76. In 1988 Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, the central character in Steven Spielberg’s 2017 film, The Post, declared to CIA staffers during a speech at the organization’s Langley Virginia headquarters that government agencies should employ the doctrine of prior restraint whenever they deem it necessary and appropriate.
We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.
Steven L. Vaughn, Encyclopedia of American Journalism, New York: Routledge, 2008, 201. Cited in Janney, Mary’s Mosaic, New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013, 269.
77. Among the most admired and telegenic US presidents in recent history, William J. Clinton was also “a CIA asset” within the Agency’s infamous Operation CHAOS, according to CIA insiders. The CHAOS program violated the organization’s own charter by surveilling thousands of American political dissidents from 1959 to 1974 on US soil. This fact was largely ignored by former DCI and incumbent George H. W. Bush as he ran against Clinton in the 1992 US presidential election, as well as by US news media throughout Clinton’s eight years in the executive branch, and to this day.“The time that Clinton was supposed to have gone to Moscow was the time when the CIA was very active recruiting American students and other students to go to Moscow,” former CIA officer Victor Marchetti observes. “Without revealing any secrets as to how I came to this conclusion, I would not be surprised to find out that Clinton was actually kind of working for the CIA.”
While successfully evading conscription during the Vietnam War, author Roger Morris argues that Clinton was a CIA informant operating within the peace movement both in the US and abroad. According to Morris, one former CIA officer recalls
going through archives of Operation CHAOS at Langley headquarters—part of an agency purge amid the looming congressional investigations of the mid-1970s—and seeing Bill Clinton listed, along with others, as a former informant who had gone on to run for or be elected to political office of some import, in Clinton’s case, attorney general of Arkansas. “He was there on the records,” the former agent said, “with a special designation.” Still another CIA source contended that part of Clinton’s arrangement as an informer had been further insurance against the draft. “He knew he was safe, you see, even if he got a lottery number not high enough and even if the ROTC thing fell through for some reason,” the source said, because the Company could get him a deferment if it had to, and it was done all the time.
Roger Morris, Partners in Power: The Clintons and Their America, New York: Henry Holt, 1996, 102-104, 234, 235.
78. Chief executive of CBS broadcasting network, William Paley, was a close acquaintance of CIA director Allen Dulles. Much like New York Times publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger, Paley made arrangements with the Agency for the network to provide cover for CIA officers. Paley’s chosen contact for the Agency was none other than Sig Mickelson—president of CBS News throughout the mid-to-late 1950s.
Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977.
79. Years before the formal inauguration of the “War on Terror” following the September 11, 2001 “terror attacks” the CIA has shaped the way news media recognized, defined and reported on “terrorism.” This continues to be accomplished via “word adaptations that will exclude state terrorists and capture only the petty terror of small groups and individuals,” classifying the latter as “international terrorism,” notes economist and media critic Edward S. Herman.
The CIA defines “international terrorism” as “’Terrorism conducted with the support of a foreign government or organization and/or directed against foreign nationals, institutions, or governments.’” Thus countries having friendly relations with the United States and its allies that perchance may be directly carrying out terrorist activities on their subject populations are removed from consideration.
“In short,” Herman observes, “if you use ‘death squads’ to kill 7,000 of your own citizens, this is ‘terrorism’ but not ‘international terrorism.’ Unless, of course, you do this with ‘the support of a foreign government.’” Throughout the Cold War the US government provided direct aid to dictatorial regimes in South America, Africa, and Asia that has dwarfed Soviet backing of independent organizations such as the Irish Republican Army or the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Yet the CIA and in turn the news media address this stark contradiction “[b]y simply assuming, without the slightest discussion, that the United States is not supporting any official terrorists—only Libya and the Soviet Union do that sort of thing; the United States only supports independent governments, protecting them against terrorists, by definition.”
Edward S. Herman, The Real Terror Network: Terrorism in Fact and Propaganda, Boston: South End Press, 1982, 21-23.
80. The CIA’s well-known MKULTRA mind control experimentation program that began in the early 1950s. Operation MKU was partly justified by the Agency and DCI Allen Dulles through a propaganda campaign using the news media to push the false notion that communist forces were carrying out similar tests on US prisoners of war.
Indeed, the term “’brainwashing’ was coined by Edward Hunter, a CIA-employed journalist who authored many emotionally-charged books and articles on the subject,” according to authors Martin Lee and Norman Solomon. During World War II Hunter worked with the Office of Strategic Services, in propaganda operations.
When he launched his crusade to bring “the facts about brainwashing … to the people,” Hunter was working for U.S. intelligence. Popularizing the concept of brainwashing was part of his job as a CIA operative, despite U.S. Army studies which”failed to reveal even one conclusively documented case of the actual ‘brainwashing’ on an American prisoner of war in Korea.” Indeed, it appears that the communist brainwashing scare was a propaganda ploy, a kind of “brainwashing” or mind control in its own right designed to dupe the American people.
Martin A. Lee and Norman Solomon, Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media, New York: Carol Publishing, 1992, 118.
81. In early 1967 free-lance journalist Fred Powledge travelled to New Orleans to report on New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison’s investigation of the JFK assassination for New Republic magazine.
In one interview with Garrison the embattled DA told of the “’tremendous pressure from some sections of the Eastern press, especially those with connections with the administration’… that was causing potentially important witnesses who had initially contacted his office to become reluctant to come forward.”
“’I couldn’t contradict that,” Powledge observed in his June 17, 1967 article.
I had known, since the assassination, that the most influential purveyors of news in the nation had gone out of their way to present the Warren Commission side of the story, and ignore or downplay those who dissented. One organ of communication, I later learned, even sought the CIA’s advice on how to treat the story about the investigation. This, if Garrison’s allegations about CIA involvement are correct, is roughly comparable to a newspaper’s asking “Bull” Connor how he would handle a story on the Birmingham Freedom Ride massacre, and then following his advice.
“The Work of Ray Marcus,” Appendix VIII, in E. Martin Schotz, History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy, Brookline MA: Kurtz, Ulmer and DeLucia Book Publishers, 1996, 252.
82. During President Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress in Latin America “[t]he CIA used an entire news organization, Copley News Service, as a cover for its agents,” according to investigative journalists Joseph Trento and David Roman.
“’The Agency’s involvement with the Copley organization is so extensive that it’s almost impossible to sort out,’” one CIA official said of the Agency’s relationship with entity. Other CIA officials confirmed that James S. Copley, the news chain’s owner, was directly involved in making cover arrangements for Copley journalists to serve as CIA assets.
In the 1950s, Trento and Roman explain, Copley personally offered his news organization to President Eisenhower to perform as “the eyes and ears” against “the Communist threat in Latin and Central America” for “our intelligence services.” James Copley was also intimately involved in the InterAmerican Press Association, a CIA-backed entity with close relations to rightwing owners of South American newspapers.
Trento and Roman were among the first journalists to elaborate on CIA infiltration of news media in a 1977 article published in Penthouse magazine, “The Spies Who Came In From the Newsroom.”
Joseph J. Trento, A Secret History of the CIA, New York: Prima Publishing/Random House, 2001.
83. Among the most extensively distributed of CIA‐owned or subsidized news services within the United States was Forum World Features, established in 1958 as Forum Information Service, with headquarters in London. Through most of its existence Forum was apparently owned by New York Herald Tribune publisher and pioneer venture capitalist John Hay Whitney.
“According to several C.I.A. sources, Mr. Whitney was ‘witting’ of the agency’s true role,” a 1977 New York Times article series documents. “Though the C.I.A. has insisted that it never attempted directly to place its propaganda in the American press, at one time Forum World Features had 30 domestic newspapers among its clients, including The Washington Post.”
The selling of Forum content to The Post “and other American newspapers, one C.I.A. official said, ‘put us in a hell of a dilemma,’ The sales, he went on, were considered necessary to preserve the organization’s cover, and they occasioned a continuing and somewhat frantic effort to insure that the domestic clients were given only legitimate news stories.”
“Worldwide Propaganda Network Built By the CIA,” New York Times, December 26, 1977.
84. Months after investigative journalist Gary Webb’s exposé “Dark Alliance” on CIA involvement in the illicit drug trade was published online by the San Jose Mercury News (August 1996) Webb’s work was judged as “’irresponsible’” by an array of newspapers, including the CIA-linked Washington Post.
“The series was now described frequently as ‘discredited,’” Webb wrote in the early 2000s, “even though nothing had surfaced showing that any of the facts were incorrect.” In fact, a two-year internal investigation into the allegations encompassed in “Dark Alliance’s” by the CIA and Justice Department found that Webb’s reporting was fittingly circumspect. “The CIA’s knowledge and involvement had been far greater than I’d ever imagined,” notes Webb.
The drug ring was even bigger than I had portrayed. The involvement between the CIA agents running the Contras and the drug traffickers was closer than I had written … The CIA also admitted having direct involvement with about four dozen other drug traffickers or their companies, and that this too had been known and effectively condoned by the CIA’s top brass.
Notwithstanding the magnitude of these admissions that might have resulted in Webb’s exoneration, they were downplayed by major news outlets as “having uncovered no formal evidence of CIA involvement in drug trafficking and no evidence of a conspiracy to send crack to black neighborhoods.” These were claims Webb had never made in the first place.
Gary Webb, “The Mighty Wurlitzer Plays On,” in Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, Kristina Borjesson (ed.) Amherst NY: Prometheus, 2002, 305-308.
85. The CIA’s Office of Policy Coordination (OPC) oversaw the Agency’s various propaganda efforts and from its formation in 1947 recruited and trained US journalists as media assets while helping to establish and maintain friendly relations with news industry executives throughout the Cold War. Among OPC Director Frank Wisner’s most favored programs was covert propaganda. The former Wall Street attorney and OSS veteran famously referred to these activities as his “Wurlitzer,” after the popular organ and jukebox manufacturer.
In an effort to conceal such activities from public view certain front groups with virtuous-sounding titles were created by US diplomats Joseph C. Grew and Dewitt C. Poole, under advisement of George Kennan and then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson. In 1949 Grew and Poole established the National Committee for a Free Europe (NCFE), with Allen Dulles elected as its first president.
In the following year the NCFE formed a subsidiary for broadcasting in Europe, Radio Free Europe (RFE), with headquarters in New York and production arm in Munich. With the assistance of Franklin A. Lindsey, a CIA representative and liaison to the British, another public face for transmitting propaganda directly into the Soviet Union was established in 1951, the American Committee for Freedom for the Peoples of the USSR; its broadcast outlet became known as Radio Liberty.
John Prados, Presidents’ Secret Wars: CIA and Pentagon Covert Operations From World War II Through the Persian Gulf, Chicago: Elephant Paperbacks, 1996, 34-35.
86. In 1991 the CIA collaborated with some of the nation’s top public relations firms to sway public opinion toward supporting military action against Iraq. Photos of alleged atrocities committed by occupying Iraqi troops accompanied testimony of “Nayirah,” later revealed as the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US, whose claims were later proven false.
“During the 1991 Gulf War,” Peter Phillips observes, “the world witnessed testimony to Congress about babies taken from incubators and left on cold hospital floors and the heartfelt please by the Kuwaitis to help liberate them from a ruthless Iraqi dictator. In truth, the CIA, using taxpayer money, funded these images, which were fabricated and disseminated by the Rendon Group, Hill and Knowlton, and other private public relations and crisis management companies.”
Peter Phillips, “Parameters of Power in the Global Dominance Group: 9/11 & Election Irregularities in Context,” in 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, eds., Northampton MA: Olive Branch Press, 2007, 182.
87. The CIA’s use of closely-affiliated executives overseeing top US journalistic outlets combined with its own media assets in newsrooms throughout the country strongly contributed to laying the groundwork for then propelling the Warren Commission’s conspiracy theory of Lee Harvey Oswald acting as the “lone gunman”.
“The press could learn a good deal about the assassination, and about its own failure to pursue the story independently, by reviewing its own initial reporting out of Dallas,” argues Jerry Policoff. “Those early reports stand in stark contrast to what is officially alleged to have transpired. The infamous ‘grass knoll,’ for example, was no concoction of the Warren Commission critics. ‘The shots apparently came from a grassy knoll in the area,’ reported the Associated Press in its initial dispatches.”
News coverage throughout that afternoon preceded official enforcement of the government-sanctioned narrative comprised in the President Lyndon Johnson-endorsed study headed by Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren.
Words of shots from the front dominated early reports from the site (witnesses interviewed by the press seemed to be nearly unanimous on this point), but these reports were forgotten by the press within several hours, as Dallas authorities began to make it clear that a local “communist” by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald had fired all of the shots from a sniper’s nest constructed on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository to the rear of the presidential limousine. Leaked biographical data depicting the “erratic” nature of the “political malcontent” Oswald began to flood the media almost immediately.
“By the time Oswald himself was assassinated,” Policoff continues, “all pretense had disappeared. The press had found Oswald guilty without the benefit of trial. ‘President’s Assassin Shot…,” proclaimed the New York Times. Life profiled the ‘Assassin: The Man Held–And Killed–For Murder.” Time’s combination biography/obituary was titled simply ‘The Man Who Killed Kennedy.’” The press’ fawning acceptance of the government’s storyline set the stage for its almost thoroughly uncritical acceptance and in certain instances ardent defense of the Warren Report’s “lone gunman” conclusion.
The Kennedy assassination cover-up has survived so long only because the press, confronted with the choice of believing what it was told or examining the facts independently, chose the former. Unless and until the press repudiates that choice, it is unlikely that we shall ever know the truth.
Jerry Policoff, “The Media and the Murder of John Kennedy,” in The Assassination: Dallas and Beyond: A Guide to Cover-Ups and Assassinations, Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch and Russell Stetler, eds., New York: Vintage Books, 1976, 263, 271.
88. In a significant April 2018 freedom of information decision in favor of government censorship Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York ruled that the CIA has full discretion to provide classified information to journalists and news organizations of its choosing while withholding the identical information from other reporters or the broader public when the same information is requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
In 2017 free lance journalist Adam Johnson filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the CIA, citing a 2012 FOIA request to the Agency by Gawker journalist John Cook for exchanges between the CIA and several prominent journalists. In many of the documents CIA produced the responses to journalists were redacted. Johnson was concerned with the preferential treatment meted out by the Agency while the same information was granted to others.
All of the journalists in question had strong rapports with the CIA and worked for corporate-controlled news media: Jo Becker and Scott Shane of the New York Times; David Ignatius of the Washington Post; Ken Dilanian and Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times; Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman of the Associated Press; and Siobhan Gorman and Evan Perez of the Wall Street Journal.
One example from Johnson’s suit cites the Wall Street Journal’s Gorman, who inquired of the CIA’s Office of Public Affairs,
I’m told that on runs, Director Petraeus’s security detail hands him bottles of water, relay-style, so as not to slow him down. And you mentioned the director’s running a 6-minute mile, but I was told that the agency-wide invitation was that if you could run a 7-minute mile, you can come run with the director. I wanted to make sure both are is [sic] accurate. On the chart, it’s accurate to say that the congressional gym and the Pentagon gym ranked high, right? And I was just told that the facilities at the black sites were better than the ones at CIA. Don’t know whether that’s something you want to weigh in on, but I thought I’d see if you did.
The CIA’s response came just hours later: “Siobhan …” The body of the response is redacted. The CIA’s closing reads, “We can chat more on Monday, hope this helps.” That’s it. The entire response was regarded as too sensitive for the FOIA requester and broader public, but permissible for Siobhan Gorman, who replied, “Thanks for the help. I hope I wasn’t the cause of your dental appointment delay. This is very helpful as I try to tie up loose ends on this story. Sometimes ‘fun’ stories take as much work as their ‘less fun’ brethren. Sorry for all the qus [sic].”
Citing the National Security Act of 1947, the CIA contended that “limited, selective disclosures of classified information to journalists are perfectly legal,” CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou observes. “The National Security Act of 1947, they said, only requires protection of intelligence sources and methods from “unauthorized” disclosure, not from authorized disclosure. And because the disclosures at issue were actually intended to protect intelligence sources and methods, they were fully authorized.”
John Kiriakou, “Why Does the CIA Prefer Corporate Media?” Reader Supported News, February 23, 2018.
89. The famous film of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination captured by amateur filmographer Abraham Zapruder was likely altered from its original with advanced technology in a CIA-owned laboratory within hours of the event. These are the observations of veteran JFK assassination researcher David S. Lifton.
“In 1971, I was permitted to study, in the L.A. offices of Time-Life, a 35mm print made from what Time-Life called the ‘camera original’ of the Zapruder film,” Lifton begins.
To my surprise, I found that those frames showed the large head wound situated toward the right front, not the rear of the head as reported by Dallas observers. The rear of the head gave the appearance of having been “blacked out”–or of having been in a deep shadow.
I also discovered splices on the film which had never been mentioned by Time-Life. I then began exploring the possibility that the Zapruder film itself had been altered sometime before it became Warren Commission evidence in 1964, perhaps even before it went to Life on November 23, 1963. (Life purchased the film on November 25, 1963 for $150,000.) But alteration of the film required a film laboratory with the sophisticated apparatus normally used by Hollywood to create “special effects.” Was the original Zapruder film at some point taken to such a laboratory? Officially, the film went only from Zapruder and Kodak in Dallas; then to Jamison Film Co. in Dallas, where three prints were made (two for the Secret Service, and one for Zapruder); then back to Zapruder, and then to the vault at Life. I suspected it had taken a secret detour, but I could find no directr evidence to prove that.
Then, in 1976, among records released by the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act, Paul Hoch found CIA item 450, a group of documents indicating the Zapruder film was at the CIA’s National Photo Interpretation Center (NPIC), possibly on Friday night, November 22, 1963, and certainly within days of the assassination. NPIC is one of the most sophisticated photo labs in the world.
The CIA documents indicate that the film, when at NPIC, was not yet numbered as it was later by the FBI laboratory. CIA tables and frame numbers arranged in a multiple-column format bearing such headings as “frames on which shots occur” and “seconds between shots” explores various three-shot interpretations of the film. One document refers to the existence of either a negative or master positive–and calls for the striking of four prints from that item: one “test print,” and a second group of three prints. the total job, it indicated, would take seven hours. the making of four prints is significant–that number is exactly what existed in Dallas: an original, and three prints made from that original.
In 1976, I interviewed Herbert Orth, the photo chief at Life. Orth believed the film never left his custody in 1963. Yet the CIA documents establish that it, or a copy, was worked on at the CIA’s film lab in Washington. Indeed, the figures used in the CIA documents to describe the time intervals between shots–“74 frames later” and “48 frames after that”–are identical with those used in the first Life article about the film (Life, 11/29/63, “End to Nagging Rumors: The Six Critical Seconds”). Was the CIA supplying Life with data? Or did the agency have the film later, and was it reading Life for its information?
In my view, previously unreported CIA possession of the Zapruder film compromised the film’s value as evidence: (1) the forward motion of Kennedy’s head, for one frame preceding frame 313, might be the result of an altered film, and if that was so, it made the theory of a forward high-angle shot completely unnecessary; (2) an altered film might also explain why the occipital area, where the Dallas doctors saw a wound, appears suspiciously dark, whereaas a large wound appears on the forward right-hand side of the head, where the Dallas doctors saw no wound at all. Dr. Paul Peters, one of the Dallas doctors quoted in this book, when ashown color blowups made from the Zapruder film frames depicting these wounds, wrote, “The wound which you marked … I never saw and I don’t htink there was such a wound. I think that was simply an artifact of copying Zapruder’s movie … The only wound I saw on President Kennedy’s head was in the occipitoparietal area on the right side.”
David S. Lifton, Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Asssassination of John F. Kennedy, New York: MacMillan, 1980, 555-557f.
90. An early edition of the December 22, 1963 Washington Post carried an editorial by former US President Harry S. Truman, titled, “U.S. Should Hold CIA to Intelligence Role.” Echoing President Kennedy’s ambivalence toward the CIA, Truman cautioned the American people that the Agency needed to be confined to its intelligence-gathering role and restricted from wanton forms of espionage.
“For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment,” Truman wrote.
It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and many have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas. We have grown up as a nation, respected for our free institutions and for our ability to maintain a free and open society. There is something about the way the CIA has been functioning that is casting a shadow over our historic position and I feel we need to correct it.
JFK assassination researcher Ray Marcus recognized the publication’s significance and questioned why Truman’s observations, appearing exactly one month after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, failed to reverberate through the US body politic.
“According to my information,” Marcus explains, “it was not carried in later [Washington Post] editions that day, nor commented on editorially, nor picked up by any other major newspaper, nor mentioned on any national radio or TV broadcast.”
Truman’s observations are likewise entirely omitted from several critically acclaimed presidential biographies. “I have no reason to believe the authors were aware of it,” notes Marcus.
Can this be accidental? Can editors of all major newspapers, magazines, and news broadcasts have really been unaware of its existence? Can such individuals looking at the Truman article really have thought, no, this is of insufficient importance or interest to reprint, editorialize on, or even mention? Such an idea seems preposterously naïve. It is much more probable that the article was consciously suppressed by deliberate inattention, at decisive points of intervention. The pertinent question is—why?
“The Work of Ray Marcus,” Appendix VIII, in E. Martin Schotz, History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy, Brookline MA: Kurtz, Ulmer and DeLucia Book Publishers, 1996, 237-238.
91. Immediately following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy the CIA used its own disinformation conduits to link the event to Cuban President Fidel Castro. The Nov. 23, 1963, special edition of the magazine, Trinchera (in English: Trenches), was published by members of the Cuban Student Directorate (DRE), a CIA-funded organization operating out of Miami.
The CIA funneled leaders of the Directorate $51,000 per month in 1963 dollars ($389,000 per month in 2013 dollars), or about $4.8 million per year, according to Agency records. Trinchera’s publication was paid for by the CIA officer George Joannides, who was chief of psychological operations at the CIA’s station in Miami.
In August 1963, agents in Joannides’s organization provided the public backdrop for their November 23 Trinchera publication by counter-protesting Oswald’s one-man chapter of the pro-Castro “Fair Play for Cuba Committee.” Trinchera’s November 23, 1963 special edition also highlighted comments Oswald made during an August 1963 debate on a New Orleans radio program with DRE Delegate Carlos Bringuier. Drawing on this, the DRE argued that Oswald and Castro were “the presumed assassins.”
Joseph Lazarro, “First JFK Assassination Conspiracy Theory Was Paid For By the CIA,” International Business Times, December 5, 2013.
92. The CIA played a leading role in orchestrating propaganda efforts in the lead up to the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion of April 17, 1960, particularly via its broadcasting front organization, Radio Swan.
“Project officers … consulted with Voice of America and the United States Information Agency on propaganda operations,” Agency internal documents reveal.
“There were many discussions with the Federal Communications Commission on the licensing of Radio Swan and with the Defense Department concerning its cover. The State Department was regularly consulted on political matters.”
As the actual Cuban invasion approached “Radio Swan and other outlets were broadcasting 18 hours a day on medium-wave and 16 hours on short-wave. Immediately after D Day, these totals were increased to 55 hours and 26 hours, respectively. Fourteen frequencies were used. By the time of the invasion a total of 12,000,000 pounds of leaflets had been dropped on Cuba.”
Peter Kornbluh (ed.), The Secret CIA Report on the Invasion of Cuba, New York: New Press, 1998, 27, 28, 38.
93. Upon its ascension to power in 1981 the Ronald Reagan-George Bush-led presidential administration faced a public relations crisis concerning its foreign policy plans for Central America. Severe human rights violations by right wing regimes there constituted an obstacle to gaining the American public’s approval to back such leadership. At the same time administration officials complained of having their hands tied with regard to domestic propaganda activities.
Thus the Reagan-Bush team established a strategy to initiate its own propaganda campaign on the US population, called “Project Truth.” This effort was later absorbed by a larger propaganda effort directed at foreign audiences, dubbed, “Project Democracy.” The individual overseeing this program was Walter Raymon Jr., a Central Intelligence Agency staffer who spent 30 years with the Agency before is assignment as a National Security Council (NSC) staffer in 1982.
This ambitious propaganda apparatus was formally established on January 14, 1983 when President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 77, titled, “Management of Public Diplomacy Relations to National Security.” Reagan asserted that public diplomacy meant “those actions of the U.S. Government designed to generate support for our national security objectives.”
Raymond was tapped to direct such “public diplomacy operations at home and abroad,” explains journalist Robert Parry. “The veteran CIA propagandist was a slight, soft-spoken New Yorker who reminded some of a character from a John leCarré spy novel, an intelligence officer who ‘easily fades into the woodwork,’ according to one acquaintance.”
In Raymond’s final post at CIA the spy worked within the Agency’s Directorate of Operations, formerly known as the Clandestine Service, “which is responsible for spying, paramilitary actions and propaganda–where his last job title was considered so revealing about the CIA’s disinformation capabilities that it remained a highly classified secret.”
In his new role Raymond went on to oversee the public diplomacy agenda of the Department of State, the United States Information Agency, the Agency for International Development, the Department of Defense, the CIA and the NSC.
“Critics would later question the assignment of a career CIA propagandist to carry out an information program that had both domestic and foreign components,” Parry writes.
After all, in CIA propaganda operations the goal is not to inform a target population, but rather to manipulate it. The trick is to achieve a specific intelligence objective, not foster a full-and-open democratic debate. In such cases, CIA tactics include disinformation to spread confusion or psychological operations to exploit cultural weaknesses. A skillful CIA operation will first carefully analyze what “themes” can work with a specific culture and then select–and if necessary distort–information that advances those “themes.” The CIA also looks for media outlets to disseminate the propaganda. Some are created; others are compromised with bribes to editors, reporters or owners.
According to one strategy paper developed under Raymond’s direction the “‘public diplomacy effort’” necessary to achieve acceptance of the Reagan-Bush policy in Central America included “‘foster[ing] a climate of editorial and public opinion that will encourage congressional support of administration policy.’” Along these lines, the news media necessitated “‘a comprehensive and responsive strategy, which would take timely advantage of favorable developments in the region, could at least neutralize the prevailing climate and perhaps, eventually overcome it.’”
Robert Parry, Secrecy and Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, Arlington VA: The Media Consortium Inc., 2004, 218-222.
94. A lengthy prosecution of teachers and owners of the Manhattan Beach California-based Virginia McMartin Preschool for allegations of sexually abusing their students dominated news headlines and broadcasts throughout the 1980s. An initial investigation involving interviews with hundreds of McMartin students by an experienced child therapist found a majority of students affirming such abuse.
Even though there was abundant evidence and blanket media coverage the defendants were acquitted in 1990 after six years of trial proceedings costing $15 million. Defendant Raymond Buckey was retried shortly thereafter and again exonerated.
The observations of students included a number of tunnels existing underneath McMartin classrooms and bathrooms connecting to external exits, through which students passed to be taken to other locations where they attended and partook in occult rituals. Following the McMartin students’ allegations reports of similar abuse began to emerge at preschools throughout the US.
Despite more-than-ample evidence gathered by prosecutors supporting the allegations the defense attorneys eventually turned the tables and put the children and their families on trial, arguing that anxious parents and the appointed child therapist used “leading questions” to instill and capture children’s “false memories” that contributed to unreliable if not wholly erroneous testimony.
Several nationally-recognized psychologists, journalists and news outlets took this cue to label the students’ claims as groundless and absurd, and condemned the parents of creating a “Satanic panic” out of their children’s fertile imaginations. It was further contended by the defense and its supporters that ritual abuse of children was not a genuine social phenomenon. The McMartin defendants’ storyline explaining away the accusations has been echoed in recent years by such CIA-linked news outlets as the august New York Times (hereand here.
“The hysteria thesis, promoted by a small group of pedophile defense psychologists, mostly, has appeared in publications of stature including the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Harper’s, New Yorker and Newsweek,” notes author Alex Constantine, who contends that CIA infiltration of news media played a key role in mitigating public belief and concern over McMartin and similar events involving such potential ritual abuse.
Media boosters of the defense neglect to acknowledge the most damning evidence in the McMartin case. Instead, they explain away superficial, carefully sifted pieces of the case. In preparation for the trial, 380 toddlers were interviewed–nearly all of them described abuse at the preschool, and do to this day. Some 80 percent had physical symptoms, including blunt force trauma of sexual areas, scarring, rectal bleeding and sexual diseases …
Ritual abuse “skeptics” with CIA connections are covering up the latest phase in Agency-sponsored mind control experimentation. For thirty years Agency scientists have collaborated with cults (many of them founded by the government) to conceal the development of mind control technology. Jim Jones and the People’s Temple were one product of the alliance. McMartin was another. Both episodes have been buried in disinformation. The campaign to mislead the public about ritual abuse is ambitious, rivaling the campaign to conceal facts in the murder of John F. Kennedy.
In 1993, as the second trial of Raymond Buckey proceeded, McMartin parents and former FBI officer Ted Gunderson oversaw an excavation of the McMartin School grounds conducted by a team of geologists and archaeologists from LA area universities accompanied by a professional photographer and carbon-dating specialist. After several weeks the group discovered and carefully documented the very tunnels described in the toddler-students’ numerous testimonies, in addition to various occult objects. The prosecutor in Buckey’s second trial appeared at the excavation site refused to acknowledge this crucial find.
“Until the tunnels were found,” notes Constantine,
the L.A. Times covered the dig–with a smirk. The parents and scientists involved were portrayed as crack pots until the existence of the tunnels was substantiated by experts, at which time the newspaper abruptly stopped reporting the story. The public was left with the false impression that the search had failed.
Alex Constantine, Psychic Dictatorship in the USA, Los Angeles: Feral House, 1995, 77, 81, 84.
95. The famous Senate committee led by Idaho Senator Frank Church tasked to review the CIA’s internal affairs and relationships with mass media was in fact overseen by former CIA officer and Ford Foundation staffer William B. Bader. Bader proceeded to effectively censor a multitude of the committee’s most damning revelations concerning Agency-media liaisons. After his service in this regard he became an upper-echelon intelligence official at the Department of Defense and chief of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Later in his career Bader was appointed by President Clinton to be Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
Bader’s assistant in the Senate committee investigation was David Aaron, who previously served in Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council and went on to become a career diplomat after being deputy to President Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. In the 1990s Aaron was appointed ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development by Clinton.
One CIA official who sought to convince committee members that the Agency’s relationship with journalists was insignificant argued that the files under examination were “filled with puffing’ by case officers,” according to investigative reporter Carl Bernstein.
“You can’t establish what is puff and what isn’t,” he claimed. Many reporters, he added, “were recruited for finite [specific] undertakings and would be appalled to find that they were listed [in Agency files] as CIA operatives.”
The same CIA officer suggested that these files included descriptions of several “‘famous’” reporters and correspondents. “The files show,’” according to this official, “‘that the CIA goes to the press for and just as often that the press comes to the CIA …There is a tacit agreement in many of these cases that there is going to be a quid pro quo’” which means the reporter in question can expect to receive important stories and information from the Agency and in exchange the CIA will obtain helpful services from the reporter.
The upshot was that the Senate committee’s inquest on the Agency’s use of journalists were purposefully suppressed “from the full membership of the committee, from the Senate and from the public,” Bernstein notes.
“There was a difference of opinion on how to treat the subject,” explained one source. “Some [senators] thought these were abuses which should be exorcized and there were those who said, ‘We don’t know if this is bad or not.’”
In fact, former CIA officer Bader’s findings on the CIA’s relationship with the media were withheld froth committee, even behind closed doors in executive session because the senators were afraid that, “[a]t the slightest sign of a leak the CIA might cut off the flow of sensitive information as it did, several times in other areas), claiming that the committee could not be trusted with secrets.” As one committee staff member pointed out, “’It was as if we were on trial—not the CIA.’”
To describe in the committee’s final report the true dimensions of the Agency’s use of journalists would cause a furor in the press and on the Senate floor. And it would result in heavy pressure on the CIA to end its use of journalists altogether. “We just weren’t ready to take that step,” said a senator.
The committee also decided “to conceal the results of the staff’s inquiry into the use of academics,” and Bader himself wrote those portions of the committee’s final report. Pages 191 to 201 of that document were entitled, “Covert Relationships with the United States Media.” “’It hardly reflects what we found,’” Senator Gary Hart stated. “’There was a prolonged and elaborate negotiation [with the CIA] over what would be said.’”
Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone, October 20, 1977.
96. Douglas Valentine has critiqued the progressive-left’s uncritical stance toward public luminaries, such as longtime CIA operative Daniel Ellseberg, or the functioning deity of American liberals, the New York Times itself. According to Valentine, political progressives demonstrate crucial blindspots in their adoration of such figures and institutions. Works and authors that shed light on the contradictory nature of this adoration are either ignored or derogated by what CIA official Cord Meyer termed “the Compatible Left,” notes Valentine.
but because it identified the media, and the Times in particular, as the reason why the public can’t see the CIA clearly for what it is: a criminal conspiracy on behalf of wealthy capitalists.
I had also noted that the release of the Pentagon Papers distracted attention from Congressional hearings into Phoenix. In subsequent books I added that it distracted attention from reports on CIA drug trafficking as well.
Indeed, Valentine argues that he was effectively “neutralize[d]” by CIA media assets, and even his allies responded in chorus that he’d “crossed the line and would never get another book published in the United States. So I learned the hard way,” he continues, “that the CIA has a strategic intelligence network of management level people in the information industry who know, through instruments like the Times Book Review section, what books and authors to marginalize.”
Valentine explains how author Peter Dale Scott was similarly marginalized as a result of his landmark books, The War Conspiracy(1972) and Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993). “Peter supported me,” Valentine recalls,
and a few years after the Phoenix book was published, I mentioned to him that I was writing an article based on my interviews with [CIA officers Frank] Scotton and [Lucien] Conein, about Ellseberg’s deep state political association with the CIA. Peter is Ellsberg’s friend, and even though the article had the potential to embarrass Ellsberg, he arranged for me to interview him. Peter gave me Ellsberg’s number and I called at a pre-arranged time. And the first thing Ellsberg said to me was, “You can’t possibly understand me because you’re not a celebrity.”
Debord cites the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, who famously said: “But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence… illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.”
When Ellsberg told me he was a celebrity, he was saying that he underwent a symbolic transformation the moment he leaked the Pentagon Papers, and landed in a social realm that alienated him from non-celebrities like me. He became an icon, and nobody on the left is about to say, “Oh, my god! Valentine had this revelation about Ellsberg. Let’s rethink everything we believe is true.”
Like its doppelgängers on the right, the management class on the left is invested in celebrity heroes who represent their business interests. they focus on the symbol and ignore any contradictory but essential facts, the way [journalists Glenn] Greenwald and [Jeremy] Scahill] ignore Pierre Omidyar’s funding of the Center for the United Action in Kiev, which was a Phoenix-style coordination center for covert political action.
Douglas Valentine, “How William Colby Gave Me the Keys to the CIA Kingdom (based on interview with James Tracy),” in The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World, Atlanta GA: Clarity Press, 2017, 31-32.
97. Life magazine and its publisher, C.D. Jackson, played major roles in the coverup of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963 assassination. This began with the publication’s purchase and censoring of the amateur film of the assassination captured by Abraham Zapruder, and the wholesale manufacture of Marina Oswald’s story that eventually appeared in the pages of Life.
A longtime associate of the CIA and Dulles specifically, Jackson had arranged for CIA agents to use Time-Life reporter credentials as cover during the 1950s. Upon news of Kennedy’s assassination, Lifesent Richard Billings “to coordinate the hyperactive Life team in Dallas that swiftly bought up the Zapruder film and the rights to Marina’s story,” observes longtime political researcher Peter Dale Scott. “A principal in both preemptive purchases (the Zapruder film was never publicly screened, as long as life had exclusive ownership of it) was Billing’s relative-in-law C.D. Jackson, a veteran of CIA propaganda activities with [Director of Central Intelligence] Dulles.”
Jackson also proved central “[i]n an arrangement covered up by Warren Commission testimony,” Scott notes.
Jackson and Life arranged, at the urging of Dulles, to have Marina’s story ghost-written for Life by Issac Don Levine, a veteran CIA publicist. In 1953, when Jackson was Eisenhower’s special assistant for psychological warfare, the Jackson-Dulles-Levine team had collaborated on the U.S.-CIA psychological warfare response to the death of Stalin.
Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993, 55, 117.
98. The creation of the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1947 National Security Act constituted in several important ways the bond between the financial, “defense,” and scientific-technological industries. Over the next half century these seemingly disparate areas of corporate activity developed to where they became part of the Western citizen’s everyday existence. The introduction of spy craft in this way is evident in, for example, the company that owns the world’s most well-known internet search engine.
As social historian Darrell Hamamoto asserts, “The rise of IT conurbations known as ‘Route 28’ and ‘Silicon Valley’ are extensions of the corporatist national security state rather than expressions of capitalist entrepreneurial genius alone.” The American precursors and advocates for a civilian intelligence network that would be the basis of “the American shadow government,” such as Allen Dulles and OSS Director William J. Donovan, were also employed at Wall Street’s most prominent law firms.
“The relationship between spy-craft, high finance, and IT,” Hamamoto observes, “was to reach its logical endpoint by the formation during the late 1990s of IN-Q-TEL, as the financial investment arm of the CIA.” IN-Q-TEL has funded a wide array of well-known social media platforms capable of aggregating user data, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google. “Appropriately enough,” Hamamoto continues,
the first head of IN-Q-TEL was a Chinese American video game expert named Gilman Louie. Under his visionary leadership, Louie developed a civilian surveillance technology that today is in wide use: Google Earth. He resigned from the top spot at IN-Q-TEL not long after his appointment to become a full-time venture capitalist under his own banner as the story goes. It is more likely that Louie has been “sheep-dipped” and functions in the guise of a civilian entrepreneur while remaining close to government intelligence-IT entities.
Darrell Y. Hamamoto, Servitors of Empire: Studies in the Dark Side of Asian America, Walterville OR: TrineDay, 2014, 81, 82.
99. The CIA used a mind-controlled assassin to kill the most politically-outspoken recording artist in modern music history. This is the claim of attorney and UK legal reporter Fenton Bresler, who spent eight years investigating the December 8, 1980 murder of John Lennon by Mark David Chapman.
At the time of his death Lennon was poised to secure US citizenship and in the process of launching a comeback with chart-topping albums. At the same time the former Beatle’s political views were at sharp variance with the election of Republican Ronald Reagan to the US presidency that took place one month before Lennon’s assassination.
Bresler argues in his 1989 book Who Killed John Lennon? that the CIA oversaw Lennon’s murder by collaborating with Atlanta police intelligence to train Chapman as the assassin. Author Phil Strongman reached a similar conclusion after his detailed study of Lennon’s death. Atlanta police officer Dana Reeves was Chapman’s handler, “guid[ing] Chapman through his path of becoming a drugged and hypnotized CIA tool, in the way other investigators believed had been done with Robert Kennedy’s assassin, Sirhan Sirhan,” according to historian John L. Potash.
Dana Reeves was working as a Dekalb County sheriff’s officer in the Atlanta area, where he developed a close relationship and extreme control over Chapman by the time he was nineteen years old. Chapman’s parents feared Reeve’s involvement with their son, and said the police officer changed their son’s personality. For example, the parents and others described Chapman as anti-gun throughout his teens, but Reeves turned Chapman on to guns, training him to be a very competent shooter. Chapman had worked at a regular YMCA summer camp in Atlanta. In 1975, Chapman applied for exotic positions in YMCA’s abroad program, first unsuccessfully in the Soviet Union, despite not speaking Russian, and then working in Beirut, Lebanon in June 1975.
Reportedly a hotbed of CIA-backed terrorist activity in the mid-1970s, Chapman was “blooded” (desensitized to violence) in Beirut before returning to the US to work as an armed security guard. In early 1977 he moved to Hawaii where he was eventually treated for clinical depression at Castle Memorial Hospital., a Seventh Day Adventist institution. Bresler argues that at Castle Memorial and several other locations Chapman underwent “CIA-developed behavior modification” as he was honed as a mind-controlled assassin.
In the remaining period leading up to late 1980 Chapman, who continued employment as a security guard, allegedly received a loan from Castle Memorial to tour the world, visiting a dozen countries where he sometimes lodged at luxurious hotels Such an excursion would have been difficult on his modest security guard salary.
After Chapman shot Lennon with a .38 caliber revolver at the entrance of the musician’s residence on the night of December 8, 1980, instead of fleeing the scene the assailant calmly took out a copy of J.D. Salinger’s A Catcher in the Rye and waited for law enforcement to arrive.
Lieutenant Arthur O’Connor, a police officer who oversaw the murder investigation, informed Bresler “that someone could have programmed Chapman for the murder of Lennon. ‘I studied him intensely,’” O’Connor said.
“[Chapman] looked like he could have been programmed, and I know what you are going to make of that word! that was the way he looked and that was the way he talked.” He was the second police officer to make that assessment. After Chapman was arrested for killing Lennon, his bizarre behavior was never checked with a drug test.
John L. Potash, Drugs as Weapons Against Us: The CIA’s Murderous Targeting of SDS, Panthers, Hendrix, Lennon, Cobain, Tupac, and Other Activists, Walterville OR: 2015, 208-213.
100. In 1959 New York Times publisher Carl Sulzberger allowed for then-Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles to place 12 CIA agents at the Times where they secretively functioned on the newspaper’s editorial or reportorial staffs. According to author and attorney William Pepper “those 12 slots have probably been rotated right to the present day. They are agents who will deal with the most sensitive matters.”
Pepper was a personal friend of of Martin Luther King Jr. and in 1999 represented his family in posthumous court proceedings concerning his assassination that ultimately exonerated James Earl Ray, who according to the US government and corporate media narrative was King’s assassin, and identified US government agencies as the principal operatives in the April 4, 1968 murder.
Mass media are central to perpetuating such “lone gunman” myths. “When we had the trial, the media was present when Coretta King took the stand, or any member of the King family took the stand,” Pepper recalls. “But then they were absent for the evidence. They walked out under instructions.”
One cannot dispute the fact that since the 1950s major US news media outlets have seldom wavered from advocating official explanations of complex events while suppressing the countervailing arguments and evidence of independent researchers.
It’s not only those critical assassinations … of King, or [John] Kennedy or Malcolm [X] or Robert Kennedy in the 1960s. But it’s anything that will shake the core or credibility in the institutions and agencies of the American government and how they actually function.
Pepper states that the 1999 King trial was of particular significance, and that while the Court TV was set to televise the event, the cable channel pulled out at the last minute.
(Discussion begins at 41:45)
“I have been blacklisted by the New York Times forever,” Pepper concludes.
They won’t use my name [and] they didn’t use my name in virtually anything. I think they slipped once in one report of the 1999 trial they had to do. They quoted a witness, and the witness said, “Well, Mr. Pepper showed us …” They were quoting him and they put that in. But other than that I may be recognized as “the attorney for the King family” but never named, and I am not to be named in that newspaper. It’s as simple as that. I’ve had to live with this, as have many other progressive journalists in areas of very delicate strategic issues. They don’t want this out, and they won’t allow it out. That’s the basis of corporate control over the media.