- "You could get a journalist cheaper than a good
call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month." CIA operative discussing
with Philip Graham, editor Washington Post, on the availability and prices
of journalists willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories. "Katherine
The Great," by Deborah Davis (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1991)
- As terrible as it is to live in a nation where the press
in known to be controlled by the government, at least one has the advantage
of knowing the bias is present, and to adjust for it. In the United States
of America, we are taught from birth that our press is free from such government
meddling. This is an insideous lie about the very nature of the news institution
in this country. One that allows the government to lie to us while denying
the very fact of the lie itself.
- The Alex Constantine Article
- Tales from the Crypt The Depraved Spies and Moguls
of the CIA's Operation MOCKINGBIRD
- By Alex Constantine
- Who Controls the Media?
- Soulless corporations do, of course. Corporations with
grinning, double-breasted executives, interlocking directorates, labor
squabbles and flying capital. Dow. General Electric. Coca-Cola. Disney.
Newspapers should have mastheads that mirror the world: The Westinghouse
Evening Scimitar, The Atlantic-Richfield Intelligentser . It is beginning
to dawn on a growing number of armchair ombudsmen that the public print
reports news from a parallel universe - one that has never heard of politically-motivated
assassinations, CIA-Mafia banking thefts, mind control, death squads or
even federal agencies with secret budgets fattened by cocaine sales - a
place overrun by lone gunmen, where the CIA and Mafia are usually on their
best behavior. In this idyllic land, the most serious infraction an official
can commit __is a the employment of a domestic servant with (shudder) no
- This unlikely land of enchantment is the creation of
- It was conceived in the late 1940s, the most frigid period
of the cold war, when the CIA began a systematic infiltration of the corporate
media, a process that often included direct takeover of major news outlets.
- In this period, the American intelligence services competed
with communist activists abroad to influence European labor unions. With
or without the cooperation of local governments, Frank Wisner, an undercover
State Department official assigned to the Foreign Service, rounded up students
abroad to enter the cold war underground of covert operations on behalf
of his Office of Policy Coordination. Philip Graham, __a graduate of the
Army Intelligence School in Harrisburg, PA, then publisher of the Washington
Post., was taken under Wisner's wing to direct the program code-named Operation
- "By the early 1950s," writes formerVillage
Voice reporter Deborah Davis in Katharine the Great, "Wisner 'owned'
respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications
vehicles, plus stringers, four to six hundred in all, according to a former
CIA analyst." The network was overseen by Allen Dulles, a templar
for German and American corporations who wanted their points of view represented
in the public print. Early MOCKINGBIRD influenced 25 newspapers and wire
agencies consenting to act as organs of CIA propaganda. Many of these were
already run by men with reactionary views, among them William Paley (CBS),
C.D. Jackson (Fortune), Henry Luce (Time) and Arthur Hays Sulzberger (N.Y.
- Activists curious about the workings of MOCKINGBIRD have
since been appalled to f__ind in FOIA documents that agents boasting in
CIA office memos of their pride in having placed "important assets"
inside every major news publication in the country. It was not until 1982
that the Agency openly admitted that reporters on the CIA payroll have
acted as case officers to agents in the field.
- "World War III has begun," Henry's Luce's Life
declared in March, 1947. "It is in the opening skirmish stage already."
The issue featured an excerpt of a book by James Burnham, who called for
the creation of an "American Empire," "world-dominating
in political power, set up at least in part through coercion (probably
including war, but certainly the threat of war) and in which one group
of people ... would hold more than its equal share of power."
- George Seldes, the famed anti-fascist media critic, drew
down on Luce in 1947, explaining tha__t "although avoiding typical
Hitlerian phrases, the same doctrine of a superior people taking over the
world and ruling it, began to appear in the press, whereas the organs of
Wall Street were much more honest in favoring a doctrine inevitably leading
to war if it brought greater commercial markets under the American flag."
- On the domestic front, an abiding relationship was struck
between the CIA and William Paley, a wartime colonel and the founder of
CBS. A firm believer in "all forms of propaganda" to foster loyalty
to the Pentagon, Paley hired CIA agents to work undercover at the behest
of his close friend, the busy grey eminence of the nation's media, Allen
Dulles. Paley's designated go-between in his dealings with the CIA was
Sig Mickelson, president of CBS News from 1954 to 1961.
- The CIA's assimilation of old guard fascists was overseen
by the Operations Coordination Board, directed by C.D. Jackson, formerly
an executive of Time magazine and Eisenhower's Special Assistant for Cold
War Strategy. In 1954 he was succeeded by Nelson Rockefeller, who quit
a year later, disgusted at the administration's political infighting. Vice
President Nixon succeeded Rockefeller as the key cold war strategist.
- "Nixon," writes John Loftus, a former attorney
for the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, took "a
small boy's delight in the arcane tools of the intelligence craft - the
hidden microphones, the 'black' propaganda." Nixon especially enjoyed
his visit to a Virginia training camp to observe Nazis in the "special
forces" drilling at covert operations.
- One of the fugitives recruited by the American intelligence
underground was heroin smuggler Hubert von Blcher, the son of A German
ambassador. Hubert often bragged that that he was trained by the Abwehr,
the German military intelligence division, while still a civilian in his
twenties. He served in a recon unit of the German Army until forced out
for medical reasons in 1944, according to his wartime records. He worked
briefly as an assistant director for Berlin-Film on a movie entitled One
Day ..., and finished out the war flying with the Luftwaffe, but not to
engage the enemy - his mission was the smuggling of Nazi loot out of the
country. His exploits were, in part, the subject of Sayer and Botting's
Nazi Gold, an account of the knockover of the Reichsbank at the end of
- In 1948 he flew the coop to Argentina. Posing as a photographer
named Huberto von Bleucher Corell, he immediately paid court to Eva Peron,
presenting her with an invaluable Gobelin tapestry (a selection from the
wealth of artifacts confiscated by the SS from Europe's Jews?). Hubert
then met with Martin Bormann at the Hotel Plaza to deliver German marks
worth $80 million. The loot financed the birth of the National Socialist
Party in Argentina, among other forms of Nazi revival.
- In 1951, Hubert migrated northward and took a job at
the Color Corporation of America in Hollywood. He eked out a living writing
scripts for the booming movie industry. His voice can be heard on a film
set in the Amazon, produced by Walt Disney. Nine years later he returned
to Buenos Aires, then Dsseldorf, West Germany, and established a firm that
developed not movie scripts, but anti-chemical warfare agents for the government.
At the Industrie Club in Dsseldorf in 1982, von Blcher boasted to journalists,
"I am chief shareholder of Pan American Airways. I am the best friend
of Howard Hughes. The Beach Hotel in Las Vegas is 45 percent financed by
me. I am thus the biggest financier ever to appear in the Arabian Nights
tales dreamed up by these people over their second bottle of brandy."
- Not really. Two the biggest financiers to stumble from
the drunken dreams of world-moving affluence were, in their time, Moses
Annenberg, publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and his son Walter ,
the CIA/mob-anchored publisher of the TV Guide. Like most American high-rollers,
Annenberg lived a double life. Moses, his father, was a scion of the Capone
mob. Both Moses and Walter were indicted in 1939 for tax evasions totalling
many millions of dollars - the biggest case in the history of the Justice
Department. Moses pled guilty and agreed to pay the government $8 million
and settle $9 million in assorted tax claims, penalties and interest debts.
Moses received a three-year sentence. He died in Lewisburg Penitentiary.
- Walter Annenbeg, the TV Guide magnate, was a lofty Republican.
On the campaign trail in April, 1988, George Bush flew into Los Angeles
to woo Reagan's kitchen cabinet. "This is the topping on the cake,"
Bush's regional campaign director told the Los Angeles Times. The Bush
team met at Annenberg's plush Rancho Mirage estate at Sunnylands, California.
It was at the Annenberg mansion that Nixon's cabinet was chosen, and the
state's social and contributor registers built over a quarter-century of
state political dominance by Ronald Reagan, whose acting career was launched
by Operation MOCKINGBIRD.
- The commercialization of television, coinciding with
Reagan's recruitment by the Crusade for Freedom, a CIA front, presented
the intelligence world with unprecedented potential for sowing propaganda
and even prying in the age of Big Brother. George Orwell glimpsed the possibilities
when he installed omniscient video surveillance technology in 1948, a novel
rechristened 1984 for the first edition published in the U.S. by Harcourt,
Brace. Operation Octopus, according to federal files, was in full swing
by 1948, a surveillance program that turned any television set with tubes
into a broadcast transmitter. Agents of Octopus could pick up audio and
visual images with the equipment as far as 25 miles away.
- Hale Boggs was investigating Operation Octopus at the
time of his disappearance in the midst of the Watergate probe.
- In 1952, at MCA, Actors' Guild president Ronald Reagan
- a screen idol recruited by MOCKINGBIRD's Crusade for Freedom to raise
funds for the resettlement of Nazis in the U.S., according to Loftus -
signed a secret waiver of the conflict-of-interest rule with the mob-controlled
studio, in effect granting it a labor monopoly on early television programming.
In exchange, MCA made Reagan a part owner. Furthermore, historian C. Vann
Woodward, writing in the New York Times, in 1987, reported that Reagan
had "fed the names of suspect people in his organization to the FBI
secretly and regularly enough to be assigned 'an informer's code number,
T-10.' His FBI file indicates intense collaboration with producers to 'purge'
the industry of subversives."
- No one ever turned a suspicious eye on Walter Cronkite,
a former intelligence officer and in the immediate postwar period UPI's
Moscow correspondent. Cronkite was lured to CBS by Operation MOCKINGBIRD's
Phil Graham, according to Deborah Davis.
- Another television conglomerate, Cap Cities, rose like
a horror-film simian from CIA and Mafia heroin operations. Among other
organized-crime Republicans, Thomas Dewey and his neighbor Lowell Thomas
threw in to launch the infamous Resorts International, the corporate front
for Lansky's branch of the federally-sponsored mob family and the corporate
precursor to Cap Cities. Another of the investors was James Crosby, a Cap
Cities executive who donated $100,000 to Nixon's 1968 presidential campaign.
This was the year that Resorts bought into Atlantic City casino interests.
Police in New jersey attempted, with no success, to spike the issuance
of a gambling license to the company, citing Mafia ties.
- In 1954, this same circle of investors, all Catholics,
founded the broadcasting company notorious for overt propagandizing and
general spookiness. The company's chief counsel was OSS veteran William
Casey, who clung to his shares by concealing them in a blind trust even
after he was appointed CIA director by Ronald Reagan in 1981.
- "Black radio" was the phrase CIA critic David
Wise coined in The Invisible Government to describe the agency's intertwining
interests in the emergence of the transistor radio with the entrepreneurs
who took to the airwaves. "Daily, East and West beam hundreds of propaganda
broadcasts at each other in an unrelenting babble of competition for the
minds of their listeners. The low-price transistor has given the hidden
war a new importance," enthused one foreign correspondent.
- A Hydra of private foundations sprang up to finance the
propaganda push. One of them, Operations and Policy Research, Inc. (OPR),
received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the CIA through private
foundations and trusts. OPR research was the basis of a television series
that aired in New York and Washington, D.C. in 1964, Of People and Politics,
a "study" of the American political system in 21 weekly installments.
- In Hollywood, the visual cortex of The Beast, the same
CIA/Mafia combination that formed Cap Cities sank its claws into the film
studios and labor unions. Johnny Rosselli was pulled out of the Army during
the war by a criminal investigation of Chicago mobsters in the film industry.
Rosselli, a CIA asset probably assassinated by the CIA, played sidekick
to Harry Cohn, the Columbia Pictures mogul who visited Italy's Benito Mussolini
in 1933, and upon his return to Hollywood remodeled his office after the
dictator's. The only honest job Rosselli ever had was assistant purchasing
agent (and a secret investor) at Eagle Lion productions, run by Bryan Foy,
a former producer for 20th Century Fox. Rosselli, Capone's representative
on the West Coast, passed a small fortune in mafia investments to Cohn.
Bugsy Seigel pooled gambling investments with Billy Wilkerson, publisher
of the Hollywood Reporter.
- In the 1950s, outlays for global propaganda climbed to
a full third of the CIA's covert operations budget. Some 3, 000 salaried
and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts.
The cost of disinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated
$265 million a year by 1978, a budget larger than the combined expenditures
of Reuters, UPI and the AP news syndicates.
- In 1977, the Copely News Service admitted that it worked
closely with the intelligence services - in fact, 23 employees were full-time
employees of the Agency.
- Most consumers of the corporate media were - and are
- unaware of the effect that the salting of public opinion has on their
own beliefs. A network anchorman in time of national crisis is an instrument
of psychological warfare in the MOCKINGBIRD media. He is a creature from
the national security sector's chamber of horrors. For this reason consumers
of the corporate press have reason to examine their basic beliefs about
government and life in the parallel universe of these United States.
- How the Washington Post Censors the News
- [Note: Look for the paragraph indicated by asterisks]
- How the Washington Post Censors the News
- A Letter to the Washington Post by Julian C. Holmes ________________
- April 25, 1992 Richard Harwood, Ombudsman The Washington
Post 1150 15th Street NW Washington, DC 20071
- Dear Mr. Harwood,
- Though the Washington Post does not over-extend itself
in the pursuit of hard news, just let drop the faintest rumor of a government
"conspiracy", and a klaxon horn goes off in the news room. Aroused
from apathy in the daily routine of reporting assignations and various
other political and social sports events, editors and reporters scramble
to the phones. The klaxon screams its warning: the greatest single threat
to herd-journalism, corporate profits, and government stability -- the
dreaded "CONSPIRACY THEORY"!!
- It is not known whether anyone has actually been hassled
or accosted by any of these frightful spectres, but their presence is announced
to Post readers with a salvo of warnings to avoid the tricky, sticky webs
spun by the wacko "CONSPIRACY THEORISTS".
- Recall how the Post saved us from the truth about Iran-Contra.
- Professional conspiracy exorcist Mark Hosenball was hired
to ridicule the idea that Oliver North and his CIA-associated gangsters
had conspired to do wrong (*1). And when, in their syndicated column, Jack
Anderson and Dale Van Atta discussed some of the conspirators, the Post
sprang to protect its readers, and the conspirators, by censoring the Anderson
column before printing it (*2).
- But for some time the lid had been coming off the Iran-Contra
conspiracy. In 1986, the Christic Institute, an interfaith center for law
and public policy, had filed a lawsuit alleging a U.S. arms-for-drugs trade
that helped keep weapons flowing to the CIA-Contra army in Nicaragua, and
cocaine flowing to U.S. markets (*3). In 1988 Leslie Cockburn published
Out of Control, a seminal work on our bizarre, illegal war against Nicaragua
(*4). The Post contributed to this discovery process by disparaging the
charges of conspiracy and by publishing false information about the drug-smuggling
evidence presented to the House Subcommittee on Narcotics Abuse and Control.
When accused by Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY). of misleading
reporting, the Post printed only a partial correction and declined to print
a letter of complaint from Rangel (*5).
- Sworn testimony before Senator John Kerry's Subcommittee
on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations confirmed U.S. Government
complicity in the drug trade (*6). With its coverup of the arms/drug conspiracy
evaporating, the ever-accommodating Post shifted gears and retained Hosenball
to exorcise from our minds a newly emerging threat to domestic tranquility,
the "October Surprise" conspiracy (*7). But close on the heels
of Hosenball and the Post came Barbara Honegger and then Gary Sick who
authored independently, two years apart, books with the same title, "October
Surprise" (*8). Honegger was a member of the Reagan/Bush campaign
and transition teams in 1980. Gary Sick, professor of Middle East Politics
at Columbia University, was on the staff of the National Security Council
under Presidents Ford, Carter, and Reagan. In 1989 and 1991 respectively,
Honegger and Sick published their evidence of how the Republicans made
a deal to supply arms to Iran if Iran would delay release of the 52 United
States hostages until after the November 1980 election. The purpose of
this deal was to quash the possibility of a pre-election release(an October
surprise). which would have bolstered the reelection prospects for President
- Others published details of this alleged Reagan-Bush
conspiracy. In October 1988, Playboy Magazine ran an expose "An Election
Held Hostage"; FRONTLINE did another in April 1991 (*9). In June,
1991 a conference of distinguished journalists, joined by 8 of the former
hostages, challenged the Congress to "make a full, impartial investigation"
of the election/hostage allegations. The Post reported the statement of
the hostages, but not a word of the conference itself which was held in
the Dirksen Senate Office Building Auditorium (*10). On February 5, 1992
a gun-shy, uninspired House of Representatives begrudgingly authorized
an "October Surprise" investigation by a task force of 13 congressmen
headed by Lee Hamilton (D-IN). who had chaired the House of Representatives
Iran-Contra Committee. Hamilton has named as chief team counsel Larry Barcella,
a lawyer who represented BCCI when the Bank was indicted in 1988 (*11).
- Like the Washington Post, Hamilton had not shown interest
in pursuing the U.S. arms-for-drugs operation (*12). He had accepted Oliver
North's lies,and as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee he derailed
House Resolution 485 which had asked President Reagan to answer questions
about Contra support activities of government officials and others (*13).
After CIA operative John
- Hull (from Hamilton's home state). was charged in Costa
Rica with "international drug trafficking and hostile acts against
the nation's security", Hamilton and 18 fellow members of Congress
tried to intimidate Costa Rican President Oscar Arias Sanchez into handling
Hull's case "in a manner that will not complicate U.S.-Costa Rican
relations" (*14). The Post did not report the Hamilton letter or the
Costa Rican response that declared Hull's case to be "in as good hands
as our 100 year old uninterrupted democracy can provide to all citizens"
- Though the Post does its best to guide our thinking away
from conspiracy theories, it is difficult to avoid the fact that so much
wrongdoing involves government or corporate conspiracies:
- In its COINTELPRO operation, the FBI used disinformation,
forgery, surveillance, false arrests, and violence to illegally harass
U.S.citizens in the 60's (*16).
- The CIA's Operation MONGOOSE illegally sabotaged Cuba
by "destroying crops, brutalizing citizens, destabilizing the society,
and conspiring with the Mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro and other leaders"
- "Standard Oil of New Jersey was found by the Antitrust
Division of the Department of Justice to be conspiring with I.G.Farben...of
Germany. ...By its cartel agreements with Standard Oil, the United States
was effectively prevented from developing or producing [fo rWorld War-II]
any substantial amount of synthetic rubber," said Senator Robert LaFollette
of Wisconsin (*18).
- U.S. Government agencies knowingly withheld information
about dosages of radiation "almost certain to produce thyroid abnormalities
or cancer" that contaminated people residing near the nuclear weapons
factory at Hanford, Washington (*19).
- Various branches of Government deliberately drag their
feet in getting around to cleaning up the Nation's dangerous nuclear weapons
sites (*20). State and local governments back the nuclear industry's secret
public relations strategy (*21).
- "The National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer
Society and some twenty comprehensive cancer centers, have misled and confused
the public and Congress by repeated claims that we are winning the war
against cancer. In fact, the cancer establishment has continually minimized
the evidence for increasing cancer rates which it has largely attributed
to smoking and dietary fat, while discounting or ignoring the causal role
of avoidable eposures to industrial carcinogens in the air, food, water,
and the workplace." (*22).
- The Bush Administration coverup of its pre-Gulf-War support
of Iraq "is yet another example of the President's people conspiring
to keep both Congress and the American people in the dark" (*23).
- If you think about it, conspiracy is a fundamental aspect
of doing business in this country.
- Take the systematic and cooperative censorship of the
Persian Gulf War by the Pentagon and much of the news media (*24).
- Or the widespread plans of business and government groups
to spend $100 million in taxes to promote a distorted and truncated history
of Columbus in America (*25). along the lines of the Smithsonian Institution's
"fusion of the two worlds", (*26). rather than examining more
realistic aspects of the Spanish invasion, like "anger, cruelty, gold,
terror, and death" (*27).
- Or circumstances surrounding the U.S. Justice Department
theft from the INSLAW company of sophisticated, law-enforcement computer
software which "now point to a widespread conspiracy implicating lesser
Government officials in the theft of INSLAW's technology", says former
U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson (*28).
- Or Watergate.
- Or the "largest bank fraud in world financial history"
(*29), where the White House knew of the criminal activities at "the
Bank of Crooks and Criminals International" (BCCI) (*30), where U.S.
intelligence agencies did their secret banking (*31), and where bribery
of prominent American public officials "was a way of doing business"
- Or the 1949 conviction of "GM [General Motors],
Standard Oil of California, Firestone, and E. Roy Fitzgerald, among others,
for criminally conspiring to replace electric transportation with gas-
and diesel-powered buses and to monopolize the sale of buses and related
products to transportation companies throughout the country" [in,
among others, the cities of New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis,
Oakland, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles] (*33).
- Or the collusion in 1973 between Senator Abraham Ribicoff
(D-CT). and the U.S. Department of Transportation to overlook safety defects
in the 1.2 million Corvair automobiles manufactured by General Motors in
the early 60's (*34).
- Or the A. H. Robins Company, which manufactured the Dalkon
Shield intrauterine contraceptive, and which ignored repeated warnings
of the Shield's hazards and which "stonewalled, deceived, covered
- covered up the coverups...[thus inflicting] on women
a worldwide epidemic of pelvic infections." (*35).
- Or that cooperation between McDonnell Douglas Aircraft
Company and the FAA resulted in failure to enforce regulations regarding
the unsafe DC-10 cargo door which failed in flight killing all 364 passengers
on Turkish Airlines Flight 981 on March 3, 1974 (*36).
- Or the now-banned, cancer-producing pregnancy drug Diethylstilbestrol
(DES). that was sold by manufacturers who ignored tests which showed DES
to be carcinogenic; and who acted "in concert with each other in the
testing and marketing of DES for miscarriage purposes" (*37).
- Or the conspiracies among bankers and speculators, with
the cooperation of a corrupted Congress, to relieve depositors of their
savings. This "arrogant disregard from the White House, Congress and
corporate world for the interests and rights of the American people"
will cost U.S. tapayers many hundreds of billions of dollars (*38).
- Or the Westinghouse, Allis Chalmers,Federal Pacific,
and General Electric executives who met surreptitiously in hotel rooms
to fix prices and eliminate competition on heavy industrial equipment (*39).
- Or the convictions of Industrial Biotest Laboratories
(IBT). officers for fabricating safety tests on prescription drugs (*40).
- Or the conspiracy by the asbestos industry to suppress
knowledge of medical problemsrelating to asbestos (*41).
- Or the 1928 Achnacarry Agreement through which oil companies
"agreed not to engage in any effective price competition" (*42).
- Or the conspiracy among U.S. Government agencies and
the Congress to cover up the nature of our decades-old war against the
people of Nicaragua
- a covert war that continues in 1992 with the U.S. Government
applying pressure for the Nicaraguan police to reorganize into a more repressive
- Or the conspiracy by the CIA and the U.S. Government
to interfere in the Chilean election process with military aid, covert
actions, and an economic boycott which culminated in the overthrow of the
legitimately elected government and the assassination of President Salvador
Allende in 1973 (*44).
- Or the conspiracy among U.S. officials including Secretary
of State Henry Kissinger and CIA Director William Colby to finance terrorism
in Angola for the purpose of disrupting Angola's plans for peaceful elections
in October 1975, and to lie about these actions to the Congress and the
news media (*45). And CIA Director George Bush's subsequent cover up of
this U.S.-sponsored terrorism (*46).
- Or President George Bush's consorting with the Pentagon
to invade Panama in 1989 and thereby violate the Constitution of the United
States, the U.N. Charter, the O.A.S. Charter, and the Panama Canal Treaties
- Or the "gross antitrust violations" (*48) and
the conspiracy of American oil companies and the British and U.S. governments
to strangle Iran economically after Iran nationalized the British-owned
Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951. And the subsequent overthrow by the
CIA in 1953 of Iranian Prime Minister Muhammed Mossadegh (*49).
- Or the CIA-planned assassination of Congo head-of-state
Patrice Lumumba (*50).
- Or the deliberate and wilful efforts of President George
Bush, Senator Robert Dole, Senator George Mitchell, various U.S. Government
agencies, and members of both Houses of the Congress to buy the 1990 Nicaraguan
national elections for the presidential candidate supported by President
- Or the collective approval by 64 U.S. Senators of Robert
Gates to head the CIA, in the face of "unmistakable evidence that
Gates lied about his role in the Iran-Contra scandal" (*52).
- Or "How Reagan and the Pope Conspired to Assist
Poland's Solidarity Movement and Hasten the Demise of Communism" (*53).
- Or how the Reagan Administration connived with the Vatican
to ban the use of USAID funds by any country "for the promotion of
birth control or abortion" (*54).
- Or "the way the Vatican and Washington colluded
to achieve common purpose in Central America" (*55).
- Or the collaboration of Guatemalan strong-man and mass
murderer Hector Gramajo with the U.S. Army to design "programs to
build civilian-military cooperation" at the U.S. Army School of the
Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Georgia; five of the nine soldiers accused
in the 1989 Jesuit massacre in El Salvador are graduates of SOA which trains
Latin/American military personnel (*56).
- Or the conspiracy of the Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant
administration to harass and cause bodily harm to whistleblower Linda Porter
who uncovered dangerous working conditions at the facility (*57).
- Or the conspiracy of President Richard Nxion and the
Government of South Vietnam to delay the Paris Peace Talks until after
the 1968 U.S. presidential election (*58).
- Or the pandemic coverups of police violence (*59).
- Or the always safe-to-cite worldwide communist conspiracy
- Or maybe the socially responsible, secret consortium
to publish The Satanic Verses in paperback (*61).
- Conspiracies are obviously a way to get things done,
and the Washington Post offers little comment unless conspiracy theorizing
threatens to expose a really important conspiracy that, let's say, benefits
big business or big government.
- Such a conspiracy would be like our benevolent CIA's
1953 overthrow of the Iranian government to help out U.S. oil companies;
or like our illegal war against Panama to tighten U.S. control over Panama
and the Canal; or like monopoly control of broadcasting that facilitates
corporate censorship on issues of public importance (*62). When the camouflage
of such conspiracies is stripped away, public confidence in the conspiring
officials can erode -- depending on how seriously the citizenry perceives
the conspiracy to have violated the public trust. Erosion of public trust
in the status quo is what the Post seems to see as a real threat to its
- Currently, the Post has mounted vituperative, frenzied
attacks on Oliver Stone's movie "JFK", which reexamines the U.S.
Government's official (Warren Commission. finding that a single gunman,
acting alone, killed President John F. Kennedy. The movie also is the story
of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison's unsuccessful prosecution
of Clay Shaw, the only person ever tried in connection with the assassination.
And the movie proposes that the Kennedy assassination was the work of conspirators
whose interests would not be served by a president who, had he lived, might
have disengaged us from our war against Vietnam.
- The Post ridicules a reexamination of the Kennedy assassination
along lines suggested by "JFK". Senior Post journalists like
Charles Krauthammer, Ken Ringle, George Will, Phil McCombs, and Michael
Isikoff, have been called up to man the bulwarks against public sentiment
which has never supported the government's non-conspiratorial assassination
thesis. In spite of the facts that the Senate Intelligence Committee of
1975 and 1976 found that "both the FBI and CIA had repeatedly lied
to the Warren Commission" (*63) and that the 1979 Report of the House
Select Committee on Assassinations found that President Kennedy was probably
killed "as a result of a conspiracy" (*64), a truly astounding
number of Post stories have been used as vehicles to discredit "JFK"
as just another conspiracy (*65).
- Some of the more vicious attacks on the movie are by
editor Stephen Rosenfeld, and journalists Richard Cohen, George Will, and
George Lardner Jr (*66). They ridicule the idea that Kennedy could have
had second thoughts about escalating the Vietnam War and declaim that there
is no historical justification for this idea. Seasoned journalist Peter
Dale Scott, former Pentagon/CIA liaison chief L. Fletcher Prouty, and investigators
David Scheim and John Newman have each authored defense of the "JFK"
thesis that Kennedy was not enthusiastic about staying in Vietnam (*67).
But the Post team just continues ranting against the possibility of a high-level
assassination conspiracy while offering little justification for its arguments.
- An example of particularly shabby scholarship and unacceptable
behavior is George Lardner Jr's contribution to the Post's campaign against
the movie. Lardner wrote three articles, two before the movie was completed,
and the third upon its release. In May, six months before the movie came
out, Lardner obtained a copy of the first draft of the script and, contrary
to accepted standards, revealed in the Post the contents of this copyrighted
movie (*68). Also in this article, (*69). Lardner discredits Jim Garrison
with hostile statements from a former Garrison associate Pershing Gervais.
Lardner does not tell the reader that subsequent to the Clay Shaw trial,
in a U.S. Government criminal action brought against Garrison, Government
witness Gervais, who helped set up Garrison for prosecution, admitted under
oath that in a May 1972 interview with a New Orleans television reporter,
he, Gervais, had said that the U.S. Government's case against Garrison
was a fraud (*70). The Post's 1973 account of the Garrison acquittal mentions
this controversy, but when I recently asked Lardner about this, he was
not clear as to whether he remembered it (*71).
- Two weeks after his first "JFK" article, Lardner
blustered his way through a justification for his unauthorized possession
of the early draft ofthe movie (*72). He also defended his reference to
Pershing Gervais by lashing out at Garrison as a writer "of gothic
- When the movie was released in December, Lardner "reviewed"
it (*73). He again ridiculed the film's thesis that following the Kennedy
assassination, President Johnson reversed Kennedy's plans to de-escalate
the Vietnam War. Lardner cited a memorandum issued by Johnson four days
after Kennedy died. Lardner says this memorandum was written before the
assassination, and that it "was a continuation of Kennedy's policy".
In fact, the memorandum was drafted the day before the assassination by
McGeorge Bundy (Kennedy's Assistant for National Security Affairs) Kennedy
was in Texas, and may never have seen it. Following the assassination,
it was rewritten; and the final version provided for escalating the war
against Vietnam (*74) -- facts that Lardner avoided.
- The Post's crusade against exposing conspiracies is blatantly
- The Warren Commission inquiry into the Kennedy Assassination
was for the most part conducted in secret. This fact is buried in the Post
(*75). Nor do current readers of this newspaper find meaningful discussion
of the Warren Commission's secret doubts about both the FBI and the CIA
(*76). Or of a dispatch from CIA headquarters instructing co-conspirators
at field stations to counteract the "new wave of books and articles
criticizing the [Warren] Commission's findings...[and] conspiracy theories
...[that] have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization" and
to "discuss the publicity problem with liaison and friendly elite
contacts, especially politicians and editors "and to "employ
propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics. ...Book
reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose.
...The aim of this dispatch is to provide material for countering and discrediting
the claims of the conspiracy theorists..." (*77).
- In 1979, Washington journalist Deborah Davis published
Katharine The Great, the story of Post publisher Katharine Graham and her
newspaper's close ties with Washington's powerful elite, a number of whom
were with the CIA.
- Particularly irksome to Post editor Benjamin Bradlee
was a Davis claim that Bradlee had "produced CIA material" (*78).
Understandably sensitive about this kind of publicity, Bradlee told Davis'
publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich ,"Miss Davis is lying ...I never
produced CIA material ...what I can do is to brand Miss Davis as a fool
and to put your company in that special little group of publishers who
don't give a shit for the truth". The Post bullied HBJ into recalling
the book; HBJ shredded 20,000 copies; Davis sued HBJ for breach of contract
and damage to reputation; HBJ settled out of court; and Davis published
her book elsewhere with an appendix that demonstrated Bradlee to have been
deeply involved with producing cold-war/CIA propaganda (*79). Bradlee still
says the allegations about his association with people in the CIA are false,
but he has apparently taken no action to contest the xetensive documentation
presented by Deborah Davis in the second and third editions of her book
- And it's not as if the Post were new to conspiracy work.
- Former Washington Post publisher Philip Graham "believing
that the function of the press was more often than not to mobilize consent
for the policies of the government, was one of the architects of what became
a widespread practice:the use and manipulation of journalists by the CIA"
(*81). This scandal was known by its code name Operation MOCKINGBIRD. Former
Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein cites a former CIA deputy director
as saying, "It was widely known that Phil Graham was someone you could
get help from" (*82). More recently the Post provided cover for CIA
personality Joseph Fernandez by "refusing to print his name for over
a year up until the day his indictmen twas announced ...for crimes committed
in his official capacity as CIA station chief in Costa Rica" (*83).
- Of the meetings between Graham and his CIA acquaintances
at which the availability and prices of journalists were discussed, a former
CIA man recalls, "You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call
girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month" (*84). One may wish to
consider Philip Graham's philosophy along with a more recent statement
from his wife Katharine Graham, current Chairman of the Board of the Washington
Post. In a lecture on terrorism and the news media, Mrs. Graham said: "A
second challenge facing the media is how to prevent terrorists from using
the media as a platform fortheir views. ... The point is that we generally
know when we are being manipulated, and we've learned better how and where
to draw the line, though the decisions are often difficult" (*85).
- Today, the Post and its world of big business are apparently
terrified that our elite and our high-level public officials may be exposed
as conspirators behind Contra drug-smuggling, October Surprise, or the
assassination of President Kennedy. This fear is truly remarkable in that,
like most of us and like most institutions, the Post runs its business
as a conspiracy of like-minded entrepreneurs -- a conspiracy "to act
or work together toward the same result or goal" (*86). But where
the Post really parts company from just plain people is when it pretends
that conspiracies associated with big business or government are "coincidence".
Post reporter Lardner vents the frustration inherent in having to maintain
this dichotomy. He lashes out at Oliver Stone and suggests that Stone may
actually believe that the Post's opposition to Stone's movie is a "conspiracy".
Lardner assures us that Stone's complaints are "groundless and paranoid
and smack of McCarthyism" (*87).
- So how does the Post justify devoting so much energy
to ridiculing those who investigate conspiracies?
- The Post has answers: people revert to conspiracy theories
because they need something "neat and tidy" (*88) that "plugs
a gap no other generally accepted theory fills', (*89. and "coincidence
...is always the safest and most likely explanation for any conjunction
of curious circumstances ..." (*90).
- And what does this response mean? It means that "coincidence
theory" is what the Post espouses when it would prefer not to admit
to a conspiracy. In other words, some things just "happen". And,
besides, conspiracy to do certain things would be a crime; "coincidence"
is a safer bet.
- Post Ombudsman Richard Harwood, who, it is rumored, serves
as Executive Director of the Benevolent Protective Order of Coincidence
Theorists, (*91) recently issued a warning about presidential candidates
"who have begun to mutter about a press conspiracy". Ordinarily,
Harwood would simply dismiss these charges as "symptoms of the media
paranoia that quadrennially engulfs members of the American political class"
(*92). But a fatal mistake was made by the mutterers; they used the "C"
word against the PRESS! And Harwood exploded his off-the-cuff comment into
an entire column -- ending it with:"We are the new journalists, immersed
too long, perhaps, in the cleansing waters of political conformity. But
conspirators we ain't".
- Distinguished investigative journalist Morton Mintz,
a 29-year veteran of the Washington Post, now chairs the Fund for Investigative
Journalism. In the December issue of The Progressive, Mintz wrote "A
Reporter Looks Back in Anger -- Why the Media Cover Up Corporate Crime".
Therein he discussed the difficulties in convincing editors to accept important
news stories. He illustrated the article with his own experiences at the
Post, where he says he was known as "the biggest pain in the ass in
the office" (*93).
- Would Harwood argue that grief endured by journalists
at the hands of editors is a matter of random coincidence?
- And that such policy as Mintz described is made independently
by editors without influence from fellow editors or from management? Would
Harwood have us believe that at the countless office "meetings"
in which news people are ever in attendance, there is no discussion of
which stories will run and which ones will find inadequate space? That
there is no advanced planning for stories or that there are no cooperative
efforts among the staff? Or that in the face of our news-media "grayout"
of presidential candidate Larry Agran, (*94) a Post journalist would be
free to give news space to candidate Agran equal to that the Post lavishes
on candidate Clinton? Let's face it: these possibilities are about as likely
as Barbara Bush entertaining guests at a soup kitchen.
- Would Harwood have us believe that media critic and former
Post Ombudsman Ben Bagdikian is telling less than the truth in his account
of wire-service control over news: "The largely anonymous men who
control the syndicate and wire service copy desks and the central wire
photo machines determine at a single decision what millions will see and
hear. ...there seems to be little doubt that these gatekeepers preside
over an operation in which an appalling amount of press agentry sneaks
in the back door of American journalism and marches untouched out the front
door as 'news'" (*95).
- When he sat on the U.S. District Court of Appeals in
Washington, Judge Clarence Thomas violated U.S. law when he failed to remove
himself from a case in which he then proceeded to reverse a $10 million
judgment against the Ralston Purina Company (*96). Ralston Purina, the
animal feed empire, is the family fortune of Thomas' mentor, Senator John
Danforth. The Post limited its coverage of the Thomas malfeasance to 56
words buried in the middle of a 1200-word article (*97). Would Harwood
have us believe that the almost complete blackout on this matter by the
major news media and the U.S. Senate was a matter of coincidence? Could
a Post reporter have written a story about Ralston Purina if she had wanted
to? Can a brick swim?
- Or take the fine report produced last September by Ralph
Nader's Public Citizen. Titled All the Vice President's Men, it documents
"How the Quayle Council on Competitiveness Secretly Undermines Health,
Safety, and Environmental Programs". Three months later, Post journalists
David Broder and Bob Woodward published "The President's Understudy",
a seven-part series on Vice President Quayle. Although this series does
address Quayle's role with the Competitiveness Council, its handling of
the Council's disastrous impact on America is inadequate. It is 40,000
words of mostly aimless chatter about Quayle memorabilia: youth, family,
college record, Christianity, political aspirations, intellectual aspirations,
wealthy friends, government associates, golf, travels, wife Marilyn, and
net worth -- revealing little about Quayle's abilities, his understanding
of society's problems, or his thoughts about justice and freedom, and never
mentioning the comprehensive Nader study of Quayle's record in the Bush