Tag Archives: The CIA and the Media

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #100

In 1959 New York Times publisher Arthur Hays 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.

 

0

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.

 

 

0

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.

0

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.

0

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #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 Raymond Jr., a Central Intelligence Agency staffer who spent 30 years with the Agency before his 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.”

CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist Walter Raymond Jr. Raymond is partially obscured by President Reagan. To his right is National Security Adviser John Poindexter. (Via ConsortiumNews. Image credit: Reagan presidential library.)

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.

 

0

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #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.

0

The CIA and the Media: Historical Fact #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.

0