Category Archives: The CIA and the Media

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #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.

 

 

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #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.

IN-Q-TEL founding CEO Gilman Louie. Image Credit: Aspen Institute

“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.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #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, Life sent 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.

 

 

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #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.

Upon The Phoenix Program‘s publication in 1990 “the word went out to ignore the book, not just because it revealed CIA secrets,” observes 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.

CIA Operative and Progressive-Left Darling, Daniel Ellsberg. Image Credit: Huffington Post

If you want to understand the critical role celebrities play in determining what society accepts as real and valuable, read Guy Debord’s books The Society of the Spectacle and its sequel, Comments. Debord explains the symbolic role celebrities play (at times inadvertently) in maintaining the illusions we confuse with reality.

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.

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The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #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.

Former CIA official and Senate Committee censor William B. Bader

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.

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