Tuesday, August 31, 2010

PsyOps and Domestic Politics: From Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush

The United States has long used psychological tools to influence public opinion. That was considered par for the course when the Pentagon and the CIA used PsyOps on foreign populations. Under Ronald Reagan, these same tools were deployed to sell Reagan's not-so-secret war in Central America to the American people. Under George W. Bush, these tools were to promote Bush domestic programs.

Public Diplomacy” under Reagan

At the beginning of the Reagan administration, the subject of disinformation came up at a meeting of the Economic Policy Advisory Board. Among those present were Reagan, the Vice Prsident, C.I.A. Director Bill Casey, some leading bankers, the Secretary of State, and Barbara Honegger, a White House stafer. Someone, perhaps Al Haig, asked what the policy should be in respect to disinformation. Casey said that Carter’s problem had been that there had been too little effort to deceive the public. Casey added, “ we’re going to correct that situation, and we’ll know when we we’ve succeeded….when everything the public believes is wrong.” No ons objected.

A successful information control mechanism emerged under the Reagan administration was designed to support an interventionist US foreign policy, but it it also was an important mechanism in domestic politics. It also was used to cover up many illegal operations and attack those who reported on them. A prime example was the small war conducted against the Christic Institute, which produced chapter and verse on the illegal war against the Nicaraguan Sandanista government and the C.I.A.’s complicity in drug dealing by the Contra rebels. The institute opened up the Iran/Contra scandal and documentedx much else. Its mistake was claiming thre was a secret cell within the Intelligence Community that carried about the illegal activities. It could be proven that people tied to the community were doing these things, but there was no solid evidence that there was some small, organized cell at work. Of course, the other alternative was that these people were carrying out official policy. Insisting there was a cell that could not be clearly identified gave many on the left, including David Corn, the excuse to join in tarring them. Susan Huck led the charge against the Institute. In Legal Terrorism, she claimed that the Christic Institute and its director Dan Sheehan were serving the interests of the Soviet Union by attacking C.I.A. agents and patriots. These propagnda operations in the 1980s contributed to developing a herd instinct among members of the journalistic craft and an aversion to reporting bad news about government policy.

Shirlet Brill, a former agent who had lived with Tom Clines, published a 24 page affadavit supporting many Christic Institute claims. Gene Wheaton, vice president of a small cargo carrier National Air, also testified about Richard Secord and others diverting planes and supplies to assist the Contras. He briefed Bill Casey on this, but was assured nothing was going on. Beginning in 1982, Secord started acquiring weapons that the Israelis captured in Lebanon. They were shipped to a C.I.A. depot in San Antonio and then sent to the contras. The 1987 House Iran/Contra Hearings record indicats Secord had talked boaut building his own opium processing plant, to produce opium alkaloids. Maybe they would then be turned into heroin, but again there might be an innocent application. The lead was never pursued.

The Reagan administration launched a massive campaign to persuade the American public to support the administrations plans to back Contra rebels in Nicaragua and other right-wing movements in Central America. These plans were called “Operation Democracy,” and the public diplomacy program was sometimes called “Operation Truth.” The need for it was underscored when Raymond Bonner of The New York Times reported on the Salvadoran military’s’ s massacre of 800 men, women, and children in the village of El Mozote in January, 1982. Operation Truth was designed to counter these stories and intimidate the press into not reporting such things. Bonner was stripped of the Central American beat and given a desk in the New York Times newsroom. He soon abandoned journalism.

A major innovation was the widespread use of psychological warfare techniques to sell Reagan’s secret war in Central America to the American people. This was done under the rubric of “Public Diplomacy.” The term “psychological warfare” came into use 1941. The Germans called it Weltanschauungskreig or “worldview warfare.” Of course, the science had long existed, and the pundit Walter Lippmann used it against the Central Powers in World War I. It wasw designed to rob the enemy of the moral justification to fight and to convert people to your cause. It was designed to spread fear or inspire hate. Now it became necessary to mentally massage Americans.

Public Diplomacy was carried out in the White House Office of Public Diplomacy , which largely staffed by C.I.A. psychological warfare experts. There was a parallel Latin American Office of Public Diplomacy in the State Department directed by Otto Reich, a Cuban-born Miami businessman and politi C.I.A.n. He too employed C.I.A. psy-ops veterans. Reich, later became assistant secretary of state for the western hemisphere in the George W. Bush administration. Under Reagan, he thought his office did such an effective job that he recommended it for a special commendation. His executive officer was Lt. Colonel Daniel “Jake” Jacobowitz, who had a background in psychological warfare. Five other former army officers in that operation had been in psy-ops/ The comptroller general noted that his public diplomacy activities constituted illegal propaganda.

Initially, C.I.A. director William Casey designed the propaganda program with the help of several American public relations experts and helped guide both operations. By 1983, the White House operation was authorized by National Security Directive 77 and it was up and running. The intelligence professionals in the office brought to the domestic scene refined techniques for confusing people, obscuring the truth, and manipulating public opionon. These propaganda skills usually reserved for use against foreign enemies. Now they were deployed to influence the American electorate. Its operatives also found ways of disciplining members of the Washington press corps who strayed too far from the official line in foreign policy.

Much of the time it spread false information about the leftist regime in Nicaragua. In time, Lt. Colonel Oliver North of the National Security Council took responsibility for secretly supervising the Office of Public Diplomacy. One of his greatest successes was leaking a false story that Soviet migs were being transported to Nicaragua. The story appeared on election day, November 4, 1984.
A precedent for this was Nixon’s “Operation Mocking Bird “ which placed C.I.A. operatives in major journalistic positions to assure that the press took a sufficiently anti-Communist line. The Reagan program was different in that it sold a particular approach to dealing with an alleged communist threat. While an administration certainly has the right to influence opinion, it is doubtful there is a right to use public funds for political purposes. This “perception management” campaign was called Project Truth and worked in part through the apparatus of was run by Walter Raymond, a 30 year C.I.A. veteran who resigned from the agency to do this work because his agency was forbidden to carry out domestic operations. Raymond, now an NSC staffer, talked about “gluing black hats on the Sandanistas and gluing white hats” on the Contras. It was a “public diplomacy" operation in which efforts were made to recruit supporters in universities and the media. Publications were used, speakers deployed, and magazines founded. Organizations were created to send out speakers to drum up support for right wing elements in Central America. There were many “op eds,” many written by paid academi C.I.A.ns. Contra leaders with blood on their hands were converted into human rights advocates and sent around the US, often inventing stories about Sandanista atrocities.

The program was thought necessary because those involved seemed convinced that the American press was allied with the Sandanistas in Nicaragua and the rebels in El Salvador. This was even claimed in official correspondence. Some even thought the American journalists were committed Communists. Since the days when Vice President Spiro T. Agnew complained that the press was heavily biased and dominated by leftists, this belief became an article of faith for conservative zealots. At best this was a huge exaggeration, but now acceptance of this notion served as justification for breaking the law by carrying out an Executive branch program to shape political opinion and influence Congress by the deployment of various propaganda techniques. With some justification, the propagandists also believed that there was such a thing as conventional wisdom which delineated the boundaries of “permissible thinking” both witnin the government and in the journalistic community. Those who frequently strayed beyond conventional wisdom –what everyone knew had to be true—were not given prime media assignments and were ridiculed as outsiders. Conventional wisdom defined the limits of what constituted acceptable discussion and Reagan administratin’s psy-op people were determined to shape it.

The public diplomacyofficials were fully aware that federal laws forbade the Executive branch from spending taxpayer funds to influence public opinion or to directly or indirectly lobby Congress. Raymond They even wrote about this problem in an August 29, 1983 memorandum. He also wanted Bill Casey to stay away from the operation because the C.I.A. was clearly forbidden to be involved in any kind of domestic activity. Casey, on the other hand, simply did not care. The State Department ‘s Inspector General learned of the activities of Reich’s office and unsuccessfully sought action by the department’s Office of Personnel. These psy-op people spoke of their task as perception management. Congressional committees investigating Iran/Contra turned up some of these activities, but the Democrats were forced to leave this information out of the reports in order to pick up a few Republican signatures, thus giving the reports a non-partisan flavor.

Their main concerns were that the press thought the government was conducting a covert war against Nicaragua and was determined to overturn the regime there. They were also angry that it was reported that the Contras grew out of Somoza’s former National Guard. They were also outraged when reporters wrote about Contra atrocities. They went into high gear when reporters turned up a 90 page “murder manual” that the C.I.A. had printed for the Contras, and they were successful in quickly muting the press on this matter. The President said the story was “much ado about nothing.” Over time, the public diplomacy program created great doubt about the reports of the International Red Cross and various human rights organizations. They also were able to broadcast widely claims of Yale student Wesley Smith that the Contras had committed numerous atrocities. None of his stories could be checked.

Some estimate that as much as $200,000,000 in public and private funds were used by the Reagan administration on “public diplomacy” over four years. It is difficult to confirm this as so many operations were masked in deep secrecy. But if even $100 was spent this way, it was a violation of law that should have been ppunished. The funds the office spent were cut off in 1987 after Congress discovered the Iran/Contra operations. A typical pattern was establishing “private” groups with funds donated by private individuals. However, these groups usually received large amounts from unidentifdied Swiss accounts.

One of these organizations was the Institute for Religion and Democracy, where wo0rk was done on lobbying Congress to increase aid to the Contras. Another front was a public relations form called International Business Communications, which was heavily subsidized by Reich’s office. It managed the lobbying and fund raising operations of Carl ‘Spitz’ Channell and others. Some of the funds for this came from offshore Swiss accounts controlled by Oliver North. IBC was so active thjat one White House official called it the “White House outside the White House.” One of its main successes was orchestrating the failure of Congressman Michael Barnes’ effort to win the Democratic nomination for the Senate in Maryland. Barnes opposed supporting the Contras. Money was also funneled to Accuracy in Media, a NeoConservative organization dedicated to attacking the mainstream press.

Ronald Reagan created the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an organization that was technically separate from government but largely funded by it. Above all, it was not under Congressional oversight. It was used to fund right wing parties in Central America and to back the secret war there. Sometimes the government’s National Endowment for Democracy waqs used to funnel money to conservative organizations, Particularly Freedom House. This was to continue later during the administration of George W. Bush. It funds opposition groups in Cuba and provided money for the unsuccessful right-wing coup in Venezuela in 2002.

Polls were taken to find arguments that would sell. It was found the best argument that aroused the most interest was the claim that leftist activity in Central America would touch off mass migrations of refugees to the United States. People were repeatedly alerted to the danger of large numbers of of left-leaning people from Central America coming across the US border. Others ,even more numerous and numbered in the millions, would rush to the United States as leftist regimes emerged in Mexico and Central America. PR people taught propaganda operatives to stay on message, to continually repeat it, and that with skillful arguments they could create reality with words. Days after coming to power, Jean Kirkpatrick, Alexander Haig, and Bill Casey demonstrated how effective their information management techniques were in dealing with the four nuns who were raped and murdered by a right-wing death squad in El Salvador in December 1980. Kirkpatrick hinted they deserved their fate because they were leftist political activists, and others hinted they may have been packing weapons and trying to run a roadblock.

Soon right wing journalists attending a press conference shouted at the nun’s families that they were not raped. Later, Secretary of State Alexander Haig, whose brother is a priest, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that they may have accidentally run a roadblock “ and there may have been an exchange of fire.” The public diplomacy program also put out the word that the Sandanistas were anti-Semitic. Although these charges were later disproved by the American embassy there, they never quite went away. They had planted hostility to the Sandanista in the American Jewish Community. Of course, the embassy’s report was classified ass top secret and never saw the light of day.

The Nicaraguan regime was repeatedly accused of exporting drugs, but there was never much proof. One wonders how this could be done when American intelligence probably heard every toilet flush and saw every plane that took to the air. One Nicaraguan official , Federic Vaughan, was indicted, but it turned out that he used telephones belonging to US and western embassies to reach his American drug customers.

The new strategy was remarkable because it was based on flat lies rather than just representing the spinning of half-truths. Yet, the public diplomacy people always referred to their work as constituting only “White propaganda.” It proved to be very successful because the lies were repeated after they were repeated on numerous occasions. Eventually, they were able to reverse American opinion on Central American issues and even make massacres and the murder of tens of thousands simply fade away.

Frequently reporters could be brought quickly into line by the threat of cutting off interviews and government sources of interviews. Sometimes, newspaper and electronic editors had to be hectored, but the editors were usually worn down quickly. Many op-ed pieces were planted, especially in the Wall Street Journal North coached contra drug runners to pose as human rights advocates and speak against their opponents. Oliver North sent an underling to Congress to testify posing as a Roman Catholic priest and claiming the contras were very religions and respectful of human rights. The C.I.A. was successful in persuading the press to print its version of what was going on in Central America. Two Associated Press investigative reporters were branded by the F.B.I. Sandanista agents, and the AP quickly decided to give as little space as possible to stories about contra corruption and drug trading.

Newsweek also reluctantly printed such stories, including one about the office of Vice President Bush helping to supply the contras when funds were cut off, but its topofficials were continually harassed and intimidated by governmentofficials about this and the reporter who had been pursuing these matters was forced to resign in 1990. Once a respected liberal magazine, The New Republic became an outlet for the Reagan administration’s propaganda. It ridiculed reports that the Contras hurt innocent people, and Fred Barnes wrote glowing reports about them The General Accounting Office eventually argued that these government activities violated the law that made “covert propaganda” illegal. He called its work “white propaganda” that was “prohibited covert propaganda activities designed to influence the media and public to support the administration’s Latin American policies.”

A few stories about the C.I.A. supplying the Contras with arms began to appear in 1985. Editors usually tried to discourage these stories. By 1986, some investigative journalists were learning that at the least the C.I.A. was permitting the Contras to move drugs into the US. An AP editor told Robert Parry, “New York doesn’t want to her any more about the drug story.” They also produced a pamphlet on how Cuba and Nicaragua were in a position to interdict Caribbean sea lanes and bottle up US ports—probably with about a dozen small patrol boats.

John F. Kennedy had breached the bounds of propriety and perhaps broke the law by having a military affairs journalist watched, but his abuse of power does not seem to have gone beyond this. Under Reagan, government kept track of many journalists and tried to interfere with their work.

Journalistic “enemies” were targeted and usually demoted or taken off of Central America. These people were continually trashed and their journalistic integrity questioned. An ABC reporter Karen Burns who survived this treatment finally volunteered to cover the Ethiopian civil war rather than remain a target of unrelenting fire. She described her ordeal to Rolling Stone and said there was so much pressure to write what the administrtion wanted that “It’s easy to be co-opted.” She added, “At times you are so desperate and tired that you want to believe anything you hear “ from the administration propagandists. Otto Reich was adept at bombarding news executives with criticisms, and those editors usually responded by pressuring reporters to tone down stories or give them a different slant. NPR news director Robert Siegel punished reporter Bill buzenberg with a eek job performance report and the NPR froreign editor Paul Allen found less enthusiasm for reporting on controversial subjects. Allen soon abandoned journalism. Other outlets simply transferred journalists to beats where they would be in a position to anger the administration. Journalists who wrote positive things about the right-wing movements were rewarded.

Otto Reich proved to be very energetic and industrious and was particularly successful in forcing NPR and CBS to avoid reporting negative information about the right-wing movements. He retained a private contractor to keep track of NPR broadcasts, alerting him to those that were critical of the Contras . Paul Allen who reported on a massacre by Contras on NPR in 1984 was criticized for the story by his superiors, given a bad performance review, and decided to give up on journalism. Reich’s perception management program was an unmitigated success in intimidating editors and journalists. Those who did not knuckle under often suffered the fate of Mr. Allen.

By 1986-1987, Operation Truth has succeeded in reducing the press, which was active and vigorous in the Watergate days, to near subservience. The funding for the official public diplomacy operations was cuit off, but nothing else changed. Propaganda and psychological ploys were used to manipulate foreign peoples continued to be used on American citizens. There was little effort to get behind the lame official Iran/Contra story, laying most of the blame at the feet of Robert “Bud” McFarlane , and few looked into the crimes committed by US surrogates in Central America. The Congress held hearings but made little effort to get behind the administration’s cover story. The limited immunity it granted Oliver North and John Poindexter proved the basis for a right-wing federal judge overturning their convictions. Judge Lawrence Walsh was pictured as an eccentric Captain Ahab who stubbornly would not abandon a pointless venture.

George H.W. Bush promised to cooperate with Walsh after he left office, but instead refused to testify. Representative Henry Gonzales who urged the press to look into how George H.W. Bush and Reagan had worked so closely with Saddah Hussein was looked upon as a foolish old man—a modern Don Quixote. The conventional wisdom on John Kerry, who tried to look into the contra drug trade, was that he was a conspiracy theorist trying. The story was barely covered. To some degree the sneering tone of the once-progressive New Republic characterized the press of the 1980s and beyond. Rather than look into the criminal acts of Iran/Contra and those that preceded it, the press generally joined in what amounted to a massive cover up. Iran/Contra was never carefully explored, and Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter wrote in 1991, “For some years now the CW [ on Iran-contra has been, ‘Hey, give it a rest, that’s history.’”

The press had become domesticated, some think it became an arm of the Republican conservatives, whom journalists came to fear. By the early Twenty"First Century, even The Nation sometimes sang the government’s official line. Its best reporter attacked people who did not believe the official version of what occurred on 9/11, and one of the editors doubled as editor of the C.I.A. web site. He also had distinguished himself by trying to prove that the KGB was behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Another important part of Operation Truth was the use of the F.B.I. to spy upon and intimidate opponents of Reagan foreign policy. Richard Nixon set a precedent by using national security to justify using the F.B.I. to spy on political opponents. The F.B.I. cooperated by investigating and harassing people who were critical of the contras and other right-wing operations in Central America. The F.B.I. worked overtime keeping track of and harassing people involved in various efforts to protest US policies in Latin America. In 1987, Frank Varelli, a Salvadoran and naturalized US citizen, told a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constititutional and Human Rights about how the F.B.I. paid him to infiltrate a the Committee in Soliadrity with the People of El Salvador Texas and provide the names of activists to the Salvadoran National Guard, whose death squads would deal with these people when they returned home. Using INS records, the F.B.I. found those who entered illegal and saw that they were deported. He also provided photographs of these people and also spied on some members of Congress and a US ambassador. He added that his F.B.I. handler broke into the apartment of a political activist in Dallas. His testimony was negated when the Secret Service produced evidence that the group intended to Assassinate President Reagan. It was later found that a right-wing colleague created a document on his typewriter so this assertion could be made.

North also used the F.B.I. against those who could testify against him. Jack Terrell, a C.I.A. agent who had soured on the contras, was willing to testify to Congress. Terrell had been known as Colonel Flaco. He had used Civilian Military Asistance, an American civilian organization that procided equipment, to arrange assassinations. First, North assigned a former C.I.A. agent to entice Terrell into a phony business deal that could be used to discredit him. Then he told the F.B.I. that Terrell had said he wanted to assassinate Reagan. The F.B.I. detained him and subjected him to two days of questioning.

Leftists often received death threats and warnings of other kinds, and it seems that reformist church groups were often intimidated into silence. Activists returning from Nicaragua were sometimes subjected to immediate IRS audits. Sometimes F.B.I. agents visited their employers and asked a lot of questions about subversion and disloyalty. When Senator Robert Kasten of Wisconsin asked the Bureau about this harassment, he was stonewalled. The Sojourner’s office, headquarters of a progressive evangelical organization, was burglarized several times. The Old Cambridge Baptist Church, near Harvard, was also burgularized.

Anticipating a Republican victory in the presidential election of 1980, the Heritage Foundation prepared a useful study to justify these tactics. The 1980 Heritage Foundation report called for giving the F.B.I. and intelligence agencies extended powers to spy on Americans, infiltrate domestic organizations, and even the use of burgularies to obtain necessary information. In large measure, this was a call to beef up the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence operation, COINTELPRO, which was exposed in 1971. In the words of J.Edgar Hoover, it existed to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit and otherwise neutralize” elements he thought dangerous to the country. They were almost always liberal and leftist. The techniques employed were infiltration, psychological warfare of various forms, various forms of harassment, and the use of extralegal force and violence. The psychological warfare included bugus leaflets, correspondence, and telephone calls. It also involved causing trouble for the subjects with employers, schools, and local authorities. The Reagan administrati0on protected COINTELPRO through judi C.I.A.l and administrative interpretations and new laws limiting the Freedom of Information Act.

The bureau kept track of legislators who too critical of Ronald Reagan’s Central American policies. Among those who were watched were Christopher Dodd ( then dating Bianca Jagger), Ron Dellums, Michael Barnes, Don Edwards, Thomas Harkin and Representatives Conyers, Mervin Dymally, George Crockett , George Miller, Mickey Leland Stephen Solarz, and Ted Weiss and Gerry Studds. The Bureau also kept tabs on Daniel Sheehan, head of the Christic Institute, and two plaintiffs in a Christic Institute law suite because they were critical of US central Ameerican policy and bent on exposing the ways in which it involved violations of law. Oliver North justified the surveillance with the claims one of the plaintiffs might be involved in a plan to assassinate Ronald Reagan. Anyone criticizing the Reagan central American policies was classified as a terrorist and subject of an F.B.I. file. Members of CARP, a Unification Church organization, spied on left-wing groups and provided reports for the F.B.I.

From 1983 to 1990, there were death threats directed at leftists and break-ins, but there is no way to definitely tie these activities to the F.B.I.. Representative Don Edwards, a Democrat and former F.B.I. agent, wrote that it was possible that these activities were carried out by US and Central American right-wingers. Some thought that, if this were the case, these people needed information and coordination from either the F.B.I., C.I.A., or both.
The circle around C.I.A. Director wanted to break down the barriers between the C.I.A. and F.B.I. so that more could be done to support efforts to keep track of political opponents and intimidate them. . There is no question that F.B.I. surveillance activities met the goals of C.I.A. policy, but it cannot be determined whether the wall separating them had partly come down or if C.I.A. operatives like North were simply expert as using the F.B.I.

Long after these operations were over, in 1994, when Oliver North ran unsuccessfully for the Senate, another successful information-planting operation briefly but effectively planted all the blame for not reporting contra drug running on a rogue lieutenant colonel, Oliver North. Of course, he had done far more than look the other way. It was a strange comeuppance for a man so adept at shaping perceptions.

Today, the agency supports several hundred people around the world who have the ability to get C.I.A. views into newspapers, magazines and journals. There was talk in 1989 about the old C.I.A. subsidy to CBS being transferred to ABC . In 2001, it was reported that American reporters were threatened with loss of Secret Service and other credentials in they reported on French reports about interviews given by the late F.B.I. anti-terrorism expert John O. Neill. Very little of this story got into the US press. At the same time, foreign press services were threatened with loss of C.I.A. subsidies if they aired the O’Neill story.

American citizens are conditioned to expect that journalists will report the truth because that is their noble job. The fact was that people paid by the taxpayer to project views consistent with administration policy shaped America’s perception of its relationship to the rest of the world. Doubtless, the journalists thought that writing these stories was in the best interests of the nation. Other pressures affected their writing. Their employers had a natural interest in not offending advertisers, and as the years passed, newspapers and magazines came more and more to be owned by a relatively few powerful corporate interests.

PsyOps under George W. Bush
Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner has said that it was not faulty intelligence that led the United States to invade Iraq in 2003; it was an orchestrated propaganda effort that began before the wary to mislead the public and world. The same tactics employed in Ronald Reagan’s public diplomacy program were used. A difference seems to be that the George W. Bush public diplomacy program was not accompanied by many of the strong-arm tactics used by the Reagan White House. Gardiner found the White House and Pentagon operation to be irresponsible and possible illegal. Judi C.I.A.l Watch brought a case about the illegal use of federal money to shape public opinion but it appears to have been swallowed up in the
Chicago federal courts. Gardiner noted that the Uniform Code of Military Justice makes it a crime for any soldier to lie and wondered if this article should be involked/

Gardiner found that the U.S. and Great Britain worked together to systematically plant’stories of strategic influence” in their domestic presses and in the world press. The Times of London estimated that the US spent about $200,000,000 on this operation. Gardiner found that “PSYOPS became a major part of the relationship between the governments of the US and the UK and the free press.”

In early 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld set up an Office of Strategic Influence, and a similar operation was set up in London under Strategy Director Alastair Campbell. Gardiner thought this was the first time tools of warfare—“information warfare, strategic influence, [ and] strategic psychological operations pushed their way into the important process of informing the people os our two democracies.” In fact, Ronald Reagan had done all of this in the 1980s. Rumsfeld tentatively suggested establishing a Department of Propaganda but was turned back by White House staff. However, something like this ministry eventually emerged when the White House created the Office of Global Communications, whose annual budget was $200 million. The word “Global” was misleading as the emphasis was on shaping t he opinion of the American public..

Gardiner found more than 50 news stories that wre planted by the White House which were false to one degree or other but intended to win support for invading Iraq. One of the better known stories was about Iraq possessing drones that carried cluster bombs long distances. On September 12, 2002, the White House put out a briefing paper on a highly secret facility called Salman Park, where terrorists were carefully trained in planting explosives, sabotage, and hijacking airplanes. There was nevere any evidence presented that the facility existed. Another widely reported story—with the Wall Street Journal leading the way, was that Iraq had perfected a dirty radiation bomb. Again, no proof was ever produced. Jim Wilkinson, Deputy White House Director of Communications also put out the story that Iraqis in US uniforms had been trained to commit atrocities when the war began so the coalition could be blamed. He was not asked about sources, and proof was never produced. When the German and French governments raised questions about the planned invasion, the US produced stories about those governments secretly providing Iraq with precision bomb switches and other deadly materials. One reporter asked for sources on the Francophobic fibbing about France helping Iraqiofficials flee. He was told to ask the French.

During the war, there were other stories. It was said that Iraqi Revolutionary Guards executed coalition prisoners. The Jessica Lynch story was completely distorted and her family was ordered not to talk to the press so they could not clear up the misinformation. The Pentagon painted her as “America’s new Mambo” and falsely claimed she was abused in the Iraqi hospital and had been wounded by the Iraqis in action.

The White House Coalition Information Center under Karen Hughes generated much information about the mistreatment of women in Afghanistan that was accurate. However, there was really no interest in correcting conditions there. Mrs. Bush talked about the Taliban pulling out the fingernails of women who used nail polish, and Tony Blair’s wife made about the same comments three days later. There was a lot of unsourced information going out that Al Quada was behind the mailing of anthrax even though the evidence was clear that it had been developed in US military laboratories.

A similar process was used in building support for the war in Iraq. Public relations firms were involved in both efforts. A particularly effective private concern was Rendon Associates, which had been used to fan resentment before the First Gulf War In 2003, the PR firms hired by the White House to shape perceptions participated in a conference in London. They believed that the idea of an embedded journalist, introduced in Afghanistan, was most useful. If people focused on the personal stories of servicemen and the Meals Ready to Eat, they would not criticize the war. A problem was the use of retired military personnel as commentators. They were generally favorable to the Pentagon but sometimes provided information that critics could use. In the next war, the Pentagon would find ways to better control the context of reports.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Mockingbird: Controlling Opinion

Early government efforts to control what the press reported grew out of a desire to enlist maximum support for US positions in the cold war. The vast information control mechanism that grew up after World War II was not essentially designed to cover up covert and illegal actrivities. Former agent Paul Kangas, listed people and agencies that were used by the C.I.A., and like others, was particularly critical of the very close ties between the C.I.A. and the Washington Post under both Philip and Katherine Graham.

• William Paley (President, CBS)
• Henry Luce (Publisher, Time and Life magazine)
• Arthur Hays Sulzberger (Publisher, N.Y. Times)
• Jerry O'Leary (Washington Star)
• Hal Hendrix (Pulitzer Prize winner, Miami News)
• Barry Bingham Sr., (Louisville Courier-Journal)
• James Copley (Copley News Services)
• Joseph Harrison (Editor, Christian Science Monitor)
• C.D. Jackson (Fortune)
• Walter Pincus (Reporter, Washington Post)
• Associated Press
• United Press International
• Reuters
• Hearst Newspapers
• Scripps-Howard
• Newsweek magazine
• Mutual Broadcasting System
• Miami Herald
• Old Saturday Evening Post
• New York Herald-Tribune

C.I.A. director William Colby said, "The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." In the agency, Colby was known as “The Dicttor of Dent Place.” In 1975, the Church Committee discovered Operation Mockingbird, a C.I.A. program to shape information that appeared in the foreign and domestic media. This name was assigned to the agency’s disinformation program by outsiders, not the agency itself.

Its official name was the Propaganda Assets Inventory. Agents called it “Wisner’s Wurlitzer.” Frank Gardiner Wisner established it in 1948, and it would run out of the Office of Policy Coordination. It was to focus on counter-intelligence and propaganda. It later came under the Directorate for Plans. Wisner was in and out pf psychiatric treatment for years and finally shot himself on October 29, 1965. An early recruit was Philip J. Graham of the Washington Post; he was a graduate of the Army Intelligence School.

William Paley of CBS, a former army colonel, had a good working relationship with the agency, and it is not known if he ever required payments. Paley admitted working for the agency in the 1950s. CBS became the agency’s most reliable media asset. Other right wing media moguls like Henry Luce willingly cooperated with the C.I.A.. Richard Mellon Scaife, a right winger, permitted the C.I.A. to use his Forum World Features to spread sotries around the world. Walter Cronkite, a liberal and former intelligence officer, was probably recruited even though it is known that he eventually withdrew his support of the Vietnam War. Wisner was able to prevent the American press from covering C.I.A. efforts to overthrow the governments of Iran and Guatemala. Allen Dulles, Richard Helms and Graham were to also head this propaganda operation.

Wisner soon employed people at the New York Times and the television networks, particularly CBS. An agent once told Phil Graham, "You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month." Phil’s wife, Katherine Graham, told C.I.A. employees in 1988: "We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows." The C.I.A. also entered book publishing in a big way. By 1967, it had subsidized the printing of 1000 books, 25% of which were in English.

Wisner killed himself in 1961. In the fifties, Cord Myer became its principle operative, entrusted with spying on liberal organizations. Labor leaders were also on the payroll and used to limit the influence of communists in the international labor movement. In those years, the agency ran a program to train its agents to become journalists and “to make noises like reporters," The agency also bankrolled foreign newspapers, magazines, and press services.

Important journalists on the C.I.A. payroll were Joseph and Stuart Alsop, James Reston, Ben Bradlee . As a boy, Bradlee’s best friend was Dick Helms. Bradlee was with ONI during the wear and he married the daughter of Governor Saltonstall, who was also an intelligence operative. After the war, he was sent to infiltrate the ACLU and eventually went to work for the Washington Post. From there he went to the State Department and then to a posting in France.

These and others received payment for their writing and were given classified information to support their stories. By 1953, they influenced the policies of the wire services and 25 major newspapers. It has been estimated that 3000 to 6000 journalists were on the C.I.A. payroll. In 1978, the cost of spreading disinformation had reached $265 million.

A year before, Copley News Service admitted that 28 of its employees were full time C.I.A. operatives. But most C.I.A. connected reporters did not require a full-time salary. The Luce pubnlications workeds closely with the C.I.A. and Mrs. Luce later became an officer of the organization for retired intelligence officers. Some have thought it odd that Life purchased and locked away the Zapruder film of the JFK assassination. It is curious that the frames it printed were shown out of sequence to buttress the Warren Report’s conclusions.

A ranking official once told Carl Bernstein that “One journalist is worth twenty agents.” Their job was essentially to support the government line in foreign affairs and the cold war. Academi C.I.A.ns were influenced through the Congress for Cultural Freedom, founded by Tom Braden.

J. Edgar Hoover resented the influence of the OPC and made fun of Wisner’s ”gang of wierdos.” The F.B.I. investigated Wisner’s assets and often found that these people had been leftists in the 1930s. Hoover blocked Cord Myer from receiving a security clearance. With the help of Hoover, Senator Joseph McCarthy claimed the agency was a haven for communists.

The early Mockingbird people were tied to a circle of Georgetown intellectuals were fairly liberal and had C.I.A. ties. That is partly why Hoover resented these people. In the fifties, the agency reached out to the right to expand its media influence. According to John Loftus, it established the Crusade for Freedom to raise money and support for resettling rightists and former Nazis in the United States. Actor Ronald Reagan became involved in this activity. Through a business arrangement with Reagan and others that gave the mafia part interest in MCA studio, the C.I.A. also gained influence in Hollywood. Historian C. Vann Woodwrd wrote in 1987 that Reagan "fed the names of suspect people in his organization to the F.B.I. secretly and regularly enough to be assigned 'an informer's code number, T-10.' His F.B.I. file indicates intense collaboration with producers to 'purge' the industry of subversives." Cap Cities, another media giant, emerged with the help of money from the C.I.A.’s drug operations. Other investors were Thomas E. Dewey and Lowell Thomas. Somehow Myer Lansky money also was involved.

Frank Church’s Senate Select Intelligence Committee learned of the operation and decided to bury most of its findings. In 1976, C.I.A. Director George H.W. Bush prohibited the future employment of journalists as C.I.A. assets. Finally, in 1982 the agency admitted to the public that it had hired reporters and had even used them as case officers. The Bush prohibition only covered “accredited” journalists and thus probably extended to about half the people it had working in the media field

In the late 1980s, former C.I.A. deputy director Ralph McGehee said that in his time at the agency, it always had at least six reporters at the New York Times and another six at the Washington Post. Another former C.I.A. official tghen told about hhe and his colleagues were able to create atrocity stories in Angola and easily place them in the mainstream press. Abroad, in the 1980s, the C.I.A. sometimes simply purchased newspapers and radio stations to make sure the right stories got out.

Today, the agency supports several hundred people around the world who have the ability to get C.I.A. views into newspapers, magazines and journals. There was talk in 1989 about the old C.I.A. subsidy to CBS being transferred to ABC A 1992 C.I.A. report suggests that the C.I.A. still uses reporters and media people. .. In 2001, it was reported that American reporters were threatened with loss of Secret Service and other credentials in they reported on French reports about interviews given by the late F.B.I. anti-terrorism expert John O. Neill. Very little of this story got into the US press. At the same time, foreign press services were threatened with loss of C.I.A. subsidies if they aired the O’Neill story. As late as 1996, in a conversation with Gregory Douglass, former operations expert Bob “Crow” Crowley said: . I think you can say that the Company pretty well controls the media in this country now.”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Early Government Spying on American Citizens

In 1952, the C.I.A. began a 21 year program of reading the mail that passed between US citizens and people in communist countries. It was called HT Lingual. Over 200,000 letters were read and 2 million envelopes were photographed. The NSA started reading telegrams leaving and coming into the US and got up to about 150,000 per month by the 1970s. This program had its origins during World War II and was carried on by the Army Security Agency and then the NSA. The NSA program was called Operation Shamrock. The telecommunications companies agreed to turn over all cables, and RCA had a vice president with an Army Signal Corps background to deal with this. There were direct cables to the Army and records of important communications within law firms and corporations were maintained. On December 16, 1947 General Ingles of RCA and Sosthenes Behn of ITT met with Defense Secretary James Forrestal to deal with exemption from prosecution.

By the 1960s, the NSA was able to use computer programs to scan for certain words, making the program more efficient. In the Nixon years, it was used to compile a list of 75,000 of Richard Nixon’s political enemies. From that list was culled MANARET, a watch list of 600 dangerous persons. Among them were Joan Baez, Benjamin Spock, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Church Committee learned of Shamrock in 1975, but NSA said it destroyed its lists and files in 1974. In March, 1977, the Justice Department decided no one should be prosecuted in connection with this spying, arguing that it had been made legal by NSCID No. 9 (aka No. 6). That meant it was legal because it was technically a joint project with the F.B.I..

In 1965, J.Edgar Hoover started recruiting journalists for his COINTELPRO. These people were to write articles to influence Congress and public opinion. He also started planting people, often from the military, in peace groups. His F.B.I. people had long helped NSA steal codes any ciphers and bugging lines in embassies and corporations, but he stopped the black bag jobs in 1967 out of fear they would be discovered. By then he was worried about his legacy. Later he would disband COINTELPRO. The reduction of the numbere of black bag jobs might explain why the agency found it necessary to use criminal cutouts and the Nixon White House to use a plumbers’ unit.

In October, 1967, Lyndon B. Johnson established “Operation Chaos” in the C.I.A.. Its role largely was to spy on American citizens who objected to the war in Vietnam. Of course, to one extent or other, the C.I.A. has been spying on domestic dissidents since 1959. Chaos relied largely upon people from the Domestic Operations Division, and others were borrowed from European assignments. The Domestic Operations Division was created sometime between 1962 and 1965, whose first head was Tracy Barnes. It was located 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue, not at Langley. From the beginning Richard Helmes was its driving force, and Helms removed Barnes when he bedcame DCI in 1967. It is believed that under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that Domestic Operations was headquartered in Denver. The relocation might be related to the fact that NSA has significant storage facilities in the area for intercepted electronic communications of all kind. The NSA has moved many of its personnel from Fort Meade to Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, where its National Resources Division has relocated. . The Army’s new Northern Command (NORTHCOM) has its headquarters in Colorado, aqnd it too has significant data storage and analysis facilities there. The C.I.A. insists that the Domestic Operations Division only works within the United States to gather information about foreign governments.

From the beginning Domestic Operations was comprised of old hands. The agency’s charter forbade domestic police and domestic surveillance operations, but this division had existed for some time. For a time, E. Howard Hunt was assigned to it. It occupied a full floor at 1750 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. A major objective was to infiltrate the New Left anti-war circles. As is well known, the C.I.A. pumped huge amounts of money in to the National Students Association, and it infiltrated a number of other student organizations. Even before Johnson established Chaos, the C.I.A. was working with students. Gloria Steinem admitted working for the agency in the late 50s and early 60s. She said she never spied on other Americans, but some say that was only because she was never asked. The official report on Chaos, says it began in 1967, so the previous material might be labeled “pre-Chaos. “ By 1967, the unit was pursuing dissidents, black militants, and Congressmen. It was to learn all it could about campus anti-war militants and to disrupt their activities. The program was justified as an effort to predict violent activities against the United States government. It was claimed that there was possible foreign involvement in the peace activities and this was also a basis for justifying the program and C.I.A. activity in domestic matters.
The Pentagon joined the efforts directed against dissidents in 1968, when it established the Directorate of Civil Disturbance and Planning Operations. It established a “domestic war room” in the basement of the Pentagon manned by 180 people.
F.B.I. personnel from its Cointelpro operation cooperated cooperated with the C.I.A.’s Operation Chaos. Since 1950, the Bureau had a database containing the names of thousands of Americans it considered suspicious and potentially subv ersive. Among them were teachers, doctors, scientists, lawyers—people from all walks of life. The Bureau had long been watching dissidents, defined as anyone differing from the thought of J.Edgar Hoover. . Cointelpro was devoted to keeping track of people considered political radicals. The Bureau later admitted carrying out 2218 Cointelpro operations between 1956 and mid-1974. Eventually, the Senate’s Church Committee unearthed some of these activities and concluded thatmany security and law enforcement personnel considered themselves guardians of the status quo.

The program continued under Richard Nixon, and Kissinger was combing through these files. In June, 1970, President Richard Nixon greatly ramped up the operation in a meeting wth key figures, such as J. Edgar Hoover, NSA Director Admiral Noel Gaylor, and Richard Helms. The agents worked with police and college administrators to identify dissidents and demonstrations were monitored. Agents also joined anti-war organizations. The F.B.I. gave Chaos all its reports on peace groups, amounting to about a thousand a month. The Domestic Operations Division had files on 13,000 individuals and 1,000 organizations. It also burgularized foreign embassies. Local police departments were rewarded for assistance through gifts of high-grade equipment. In 1972, the C.I.A. inspector general’s report reflected growing concern that the program had gone too far.

.. we also encountered general concern over what appeared to be a monitoring of the political views and activities of Americans not known to be or suspected of being involved in espionage ... Stations were asked to report on the whereabouts and activities of prominent persons ... whose comings and goings were not only in the public domain, but for whom allegations of subversion seemed sufficiently nebulous to raise renewed doubts as to the nature and legitimacy of the CHAOS program.

Properly we should be talking about the C.I.A.’s Operation Chaos and the activities of the F.B.I.’s CounterIntelligence Program. They worked together to carry out the goals of Chaos. They investigated all sorts of dissidents, including “restless youth,” “advocates of new lifestyles,” and the New Left. Over the life of the program, it shared information on over 300,000 persons with other law enforcement people, including the F.B.I.. Deputy Director William Sullivan intended to tell the House Select Committee on Assassinations that he had opposed continuing Cointel-Pro, but he died in a hunting accident before he could testify.
The C.I.A. gathered the names of 300,000 people whose loyalty was questionable, and thousands of them were put on a watch list. The United States Army joined in the domestic surveillance program using 1500 agents in 350 offices and created its own list. Army Intelligence spearheaded this effort, and many of its offices were on college campuses. The National Security Administration was also involved, but we know next to nothing about its activities.

Defenders of J. Edgar Hoover said he knew little about Operation Chaos, but review of some remaining files show that the C.I.A. was using many F.B.I. files, most undigested. They simply pulled names out of them and put them in a master index. Many operatives from the agency’s covert divison were used in the United States, sometimes dressed up as hippies. They resented doing this work, as did the leadership of the C.I.A.. An effort was to reduce this kind of activity, and even Hoover came to see that it could damage the F.B.I.’s profile.

Richard Nixon greatly expanded the surveillance, and the F.B.I. was ordered to keep track of the private lives of Nixon’s political opponents. When Nixon left office, investigators found hundreds of reports of electronic surveillance and break-ins. None of this was done with warrants. It was illegal, except that Nixon would go on record as saying northing a president does can be illegal. Under him an Inter Agency Committee on Intelligence was formed to coordinate domestic spying. It was temporarily chaired by J. Edgar Hoover, but William Sullivan of the bureau eventually was to chair it. Hoover was to fire Sullivan for cooperating too closely with other intelligence agencies. The committee recommended more mail-opening and black bag jobs. It was based on the Huston Plan, which h is well known. He was a White House assistant in charge of domestic intelligence.

But few realized it was implemented to some degree because the activitied suggested by Tom Huston had been underway for some years. Huston knew about Operation Chaos and wanted to greatly expand the activity. But this occurred at a time when some within the C.I.A. wanted an end to the illegal activity. House Majority Leader Hale Boggs had an idea of what was going on and denounced the F.B.I. on the House floor for tapping the telephones of Representatives and Senators.

Under pressure from Attorney General John Mitchell, Huston soon resigned, giving the appearance the plan was dead. The problem may hav been that Tom Huston was simply too young and made the proposal in too open a manner.

. By this time, Hoover had grown cautious and tried to drag his feet. Hoover was concerned because there were so many intelligence break-ins that exposure was likely. He shut down COINTELPRO in April, 1971. There was no longer a mechanism to coordinate spying, black bag jobs, etc., but these activities were continued. A month later, a break-in at the Media, PA office of the F.B.I. produced a thousand documents that pointed to the COINTELPRO operation with its infiltration of student groups and spying on dissenters. In 1973, classified information was found that proved that the F.B.I. spied on reporters.

There was also the less known Intelligence Evaluation Committee (IEI), which was know as the Son of Huston Plan. White House Counsel John Dean arranged it. It included people from NSA, DoD, and C.I.A. and essentially adopted the Huston Plan, which appeared to have been official ly rejected. Much of the surveillance was to track down drug traffickers. G. Gordon Liddy attended in order to initiate investigation of Pentagon Papers leaks.

Clearly Operation Chaos, established a major precedent for domestic spying. Evidence is beginning to surface about domestic surveillance by the F.B.I. of peace activists in the administration of George.W. Bush. The Progressive Magazine obtained records that demonstrated that the bureau had at least two informers within the Iowa City peace and justice group. They provided very detailed information on its members, including information on their appearances, living arrangements, and the automotobiles they drove.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Strange Crash of John F. Kennedy, Jr.

John F. Kennedy Jr. planned to announce his plans to run for U.S. Senator from New York or president on August 1, 1999. Young Kennedy had already employed a security firm to protect him. He was America’s Golden Boy in many ways, including being a compelling speaker. His plane was lost on Friday, July 16, 1999. His wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister, Laurin Bessette, died with him. He was flying into Martha’s Vineyard to drop off Laurin before going on to Hyannis. He had not flown over open water and had been hugging the coasts.

A few seconds after Kennedy identified himself to the Martha’s Vineyard airstrip at 9:39P.M., his plane descended in excess of 6,000 feet per minute. The UPI reported that just before the dive, he told the airport he was dropping off a passenger before going on to Hyannis. The report also said there was 8 miles visibility. The UPI first reported the 8 mile visibility and JFK Jr. calmly talking to the tower. Later the press was reported that Martha’s Vineyard was hammered with heavy fog. The weather reports that Kennedy Jr. used were not found. The F.B.I. report on the accident cannot be declassified until 7/22/29

The FAA rules are that if a plane does not land 5 minutes after it has contacted a tower, the search must begin immediately. Planes were not sent to search until 14 and a half hours had elapsed.

The National Transportation Safety Board quickly ruled that the crash was due to “pilot error” and speculated that he suffered’spatial disorientation.”The Pentagon took the lead in reporting that Kennedy had not used his radio before approaching. Witnesses said visibility was reasonably good, but the NTSB did not say there was 8 miles visibility. Its report quoted the Martha's Vineyard tower operator as saying the stars were out. According to him, visibility was 10 to 12 miles.

According to the media, the airstrip was blanketed with haze. Boston TN news reported that he used his radio; now the story was that he was lost. The official story added that he stalled his engine, but the tracks show the plane was going too fast for that. It was said that his instruments went out, but earlier reports were that the radar was getting good data from his altimeter. Some said his vacuum pump went out, but there was a back up vacuum pump which would have permitted him to still know where the horizon was. The plane also had autopilot and could have been kept on it for quite some time. It also had a black box, very rare for a private plane. The NTSB said its battery had been removed.

The report said the Emergency Locater Transmitter was turned off. This cannot happen by accident as there is a safety switch.The fuel valve was turned off. To do so at a high speed would kill the engine. It would have been suicide, or it was somehow disabled.

The flight log book was missing. The public was told told he was a bad pilot. Two, Andrew Goldman of the New York Observer and Cindy Adams of the New York Post checked out the story and suspected they had been lied to. The tale was also circulated that he had only 40 hours flying experience. The number was actually 400. Three flight instructors who had taught Kennedy said he was a very good pilot. The official story plus these other claims have been termed “classic media disinformation, if not outright lies.”

By following the mainstream press, we only learn that there were several serious problems with what came to be the accepted story of the accident. To go beyond that, we must consult sources that are sometimes reliable and sometimes miss the mark.

Sherman Skolnick reported that an explosive device was attached to the tail luggage compartment. At the end, the plane was front heavy because the tail was gone. He also reported that satellite images showed what could have been an explosion. He and Tom Flocco have a history of using dissident elements in the USD intelligence community and information from the French. However, Flocco accuracy rate is not as good as that of Slolnick. A problem with both is that they refuse to name their sources. Flocco printed the testimony of a former F.B.I. and Interpol agent B. Delbert: JFK Jr.’s plane broke in half just aft of the cabin. The damage was caused by a plastique (C 4) shape charge which was formed along the bottom of the fuselage and up along both sides of the walls. The charge was caused to be set off or exploded with a large spark generated by a barometric switch device triggered by the altitude of the plane. In other words, the assassins chose the altitude for the explosion of the plane a standard procedure to make the target’s murder look like an accident.

Wayne Madsen, using an unnamed law enforcement source, says the F.B.I. agents fanned out around the point of departure to see if anyone in the earea had purchased epoxy that day. The French magazine France Dimanche quoted someone who had watched Kennedy take off as saying he heard a strange sound eminating from the plane. It is theorized that someone could have attached a whistle that would emit a sound that could help someone on the ground zero in on the plane. There was odd boating activity in the area around Martha’s Vineyard Airport, and the boaters the bureau found were fishing for spriped bass in an area where they are not found.

Kennedy had published an Oliver Stone piece about the assassination of his father, and young Kennedy admitted that his father died as a result of a conspiracy. Thee could be little doubt he was interested in pursuing the matter. In 1998, a nutritionist Dr. True Ott gave a copy of the Gemstone Files to a representative of George Magazine. The files contained documentation on the murder of John F. Kennedy and ten collateral assassination needed to clean up details. John F. Kennedy Jr. Later called Ott and said he would publish information about the assassination and that he had paid private investigators to check out the Gemstone Files. Those papers placed George. H. Bush at the center of the assassination. They are essentially the notes of an investigator who hung around an intelligence safehouse/bar in San Francisco, listening to relaxed agents tell stories. It is unclear how much of the material represent what the bartender hears. A great deal of the information in these rambling notes could only bne known to intelligence people or students of the black bag operations. The overall interpretations are best ignored.

Ten witnesses said they saw Michael Harari and another Mossad agent standing next to Kennedy’s Cessna at the New Jersey airport. If Mossad were involved, it probably was as an agent for some element in power in the US. It has often been employed to do US dirty work. It is not to be assumed that Israel had anything against young Kennedy.

It was probably only coincidental that George W. Bush was near the New Jersey airport Kennedy used when John-John took.off. Bush disappeared three days before Kennedy’s death and his staff was never able to say where he was. He could have been off with a lover, but some invbestigators insist he disappeared to coordinate the hit on Kennedy.

Some might recall that Ted Kennedy escaped a potentially deadly plane crash in June, 1964. His plane had been sabotaged.

On July 9, 1999, three planes were accidentally vectored by FAA Chicago air control in Aurora into the path of Air Force Two, carrying Al Gore. The Secret Service was supposed to have people on duty in that air traffic control center, but none were there. The Chicago-Sun Times was the only paper to cover the event; it did not include it on its internet offering. On July 29, Admiral Engen, a top FAA official , died when his air glider disintegrated. The relavant weather radar reports could not be found.

We know that two weeks before the crash, John Jr. had a telephone conversation with a Dr. True Ott, who had provided George Magazine with a copy of a controversial manuscript called the Gemstone Papers, which included an account of who killed JFK. John Jr. had taken time with it and thought the account was valid. There is a substantial body of evidence that John was preparing to reopen the story of the assassination of his father. He was also tracking down more information on the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sirhan Sirhan and the Death of Robert F. Kennedy

Recently, two forensic experts, Robert Joling and Philip Van Praag, reported at the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science on their study of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. They analyzed the Pruszynski tape, which recorded sounds in the pantry where Kennedy was shot in 1968. Independent journalist Stanislaw Pruszynski, who covered the campaign for the Montreal Gazette, had inadvertently left his recorder running that day. They found that 14 rather than 8 shots were fired from two guns. The fatal shot came from a gun that was behind the senator. Van Praag also offered his findings at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Science, of which he is past president.

Robert Francis Kennedy was shot in the kitchen of Los Angeles’s Ambassador Hotel after winning the California Democratic primary on June 15, 1968. It was about a quarter past midnight. He was hit three times from the rear, all of the shots coming from a sharply upward angle. The first shot was in the back of the right ear and probably fired at the distance of three inches. A fourth shot went into his suite but did not penetrate his body. He expired the next day.

Few have questioned that there was a lone gunman, Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian gunman. A careful examination of all of the facts involved raises questions about what actually happened, but there is not enough information to construct a coherent alternative to the official story. This means that Sirhan Sirhan did not kill RFK.

People who observed Sirhan-Sirhan noted that he held his 22 pistol almost absolutely parallel to the floor. All witnesses said Sirhan’s gun was anywhere from 18 inches to 3 feet away from Kennedy. The four bullets that hit Kennedy and his clothes came from six inches away or less. They were point blank shots. The fatal shot to the head came from two inches away. No witness placed Sirhan’s gun any closer than 18 inches away.
Some critics of the official story insist that Kennedy was facing Sirhan and there is abundant witness testimony to support their view. If that is true, the bullets the Palestinian fired had to miss hitting Kennedy in the front, so they might have ricochet and somehow entered Kennedy from below and behind.

Kennedy did not turn his head enough for Sirhan to somehow hit the back of his ear. Five other people were wounded. One of those people was Paul Schrade, who was standing behind Kennedy and was somehow hit in the head by a bullet that had hit the senator, which was coming back to front and upward at about a 80 degree angle. Witnesses said Schrade was standing behind Kennedy. Another person was hit twice. Elizabeth Evans was bending over to find her shoe and was hit in the forehead by a bullet that somehow went through the ceiling tile, hit something hard, and bounced back into the room to hit her.

Oddly, Kennedy aide Rafer Johnson grabbed Sirhan’s gun and put in his pocket and did not realize he had it until the next morning, according to an interview he gave Tom Brokaw. Johnson was the Olympic gymnast who wrestled Sirhan to the ground. This small story sheds some light on the thoroughness of the on-site investigation.

People saw Sirhan firing and Kennedy fall. They cannot be blamed for putting the two events together. But if the coroner is right about the bullets coming from behind Kennedy, there is a problem understanding what happened.

People heard two shots and then a lot of pops, like balloon pops. A LA photographer described the scene.

There was either one or two shots fired. O.K. And then, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. There was a pregnant pause between those two because my initial impression was some jackass has set off firecrackers in here; because I got hit in the face with debris...And then it hit me. Oh, my God, it’s happened again.

The LAPD said eight shots were fired, all by Sirhan Sirhan. He must have gotten off all eight shots in his weapon, an Iver Johnson pistol. He did not have the opportunity to reload. The door jam in the room had two bullets and there were bullet holes in the ceiling tiles. Witnesses saw two policemen each removing at least one bullet from the door. That means at lest nine bullets were fired, before the ceiling is considered.

The LAPD said it removed 5 or 6 tiles but photographs show more tiles than that missing. The LAPD subsequently destroyed the tiles and door jam because they could not be conveniently saved in filing cabinets. The investigation was operated by Special Squad Senator, led by Lt. Manual Pena and Enrique Hernandez. Both had served on detached duty with the C.I.A. in Central America. Pena was brought out of retirement for the investigation and had been working for the C.I.A. in the interim. The unit had a way of losing documents.

Standing behind and to the side of Kennedy was Thane Eugene Cesar, brought in from the Ace Security Service at the last minute. He was a security guard at Lockeed and seemed to spend most of his time in an area operated by the C.I.A. Retired engineer Jim Yoder told an FBI agent that Cesar often had a floating assignment working in an off lkimits area known to be under the control of the CIA.

Thane said that when he heard a shot, he got on one knee and drew his gun. He had been holding the senator’s elbow. It was not standard practice for Ace employees to carry guns, but the LAPD did not pursue this. Because it was known that he was an outspoken Kennedy hater, the police subjected him to a polygraph test, which he passed. He was a George Wallace supporter. The LA Police did not examine his weapon to see if it had been fired.

Witnesses saw a blond haired man in a gray suit who was putting a weapon in his holster. A tall dark haired man in a black suit was seen fleeing. One witness saw a security guard fire a weapon. Police later told people who thought they saw a gunman in a suit that he was with the Secret Service.

A Youth for Kennedy volunteer, Sandy Serrano , told Sergeant Paul Schraga that he heard a young man and women say “We shot him.@ When asked who, they said “Senator Kennedy.@ She was a reasonably good looking woman in a polka-dot dress. . The same Youth for Kennedy volunteer told an NBC correspondent:

She practically stepped on me, and she said, "We’ve shot him. We’ve shot him." Then I said, "Who did you shoot?" And she said, "We shot Senator Kennedy." And I says, "Oh, sure." She came running down the stairs, very fast, and then the boy in the gold sweater came running down after her, and I walked down the stairs."

An older Jewish couple confirmed the young volunteer’s story. The tape of her questioning and lie detector test reveals that the police were trying to pressure her into abandoning her story. Years later, Serrano said she was no longer so sure of what she saw, and the authorities produced a fire inspector who said he did not see her where she was supposed to have been.

Lisa Pease , who has studied all the photographs of people in that pantry, believes the girl was the daughter of Khaiber Khan, an Iranian exile and espionage expert with ties to the C.I.A. who was working for RFK. He said he was not at the hotel, and he was not found on the pictures.

There was a Hungarian refugee there named Gabor Kadar. To get in, he stole a waiters uniform. He helped wrestle Sirhan. There is no way of knowing if he was a Kennedy fan or if he was there to help create a scuffle around Sirhan while conspirators escaped and or cover their tracks.

Schraga put out an All Points Bulletin, but his superiors asked him to cancel it. He declined, and they withdrew it for him, saying the comments of the young couple must have been misunderstood .

Within minutes of the shooting, the LAPD said there was a lone assassin. A department criminologist, De Wayne Wolfer , said it was “unbelievable how many holes there are in the ceiling.” Yet the single shooter theory was to depend upon the claim that there were only eight shots fired. Ex- F.B.I. agent William Bailey also said there were a large number of bullet shells, far more than eight. LAPD criminologist Larry Baggett analyzed the bullet that entered the senator’s neck and found that it was not fired from Shirhan’s gun. He concluded that the other bullets that hit Kennedy and William Weisel did not cvome from that weapon. Moreover, they did not all come from the same gun.

BBC investigator/film-maker Shane O’Sullivan has studied the film of the crime and found three former C.I.A. employees there. They were David Sanchez Morales, a veteran agent who worked for David Atlee Phillips. Before the shooting, David Rabern, a sometime C.I.A. contract worker saw saw Morales and Campbell and thought they were part of the security detail. Two are seen exiting the pantry after the shooting. They were David Sanchez Morales, a veteran agent who worked for David Atlee Phillips. Gordon Campbell, number two man in the huge Miami station (JM-Wave); and George Joannides. Morales was a deadly assassin and explosives man active in Central America.

At a late night party in 1973 he reportedly said, "I was in Dallas when we got the son of a bitch and I was in Los Angeles when we got the little bastard." Joannides , who would become chief of psychological operations, was connected with Cuban exiles in the early sixties, and there was an unsuccessful effort to access his records through the JFK Records Act. He was the C.I.A. liaison with the House Select Committee on Assassinations 1978 but never told them he was involved with the Cuban exiles. The latter two are now deceased. Morales was known to hate the Kennedys. After the murder of Kennedy, J. Edgar Hoover told his friend John Meier that he knew that the C.I.A. took out Bobby and that Robert Mahue was involved. Hoover said he was powerless to do anything about it. Meier was a Howard Hughes employee. Who knows how reliable Meier’s comment is by itself. No living man has more reason to detest the C.I.A.

Dr. Thomas Noguchi said in the autopsy report that Kennedy had been hit by three bullets. A fourth damaged his suit coat and came upward at about an 80 degree angle. Norguchi and LAPD criminologist DeWayne Wolfer both conducted powder tests and concluded that the three body shots came from about an inch away. Later,Noguchi pointed out that he had refrained from saying whether there could have been a second shooter. What survived from the police file was not released until 1988. The LAPD destroyed a large number of photographs it considered redundant.

Pierre Finck, JFK autopsyist, was consulted in the autopsy. Also involved was Russell Fisher, a Maryland coroner who had ruled that a bound, gagged, and weighted C.I.A. officer had committed suicide.

Evidence clearly shows that there were serious problems labeling bullet fragments and that two of the Kennedy bullets were “cleaned.” The most important fragments were booked under one set of numbers, placed in evidence with a different set of related numbers. They had also been taken into F.B.I. custody for eight days. The official blow-ups of the fragments can be questioned. A year before, in the Jack Kirschke case, criminalist Wolfer presented photographic evidence that a subsequent DA said in 1971 “ combined with his very esoteric photographic manipulations label his work in this instance nothing but perjury.” Pasadena criminologist William H. Harper found problem with Wolfer’s presentation of the evidence at the Sirhan Sirhan trial.

"My examinations disclosed no individual characteristics establishing that Exhibit 47 [the Kennedy neck bullet] and Exhibit 54 [the Weisel bullet] had been fired by the same gun. In fact, my examinations disclosed that bullet Exhibit 47 has a rifling angle of approximately 23 minutes (14%) greater than the rifling angle of bullet Exhibit 54. It is, therefore, my opinion that bullets 47 and 54 could not have been fired from the same gun."

There was also a problem with gun registration numbers. The test bullets were fired from a gun with the serial number H18602. The number on Sirhan’s gun was H53725. Maybe all this just points to sloppy record keeping. The confusion over the numbers was not resolved, and Wolfer said that at one point during the tests he did not have custody of gun # Hi8602 during the tests, but the records showed otherwise. Even when the case was finished, the bullet fragments were labeled in such a confusing way that they are probably of no value to anyone who would reopen the case. Several years later, tests showed that the prosecution contention that all the shells came from the same manufacturer was incorrect.

Sirhan’s first lawyer stipulated his guilt, hoping to cut a deal. This attorney had just finished defending an of Johnny Roselli. Witness Juan Romero said at the trial he saw the shooter and it was not Sirhan. The defense did not have access to the autopsy report until after the trial began. In other words, the prosecution sat on the autopsy report for almost six months. Sirhan was condemned to death, a sentence later commuted to live in prison.

When what was left of the Kennedy file was released in 1988, it turned out that over 2400 photographs had been burned. Without the door jam and tiles, the nearly obvious conclusion could not be proven—there were more bullets than Sirhan’s weapon would hold. Originally it was said there were no bullets in the door jam. After the trial, photographs turned up that showed bullet holes circled. If only one of those was really a bullet, it means there were at least 9 shots, even accepting the somewhat plausible LAPD theory advanced to explain how 8 could do so much damage.

Lawrence Teeter, Sirhan's second attorney, and Professor Philip Melanson think Sirhan was under some form of hypnosis, but that he also used his revolver. They also believe there was at least one more shooter. The first attorney had hired a psychiatrist whose questions seemed aimed more at implanting memories than learning anything useful. His diary contained strange “automatic writing” about it being necessary for Bobby Kennedy to die. He kept repeating statements that RFK must die, suggesting he had been programmed. Before the shooting, he spent some time at the ranch of fundamentalist preacher Jerry “The Walking bible” Owen, who said that Sirhan kept saying Kennedy must die because he would stop the Vietnam war, and God would not like that.

Charles McQuiston, a former Army intelligence officer , though Sirhan Sirhan had been programmed. “I believe Sirhan was brainwashed under hypnosis by the constant repetition of words like, 'You are nobody, you're nothing, the American dream is gone'.… Somebody implanted an idea, kill RFK, and under hypnosis the brainwashed Sirhan accepted it”

If Sirhan he was programmed, the trigger words came from a young woman who said to him "Could you pour me a cup of coffee with a lot of cream and a lot of sugar?" He claimed to remember those words and then someone wrestling him to the ground. Police Sergeant Bill Jordan said that Sirhan could remember everything that happened to him in the last year, but that he was a complete blank when it came to a twelve week period. It has been suggested that he was programmed then.

Oddly, a witness remembers a pretty girl standing next to and conversing with Sirhan. Some hypothesize that she was his controller. She was wearing a polka dot dress. Standing near here was a young man in a gold sweater. Vincent DiPierro, a waiter, said he and others noticed Sirhan because the pretty girl in the polka dot dress seemed to be sticking by him, talking to him, and at one point holding him up. The LA Police later convinced Vincent and the young volunteer, Sandy, to stop talking about the girl in the polka dot dress.

Another pantry witness, Darrell Johnson, saw the girl in the dress with dots.

"While I was waiting [for Kennedy], I saw four guys and a girl about halfway between Kennedy and where I was standing. The girl had a white dress with black polka dots. During the time that a lady yelled, "Oh, my God," they walked out. All except the one...this is the guy they grabbed [Sirhan]. The others that walked out seemed unconcerned at the events which were taking place."

For hours before the shooting, Sirhan was observed standing next to the newwire teletype machine with a vacant stare on his faith. After the shooting he could remember nothing but leaving the hotel at one point to go to his car. Many witnesses remarked on the wierd look, or stupid, sickly smile, on his face ehwne he fired his shots. The arresting officer wrote that Sirhan was "definitely under the influence of something."

Hours after the shooting, the late Dr. William Joseph Bryan, Jr, president of the American Institute of Hypnosis, was interviewed on a Los Angeles radio show and said obviously the shooter acted under post-hypnotic syggestion. Later, psychiatrists said that Bryan bragged about hypnotizing Sirhan. As a young man, he was briefly drummer for Tommy Dorsey’s band. This may have just meant he hypnotized Sirhan in jail, trying to get more information out of him. On the other had, he may have been trying to learn if Sirhan was under mind control. Bryan had a long history of work for the government and had visited Sirhan several timers. Oddly , Bryan was the grandson of William Jennings Bryan and a bishop in the Old Catholic Church, the same sect that claimed the membership of hypnotist David Ferrie. He was also technical consultant for the film, The Manchurian Candidate. Initially, Palestinian Sirhan said he did it for his country, but after his trial he denied that he shot Kennedy. He was a Palestinian zealot who grew up in the household of a zealot, yet he said at the trial that he knew nothing about the state of the Israeli-Palestinian controversy.

John Meier, a Hughes Tool employee, claims that J. Edgar Hoover told him that Robert Maheu of the C.I.A. and Hughes engineered the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Hoover added that he was powerless against the C.I.A., which might hav meant he did not regret Kennedy’s death.

Jimmy Breslin asked a group of friends if Bobby had the stuff to go all the way. John J. Lindsay answered, “Yes, of course, he has the stuff to go all the way, but he’s not going to go all the way. The reason is that somebody is going to shoot him. I know it and you know it, just as sure as we’re sitting here. He’s out there waiting for him.” Harold Weisberg discussed the possibility that RFK could be assassinated on Washington ,D.C. He said that he asked an RFK aide why the Senator accepted the Warren Commission Report, and the reply was “It’s simple, Bobby wants to live.” The aide added that there were, “too many guns between Bobby and the White House”. Harold got the impr4ession the guns belonged to the C.I.A

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It is unlikely that the full story of the assassination of Martin Luther King will ever be known.

Martin Luther King was shot at 6:01 PM on April 4, 1968 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. James Earl Ray, an escaped prisoner from Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, was eventually caught and confessed to the crime. It was claimed that he was a known racist and a loner, but his brother makes it clear he was no racist. In late 1967, his partner in crime was a man of mixed race and Ray did not seem to have a problem with that. At another point he had a job as a dishwasher, working with more than 3o blacks.

For part of his time in prison, he was watched very closely in E Hall because he had tried to escape. On the first failed attempt, he fell had hurt himself, and in the second he ended up hiding in a ceiling. By any account, he was not a very bright man. Once, when doing a robbery, the victims refused to turn over the money and he ended up falling out of a window. Another prisoner said he was “ a not-too-bright hillbilly.” Ray was one of a half-dozen men who rented out magaines in the yard, but he did not have as good a selection as his competitors. Fellow prisoners who used amphetamines claim that Ray was not selling drugs, as defenders of the lone nut theory insist. The man was a loner and would have been robbed by the gangs had he been selling drugs. George M. Camp, former head of the prison system, has written that there was no evidence Ray was selling drugs.

William Sullivan, then F.B.I. Director of Intelligence, wrote that he was convinced that Ray killed King but he thought he did not act alone. Someone showed him how to get a fake Canadian passport and to travel to Canada and Europe. Hoover had told Sullivan that King was a tool of the international Communist conspiracy, and Sullivan spnt years trying to destroy King’s good name.

He escaped April 23, 1967 travelled through St. Louis and went to Chicago, where he got a job as a dishwasher. He acquired a cheap car and a driver’s license, which gave him an identity. He met his brother Larry, who told him the F.B.I. was looking for him. He had received a large amount of money from a mob connected man named “Obie,” and gave his brother Larry $25,000 of it. From there he moved to the Montreal area, where he acquired money by robnbing a pimp. He claimed to meet a man in in a waterfront bar who was named “Raoul,” who would be the connection to the people behind the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Raoul gave him the Mustang and money and gave him instructions. During his period of freedom, Ray had engaged in the sophisticated use of aliases. In Montreal he had used the names of real people. He met C.I.A. man Jules Ron “Ricco” Kimble, and that agent later told BBC that in 1989 that he took Ray to a C.I.A. identity specialist. Kimble, a nororious racist with ties the mob, the Klan and Minutemen, is now in an El Reno, Oklahoma prison serving a life sentence. Kimble told Lyndon Barsten that a psychiatrist from the Allen Memorial Institute at McGill University hypnotized Ray. The Allen Institute was the site where C.I.A. mind control experiments were carried out after World War II. Dr. Philip Melanson interviewed a former C.I.A. agent who had served in Canada. The former agent confirmed that the agency had an identity specialist in Montreal, and he said. Raoul was called Raoul Maora

On January 4, 1968, Ray went to the office of Reverend Xavier von Koss, a hypnotist in Long Beach. James had another Los Angeles hypnotist, and thought he was taking a course from von Koss. Ray had been in News Orleans before that, and there is some evidence that he met William King Harvey there. Harvey was then head of Executive Action for the C.I.A.. It is theorized that the Mossad became very interested in using hypnosis to program assassins after the C.I.A.’s success in using Ray.

Three of the men, whose names Ray used, lived near each other in the Toronto area and resembled Ray in appearance. Ramon George Sneyds was one of them. Ray and someone else used this alias at the same time. The second Sneyds was in London at the same time as Ray and headed for Heathrow about the same time as Ray.

Ray spent several weeks in Mexico, attended bartending classes in Los Angeles, where he used the name “Eric Starvo Galt,” and there is evidence that someone else there was using the same alias. This is a standard practive of intelligence agencies used to make it hard to track people. The real Galt lived in Canada. Ray apparently did some gun running on the way to Memphis.

Ray said that the man who hired him was named Raoul, but it later turned out there was no “O” in the name. James Earl Ray never knew who Raul represented, but he thought it was a federal organization of some sort. There has even been some speculation that Raul may have represented the C.I.A.’s “Domestic Operations Division, ” established by Lyndon Johnson to deal with special national security problems. A VOCO (Vocal Order of the Commanding Officer) would have been enough to authorize an assassination. According to his brother, James had simultaneous contacts with the feds and the mafia. Raul gave Ray a telephone number to call to get instructions. It turned out to be a number for a motel owned by Carlos Marcello. His brother Larry wrote that even on the day of the assassination, Ray thought he was the get waway car driver.

The night before the killing , someone in King’s Atlanta office arranged to have
King’s room moved from an inside court to the second floor on the outside of the motel. It was exposed to potential shooters from several directions.

There was a firehouse in plain view of King’s room. There was also a field filled with weeds adjacent to the firehouse. After King was shot, Olivia Catling saw a man fleeing the field and race away in a Green Chevrolet, peeling rubber. Another witness saw smoke in the bushy field.

There were 16 white policemen at the firehouse on a rest break. They provided no useful information. There were two African American officers in the detail assigned to protect King. They were pulled off the detail, supposedly on the request of someone connected with King or that of a local African American minister. The two African American firemen assigned there had been moved to other locations for that night.

Solomon Jones, King’s chauffer, saw a man leaving the bushy area and saw a puff of smoke coming from the bushes near the bar. Earl Caldwell, a New York Times reporter, saw someone crouched in those bushes. . On the next day, on police orders, the city cut down the bushes in the field. After Jones made these comments, he was jailed on check stealing charges. Upon his release, he refused to discuss the case.

Ed Redditt, a black detective on the security detail was told he could go home. There were no other officers. He went to the fire house to continue watching. Later that afternoon, he was taken home because his life had been threatened
Ray was said to have shot Dr. King from a bathroom window in a flophouse/rooming house called Brewers Boarding House, above Jim’s grill. The F.B.I. ballistics expert wrote that a shot from there required a highly skilled marksman and that the gun would have to have been six inches into the wall. Hence, the persecutors had to argue that Ray had somehow contorted himself around the bathtub. The slug in King’s chest was not matched to the rifle. A second Remington weas found—this one stolen from a Memphis dealer. At the time, the F.B.I. did not run tests to see which rifle had definitely been used. Two residents of the building said Ray did not look like the man thought to be Ray.

The F.B.I. paid $30,000 in bills for the man who identified Ray leaving the flophouse. In prison, Ray told a TV interviewer in 1988 that the F.B.I. said they would arrest his father and brother if he did not confess to the killing.

Two witnesses saw Jowers, manager of the bar, carry the gun inside after Ray had discarded it while exiting the flophouse. Witnesses said he gave a gun to a cabbie who said he dropped it in the Mississippi River.
Betty Spates, a former barmaid at Jim’s said on February 10, 1969 that Jowers found the gun outside and may have actually been the trigger man. Two days later she recanted.

Ray’s fingerprints were found on a pair of binoculars and a rifle that was equipped with a sniper scope. He recanted his confession after three days, claiming he was forced into a plea deal by his lawyer. He was given a 99 year sentence.

Running from the flop house, he stopped at nearby Canipe’s Amusement Company and dropped off a bag with the Remiongton rifle, binoculars, ammunition, and other items. He had first purchased a Winchester, saying the Remington was too expensive. Then he made the exchange, claiming it was on the davice of his brother. He had purchased the weapon in Birmingham, using the name Harvey Lowmeyer.

Ray escaped in a pale yellow Mustang that looked white to witnesses. By coincidence, there was an almost identical Mustang seen fleeing the area. There was a faked radioaccount of a car chase that misled police. It was thought that some teenager was responsible, but some who have listened to the tape thought they heard the voice of a man in his mid-thirties. The car believed to bave been driven by Ray was found in Atlanta.

James Earl Ray travelled to Canada by bus, and then to Portugal and England. He was apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in London. It is very hard to believe he knew how to get a false passport to hide in Canada after his escape. When he was in England, after the King shooting, he bungled an attempt to rob a bank.

Much later, former F.B.I. agent Donald Wilson, who claimed to have impounded Ray’s white Mustang in Atlanta’s Capitol Homes project, claimed he found and kept a piece of paper with Raoul’s name written on it. He said he did not trust some people involved in the investigation. Jack and Mary Kershaw, who once represented Ray, said Raoul gave Ray a phone number he could use to obtain help from organized crime. The number was for a motel owned by Carols Marcello. William Bradfond Huie, Ray’s firwst lawyer, had been close to the F.B.I. since the 1930s, and may have taken the job to control the story. The second attorney, Percy Foreman, claimed to detest Huie, but the Ray family thinks the two of them worked for the governm,ent. There iw no way to know. Larry Ray does reprint a shocking letter from Foreman demanding that Ray plead guilty in return for a $500 loan to Jerry Ray.

In 1978, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that there was a conspiracy on the part of St. Louis bigots to kill King and that Ray was the shooter. At that time, Buster—not Buster Wortman—of the Bureau of Prisons spoke to Larry Ray, a prisoner in a halfway house awaiting permanent parole. Buster told him the HSCA wanted to clear any questions about where James Earl Ray’s money came from and to make sure there were no ties to the government. For that reason, Larry had to plead guilty to another bank robbery and that would eventually get him parole. He refused, was beaten by Buster in the presence of Father Zimmerman of Dismas Housde, and was sent to Marion for assaulting an officer. He was also beaten with a federal marshal’s chain.

Larry was to make a third appearance before the committee. For some reason, the man the feds had gotten to make up stories about the new robbery felt remorse, gave the notes the feds prepared for him to attorney Mark Lane, and held a press conference. Larry got out of Marion was rearrested on false burgulary charges. Larry Ray appeared for a third time , this time, at a televised hearing. Then James appeared, after having been badly beaten the day before. HSCA also went after their sister, Carol-Ray Pepper, making it appear she was a bag woman for the Mob. Larry Ray had his sentence extended several times, once three years for using paper towels to heat cold coffee. Another three years were added for being late in submitting handwriting samples to the F.B.I. crime lab. He was released in 1988 and had to have t both feet amputated. He feared hew would be imprisoned again, but he remained free.

In 1997, it was found that 2/3 of the bullets from the murder scene did not match the gun that was said to be Ray’s rifle, a Remington 760 Gamemaaster. Its scope was not sited. At the same time, Judge Joe Brown found that markings on some of the test bullets fired in that rifle did not match those on bullets at the murder scene.

On December 9, 1999, a Memphis civil jury found that the death of Martin Luther King was the result of a conspiracy and that Loyd Jowers, manager of a bar, was involved. Six of the jurors were white. They added that government agencies were also involved.

Loyd Jowers told Prime Time’s Sam Donaldson in 1993 a man named Raoul visited him the day before the shooting and brought him a gun in a box. He said Raoul was a gun runner who had migrated to the US from Portugal in 1961. According to Colin Piper, an investigator living in England, Raoul was part of an international arms smuggling operation . Lawrence Meyer was another smuggler and a close friend of Ruby, whom he met the night before the shooting of John Kennedy.

Dallas night club owner Jack Ruby was also involved in the smuggling and he and Raoul were seen together at the time of the JFK assassination. Eric Galt, a Canadian with some kind of ties to gun smuggling, also comes into the story. He owned a warehouse where top-secret C.I.A. materials were kept as well as some top secret Navy and army weapons. Since August 1967, there was a paper trail that he was cooperating with the 902 Military Intelligence Group in Project Mexpo, which seems to have been an effort to smuggle supplies to Israel. For some reason, Ray seemed to think he working for Israeli interests, and he came to support the Palestinian causes before his death. Ray used as his main alias “Eric Galt.”

Jowers claimed he was asked to help by a mafia-connected produce dealer named Frank C. Liberto. Libreto said there would be a patsy to take the blame and that no police would be present. Libreto sent a man with $100,000 for Jowers to hold. Jowers added that three policemen and to other people he thought were government agents were at a meeting where details of the assassination were discussed. One of those policemen later worked for the C.I.A.. Jowers said that Liberto had him hire the real shooter, but refused to say more without a grant of immunity. Jowers did not speak at the 1999 civil trial but the TV interview was shown.

At 5:15 that day, John McFerren was at Liberto’s warehouse to pick up produce. He heard Libreto tell someone on the phone,’shoot the son-of-a-bitch on the balcony." The Libreto involvement was confirmed by cafĂ©-owner Lavada Addison who said Liberto admitted to having King murdered. There was a witness to the conversation who confirmed it. Liberto said, `I didn't kill the nigger but I had it done.' I said, `What about that other son-of-a-bitch taking credit for it?' He says, `Ahh, he wasn't nothing but a troublemaker from Missouri. He was a front man . . . a setup man.'" The F.B.I. had received a tip about the Liberto connection, investigated, and discounted the story.

There is less than compelling evidence that there were two men on top of the firehouse that evening. They identified themselves as part of the Army's 111th Military Intelligence unit. They said there were to film everything King did. If they were there, did they just film what happened, or did they participate? It is known that several Special Forces units were used for domestic intelligence in those years.

Former C.I.A. operative and whistleblower Jack Terrill said that his friend J.D. Hill had been activated for a Special Forces sniper team that was to go to Memphis and serve in a back-up capacity. They were trained in triangular assassination, but their mission was cancelled while enroute to Memphis. The target was unknown. Hill was later shot to death. A senate Judiciary subcommittee on constitutional rights report in 1972 noted that the King organization had been “infiltrated by the 109th, 111th and 116th Military Intelligence Groups.” In Orders to Kill, King’s friend William Pepper provided the names of people in the 20th Special Forces Gropup whom he thought wre involved in the assassination.

Ted Willburn has done an impressive analysis of a photograph taken at the Lorraine hotel seconds after King was shot. There were three men on the balcony looking the same way and all pointing the same way—up at about 11 o-clock. One would think at first that they were pointing at the bathroom at the flophouse where Ray was supposed to have fired the shot. When the picture is enlarged it is clear they were not pointing at the bar/flophouse building. None was pointing at 422 South Main. Had that been the case, they would have been pointing straight-out at 9 o-clock. This is consistent with the autopsy finding that the bullet can downwared, moving from right to left and entering through Dr. King’s neck. They seemed to be pointing in the direction of a penthouse and the Memphis firehouse communications tower.

That photograph is also interesting because it shows Marrell McCollough of the Memphis Police Department’s Intelligence kneeling by King. He had been undercover and infiltrated civil rights groups. At the time he was back in the military as part of the 111th Military Intelligence Group assigned to his old department. After King’s death, he served as an agent provocateur and produced the convictions of some activists. He then joined the C.I.A.

The F.B.I. arrived at the murder scene in minutes but waited 30 minutes to put out the news of King’s death and the assailant’s flight. Its code name for Dr. King was “Zorro,” meaning false messiah in Spanish. Director J. Edgar Hoover told reporters in 1964 that Martin Luther King, Jr. was the “most notorious liar” in the country. The agency’s Conintelpro ( Domestic Intelligence) operation taped King’s telephones and living space and kept close tabs on his every move. One bug alone, in a Waldorf Astoria room, yielded 19 reels of tape. That division also provided outlets with anti-King articles and editorials. After King’s death, the F.B.I. watched Coretta Scott King because they feared she would link the peace movement to the civil rights movement.

Dr. McCarthy DeMere, who examined Ray before the sentencing, asked Ray if he really did it. Ray said "Well, let's put it this way, I wasn't in it by myself." On the other hand, the strongest argument against a conspiracy is that Ray remained alive a number of years after King’s death. In 1974, he told his brother Larry that the Feds paid the Mafia to kill King because “King started biting the hand that fed him.” Even then, Ray did not know if he was dealing with the military, the F.B.I., or the C.I.A.. He was just hypothesizing. Brother Larry said James did not even know the F.B.I. had a Division Five. There are two unconfirmed stories of federal agencies offering bounties for the murder of King. In June, 1989, Myron Billett, Sam Giancana’s chauffer, said thqat in 1968 he drove his boss and Carlos Gambino to an upstate New York motel to meet with representatives of the C.I.A. and the F.B.I.. The federal agents offered $1 million for the death of King, but the mobsters did not accept. Giancana said, "Hell no, not after you screwed up the Kennedy deal like that." The HSCA heard evidence of 1965 F.B.I. discussions with criminals in Louisville about a contract to kill King. An F.B.I. agent in Louisville confirmed that this discussion took place.

Bill Sartor, a LIFE stringer, and Louis Lomax, a friend of Martin Luther King, worked on books about the assassination. Lomax tied the event to the death of Malcom X and Sartor was interested in the mob connection. Sartor died of an alleged drug overdose that was later ruled a murder. Lomax died in a single car crash in New Mexico.

There is one odd link between James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan. Both men had been hypnotized by Reverend Xavier von Koss, head of International Society of Hypnosis. While Father Von Koss hypnotized Ray in Montreal, he worked on Sirhan Sirhan in Los Angeles. Even Gerald Posner, the establishment’s best apologist, admits that Father Von Koss met Ray, but he artfully explains it away.