Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Exploring Obama’s Ownership of Massive Economic Problems

By persistent obstructionism and using endless false information, the GOP pulled off some big wins in the 2009 elections. Worse still, they have been able to convince people that Obama has handled the economy badly. The YouGov poll shows that 47% disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, while 43% approve. The biggest problem is that the independents who supported Obama are deserting in big numbers. One reason for this is that unemployment is getting worse, and is now at 10.2%, somewhere around 17% when we take into account all the gimmicks that are employed to keep the figure artificially low. We think that it will be 9.5% next November, around 15% in real terms. That does not bode well for the Democrats in next year’s elections.

Republican politicians and pundits as well as mainstream media types repeatedly say that President Barack Obama now “owns” the bad economy. Likewise, they say that he “owns” the grim situation in Afghanistan. The fact is that both are the result of eight years of Republican bungling. Despite our long-time national faith that progress is inevitable and to be expected to occur quickly, the fact is that we are now looking at some intractable problems.

The more astute Republican spokesmen concede that the downturn began under Bush but insist that Obama should not have sought the presidency if we was unable to administer a quick fix. That they are justified in blaming Obama for lost jobs and the slow recovery. Their false assumption is that all recessions are the same and can be fixed easily.
John Boehner, the typical Republican spokesman, continually asks “Where are the jobs?” thought there has not been enough time for Obama’s policies to work. Then he says that all the stimulus money has been spent and has accomplished nothing. The fact is that $500 billion still has not been committed and much of the remainder is just getting into the pipeline. Republicans have vastly inflated the amount of debt incurred under Obama. The amount of the Stimulus was $787 billion, but the Republicans have been saying it was $ 1 or 2 trillion and no one corrects them.

Obama’s policies saved us from another depression. Yet he is being blamed for not working miracles. He inherited the worst sort of recession---one with very high unemployment , which is followed by very slow recovery of jobs. The financial system he inherited is a basket case,, and it will take years to fix it.

Republican politicians and pundits as well as mainstream media types repeatedly say that President Barack Obama now “owns” the bad economy. Likewise, they say that he “owns” the grim situation in Afghanistan. The fact is that both are the result of eight years of Republican bungling. Despite our long-time national faith that progress is inevitable and to be expected to occur quickly, the fact is that we are now looking at some intractable problems.

The more astute Republican spokesmen concede that the downturn began under Bush but insist that Obama should not have sought the presidency if we was unable to administer a quick fix. That they are justified in blaming Obama for lost jobs and the slow recovery. Their false assumption is that all recessions are the same and can be fixed easily.
John Boehner, the typical Republican spokesman, continually asks “Where are the jobs?” thought there has not been enough time for Obama’s policies to work. Then he says that all the stimulus money has been spent and has accomplished nothing. The fact is that $500 billion still has not been committed and much of the remainder is just getting into the pipeline. Republicans have vastly inflated the amount of debt incurred under Obama. The amount of the Stimulus was $787 billion, but the Republicans have been saying it was $ 1 or 2 trillion and no one corrects them.
Only in the United States, among advanced countries, would a president and his party be punished for heading off a depression and not producing a impossible economic miracle. That is because the level of our political discourse is so low, our voters so uninformed, and our MSM so unprofessional.
No wonder the GOP chants “Where are the jobs?” and complains that Democrats are playing dirty pool by blaming Bush and the Republicans for the terrible problems they created.

Democrats must take a cue from the “Obama owns it” argument to start educating the public in basic economics. The main line should be that the Republicans offer no plan other than tax cuts for the wealthy. We have a plan, and it is beginning to work. It may not create jobs as quickly as we want because the problems are rooted in a system the GOP created and defended. Obama inherited an economic and financial system the GOP created to benefit powerful interests and shift wealth to people in the top 5%. They must hammer away at the fact that the ordinary guy has not had an improvement in real wages in twenty years because of Republican policy. Yes, some Democrats helped them along, but those folks are now becoming contrite. We need proposals for reforming our economy and economic system to make them serve ordinary people. Banks should be prohibited from gambling with our savings. Insurance companies gambled away reserves built on the premiums we paid. Then they got state insurance commissions to grant huge increases in premiums that should be fixed. We need a plan to gradually carve up the banks that are too big to fail.

Susan Jacoby noted that it was not the secrecy surrounding the Clinton health care plan that accounted for its demise. Rather, the Democrats had failed to prepare and educate voters on what the Clinton plan would involve. They should have anticipated simplistic Republican complaints and lies and used facts to help voters see through Republican appeals to emotions and fear. With little good information at their disposal, many average Americans believed the Harry and Louise claims against Clinton care. Now people are believing the wild claims about “socialism,” losing their liberties, and Democrats ruining the economy because they have almost no conceptual framework with which to view the economy. If Democrats do not start educating the public about economic matters, the GOP, with the help of the media, will spin these situations in such a way that many voters will conclude that President Barack Obama created the bad economy and Afghan War.

If Republicans can blame economic problems on Democratic spending, they will have a leg up in their efforts to launch another attack on entitlements. By next year, our debt will be larger and could be a major political issue. Democrats need to explain how it got so large and to tie some of it to recent military adventures. There are signs that the Obama administration is open to reform” as a means of reigning in debt. That term has the same meaning as the IMF’s favorite term, “structural adjustment,” which means making the little guy pay for the mistakes of others farther up the food chain. We may have to swallow some entitlement reduction, but it should not take place without an end to the Bush tax cuts and the institution of excess profits taxes on the energy industry and on any firm’s transactions in hedge funds and derivatives.

It’s a tall order, but if Democrats do not begin to educate voters now, they could lose control of the House of Representatives next year. It will be hard to get people to think seriously about the economy and stop thinking about it in child-like terms. But more people are hurting now, and they may be ready for a little meat rather than economic pablum. The object should be to staunch the erosion of public support and regain some among people willing to think a bit.
Democrats will need to learn a few things about message control and to draw upon the expertise of people in cognitive science like George Lakoff. If Democrats cannot seize the initiative in the national discourse, we could well see a president Sarah Palin and a cabinet stuffed with tea baggers like Dick Armey in 2013.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

An Afghan Quagmire in the Making : Considering the Options

We are mourning the loss of eight American soldiers who died in a day-long battle near the Pakistan border. They were killed by a well armed force that dwarfed them in size. Their mission was to try to stem the flow of Pakistani Taliban fighters over the border to join their allies in the Afghan Taliban. Indeed, a number of the fighters were Pakistani Taliban expelled from the Swat Valley by Pakistan’s army.

The guerilla force that confronted the Americans numbered about 300. In Iraq, the guerilla forces seldom exceeded 30, with the possible exception of the fighting in Falluhah.

Now we are facing the decision of whether to send in many more troops to continue a policy of nation-building and providing population security. The situation in Afghanistan is enormously complex, and there clearly is no easy resolution or way out.

Lieutenant General Stanley McCrystal has warned Washington that we are losing in our battle against the Taliban and other insurgents in Afghanistan. He has called for an additional 10,000 to 40,000 troops, and he has the backing of his very popular boss, General David Petraeus. There is a parallel to the “clear and hold” strategy employed in Vietnam, but McCrystal would be more careful with firepower and more interested in economic development.

During the campaign, Barack Obama sought to show that he was strong on national security by saying that Afghanistan was the necessary war. Now those remarks are haunting him as he ponders the sad history of foreign involvements in Afghanistan and our unpromising situation there now. Much of latter was due to the policies of the Bush Administration, but voters have short memories, and Obama will pay for lack of success in Afghanistan. Not long ago, Obama once referred the Afghanistan effort as “a necessary war,” but he has not repeated that term. Necessary wars involve out nation’s vital interests. No vital interests are involved in Afghanistan, so this is a “war of choice.”

The fact is that preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan represent massive distortions of American foreign policy. Our main concerns are elsewhere. Obama needs to help our people regain a sense of perspective.

For the moment, Obama is taking time to reconsider our objectives in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has become a NATO mission, and our president would be well advised to invite NATO to join in these deliberations. Otherwise, it will appear that we are continuing the Bush policy of dictating to others. Obama was selected for the Nobel Prize in part because he turned away from unilateralism and opted for engaging our allies and others. France, Germany, and Great Britain have asked for an international conference to discuss how NATO forces can be phased out in Afghanistan. In view of the growing sentiment in Europe against the Afghanistan operation, it would be wise to learn how much support we could count on if we ramp up the effort to provide population security. Already some writers fear that extended involvement in Afghanistan could be the rock on which the NATO vessel breaks. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has endorsed Obama’s decision to review the policy and has said that it is more important to get the right strategy than to rely on putting in more troops.

Biden’s Approach

Vice President Joseph Biden, after much study and two unpleasant meetings with Hamid Karzai, has concluded that the current regime in Afghanistan will not be a reliable partner for an effort to establish security for the population in Afghanistan. Until recently, National Security Advisor James L. Jones appeared to agree. Biden’s view is that the US needs to focus less on Afghanistan and more on Pakistan, where Al Qaeda is and where instability makes that nation’s nuclear weapons a potential problem.

Biden suggests ramping down the counter-insurgency effort and focusing on damaging Al Qaeda, partly through Predators and air power. Spies and Special Forces and other black ops would also be involved. The US will be able to continue its drone air strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, but it is doubtful that Pakistan can permit the US to bomb Taliban sites in Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province. We can be of greter help to the Pakistanis as they are finally going against their own Taliban. At the moment, they are preparing an offensive in Waziristan.

Of course, the US will need enough stability in some parts of Afghanistan so they can be used as bases to launch all manner of assaults against Al Qaeda. In the long run, it is doubtful that we can put Al Qaeda out of business, but we should make it out top priority inflicting as much damage as possible.

There are signs that some of the insurgents are amenable to negotiations, and it is possible that money and diplomacy could accomplish with them what more troops may not. There are now pilot efforts to negotiate with and build up the forces of some warlords. In some ways this more parallels what the surge was all about in Iraq than manipulating the number of troops on the ground.

Of course, the Biden plan would not stop the training and recruitment of Afghan soldiers and police. It should include giving the army better equipment. Much more attention must be given to rapidly enlarging and retraining the Afghan military. At this point, it has a 24% defection rate. Soldiers even take weapons home and sometimes continue to receive pay. Much needs to be done building a centralized police force. The fact that Taliban fighters could get attack the Indian Embassy in Kabul underscores the dimensions of this problem.

In the last analysis, preventing a Taliban victory in Afghanistan is out of our hands. It depends upon what the people think of the Karzai regime and the extent to which the Afghan police and army can be effective.

Should the Al Qaeda reenter Afghanistan, we would have no choice but to resume round-the-clock carpet bombing of areas where they establish bases. Taliban leaders remember the bombing and realize that it would be repeated should they assist Al Qaeda establish camps and bases in their country.

Republicans Demand Escalation of the Afghanistan War

With the remarkable exception of George Will, Republicans back the former Special Forces commander. They stand to gain no matter what Obama does in Afghanistan. If more troops are sent, and there is still failure of stalemate, they still win big time. Few will remember that John McCain and others beat the drums for more troops and a long war.

A common argument is that any backing away from an all-out effort will give Al Qaeda new energy and attract more recruits to their standard. In truth, American policy in Iraq and our tactics in Afghanistan, which harmed many civilians, were responsible for recruiting people for the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Sami Yousafzai’s interviews of Taliban people in the current Newsweek demonstrates how Bush Administration tactics alienated many and strengthened the Taliban. It is unlikely that the salutary change in course under General McCrystal can reverse the damage. Moreover, his turn toward the exercise of soft power -- economic and social development-- is all to the good, but this policy will require more time than we have. It can be recalled that it took John Paul Vann many years to work economic and social miracles in the Mekong Delta.

We frequently hear that anything less than a ramped up war in Afghanistan will damage U.S. credibility abroad. There may be some truth to this. Certainly other nations will not doubt that we have the ability to go anywhere and bring about massive destruction when we do not get our way. The real question should be “Does our national interest require expenditure of a great deal of blood and treasure in Afghanistan? “

A similarly weak argument is that we must prevent Afghanistan from becoming a failed state so that Al Qaeda will not use it as a base of operations. This wrongly assumes that there are no other failed states Al Qaeda can use as a base. Moreover, the terrorist organization appears to be unhampered in its operations in Pakistan. As General Jones has admitted, there is no reason why the Taliban would want to leave. He claims there are less than 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Republicans could argue that the long term morale of our armed forces could be adversely effected if we did not escalate and then “win” in Afghanistan. The Vietnam War was devastating, and it took a long time for our military to restore its spirits. Right now, the military seems to be thinking in terms of “winning” and “loosing.” Its leadership should be educating our forces to think in terms of accomplishing limited goals.

Republican columnist Michael Gerson eschews the most simplistic arguments and admits the complexity of the situation in Afghanistan. Still, he senses that Obama is in a no-win situation. Gerson redefines the civilian-military relationship a bit by insisting that suggesting that tradition demands that Obama select his best general and get out of the way. He even mentions Harry S. Truman in this respect, though the use of that precedent can be debated. In the end, Abraham Lincoln accepted U.S. Grant’s meatgrinder approach, but he had been involved in many military decisions throughout the war. Another way to look at this is to recall that Lincoln bucked the popular George Mc Clellan and that Truman sacked th4e very popular Douglas Mc Arthur.

One can only wonder if any of the critics are concerned that the US be in a position to construct the long-desired twin pipelines down through Afghanistan to carry Caspian gas and oil to Pakistan and , by ship , to India. This was the object of a great deal of diplomacy before 9/11, and the Bush administration even resorted to the threat of bombings. The pipelines are in our national interest but it is doubtful if soldiers should lose their lives to get them.

Another Surge?

Those who insist that Obama bow to Petraeus and McCrystal is that they think that copying the surge strategy in Afghanistan will work. The surge worked best in the urban areas of Iraq, and there are few urban areas in Afghanistan. The surge also worked in Iraq because the United States literally bought off its enemies, paying large amounts to tribal leaders and monthly stipends to their armed retainers. Only Bob Woodward has openly discussed another reason why the surge worked. Special Forces in Iraq, under McCrystal, carried out something like the Vietnam War’s Operation Phoenix and eliminated thousands of the insurgent cadre.

Repeating some version of Phoenix in Afghanistan does not require a huge increase in American forces there. Over seven years, we have spent $38 billion in Afghanistan, with few discernable positive results. Perhaps more of the money sent there should be used to buy off warlords and put their troops on retainer. Its worth a try.

Should We Bet on Karzai?

We still come down to whether a large new commitment in human lives, money, and American prestige should be made in Afghanistan. Many Afghans believe that the present regime is hopelessly corrupt. The recent rigged election of August 20 is one indication of how weak the Karzai regime is. The UN found that one third of the votes cast for Karzai were fraudulent. The resultant acrimony has been so great that it is unrealistic to believe that Afghans can be unified around Karzai—no matter how many troops we send there. Karzai has not bothered to denounce those who rigged the election on his behalf. His reliance upon war lords and human rights abusers is not likely to win new grassroots supporters. Of course, policy makers recall that in Vietnam the elimination of the corrupt Ngo Dinh Diem resulted in even worse leaders.

The idea that we can, using soft power, somehow win over large numbers of Karzai opponents to support him is fanciful. The counter insurgency strategy has been based upon the idea that we could eventually build a large and effective Afghan army and matching police force. The Afghan army stands at 94,000 and has had a little success in the north. It will take two years to increase it to 134,000. That is still far short of the 300 or 400 thousand that are needed. Who can remember that there were 91,000 when George W. Bush began to rebuild the army. A rational person would look at these figures and conclude that Bush either the Republican administration had done poorly or it was unrealistic to expect rapid growth of that force. Our problems began when the Bushies somehow bungled the effort to nab Osama and then pulled out our most effective people so they could begin their adventure in Iraq. Any way you look at US policy there under Bush, it is impossible to conclude that anything was accomplished. Obama inherited a ticking time bomb but don’t look to any Republican politician or publicist to mention this. The truth is that it could be too late to do much there.

There is also the lesson of Vietnam, where we did build a large, well-equipped ARVIN force that was ineffective and heavily infiltrated by the enemy. There were also many “potted plants,” units that existed on paper but not in reality.

Unless Karzai abandons brutality and corrupt practices overnight and becomes a Boy Scout, the prospects of bringing much stability to Afghanistan are slim. The man is a Pashtun and that should have helped him with the nation’s largest ethnic group. Instead, the Taliban, also largely Pashtun, have been able to play on Pashtun nationalism to enlist support.

Effectively ending with Taliban jihadism may be beyond our ability. The Afghan Taliban practices jihad but only locally. They are only a threat to the United States unless they could again provide Al Qaeda with a base of operations. However, there is no reason for Al Qaeda to leave the Waziristan area of Pakistan, where they have the run of things and even have located families there. Though the Taliban previously sheltered Al Qaeda, many Taliban are not warm friends of the Arab-led terrorists, and it is possible that clever intelligence people could drive a wedge between them. It should also be remembered that many who call themselves Taliban in Afghanistan are simply insurgents capitalizing on that name. Many of them can be bought off.

The Pakis Will Play a Double Game

Pakistan will continue playing a double game—doing enough to get aid while keeping the Afghan Taliban alive. The best we can do is induce them to do more for us. Our primary goal there is to foster enough stability in Pakistan to keep the jihadists from getting their hands on the nation’s nuclear assets. That is no small job.

The Pakistani Army, though secular, long ago resorted to sponsoring Islamic jihadism as a means of countering Indian power. They built jihadist movements to threaten India in destabilizing Kashmir. In time, a jihadist opposition emerged in Pakistan itself, and the army officer corps now must deal with the fact that religious fanaticism has infected more than a few junior officers. Because Pakistan needs to have a strong influence in Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence, the ISI, with the help of the United States, in the late 1970s and eighties, nurtured jihadism in Afghanistan. Many in Pakistan’s ISI—once closely tied to the CIA-- are not inclined to do anything to injure the Afghanistan Taliban, and they believe that United States will not be in Afghanistan indefinitely.

The only vital interest we have in the region is preventing the destabilization of Pakistan.
In part, that is because they have nuclear weapons. We would not want those weapons or that technology to fall into the hands of terrorists. There is little we can do directly to improve the situation in Pakistan. Until a month ago, we were spending 33 times as much in Afghanistan as in Pakistan. We have recently tripled what we spend in Pakistan, but more must be done. How we do it is ticklish. The Pakistan military loudly objected to the wording of our recent aid bill because it set performance standards for receiving installments of aid. Recently, five Taliban fighters entered the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, killed some soldiers, and held 22 people as hostages. Until recently, the Taliban controlled the Swat Valley, an important district.

Unless Pakistan can be induced to stop its help of the Afghan Taliban, a US counter insurgency program will require far more troops that McCrystal is now requesting. Afghans in the south and east already see the US as an occupying power, and the presence of more troops is certain to deepen that impression in those places and possibly spread it to the rest of the country. The Mc Crystal strategy would be an occupation, and foreign occupations of that country since the time of Alexander the Great have been failures. Simply put, occupations breed angr, and long occupations breed still more anger and violence.

In retrospect, it appears that most of the billions poured into Afghanistan were a poor investment. One leading member of Karzai’s coalition said he will withdraw if more American troops are committed. This man is an American ally but thinks that more troops would mobilize more people against the government.

Too much was filtered through foreign contractors. The money would have been better spent buying off the Pakistan generals and ISI and bringing greater political stability to Pakistan. Fortunately, Congress has just tripled its appropriation for Pakistan; but the amount is still relatively small.


The Obama Administration wisely ended its war against the farmers growing poppies. It might be worthwhile to buy and destroy the Afghan opium crop. Using last year’s data, that might cost as much as $3.4 billion. This would not stop the Taliban from collecting taxes on it, but destruction of the whole crop would prevent the Taliban from moving large quantities of opium to the international market. That would cut their income by a third.

The situation in Afghanistan is very complex and unpromising. There are variables that the American public does not perceive. Do they know that many Afghans speak Persian and that they are strongly influenced by Iran? The latter could make things even worse for us but it has no reason now to want an unstable Afghanistan. Our dealings with Iran can impact upon what goes on in Afghanistan. By appearing to be more reasonable than Bush, President Obama has obtained some important concessions from Iran and may be able to do more. If Israel were to move against Iran, we could expect Iran to use its influence against us among its Afghan clients.

Richard Holbrooke has given us an idea of how bad the situation in Afghanistan is: “Its worse than the Nam!” It is very important that the American people understand what is involved here because a decision to make a long term commitment to pacification and nation-building will require years of commitment, massive amounts of money, and far more troops than we are now contemplating. Even with all that, there will be no guarantee that we can succeed in building a stable nation there. That is why House Minority Leader John Boehner is so angry that President Obama wants to take time making this decision. John Mc Cain has been busy claiming there is no difference between the Taliban and Al Qaeda in an effort to stampede Obama into waging a full scale war. If thoughtful independents come to understand much of what is involved, they might support Obama in redefining the mission there. Information is, as usual, the enemy of Republican policy here. The more people understand, the less damage Afghanistan will inflict on Obama’s political future.


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Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to It can also be obtained through the on-line operations of Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Do not consider purchasing it if you are looking for something that mirrors the mainstream media!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Nature of Parahistory, Part Three

The prevailing wisdom has a seductive charm. To accept it means one does not have to endure the scorn that attends departing from the herd. The prevailing wisdom is usually fairly simple and straight-forward and non threatening. Its better to think that one lone nut somehow got lucky and killed a president than that there could be powerful forces out there that can accomplish this, hide their tracks, and go on to accomplish their ends. It is known that in the heat of the Cold War that the CIA bought off some journalists, and some have said the practice was more widespread than admitted and that it continues. This suggestion is disquieting because we would be more comfortable believing that most journalists really want to be investigative reporters and that they are busy safeguarding the republic through their sleuthing.

Thomas Jefferson said that “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.” Given this definition, he would be considered a conspiracy theorist today. Americans forget that there was a time early in the Twentieth Century when leaders spoke against conspiracies against the people.
Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it.

These were the words of one of the tamer of these leaders, Woodrow Wilson in “The New Freedom “ (1913) Since then concentrated corporate and money power has grown far greater, as has the mechanisms of the national security state. Yet, we have been so inoculated against conspiracy theory and related speech such as “class envy” that we would reject a politician as a dangerous extremist if he used similar words to discuss gasoline prices and how they can jump a dime in a twenty-four hour period

There has been a rash of conspiracy theories in the last 40 years partly because the US psyche had experienced so many traumas and because people have learned the hard way that those in government frequent lie to them. The media appears to have become more and more disinclined to track down the lies or dig up inconvenient truths. In 2002 and 2003, the mainstream press aided and abetted the Bush administration in peddling fabricated information about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, even though there were good reasons to doubt those claims.

Outlandish conspiracy theories often grow out of legitimate questions that emerge when the conventional wisdom is thin, overlooks obvious questions, or are clearly implausible in some regards. The outlandish explanations tend to explain too much on the basis of too little evidence, and they frequently trot out some historic villain or other, the Vatican, Free Masons, the Illuminati, the Rothschilds, or the Jews. Maybe they offer up-to date all purpose villains, such as advocates of the New World Order or Reptilian aliens, or just plain aliens. The existence of such outlooks strengthen the case of those who discourage questioning of the official story or the conventional wisdom.

The outlandish conspiracy theories are entertaining, and remind the reader that any story must be examined carefully. The trouble is that too often stories that contradict the conventional wisdom or suggest dangerous criminal conspiracies in government are simply ignored by the media. In January, 2008, the Times of London produced evidence that there was validity to Sibil Edmonds’ claim that high ranking figures in the State Department and Pentagon were selling nuclear secrets to other countries. The US media pretty much ignored the story.
When President Clinton appointed Webster Hubbell to a high post in the Department of Justice, he told him to get answers to two questions: are there UFOs and who killed John F. Kennedy. Of course, Hubbell could find answers to neither. We know what the simple answers to these questions are, but they are unsatisfying. Alternative answers are blocked by secrecy, missing evidence, and the unwillingness of “reputable” investigators to look into them. For that reason, we need something like’soft conspiracy theorists,” people who apply conventional historical techniques to investigations of these questions, insist upon plausibility, and and probably almost never come up with concrete, and full explanations. They cannot because there are so many barriers to their probing. The best they can do is learn which prevailing truths are least believable and perhaps suggest alternative explanations that are most worthy of pursuing.

There are many conspiracy theorists who construct massive interpretations out of very little evidence. They deserve sharp criticism. There are more than a few historians and journalists who do likewise; they are said to be wrong or “off-base.” There is what Alexander Cocburn called a ‘soft" version of the conspiracy theory” It raises questions, offers reasonable hypotheses about possible conspiracies, but seldom can offer rock solid explanations because complete evidence is rarely available. It questions “public truth” which so dominates our culture and offers the traditionally disempowered other possible explanations and challenges those who seek monopolies in the creation of public knowledge.

The work of historians and the conspiracy theorists both deal with the past. They could both be called “history.” The work of the outlandish conspiracy theorists do not deserve that name because they constitute very flimsy constructs. On the other hand, the soft conspiracy theorists carefully test information and only suggest fact- based possibilities that challenge “official” history. Although it relies too much upon inference and the assumption that people often have base motives, soft conspiracy theory probably falls within the boundary of legitimate knowledge but fall short of history as defined by professional historians. An appropriate term for their work might be “parahistory.” The trouble is that Peter Dale Ecott has used this term to describe the reconstructed histories of events that are based upon document once not available when the first accounts were produced. Scott is a good scholar, but is is mystifying why any term other than history should be applied to these revisionist accounts. Parahistory seems to be a good term to apply to tentative accounts, based on available knowledge, that raise the possibility of conspiracy.

The consolidation of media into fewer and fewer hands may make necessary some alternative to mainstream journalism. At this point in our history, government is anything but transparent and trustworthy. Some other approach to interpretating what occurs must be available as an alternative to approaches to rely too much upon official sources. Dr. Condoleezza Rice deliberately misrepresented the famous presidential intelligence briefing paper of August, 2001 to be a mere historical discussion about Al Qaeda when it really warned that that organization was now getting ready to attack in the United States. The president’s press secretary added to the lie by leaving out the word “in” from the title, which left the impression that Al Qaeda just wanted to attack the US. The proceedings of the 9/11 Commission made it clear that Condoleezza Rice was continually duplicitious in her dealing with it and that the Bush administration worked hard to prevent the commission from getting the information it needed. Its obsession with secrecy and track record for lying suggests that its official pronouncements cannot be trusted and the likelihood that it has much to hide. Fearful of being deprived of what information there is, the press has failed to get behind the regime’s spin and dissembling. Under these circumstances something like parahistory is necessary. Don Delillo has talked about that this does not really exist.

The trouble with relying on parahistory is that it leaves us in a situation where the public exists in a state of confusion because nothing can be known for sure. Perhaps it does little to reduce the political impotence of ordinary citizens, but it is an improvement upon leaving them to believe official lies doled out by government and the elite media and academy. Bill Moyers remarked, `Well, there's a legitimate government, but from time to time, to do a certain job, they hire a rather unseemly crew, and sometimes they get a little out of control and make trouble.' About the best the parahistorians can do is alert the public when this seems to be happening. The record shows that journalists and the academic historians will be the last to spot the problem.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Nature of Parahistory, Part Two

Only a few mainstream historians have not touched the assassination of JFK, RFK, or Martin Luther King, Jr. The exception is David Kaiser of the Navy War College, who has written a good book on the death of JFK that was published by the Harvard University Press. Questions have been raised as to whether Harvard should give legitimacy to conspiracy theory. He asked “Cui bono” and tackled a question that can probably never be resolved—two characteristics of “conspiracy theory.”

Historians have also steered away from 9/11. In all of these cases, there is not enough evidence to establish irrefutable cases that conspiracy was involved. By not seriously exploring those subjects, historians tacitly endorse the lone nut theory in respect to the assassinations and some implausible official explanations of 9/11. It is forgotten that George Orwell was not so wrong when he wrote, “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful . . . and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” He also said, “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." This is why coincidences, discrepancies, and holes in official stories. We owe this to future generations.

Many leading historians were reared in a time when it was simply unthinkable that Americans, some of whom being security employees, would plot to murder a US president or prominent political figure. In dealing with a great deal of United States history, they could safely join A. M.Schlesinger, Jr. in accepting Blaise Pascal’s dictum that “Man is neither angel nor brute.” But there have been other times and places when the opposite might be operable: man can be both and brute. This was scertainly applicable to Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin. One hesitates to place Oliver North and Dick Cheney in their company, but the possibility deserves examining.

In the 1950s, conservatives, led by Joe McCarthy, were propounding all sorts of conspiracy theories, and they enjoyed a lot of support in the mainstream press. Today, they offer knee-jerk denunciations of notions they violently oppose as “conspiracy theories,” and are joined in these comments by much of the mainstream press. They object to people who claim that some in government aim at enhancing the power and wealth of privileged elites. Of course, no one would gather in a Cabinet room, board room, or Pentagon office to strategize, plan, or conspire to accomplish goals that are not in the interest of most people. Watergate was not a conspiracy any more than effort to invade Iraq was! The suggestion that people at the top could have a secret agenda is usually met with a patronizing smile. We know they are just there to protect and serve.

“Conspiracy theorists” are said to be people who are inclined to doubt commonly accepted explanations of events and to look for more complex explanations. For example such people note that Winston Churchill’s grand history of World War II placed too emphasis upon the Soviet contribution to victory. They qestion the British official casualties figure for the third Battle of Ypres ( often called the battle of Passchendaele—238,000. Even General Haig put the figure at 500,000. The British Public Records Office is still sitting on records that could settle the matter. Even the cabinet records for 1914-1918 are still closed to the public. Since 1954, about 200,000 people in Guatemala have been tortured, raped, murdered, and disappeared. Much of this grisly activity was undertaken with the full cooperation of US intelligence agencies.

Our government refuses to open records on these deaths, though President Clinton reluctantly did open records on Americans who were killed there. More recently, the US seized the records of the thugs who ruled Haiti from 1991 to 1994 and has refused to return them. This is probably because those US-backed rulers killed 3,000 people and the records would show the complicity of our intelligence people. Who can forget Oliver North publicly explaining how he shredded hundreds of documents related to the Iran/Contra scandal? In all these matters, we are expected to accept the official explanation.
Most people would not object to the claim that the conspiracy theorists are probably psychologically disoriented in some way. The very term “conspiracy theorist” is a put-down and automatic dismissal and appeals to the belief that people work in secrecy very seldom, if ever. As William March said, “[G]ood people are rarely suspicious: they cannot imagine others doing the things they themselves are incapable of doing….” We don’t want to think ill of others, especially of those who rule. Most people are fundamentally decent and cannot imagine that elected officials would betray them in sinister ways. There are massive advertising operations, backed by deep research in psychology, that persuade people that nothing is amiss. A third rerason for being hostile to so-called conspiracy theories is that knowledge brings with it the responsibility to act on what we know.
We Americans know that in repressive societies the truth is manipulated on a daily basis because the ability to shape what is perceived is true is the untimate power mechanism. In a democracy, this cannot happen because we have an inquiring press and a well-informed public.

Over the years, the United States has become a national security state. To build this state, officials repeatedly relied on th eir own conspiracy theory, asserting that there was a communist conspiracy to take over the world. and domestically more and more power has been gathered in fewer and fewer corporate hands. These developments made it necessary and possible for the national security mechanism and the corporate powers to manipulate opinion more and more. To acknowledge such is not a pleasant matter, and some people can do so more easily than others. Even Albert Einstein lapsed into conspiracy theory when he suggested that there were powerful interests that benefited by continuation of the Cold War: “The men who possess real power in this country have no intention of ending the cold war."

It seems that denial is the best unconscious psychic self-defense mechanism for many. It shields us from anxiety and guilt. Six years after the US invaded Iraq, most Americans believe Saddah Husein was involved in 9/11. Not to believe so could bring about guilt that we are not doing enough to demand honesty in government. Or guilt that we twice entrusted the executive branch to scheming liars. Or the recognition could bring on fear. If Cheney and his friends could lie about Saddam and Weapons of Mass Destruction, they might lie about other things. This is why people talk about “unpleasant truths.” Truth is often very unsettling, and sometimes there is little we can do about really bad situations. To protect ones self from disinforemation, spin, and manipulation does not mean believing everything that comes down the pike.

Truth has a great deal to do with keeping democracy alive. When people stop looking hard for it, they have surrendered their power to influence what government does. Without truth, democracy and republicanism begin to wither. If someone can contol our view of the present they control us. Orwell noted "Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." That is why it is so important that historians and journalists construct an accurate account of what is goind on today so that republicans and democracy can survive into tomorrow.

Mathematicians have combinatorial analysis, combinatory, or combinatorie. It uses the mathematics of probability to learn how likely it is for certain configurations of objects and sets to occur together. If only historians had a tool that precise. We know that odd coincidences sometimes occur in real life and that sometimes simple, seemingly explanations are accurate. At other times, simple explanations see all too facile and the coincidences seem too many and too improbable. We know that eye-witnesses to traumatic and chaotic events are often wrong, but what should we conclude when many of them insist they saw the same thing which is flat out excluded from an official account. These involve matters of judgment. Oddly, there is one great similarity between some people labeled as “conspiracy theorists” and those who willingly accept even the most improbably official explanations. They both want simple, all inclusive explanations that are built on too few facts. Hence, some build elaborate explanations that always lead back to the Vatican, Jesuits, Jews, Freemasons, or a murky group called the Illuminati. Those who seek the simplistic, thin explanations going back to the Illuminati or some other demonic group might deserve the term conspiracy theorist.
The problem is that the term “conspiracy theory” is used to marginalize other people who advance reasonable arguments based more than a few facts that are contrary to accepted truth. People in government and their apologist most commonly use the term and apply it to those who rock the boat by doubting official explanations. In earlier times, people who doubted the conventional wisdom were called heretics and witches. Even though the conspiracy theorists can point to implausible aspects of conventional wisdom and too many coincidences heaped upon coincidences, those who go about labeling people conspiracy theorists are really saying that those people should not be listened to. The word “theorist” is used to suggest that these people construct explanations out of thin air; hence, their views are based on theory and not evidence. A careful examination of “conspiracy theories” suggests that they are almost always based on facts. The problem is that they often rely on facts that have been overlooked by those who construct the conventional wisdom.

So called conspiracy theorists are accused of being paranoiac. Poet William Burroughs said “`Paranoia means having all the facts.” Of course, in dealing with historical events, all the facts simply cannot be found. It is enough to have fore reasonable factual information than that possessed by purveyors of the conventional wisdom. That justified raising questions, and, if there is ample evidence, even hypothesizing on what could be other explanations. Those who crave the CIA+Watergate stumble over the truth, but they pick themselves up and continue on as if nothing had happened.” None of us are that good at finding the truth. If we don’t look and develop a reverence for it, we mill rarely make its acquaintance.

The label came into widespread use after the assiassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. The implication was that the findings of the Warren Commission were to be taken on faith, including the crazy lone gunman and particularly the magical single bullet theory that claimed that the same bullet, following a very odd trajectory, hit Kennedy and Connally came out in pristine condition and turned up on a stretcher at Parkland Memorial Hospital. This is the famous exhibit #399, the mysterious, undamaged bullet. Conspiracy theories often attribute events to concealed plots by individuals or an individual effect events in some way. In this case, it might boil down to whether the death of Joyhn Kennedy was the work of one man’s plot or that of several people or groups. The official story is that three shots were fired, with one missing. That left two to inflict seven wounds in Kennedy and Connally. The House Select Committee on Assassinations ruled in the 1970s that four shots were fired.

Today, those who question the official explanation of 9/11 are considered unstable conspiracy theorists. The evidence is clear that just as J. Edgar Hoover moved heaven and earth to steer the Warren Commission toward predetermined conclusions. 9/11 staff director Philip Zelikow worked overtime to produce a report that concealed the Bush administration's low level of interest in the terrorist threat. The record shows that a NORAD two star general told the commission that he was above Washington coordinating a response when Flight 93 was to appear in the area. The fact is that commission investigators learned from NORAD tapes that he was lying; the Air Force was unaware of Flight 93, which was to crash in Pennsylvania. The commission would not have learned that had it not finally screwed up its courage to subpoena tapes, which it was first told did not exist. The Bush White House stonewalled on every front from the beginning, and Speaker Dennis Hastert stood in the way of the commission even getting all the records the congressional investigators had acquired. Yet, the so called benighted conspiracy theorists are denounced for not being sufficiently trusting.

Nellie Connelly kept notes on what she thought happened. She insisted that there three shots, but she seemed to reject the magic bullet theory.. The first bullet hit Kennedy, because the governor wheeled around and saw that Kennedy had been hit. The second hit John Connelly, and she said the third hit Kennedy in the head. New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison was generally considered a conspiracy theorist of the worst sort because his explanations of the assassination of John F. Kennedy seemed far-fetched. That judgment of Garrison was also rooted in solid fact and that there is a CIA memo dated April 1, 1967 reveals that the agency cranked up a disinformation campaign against Jim Garrison. When Garrison left office, his successor, Harry Connick, Sr., destroyed the records of the investigation.
TWA Flight 800, a 747-100, exploded over Long Island on July 17, 1996. 230 people perished. Scores of people saw something looking like a missile hit the plane. The official explanation was that the explosion was due to a bad electrical circuit. They were called “conspiracy theorists.” Three days after the crash, the Jerusalem Post reported that a French Defense official said the missile would have been US because terrorists weapons did not have the capability to do that much damage. .A retired White House press secretary, taken in by a former pilot trying to peddle a bogus radar tape, did himself some harm by claiming there was a cover-up and that he was privy to damning evidence. Two hundred miles south of the site and in September, 1996, two pilots reported seeing what they thought was a missile. We do not know if naval exercise were being conducted then, but they were underway when TWA exploded. Red residue was found in three rows of the plane, and some thought it similar to the color of rocket fuel. The NTSB report stated that Dr. Charles Bassett found that it was seat glue. However, the learned doctor later swore out a statement saying that was not what he found. . In this case, there probably is not enough evidence available to decide who is right or what happened. But if one persists in simply doubting what we have been told, one is a conspiracy theorist.

Some of us recall that The Washington Post insisted that those who claimed that Oliver North was engaged in illegal trade with Iran and forbidden supplying of right wing militias in Nicaragua were way off base. They were wacko conspiracy theorist. It even censored a Jack Anderson column on Iran/Contra. Readers had to be protected from conspiracy theorists! Then it distorted information coming out of Charles Rangel’s subcommittee investigation into the Contra drug trade and refused to print Rangel’s letter of complaint. More recently, the Post. joined the rest of the mainline press in protecting readers from information that the Bush Administration had lied about weapons of mass destruction in order to invade Iraq. There is a long history of the press avoiding such stories even though conspiracies of businessmen, politicians and others also have a long history. That’s how business is done here.

There is so much clamor about “conspiracy theories” that we have come to almost believe conspiracies do not occur. Adam Smith thought tradesmen got together to raise prices. There were all sorts of conspiracies to defraud US railroad investors in the late 19th century. In the early twentieth century, providers of electricity colluded to set p[ices and at mid century people met in hotel rooms to set prices in their bids for government contracts. How soon we forget. Watergate was a conspiracy, and who can be blamed for thinking there was a conspiracy to lead the US into invading Iraq. Someday, there might be enough printed evidence to prove this. At the moment, there are many intelligent people who canot figure out why the US made such a massive investment there. All they knmow is that the official story does not hold water.

Often so-called conspiracy theories gone too far in putting aside theories assign causation to large and distant social and economic forces. Conspiracy theorists prefer to look at concrete events and they believe that people are behind almost all events and that , as in the past, people have a way of scheming, lying, cheating, cooperating with others, and doing anything necessary to acquire money and power and then working overtime to cover their tracks.

If you were an historian writing a textbook about recent times, you might resort to stating that the US invaded Iraq, that the stated reason was belief that Saddam had WMDs, and that after the invasion many expressed doubts that the story about WMDs was fabricated. Rock solid evidence would not permit going much further. If one were to add a possible explanation that relied upon broad historical forces, or perhaps geopolitical theory, it would be methodologically acceptable and also could not be checked out. It can be argued that the default position for the historian is to fall back on official government sources and what is printed in newspapers of record. The method has a certain conservative bias. Four years after the invasion, the White House admitted that millions of its e-mails had inadvertently been lost. Are there aspects of what happened that could not be documented any other way than through those e-mails? Historians have a strong bias against conspiracy theories in part because they associate them with the ravings of the populists, Father Charles Coughlin, and Senator Joseph McCarthy.

On the other hand, leftists are not much given to conspiracy theories and are inclined to buy the official 9/11 story in its main outlines because they are more likely to think in terms of historical forces. A major basket of exceptions include the reasons for building and deploying the atomic bomb and US policy in t he early cold war. Perhaps some historians have come to consider conspiracies because a growing number of them no longer come from the moneyed elite, as had once been the case. It is still recalled with some embarrassment that a president of the American Historical Association nearly four decades ago worried about what would happen to the craft as Jews, Catholics, children of recent immigrants, and products of the working class entered the profession. Maybe these people would be less inclined to assume that those with power and wealth usually behaved as gentlemen and were animated by noblesse oblige.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Nature of Parahistory, Part One

The Nature of Parahistory

The late Murray Rothbard ( the original TRB of the New Republic) wrote in 1977,
Anytime that a hard-nosed analysis is put forth of who our rulers are, of how their political and economic interests interlock, it is invariably denounced by Establishment liberals and conservatives (and even by many libertarians) as a "conspiracy theory of history," "paranoid," "economic determinist," and even "Marxist."

Three decades ago, these investigators were able to make considerable progress by asking the ancient question “cui bono? ( Who benefits?)” Today things are so much more complicated, and that question often cannot be answered with any certainty. Indeed, One recent writer classified anyone who asked the question as a conspiracy theorist. Today, it seems that these theorists are more worried about the machinations of government than those of the so-called economic power elite. They should probably be looking at the links between government and the people who own massive corporations and media operation. One thing remains the same; when people complain about conspiracy theories, they often mean someone is getting too close to the truth.

Ellen J. Langer, the renowned Harvard psychologist, wrote, “Certainty is based on flimsier evidence than most of us realize.” Some of the ancient historians of Rome knew this and tried to break through what was then the official story to get at what was really going on. Appian, a Greek, focused on the decline of the republic. He was described as a “genuine historian” in part because he wanted to get at the heart of matters. He was contemporaneous with but younger than Plutarch and unfortunately was somewhat colorless, perhaps like the present writer. Cassius Dio, another Greek, pursued the same theme and found that Octavian was installing an autocracy by stealth. He saw a sharp division between the official version of events and even admitted to employing heresay when it seemed to help explain events. He was fortunate to have good contacts, being a member of the Senate, a consul, and once srving as a proconsul in Africa. Complaints about not being able to get at the real re4asons for events wre echoed by Tacitus, who wrote much about the difference between public claims and private motives. When Tacitus left the Senate for the last time, he said in Greek, “Men fit to be slaves.”

These historians also complained about how surveillance made it difficult for individuals in private discussions to learn what was going on around them.
Livy, the most famous historian of the era, was not concerned about asking tough questions and usually conveyed the conventional wisdom and found truth on the side of the establishment, and valued ccconciliation and moderation.
These historians had serious evidenciary problems then, and their succeessors today face similar if not greater problems. Surveilance techniques have improved greatly and those who put out the official line are the beneficiaries of remarkable advances in cognitive science. We still cannot condone relying on heresay, but investigators cannot be blamed if they use it to ask questions and seek out verifiable leads.
Historians, working from official sources, often put together a stories that are close to what those in power want them to produce. Nevertheless, they still encounter gaps that they fill as best they can, through digging and careful analysis. Writers who look into questions that go beyond the official sources have far many more gaps to fill, but they use the same tools to fill them. I.F. Stone, patron saint of investigative reporters, said it is best to assume that politicians are fcrequently lying. He added that “The search for meaning is very satisfying; its very pleasant, but it can be very far from the truth.” He thought it necessary to continually call attention to evidence that does not fit, and warned that this could mean the good reporter must repudiate what he wrote just a few weeks ago.

There has always been much more going on than historians have seen. Above all, it should be remembered that history and culture has many layers and is eeen from a variety of perspectives. Cultural and historical analysis should reveal a variety of perspectives, eschewing one consensus approach. It is best rendered through “think description,” and one important strand should concern itself with likely private motives and activities that are important in influencing events but are not intended for public scrutinity. Over time, people have learned to look into such matters, and they are now firmly anchored among human “webs of significance.” They are more important for some people than others, and it seems there are those who , even in the days of Tiberius, could not live with the possibility that his numerous homilies about civic virtue did not wholly reveal what was the essence of this complex man. For these people the “said” of discourse must be about all there is—something that smothers what are complexities and inconsistencies for others. On the other hand, many more will see uninterpreted data as mere data and expect layered, thick descriptions to make interpretation possible. But including many perspectives in a thick discourse means that different hearers or readers will take away different meanings, depending upon the outlooks they brought to the work.

There have always been political processes that fly under the normal political radar and are marked by deceit, disinformation, concealment, and covert action. This is what is called deep politics or parapolitics. If the historian does not resort to thick descriptions, she many never come to ask research questions that can turn up traces of what is going on below the radar. From time to time, most people suspect that deep politics exists, often in relation to the drug trade, but the consequences of investigating and pursuing this are disquieting, and we usually suppress such thoughts. One professional historian , Alfred McCoy carefully investigated the CIA drug trade during the Vietnam war and barely came out of the effort with his life. In recent times, it seems that deep politics probably account for much of reality.
The stuff of deep politics rarely appears in mainstream, conventional, or orthodox history. Traditional history is ruled by rigid methodological rules that privilege official government explanations. This history is ideologically safe and unthreatening and favors history’s winners. Its version of “objectivity” is sharing the biases of the conventional wisdom and those who wield power. It usually distorts through fear of heterodox explanations and a deep attachment to ideological respectability. Patriotism also plays a role, and the flag can be used as a blindfold when one simply cannot entertain the possibility that our leaders could do some truly despicable things.

J.Edgar Hoover once said "The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists.” It is perfectly natural for humans to want comforting, non-threatening answers to important questions and historical puzzles. If someone had told Julius Caesar that almost 30 Senators had conspired to kill him when he showed up at the Senate, he would have dismissed the story as too monstrous to believe. He had enemies, yes, but he did not face a threat of this magnitude. For one thing, too many people were involved in this story. Someone would have talked by then.

How many people today really believe the conventional wisdom about the Kennedy assassination? The Warren Commission is a classical example of orthodox or mainstream history at its worst. The editor who published the first serious critique of the Warren Commission Report was a paid CIA asset. When he published the critique, he noted that it did not represent the opinion of his magazine. But the editor later remarked to a friend that the critique was probably true, but "The truth is too terrible. The American people would never be able to stand it."
The conventional explanations of 9/11 are so lame that a growing number suspect there is far more to that terrible story. Sometimes outlandish scandals simply evaporate such as the BCCI affair. Only John Kerry showed an interest in pursuing the matter, and he was blocked at every turn and there were whispers in the corridors of power about how he was a little kooky and addicted to conspiracy theories. We never learned entirely what went on with BCCI, probably because it provided many keys to deep politics. Historians and journalists avoid deep politics for any number of reasons. Several amateur journalists who pursued aspects of this story were most probably suicided. One is that it is so hard to access evidence of parapolitical activity. Sometimes, as in the case of US complicity in the murders of priests, nuns, and thousands and thousands of dissidents in Central America, is ample, and the stories still are not pursued. All of that is so distasteful and challenges everything we want to believe about ourselves and this country.

John Zaller and Dennis Chiu studied how the mainstream media covered 42 foreign policy crises between 1945 and 1999, and found the media consistently functioned as “government’s little helper.” In the build up to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the media simply parroted the Bush administration line. On May 26, 2004, The New York Times found it necessary to publish an editorial apologizing that covcerage of Bush claims about Iraq was “not as rigorous as it should have been.” There has been a steady dedterioration of the news media. Some of it is attributable to lack of zeal and human weakness. Some of the blame is due to the difficulty in obtaining accurate information from government.

Recently, the United States has begun the process of establishing nuclear missile bases in Czechoslovakia and Poland. The US consistently claims that the missiles are only aimed at Iran, which someday will have some nuclear weapons. The Soviets complain that the weapons are aimed at them and they sometimes sold a bit paranoiac, unless one notices that the US has recently been building these bases all around Russia. Absent proof that the missiles will be pointed at Russia the journalist and historian can only report what the US has said its intentions are. The possibility that the Russians could be partly right cannot be entertained without clear evidence that the Pentagon is lying. Historians build their work partly on what journalists have reported and upon government documents they have been able to study. Lacking a document revealing hostile intentions toward the Russians, the historian’s account will reflect what the US government claims. This writer recently attended a lecture given by a respected specialist on Russian history about this situation. The specialist is a long-time acquaintance and almost certainly doubts the statements made by Dr. Condoleezza Rice on this matter. But his lecture did not reflect any doubt. He was trapped by historical method and perhaps aware that there was a clean-cut young man in the front row carefully tape recording his every word.

There is such a thing as the’shadow” or’secret” government. Eliot Abrams, then Undersecretary of State, referred to it in the Iran/Contra hearings. The problem is that its operations are open and transparent. If one wants to get closer to a more accurate picture of how things happen, it is necessary to dig for traces of its operations and sometime make inferences. Critics refer to that as empty “theory,” as in conspiracy theory. But to refuse to look for its workings is to wholeheartedly assume another theory, that things are exactly as the official story goes. The trouble is that accepting the official story usually ends up with what onbe could call Disney history. As William Faulkner wrote, the “past is never dead and buried, it isn’t even past.” Past events continually affect present happenings; without something approaching a realistic view of the past, it becomes impossible to grasp what goes on now.

In 1965, Indonesian military and paramilitary forces carried out one of the worst massacres of that century against Communists and labor leaders. The CIA had funded the creation of hit lists and was behind a barrage of stories and sometimes forged documents attributing plots and atrocities to the leftists. Despite much evidence of the agency’s involvement, The New York Times simply denied that the CIA was involved. The false news coverage of the massacre will become the basis for fake history.

The 9/11 attack was the defining event of recent times, and yet there are many contradictions and improbabilities within the convention wisdom. For some unknown reason, the Bush administration held up the establishment of an independent investigative commission for a year. For a month almost 4000 people served on an FBI task force investigating the tragedy, then the task force was shut down because the bureau said these people were needed to investigate terrorist plots.

We do not even have a thorough official account of what wrong with our national defenses that made those tragic events possible. The 9/11 Commission issued its report in July, 2004, and it was soon reported that many of the commissioners thought that the NORAD generals had lied to them. NORAD and the FAA released a number of time lines that are contradictory and establish that there was plenty of time to shoot sown at least one of the first three planes. The FAA also held back vital information. The 9/11 commission that investigated these matters labored under so many disadvantages that it was unable to produce a solid report. Fearing that the report would show that the it had down played the terrorist threat, the White House’stonewalled” –in the words of Republican Commissioner John Lehman, making it very difficult to extract basic information. Thomas Keane and Lee Hamilton, the two co-chairs, defended themselves in a 2006 book, essentially arguing that they were set up to fail. They wrote, "We were set up to fail. The thought occurred to both of us as we prepared to meet for the first time …" They also complained about how the CIA stonmewalled them. In 2007, it was learned that the CIA destroyed tapes that would have been very useful to the investigators. This prompted Keane and Hamilton to write to The New York Times, charging that the CIA had obstructed the investigation. The CIA had denied the commission access to captives and to their interrogators and was asked to make do with incomplete and poorly written summaries. Tenet’s testimony was filled with an unbelievable number of “I don’t remember’s and some commission members doubted the veracity of his testimony. Though spending money does not guarantee good results, the fact is that only $15 million was spent on the commission, while the government paid $40,000,000 exploring Bill Clinton’s sex life and a land deal in Arkansas.

AP reporter Leslie Miller wrote on May 6, 2004 that several hours after the attack a manager at New York air traffic control asked controllers who had handled two of the flights to record their experiences. A FAAquality assurance manager destropyed the casette sometime between December, 2001 and February, 2002. He used his hand to crush the case and then cut up the tape , throwing the pieces into multiple trash cans.

NORAD sent a two star general to the commission who claimed he was circling Washington coordinating efforts to shoot sown Flight 93, when the fact was that NORAD did not even know about the hijacking of that flight at the time he claimed to be in the air. It was reported soon after the 9/11 Commission Report was released that many of the commissioners thought the NORAD generals had lied to them, and that some wanted the Justice Department to review their testimony.

The same agency denied it had any tapes of what went on in traffic control towers. The commission learned about the tapes by accident and had to issue subpoenas to get them. NSA documents were only made available days before the report was to go to the printer. Speaker Dennis Hastert blocked the commission’s access to materials gathered by the House, even though one commissioner had just left Congress and had had access to those materials. . A close reading of the evidence indicates that the CIA twice warned President Bush that Al Qaeda was ready to seize planes in the United States and attack in the United States. Jane Mayer demonstrated that the CIA frequently briefed Bush on Al Qaeda.

Moreover, the evidence suggest that national security advisor deliberately mischaracterized the famous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing paper, as did the White House press secretary. She seemed to be almost consistently duplicitous when discussing the National Security Council’s approach to terrorism. There is no good evidence that the staff director Philip Zelikow was planted by the White House. He had been on Bush’s transition team and had drafted a paper that helped justify the invasion of Iraq. It is clear that this good friend of Condoleezza Rice created a very hostile work environment for the staff, alienated and demeaned the 9/11 widows, and worked consistently to cover up Bush administration failures. He was accused by staff of trying to sabotage subpoenaing NORAD tapes, which were crucial for the investigation. He was in telephone contact with Carl Rove, visited Condoleezza Rice, and instructed his secretary not to log White House phone calls. Zelikow, who later became Counsellor at the State Department, was briefed on the findings of the Able Danger intelligence project on Al Qaeda, but did not let the commission see the information. To avoid internal turmoil, the commission ecided assign any blame for what had happened. Its report became the official story, from which mainstream journalists and historians would have to work.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Johnny Goech Mystery and Jeff Gannon

AT 2:30 AM one morning in 1997, Johnny showed up at Noreen Gosch’s apartment. The young man had been abducted in 1982. He was accompanied by another male who seemed to be deciding what Johnny could say to his mother. . She recognized him in part by a birthmark. He told her not to pursue the matter and not to talk about the visit. She remained silent for two years.

In 2003, a young man appeared in Washington, whom some thought was Johnny Gosch. At least the fellow had the same initials and was the right age. Jeff Gannon was the name used by James D. Guckert, a person who had a few web sites advertising himself as a $200 an hour male prostitute. In the sex industry, he was nicknamed “Bulldog.” In 2000, Sean Hannity was praising him as a “terrific” Tallon News Washington bureau chief. At that time, he was busy feeding to the press information discrediting documents Dan Rather and CBS News were using about George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air Guard. The documents were forgeries, but Gannon and others were wrong in saying they had been produced by means of a computer word processing program. Colonel Bill Burkett, who gave copies of the documents to CBS, claimed a Hispanic woman discussed them via telephone and that they were delivered by an unidentified man. The woman asked Burkett to burn the originals, and he did so. Gannon was an experienced GOP political operative who helped do in Tom Daschle, and some speculate that he was working with two other experienced tricksters, Roger Stone and his Cuban wife.

In 2004, he was invited to the White House Christmas party, a sign of standing in Washington establishment .Many speculated that Jeff Gannon was really Johnny Gosch and noted that a Jeff Gannon was the Des Moines World Telegram editor who ridiculed the claim that Gannon was abducted. Noreen Gosh has said identifying Gannon has her son is “quite bizarre” but not impossible. It could be argued that if he were her son, she might fear that identifying him would endanger his life. It is known that Guckert graduated from Conneaut Lake High School 1975 and then West Chester University in 1980. Ted Gunderfson, a retired ranking FBI retiree said he had solid information from an unnamed source that Gannon was Gosch. Guckert was probably 48 years old while Gosch would have been 36. Still Ted Gunderson, former FBI agent-in-charge for Los Angeles insists that the CIA can change appearances and ages. Jim Rothstein, a retired New York City detective who has long specialized in child abductions, agrees with Gunderson.

Before Gannon had White House press credentials, he was attending White House briefings. Though he had no training in journalism, he was soon representing two tiny Right-wing news services and was to attend White House briefings for almost two years. He was known for giving the press secretary and the president softball questions. His questions often included false information about Democrats. He attended 155 of 196 press briefings over almost two years/ He was in the White House two dozen times when there was no briefing. Fourteen times he entered but did not check out, which led some to say he stayed overnight. Twice he entered without signing in March, 2003, before he was a journalist. He also bragged about having seen secret documents that revealed that Valerie Plame was a covert CIA operative. There was abundant evidence that male prostitute/journalist Jeff Gannon busily distributed information about her deep cover role. Yet only Skolnick had much to say about it. The Wall Street Journal made note of it but did not pursue the matter. It is claimed that some witnesses said George W. Bush gave Gannon the information on Plame.

Gannon also appeared to be linked to the main sex ring scandal of the George W. Bush years. It was called “Hookergate.” It operated in the Sheraton, Ritz Carlton and other hotels in Washington and catered to influential Republicans representatives and senators. . However, one Democratic senator may have been involved along with a few liberal journalists. Ranking federal officials, military brass, and media hosts also used the service. It was financed by two San Diego contractors, and, perhaps Jack Abramoff. Flocco added that the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee had a role in operating the sex ring. One reporter claims that Jeff Gannon, introduced one leading Republican journalist as well as a ranking British politician to these sex parties.

There was little connection to the Mark Foley scandal except that what seemed to be Abramoff money was channeled to one of the ex-page's families. Another investigative reporter claims that Foley and Jeff Gannon recruited important people, including a leading Republican columnist for the sex ring. The two contractors had the parties mainly for Republicans on the 15 Republicans from the House Appropriations Committee. High-ranking figures from the CIA also attended these parties and have since resigned.

Tom Flocco’s account of “Hookergate” differs from others in that writes that children were being used. However, there is no evidence that children were used the sex parties held by the two contractors. This must have been still another sex operation, financed by unknown parties. The Hilton was used because it had very secure areras to hide vehicles and move children--sometimes drugged--through hallways without the possibility of video surveillance. After employees became suspicious, the child sex operation was moved. All the evidence suggests these events occurred completely without the knowledge or consent of the hotel management. Some people who are incapable of mature sexual relationships prefer sex with children. But in other cases, it seems to be a mixture of sexual attraction and what has been called “libido dominandi.” People who are greatly attracted to accumulating power and wealth find sex with children particularly satisfying because it is easier to exercise complete power over children. To a degree it is a matter of “power tends to corrupt.”

There is an even more unusual aspect to the Jeff Gannon story involving his possession of remarkable martial arts and military skills and a possible background in intelligence work. But there is simply not enough evidence to pursue these hints.
All this is reminiscent of two sex rings in the 1980s that were mostly patronized by Republicans, intelligence people, and foreign dignitaries. The difference is that the sex rings in the 1980s received some mainstream press coverage. The recent scandal received no serious MSM attention.

A Plug for Sherm’s Book--- Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to

De Camp, “Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska,”Educate; These are excerpts from Chapter 21 of The Franklin Cover-UP; Webster G. Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, George Bush: The Unauthjorized Biography, chapter 21 “Omaha” www.Tarpley,net; Frank Santiago, “Noreen Gosch: I Saw Johnny,” DesMoines Register (February 7, 1999)
Eric Boehlert, “‘Jeff Gannon’s’ Incredible Access,” ( 2-17-2005); John Byrne, “Secret Service Record Raises New Questions About Discredited Conservative Reporter,” The Raw; Secret Service letter to Representatives Louise Slaughter and John Conyer, April 25, 2005; Untitled entry on Gannon, (April 5, 2005); Rim Schmitt, “Johnny Gosch, Jeff Gannon, Hunter Thompson, and the Unraveling of a Troubling Tale,” April 6, 2005); Erin Crawford, “Is He Johnny Gosch?” Des Moines Register ( April 5, 2005); “Peculiar Ties Connect Boys Town to CIA,” American Free interview with De Camp) Daily (February 18, 2005
Tom Flocco, October 5 and 11, 2006)

The Finders

Six dirty, ill-clad children were seen in a Tallahassee park on February 4, 1987. They were with two well dressed men who had an old Dodge van. Someone called the police and reported that something seemed amiss. The two men were arrested and charged with child abuse. They belonged to a Washington-based organization called Finders. The van had a mattress in back, and it seemed that all eight of these people slept there. One child showed signs of sexual abuse. All the children were seven or under , and only one would speak. Most of the children did not recognize toilets, telephones, staplers, typewriters, or telephones. They believed they were being taken to a school for very bright kids in Mexico and said they were fed as a reward for obedience. One said the men were their teachers.
Washington, D.C. and the Customs Service police raided a warehouse and apartment. belonging to the Finders. The former agency was involved because it maintained a child pornography unit . A police detective had previously acquired information that the warehouse had been used for orgies and blood rituals. A large quantity of toys was found. The search produced manuals on how to find children and photographs of nude children. One seemed to accent a child’s genitals. There was a large quantity of tapes, and the Finders had a capacity to produce and reproduce tapes. Telexes were found that showed that children had been moved to all parts of the world, and there was an album showing children and adults in white robes, participating in rituals centering in the slaughtering of goats. The police were told that the cult engaged in brainwashing and exploring Satanism.

The Washington Police Department quickly dropped the matter—“like a hot stone” in the words of the Tallahassee police. A WPD official said the case “had become a CIA internal matter.” The FBI advise the WPD not to forward any formation about the matter. The WPD files were sealed on the matter. However, the children were returned to their parents.

The late Dr. Nahman Greenberg, a-CIA connected expert on child abuse, helped the agency when the Finders were investigated for child abuse and pornography.

The key figure in this cult was Marion David Pettie, a retired Air Force officer. His latge wife worked for the CIA and his son was tied to Air America, the CIA airline. Today, Finders has facilities in Washington and in Culpeper, Va. It claims to be a communal organization that explores rational living and it provides intelligence studies, mostly foreign but some domestic. Its guru, Marion David Pettie, admits that his son and wife had worked for the CIA, but he insisted that he had spent his lifetime trying to keep tract of covert government activities. He insists he was never an employee. He died in 2003. Some speculate that he was a rogue former agent trying to duplicate the agent’s mind control experiments.

A Plug for Sherm’s Book--- Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to


Dave McGowan, “Finders Keepers,” (June, 2000); Washington Post ( February 7, 1997); Gordon Witkin and Peter Cary, with Agel Martrinez,
Gordon Witkin and Peter Cary, with Angel Martinez, “Through a glass, very darkly,” US News and World Report ( December 27, 1993 and January 3, 1994); Washington Post ( February 7, 1997); Dave McGowan, “Finders ( June , 2000) The archives include two Customs Service agent reports.;

The Franklin Trust Sex Ring

There is considerable evidence that the Reagan-Bush CIA operated a sex ring to entrap important people and reward its own operatives. In the Eighties, Larry King of North Omaha was considered one of the Republican Party’s fastest rising stars. An African American, he sang at two Republican conventions. He ran a credit union that was raided by the Feds in 1988. As much as $40 million of the missing money was connected to the Iran-Contra scandal, probably laundered drug money from Latin America. It seems that boys and girls were being used for sex and as drug couriers for King and others. They were also telling how they had sex with this or that famous businessman or politician. The list included the publisher of the state’s largest newspaper, a police chief, and a man who became a mayor and Congressman and was later appointed by the second Bush to head a commission studying Social security reform.

Former Republican Nebraska State Senator John De Camp, who was in office 16 years, knew King and was sure the stories were lies and was ready to refute them. Then he was contacted by a prisoner, John Bonacci, who convinced who convinced him they were true. De Camp got him out of jail, and ten years later won a million dollar settlement for him from King in a court of law. Before this, however, a grand jury investigated the matter, was aware of the complaints of 80 children, and refused to hand down indictments. The Nebraska legislative committee and the staffers who worked on this found the accusers very credible, but this reader of the evidence wonder s if some of the horrible acts attributed to the perpetrators exceeded what human being could do.

Bonacci had kept an exact diary, and forensic experts tested the ink entries to be sure they were made over a long period of time. He eventually testified in court that he helped kidnap a twelve year old boy, Johnny Goesch. Bonacci wrote about being taken to Bohemian Grove, a 2700 acre encampment outside Sacramento that belongs to the Bohemian Club, an all male organization that seems attached to reenacting ancient Druidic rituals. Alex Jones infiltrated the grounds in 2000 and filmed some Luciferian rituals going back to ancient Babylon. Members are expected to worshbip a large stone owl, the Great Owl of Bohemia. Jones claims Governor George W. Bush was there along with some security personnel. There is more than amply evidence of repeated enactment of these rituals, but it is hard to believe that anyone could take them seriously. They must be a strange form of amusement and a way of registering contempt for conventional norms. Very eminent people give lectures around a campfire to many men deep in their cups. Nudity is common. There is a pronounced homosexual subculture, particularly among employees, but it is not part of scheduled events.

Jones found nothing sinister there. There are numerous fenced-in areas, so if unusual conduct occurred in one area it is likely most of the two thousand campers would know nothing about it. According to several self-proclaimed victims, it was the remote places where that several boys were used in some sort of ritual, and one caged boy was very badly abused, finally dying after being beaten and raped by an adult. Later, the two remaining boys were taken to a house where a film of what happened was shown and they were passed around like playthings. Bonacci said Hunter Thompson directed the filming. There is no way of knowing what Thompson was doing there .Perhaps he was observing the ways of the rich and powerful? Other abductees said Hunter Thompson did “snuff” films, and Rusty Nelson, Kings photographer, testified to this in court. The diary recounted being paid for sex with men King knew at various places.

King had also found a way to get some boys out of Boys Town. The former head of Boys Town, Monsignor Robert Hupp, retained De Camp in order to get some help in cleaning up a mess there. King gave money to the institution and provided internships for boys. He also almost controlled the Boys and Girls Clubs of Omaha. A court threw out the case against the archdiocese and Boys Town. .

. Bonasci was afflicted with multiple personalities but the psychiatrists told De Camp the boy was not lying. De Camp finally decided to represent the boy, and his best friend, onetime CIA Director William Colby, told him he should write a book about it for his own safety. The investigation of Bonacci’s claims led the police to find and seal hundreds of sex videotapes that were found in Larry King’s office. There were some convictions. Among them was an editor of the Omaha World Herald.

De Camp was a former State Senator and got his colleagues to investigate. Gary Cardon, the chief investigator, called Senator Loren Schmidt from Chicago saying, “I’ve got them, I’ve got them.” The investigator’s private plane crashed shortly after leaving Chicago. Federal investigators swarmed the crash site, and none of his papers or his briefcase were officially retrieved Cardoni and his young son were both killed.

De Camp eventually found one Larry “Rusty” Nelson, King’s photographer, in prison. De Camp sprung him. Nelson became a key witness in a major case that netted one victim a million dollars. He also represented an Alicia Owen, a little girl who stuck by her guns even as other children who were witnessed disappeared. Her first attorney was creditably accused of giving privileged information to the FBI. That agency would work overtime to discredit the victims. She got 15 years for perjury for naming prominent politicians. She is still in prison and holds the record in Nebraska for time sent in solitary confinement. In her trial, the prosecutor acted as though there was noone named Rusty Nelson. De Camp got a second trial for her after Troy Boner, who had given information to Gary Cardon, swore out an affidavit confirming her statements. However, in the second trial he took the Fifth Amendment, privately telling De Camp it was that or be killed in prison. Boner had claimed that his brother, whose suicide he doubted, was a victim.

In 1993, Yorkshire Television sent a crew to the United States to film “Conspiracy of Silence” about De camp’s claims. They were thorough and even paid for extensive polygraph tests for one witness. The program was extensively advertised to be shown on the Discovery Channel on May 3, 1994. At the last minute someone bought the production rights and it was not shown.

On September 11, 1996, James Harold James , head of the Pennsylvania legislature’s black caucus, held a news conference in Philadelphia. He demanded an investigation of the drug trade, noted that the Iran-Contra investigation showed that the CIA was bringing drugs into the country, and said he wanted to know of George H.W. Bush involved. His name would be raised repeatedly from the beginning by child victims. John De Camp thought James was onto something because of the many ties between Bush and King and the multiple witnesses who placed George H.W. Bush at King’s sex parties. James Flanery of the Omaha World Herald had reported that King was heavily involved in running guns to Nicaragua; he was subsequently taken off the story and assigned out of Nebraska for a year. King’s public relations firm was used by the contras and he was a heavy contributor to one of their groups.

King boasted about his relationship with his hero, Bill Casey of the CIA. Pronto, Spain’s largest weekly, reported there was reason to believe that the child ex ring was tied to the CIA. Steve Bowman, an Omaha businessman researching the Franklin theft and sex scandal, claims he has believable witnesses who associate George H.W. Bush with the child sex ring. On the other hand, Bush could well have attended parties without knowing of the sexual activities. An Australian newsletter Inside News produced documents relating to the 1985, the Nebraska Department of Social Services investigation of stories told by Eunice (Lisa) Washington and her sister Tracey. They repeatedly ran away from their foster parents and told about the King sex ring They also said George H.W. Bush attended two of King’s sex parties. King took them to parties via his private jet. Lisa claimed she first met Bush at a Republican convention, and she also told of going to a party in Washington where the guests had guards wearing She added that King sometimes got boys from Boys Town. In October, 1984, she saw Bush at a Chicago party, and he left with a 19 year-old boy named Brent. A check of the papers showed he was there campaigning. In 1986 charges against the Webbs were dismissed. Tbe Webb foster children said they had been abused by GOP delegates at the Southfork Ranch in 1884 and also somewhere in Louisiana.

King was associated with lobbyist Craig Spence in helping the Nicaraguan Contras, and Bonacci told De Camp that the lobbyist once took a group of people, including two teenage prostitutes, on a midnight tour of the White House on July 4, 1988. King and Spence appear to have been partners in the sex trade and had two operations named “Dream Boys” and “ Man to Man.” Those operations were owned by an umbrella outfit called “Bodies by God.”. These CIA supported sex operations were expansion of the agency’s Vietnam era operation, designed to entrap members of Congress. It was run by two CIA agents and a CIA contractor who was a big time lobbyist. They brought boys into the Distinct of Columbia through Roy Cohn sex operations in New York City.

Two hundred prominent people were alleged to have used Spence and King’s services, but few of them were damaged by the disclosure. Secretary of Labor Elizabeth Dole’s chief of staff was forced to resign due to the disclosure. The CIA claimed two of the boys worked for the KGB, but it looked more like a CIA blackmail operation. Later, the Washington Times reported that Donald Gregg, an aid to Bush arranged tours for Spence’s people .Spence seemed to have great influence, entertained lavishly, and was said to spend $20,000 a month employing various kinds of prostitutes. It was claimed that the CIA helped him photograph prominent people and members of agencies in compromising situations. After the Washington Times exposed the sex righ, Spence lost influence and seemed to have no funds. He told friends he feared “Casey’s boys” were after him. He was soon found dead in a Boston hotel room. Barbara Bush expressed pleasure that the Washington Post did not touch the story.” Spence was particularly close to a prominent federal attorney, whose career was in no way damaged by the intimate association.

There were also more conventional sex-for-votes operations available to Republican Congressmen and Senators. In the mid-1980s, Ed Rollins, a Reagan White House operative, succeeded in covering up a small operation that provided two dozen Republican Congressmen with sexual favors. Only Tom Evans of Delaware got caught and lost his seat. He foolishly confessed to his wife. This was a straight-forward operation run by a lobbyist, and there were no CIA ties. In 2006, another sex for Republican votes sex operation was exposed. This time, most the congressmen seemed to come from the Defense Appropriations subcommittee of the Military Affairs Committee. Again, only conventional adult sex was involved. It is unclear whether the CIA was involved. Porter Goss , director of the CIA, and his number three man, Dusty Foggio, attended the parties to gamble but were not involved with the prostitutes. One of the defense and intelligence contractors paying the bills was almost certainly working for the CIA in the 1980s.

De Camp relied upon psychiatrists to assure him that Bonacci was not lying to him and that over 80% of people with multiple personalities have been sexually abused as children .De Camp believed that Bonacci had been trained by drugging, sexual degradation, and torture in order to create multiple personalities who would carry out various tasks such as spying, torturing, killing, and even committing suicide. . The abuses would have been part of mind control experiments, which some have called the Monarch Project. William Colby assured him that the CIA never talked about a project by that name, but that it had to do some work in that area simply to be sure that there was no danger that someone a President of the United States met could be reading his mind. Paul claimed he was often taken to Offut Air Force Base, where he was abused. This is the center of the Strategic Air Command, and there are many intelligence people there. Lt. Colonel Michael Aquino, an allegedly retired Army officer, supervised these psychological operations. The Concerned Parents group in Nebraska said they had two witnesses who said King used to send limousines to the base to pick up boys, allegedly for parties. In the September 7, 1988 issue of the Omaha Metropolitan, There were more CIA people working out of Offitt than out of Langley, Virginia. Many psychological operations were located there, seemingly affirming claims that the children were subjects of experiments. One experimental program, acknowledge by the CIA, is MIK-ULTRA, in which children are confused and manipulated via drugs and sex.

Bonacco reported sometimes traveling with a gangster-like character called “Emilo” on various missions. On one occasion, they kidnapped a Des Moines a 12 year old newspaper boy named Johnny Gosch on September 5, 1982. . The boy’s mother, Noreen, had heard of two little girls abducted and placed in a sex ring and demanded that the police explore this possibility, but the local chief insisted Johnny was a runaway. In her book Why Johnny Can’t Come Home (2000), Noreen Gosch said that about six months after the boy disappeared, George Paul Bishop showed up, claiming to be a federal agent concerned with child abductions. He stayed in touch with her for some time and disappeared in 1985. Perhaps he was trying to help, and perhaps he was monitoring what she was learning. Bishop was arrested in 2001 on charges he had a pornographic video showing a sixteen year old boy.
AT 2:30 AM one morning in 1997, Johnny showed up at Noreen Goesch’ss apartment. He was accompanied by another male who seemed to be deciding what Johnny could say to his mother. She recognized him in part by a birthmark. He told her not to pursue the matter and not to talk about the visit. She remained silent for two years.

In 2003, a journalist/male prostitute calling himself Jeff Gannon turned up as a frequent guest at the White House and was even given press credentials. Some thought he could be Johnny Gosch. This writer has investigated the claim and finds it doubtful. Soon after people started asking questions about Gannon and tying him to the sex trade, Hunter Thompson committed suicide and Rusty Baker was arrested. Baker had served time for having a van-full of pornographic pictures. His subsequent arrest was for not registering as a sex abuser in a county where he no longer lived. De Camp managed to obtain Baker’s release. The arrest was seen as a way of telling Baker to keep quiet. Thompson was working on a story about how explosives leveled the World Trade Center and worried that he would be suicided. In a 2004 interview, he said: ”The Bush administration is a heap of Nazi shit. Bullshit. Yeah, you can put it that way. I don't know what your audience is ready for.”

When he died on February 20, 2005, Thompson was on the telephone with his wife when he allegedly shot himself, but she said she heard a muffled sound.
Chicago writer Sherman Skolnick has reported that Thompson was doing a book on the politically connected sex trade, but he offered no evidence to support this . There is only mention of Thompson in De Camp’s book, but Thompson never challenged it in court. The only other evidence comes from the Alex Jones radio program. A Thompson acquaintance had this to say:

CALLER “Scott from Texas”: I was just wondering if you guys might be able to clear up something I heard through the journalist Sherman Skolnick. He is reporting that another story or book, I don’t remember exactly which, that Hunter S. Thompson was working on was about this gay prostitution ring in the White House and supposedly that was another touchy topic that he brought out, and the wholeJONES: Had you heard that from Hunter?
PAUL WILLAM ROBERTS: Yeah, I had heard that quite a lot from Hunter. It goes back to Kissinger, I believe.
Now that’s a big confirmation. Now for those who don’t know, We have Washington Times articles from 1989, you know—‘underage call boys in the White House’, and so this is serious . .. Hunter was working on that?
ROBERTS: Yeah, in fact Lyndon LaRouche published some stuff about that. And although, you know, a lot of his material was not that trustworthy, in this particular case there were a lot of sources cited and there was no lawsuit. And where there’s no lawsuit you can be almost guaranteed that it’s true.

Of course, no one can trust the La Rouche people even though they have produced some good material on the Middle East and the involvement of governments in the drug trade. Maybe some day mainstream investigative reporters will get into these taboo waters and sort out what is true.
A Plug for Sherm’s Book--- Sherm spent seven years writing an analytical chronicle of what the Republicans have been up to since the 1970s. It discusses elements in the Republican coalition, their ideologies, strategies, informational and financial resources, and election shenanigans. Abuses of power by the Reagan and G. W. Bush administration and the Republican Congresses are detailed. The New Republican Coalition : Its Rise and Impact, The Seventies to Present (Publish America) can be acquired by calling 301-695-1707. On line, go to


John w. De Camp, The Franklin ‘Cover-Up (Lincoln, Nebraska: AWT, Inc., 1992)21-79

De Camp, The Franklin Cover-Up, 100-105. It is very difficult to believe anyone among the participants could have believed in this nonsense. It must have been a a device to discredit testimony of victims.

If Kay Griggs can be believed, intelligence operatives joined the power brokers in cavorting at Bohemian Grove. Marine Colonel George Raymond Griggs, her former husband, told her about how he and other assassins went to Bohemian Gove to engage anal and oral sex and run naked in the woods. She also employed his diary as evidence and went public in 1996, before Skull and Bones and Bohemian Grove were public knowledge. She received death threats and had to seek sanctuary in the home of journalist Sarah McClendon. . He referred to the hit men as The Brotherhood or The Firm and thought they were linked together in a sort of secret ‘cap and gown” and skull and bones society. They took their inspiration from Skull and Bones at Yale and a similar secret society at Princeton. He talked about military hit squads, sexual slavery, weapons and drug sales, psychological conditioning, and involvement with prominent people such as Paul Wolfowitz, who was present in the 1970s when Grigg trained assassins in Indonesia. The colonel told her that he had been sexually molested by teachers and that many of the operatives shared this background.

De Camp, The Franklin Cover-Up, 151-158; Greg Szymanski, “The Evilo Lurking Within,” (July 31, 2006)
De Camp, The Franklin Cover-Up194-198
“Alex Jones Interviews John DeCamp, Author of the ‘Franklin Cover-Up,’” (July 21, 2004) Prison; “Radio Free America Interview with John De Camp,” The 7th; “American Child Sex Rings That Reach the White House,” (March, 2003); Ted Gunderson, “Synopsis,” Johnny (undated); De Camp, “Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska,”Educate;; “Famous Kidnapping Case Implicates Political Figures in Child Prostitution Network,” 9 a radio interview with Mrs. Sosch) (no date) American Free Press.Net;Tim Schmitt, “Johnny Gosch, Jeff Gannon, Hunter Thompson and the Unravelling of a Trouble3d Tale,” Educate (April 6, 2006) See also the Wikopedia entry on Bohemian Grove; Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey ST. Clair, “The Truth About the Bohemian Grove,” CounterPunch,org (June 19, 2001).
De Camp, “Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska,”Educate; These are excerpts from Chapter 21 of The Franklin Cover-UP; Webster G. Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, George Bush: The Unauthjorized Biography, chapter 21 “Omaha” www.Tarpley,net; “Kidding Around–Child George Archibald and Paul Rodriguez, “RNC Calls Scandal a Tragic Situation,” Washington Times (June 30, 1989), Karlyn Baker, “Sex and the Capital,” Washington Times (July 24, 1990); Edward Neilan, “Spence May Be Shiina’s Downfall,” Washington Times ( July 18, 1989); Jerry Seper and Michael Hedges, “Spence As Much an Enigma in Death as in Life, “ Washington Times ( November 13, 1998); “Kidding Around- Child Molestation and Pedophilia in the GOP; “ Karlyn Baker, “Sex and the Capitol,” Washington Post (July 24, 1990)
EdRollins. Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms: My Fife in American Politics (New York: Broadway Books, 1996), 84-85
De Camp, “Child Abuse, Satanism, and Murder in Nebraska,”Educate; These are excerpts from Chapter 21 of The Franklin Cover-UP; Webster G. Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, George Bush: The Unauthjorized Biography, chapter 21 “Omaha” www.Tarpley,net; Frank Santiago, “Noreen Gosch: I Saw Johnny,” DesMoines Register (February 7, 1999)
Schmitt, “Johnny Gosch, Jeff Gannon, Hunter Thompson, and the Unraveling of a Troubling Tale.”
“Hunter Thompson was working on WTC collapse story before mysterious sudden death, warned he'd be 'suicided'” Toronto Globe and Mail (February 26, 2005); Adam Bulger, “The Hunter S. Thompson Interview,” FreezerBox (March 9, 2004)
Shermak Skolnick, “Was Hunter Thompson Suicided?” Conspiracy ( February 21, 2006)
“GOP Child Rapists and Hunter Thompson,”GNN.TV