One explanation why U.S. policies serve no national interests
On September 9th the Washington Post featured a front page article describing how the Defense Department had used warplanes to attack targets and kill suspected militants in six countries over the Labor Day weekend. The article was celebratory, citing Pentagon officials who boasted of the ability to engage “multiple targets” anywhere in the world in what has become a “permanent war.” The article did not mention that the United States is not currently at war with any of the six target countries and made no attempt to make a case that the men and women who were killed actually threatened the U.S. or American citizens.
Actual American interests in fighting a war without limits and without an end were not described. They never are. Indeed, in the U.S. and elsewhere many citizens often wonder how certain government policies like Washington’s war on terror can persist in spite of widespread popular opposition or clear perceptions that they are either ineffective or even harmful. This persistence of policies regarding which there is no debate is sometimes attributed to a “deep state.”
The phrase “deep state” originated in and was often applied to Turkey, in Turkish “Derin Devlet,” where the nation’s security services and governing elite traditionally pursued the same chauvinistic and inward-looking agenda both domestically and in foreign affairs no matter who was prime minister.
In countries where a deep state dominates, real democracy and rule of law are inevitably the first victims. A deep state like Turkey’s is traditionally organized around a center of official and publicly accepted power, which means it often includes senior government officials, the police and intelligence services as well as the military. For the police and intelligence agencies the propensity to operate in secret is a sine qua non for the deep state as it provides cover for the maintenance of relationships that under other circumstances would be considered suspect or even illegal.
It has been claimed that deep state activities in Turkey are frequently conducted through connivance with politicians who are able to provide cover for the activity, with corporate interests and sometimes even with criminal groups, which can operate across borders and help in the mundane tasks of political corruption to include money laundering. This connection of political power with the ability to operate under the radar and generate considerable cash flows are characteristic of deep state.
As all governments for sometimes good reasons engage in concealment of their more questionable activities or even resort to out and out deception, one must ask how the deep state differs. While an elected government might sometimes engage in activity that is legally or morally questionable there are normally some checks and balances in place to limit resort to such activity as well as periodic elections to repudiate what is done. For players in the deep state, there are no accountability and no legal limits and everything is based on self-interest justified through assertion of patriotism and the national interest if they are ever challenged.
Every country has a deep state of some kind even if it goes by another name. “The Establishment” or “old boys’ network” was widely recognized in twentieth century Britain. “Establishment” has often also been used in the United States, describing a community of shared values and interests that has evolved post-Second World War from the Washington-New York axis of senior government officials and financial services executives. They together constitute a group that claims to know what is “best” for the country and act accordingly, no matter who sits in the White House. They generally operate in the shadows but occasionally surface and become public, as when 50 foreign so-called policy experts or former senior officials write letters staking out political positions, as has been occurring recently. The “experts” are currently weighing in to both support and fund the campaign of Hillary Clinton, who, they believe, shares their views and priorities.
The deep state principle should sound familiar to Americans who have been following political developments over the past twenty years. For the deep state to be effective it must be intimately associated with the development or pre-existence of a national security state. There must also be a perception that the nation is in peril, justifying extraordinary measures undertaken by self-described patriots to preserve life and property of the citizenry. Those measures are generically conservative in nature, intended to protect the status quo with the implication that change is dangerous.
Those requirements certainly prevail in post 9/11 America and also feed the other essential component of the deep state, that the control should work secretly or at least under the radar. Consider for a moment how Washington operates. There is gridlock in Congress and the legislature opposes nearly everything that the White House supports. Nevertheless, certain things happen seemingly without any discussion, including the bipartisan, unconstitutional and extremely dangerous assumption of increased executive authority by the White House.
As the Post article demonstrates, there is also widespread acceptance by our country’s elites of the fiction that America is threatened and that Washington has a right to intervene preemptively anywhere in the world at any time. Unpopular and unconstitutional wars continue in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq while the American president routinely claims the meaningless title “leader of the free world” even as he threatens countries that do not adhere to norms dictated by Washington. In the case of Russia, some American leaders actually believe a potentially nuclear war can be won and should be considered while at least one general has taken steps to bring about such a conflict.
Meanwhile both targeted citizens and often innocent foreigners who fit profiles are assassinated by drones without any legal process or framework. Lying to start a war as well as the war crimes committed by U.S. troops and contractors on far flung battlefields including torture and rendition are rarely investigated and punishment of any kind is so rare as to be remarkable when it does occur.
Here at home banks are bailed out and corporate interests are protected by law. Huge multi-year defense contracts are approved for ships and planes that are both vulnerable and money pits. The public is routinely surveilled, citizens are imprisoned without being charged or are tried by military tribunals, the government increasingly cites state secrets privilege to conceal its actions and whistleblowers are punished with prison. America the warlike predatory capitalist operating with little interference or input from the citizenry might be considered a virtual definition of deep state.
Some observers believe that the deep state is driven by the “Washington Consensus,” a subset of the “American exceptionalism” meme. It is plausible to consider it a 1950s creation, the end product of the “military industrial complex” that Dwight Eisenhower warned about, but some believe its infrastructure was actually put in place through the passage of the Federal Reserve Act prior to the First World War. Several years after signing the bill, Woodrow Wilson reportedly lamented “We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men.”
As I have noted, America’s deep state is something of a hybrid creature that operates along a New York to Washington axis. Where the Turks sometimes engage in unambiguous criminal activity like drug trafficking to fund themselves the Washington elite instead turns to the banksters, lobbyists and defense contractors, operating much more in the open and, ostensibly, legally. U.S. style deep state includes all the obvious parties, both public and private, who benefit from the status quo to include key players in the police and intelligence agencies, the military, the treasury and justice departments and in the judiciary. It is structured to materially reward those who play along with the charade and the glue to accomplish that comes ultimately from Wall Street. “Financial services” might well be considered the epicenter of the entire process. Even though government is needed to implement desired policies, the banksters comprise the truly essential element, capable of providing genuine rewards for compliance. As corporate interests increasingly own the media, little dissent comes from the Fourth Estate as the process plays out while many of the proliferating Washington think tanks that provide deep state “intellectual” credibility are similarly funded by defense contractors.
The cross fertilization that is essential to make the system work takes place through the famous revolving door whereby senior government officials enter the private sector at a high level. In some cases the door revolves a number of times, with officials leaving government before returning in an even more elevated position. This has been characteristic of the rise of the so-called neoconservatives. Along the way, those select individuals are protected, promoted and groomed for bigger things. The senior government officials, ex-generals, and high level intelligence operatives who participate find themselves with multi-million dollar homes for their retirement years, cushioned by a tidy pile of investments.
The deep state in American is completely corrupt because it exists to sell out the public interest and it includes both major political parties as well as government officials. Politicians like the Clintons who leave the White House “broke” and accumulate more than $100 million in a few years exemplify how it rewards its friends while a bloated Pentagon churns out hundreds of unneeded flag officers who receive munificent pensions and benefits for the rest of their lives. And no one is punished, ever. Disgraced former general and CIA Director David Petraeus is now a partner at the KKR private equity firm even though he knows nothing about financial services. More recently, former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell, who supports Hillary and is publicly advocating assassinating Russians and Iranians, has become a Senior Counselor at Clinton-linked Beacon Global Strategies. Both Petraeus and Morell are being rewarded for their loyalty to the system.
What makes the deep state so successful? It wins no matter who is in power by creating bipartisan supported money pits within the system. Unending wars and simmering though hard to define threats together invite more spending on national security and make for good business. Monetizing the completely unnecessary and hideously expensive global war on terror benefits the senior government officials, beltway industries and financial services that feed off it. Because it is essential to keep the money flowing, the deep state persists in promoting policies that otherwise make no sense, to include the unwinnable wars currently enjoying marquee status in Iraq/Syria and Afghanistan. The deep state knows that a fearmongered public will buy its product and does not even have to make much of an effort to sell it.
The United States of America is not exactly deep state Turkey but to be sure any democracy can be subverted by particular interests hiding behind the mask of patriotism buttressed by phony international threats. Ordinary Americans frequently ask why politicians and government officials appear to be so obtuse, rarely recognizing what is actually occurring in the country. That is partly due to the fact that the political class lives in a bubble of its own creation but it might also be because many of America’s leaders actually accept and benefit from the fact that there is an unelected, un-appointed and unaccountable presence within the system that actually manages what is taking place from behind the scenes. That would be the American deep state.
[This article is a lightly edited version of a paper presented at the Ron Paul Institute’s conference on peace and prosperity held on September 10, 2016 in Dulles, Virginia]
Pro rebels demonstration at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin two years after the chemical attacks on the Damascus suburbs
Three long and terrible years have now passed since the staging of a Sarin attack in the Eastern suburbs of Damascus. These years have cost the lives of twice as many Syrians as had been killed in the preceding two and a half years of this unnecessary war against the Syrian state.
Yet it needn’t have been like this. Following the apparent chemical weapons attack on the Opposition-held suburb of Ghouta in the early hours of August 21st 2013 – for which the Syrian government was immediately held responsible by Western leaders and media – a ‘punitive’ military strike was proposed by the White House. This was averted, at the very last minute, by Russia’s proposal for the UN-supervised destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks, or so it seemed.
Writing in a seminal article published by the London Review of Books that December, veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reported that sections of the US intelligence community had also advised the White House to call off the strike, because of serious doubts about who was actually responsible for the Sarin attack.
But Hersh’s article – ‘Whose Sarin?’ – was comprehensively ignored by the Western media and even, it must be said, in the letters pages of the journal which had been brave enough to publish it. By comparison, his revelations were championed in the media of Syria and her allies, as well as by Syria’s supporters in the West, who had never given the slightest credibility to claims the Syrian government had launched Sarin-filled missiles ‘at its own people’. Such an idea, in the straightforward words of Russia’s President Putin, was ‘utter nonsense’.
And yet this idea persists, and continues to poison the minds of so many in the West who might otherwise have put an end to the illicit and covert war against the Syrian state and its people. Not only does the ‘original lie’ about the Ghouta attack get restated by self-described ‘supporters of the Syrian People’, but the facile idea of the ‘regime’ using chemical weapons has been reborn. Even before all the sarin and mustard gas stocks were destroyed, there were warnings that Chlorine might be used instead; now ‘chlorine filled barrel bombs’ have become a preferred method of killing people the government doesn’t like, according to Opposition activists. For the multiple NGOs, media and Western audience who condone the insurgency it matters not that these claims are vacuous and mendacious.
The focus of ‘Whose Sarin?’ was mostly on how much US intelligence knew about the abilities of terrorist groups in Syria – Al Nusra/Al Qaeda and ‘AQI’, later to become ‘ISIS’ – to manufacture Sarin, and the consequent doubts about Syrian government responsibility for the Ghouta attack. While Hersh noted the observations of missile experts Lloyd and Postol that cast real doubts on the origins of the suspect Sarin-loaded missiles, he didn’t offer an opinion on the lack of an ‘a priori’ case against the Assad government; I think it must be restated now.
Following claims that Sarin had been used in a missile strike in the village of Khan al Assal, near Aleppo in March 2013, attributed to Al Nusra by a Russian investigation team, the Syrian government had been demanding a UN investigation of this incident. Although the UN representative Carla del Ponte agreed with the Russian conclusion, the US took the word of the Syrian opposition that the government was responsible, despite those targeted and killed in the strike being government supporters. Not until the 19th of August did a UN team arrive in Damascus to investigate the Khan al Assal strike, as well as opposition claims of two other smaller Sarin attacks.
But before the UN team could arrange their visit to Khan al Assal, the Ghouta attack occurred, as evidenced by videos released and spread through social media. What actually happened there, and in the suburb of Moadamiya where claims of a Sarin-loaded missile were not substantiated in the UN investigation, remains in doubt. Quite startlingly the declarations of outrage from President Obama and John Kerry that 1430 innocent civilians had been gassed were supported by zero evidence; not one single autopsy showing death from Sarin was carried out, as the UN team confined its investigation to a mere 36 supposed victims who survived the attack. Even the evidence from those victims was inconclusive, though that was hardly surprising given these ‘victims’ were supplied by ‘activists’ in Moadamiya, where no Sarin contamination was found.
Notwithstanding this lack of real evidence for a Sarin attack, regardless of the culprit, and the rapid emergence of doubts on the authenticity of the crucial video evidence, a fact that even disturbed some Western commentators was the absence of any rationale for such a chemical weapons attack on the Syrian government side. Not only had the Syrian Army made recent gains in driving back the insurgency, and was working hard on reconciliation in divided communities, but the government quite clearly had a lot to lose by launching such a criminal and militarily useless attack. To choose to launch such an attack, ostensibly against innocent civilians, right under the noses of the UN chemical weapons investigators just after their arrival next-door to the crime scene would have been more than stupid – it was simply incomprehensible!
Perhaps it was at this point that the two sides of the narrative on the Syrian war parted company. No-one whose survival now depended on the Syrian Arab Army and its allies could believe the talk from the West – of ‘humanitarian intervention’, and of ‘moderate rebels’ wanting a secular democracy. And when the support of Syrians for their Army and President was put to the test in the elections of May 2014 the great majority of them offered it enthusiastically. Conversely in the Western sphere of influence, in the countries supporting the insurgency directly and indirectly, and amongst Syrian refugees in those countries, the case was closed against President Assad and the Syrian army. Even though the military strike had been called off, this was on the condition Syria’s chemical weapons stocks were destroyed – an action that clearly assumed the Syrian government had used Sarin and must be prevented from doing so again.
Although the evident plan in some quarters to prosecute an illegitimate war on Syria with direct military intervention using the attack as a pretext was foiled, the success of the Ghouta ‘false flag’ operation was clear in a different respect – as a demonstration that the Western public could now be made to believe almost anything, however implausible, with emotive manipulation. Both before and since the Ghouta operation, opposition videos showing children killed and injured by ‘Assad’s bombs’ have been very skilfully employed to conceal the truth of these vile attacks on humanity. Nowhere was this more the case than with the Ghouta Sarin attack videos.
While most of the bodies pictured in those videos were shown wrapped in white cloth and unidentified, many dead children were pictured as they died in their variety of ordinary clothes, and were soon identified. Some two weeks earlier, one of the most brutal and barbaric attacks by ‘rebel’ forces had been launched against some Alawite villages near Lattakia, with hundreds massacred but also over a hundred women and children kidnapped. Their fate was unknown until relatives recognised some of those children in the videos of ‘Sarin victims’, even though these videos were released 16 days later and 200 kilometres away in Damascus. In subsequent close analysis of the videos it was then observed that some of the same children appeared in videos released in different suburbs, in different positions and surroundings.
The unspeakable barbarity of the ‘rebels’, who all came together to take part in the massacre and then so callously made ‘snuff videos’ to use as a propaganda weapon, should cause us to reflect on how the reporting of these atrocities went virtually unnoticed by our ‘humanitarian’ agencies, and remained uncondemned by the UN. The apparent condoning of this sectarian attack on rural Alawite communities – which was seen by some as a payback for the Syrian Army’s liberation of Al Qusair two months earlier – has unpleasant echoes in the reaction of those same agencies to recent events in Aleppo. Before considering these events, and the renewed threat of a catastrophic war, there is another story to be told for which Seymour Hersh’s further investigations provide a lead.
Having established ‘whose Sarin’ was used in Ghouta – and more recent investigations confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that the Sarin was not from Syrian government stocks – the question that must now be answered is ‘whose Rebels?’. It has been no secret for some time that Opposition forces in Syria are being supplied with ammunition and weapons from neighbouring countries, and that ‘jihadis’ from many countries have been flowing over Syria’s borders to join the fight. The Orwellian ‘Friends of Syria’ countries – the Western and Gulf states supporting the Syrian Opposition against the Syrian state – have long maintained that this support for the insurgency is being assisted and paid for by individuals over whom states have little control. While they might allow that some governments – Turkey for instance – are ‘not doing enough’ to stop the flow of fighters and arms across their borders, no Western leaders or mainstream media organisations will admit to the truth of direct state support for the insurgency.
The reality of this barely covert and illicit support from foreign governments for all the armed groups fighting in Syria is however like the proverbial ‘elephant in the room’, and the inability to see it barely comprehensible. It is as if the whole Western populace has been subject to a feat of mass hypnosis by their corporate media, who have themselves become witless facilitators of their governments’ agendas. The official ‘narrative’ of the ‘Civil War in Syria’ has now become self-sustaining, with the same false memes pervading every part of the Western media echo-chamber.
Yet ask anyone outside this chamber – and particularly the 17 million Syrians who have remained in and support their country – and they will tell you all we need to know about the ‘elephant’. They have long realised that – at its simplest – there is no ‘civil war’ in Syria, having its origins in an authentic sectarian uprising against an oppressive and brutal ‘Alawite’ government. The conflict is rather seen as a war on Syria being waged by a proxy army of ruthless ‘takfiris’, against which all actions of the Syrian Arab Army are considered legitimate self-defence of Syria and its people. Some Syrians may consider that the war was not like this from the start, but now accept the reality of foreign sponsorship of the insurgency and fully support the government and army’s fight against it.
Within days of the first protest rallies in Dera’a on the border with Jordan however, it became abundantly clear to the government that arms and fighters had infiltrated Syria’s borders, with assistance from foreign agencies and with the express intention of fomenting a ‘popular uprising’. The role played by Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, the state broadcasters for the key Arab states seeking the overthrow of the Assad government, in ‘spreading false news’ and thereby inciting rebellion, was fundamental in this operation. While the better informed and educated populations in the cities and in areas historically supportive of the government were sceptical of Al Jazeera’s reports and soon recognised their bias and fabrications, those in poorer rural areas readily accepted the false accusations against the government and army. What might have been peaceful protests, with legitimate demands that the government initially sought to address, rapidly descended into a spiral of violence. This was not as portrayed in the West, as a result of a ‘brutal crackdown’ by the security forces, but because of the reaction of those forces to lethal fire from ‘agents provocateurs’ amongst the protestors or hidden in nearby buildings. Adding insult to injury, soldiers who were killed by these snipers were reported by opposition fighters as having been shot ‘for failing to fire on protestors’, or for attempted desertion. These false assertions, relayed to the Western media by local and foreign ‘activists’, laid the basis for the ‘information war’ against Syria.
Building on this narrative that the Syrian army, under the command of Bashar al Assad, was determined to stamp out the protests by any means, including by committing massacres of innocent and unarmed civilians, the ‘Free Syrian Army’ was contrived as a self-defence force for ‘the Syrian people’. Thanks to the developing links between Al Jazeera and some Western media organisations the completely false narrative of ‘the Syrian Popular Revolution’ took root in the western mind. This movement was assisted by the formation of the ‘Syrian National Council’ from the expat Syrian community in France, the US and UK. The SNC was strongly affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, ejected from Syria in 1982 by Bashar al Assad’s father Hafez, following the Brotherhood’s earlier violent attempts to undermine the central government. While the political significance of this group was not lost on the Syrian government or amongst Syrians, given that both Qatar – the home of Al Jazeera – and Turkey also had strong allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood, the connection was dismissed or ignored by the ‘Friends of Syria’ and their subject populations. Astoundingly, following meetings with western leaders, this self-elected group of people, most of whom hadn’t set foot in Syria for thirty years, were pronounced as ‘the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people’ by their Western ‘friends’, and proposed as the government-in-waiting once Bashar al Assad was removed.
More astounding even than this was the acceptance by almost all NGOs, the UN, commentators and general public of this self-evident fiction. I shouldn’t even have to explain why people who have been through no conceivably democratic process of selection by any small fraction of ‘the Syrian people’, who don’t reside in Syria, and who seek the overthrow of Syria’s legitimate government cannot be legitimate representatives of anyone – other than the foreign states on whose behalf they are evidently acting. That the ‘Friends of Syria’ consider them so tells us just which foreign states these are.
While the SNC was always presented as a political group, and with only a tenuous connection to ‘Opposition’ fighters in Syria, this may be seen as one of the ways its ‘supporting powers’ concealed their own direct support for the armed insurgency. The years of rhetoric about a ‘peace process’, and vacuous debate over whether Assad could play a role in an interim government, gave false legitimacy to the role of the US in particular in its contribution to the Syrian conflict. Despite the wide acknowledgement of the false claims used by the US in its war against Iraq, the similar role it had played in fomenting and supporting the violent war on Syria went unnoticed, even amongst the most vocal left-wing opponents of US policies and ‘foreign interventions’.
Many mainstream commentators repeatedly represent the US role in the Syrian war as one of ‘reluctance to become involved’, while supporters of the armed insurgency both within and without Syria frequently complain about the ‘US failure’ to help the ‘rebels’, both militarily and politically. This call for intervention is echoed by influential NGOs such as Amnesty International and Medecins Sans Frontieres and charities such as Save the Children, as well as the UN and UNHRC.
Faced with the reality, of significant covert military assistance to the Syrian insurgency by the CIA, as discussed in detail by Seymour Hersh in two later articles published by the LRB, we have a difficult choice. Either these NGOs who are helping the opposition forces in Syria are ignorant of the direct US military support for armed groups conducting daily attacks on Syrian civilians and soldiers, or they condone this support. Clearly it is preferable to believe that these respected humanitarian agencies, who claim to be apolitical and oppose all violence against unarmed civilians, are ignorant of the extent and criminality of US and other foreign military support for the violent extremists and mercenaries who increasingly dominate the opposition forces in Syria.
Perhaps they did not read, or chose to dismiss the unchallengeable evidence for a ‘Rat line’ of both weapons and fighters from Libya through Turkey into Syria, facilitated since 2012 by the CIA and the Turkish Intelligence organisation MIT, as discussed in April 2014 by Seymour Hersh. (LRB, ‘Obama, Erdogan and the Syrian Rebels’). Hersh reiterates and further elaborates on the operation of the CIA’s rat line in his most recent article discussing intelligence sharing between the US and Syria (Military to Military, LRB January 7th 2016), noting the state department’s support for the operation, and apparent carelessness about the final destination of the weapons or the true nature of the ‘rebels’ they were arming. During this period the CIA was also running a training program for opposition fighters in Jordan who then joined jihadist forces fighting the Syrian army up to Damascus. Credible reports put the number of mercenaries so trained and armed at around 10,000 over several years.
While both these covert and illegal US operations were quite visible to those who looked, the false narrative about US reluctance to arm the ‘rebel’ forces remains dominant, sustained by periodic statements from the White House. Following constant calls from sections of Congress and pressure groups, the US finally ‘agreed’ to set up a ‘train and assist program’, selecting suitable ‘moderate’ Syrians for this force, not to fight ‘Assad’s Army’ but Islamic State. Much was made of the failure of this programme and the rapid defeat of its first recruits by Al Nusra. In fact it was a significant success for the White House in concealing the reality of its massive contribution to the violent military campaign to change Syria’s government. Considering the number of innocent Syrians who have been killed by US weapons, used by US trained mercenaries and foreign fighters, it was a truly criminal deception.
This deception continued until late last year, when Russia’s intervention in support of the Syrian army finally brought ‘the Rats’ out into the daylight. The US could no longer hide the armed groups it was supporting within the main Opposition-held area in the north-west as the Syrian army backed by Russian air power advanced towards Aleppo; it was forced to reveal their identity and location, and appeal to the Russians to avoid bombing these US-approved ‘moderate rebels’. No-one thought to point out that if these ‘vetted’ groups were there to fight Islamic State, they seemed to be in the wrong place, at least according to their sponsors. The US had complained since the start of the Russian air-campaign that Russia was targeting the ‘moderate rebels’ – claiming there was no IS presence around Aleppo.
But this left another problem for the US covert operation – Syria’s Al Qaeda. The dominant presence of this group around Aleppo, which has been holding Aleppo under siege for years while subjecting the government-supporting population to constant terrorist attacks, makes it the prime target for the Syrian forces and Russian air-strikes. Unable to deny that the ‘Al Nusra front’ did dominate the armed groups in East Aleppo, or persuade Russia not to target the terrorist group for fear it might kill ‘moderate rebels’ the West is vocally supporting, the US came up with another idea, claiming Al Nusra had cut ties with Al Qaeda and would henceforth be known as ‘Jabhat Fatah al Sham’. Even though this was so transparently disingenuous – and statements from the new ‘Foreign Media Relations Director’ of ‘Fatah al Sham’ confirmed the group’s continuing extremist Islamist agenda – the name-changing ruse worked.
Following a long-awaited campaign to liberate Aleppo from Al Nusra’s siege by the Syrian army, assisted by Iranian and Lebanese forces and the Russian air force, and the breaking of their resupply route from Turkey, an estimated force of 10,000 armed militants launched a huge counter attack on West Aleppo (at the end of July). Quite astonishingly the assistance of Al Qaeda’s suicide bombers in making this a ‘successful’ assault was acknowledged and even welcomed by Western media, who took their cue from aid agencies and others supporting the ‘besieged rebels’ in their hold-out in East Aleppo. One of the most influential of these ‘aid’ agencies is the ‘Syrian Civil Defence’ or White Helmets, whose logo can be seen on many videos showing people being rescued from buildings allegedly destroyed by Syrian or Russian bombs. While the White Helmets’ origins with MI6 are not hidden, – origins which should cast serious doubt both on their reports and their actual activities – Western media agencies have managed to ignore them.
Indeed one wonders now whether the White Helmets’ evident support for Al Nusra would any longer serve to disqualify it as a recipient of the West’s charitable and political assistance. If Al Qaeda’s suicide bombers can now be viewed as ‘good suicide bombers’ for helping the cause, then presumably the White Helmets would also be praised for their supporting role.
Yet it is only a supporting role. Taking advantage of the ceasefire and ‘humanitarian pause’ in the Syrian campaign forced on it by the West, huge new stocks of US weapons and vehicles paid for by local allies were shipped in across the Turkish border to resupply ‘rebel forces’. For the first time these included MANPADS, enabling Syrian or Russian planes to be shot down.
Perhaps now we should consider the disdain and disgust amongst Syrians, not just for those who kill their brave and loyal soldiers, but for those amongst us who would celebrate the brutal deaths of their loved ones and protectors. Consider the particular degree of wrath reserved for ‘terrorists’ who dare to kill just one of our soldiers on our own soil, or for those who seek to justify or even explain such brutality as a response to our own murderous campaigns in their homelands.
Having established, beyond a shadow of doubt, that neither the Syrian government nor any of its agents was responsible for the deaths of civilians from Sarin poisoning in Ghouta three years ago, it follows that all subsequent action taken directly or indirectly against Syria has been illegitimate. It also follows that responsibility for the deaths and injury of tens of thousands of innocent Syrian civilians and as many loyal Syrian soldiers and defence forces at the hands of violent sectarian extremists and mercenaries since August 2013, lies with those who have – in full knowledge of the truth – developed and maintained the fraudulent supporting narrative of the ‘Syrian civil war’ in the Western sphere.
How did it come to this – a situation where the truth of the ‘dirty war on Syria’ is completely concealed from those whose governments are conducting it, while being known to all those who are the victims of it in Syria? How can our comprehension of the motives and methods of our own governments be so lacking that they can literally get away with murder, while claiming the moral high ground and pretending sympathy with their victims?
But do we also share some responsibility for these crimes against humanity, for our gullibility in believing only the stories told by one party to the conflict, while rejecting those of the actual victims of the war – the Syrian people and their defence forces?
After several years of arming and supporting Syrian rebel groups that often collaborated with Al Qaeda’s Nusra terror affiliate, the United States launched an illegal invasion of Syria two years ago with airstrikes supposedly aimed at Al Qaeda’s Islamic State spin-off, but on Saturday that air war killed scores of Syrian soldiers and aided an Islamic State victory.
Yet, the major American news outlets treat this extraordinary set of circumstances as barely newsworthy, operating with an imperial hubris that holds any U.S. invasion or subversion of another country as simply, ho-hum, the way things are supposed to work.
On Monday, The Washington Post dismissed the devastating airstrike at Deir al-Zour killing at least 62 Syrian soldiers as one of several “mishaps” that had occurred over the past week and jeopardized a limited ceasefire, arranged between Russia and the Obama administration.
But the fact that the U.S. and several allies have been routinely violating Syrian sovereign airspace to carry out attacks was not even an issue, nor is it a scandal that the U.S. military and CIA have been arming and training Syrian rebels. In the world of Official Washington, the United States has the right to intervene anywhere, anytime, for whatever reason it chooses.
President Barack Obama has even publicly talked about authorizing military strikes in seven different countries, including Syria, and yet he is deemed “weak” for not invading more countries, at least more decisively.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has vowed to engage in a larger invasion of Syria, albeit wrapping the aggression in pretty words like “safe zone” and “no-fly zone,” but it would mean bombing and killing more Syrian soldiers.
As Secretary of State, Clinton used similar language to justify invading Libya and implementing a “regime change” that killed the nation’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and unleashed five years of violent political chaos.
If you were living in a truly democratic country with a truly professional news media, you would think that this evolution of the United States into a rogue superpower violating pretty much every international law and treaty of the post-World War II era would be a regular topic of debate and criticism.
Those crimes include horrendous acts against people, such as torture and other violations of the Geneva Conventions, as well as acts of aggression, which the Nuremberg Tribunals deemed “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Justifying ‘Regime Change’
Yet, instead of insisting on accountability for American leaders who have committed these crimes, the mainstream U.S. news media spreads pro-war propaganda against any nation or leader that refuses to bend to America’s imperial demands. In other words, the U.S. news media creates the rationalizations and arranges the public acquiescence for U.S. invasions and subversions of other countries.
In particular, The New York Times now reeks of propaganda, especially aimed at two of the current targets, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. With all pretenses of professionalism cast aside, the Times has descended into the status of a crude propaganda organ.
On Sunday, the Times described Assad’s visit to a town recently regained from the rebels this way: “Assad Smiles as Syria Burns, His Grip and Impunity Secure.” That was the headline. The article began:
“On the day after his 51st birthday, Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, took a victory lap through the dusty streets of a destroyed and empty rebel town that his forces had starved into submission.
“Smiling, with his shirt open at the collar, he led officials in dark suits past deserted shops and bombed-out buildings before telling a reporter that — despite a cease-fire announced by the United States and Russia — he was committed ‘to taking back all areas from the terrorists.’ When he says terrorists, he means all who oppose him.”
The story by Ben Hubbard continues in that vein, although oddly the accompanying photograph doesn’t show Assad smiling but rather assessing the scene with a rather grim visage.
But let’s unpack the propaganda elements of this front-page story, which is clearly intended to paint Assad as a sadistic monster, rather than a leader fighting a foreign-funded-and-armed rebel movement that includes radical jihadists, including powerful groups linked to Al Qaeda and others forces operating under the banner of the brutal Islamic State.
The reader is supposed to recoil at Assad who “smiles as Syria burns” and who is rejoicing over his “impunity.” Then, there’s the apparent suggestion that his trip to Daraya was part of his birthday celebration so he could take “a victory lap” while “smiling, with his shirt open at the collar,” although why his collar is relevant is hard to understand. Next, there is the argumentative claim that when Assad refers to “terrorists” that “he means all who oppose him.”
As much as the U.S. news media likes to pride itself on its “objectivity,” it is hard to see how this article meets any such standard, especially when the Times takes a far different posture when explaining, excusing or ignoring U.S. forces slaughtering countless civilians in multiple countries for decades and at a rapid clip over the past 15 years. If anyone operates with “impunity,” it has been the leadership of the U.S. government.
On Sunday, the Times also asserted as flat fact the dubious charge against Assad that he has “hit civilians with gas attacks” when the most notorious case – the sarin attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013 – appears now to have been carried out by rebels trying to trick the United States into intervening more directly on their side.
A recent United Nations report blaming Syrian forces for two later attacks involving chlorine was based on slim evidence and produced under great political pressure to reach that conclusion – while ignoring the absence of any logical reason for the Syrian forces to have used such an ineffective weapon and brushing aside testimony about rebels staging other gas attacks.
More often than not, U.N. officials bend to the will of the American superpower, failing to challenge any of the U.S.-sponsored invasions over recent decades, including something as blatantly illegal as the Iraq War. After all, for an aspiring U.N. bureaucrat, it’s clear which side his career bread is buttered.
We find ourselves in a world in which propaganda has come to dominate the foreign policy debates and – despite the belated admissions of lies used to justify the invasions of Iraq and Libya – the U.S. media insists on labeling anyone who questions the latest round of propaganda as a “fill-in-the-blank apologist.”
So, Americans who want to maintain their mainstream status shy away from contesting what the U.S. government and its complicit media assert, despite their proven track record of deceit. This is not just a case of being fooled once; it is being fooled over and over with a seemingly endless willingness to accept dubious assertion after dubious assertion.
In the same Sunday edition which carried the creepy portrayal about Assad, the Times’ Neil MacFarquhar pre-disparaged Russia’s parliamentary elections because the Russian people were showing little support for the Times’ beloved “liberals,” the political descendants of the Russians who collaborated with the U.S.-driven “shock therapy” of the 1990s, a policy that impoverished a vast number of Russians and drastically reduced life expectancy.
Why those Russian “liberals” have such limited support from the populace is a dark mystery to the mainstream U.S. news media, which also can’t figure out why Putin is popular for significantly reversing the “shock therapy” policies and restoring Russian life expectancy to its previous levels. No, it can’t be that Putin delivered for the Russian people; the only answer must be Putin’s “totalitarianism.”
The New York Times and Washington Post have been particularly outraged over Russia’s crackdown on “grassroots” organizations that are funded by the U.S. government or by billionaire financial speculator George Soros, who has publicly urged the overthrow of Putin. So has Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which funnels U.S. government cash to political and media operations abroad.
The Post has decried a Russian legal requirement that political entities taking money from foreign sources must register as “foreign agents” and complains that such a designation discredits these organizations. What the Post doesn’t tell its readers is that the Russian law is modeled after the American “Foreign Agent Registration Act,” which likewise requires people trying to influence policy in favor of a foreign sponsor to register with the Justice Department.
Nor do the Times and Post acknowledge the long history of the U.S. government funding foreign groups, either overtly or covertly, to destabilize targeted regimes. These U.S.-financed groups often do act as “fifth columnists” spreading propaganda designed to undermine the credibility of the leaders, whether that’s Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 or Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
That’s not to say that these targeted leaders were or are perfect. They are often far from it. But the essence of propaganda is to apply selective outrage and exaggeration to the leader that is marked for removal. Similar treatment does not apply to U.S.-favored leaders.
The pattern of the Times and Post is also to engage in ridicule when someone in a targeted country actually perceives what is going on. The correct perception is then dismissed as some sort of paranoid conspiracy theory.
Take, for example, the Times’ MacFarquhar describing a pamphlet and speeches from Nikolai Merkushkin, the governor of Russian region of Samara, that MacFarquhar says “cast the blame for Russia’s economic woes not on economic mismanagement or Western sanctions after the annexation of Crimea but on a plot by President Obama and the C.I.A. to undermine Russia.”
The Times article continues: “Opposition candidates are a fifth column on the payroll of the State Department and part of the scheme, the pamphlet said, along with the collapse in oil prices and the emergence of the Islamic State. Mr. Putin is on the case, not least by rebuilding the military, the pamphlet said, noting that ‘our country forces others to take it seriously and this is something that American politicians don’t like very much.’”
Yet, despite the Times’ mocking tone, the pamphlet’s perceptions are largely accurate. There can be little doubt that the U.S. government through funding of anti-Putin groups inside Russia and organizing punishing sanctions against Russia, is trying to make the Russian economy scream, destabilize the Russian government and encourage a “regime change” in Moscow.
Further, President Obama has personally bristled at Russia’s attempts to reassert itself as an important world player, demeaning the former Cold War superpower as only a “regional power.” The U.S. government has even tread on that “regional” status by helping to orchestrate the 2014 putsch that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Yanukovych on Russia’s border.
After quickly calling the coup regime “legitimate,” the U.S. government supported attempts to crush resistance in the south and east which were Yanukovych’s political strongholds. Crimea’s overwhelming decision to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia was deemed by The New York Times a Russian “invasion” although the Russian troops that helped protect Crimea’s referendum were already inside Crimea as part of the Sevastopol basing agreement.
The U.S.-backed Kiev regime’s attempt to annihilate resistance from ethnic Russians in the east – through what was called an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” that has slaughtered thousands of eastern Ukrainians – also had American backing. Russian assistance to these rebels is described in the mainstream U.S. media as Russian “aggression.”
Oddly, U.S. news outlets find nothing objectionable about the U.S. government launching military strikes in countries halfway around the world, including the recent massacre of scores of Syrian soldiers, but are outraged that Russia provided military help to ethnic Russians being faced with annihilation on Russia’s border.
Because of the Ukraine crisis, Hillary Clinton likened Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.
Seeing No Coup
For its part, The New York Times concluded that there had been no coup in Ukraine – by ignoring the evidence that there was one, including an intercepted pre-coup telephone call between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who should be made the new leaders of Ukraine.
The evidence of a coup was so clear that George Friedman, founder of the global intelligence firm Stratfor, said in an interview that the overthrow of Yanukovych “really was the most blatant coup in history.” But the Times put protecting the legitimacy of the post-coup regime ahead of its journalistic responsibilities to its readers, as it has done repeatedly regarding Ukraine.
Another stunning case of double standards has been the mainstream U.S. media’s apoplexy about alleged Russian hacking into emails of prominent Americans and then making them public. These blame-Russia articles have failed to present any solid evidence that the Russians were responsible and also fail to note that the United States leads the world in using electronic means to vacuum up personal secrets about foreign leaders as well as average citizens.
In a number of cases, these secrets appear to have been used to blackmail foreign leaders to get them to comply with U.S. demands, such as the case in 2002-03 of the George W. Bush administration spying on diplomats on the U.N. Security Council to coerce their votes on authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a ploy that failed.
U.S. intelligence also tapped the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose cooperation on Ukraine and other issues of the New Cold War is important to Washington. And then there’s the massive collection of data about virtually everybody on the planet, including U.S. citizens, over the past 15 years during the “war on terror.”
Earlier this year, the mainstream U.S. news media congratulated itself over its use of hacked private business data from a Panama-based law firm, material that was said to implicate Putin in some shady business dealings even though his name never showed up in the documents. No one in the mainstream media protested that leak or questioned who did the hacking.
Such mainstream media bias is pervasive. In the case of Sunday’s Russian elections, the Times seems determined to maintain the fiction that the Russian people don’t really support Putin, despite consistent opinion polls showing him with some 80 percent approval.
In the Times’ version of reality, Putin’s popularity must be some kind of trick, a case of totalitarian repression of the Russian people, which would be fixed if only the U.S.-backed “liberals” were allowed to keep getting money from NED and Soros without having to divulge where the funds were coming from.
The fact that Russians, like Americans, will rally around their national leader when they perceive the country to be under assault – think, George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks – is another reality that the Times can’t tolerate. No, the explanation must be mind control.
The troubling reality is that the Times, Post and other leading American news outlets have glibly applied one set of standards on “enemies” and another on the U.S. government. The Times may charge that Bashar al-Assad has “impunity” for his abuses, but what about the multitude of U.S. leaders – and, yes, journalists – who have their hands covered in the blood of Iraqis, Libyans, Afghans, Yemenis, Syrians, Somalis and other nationalities. Where is their accountability?
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).
Review of Paolo Sensini’s book, Sowing Chaos: Libya in the Wake of Humanitarian Intervention
It is rare for a historian to write a history of a significant issue and bring it into the present time; even rarer when the work coincides with the reemergence of that issue on the world stage. Paolo Sensini has done just that with Sowing Chaos: Libya in the Wake of Humanitarian Intervention (Clarity Press, 2016). It is a revelatory historical analysis of the exploitation and invasion of Libya by colonial and imperialistic powers for more than a century.
It is also timely since the western powers, led by the United States, have once again invaded Libya (2011), overthrown its government, and are in the process (2016) of creating further chaos and destruction by bombing the country for the benefit of western elites under the pretext of humanitarian concern.
As with the history of many countries off the radar of western consciousness, Libyan history is a tragic tale of what happens when a country dares assert its right to independence – it is destroyed by violent attack, financial subterfuge, or both.
Although an Italian and Italy has a long history of exploiting Libya, a close neighbor, Sensini stands with the victims of colonial and imperial savagery. Not an armchair historian, he traveled to Libya during the 2011 war to see for himself what was true. Despite his moral stand against western aggression, his historical accuracy is unerring and his sourcing impeccable. For 234 pages of text, he provides 481 endnotes, including such fine sources as Peter Dale Scott, Patrick Cockburn, Michel Chossudovsky, Pepe Escobar, and Robert Parry, to name but a few better known names.
His account begins with Italy’s 1911 war against Libya that “Francesco Saverio Nitti charmingly described …. as the taking of a ‘sandbox’.” The war was accompanied by a popular song, “Tripoli, bel suol d’amore” (Tripoli, beauteous land of love). Even in those days war and love were synonymous in the eyes of aggressors.
This war went on until 1932 when the Sanusis’s resistance was finally crushed by Mussolini. First Italy conquered the Ottoman Turks, who controlled western Libya (Tripolitania); then the Sanusis, a Sunni Islamic mystical militant brotherhood, who controlled eastern Libya (Cyrenaica). This Italian war of imperial aggression lasted 19 years, and, as Sensini writes, “was hardly noticed in Italy.”
I cannot help but think of the U.S. wars against Afghanistan and Iraq that are in their 15th and 13th years respectively, and counting; they are not making a ripple on the placid indifference of the American people.
Sensini presents this history clearly and succinctly. Most of the book is devoted to the period following the 1968 overthrow of King Idris by the Free Unionist Officers, led by the 27 year old captain Mu’ammar Gaddafi. This bloodless coup d’état by military officers, who had all risen from the poorer classes, was called “Operation Jerusalem” to honor the Palestinian liberation movement. The new government, The Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), had “three key themes …. ‘freedom, socialism, and unity,’ to which we can add the struggle against western influences within the Arab world, and, in particular, the struggle against Israel (whose very existence was, according to Gaddafi, a confirmation of colonialization and subjugation).”
Sensini explains the Libyan government under Gaddafi, including his world theory that was encapsulated in his “Green Book” and the birth of what was called “Jamahiriyya” (State of the Masses). Gaddafi called Libya the “Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriyya.”
Under Gaddafi there was dialogue between Christians and Muslims, including the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See, and visits from Eastern Orthodox and Anglican religious leaders. Fundamentalist Islamic groups criticized Gaddafi as a heretic for these moves. Gaddafi described Islamists as “reactionaries in the name of Islam.” His animus toward Israel remained, however, due to the Palestinian issue. He promoted women’s rights, and in 1996 Libya “was the first country to issue an international arrest warrant with Osama bin Laden’s name on it.”
He had a lot of enemies: Israel, Islamists, al Qaeda, the western imperial countries, etc. But he had friends as well, especially among the developing countries.
A large portion of the book concerns the U.S./NATO 2011 attack on Libya and its aftermath. This attack was justified and sanctioned by UN Resolutions 1970 (2/26/11) and 1973 (3/17/11). These resolutions were prepared by the work of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) that in 2000-2001 produced a justification for powerful nations to intervene in the internal affairs of any nation they chose. Termed the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P), it justified the illegal and immoral “humanitarian” attack on Libya in 2011. The ICISS, based in NYC, was founded by, among others, the Carnegie Corporation, the Simons, Rockefeller, William and Flora Hewitt, and John D. and Catherine MacArthur foundations, elite moneyed institutions devoted to American interventions throughout the world.
When the US/NATO attacked Libya, they did so despite the illegality of the intervention (an Orwellian term) under the UN Resolutions that prohibit arming of ‘rebels’ who do not represent the legal government of a country. On March 30, 2011 the Washington Post, a staunch supporter of US aggression, reported an anonymous government source as saying that “President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.” None of the mainstream media, including the Washington Post, noted the hypocrisy of reporting illegal activities as if they were legal. The law had become irrelevant.
The Obama administration had become the opposite of the Kennedy administration. Whereas JFK, together with Dag Hammarskjold the assassinated U.N. Secretary General, had used the UN to defend the growing third world independence movements throughout the world, Obama has chosen to use the UN to justify his wars of aggression against them. Libya is a prime example.
Sensini shows in great detail which groups were armed, where they operated, and who they represented. The US/NATO forces armed and supported all sorts of Islamist terrorists, including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), led by Abu al-Laith al Libby, a close Afghan associate of Osama bin Laden, and al Qaeda’s third in command.
“These fanatical criminals (acclaimed as liberators by the mainstream media worldwide) were to form Libya’s emerging ruling class. These were people tasked to ensure a democratic future for Libya. However, the ‘rebel’ council of Benghazi did what it does best – ensuring chaos for the country as a whole, under a phantom government and a system of local fiefdoms (each with a warlord or tribal chief). This appears to be the desired outcome all along, and not just in Libya.”
Sensini is especially strong in his critical analysis of the behavior of the corporate mass media worldwide in propagandizing public opinion for war. Outright lies – “aligning its actions with Goebbels’ famous principle of perception management” and the Big Lie (thanks to Edward Bernays, the American father of Public Relations) – were told by Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and repeated by the western media, about Gaddafi allegedly slaughtering and raping thousands of Libyans. Sensini argues persuasively that Libya was a game-changer in this regard.
Here, the mass media played the part of a military vanguard. The cart, as it were, had been put before the horse. Rather than obediently repackaging and relaying the news that had been spoon fed to them by military commanders and Secretaries of State, the media were called upon actually to provide legitimation for armed actors. The media’s function was military. The material aggression on the ground and in the sky was paralleled and anticipated by virtual and symbolic aggression. Worldwide, we have witnessed the affirmation of a Soviet approach to information, enhanced to the nth degree. It effectively produces a ‘deafening silence’ – an information deficit. The trade unions, the parties of the left and the ‘love-thy-neighbor’ pacifists did not rise to this challenge and demonstrate against the rape of Libya.
The US/NATO attack on Libya, involving tens of thousands of bombing raids and cruise missile, killed thousands of innocent civilians. This was, as usual, explained away as unfortunate “collateral damage,” when it was admitted at all. The media did their part to downplay it. Sensini rightly claims that the U.S./NATO and the UN are basically uninterested in the question of the human toll. “The most widely cited press report on the effects of the NATO sorties and missile attacks on the civilian population is most surely that of The New York Times. In ‘Strikes on Libya by NATO, an Unspoken Civilian Toll’, conveniently published after NATO’s direct intervention had ceased. The article is truly a fine example of ‘embeddedness’:”
While the overwhelming preponderance of strikes seemed to hit their targets without killing noncombatants, many factors contributed to a run of fatal mistakes. These included a technically faulty bomb, poor or dated intelligence and the near absence of experience military personnel on the ground who could direct air strikes. The alliances apparent presumption that residences thought to harbor pro Gaddafi forces were not occupied by civilians repeatedly proved mistaken, the evidence suggests, posing a reminder to advocates of air power that no war is cost or error free.
The use of words like “seemed” and “apparent,” together with the oft used technical excuse and the ex post facto reminder are classic stratagems of the New York Times’ misuse of the English language for propaganda purposes.
Justifying the killing, President Obama “explained the entire campaign away with a lie. Gaddafi, he said, was planning a massacre of his own people.”
Hillary Clinton, who was then Secretary of State, was aware from the start, as an FOIA document reveals, that the rebel militias the U.S. was arming and backing were summarily executing anyone they captured: “The State Department and Obama were fully aware that the U.S.-backed ‘rebel’ forces had no such regard for the lives of the innocent.”
Clinton also knew that France’s involvement was because of the threat Gaddafi’s single African currency plan posed to French financial interests in Francophone Africa. Her joyous ejaculation about Gaddafi’s brutal death – “We came, we saw, he died” – sick in human terms, was no doubt also an expression of relief that the interests of western elites, her backers, had been served.
It is true that Gaddafi did represent a threat to western financial interests. As Sensini writes, “Gaddafi had successfully achieved Libya’s economic independence, and was on the point of concluding agreements with the African Union that might have contributed decisively to the economic independence of the entire continent of Africa.”
Thus, following the NATO attack, Obama confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank. Sensini references Ellen Brown, the astute founder of the Public Banking Institute in the U.S., who explains how a state owned Central Bank, as in Libya, contributes to the public’s well-being. Brown in turn refers to the comment of Erica Encina, posted on Market Oracle, which explains how Libya’s 100% state owned Central Bank allowed it to sustain its own economic destiny. Encina concludes, “Hence, taking down the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) may not appear in the speeches of Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy [and Clinton] but this is certainly at the top of the globalist agenda for absorbing Libya into its hive of compliant nations.”
In five pages Sensini tells more truth about the infamous events in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three American colleagues than the MSM has done in five years. After the overthrow of Gaddafi, in 2012 Stevens was sharing the American “Consulate” quarters with the CIA. Benghazi was the center of Sanusi jihadi fundamentalism, those who the US/NATO had armed to attack Gaddafi’s government. These terrorists were allied with the US. “Stevens’s task in Benghazi,” writes Sensini, “now was to oversee shipments of Gaddafi’s arms to Turkish ports. The arms were then transferred to jihadi forces engaged in terrorist actions against the government of Syria under Bashar al-Assad.” Contrary to the Western media, Sensini says that Stevens and the others were killed, not by the jihadi extremists supported by the US, but by Gaddafi loyalists who had tried to kill Stevens previously. These loyalists disappeared from the Libyan and international press afterwards. “The reports now focused on al-Qaida, Islamists, terrorists and protesters. No one was to mention either Gaddafi … or his ghosts.”
The stage for a long-term Western intervention against terrorists, who were armed by the US/NATO, was now set. The insoluble disorder of a vicious circle game meant to perpetuate chaos was set in motion. Sensini’s disgust manifests itself when he says, “Given its record of lavish distribution of arms to all and sundry in Syria, the USA’s warning that, in Libya, arms might reach ‘armed groups outside the government’s control’ is beneath contempt.”
Sowing Chaos: Libya in the Wake of Humanitarian Intervention is a superb book. If you wish to understand the ongoing Libyan tragedy, and learn where responsibility lies, read it. If the tale it tells doesn’t disgust you, I’d be surprised.
In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, a stalwart and courageous truth teller, has written a fine forward where she puts Libya and Sensini’s analysis into a larger global perspective. As usual, she pulls no punches.
Copyright © Edward Curtin, Global Research, 2016
A new report examining widespread corruption and waste in Afghanistan found that the practice blossomed following the US invasion in 2001. The problem was fed by its slowness to recognize the problem and exacerbated by the injection of tens of billions dollars into the economy with very little oversight.
“Corruption in Conflict: Lessons from the U.S. Experience in Afghanistan” examined how from 2001 to 2014 the US government, through the Department of Defense, State, Treasury and Justice and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) understood the risks of corruption in Afghanistan, how the US evolved its understanding, and the effectiveness of that response.
SIGAR was created by Congress to provide independent and objective oversight of Afghan reconstruction projects and activities.
The report released on Wednesday had five main findings: 1) corruption undermined the US mission in Afghanistan by fueling grievances against the Afghan government and channeling material support to the Taliban; 2) the injection of tens of billions of dollars into the Afghan economy was governed by flawed oversight and contracting practices and “partnering with malign powerbrokers”; 3) the US was slow to recognize the problem; 4) when it did recognize the depth of corruption “security and political goals” trumped anti-corruption efforts; 5) in areas where it was successful it was only “in the absence of sustained Afghan and US political commitment.”
The report defined corruption as “the abuse of entrusted authority for private gain,” and placed in the context of Afghanistan’s kinship-based society where the gains from corruption often benefited not just an individual but a family, clan, tribe or ethnic group.
Corruption is the system of governance
According to SIGAR about $113.1 billion has been appropriated for Afghanistan relief and reconstruction since 2002. The funds were used by the Afghan National Security Forces to promote good governance, conduct development assistance, and engage in counter-narcotics and anti-corruption efforts.
In a 2010 US Embassy Kabul report on a meeting with senior US officials and the Afghan National Security Adviser, Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta said “corruption is not just a problem for the system of governance in Afghanistan; it is the system of governance.”
The report referred to a 2015 UK research that showed there was weak separation of the private and public spheres which resulted in widespread private appropriation of public resources, vertical- and identity-based relationships had primacy over horizontal, i.e. citizen-to-citizen relationships, and politics was centered around a centralization of power and patron-client relations replicated throughout society.
Opportunities for corruption expanded after 2001 as the amount of money in the economy grew from millions to billions of dollars with the Department of Defense budget at time equivalent to the entire Afghan economy and sometimes quadruple the amount.
“Many of the funds were licit, arriving via civilian and military contracts. At their peak in fiscal year 2012, DOD contract obligations for services in Afghanistan including transportation, construction, base support, translation/interpretation, an private security total approximately $19 billion, just under the Afghanistan’s 2012 gross domestic product of $20,5 billion,” stated the report. “From 2007 to 2014 those contract obligation totaled more than 89 billion.”
Billions worth scandals
During the years of the Obama administration, Afghanistan was rocked by two corruption scandals: The Salehi arrest and the Kabul Bank losing $1 billion.
Salehi was involved in the New Ansari Money Exchange, a money transfer firm that moved money into and out of Afghanistan. The exchange was suspected of moving billions of dollars out of Afghanistan for Afghan government officials, drug traffickers and insurgents. US law enforcement and intelligence investigators estimated that as much as $2.78 billion was taken out of Afghanistan between 2007 and 2010.
“A wiretap recorded an aide to Karzai, Mohammad Zia Salehi, soliciting a bribe in exchange for obstructing the investigation into New Ansari. Reportedly, after US officials played some of the wiretaps for an adviser to Karzai, the adviser approved Salehi’s arrest,” stated the report.
Salehi was arrested in July 2010, but was released within hours on the orders of President Karzai and the case was dropped. The New York Times reported Salehi had once worked for notorious warlord Rashid Dostum and was also “being paid by the CIA.”
“If true, this would suggest a US intelligence agency was paying an individual as an intelligence asset even as US law enforcement agencies were building a major corruption case against him,” stated the report.
The other corruption scandal involved the Kabul Bank, which was used among other things to pay the salaries of the Afghan military and police, was found in 2010 to have lost nearly $1 billion of US taxpayer’s funded foreign assistance to Afghanistan. The bank’s deposits had seemingly vanished into Dubai and off-shore locations and unknown offshore bank accounts and tax havens, through Ponzi schemes, fraudulent loans, mass looting and insider loans to fake and bogus companies by less than 12 people who were apparently linked to President Karzai.
Lack of oversight and slow response
Against this the DOD and USAID vetted contractors and implemented contracting guidance to reduce opportunities for corruption and while they were somewhat successful, “they were not unified by an overarching strategy or backed by sustained, high-level US political commitment,” stated the report.
During this time, from mid-2011 to March 2012, the US also sought to explore political reconciliation with the Taliban and to do so the US had to preserve a working relationship with President Karzai to ensure an Afghan government buy-in.
“The US government showed a lack of political commitment. When it became clear the Afghan government was not willing to undertake true reform – because it involved taking action against people connected to the highest levels of political power – the US government failed to use all of its available tools to incentivize steps towards resolution,” stated the report.
Another weakness in tackling corruption was the high turnover of US civilian and military staff “meant US institutional memory was weak and efforts were not always informed by previous experience.”
“One Afghan anticorruption expert noted that US agencies often hosted workshops and training that lasted only a few days, with limited follow-up. He suggested that a more fruitful approach might have been to establish a standing institute to train auditors, attorneys, investigative police and others for year, rather than days,” stated the report.
SIGAR’s report quoted Ryan Crocker, who re-opened the US Embassy in Kabul soon after the September 11, 2001 attacks and served again as ambassador in 2011-2012 as saying that “the ultimate point of failure for our efforts wasn’t an insurgency. It was the weight of endemic corruption.”
The report comes with recommendations for addressing corruption risks to US strategic objectives for future missions. It recommended that Congress pass legislation to make clear “that anticorruption is a national security priority in a contingency operation” and required strategies, benchmarks and “annual reporting on implementation.” It also recommended that Congress consider sanctions and the DOD, State and USAID should establish a joint vetting unit to better vet contractors and subcontractors in the field.
The recommendations for the executive branch level are that interagency task force should formulate policy and lead strategy on anticorruption during an operation and the intelligence community should analyze links between host government officials, corruption, criminality, trafficking and terrorism and provide regular updates.
“In Afghanistan today, corruption remains an enormous challenge to security, political stability, and development,” SIGAR said.
Donald Trump named former CIA director and extremist neoconservative James Woolsey his senior adviser on national security issues on Monday. Woolsey, who left the CIA in 1995, went on to become one of Washington’s most outspoken promoters of U.S. war in Iraq and the Middle East.
As such, Woolsey’s selection either clashes with Trump’s noninterventionist rhetoric — or represents a pivot towards a more muscular, neoconservative approach to resolving international conflicts.
Trump has called the Iraq War “a disaster.”
Woolsey, by contrast, was a key member of the Project for the New American Century — a neoconservative think tank largely founded to encourage a second war with Iraq. Woolsey signed a letter in 1998 calling on Clinton to depose Saddam Hussein and only hours after the 9/11 attacks appeared on CNN and blamed the attacks on Iraq. Woolsey has continued to insist on such a connection despite the complete lack of evidence to support his argument. He also blames Iran.
Weeks before the invasion of Iraq, Woolsey called for broader war in the Middle East, saying “World War IV” was already underway.
Woolsey has also put himself in a position to profit from the wars he has promoted. He has served as vice president of Pentagon contracting giant Booz Allen, and as chairman of Paladin Capital Group, a private equity fund that invests in national security and cybersecurity.
He chairs the leadership council at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a hawkish national security nonprofit, and is a venture partner with Lux Capital Management, which invests in emerging technologies like drones, satellite imaging, and artificial intelligence.
Woolsey went on CNN on Monday and said that he was principally motivated to support Trump because of his plans to expand U.S. military spending.
Trump gave a speech last week in which he proposed dramatic expansions of the Army and Marines, and hundred-billion-dollar weapons systems for the Navy and Air Force. He offered no justification — aside from citing a few officials who claimed they wanted more firepower.
Woolsey stood by Trump’s proposal on Monday.
“I think the problem is her budget,” Woolsey said of Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. “She is spending so much money on domestic programs — including ones that we don’t even have now, and the ones we have now are underfunded — I think there can be very little room for the improvements in defense and intelligence that have to be made.”
Woolsey has previously called for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be “hanged by the neck until he’s dead, rather than merely electrocuted.”
In the past, Woolsey has publicly disagreed with Trump on a number of national security issues — including Trump’s plan to ban Muslim immigration. On Monday, Woolsey told CNN that such a plan would raise First Amendment issues, but that he supported a temporary immigration block from certain Muslim countries.
Thus far, at least, most prominent war hawks have found they had more in common with Clinton than Trump. “I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” leading neoconservative Robert Kagan told a group in July.
In 1968, CIA Director Richard Helms was presented with a disturbing National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) stating that Israel had obtained atomic weapons, a dangerous development that occurred earlier than the CIA had anticipated.
It was particularly dangerous because just the year before, the Six Day War had marked the beginning of open hostilities between the Israelis and Arab nation states. To prevail, Israel had launched preemptive air attacks against Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq at the start of the conflict. Considering that violent backdrop, Helms immediately arranged a meeting with President Lyndon Johnson to inform him of this troubling milestone.
The man who had prepared the NIE and gave it to Helms was the CIA’s chief science and technology officer, Carl Duckett. After Helms met with Johnson, the CIA Director told Duckett about the President’s rather odd reaction. LBJ did not get upset, and he did not order an investigation into how it happened. Further, he did not tell Helms to let both the Defense Department and State Department know about it so they could establish intelligence inquiries or consider sanctions.
Instead, Johnson did the opposite. He told Helms to keep the news secret and specifically told the Director not to let the secretaries of State or Defense know about it.
Helms obeyed the orders of his Commander in Chief, but he decided to talk to the FBI about how this development had occurred earlier than expected. Thus begins Roger Mattson’s Stealing the Atom Bomb: How Denial and Deception Armed Israel, the riveting story of duplicity, betrayal, cover-ups and deceit.
As the book shows, the cover-ups and duplicity did not just come from Israel and its agents in America. The deceit also came from men inside the American government who, for whatever reasons, decided to cast a blind eye on what was really happening under their jurisdiction, even after they had been alerted to it.
What Mattson reveals is no less than an atomic heist – one that could have been prevented if men in high positions had done their duty.
Highly Enriched Uranium
After Johnson told Helms not to tell State or Defense, the CIA Director called Attorney General Ramsey Clark, because what made this news even more ominous — and a potential crime — was what the CIA had discovered when it conducted a chemical test around the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona, in the Negev desert.
Duckett had concluded that Israel had something that they should not have possessed at that time: HEU, or highly enriched uranium, which could only be produced by one of the five major powers that already had nuclear weapons.
But the test had also revealed characteristics that showed the material had originated in the United States. (Mattson, p. 97) Specifically, the HEU came from Portsmouth, Ohio and then was further processed at a plant in Apollo, Pennsylvania.
The importance of this information was that the HEU was processed to such a degree – well over 90 percent U 235 – that it was classified as weapons grade uranium. The technical term for it is the acronym SNM, or Special Nuclear Material, meaning that it is fissile: it can easily be split with neutrons. Although the Portsmouth plant is shut down today, beginning in 1956 it did produce weapons-grade uranium.
It was in Apollo, Pennsylvania, that the trail of the SNM and the crime of its diversion becomes exceedingly suspect. The plant that did the further processing of HEU, and the ultimate shipping, was named Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation, or NUMEC, and there were a number of reasons why suspicion had centered on NUMEC even before Helms called Clark.
First, NUMEC had a rather unreliable record when it came to keeping track of HEU and other materials that had been given to it through the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). The way the system worked is that the particular company would forward its business requests — from either private or governmental agencies — to the AEC. The AEC would then estimate how much nuclear material NUMEC would need to fulfill the contract. If a company was using up more material than the AEC properly estimated, that company would be fined quite a lot of money. If the shortages persisted, the AEC and the FBI could then open up an investigation.
With CIA’s discoveries, the possibility presented itself that a diversion of the nuclear material could be taking place. Either someone from the outside was stealing the material, or someone on the inside was embezzling it.
As Mattson shows with charts, graphs and testimony, NUMEC had an extraordinarily bad record in this regard. The company was eventually fined over $2 million for missing materials, which, with inflation factored in, would be about $15 million today. Mattson adduces that from 1959 to 1977, about 345 kilograms of HEU went missing from NUMEC, which translates to well over 700 pounds. (ibid, p. 286)
Explaining the Deficits
In just one year, there was a loss of over 56 kilograms (or about 123 pounds). The company made up all sorts of rationales as to why this much HEU was missing, including losses during the mechanical processing. But as the author points out, there are two problems with this accounting.
First, no other plant in America reported losses of this magnitude. The AEC concluded that the losses at Apollo were more than double what they were at any other comparably sized atomic plant in the U.S. (ibid, p. 65)
Secondly, even if one chalks up some of the missing HEU to a processing loss, that still does not account for the entire record of NUMEC. Mattson figures that, even giving the company the benefit of the doubt, it still leaves about 200 pounds of missing HEU. (ibid, p. 67) That’s enough for about six atomic bombs, larger than the one used on Hiroshima.
As Mattson reports, what makes NUMEC an even more intriguing suspect is the fact that the company had some legitimate business transactions with Israel, concerning the irradiation of plants. And these legitimate packages were sent at about the time the HEU went missing. Further, the inventory records at NUMEC were extremely sloppy and some appear to have been destroyed in direct violation of the AEC code, meaning NUMEC should have been cited, but wasn’t. (ibid, p. 75)
That brings us to the founders of the NUMEC plant in Apollo, Pennsylvania, a small town of approximately 1,600 people that lies about 30 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. In 1955, the Apollo Steel Plant was purchased by David Lowenthal. Two years later, Lowenthal and Zalman Shapiro cooperated in forming NUMEC.
Shapiro, a very accomplished metallurgist who lived next door to Lowenthal, had been employed for a number of years at the nearby Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory, which supported the AEC’s Office of Naval Reactors.
In May 1958, Lowenthal merged Apollo Steel with the San Toy Mining Company in Maine. San Toy then changed its name to Apollo Industries, with the main operating officers of this new corporation Morton Chatkin, Ivan Novick and Lowenthal. (ibid, p. 43)
The board comprised these three men plus Shapiro, and later others. In the early 1960s, the steel plant’s name was changed to Raychord Steel, but with the decline of the steel industry, Raychord became a subsidiary company to Apollo.
Ties to Zionist Groups
Novick, one of Apollo’s officers, later served as national president of the Zionist Organization of America, in which Chatkin, another officer, also held a leadership role. The ZOA was a member group of the American Zionist Council, which later became the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which today is considered to be the leading lobbying group for Israel and one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington.
Novick also later served as a personal liaison between Ronald Reagan’s White House and the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Lowenthal, who was born in Poland in 1921, came to America in 1932 and served in the American armed forces in World War II, eventually becoming a citizen in 1945. After the war, he worked with the Haganah, the Jewish paramilitary force inside Palestine, on the Zionist mission to ferry Jews into Palestine in 1947 on board the boat SS Exodus.
Since almost none of the passengers had legal immigration certificates to enter Palestine, the British Royal Navy, which ran the Palestinian Mandate, seized the ship and deported its passengers back to Europe. Lowenthal’s mission was a practical failure, but a tremendous propaganda success for the Zionist cause. The event was novelized by author Leon Uris in the number-one best-selling book Exodus, which was published in 1958 and was made into a movie two years later by director Otto Preminger, starring Paul Newman.
Lowenthal later served on board the ship Pan York, which also attempted to evade the British quarantine but was captured in Cyprus with the crew arrested, including Lowenthal. He escaped and fled to Palestine where he served with the Haganah during the war that broke out there in 1948 after the British abandoned the mandate early. (ibid, p. 44)
Lowenthal ended up serving under the legendary Meir Amit, the leading intelligence officer in Israel during the 1960s. Lowenthal was also personally acquainted with future prime ministers David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir.
Shapiro, who had advanced degrees in chemistry and metallurgy from Johns Hopkins, worked for Westinghouse and the Navy on the nuclear reactor that powered America’s first atomic submarine, the Nautilus. Shapiro also helped develop the fuel for the first commercial nuclear reactor, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station in Pennsylvania.
Like Lowenthal, Novick and Chatkin, Shapiro also was active in supporting Israeli causes, although his activities had a slightly educational tone. He was a member of the Technion Society, which supported advances in Israeli science and technology. Indeed, he became an Honorary Life Member of the group.
He also was a Director of Hillel, an international organization that tries to acquaint Jewish students with each other on campuses and organize student trips to Israel. Like Novick and Chatkin, he was a member of the Zionist Organization of America. Many years later, it was discovered that Shapiro was on the Board of Governors of the Israeli Intelligence Center, which honors spies for Israel who clandestinely advanced the interests of the state. (Mattson, p. 84)
Beyond the individual backgrounds of these four men, there was also something else which should have attracted the U.S. intelligence community’s attention prior to Helms’s meeting with President Johnson. While running NUMEC, both men – Shapiro and Lowenthal – were taking trips to Israel and had contacts with high officials of Israeli intelligence as well as Israel’s version of the AEC.
Further, NUMEC had a guest worker, an Israeli metallurgist, in its plant, as part of an agreement NUMEC had with Israel to serve as a training consultancy which resulted in the formation of a joint company with Israel called ISORAD that initially was to deal with irradiation of citrus fruits through gamma rays. But the FBI later discovered that NUMEC also had contracts with Israel for the development of plutonium oxide as fuel elements in nuclear reactors. (Mattson, pgs. 80-81)
Since Lowenthal had so many acquaintances in high positions, he often visited Israel, including a most curious instance at about the time he purchased Apollo Steel in 1956. It was at this time that Israel was making decisions about foreign sourcing for nuclear materials and technology.
A year later, NUMEC was formed and Shapiro immediately applied for a license from the AEC to process uranium fuel in a building formerly occupied by Apollo Steel. John Hadden, CIA station chief in Tel Aviv, later noted the unusual coincidence of these events on two continents. (ibid, p. 45)
But declassified FBI files reveal that the visitations were not just one way, i.e. from Apollo, Pennsylvania, to Israel. There were also visits and meetings of Israeli officials who went to Apollo.
At the time of those meetings, there were four main branches of Israeli intelligence. The Shin Bet corresponded with the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Mossad with the Central Intelligence Agency; the Aman roughly with the Defense Intelligence Agency; and the LAKAM, which was responsible for security at Dimona and for procuring scientific and technological data from Western sources. (Mattson, p. 108)
In the mid-1960s, France started scaling back its support for the Dimona reactor, which was supposedly a research facility. With France’s pullback, LAKAM began seeking out and purchasing parts and supplies from other sources to complete the project.
LAKAM’s job included concealing the reactor’s true function – the development of a nuclear bomb – from American inspections. (ibid) During an American inspection in 1964, LAKAM even created a “Potemkin village” control room to deceive the visitors.
Unlike American intelligence, Israel also had a special operations unit that served all branches. Established in 1957, it was run by Rafi Eitan and his deputy, Avraham Bendor. (In the 1980s, Eitan became notorious for the Jonathan Pollard spy case, in which Pollard, a navy intelligence employee, was paid tens of thousands of dollars to spy for Israel in the United States with Eitan his ultimate control agent.)
In September 1968, the AEC told the FBI that they were giving permission to NUMEC for a visit by four Israelis, including Eitan and Bendor. However, in the application to the AEC, the occupations of the two were disguised. Eitan was said to be a chemist in the Defense Ministry; Bendor supposedly worked for the electronics division. (ibid, p. 110)
The other two men were Avraham Hermoni, who was billed as a Scientific Counselor in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, and Dr. Ephraim Biegun, described as working in the Division of Electronics for Defense. Again, this was misleading. Hermoni did, at times, work out of Washington’s Israeli Embassy, but his prime and most important function was overseeing and planning Israel’s nuclear weapons program, which he did from 1959-69. Biegun was actually head of the technical division of the Mossad from 1960-70.
After the visit, NUMEC reported that the four men were in Apollo to buy thermo-electrical generator systems. (ibid, p. 119) Why Eitan and Bendor had to be there for that purpose is not readily apparent.
CIA officer John Hadden thought the real reason for the visit was that Shapiro was divulging top-secret technical information about plutonium manufacture – and that he was aided in this by the visiting Israeli scientist working at NUMEC. The FBI later came to agree that this was most likely the true reason for the visit. (ibid, p. 120)
Hermoni revisited Shapiro in November 1968, but the capstone to the visits to Apollo came later that month. As noted previously, France had cut back on its support for Dimona in the mid-1960s, halting the supply of uranium fuel in 1967.
In late November 1968, the Mossad arranged a covert operation called Operation Plumbat, which employed a front company in West Germany to purchase 200 tons of uranium yellowcake from Belgium. The transaction was approved by Euratom, the European organization controlling such transactions, but once the transport ship set sail for the port of Genoa, Italy, it was intercepted by another ship used by the Mossad. When the original ship reached port, the hull was empty.
The timing of this operation, on the heels of the mysterious visits by Israeli intelligence agents to Apollo, seems to constitute powerful circumstantial evidence of Israeli intentions.
Then, right after the completion of the Plumbat mission, who arrived in Israel? None other than Zalman Shapiro. The FBI discovered that in November 1968, in addition to the personal visits, Shapiro was in frequent phone contact with a number of Israeli intelligence agents, including Hermoni. (Mattson, p. 126)
A Longstanding Goal
Israel’s long trail of subterfuge and duplicity was part of a longstanding goal. As early as 1948, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, stated that what Einstein, Teller and Oppenheimer did for America, they could easily do for Israel, since they were all Jews. In fact, he offered Einstein Israeli citizenship, which the great man declined. (ibid, p. 22) Ben-Gurion then had two meetings with Oppenheimer and numerous ones with Teller.
Ultimately, Israel settled on David Bergmann, a brilliant chemist whom Ben-Gurion appointed first chief of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission in 1952. By 1955, Bergmann was essentially running the day-to-day operations of Israel’s atomic program.
In a conversation with the American ambassador, Bergmann said the Israeli science education program was adequate in physics and chemistry but weak in engineering and non-existent in metallurgy. He also revealed that the design he had laid out for a reactor was the same as the one at Shippingport, Pennsylvania, an intriguing clue because Shapiro was a metallurgist and had worked on the Shippingport power station.
Indeed, Shapiro eventually met Bergmann and the two became close friends and colleagues, serving on the board of ISORAD, which was a joint venture of NUMEC and the IAEC. Bergmann made his first visit to America for IAEC in 1956, the year before Lowenthal turned Apollo Steel into NUMEC.
There were two significant investigations of Shapiro and NUMEC. The first was instigated by Dick Helms’s call to Ramsey Clark in 1968 and the discovery of the highly enriched uranium at Dimona. (Mattson, p. 99) The second began in 1976 when Jim Conran, a whistleblower at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, voiced complaints about the background and actions of Shapiro. Conran was a security officer and his warnings eventually got the attention of the White House. (ibid, p. 161)
During the first investigation, the FBI could not find enough evidence to justify a violation by Shapiro of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which mandates that any person in the U.S. who is representing a foreign country’s interests has to register with the Justice Department. But the FBI did recommend cancelling Shapiro’s security clearances, based on wiretaps that revealed Shapiro in close contact with Israeli intelligence officials and with members of the IAEC. (ibid, p. 138)
During these calls Shapiro reportedly said he would help Israel in any way that he could. He also expressed frustration with the new ownership at NUMEC, which had been purchased by ARCO. But his Israeli contacts said he was too valuable to leave and encouraged him to stay there. (ibid, p. 139)
One of the most curious episodes that the FBI surveillance revealed was a meeting between Shapiro and a man named Jeruham Kafkafi, a suspected Mossad officer working under diplomatic cover. He had left Washington by air on the morning of June 20, 1969, and met Shapiro at the Pittsburgh airport for about an hour. He then left and flew back to Washington.
As a result of that surveillance, Shapiro was interviewed by the AEC in August 1969, with some of Shapiro’s answers to questions rather dubious. For instance, he said he did not know Hermoni was in charge of the Israeli nuclear development program and thought he was a university professor. Shapiro said his discussions in September and October 1968 with the Israeli officers were about water contamination, saboteur detection and military activities.
When asked why the Israelis could not have talked to the Defense Department about those topics, Shapiro had no answer. The interviewer wrote in his summary that Shapiro was cool and calm throughout except when the Kafkafi meeting was brought up. At first, Shapiro said he could not recall it, even though it happened just two months earlier. He then said he did remember it, claiming it was about an overdue invoice and a power supply resource. (p. 142)
The AEC investigators did not find the last reply credible, since it did not seem to justify an airline flight from Washington to Pittsburgh and back. Shapiro adjusted his answer by saying that there was some discussion of an investigator whom he knew from America who was going to visit Israel. He also added the figure of $32,000 as to how much Israel owed NUMEC. As Mattson notes, again, this explanation does not seem to justify an air flight and an hour-long meeting with a clandestine Mossad officer.
Closing the Inquiry
The man who ultimately decided to close this initial inquiry was Glenn Seaborg, head of the AEC. Not only did he not see any civil or criminal charges as being viable, but when President Richard Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell recommended revoking Shapiro’s security clearances, Seaborg balked at that also.
Mattson clearly sees Seaborg as being a villain in the piece. Late in the book, he explicitly accuses him of running a cover-up. (see p. 297) And, there is evidence to back up this charge. It was later discovered, during the second inquiry, that Seaborg had a close personal friendship with Shapiro. (ibid p. 268)
Earle Hightower, assistant director of safeguards at AEC, explicitly stated that the whole case regarding NUMEC was rigged because it was known that Seaborg would not take action. Little more than three years after Seaborg left the AEC, it was dissolved in 1975 and was replaced by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in part, because critics accused the AEC of an insufficiently aggressive regulatory program.
The second, much longer, and more vigorous inquiry into NUMEC and Shapiro came about at the creation of the NRC when Jim Conran was tasked with reviewing the record of how safeguards had worked previously for the AEC so they could be strengthened in the future. In that review process, he came across the case of Shapiro and NUMEC.
When Conran asked to see more files on both, he was denied access, causing him to go up the NRC ladder to Chairman William Anders, who was briefed by, among others, Carl Duckett of the CIA. Since Anders was about to leave for a diplomatic post, he took his concerns to James Connor at President Gerald Ford’s White House.
In March 1976, the CIA’s Duckett addressed an informal gathering of pilots and astronauts, saying there was little doubt Israel had about 20 nuclear warheads. Although this was supposed to be off the record, the information leaked. In April 1976, Time reported that this claim was accurate, except the newsmagazine put the size of the arsenal at 13 bombs and added that the warheads could be delivered by Phantom jets or Jericho missiles.
Duckett wrote a memo to CIA Director George Bush in which he said he suspected that the Israeli program was jumpstarted by a diversion of enriched uranium from the NUMEC plant. (p. 165) He attached various appendices to the memo to show the results of previous inquiries into NUMEC and explain why his belief was justified.
One of the appendices consisted of a paper by John Hadden in which he expressed the suspicion that NUMEC was actually a shell company the Israeli government had set up for the express purpose of diverting materials, technology and information that Israel needed to speed up and facilitate its longstanding quest for atomic weapons. (ibid, p. 166)
A New Investigation
Attorney General Edward Levi was then sent a summary of the FBI’s previous investigation of NUMEC. Levi alerted Ford that he thought NUMEC was culpable for several crimes and, with Ford’s permission, he wished to begin a criminal inquiry. Since Ford’s close adviser James Connor was also disturbed by these findings, the President approved the investigation.
What followed was a tedious bureaucratic battle between the CIA and FBI. The FBI felt it did not have direct proof that a diversion had taken place, while the CIA had the proof — the chemical tests at Dimona — but was reluctant to reveal the intelligence to the FBI. Also, the CIA did not want to furnish the FBI with technical experts to help educate the investigating agents so they could effectively cross-examine important witnesses. Thus, the FBI’s inquiry dragged on through three presidents: Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
But even with these obstructions, the FBI did eventually find witnesses to a diversion from the Apollo plant. It turned out that the FBI did not do enough interviews of plant employees in its initial inquiry because there were at least four of them willing to talk. Those witnesses form the climax of Mattson’s book.
In 1980, one witness said that when he read newspaper accounts about the losses of enriched uranium at Apollo, he had to chuckle to himself. When asked why, he replied that in 1965 or 1966, he was walking near the loading dock at Apollo and saw people loading containers – the dimensions that were used for HEU packets – into equipment boxes. He noticed that the shipping papers for the boxes revealed that the packages were destined for Israel. This witness then suggested some other workers at the plant who had seen similar activity. (Ibid, p. 272)
One of these witnesses saw a flatbed truck backed up into the loading dock area with Shapiro pacing around the area while the driver was loading “stove pipes” into a cabinet on the truck. This struck the witness as odd because the plant had regularly assigned workers for loading duties during the day but this shipment was being prepared in the evening. He explained that “stove pipes” were cylindrical containers that the plant used to pack enriched uranium inside. Each stove pipe usually contained three or four packets of HEU.
When he glanced at the clipboard resting on a package, he saw the destination was Israel. The clipboard then was yanked away and an armed guard escorted him off the dock. He also said it was unusual to see Shapiro in this area of the plant, and further, that Shapiro was very seldom there at night. (ibid, p. 275)
There were two other witnesses who told the FBI about similar events. The FBI also interviewed an NRC inspector named James Devlin, who told the agents that, contrary to what Shapiro had said, the security at the Apollo plant was below par and that NUMEC did not employ a professional security force. The company had one regular armed guard and Devlin happened to know who he was, since he was also a deputy for the township. The only other guards were unarmed and non-uniformed. (ibid, pgs. 272-73)
By this time, the FBI did not want to continue the investigation, believing that nothing would come of it, although the Justice Department urged the investigators on. But the FBI was correct since, as Mattson notes more than once in his book, the last president who really wanted to stop Israel from becoming a nuclear power was John F. Kennedy. (See pgs. 38-40, p. 256)
Richard Helms’s conversation with a disinterested President Johnson underscores how that attitude changed after Kennedy’s death. As Mattson further notes, opposition to Israel’s nuclear-weapons program was more or less negated by President Richard Nixon’s meeting with Prime Minister Golda Meir in 1969 when he agreed that the U.S. would not make any public statements revealing Israel’s nuclear arsenal nor demand that it sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, as long as Israel did no testing and made no public threats.
Even that policy was probably violated in 1979 with the Vela Incident: a suspected Israeli nuclear test done in the Indian Ocean.
Author Roger Mattson was part of the inquiry about the illegal transfer of atomic secrets to Israel, working in the NRC’s safeguards department when Conran first voiced his fears about a diversion at NUMEC. Thus, Mattson became part of an internal review of the Shapiro case, seeing firsthand how certain intelligence agencies were, by accident or design, obstructing the investigation.
Mattson concludes his important book by stating that this policy of casting a deliberate blind eye towards a nuclear heist by Israel places the U.S. in a compromised position when trying to enforce a policy of non-proliferation on other nations because of the obvious double standards.
To point out one paradox, the U.S. government executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for purportedly supplying nuclear secrets to the Soviet Union with less evidence. Plus, the tinder box of the Middle East is probably the last place where America should have allowed atomic weapons to proliferate, but it did.
Because of that, the U.S. has little or no moral authority on the issue today.
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.
Victim of one the many coups on democracy carried out by the United States: Salvador Allende
Though intelligence documents from the 1973 coup period have been declassified since 1999, the CIA continues to censor them.
The CIA continues to withhold information on its involvement in the Sept. 11, 1973 coup that led to the death of President Salvador Allende in Chile, followed by a deadly dictatorship, according to documents posted Friday by the National Security Archive.
In the list of published documents, the section regarding Chile is censored. The President’s Daily Briefs, the intelligence reports given daily to the U.S. president, in particular former President Richard Nixon days before Allende’s death, were among those censored.
According to Peter Kornbluh, director of the Archive’s Chile Documentation Project, censorship on this issue makes no sense since the intelligence agency has officially acknowledged its ties to those who plotted the coup from inside the Chilean military, and declassified several intelligence reports since.
“The CIA is trying—but failing—to hold history hostage,” Kornbluh said. “The CIA is attempting to cover up what Nixon knew about coup plotting in Chile and when he knew it, as well as hiding the CIA’s own contacts and connections to the coup plotters.”
According to the documents, three days before the coup—and on the day of the coup—the CIA gave Nixon an intelligence report on the progress of the efforts inside the Chilean military to overthrow Allende, a socialist.
In one document, a CIA operative in Santiago named Jack Devine identifies the new date of the planned coup for the next day, September 11, and confirms all three branches of the Chilean armed forces along with the police “are involved in this action.”
The same sources told the CIA that General Augusto Pinochet, who would later become a dictator with the support of the U.S., was in communication with Air Force General Gustavo Leigh about the planned coup. The Air Force would later bomb La Moneda presidential palace, where Allende and his closest allies were on Sept. 11.
The CIA told the White House that a “key officer” in the coup attempt requested U.S. assistance in case the Chilean military encountered any resistance, according to the documents.
Kornbluh said his institution would press for the release of the censored information.
“The documents provided to Richard Nixon on Chile can and should be released for the sanctity of the historical record. The public has a right to know what the President knew, and when he knew it,” he said.
Summoning the Humanitarian Pretext
The arch pragmatist Machiavelli once wrote that, “If you watch the ways of men, you will see that those who obtain great wealth and power do so either by force or fraud, and having got them they conceal under some honest name the foulness of their deeds.” You couldn’t pen a better description of the relationship between the imperial corporate state and its supplicant media. Once the coffers of vulnerable nations are ransacked by American wars of aggression, it is the media that sweeps the crimes of state beneath a carpet of piety. The truth may come out in due time, although it is always ex post facto. Thanks to the the coordination between the corporate sector, the state, and the media, the American doctrinal system is largely a self-contained narrative. It comes complete with a smooth internal logic. Corporations set priorities, the state produces a storyline that rationalizes the pursuit of those priorities, and the media distributes and reifies the storyline until it is gospel. This is no surprise, since the corporations own the politicians and the presses. Yet one way to examine the functioning of this kind of systemic propaganda is by looking at some of the keywords on which the stories hinge.
The foul deeds Machiavelli mentioned now principally occur in the Middle East, where vast resources lie and where power may be usefully projected deep into Eurasia. The Syrian proxy war between forces east and west is a nice example of how the dissimulations initiated in Washington are disseminated through the MSM. For instance, The New York Times, and its deputies in the vast clearinghouses of state propaganda, would have us believe that the White House is supporting freedom-loving rebels in Syria who are politically moderate and fighting for their lives in a civil war against a despotic regime led by an evil optometrist, Bashar al-Assad.
But we know that the entire Syrian fiasco was engineered by the CIA with cash, guns, and training, and unceasing support from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) at our behest. It is a long-standing neoconservative plan to break the so-called Shia Crescent that runs from Lebanon through Syria to Iran. These are, of course, the independent-minded states that have thus far refused to accept either Israeli colonization of Palestinian land or permit Western-backed energy projects to take shape on their territory. Hence the need to dismember them into tiny, feckless statelets that pose no challenge to either Tel Aviv or Washington.
But this is hidden behind the fog of war and a domestic haze of media nuance. This entire conflict could reasonably be said to hinge on a single phrase: “moderate rebels.” The words “moderate” and “rebel” make all the difference in the telling of this fable. The truth is that we have hijacked Arab Spring discontent and festooned it with brigades of terrorist mercenaries procured from around the Middle East and Asia, all with the singular mandate to take down the Assad government. Tens of thousands of jihadists have been injected by NATO into a multi-confessional state governed by an elected leader who won a larger percentage of the electorate than our liberal messiah Barack Obama.
But this more truthful interpretation of events is unacceptable. To concede that the White House is now backing al-Qaeda terrorists in an effort to capsize a Middle Eastern democracy would implode the religion of American exceptionalism on which elite power depends. Thus the media cannot point out that the Pentagon’s recent admission of having troops in Syria violates the Nuremberg Principles on wars of aggression as well as the United Nations Charter. Omissions of this kind are what prevent average Americans from a) knowing what we’re really doing; and b) resisting it.
Demonize and Distract
But it isn’t enough to simply cloak our own crimes in the holy cloth of exceptionalism. We must defame our enemies. We must plant false flags in their soil now so that we can bury bombs in them later. It happens the same way every time. ‘Shocking’ discoveries are made about one of our most reviled enemies, usually provided by a defector with a farcical alias (think “Curveball”). Instantaneous mainstream reports issue a coordinated condemnation of the country in question. Each media outlet chooses a particular keyword to drive home the horror. Popular terms include “crimes against humanity”, “war crimes”, the words “industrial scale” in front of any noun or verb, the word “mass” in front of any noun or verb, “brutal crackdown”, “regime”, and so on. Grisly images are plastered across the front pages of the MSM. Often the images are fakes or are from unrelated incidents.
Once the reader has been stupefied, at least one columnist or politician will draw a deep breath, and then ‘draw comparisons’ to either Hitler and Auschwitz or Slobodan Milosevic and mass graves. (Recently Milosevic was declared innocent of all genocidal charges by the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia, albeit years after he died in prison after being denied medical treatment by his civilized captors. This process of posthumous exoneration is now practiced on an “industrial scale” by Obama’s drone assassination when various innocents are discovered to have been innocent after they’ve been “terminated”.)
Not only is the supposedly noble Syrian uprising a fraud, but so is our equally principled goal of wiping ISIS from the face of the earth, if the facts on the ground are of any import. Washington has gone after ISIS in a strangely half-hearted way. Why hasn’t it provided air cover for Syrian Arab Army when its helicopters were rendered useless by terrorist TOW missiles? Missiles sold by the United States to Saudi Arabia, likely for the express purpose of funneling them to al Nusrah and other rogue bandits in Syria. Why did the U.S. not immediately attack ISIS-controlled oil wells and oil trading routes–ISIS’ chief source of funding–as Russia did on its entry into the conflict? Why did the Obama administration produce a record-setting arms deal with the Saudis, the leading proselytizer of Wahhabism in the world? Why do we refuse to work with Moscow or the SAA or Iran? Why do we not share grids and intelligence and join their joint operations room in Baghdad?
Isn’t it obvious? We have different goals. We want Assad out and a daft, pliant puppet in charge, presiding over a vast arsenal of domestic police, ready to crush resistance on contact. Of course, any such resisters would be legitimate freedom fighters, as are the Palestinians. But the media takes care to call Palestinians “terrorists” and called citizens resisting the Iraqi occupation “insurgents”. Words matter. They shade the story and bring neutral readers over to the side of empire. They blame the victim for the violence that victimized them.
The dissimulation becomes even clearer when you realize that ISIS emerged from an American interrogation camp in Iraq, in a way that suggests CentCom was more than happy to release radicalized Islamists into the wild. To what purpose? The failed state in Libya and the collapsing scenery of the Syrian state provide plenty of fodder for speculation.
The Wages of Propaganda
Thanks to years of conditioning by the media, the population will do little to resist the escalation to come. Eventually the Syrian “regime” to be eventually overthrown by relentless American-backed violence. Hillary Clinton will win the election and gain control of the Oval Office. As Glen Ford wrote at Black Agenda Report, Clinton will “… ride into the White House on a warhorse”. She is the thinking man’s neocon, unlike President Bush, who represented the anti-intellectual strain of the American character, and Barack Obama, whose reluctance to pour troops into Arab prairie fires was widely predictably condemned as a sign of weakness.
Hillary is neither stupid nor soft. She will doubtless find a useful pretext by which to declare a no-fly zone in Syria, which would inhibit the efficacy of Russia’s campaign against various terrorist clans. (A House resolution is already afoot to lay the groundwork.) She will move more troops into the polder of northern Syria, violating all kinds of charters and conventions and declarations with an icy mixture of contempt and indifference. (See the UN Charter, Geneva Conventions, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the bootless scraps of paper she will trample.) Perhaps most importantly, she will green light the transport of more arms, ammunition, and psychopaths into Syria to make a push for Damascus in the hopes of repeating the Libyan calamity.
Should that project succeed, Hillary will quite possibly ‘discover’ that Iran has been violating its bogus nuclear agreement with the P5 +1. Anonymous administration sources will be “troubled” by the development. This isn’t idle speculation. For lack of a better title, the long-term strategy for the “new world order,” as George H.W. Bush put it, is contingent on splitting the Shia Crescent, removing Iran as a regional antagonist, then moving farther into Eurasia to control Sino-Russian development. And we know how a confrontation with Tehran would play out. With rabid spittle cresting his white beard, Wolf Blitzer will escort numberless brigadier generals through The Situation Room to reassure Americans that the bearded mullahs in Qom are indeed a fearsome clan. Hillary will threaten, and perhaps use, tactical nuclear weapons (B-61s) on Iranian nuclear sites, backed by either a UN Security Council resolution of dubious authority or a coalition of the bullied, bought, and willing. As the mushroom cloud envelops the region in radioactive waste, Israel will be seen fastidiously colonizing more West Bank land, Benjamin Netanyahu rubbing his hands in frenzied anticipation, a dogeared copy of the Yinon plan stuffed in his jacket pocket. Saudi Arabia’s Deputy and Crown Princes will celebrate the fall of their hated rivals. Laconic onlookers in Washington and Europe will shrug and say nothing. CIA plants in D.C. will fastidiously distance Hillary’s bombs from Hiroshima’s, and Tel Aviv will move against Hezbollah in a final confrontation, since the Shia Crescent will by then be nothing more than a few shards of Mesopotamian culture atop a flaming midden.
With the Middle East finally brought “to heel,” as Hillary once proposed doing to young black boys, the ground will have been cleared for the pulse-racing showdown with Russia itself, the greatest thorn in Washington’s side. With Assad out of the way and Tehran chastened, the Kremlinologists and conspiracy theorists can be set loose to harrow the public into a state of high anxiety about the “expansionist” state to the East. NATO will inch closer to Russian borders and shout that Russia is moving closer to NATO. Destabilization will proceed apace. It will be called “democracy promotion” and will be paid for by fronts called “endowments”. Sanctions will tighten the economic screws. Verbal salvos will hit targets on either side of the water. New proxy wars will be touched off. Only a giant peace movement or stray asteroid could prevent something like this from happening. Perhaps the BRICS will halt the spread of empire with a collective stance, but Washington is agile if not artful at executing its core strategy to destabilize, divide, and rule its rivals. Until then, if you want to know what contempt looks like, look at this picture of Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin meeting at the G20 in China last week. The tenor of tomorrow is written all over their faces.
Jason Hirthler is a veteran of the communications industry and author of The Sins of Empire: Unmasking American Imperialism. He lives in New York City and can be reached at email@example.com.
Over the last few months I have been studying the media coverage of the assassination of JFK and the publication of the Warren Commission. It could be argued that the way the mainstream media accepted the official line is not very surprising given their record of recording political stories. However, what is striking is the way that the so-called Non-Communist Left (NCL) reported these events. These were people who controlled left of centre journals such as the Nation, New Republic and I.F. Stone Weekly. None of these journals were willing to question the idea that JFK had been killed by a lone gunman.
The only journal on the left that seemed to doubt the official interpretation of events was James Aronson, the editor of the National Guardian. In the first edition of the newspaper after the assassination, he used the headline: “The Assassination Mystery: Kennedy and Oswald Killings Puzzle the Nation”. Aronson could not understand why others on the left were not taking up a similar position.
In his book, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian (1978), Aronson recalled that soon after the assassination he was contacted by a journalist working for the New York Times, who asked him if Oswald subscribed to the National Guardian. Aronson replied he could find no record of Oswald receiving the newspaper. Aronson took this opportunity to raise questions about the newspaper’s investigation into the assassination: “I took advantage of the call to air my doubts about the lone assassin theory being fixed in the public mind. What was the New York Times doing to validate or disapprove this theory?” The journalist replied “Look, Jim, you worked here and you know the answer: don’t look this way – they won’t do it.” (1)
Mark Lane was probably the first person to write a detailed article questioning the official story of the assassination. He later pointed out: “The obvious choice, I thought, was the Nation. Its editor, Carey McWilliams, was an acquaintance. He had often asked me to write a piece for him… McWilliams seemed pleased to hear from me and delighted when I told him I had written something I wished to give to the Nation. When he learned of the subject matter, however, his manner approached panic.” McWilliams told Lane: “We cannot take it. We don’t want it. I am sorry but we have decided not to touch that subject.” Lane got the same response from the editors of Fact who said the subject matter was too controversial. It was also rejected by The Reporter, Look, Life and the Saturday Evening Post. (2)
James Aronson “heard that a maverick New York lawyer named Mark Lane had done some careful leg and brain work to produce a thesis casting doubt on the lone-assassin theory – and even whether Oswald had actually been involved in the crime.” (3) Aronson contacted Lane who told him that the article had been rejected by thirteen publications. Aronson offered to publish the article. Lane told him that “I would send it to him but I would not authorize him to publish it. He asked why. I said that I was seeking a broader, non-political publisher and that if the piece originated on the left, the subject would likely never receive the debate that it required.”
Lane now took the article to James Wechsler, an editor of the New York Post. He also rejected it and said that Lane would never find a publisher and “urged him to forget about it”. Lane now told him about Aronson’s offer. Wechsler, according to Lane was “furious” when he heard this news. “Don’t let them publish it… They’ll turn it into a political issue.” (4)
By this time the article had been turned down by seventeen publications and so Lane decided to let Aronson publish the article in the National Guardian. The 10,000 word article, published on 19th December, 1963, was the longest story in its fifteen-year history. It was presented as a lawyer’s report to the Warren Commission and titled A Brief for Lee Harvey Oswald. Aronson argued in the introduction: “The Guardian’s publication of Lane’s brief presumes only one thing: a man’s innocence, under US. Law, unless or until proved guilty. It is the right of any accused. A presumption of innocence is the rock upon which American jurisprudence rests… We ask all our readers to study this document… Any information or analysis based on fact that can assist the Warren Commission is in the public interest – an interest which demands that everything possible be done to establish the facts in this case.” (5)
Aronson later admitted: “Few issues of the Guardian created such a stir. Anticipating greater interest we had increased the press run by 5,000, but an article in the New York Times about our story brought a heavy demand at the newsstands and dealers were calling for additional copies. Before the month was out we had orders for 50,000 reprints.” (6)
Aronson offered the article to both the United Press International and the Associated Press but both agencies rejected it. However, the article was published in several European countries and was discussed in most leading newspapers throughout the world. Some newspapers attempted to rubbish the article by describing it as “left-wing propaganda”. Bertrand Russell wrote to The Times complaining about this treatment: “Mr. Lane is no more a left-winger than was President Kennedy. He attempted to publish his evidence… in virtually every established American publication but was unsuccessful. Only the National Guardian was prepared to print his scrupulously documented material… I think it important that no unnecessary prejudice against this valuable work of Mr. Lane should be aroused, so that his data concerning a vital event may be viewed with an open mind by people of all political persuasions.”
At first the national press attempted to ignore Lane’s article. The only other publication in the United States that was willing to discuss the issue was the New Republic. In an article published on 21st December, 1963, Jack Minnis and Staughton Lynd, the authors of Seeds of Doubt: Some Questions about the Assassination, raised questions about five different categories of evidence in the case. Minnis was the research director for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, while Lynd was a history professor at Spelman College. Both men were also left-wing activists who were involved with the civil rights and peace movements. (7) However, after the publication of this article the New Republic left the subject alone.
In January, 1964, Walter Winchell made a vicious attack on Mark Lane and the National Guardian in his regular newspaper column. He described the newspaper as “a virtual propaganda arm of the Soviet Union” and called Lane an “agitator” seeking to abolish the Un-American Activities Committee. (8)
It is not surprising that Winchell led the attack on Mark Lane. He was a vital figure in the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird. Carl Bernstein has argued in his article, CIA and the Media: “Joseph Alsop is one of more than 400 American journalists who in the past twenty-five years have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. There was cooperation, accommodation and overlap.” (9)
Deborah Davis, was the first person to expose the workings of Operation Mockingbird in her book, Katharine the Great (1979), a biography of Katharine Graham of the Washington Post. She explained how journalists were controlled in times of crisis: “This practice, the old intelligence principle translated, contained the seeds of political blackmail: Once the newsman or his organization has been compromised, the politician can threaten to expose its lack of independence unless he (it) cooperates further. Many Mockingbirds have been faced with this choice.” (10)
The origins of this intelligence operation dates back to May, 1940, when the British Security Coordination (BSC) was established in the United States. According to William Boyd: “Churchill’s task, as he himself saw it, was clear: somehow, in some way, the great mass of the population of the US had to be persuaded that it was in their interests to join the war in Europe, that to sit on the sidelines was in some way un-American. And so British Security Coordination came into being… The aim was to change the minds of an entire population: to make the people of America think that joining the war in Europe was a ‘good thing’ and thereby free Roosevelt to act without fear of censure from Congress or at the polls in an election.” (11)
One of the first agents recruited by BSC was Allen Dulles, the future head of the CIA. Other agents from the media included: Walter Winchell, Drew Pearson, Walter Lippmann, William Allen White, Dorothy Thompson, Raymond Gram Swing, Edward Murrow, Vincent Sheean, Helen Kirkpatrick, Eric Sevareid, Edmond Taylor, Rex Stout, Edgar Ansel Mowrer and Whitelaw Reid. William Stephenson, the head of the BSC, also worked closely with editors and publishers who were supporters of American intervention into the Second World War. This included Arthur Hays Sulzberger (New York Times), Henry Luce (Time Magazine and Life Magazine), Helen Rogers Reid (New York Herald Tribune), Barry Bingham (Louisville Courier-Journal), Paul C. Patterson (Baltimore Sun), Dorothy Schiff (New York Post) and Ralph Ingersoll (Picture Magazine). (12)
Franklin D. Roosevelt had assigned William Donovan to work closely with William Stephenson on BSC operations (they had in fact been close friends since the First World War). After the United States entered the war, Donovan became head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and he took over control of BSC’s media assets. After the war, the OSS was closed down but emerged two years later as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). (13)
In the 1950s Operation Mockingbird was primarily concerned with the dangers of communism. However, it remained in place to be used by the CIA in times of national emergency. The assassination of JFK fell into this category and was successfully employed to make sure that the media did not openly discuss the guilt or innocence of Lee Harvey Oswald. (14)
The shaping of the media by the CIA became public knowledge in April 1976 when the Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities was published. “In examining the CIA’s past and present use of the U.S. media, the Committee finds two reasons for concern. The first is the potential, inherent in covert media operations, for manipulating or incidentally misleading the American public. The second is the damage to the credibility and independence of a free press which may be caused by covert relationships with the U.S. journalists and media organizations.” (15)
However, in November, 1963, the public was completely unaware of Operation Mockingbird, and the media cover-up operation was very successful. Journalists who wanted to write about their doubts had to find media organisations in Europe to publish their work. In March, 1964, Thomas G. Buchanan began publishing articles about the assassination in the French newspaper, L’ Express. Buchanan claimed in the newspaper that the Warren Commission had discovered that Jack Ruby knew Lee Harvey Oswald. He argued that Ruby lent him money to pay back the State Department for the $435.71 the U.S. had loaned Oswald when he returned from the Soviet Union.
These articles caught the attention of Richard Helms of the CIA. He sent a memo to John McCone, Director of the CIA: “Buchanan’s thesis is that the assassination of President Kennedy was the product of a rightest plot in the United States. He alleges in his articles that the slain Dallas policeman, Tippett (sic) was part of the plot against President Kennedy.” Helms went onto inform McCone that a “competent” CIA informant had disclosed that a book by Buchanan on the assassination would be published by Secker and Warburg on 15th May 1964. (17) The company had a reputation for publishing left-wing but anti-communist books. This included books by George Orwell, C. L. R. James, Simone de Beauvoir, Rudolf Rocker and Günter Grass.
Helms informant was right and Buchanan’s book, Who Killed Kennedy? was published in May, 1964. Buchanan appears to have been the first writer to suggest that Lyndon B. Johnson and “Texas oil interests” were responsible for Kennedy’s death. Buchanan argues that the assassination was funded by a Texas oilman. He does not name him but later it emerged he was referring to Haroldson L. Hunt. (18)
In the book Buchanan claims that Kennedy was killed by two gunmen. One fired from the railroad bridge. Another fired from the Texas School Book Depository. According to Buchanan, Oswald was aware of the conspiracy but did not fire any shots. Oswald believed that J. D. Tippit was going to help him escape. However, his real job was to kill him “while resisting arrest”. Oswald, realized what was happening and fired first.
When Who Killed Kennedy? was eventually published in the United States, it was mainly ignored. However, Time Magazine reviewed it and made much of the fact that Buchanan was a former member of the American Communist Party. (44) The left-wing British journalist, Cedric Belfrage, who had co-founded the National Guardian but had been deported from the United States in 1955 after refusing to answer questions before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), argued in the journal, Minority of One, that it was “irrelevant whether Buchanan was a former communist or a former Zen Buddhist”. Belfrage went on to state that what was important was Buchanan’s “common sense of the assassination and the American crisis it symbolizes”. (19)
Joachim Joesten, a freelance journalist, travelled to Dallas a few weeks after the assassination of Kennedy and spent four days there, interviewing witnesses and examining key locations. He came to the conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald was not a lone gunman. However, he did think that he was involved in the conspiracy to kill Kennedy. “I wish to make it absolutely clear that I believe Oswald innocent only as charged, but that he was involved with the conspirators in some way.” (20)
Joesten began work on his book, Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy? Like other early authors who questioned the official version, Joesten was forced to get his book published in England (Merlin Press). Before the book was published, Joesten, who was in Hamburg, received a letter from J. Lee Rankin of the Warren Commission, requesting a copy of the book. In March 1964, the United States Embassy in West Germany requested a meeting.
John Kelin, the author of Praise from a Future Generation (2007), has pointed out: “All copies of Joesten’s book manuscript were with either publishers or literary agents, so he was unable to comply with Rankin’s request. But he did sit down with the embassy man, whom he identified only as Mr. Morris… They met at the American Consulate in Hamburg on March 21, 1964… The two men talked for about four hours, during which time Joesten told Morris anything he had learned – why he believed Oswald was innocent of killing President Kennedy and Officer Tippit, and who he thought was really responsible.” (21)
Joesten later recalled that Morris seemed “particularly concerned with the fact that I believed Oswald had been connected with both the Central Intelligence Agency and with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” Joesten also told Morris that he believed General Edwin Walker organised the assassination and that it “was a military-type operation with firing from both front and rear.” Joesten also speculated that Bernard Weissman was involved in the assassination. (22)
Joesten discovered that while he was in Hamburg FBI agents went to his home in New York City to interview his wife. “Since I had been located, I couldn’t help wondering if the FBI had simply used that excuse to enter my home, talk to my wife and, to put it plainly, snoop around.” The FBI agents recorded that Mrs. Joesten said her husband had returned from Dallas convinced of Oswald’s innocence. “Mrs. Joesten advised that she definitely feels that her husband is on the verge of a nervous breakdown.”
Joesten’s book, Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy?, was published in the United States by Carl Marzani in July 1964. Marzani, a former member of the American Communist Party, had been imprisoned and blacklisted during the early 1950s and in order to survive went into publishing and established the company Marzani & Munsell. According to Marzani he specialised in books that upset the status quo. In the book Joesten claimed that the Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Dallas Police Department and a group of right-wing Texas oil millionaires conspired to kill Kennedy. He openly accused Police Chief Jesse Curry of being one of the key figures in the assassination.
Victor Perlo, reviewing the book in the New Times, commented that the book had been rejected by several publishers before Marzani accepted it. “The firm deserves credit for publishing and promoting the book, so that thousands of copies were sold in a short time, despite a blackout by commercial reviewers. Publisher-editor Carl Marzani edited the manuscript brilliantly… This reviewer approached the Joesten book with scepticism. Despite my low opinion of the Dallas police and the FBI, I’ve had enough experience to know that utterly senseless things do happen in America… But the Joesten book erased most of my scepticism.” (21)
The book was largely ignored by the mainstream media but was reviewed by Hugh Aynesworth in the Editor and Publisher. Aynesworth, a strong supporter of the lone gunman theory and a reporter with the Dallas Morning News, wrote: “Joesten, an ex-German who became a U.S. citizen in 1948… states that Oswald was an agent of both the FBI and the CIA (how’s that for a 24-year-old who couldn’t spell “wrist”?). It’s the same old tripe with some new flavouring.” Aynesworth uses the review to criticize Mark Lane: “Lane is the troublemaker who spent two days in Dallas in January on his investigation and now pretends to be an expert on all aspects of the weird tragedy.” (22)
Another left-wing foreign-born journalist in America was also taking a close interest in the case. Léo Sauvage, who was the political correspondent of Le Figaro, published an article on the assassination in Commentary Magazine in March 1964, where he suggested that there had been a cover-up. He pointed out that all the available evidence against Lee Harvey Oswald had “either been leaked or eagerly and even ruthlessly spelled out – whether true, half-true, or demonstrably false; whether pertinent, confused, or obviously irrelevant” by the Dallas Police. As early as 23rd November, 1963, Will Fritz of the Homicide Bureau proclaimed the case as “cinched” and the following day, only two hours after Jack Ruby “had disposed of Oswald in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters”, the case against him was declared “closed” by Police Chief Jesse Curry and by District Attorney Henry Wade. (23)
Sauvage was also amazed that by 3rd December, 1963, the FBI had leaked details of its report on the assassination to the media. This allowed the New York Journal American to headline the story with the words: “Oswald lone killer. FBI report to prove it”. Sauvage pointed out that “six days later the Justice Department, acting on instructions from the White House, delivered the now completed report directly” to the Warren Commission. Sauvage adds that on 10th December, the New York Times reported: “Oswald assassin beyond a doubt, FBI concludes. He acted alone and did not know Ruby, says report to Warren Inquiry Panel.”
Sauvage added: “Thus, after the press and television conviction of Lee Oswald in Dallas, a second press and television conviction took place in Washington. And just as the Dallas authorities had forced the hand of any jury that would have heard the Oswald case, so the FBI has forced the hand of the Warren Commission. With the help of all the mass media, Oswald’s guilt has now twice been sold to the public – despite the fact that no one had even so much as ventured to explain why a psychopathic regicide, acting (as we shall see) under circumstances that would make his capture inevitable, should renounce the ultimate satisfaction of glorying in his deed before the eyes of the world. I really do not see, therefore, why only those of us who are sceptical about the case against Oswald should await further information.”
John Kelin, the author of Praise from a Future Generation (2007) summed up Sauvage’s case against the idea that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone gunman: “Léo Sauvage raised a series of questions that, he declared, Oswald’s accusers should be forced to answer. Did Oswald have an alibi? Was the President’s throat wound one of entrance or of exit? Was Oswald a good enough rifleman to do what the authorities said he did? How many shots were fired? Why were no fingerprints found on the alleged assassination rifle? How come none of the theatre patrons who witnessed Oswald’s arrest came forward with impartial accounts of how he was taken into custody?” (24)
Norman Podhoretz, the editor of Commentary Magazine added his support to Sauvage’s article: “Is the possibility of a treasonous political conspiracy to be ruled out? Not the least fantastic aspect of this whole fantastic nightmare is the ease with which respectable opinion in America has arrived at the conclusion that such a possibility is absurd; in most other countries, what is regarded as absurd is the idea that the assassination could have been anything but a political murder.” (25) Sauvage’s article greatly impressed a large number of people, including the commissioning editor of Random House and on 11th March, 1964, he signed a contract with the publisher to develop his ideas on the assassination into a full-length book.
Criticism of the lone-gunman theory did not only come from the left. In April, 1963, the ultra-conservative, Revilo P. Oliver suggested in an article Marxmanship in Dallas, that appeared in American Opinion, that Kennedy was a victim of a communist conspiracy. He also used the article to attack Kennedy’s liberal views on civil rights and his closeness to “Martin Luther King and other criminals engaged in inciting race war.” (26)
The following month, the veteran right-winger, Martin Dies, former chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUCA), argued in the same journal that Kennedy had been a victim of a communist conspiracy. However, at this time he did not have all the evidence: “I hope to discuss the circumstances linking the Soviet Union with Oswald’s murder of the President. Naturally such evidence must be circumstantial and based upon the dogmatic pattern of Communist behaviour. The Communists are too clever to leave any trace of connection with Oswald.” (27) It would seem that at this time Dies was unaware that Oswald had defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and on his return had openly associated with left-wing groups such as the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
Billy James Hargis, a member of the John Birch Society and a close friend of General Edwin Walker, who had been mentioned as a conspirator by Joachim Joesten in Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy?, also claimed a communist conspiracy had killed Kennedy. In his book, The Far Left (1964), he argued: “In spite of the absolute, indisputable evidence that Lee Oswald’s mind was moulded by Communist conspiracy propaganda, that his hatred was of the American free enterprise system and all it embraces, and that no one with even the remotest connection with what is considered to be the extreme right has any remote connection with the entire hideous affair… Do they really think the American people are that stupid? There is no doubt in my mind that the Communist assassin, Lee Oswald, intended to kill the President of the United States and disappear in the confused crowd, thus letting the conservative, anti-Communist element of Dallas take the blame. But it didn’t work. God is on the throne. He saw to it that Lee Harvey Oswald was apprehended by a courageous Dallas policeman, Officer Tippit, who, in turn, gave his life for the cause of freedom in attempting to arrest the Communist assassin of the President.” (28)
Another figure on the right who published a book about the assassination of Kennedy in 1964 was James Evetts Haley. His book, A Texan Looks at Lyndon, blamed it on an old political enemy, Lyndon Baines Johnson. It was a best seller and it is claimed that in Texas only the Bible outsold Haley’s book that year. In the book Haley attempted to expose Johnson’s corrupt political activities. This included a detailed look at the relationship between Johnson and Billy Sol Estes. Haley pointed out that three men who could have provided evidence in court against Estes, George Krutilek, Harold Orr and Howard Pratt, all died of carbon monoxide poisoning from car engines. Haley also suggested that Johnson might have been responsible for the death of Kennedy: “Johnson wanted power and with all his knowledge of political strategy and his proven control of Congress, he could see wider horizons of power as Vice-President than as Senate Majority Leader. In effect, by presiding over the Senate, he could now conceive himself as virtually filling both high and important positions – and he was not far from wrong. Finally, as Victor Lasky pointed out, Johnson had nursed a lifetime dream to be President. As Majority leader he never could have made it. But as Vice-president fate could always intervene.” (29)
On 1st June 1964, The New York Times published a story by Anthony Lewis with the headline, “Panel to Reject Theories of Plot in Kennedy Death”. As Jerry Policoff has pointed out: “The story amounted to a detailed preview of the Warren Report three months before the commission completed taking testimony and nearly four months before the report was released.” (30)
The press almost universally supported the Warren Commission report. The New York Times said it was “a comprehensive and convincing account. The Washington Post commented that it was “deserving acceptance as the whole truth” and The Boston Herald suggested that the Warren Commission had provided a “tremendous service”.
What was even more damaging to those who believed that Kennedy was the victim of a conspiracy was that the progressive press, led by Cary McWilliams, the editor of The Nation, also supported the conclusions of the report. The main bombshell came on 8th October, when I. F. Stone, who had virtually made a living criticising government documents, pointed out in I. F. Stone’s Weekly, that “I believe the Commission has done a first-rate job, on a level that does our country proud and is worthy of so tragic an event. I regard the case against Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone killer of the President as conclusive.” (31) However, as John Kelin has pointed out, at the time Stone wrote this article: “the Warren Report had just been published and the twenty-six volumes of supporting evidence and testimony were still not available”. (32)
Stone then went on to criticise those who had argued that there had been a conspiracy. After attacking the work of Mark Lane he turned on Bertrand Russell, who he described as “my dear and revered friend”. He suggested that Russell had dismissed the conclusions of Warren Commission report without even reading it. This was completely untrue. As Russell’s assistant, Ralph Schoenman, later pointed out, he had been provided a copy of the report a week before its official release date. (33)
Stone then went onto to look at the two books that had already been published arguing that there had been a conspiracy: “The Joesten book is rubbish, and Carl Marzani – whom I defended against loose charges in the worst days of the witch hunt – ought to have had more sense of public responsibility than to publish it. Thomas G. Buchanan, another victim of witch hunt days, has gone in for similar rubbish in his book, Who Killed Kennedy? You couldn’t convict a chicken thief on the flimsy slap-together of surmise, half-fact and whole untruth in either book… All my adult life as a newspaperman I have been fighting, in defense of the Left and of a sane politics, against conspiracy theories of history, character assassination, guilt by association and demonology. Now I see elements of the Left using these same tactics in the controversy over the Kennedy assassination and the Warren Commission Report.”
Ray Marcus, who was a devoted follower of I.F. Stone and had subscribed to his journal since its first edition in January 1953, was deeply shocked by this article. Marcus later recalled: “What was totally lacking in I. F. Stone’s comments was any evidence of the critical analysis he normally employed on assessing official statements.” On 8th October, 1964, Marcus wrote Stone a long letter outlining the flaws in the Warren Report. Marcus argued that in order to accept the Warren Commission’s lone-gunman scenario, one must accept fifteen points as true. These points were explained in an eight page letter. Marcus never received a reply. (34)
Another journalist considered to be on the left at the time was Walter Lippmann. In his syndicated column, Today and Tomorrow on 29th September, 1964, Lippmann wrote that he was convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in assassinating John F. Kennedy. He added there was “no ground on which any contemporary man, here or abroad, should question the verdict”. (35) However, he later told his friend, Ronald Steel, that he suspected that Kennedy had been killed as part of a conspiracy. (36)
The complete acceptance by the media of the Warren Report caused problems for those wishing to publish books advocating a conspiracy. Léo Sauvage, who had already signed a contract with Random House, to publish his book, The Oswald Affair – an Examination of the Contradictions and Omissions of the Warren Report, was to be disappointed. A month after the publication of the report, a senior editor at Random House, Jason Epstein, wrote to Sauvage cancelling the contract: “The problem is that the Warren Report has put the Oswald matter in a different light from what I expected, and I’m now convinced that any book which attempts to question Oswald’s guilt would be out of touch with reality and could not be taken seriously by responsible critics.” (37) No other publisher in the United States was willing to bring out the book and so like other opponents of the lone gunman theory, Sauvage was forced to go to Europe to have his book published.
It has been suggested that the critics of the lone-gunman theory were particularly hurt by the support for the Warren Report from left-wing journalists. In a debate that took place on 4th December, 1964, Beverly Hills High School, Abraham Wirin, chief counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in California and a much respected figure on the left for over 30 years, told the audience that he tried to make up his own mind on important issues, but in the case of the Warren Commission he relied on the opinions of people who he could trust: “I consider Carey McWilliams and The Nation, as an individual and a newspaper, respectively, whose judgment I respect. I do not consider Carey McWilliams or The Nation, a person or a newspaper, which would participate in a fraud, or would condone it.” Wirin pointed out The Nation had carried an article in support of the Warren Report and added: “now, that carries a lot of weight with me.”
Wirin then went onto to discuss I.F. Stone’s support for the Warren Report: “Now Mr. Stone, who has defended the rights of the Left, of Communists and others to fair treatment and freedom throughout his life – who is no apologist for any Rightest… Very rarely does Mr. Stone ever commend a government agency. Very rarely. As very rarely do I.” Wirin then said something very strange: “I say thank God for Earl Warren. He saved us from a pogrom. He saved our nation. God bless him for what he has done in establishing that Oswald was the lone assassin.” (38)
Mark Lane, who was involved in the debate with Abraham Wirin, has suggested a reason why the left was so keen to support the conclusions of the Warren Report. He discovered a document dated 20th January, 1964, where President Lyndon Johnson had asked Earl Warren to squelch rumours that “were circulating in this country and overseas”. He added that these rumours were so potentially explosive that if they were “not quenched, they could conceivably lead the country to war which could cost 40 million lives”. (39)
Lane suggests that this may be connected to the memo that deputy attorney Nicholas Katzenbach sent to Lyndon Johnson, through Bill Moyers, his press secretary, on 25th November, 1963. Katzenbach insisted that: “The public must be satisfied that Oswald was the assassin, that he did not have confederates who are still at large, and that the evidence was such that he would have been convicted at trial. I think this objective may be satisfied by making public as soon as possible a complete and thorough FBI report on Oswald and the assassination.” (40)
Were the rumours that needed to be “quenched” the same as those circulated by Revilo P. Oliver, Martin Dies and Billy James Hargis in the days following the assassination? Lane argues in Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991): “The CIA had concluded that Oswald had acted alone; he had not involved others in his plans and no one had directed him. Warren was respectfully cautioned, however, that if the American people received the facts, surely they would demand, in the existing volatile atmosphere, still heaving with tragedy, and against the backdrop of an escalating cold war, that immediate action be taken against the Soviet Union and Cuba. Warren agreed. Under the circumstances, he was advised that since the fate of the world was now in his hands, it was imperative that the Oswald-Kostikov connection be suppressed.” (41) Is it possible that people like Walter Lippmann, I. F. Stone and Carey McWilliams had been told that the Soviets had been involved in a conspiracy to kill Kennedy and without their support a nuclear war could not be adverted?
Then we have those strange words of Abraham Wirin: “I say thank God for Earl Warren. He saved us from a pogrom. He saved our nation. God bless him for what he has done in establishing that Oswald was the lone assassin.” Why would Wirin use the word “pogrom”? Had key figures on the left such as I.F. Stone and Carey McWilliams been told that the conspiracy to kill Kennedy was in someway involved Jewish left-wingers? If that was the case, why would they be willing to believe such stories? It is indeed a strange puzzle. Maybe the answer lies in an article that had been written by Tom Braden that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on 20th May, 1967.
Braden, who had worked with Allen Dulles at the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the Second World War, was considered to be an expert in psychological warfare. When Dulles joined the CIA in December 1950 as Deputy Director of Operations one of his first acts was to recruit Braden as his assistant. Braden suggested to Allen Dulles that he should be allowed to establish the International Organizations Division (IOD) to counteract Soviet propaganda. Dulles agreed and Cord Meyer was appointed as his deputy. The IOD helped established anti-Communist front groups in Western Europe.
The IOD was dedicated to infiltrating academic, trade and political associations. The objective was to control potential radicals and to steer them to the right. Braden oversaw the funding of groups such as the National Student Association, the Congress of Cultural Freedom, Communications Workers of America, the American Newspaper Guild, the United Auto Workers, National Council of Churches, the African-American Institute and the National Educational Association.
Braden later admitted that the CIA was putting around $900,000 a year into the Congress of Cultural Freedom. Some of this money was used to publish its journal, Encounter. Braden and the IOD also worked closely with anti-Communist leaders of the trade union movement such as George Meany of the Congress for Industrial Organization and the American Federation of Labor. This was used to fight Communism in its own ranks. As Braden said: “The CIA could do exactly as it pleased. It could buy armies. It could buy bombs. It was one of the first worldwide multinationals.” (42)
This remained a highly secret operation but in 1966 stories began to appear in the New York Times suggesting that the CIA had been secretly funding left-wing groups. This in fact, was not a new claim. Joseph McCarthy had made similar accusations in 1953. He had been given this information by J. Edgar Hoover who had described the Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) as “Wisner’s gang of weirdos”. In August, 1953, Richard Helms, Wisner’s deputy at the OPC, told Cord Meyer, who was Braden’s deputy at the International Organizations Division, that Joseph McCarthy and the FBI had accused him of being a communist. The FBI added to the smear by announcing it was unwilling to give Meyer “security clearance”. (43)
In September, 1953, Meyer was shown the FBI file against him. It included allegations that his wife, Mary Pinchot Meyer, was a former member of the American Labor Party. It also listed several people linked to Meyer who had “supported pro-Communist policies or have been associated with Communist front organizations or organizations pro-Communist in their sympathies.” The list included the publisher Cass Canfield, the president and chairman of Harper & Brothers. Canfield had first met Allen Dulles in 1940 when they were both working for the British Security Coordination (BSC), a highly secret British intelligence unit based in the United States set up with the approval of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination Canfield played an important role in stopping books criticising the Warren Commission being published. Canfield had indeed been receiving money from the CIA to help publish left-wing but anti-communist books. He was along with Jason Epstein of Random House, who had blocked the publication Léo Sauvage’s The Oswald Affair – an Examination of the Contradictions and Omissions of the Warren Report, a key figure in the CIA sponsored Congress of Cultural Freedom.
McCarthy’s assistant, Roy Cohn, argues in his book McCarthy (1968) that they had discovered that communist agents had infiltrated the CIA in 1953: “Our files contained allegations gathered from various sources indicating that the CIA had unwittingly hired a large numbers of double agents – individuals who, although working for the CIA, were actually communist agents whose mission was to plant inaccurate data…. We also wanted to investigate charges that the CIA had granted large subsidies to pro-Communist organizations.” Cohn complained that this proposed investigation was stopped on the orders of the White House. “Vice-President Nixon was assigned to the delicate job of blocking it… Nixon spoke at length, arguing that an open investigation would damage national security, harm our relations with our allies, and seriously affect CIA operations, which depended on total secrecy… Finally, the three subcommittee members, not opposed to the inquiry before they went to dinner, yielded to Nixon’s pressure. So, too, did McCarthy, and the investigation, which McCarthy told me interested him more than any other, was never launched.” (44)
Allen Dulles refused permission for the FBI to interrogate Frank Wisner and Cord Meyer and Hoover’s investigation also came to an end. McCarthy was in fact right when he said that the CIA was funding what he considered to be pro-communist organisations. He was wrong however in believing they had infiltrated the organisation. As Frances Stonor Saunders, the author of Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War? (1999) has pointed out it was the other way round. This has been confirmed by some members of the left who received funding from the CIA during this period. As Arthur Schlesinger later explained, the NCL was supported by leading establishment figures such as Chip Bohlen, Isaiah Berlin, Averell Harriman and George Kennan: “We all felt that democratic socialism was the most effective bulwark against totalitarianism. This became an undercurrent – or even undercover – theme of American foreign policy during the period.” (45)
It might seem strange that the non-communist left should be paid to write articles and books attacking the Soviet Union. After all they would have done that anyway. However, the important aspect of this policy was to compromise these left-wing writers by paying them money or by funding their organisations. It also put them in position where they could call on their help in times of crisis such as the assassination of John Kennedy. The support of the NCL was vitally important in the cover-up of the assassination.
Why then did the CIA start leaking information about their funding of the NCL in 1966? The reason is that most of these sponsored journalists refused to support the government policy on Vietnam. In the case of Stone, he found it to his financial advantage to oppose the policy. Stone had barely 20,000 subscribers to I.F. Weekly before the outbreak of the war. By 1969 he had over 70,000. (46)
The story of CIA funding of Non-Communist Left journalists and organizations was fully broken in the press by a small-left-wing journal, Ramparts. The editor, Warren Hinckle, met a man by the name of Michael Wood, in January 1967, at the New York’s Algonquin Hotel. The meeting had been arranged by a public relations executive Marc Stone (the brother of I.F. Stone). Wood told Hinckle that the National Student Association (NSA) was receiving funding from the CIA. At first Hinkle thought he was being set-up. Why was the story not taken to I.F. Stone? (47)
However, after further research, Hinckle was convinced that the CIA had infiltrated the Non-Communist Left: “While the ADA-types and the Arthur Schlesinger model liberal kewpie dolls battled fascism by protecting their right flank with domestic Red-baiting and Cold War one-upmanship, the Ivy League delinquents who fled to the CIA – liberal lawyers, businessmen, academics, games-playing craftsmen – hatched a master plan of Germanic ambition that entailed nothing less than clandestine political control of the international operations of all important American professional and cultural organisations: journalists, educators, jurists, businessmen, et al. The standing CIA subsidy to the National Student Association was but one slice of a very complex pie.” Hinckle even had doubts about publishing the story. Sol Stern, who was writing the article for Ramparts, “advanced the intriguing contention that such a disclosure would be damaging to the enlightened men of the liberal internationalistic wing of the CIA who were willing to provide clandestine money to domestic progressive causes.” (48)
Hinckle did go ahead with the story and took full-page advertisements in the Tuesday editions of the New York Times and Washington Post: “In its March issue, Ramparts magazine will document how the CIA has infiltrated and subverted the world of American student leaders, over the past fifteen years.” For its exposé of the CIA, Ramparts received the George Polk Memorial Award for Excellence in Journalism and was praised for its “explosive revival of the great muckraking tradition.”
On 20th May 1967 Thomas Braden, the former head of the CIA’s International Organizations Division, that had been funding the NSA, wrote an article that was published in the Saturday Evening Post entitled, I’m Glad the CIA is Immoral Braden admitted that for more than 10 years, the CIA had subsidized progressive magazines such as Encounter through the Congress for Cultural Freedom – which it also funded – and that one of its staff was a CIA agent. He also admitted that he had paid money to left-wing trade union leaders such as Walter Reuther, Jay Lovestone, David Dubinsky and Irving Brown. (49)
According to Frances Stonor Saunders, the author of Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War? (1999): “The effect of Braden’s article was to sink the CIA’s covert association with the Non-Communist Left once and for all.” (50) Braden later admitted that the article had been commissioned by CIA asset, Stewart Alsop. (51) But why had the CIA decided to expose their agents in 1967. Was it because they were refusing to support government policy in Vietnam?
John Hunt, a CIA agent who worked very closely with Braden at the International Organizations Division, pointed out in a revealing interview: “Tom Braden was a company man… if he was really acting independently, would have had much to fear. My belief is that he was an instrument down the line somewhere of those who wanted to get rid of the NCL (Non-Communist Left). Don’t look for a lone gunman – that’s mad, just as it is with the Kennedy assassination… I do believe there was an operational decision to blow the Congress and the other programs out of the water.” (52)
By this time of course those figures on the Non-Communist Left such as I.F. Stone and Carey McWilliams knew they had been fooled by the CIA in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. However, all they could do was to keep their heads down and pretend it had not happened. Warren Hinkle admitted that as editor of Ramparts in November 1963, he had been reluctant to get involved in investigating the Kennedy assassination. Until he took up the case in 1967 he had left it up to the “amateurs”. He added the “nationwide grass-roots reinvestigation of the Kennedy assassination was an extraordinary phenomenon of an extraordinary decade”. (53)
A more detailed account of the way the media covered the JFK assassination can be found in my introduction of my ebook on the assassination.
1. James Aronson and Cedric Belfrage, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian (1978) page 296
2. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991) page 19
3. James Aronson and Cedric Belfrage, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian (1978) page 297
4. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991) page 20
5. James Aronson, National Guardian (19th December, 1963)
6. Mark Lane, The National Guardian (19th December, 1963)
7. Jack Minnis and Staughton Lind, Seeds of Doubt: Some Questions about the Assassination, New Republic (21st December, 1963)
8. Quoted by James Aronson and Cedric Belfrage, Something to Guard: The Stormy Life of the National Guardian (1978) page 298
9. Carl Bernstein, CIA and the Media, Rolling Stone Magazine (20th October, 1977)
10. Deborah Davis, Katharine the Great (1979) page 190
11. William Boyd, The Guardian (19th August, 2006)
12. At the end of the Second World War the files of British Security Coordination were packed onto semitrilers and transported to Camp X in Canada. Stephenson wanted to have some record of the activities of the agency, “To provide a record which would be available for reference should future need arise for secret activities and security measures for the kind it describes.” He recruited former BSC agents, Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Giles Playfair, Gilbert Highet and Tom Hill, to write the book. Stephenson told Dahl: “We don’t dare to do it in the United States, we have to do it on British territory.” Dahl commented: “He pulled a lot over Hoover… He pulled a few things over the White House, too, now and again. I wrote a little bit but eventually I called Bill and told him that it’s an historian’s job… This famous history of the BSC through the war in New York was written by Tom Hill and a few other agents.” Only twenty copies of the book were printed. Ten went into a safe in Montreal and ten went to Stephenson for distribution. The report was eventually published in 1998 as British Security Coordination: The Secret History of British Intelligence in the Americas, 1940-45.
Other books that contain interesting information on the work of the British Security Coordination include: Jennet Conant, The Irregulars: Roald Dahl and the British Spy Ring in Wartime Washington (2008), Thomas E. Mahl, Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-44 (1998), Nicholas J. Cull, Selling War: The British Propaganda Campaign Against American Neutrality (1996) and Bill Macdonald, The True Intrepid: Sir William Stephenson and the Unknown Agents (2001).
13. Final Report of the Select Committee to Study Government Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities (April, 1976)
14. ARRB Record Number 180-100092-10352
15. Thomas G. Buchanan, Who Killed Kennedy? (1964)
16. Time Magazine (12th June, 1964)
17. Cederic Belfrage, The Minority of One (October, 1964)
18. Joachim Joesten, Oswald, Assassin or Fall Guy? (1964) page 11
19. John Kelin, Praise from a Future Generation (2007) page 169
20. CE 2709, Warren Commission Vol.26 pages 79-84
21. Victor Perlo, New Times (September 1964)
22. Hugh Aynesworth, Editor and Publisher (1st August, 1964)
23. Léo Sauvage, Commentary Magazine (March, 1964)
24. John Kelin, Praise from a Future Generation (2007) page 179
25. Norman Podhoretz, Commentary Magazine (March, 1964)
26. Revilo P. Oliver, Marxmanship in Dallas, American Opinion (February, 1964)
27. Martin Dies, Assassination and its Aftermath, American Opinion (March, 1964)
28. Billy James Hargis, Far Left (1964) page 146
29. James Evetts Haley. A Texan Looks at Lyndon (1964) page 199
30. Jerry Policoff, The Media and the Murder of John Kennedy, New Times (8th August, 1975). Included in Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond – A Guide to Cover-Ups and Investigations (1976)
31. I. F. Stone, I. F. Stone’s Weekly (5th October, 1964)
32. John Kelin, Praise from a Future Generation (2007) page 182
33. John Kelin, interview with Ralph Schoenman (14th August, 2000)
34. Ray Marcus, letter to I. F. Stone (8th October, 1964)
35. Walter Lippmann, Today and Tomorrow (29th September, 1964)
36. Ronald Steel, Walter Lippmann and the American Century (1999) page 543
37. Jason Epstein, letter to Léo Sauvage (4th November, 1964)
38. Abraham L. Wirin, speech, Beverly Hills High School (4th December, 1964)
39. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991) page 51
40. Nicholas Katzenbach, memo to Bill Moyers (25th November, 1963)
41. Mark Lane, Plausible Denial: Was the CIA Involved in the Assassination of JFK? (1991) page 53
42. Tom Braden, interview included in the Granada Television program, World in Action: The Rise and Fall of the CIA (June, 1975)
(43) Cord Meyer, Facing Reality: From World Federalism to the CIA (1980) pages 60-84
(44) Roy Cohn, McCarthy (1968) pages 63-65
(45) Arthur Schlesinger quoted by Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War? (1999) page 63
(46) D. D. Guttenplan, American Radical: The Life and Times of I.F. Stone (2011) page 432
(47) Hugh Wilford, The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America (2008) page 239
(48) Warren Hinckle, If you have a Lemon, Make Lemonade (1973) pages 172-179
(49) Tom Braden, Saturday Evening Post (20th May, 1967)
(50) Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War? (1999) page 398
(51) Tom Braden, interviewed by Frances Stonor Saunders (August 1996)
(52) John Hunt, interviewed by Frances Stonor Saunders (July 1997)
(53) Warren Hinckle, If you have a Lemon, Make Lemonade (1973) page 204
It’s only been a few weeks since the Zionist coup in Brazil and a Judaized shift in the Latin American powerhouse and BRICS stalwart is already unfolding. Michel Temer, the putschist who seized power from Dilma Rousseff, is known as a “friend of the Brazilian Jewish community”, and this “righteous Gentile” (as the ‘Israelis’ like to call all their puppets) has already appointed another “friend of the Brazilian Jewish community”, Jose Serra, as Brazil’s foreign minister. It has also been revealed that the Coupmonger-In-Chief worked closely with Fernando Lottenberg, the president of the Brazilian Israelite Confederation, on raising awareness (read: brainwashing) among Brazilians about “Holocaust Remembrance Day” as well as passing Zionized “anti-terrorism” legislation that will undoubtedly have an Orwellian effect on Brazil’s citizenry.
Temer has also opened the doors to the “Christian” Zionist scourge that has infected much of America, as well as other Western nations–albeit to a lesser extent–like Canada, the UK and Australia. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ), led by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, arrived in Brazil mere days after Rousseff’s overthrow and just concluded its trip 24 hours ago. Rabbi Eckstein’s gang was on a mission to turn every major “mega-church” in Brazil into even stronger supporters of the usurping Zionist entity for the “cause” of combating “anti-Semitism”. The good “rebbe” and Temer aren’t strangers and thus, this entire event should be looked at not just as a consequence of the Zionist coup against the Workers’ Party (PT), but part and parcel of it. Furthermore, Rabbi Eckstein’s subversive visit should be seen in the greater context of “Christian” Zionist penetration into Brazil and Latin America as a whole.
Brazil, which was once a hotbed of Christian Liberation Theology led by revolutionary luminaries such as Leonardo Boff, is now spiraling into a bottomless pit of “Christian” Zionist hell and has been so since 1977 when the Universal Church–an ultra-Freemasonic institution right down to its reconstruction of Solomon’s Temple–came into being. And let there be no doubt that this “Christian” Zionism is a byproduct of the utterly devilish Rockefeller-financed Wycliffe Bible Translators and the CIA which have worked hand-in-hand from the “Christian” Zionist outfit’s beginnings in 1942 to evangelize the Catholics of Latin America, with a special focus on Brazil, using the satanic Scofield Reference Bible.
It should be noted for the record that the Freemasonic Universal Church and other like-similar institutions were welcomed by the Brazilian military dictatorship as a counterweight to the Christian Liberation Theologians, who, despite being tortured, killed and disappeared, remained a formidable anti-Imperialist opposition current until the end of the coup regime. And how can we forget that the US-‘Israeli’-backed tyranny that did all of this murdering and maiming would never have attained power if it wasn’t for the Zionist Jew Harold Geneen, who was deathly afraid of losing his multinational ITT telecom giant to democratically-elected Brazilian President João Goulart in a wave of nationalizations. So the Zionist Jew simply called his “shabbos goy” friend CIA Director John McCone, gave him all-access to ITT’s resources and then the CIA used this new, incredibly useful instrument to push forward with the coup full throttle, ultimately deposing Goulart in 1964. It was International Jewry that crushed Brazil’s first attempt at nationalist-socialism, and it was International Jewry that crushed Brazil’s new experiment in nationalist-socialism exemplified by Dilma Rousseff and her Workers’ Party.
Quite possibly NOTHING encapsulates this entire sad affair like BreakingIsraelNews, a known gateway for Zionist propaganda, which called the illegal ouster of Dilma Rousseff “karma” for her anti-‘Israeli’ posturing and quoted a verse from the genocidal, Jewish supremacist book of Deuteronomy to drive its pro-coup point home even further. The arrogance of World Zionism is indeed boundless and this hubris is certainly driving its offensive throughout Latin America. It’s not just Brazil. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a former World Bank economist whose Jewish roots and strong ties to numerous international banks and investment firms (read: the Rothschild Octopus) make him a prime mover and shaker for the Zionist project in the region, is about to take over Peru. Argentina, once run by the fiery anti-globalist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is now a pro-US, pro-‘Israel’ neoliberal nightmare run by neocon Mauricio Macri. And Venezuela, home of the Bolivarian Revolution, is once again in the throes of a coup as US-Zionist-aligned oligarchs wage economic war on Caracas through the deliberate creation of food shortages and other forms of destabilizing malice. The homeland of Hugo Chavez (RIP) has long been a target of ‘Israel’–he said so himself–for El Comandante fought the Jewish New World Order tooth and nail, and considering the above-mentioned pomposity of these bloodthirsty “chosenite” coupmongers, it’s a safe bet to assume they are going to continue their efforts to crush the Bolivarian phenomenon permanently.
If Brazil and Venezuela are to survive this dark, dark period, the peoples of these respective great nations must come to terms with the simple fact that it is not merely “Imperialism” which is seeking to destroy their nationalist-socialisms and impose economic neoliberalism on their societies, but International Jewry’s ZIO-IMPERIALISM which is seeking to impose TOTAL neoliberalism on their societies in the political, financial, cultural and even spiritual sectors, hence the blatant “Christian” Zionist surge as of recent. Resistance on all fronts is the only antidote to this growing poisonous trend, and if it is not fiercely engaged in, as Venezuelan President and Chavez successor Nicolas Maduro is desperately attempting to do now, then the darkness is not only going to continue, but worsen to levels not seen since Guatemala in ’54, Brazil in ’64, Chile in ’73, Argentina in ’76 and in more recent times, Honduras in ’09, ALL PUT TOGETHER. Our full solidarity with the Latin American peoples in the face of Empire Judaica’s storm.
While Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to ever visit Laos, half a century after the U.S.’s “secret war” left it with the unfortunate distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in history, he stopped short of offering an apology to one of Southeast Asia’s smallest countries.
Laos became the world’s most-bombed country per capita from 1964 to 1973 as Washington launched a secret CIA-led war to cut supplies they believed were flowing to communist fighters during the war on Vietnam.
Much of the country is still littered with ordnance, including millions of cluster munition “bomblets” that maim and kill innocent people to this day.
In his speech Tuesday in the capital of Vientiane, Obama acknowledged the secret war but stopped short, as he did in Vietnam, of offering an apology for Washington’s dirty legacy.
He pledged US$90 million, a figure close to the US$100 million the United States has spent in the past 20 years on clearing its UXO in Laos, to help the country clear unexploded ordnance that has killed or injured more than 20,000 people.
“Given our history here I believe the United States has a moral obligation to help Laos heal,” Obama told a crowd of delegates, including communist party leaders, students and monks, during a speech in the capital Vientiane.
“The remnants of war continue to shatter lives here in Laos,” he said, adding many U.S. citizens were still unaware of their country’s secret carpet bombing of the country. “Over the years thousands of Laotians have been killed or injured. Farmers tending their fields, children playing. The wounds, a missing leg or arm, last a lifetime.”
UXO remains a stubborn problem in the region and experts say it could take decades to clear landmines and bombs in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, which were beset by conflicts in the 1960s and 1970s, and in Cambodia’s case, in the 1980s and 1990s too.
In the central Lao province of Xieng Khouang, the area most heavily bombed by U.S. aircraft during the war in neighboring Vietnam, there is a trail of devastation.
About 80 percent of the people of landlocked Laos rely on agriculture, but some of it is simply too dangerous to farm. Approximately a quarter of its villages are contaminated with unexploded ordnance, says the British-based Mines Advisory Group, which helps find and destroy the bombs.
The issue has long dogged relations between the United States and Laos, a cloistered and impoverished communist nation. But both sides have moved closer in recent years and Obama’s visit is being hailed as a landmark opportunity to reset ties.