indeed necessary. That hour of television drama was one effective salvo in the larger propaganda war.  We all know what followed. I’ll always regret that I didn’t have the courage to quit “The Agency.”

The dismissive cliché, “It’s just a TV show,” just isn’t true.

“Homeland” is more popular and highly esteemed than “The Agency” was. “Homeland” is produced by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. The show is a continuation of the flattering posture which they adopted toward the CIA, as producers of Fox’s “24.” Gordon and Gansa are masterful at playing on the audience’s post-9/11 paranoia. They employ outstanding skills to keep us in suspense, and our fears incline us to tolerate crimes we’d ordinarily find inexcusable.

As the recent Senate Intelligence Committee Report makes clear, one of the C.I.A.’s most atrocious crimes has been the routine torture of detainees. Kiefer Sutherland and the producers of “24” succeeded where Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld struggled:  they made torture morally acceptable in Bush’s America. And, thanks to the Senate Report, we now have some idea of how wantonly the C.I.A. exploited that popular tolerance.

In Gordon and Gansa’s new show, Claire Danes follows in Sutherland’s footsteps, as C.I.A. officer Carrie Mathison, and “Homeland” is even more openly friendly to the C.I.A. than “24” was.

“Homeland” makes  a hero of Mathison who orders Predator drone attacks from her new post in Pakistan. It shows that she is guilty of the murder of innocents, but, in the end, “Homeland” justifies and condones the real-life CIA practice of murder-by-drone, and its horrific “collateral damage.” Despite her crimes, Danes’s Mathison remains sympathetic and admirable.

Under Barack Obama, the CIA has dramatically expanded its drone-homicide program, the perfect expression of malice and cowardice. Obama has revealed that “Homeland” is one of his favorite television shows.

It’s troubling to me that The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Danes for a Golden Globe, and that the Screen Actors Guild, has nominated her and the cast of “Homeland,” including Patinkin, for SAG Actor Awards.

I can only express the hope that SAG and Emmy voters will consider the voice of their consciences, as well as their personal artistic standards, when they cast their ballots.  Whatever their final conclusions may be, I hope they will allow the moral dimension to have a place in their own, private evaluations.

I myself would expect to be judged, not only on my performance in a project, but also on the moral values of the film or TV program in which I choose to exercise my skills.  I received favorable reviews for my performances on “The Agency,” but the last thing I would have expected was any kind of award for the use of my craft in a deceitful project that condoned grievous crimes, including a catastrophic war of aggression.

The goodness or evil of a fictional character is not the issue. The moral stance of the movie or TV program is what matters. “Homeland”‘s Mandy Patinkin skillfully portrays a sympathetic and upright C.I.A. chief, Saul Berenson, who tries to discourage the misdeeds of his subordinates. Unfortunately, Patinkin’s Good Guy contributes to “Homeland”‘s false portrayal of the CIA as a benevolent, self-correcting institution.

I believe that writers, directors and actors all share responsibility for the world-view and the moral values a film or TV show promotes.

In my opinion, giving members of the “Homeland” cast a Screen Actors Guild Award would be tantamount to rewarding them, and their show, for promoting the C.I.A. and its criminal practices.

I do not advocate censorship. I just don’t think the legitimization of torture, disinformation, drone-killings, and other crimes should be rewarded.

Dave Clennon is a long-time actor and political agitator, probably best known for portraying the advertising mogul Miles Drentell on ABC’s thirtysomething. His more recent projects include: Syriana, Grey’s Anatomy, Prison Break, Weeds, and The Mentalist.

January 26, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Illusion of Debate

By Jason Hirthler | CounterPunch | December 2, 2014

A recent article in FAIR reviewed the findings of its latest study on the quality of political “debate” being aired on the mainstream networks. It studied the run-up to the military interventions in both Iraq and Syria. Perhaps the arbiters of the study intended to illustrate what we’ve learned since the fraudulent Iraq War of 2003. Well, it appears we’ve learned nothing.

FAIR spent hours painfully absorbing the misinformation peddled by such soporific Sunday shows as CNN’s State of the Union, CBS’s Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and ABC’s This Week, plus some of the more popular weekly political programming including ADHD-inducing CNN’s Situation Room, Fox News Channel’s Special Report, the venerable sedative PBS NewsHour, and MSNBC’s Hardball. You know the cast of characters: glib George Stephanopoulos, forthright Candy Crowly, harrowing Wolf Blitzer, and stentorian Chris Matthews. Images of their barking maws are seared into the national hippocampus.

Overall, 205 mostly government mouthpieces were invited to air their cleverly crafted talking points for public edification. Of them, a staggering sum of three voiced opposition to military action in Syria and Iraq. A mere 125 stated their support for aggressive action.

Confining its data to the Sunday shows, 89 guests were handsomely paid to educate our benighted couch-potato populace. One suggested not going to war. It stands to reason that considered legal arguments against these interventions got the short shrift, too.

The media consensus on Syria and Iraq isn’t an isolated instance of groupthink. Far from it. It conforms to a consistent pattern, one that has at its core a deliberate disregard for international law and efforts to strengthen transnational treaties and norms regarding military action. (Although transnational law regulating trade is highly favored, for obvious reasons.)

Here the New York Times uncritically repeats Israel casualty figures from the recent attack on Gaza. The journalist, Jodi Rudoren, gives equal legitimacy to sparsely defended claims from Tel Aviv and “painstakingly compiled research by the United Nations, and independent Palestinian human rights organizations in Gaza.” She adopts a baseless Israeli definition of “combatant”, ignoring broad international consensus that contradicts it. She dubiously conflates minors with adults, and under-reports the number of children killed. And so on. All in the service of the pro-Israel position of the paper.

In 2010 Israel assaulted an aid flotilla trying to relieve Palestinians under the Gaza blockade. Author and political analyst Anthony DiMaggio conducted Lexis Nexus searches that demonstrate how U.S. media and the NYT in particular scrupulously avoid the topic of international law when discussing Israeli actions. In one analysis of Times and Washington Post articles on Israel between May 31st and June 2nd, just five out of 48 articles referenced international law relating to either the flotilla raid or the blockade. DiMaggio dissects several of the methods by which Israel flaunts the United Nations Charter. He adds that Israel has violated more than 90 Security Council resolutions relating to its occupation. You don’t get this story in the American mainstream. But this is typical. U.S. media reflexively privileges the Israeli narrative over Arab points of view, and barely acknowledges the existence of dozens of United Nations resolutions condemning criminal actions by Israel.

It’s the same with Iran. For years now, Washington has been theatrically warning the world that Iran wants to build a bomb and menace the Middle East with it. That would be suicidal. It is common knowledge among American intelligence agencies, and any others that have been paying attention, that Iran’s foreign policy is deterrence. But this doesn’t stop the MSM from portraying Tehran as a hornet’s nest of frothing Islamists.

Kevin Young has done a telling survey of articles on nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran. Some 40 editorials written by the Times and the Post were vetted. Precisely zero editorials acknowledged international legal implications of U.S. public threats and various subversions led by Israel, such as assassinating scientists and conducting cyber-attacks, both innovations on standard violations of sovereignty. However, 34 of the pieces “said or implied” that Iran was seeking a nuclear weapon. Forget that 16 American intelligence agencies stated that Iran had no active nuclear weapons program. These papers of record prefer to trade in innuendo and hearsay, despite assessments to the contrary. More than 80% of the articles supported the crippling U.S. sanctions that are justified by the supposed merit of the bomb-building claim.

Prior to Young’s work, Edward Hermann and David Peterson looked at 276 articles on Iran’s nuclear program between 2003 and 2009. The number itself is staggering, more so when stacked against the number of articles written over the same period about Israel’s nuclear program: a mighty three.

This is interesting considering the posture of both countries in relation to international treaties. Israel freely stockpiles nuclear weapons and maintains a “policy of deliberate ambiguity” about its nuclear weapons capacities, despite frequent efforts by Arab states to persuade it to declare its arsenal (which is estimated by some to be in the hundreds). Also, it has yet to sign the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that has been signed by 190 nations worldwide. This intransigent stance has marooned the broadly embraced idea of working to establish a nuclear weapons free zone in the region.

Contrast Israel’s behavior with that of Iran itself, which has permitted extensive inspections of its nuclear facilities. The Times recently noted the country’s main nuclear facilities were “crawling with inspectors.” Iran is also a party to the NPT and is a full member of the IAEA. It continues to try to work toward a reasonable solution with the West despite debilitating sanctions levied on it by the United States. America has unduly pressured the IAEA to adopt additional protocols that would require prohibitively stringent demands on Iran, rendering the possibility of a negotiated solution comfortably remote from an American standpoint. (These additional demands reportedly include drone surveillance, tracking the origin and destination of every centrifuge produced anywhere in the country, and searches of the presidential palace. All of this passes without comment from our deeply objective journalist class.)

Coverage of Iraq is no different, particularly in advance of periodic illegal war of aggression against it. Former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Palestine Richard Falk and author Howard Friel conducted a survey in 2004 assessing the New York Times’ pre-war coverage of Iraq in 2003. In more than 70 articles on Iraq, the Times never mentioned “UN Charter” or “international law.” The study also found “No space was accorded to the broad array of international law and world-order arguments opposing the war.” But such arguments only exist outside of Western corridors of power in Washington, London, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

This isn’t debate. Real debate is pre-empted by internal bi-partisan consensus on some basic issues: maintain a giant garrison state, shrink the state everywhere else, preference corporations over populations, restrict civil liberties to secure status quo power structures. So when it comes to Iran, Iraq, Syria and the like, the question isn’t whether to go to war, but what kind of war to fight. Hawks want bombs. Doves want sanctions. Publicans want Marines. Dems want a proxy army of jihadis. They both want Academi mercenaries. (Obama hired out the gang formerly known as Blackwater to the CIA for a cool $250 million.) And when we’ve finished off ISIS, the question won’t be about an exit strategy, but whether to head west to Damascus or east to Tehran.

The question isn’t whether to cut aid to Israel given its serial criminality in Gaza and the West Bank, but how fast settlements can annex the Jordan Valley without attracting more international opprobrium. (International law, again, set aside.)

On the domestic front, the question isn’t whether to have single payer or private healthcare, but whether citizens should be forced to purchase private schemes or simply admonished to do so. The question isn’t whether or not to keep or strengthen New Deal entitlements, but how swiftly they can be eviscerated. The question isn’t whether or not to surveil the body politic, but where to store the data, and whether or not to harvest two-hop or three-hop metadata. The question isn’t whether or not to hold authors of torture programs accountable, but how much of the damning torture report to redact so as to leave them unprosecutable. The question isn’t whether or not to regulate Wall Street but, as slimy oil industry lawyer Bennett Holiday put it in Syriana, to create “the illusion of due diligence.”

All this is not to say the MSM isn’t aware of alternative viewpoints. It is, but it only acknowledges them when they can be used to justify a foregone conclusion. In the past year, the MSM has nearly become infatuated with international law. Friel has tracked the paper of record’s response to the Ukrainian fiasco. What did he find? When Russia annexed Crimea, the Times inveighed against the bloodless “invasion” as a gross violation of international law. Eight different editorials over the next few months hyperventilated about global security, castigating Russian President Vladimir Putin for his “illegal” violation and his “contempt for,” “flouting,” “blatant transgression,” and “breach” of international law. Calls were sounded to “protect” against such cynical disregard of global consensus. Western allies needed to busy themselves “reasserting international law” and exacting heavy penalties on Russia for “riding roughshod” over such sacred precepts as “Ukrainian sovereignty.”

Quite so, as Washington supports the toppling of democratically elected governments in Kiev and Tegucigalpa, sends drones to ride “roughshod” over Yemeni, Pakistani, Somali and other poorly defended borders; and deploys thousands of troops, advisors, and American-armed jihadis to patrol the sectarian abattoirs of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. But better to exonerate ourselves on those counts and chalk it up to the fog of war. After all, we follow the law of exceptionalism, clearly defined by Richard Falk as, “Accountability for the weak and vulnerable, discretion for the strong and mighty.”

Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry. He lives in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com.

December 2, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

NSA’s Personal Propagandist For CBS Officially Takes Counterterrorism Job Everyone Knew He Was Getting

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | December 30, 2013

When 60 Minutes did its hack PR job for the NSA a few weeks ago, lots of people called out the fact that the reporter who handled the segment, John Miller, wasn’t just a former intelligence official working for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (which oversees the NSA), but that he was widely rumored to have worked out a deal for a new job for the NYPD, heading up “counterterrorism.” Even though there were multiple reports at the time, including one that claimed it was a “99.44% done deal,” when asked about it, Miller lied. He told a reporter, “you know as much about this as I do.”

That was clearly Miller lying — something that Miller has had an issue with in the past — as the “rumor” is now confirmed and Miller has accepted his job doing “counterterrorism” for the NYPD. And while some might say that doing counterterrorism for a city police force is different than working for national intelligence, that’s only because you’re not familiar with the NYPD, which has set up something of a shadow NSA/CIA to do all sorts of activities not normally associated with a police force.

And, of course, since the press was clearly familiar with Miller’s expected role, it raises serious questions about why 60 Minutes allowed the puff piece to move forward with a seriously conflicted “journalist.” While Miller has lashed out at critics, rather than respond to a single point raised, the brand that comes out worst in all this is clearly CBS and 60 Minutes — which basically let an intelligence official do an entire propaganda piece on the NSA. 60 Minutes used to be about hard hitting journalism. Now, apparently, they think it’s “journalism” to shill for the surveillance state.

December 30, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | Comments Off on NSA’s Personal Propagandist For CBS Officially Takes Counterterrorism Job Everyone Knew He Was Getting