For me, reflecting on the 50th anniversary of JFK's murder was like pulling on a thread that unraveled the sweater of the last century of political/media bullshit in America. I have spent the last two months re-reading (and buying) the pile of books listed at the end of this diary. After 50 years of evidence shredding and witness murder, whether these books prove things "beyond a reasonable doubt" is a mug's game. To find fault with one particular book or story is to play the game of "look here, not there" that the Mighty Wurlitzer has been running since the CIA was created. With these readings, I took a step back and looked at the big picture, at the giant pile of "coincidences" that constitute our recent history as a nation.
Essentially, when I connected the dots, America at the Federal level (and in many ALEC-dominated Red States) has become a Racketeer Influenced Criminal Organization (RICO), call it AmeRICO. Below the fold, I re-tell the sorry history of Federal law "enforcement" in AmeRICO.
Federal Police and Gangsters
America has only had Federal level police organizations since WW1, when the recently-created (1909) Bureau of Investigation took over from the corporate-funded Pinkerton detective agency. And the BI, with governmental powers, continued the corporate policy of smashing the socialist left in America, beginning with the post WW1 Palmer Raids.
Almost immediately, the infamous J. Edgar Hoover maneuvered his way into the Directorship of the BI (later renamed the FBI) - a position which he proceeded to turn into a private fiefdom for almost 50 years. At the time of his death, he had been director for more than 25% of American history.
Though called the Palmer Raids, the operation was actually run by the 24 year old director of the Justice Department's Radical Division, J. Edgar Hoover. Over 5,000 alleged radicals were arrested, many incarcerated without charges for months. This flagrant abuse of civil liberties not only devastated the progressive movement, it deliberately identified dissent with un-Americanism.
-Stone and Kuznick, The Untold History of the United States
Edgar...now knew that state oppression could work in the United States. Edgar also discovered it was possible to spy on people and hunt them down - not because of crimes but because of their political beliefs...Later, Edgar would perfect a file system that, except on rare occasions, proved inaccessible to outsiders. Documents would be released on occasion, but only when it served Edgar's purpose.Early on, Hoover fought the mob; but then he stopped – because he was being blackmailed by them. This gave the mob immunity to grow.
- A. Summers, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover
The Bureau responded (to the mob) well in the early twenties, when it was used to enforce prohibition in Ohio...In the thirties, (Hoover) did seem seriously interested in the mob...In 1937...Edgar was getting to the heart of things...Infamously, Hoover maintained the Mafia did not exist. He was forced to back off this claim when a high-level mob meeting in Appalachia in 1957 was busted by police.
Then, abruptly, Edgar's attitude changed. From the late thirties on, the FBI's war with organized crime became a nominal affair...
...information suggests that Meyer Lansky obtained hard proof of Hoover's homosexuality and used it to neutralize the FBI as a threat to his operations..."(Hoover) never bothered any of Meyer's people...Hoover knew who the guys were that whacked Bugsy Siegel, but nothing was done"
- Anthony Summers
Instead of organized crime, Hoover focused on the left - people he had hated since the Palmer Raids. He used illegal surveillance, agents provocateurs, blackmail, and intimidation to suppress legitimate poltical expression. He especially hated the Civil Rights Movement and MLK, as demonstrated by his exclusively white agent force. His illegal tactics were at their most viscious and illegal in COINTELPRO.
He was also the prime backer of the vile Joseph McCarthy.
Edgar knew McCarthy was disreputable, yet he took him under his wing long before he became a national figure...When McCarthy was challenged to produce proof of his charges about the State Department, he phoned Edgar to ask for help...the director ordered a search of the files for anything that might support the Senator.These days, the FBI has morphed into an international version of the Pinkertons, serving their multi-national corporate bosses from offices around the world, hunting down some terrorists, the same way the drug war hunted down some (not connected) drug dealers.
"We were the ones", William Sullivan recalled, "who made the McCarthy hearings possible. We fed McCarthy all the material he was using.
- Anthony Summers
So much for the glorious history of internal security in America.
Spy Agencies and Banksters
As with Federal police, the U.S. did not have a secret intelligence organization until after WW2 was declared. The OSS was established in 1942.
Before there was an OSS or a CIA, corporations and attorneys who represented international businesses often employed associates in their firms as private agents to gather data on competitors and business opportunities abroad. So, it was only to be expected that many of the first OSS recruits were taken from the ranks of oil companies, Wall Street banking firms, and Ivy League universities and often equated the interests of their high-powered business partners with the national interest.One of the early Wall St. players was Brown Brothers, Harriman – who hired Prescott Bush, the son-in-law of Harriman partner George Herbert Walker. BBH financed the Nazis until they were busted in 1942.
- Russ Baker, Family of Secrets
It was Wall St, in the form of the Dulles Brothers and OSS chief Bill Donovan (Wall St. bankers all), who pushed the naïve Harry Truman to establish the CIA. Poor Harry thought he was setting up an information clearinghouse.
But within three years the CIA was interfering in elections in Italy. Within five years, the CIA was overthrowing legitimate democracies in Iran and Guatamala. Then they supported Casto's overthrow of Batista, only to do an about face and support Cuban exile attempts to overthrow Castro. As is well known, the CIA turned to the Mafia to assist in its assassination plots against Castro. In 1965, they supported the coup in Indonesia and looked the other way while a million "communists" were murdered by General Suharto. By the 1970s, Operation Condor had placed brutal military dictatorships all over South America - running the Chilean coup being their most prominent criminal act.
Banksters Hire Gangsters
Among many other Latin American activities, the CIA supplied arms to Castro; but when he turned out to be a communist, the CIA started supplying arms to the loyalists of the ousted Batista regime.
Now, the mob had had a plan to rule Cuba (cf. Havana Nocturne) and use it as an international criminal base - a plan that was well on the way to completion when Castro wrecked it. So, being completely amoral, the CIA – at the urging of then VP Richard Nixon – began plotting to overthrow Castro using mob resources. That is how the CIA came to employ the mob.
This period also saw the beginning of the extensive use of CIA proprietary companies, especially airlines, to support covert activities. CIA pilots flew reconnaissance, infiltrated agents, weapons, and money into Cuba. They flew the combat missions in the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
Spy Agencies, Proprietary Airlines, and Drug Dealing
Before there was a CIA there had been the OSS. The heroin that the OSS dealt was grown in Burma and refined in Shanghai. They stumbled upon this import when they were in Asia with the Flying Tigers...You can see the team that later ruined America when they were just setting up shop in 1950s VietNam:
Drugs produce untraceable cash for the things covert ops love best: mercenaries, fixing elections, and buying politicians...The French secret services used Corsican opium dealers throughout Indochina to finance their operations against the Vietminh...When the French decamped, the CIA was only too willing and eager to inherit this network.
- Daniel Hopsicker, Barry and the Boys - The CIA, the Mob, and America's Secret History
when opium warlord Vang Pao (fought for) control of the Southeast Asian opium trade, he first met with CIA station chief Ted Shackley...The two struck a bargain, and US Air Force jets bombed the compounds of his rivals out of existence.Ted Shackley (the Blond Ghost) soon became head of the giant Miami CIA station, codename JMWAVE, which was running the Cuban exile operations against Castro. Later, he helped raise funds for Bill Casey's various illegal wars and actions under Ronald Reagan. Secord and Singlaub were part of many secret airline operations (see next section), ending in the disastrous crash of Eugene Hasenfus's plane that blew the cover of the entire Iran-Contra operation.
The young major who coordinated the bombing attacks on Pao's rivals was Richard Secord...John Singlaub ran the assassinations arm of the enterprise.
- Daniel Hopsicker
I am so impressed with the quality of criminals the CIA employed for its entire existence - NOT!
George Doole created the largest airline in the history of flight (Air America)...Under Doole, the CIA established a bewildering number of proprietary airlines...Doole was forever leasing planes between his shell corporations, and changing their markings and tail numbers.
Doole's "Spook Air" was used in operations at the Bay of Pigs, in Las, Vietnam, and on innumerable other black ops...Doole's empire quickly grew to include Air America, Civil Air Transport, Southern Air Transport, and dozens of small puddle-jumper airlines. Under cover of legimate freight and charter services, they supplied a 30,000 man secret army in the mountains of Laos for a ten year war against the Pathet Lao, dropped scores of agents into Red China, and helped stage revolts in every corner of the globe.
- Daniel Hopsicker
McCoy wrote in The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, "American involvement had gone far beyond coincidental complicity; embassies had covered up involvement by client governments, CIA contract airlines had carried opium, and individual CIA agents had winked at the opium traffic. As an indirect consequence of American involvement in the Golden Triangle until 1972, opium production steadily increased....Southeast Asia's Golden Triangle grew 70 percent of the world's illicit opium, supplied an estimated 30 percent of America's heroin, and was capable of supplying the United States with unlimited quantities of heroin for generations to come."Eventually (1996), someone outside the beltway actually managed to get a story published about the CIA drug trade inside America. Predictably, the national media crucified the messenger and buried the story:
The CIA's actions were more specifically described by him thus: "In most cases, the CIA's role involved various forms of complicity, tolerance or studied ignorance about the trade, not any direct culpability in the actual trafficking ... the CIA did not handle heroin, but it did provide its drug-lord allies with transport, arms, and political protection. In sum, the CIA's role in the Southeast Asian heroin trade involved indirect complicity rather than direct culpability."
He also uncovered money laundering activities by banks controlled by the CIA, first the Castle Bank which was then replaced by the Nugan Hand Bank, which had as legal counsel William Colby, retired head of the CIA. He also alludes to the BCCI, which seems to have played the same role as the Nugan Hand Bank after its collapse in the early 1980s, claiming that "the boom in the Pakistan drug trade was financed by BCCI."
Though (Gary Webb) was criticized and outcast from the mainstream journalism community, his reportage was eventually vindicated; since his death, for example, both the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune have defended his "Dark Alliance" series. Esquire wrote that a report from the CIA inspector general "subsequently confirmed the pillars of Webb's findings."The biggest lie of big lies is that the CIA is clean when it comes to actions inside America. Mr. Webb paid with his life for trying to call out that lie. ("Suicide" via TWO gunshots to the head.)
Gangsters manipulate, blackmail, and remove presidents
As we have seen, J. Edgar Hoover was blackmailed into ignoring the Mafia, which grew massively during and after WW2, to the point where it was compromising national politicians across the board.
In the interest of time, I'm just going to name some names on this topic. The details can be found in the books.
The Kennedy's were mobbed up, through their Dad, the bootlegger. The well-known connections include Judith Exner, the girlfriend JFK shared with Sam Giancana, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Roselli.
Richard Nixon was mobbed up. His "best friend", Bebe Rebozo, was a Cuban exile with ties to the mob. What probably got Nixon done in by Watergate was the DEA. Nixon set up the DEA to muscle in on the CIA's drug trafficking; and the CIA found ways to pay him back. (Of course, hiring ex-CIA agents was a big mistake on Tricky Dick's part.) By the way, Miami Cubans turn up all over the place in secret ops. Watergate, of course. But the ubiquitous Felix Rodriguez was a major player in the Contra high command twenty years later.
While Ronald Reagan was not mobbed up, he was an ignorant, incurious, pre-senile figurehead who let William Casey and George Bush run a murderous foreign policy that included support for genocide in Honduras, harsh repression in Guatamala and El Salvador, and the Contra War against Nicaragua. These operatives also expanded support to Islamic fundamentalists, in league with Saudi Arabia - a policy started by right-wing hawk Zbigniew Brezizinski under another foreign policy neophyte, Jimmy Carter.
By the time of Bill Clinton, the mob had been overtaken by the CIA (and its South American drug dealer partners) as the major criminal organization operating inside America.
Ken Starr's Whitewater probe had - for one brief flickering moment - turned to the subject of "Drug Money and Clinton", looking into possible links between Clinton campaign finances and drug profits in Arkansas...Despite substantial evidence of wrongdoing, Starr's investigation was shut down - as all other law enforcement probes had been - according to disgusted law enforcement authorities who had been there.Clinton IMHO turned a very profitable blind eye to the massive drug smuggling operation the Iran-Contra team ran from the Mena, Arkansas airport. And the CIA had long since been able to obstruct official investigations. The window of investigating CIA/Mob drug running closed with the abject failure to indict anyone for the massive drug smuggling through Mena.
- Daniel Hopsicker
The mob is now second or third generation, and has acquired respectability. They don't run drugs anymore; they rob banks, legally. (See Penny Pritzker and Superior Bank and South Shore National Bank). No one remembers that the now respectable Annenbergs got their start running a racing wire, The Daily Racing Form, that had heavy mob connections. Some people remember that Joe Kennedy was a bootlegger (the JFK library risibly titles him a "liquor importer").
But, recently, no one goes there. For example, the father of John McCain's wife, Cindy, was Jim Hensely, an Arizona beer distributor who had numerous run ins with law enforcement, and was accused of organizing a hit on an investigative reporter. Recently appointed Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, is the poster child for the whitewash of high-level criminality. See NBBrooks' DKos diary Penny Pritzker as an example of the criminality of our elites for all the dirt.
In memoriam of America
After the last two months, I simply no longer believe the fairy tale consensus that this country was a wonderful democracy from 1945 until 1980. The only meaningful change between pre- and post-1980 is that the blackmail, corruption, intimidation, and sabotage of politics by the wealthy and the violent is more out in the open today than it was fifty years ago.
I am definitely with Chris Hedges. Liberalism is dead. It was a miracle named FDR who saved America from Wall Street the first time; and it was a high-minded, mobbed up JFK who stopped the MIC from blowing up the world. After those two millionaire "traitors to their class", the rich spent 50 years and a lot of taxpayer money to create the police state machinery that is engulfing every aspect of our lives at home, and continues to be the main cause of misery in the world.
Chris Hedges' Monday piece, The Menace of the Military Mind is much more eloquent than I could be on the increasingly violent views that dominate our leadership
The U.S. military has won the ideological war. The nation sees human and social problems as military problems. To fight terrorists Americans have become terrorists. Peace is for the weak. War is for the strong. Hypermasculinity has triumphed over empathy. We Americans speak to the world exclusively in the language of force. And those who oversee our massive security and surveillance state seek to speak to us in the same demented language. All other viewpoints are to be shut out.America is dead. Long live AmeRICO. Please excuse me for a few more months while I grieve for it.
In Chronological order of subject matter:
The Untold History of the United States
, Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick
Official and Confidential , The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, Anthony Summers
Havana Nocturne: How the Mob owned Cuba and lost it to the Revolution, T.J. English
JFK and the Unspeakable , James Douglass
Ultimate Sacrifice , Lamar Waldron and Tom Hartmann
The Arrogance of Power , Anthony Summers
The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia, Alfred McCoy
Hot Money and the Politics of Debt , R. T. Naylor
Barry and the Boys, Daniel Hopsicker
Family of Secrets, Russ Baker