The USS Liberty massacre and 9/11 will be featured topics in an event organized by Texas architect Ron Avery. “The Ship That Won’t Sink!” will be held at an as-yet-undisclosed location near San Antonio and live-streamed for Internet viewers around the world. Speakers will include AFP’s Dave Gahary and Mark Anderson, among others. Mr. Avery’s creativity and persistence in finding a workaround to present his first “Great Topics Fest” after his original venue suddenly backed out speaks volumes about his dedication to the truth and his patriotism. Well done, sir!
By Dave Gahary
Ron Avery, the Texas architect who’s done extensive studies and presentations on the construction of the twin towers—and doesn’t believe for a second the U.S. government’s conspiracy theory—is kicking off a series of live and live-streamed conferences called the “Great Topics Fest,” with the first planned for Sept. 8, titled “The Ship That Won’t Sink!”
Live streaming is video recorded and broadcast online in real time, like a “beach cam” to view the conditions of the shoreline, or a “zoo cam” to watch the animals there.
Avery set everything up, including selecting the speakers, paying for their transportation, choosing the venue, signing the contracts, constructing the sets, wiring the audio/visual equipment, and everything else you could think of.
This writer, along with fellow American Free Press writer Mark Anderson, are two of the featured speakers set to make presentations in front of a live crowd and the many more online viewers who purchase tickets to the live-stream portion of the event.
The venue selected, the luxurious Hotel Contessa on the San Antonio Riverwalk—a few blocks away from the legendary Alamo—was all ready to go, until Ron heard from the hotel, as he explained in an exclusive interview with this writer.
“When I asked for a little more lead time to get in and fix up the room,” he said, “I didn’t hear from them for a couple of days, and I just got this letter by overnight mail, mailed to my home.”
The letter—dated Aug. 15 and addressed to “Dear Mr. Avery” from the hotel’s general manager—was short and sweet, just seven curt sentences, with the first one stating:
I am writing to inform you that, unfortunately, the Hotel Contessa must exercise its contractual right to cancel The Ship That Won’t Sink event scheduled to occur at the hotel Sept. 7-8, 2018.
General manager Troy Mathews apologized “for any inconvenience,” and wished Avery “the best” for the event.
Avery wasn’t that surprised.
“The last two years that I’ve tried to hold a ‘9/11 truth’ event,” Avery said, “people tried to shut the venue down.”
One time they were successful, and Avery was forced to host the presentation beside a pool in a condominium complex.
“So, we ended up having it by the pool at night,” he said, “with no light. I videotaped it with one camera with the infrared on, just so we could see the presentation.”
Avery has already found a new venue. Tickets to attend the event are $27.59 each. To listen to the conference on the Internet live-streamed are just $10. Tickets can be easily purchased online at mixnstream.com/ship-wont-sink.html.
Avery states on the website:
Due to possible outside influence causing the cancellation of our contract with the Hotel Contessa, we will not release the location of this new venue until the day before (9/7/18) in order to reduce the ability of those who are offended by the truth from harassing the venue and causing another cancellation of our event. So stay tuned for the location later. We will email all seat ticket holders the location privately. For now we will say that the location is within 75 miles of San Antonio, Texas.
“I’m not going to do the poolside thing anymore,” he vowed. “We’ll have it indoors like other human beings have their presentations.”
Avery is optimistic about the outcome.
“I think it’ll be a great group of speakers, and I think people are going to be blown away with the presentation,” he said. “I do believe that this year—2018—this event will be the one to watch on live stream. Of all the ones out there, this will have the most powerful presentation and the most meaning for all Americans.”
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, prevailed in a suit brought by the New York Stock Exchange in an attempt to silence him. Dave is the producer of an upcoming full-length feature film about the attack on the USS Liberty. See erasingtheliberty.com for more information and to get the new book on which the movie will be based, Erasing the Liberty.
Unite the Right 2 Peaceful Rally Scheduled
Jason Kessler, the organizer of last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, has scheduled “Unite the Right 2” to take place August 12 in Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C.
Attendees will assemble at 2:00 p.m. at the Vienna Metro Station in Vienna, Va., to travel to the parade entrance at Foggy Bottom Station.
At 5:00 p.m. there will be a parade march from Foggy Bottom Station to Lafayette Square, the seven-acre public park located directly north of the White House on H Street between 15th and 17th Streets NW.
From 5:30-7:30 p.m. a demonstration will take place followed by transportation back to the Vienna Metro Station for disassembly.
Kessler has some very specific instructions on what attendees may and may not bring, the best way to travel, a code of behavior, accepted flags and sizes etc.
Russian scientists have wed a massive nuclear bomb with torpedo technology and artificial intelligence, and one an expert in nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), and cyber warfare is sounding the alarm. Dave Gahary interviewed Dr. Peter Pry for an exclusive AFP Podcast.
By Dave Gahary
What seemed like a new détente on the horizon between the United States and Russia from Donald Trump’s campaign promises of warmer relations has all but devolved into a new Cold War.
As the aggressive tactics of the warmongering neocons infesting Washington, D.C. push the superpowers toward an inevitable military confrontation, President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is preparing for the conflict with a weapon so threatening it has some U.S. nuclear weapons experts shaking in their hazmat suits.
A new book is sounding the alarm about Russia’s new weapon. Poseidon: Russia’s New Doomsday Machine is by Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, an expert in nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), and cyber warfare and a former award-winning Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst on the professional staff of the House Armed Services Committee.
Pry sat down with this newspaper for an exclusive interview.
Code-named “Poseidon” by the Russians—and “Kanyon” by the CIA—this new “doomsday machine” is a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed, unmanned (i.e., drone) underwater vehicle (i.e., a really big torpedo) capable of traveling thousands of miles to strike an enemy’s (i.e., the U.S.) coastal targets by detonating a thermonuclear bomb underwater, which would create nuclear tsunamis and spread radioactive fallout.
In fact, six months ago, the U.S. Nuclear Posture Review admitted that Poseidon can “defeat U.S. anti-submarine capabilities by speed, stealth, and elusiveness, to deliver a 100-megaton warhead [10,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb], by far the most powerful nuclear weapon in existence.”
Although Pry believes Poseidon can deliver on its promises of coastal destruction, he thinks its true purpose is something more strategic.
“During the Cold War,” he began, “the Soviet Union achieved the ability to destroy our ICBMs, our long-range missiles in their silos, our bombers in their bases, and our submarines in port. But they couldn’t figure out a way to get our ballistic missile submarines that were on patrol at sea. And many analysts, including myself, think the only reason that we didn’t get a nuclear World War III is because the Soviet Union couldn’t figure out how to get those ballistic missile submarines that were on patrol at sea.”
Pry explained that during the Cold War the U.S. had up to 40 ballistic missile submarines, while today there are only 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, with only half of those operational.
“Our sea-based nuclear deterrent,” he explained, “the only leg of the triad that’s still really survivable, is down to seven ballistic missile submarines, so this is a great opportunity for the Russians to finally take out that last survivable leg of the triad.”
Poseidon is also equipped with artificial intelligence (AI)—to evade and defeat anti-submarine warfare systems, how and when to track ballistic missile submarines, and when to detonate itself—something that scares Pry.
“It’s the first time that a nuclear superweapon has been married to artificial intelligence,” he said.
As we’ve seen lately, AI can err—fatally—evidenced by self-driving cars.
“Do you want your fate and the fate of your children and grandchildren to be dependent upon an artificially intelligent doomsday machine, with a 100-megaton warhead trolling the world’s oceans based on a piece of Russian software?” Pry rhetorically asked.
Pry is also worried about another nightmare scenario: EMP, basically a lightning strike that fries all the electronics in the blast radius.
“Another purpose is to loft a 100-megaton warhead into space and detonate it in outer space over North America,” he said. “It would take out all of the 48 contiguous states, most of Canada, and a big chunk of Mexico, and put us—literally and figuratively—into the Dark Ages.”
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, prevailed in a suit brought by the New York Stock Exchange in an attempt to silence him. Dave is the producer of an upcoming film about the attack on the USS Liberty. See the website erasingtheliberty.com for more information.
U.S. Military Whistleblower Details U.S. Ties to Terrorism
What happens when a U.S. Army Special Ops officer learns his government is involved in financing terrorists and tries to blow the whistle? He’s sent to prison, where he writes a book and smuggles it out so the public will know what its government is up to.
By Dave Gahary
In 2011, Scott Bennett was a second lieutenant U.S. Army special operations officer and psychological warfare analyst and worked in the highest levels of counterterrorism, intelligence, and politics in the State Department’s counterterrorism office to catch the bad guys.
When he uncovered that members of his own government were the bad guys, and were financing terrorists, he tried to blow the whistle. Hounded, persecuted, and eventually imprisoned for two years on trumped-up charges, Bennett wrote a book behind bars and smuggled it out of prison. Shell Game: A Military Whistleblowing Report exposes the betrayal and cover-up by the U.S. government and other elements, like the Clinton Foundation, Swiss banks, Saudi Arabia, and over 100 of our own representatives and senators.
Now Bennett is taking what he knows and traveling abroad, most recently to the No. 1 country in the sights of the Zionist war machine: Iran.
Bennett sat down with this newspaper to discuss his background and his time at the New Horizon Conference in Tehran last month. He joined 26 others in the ancient Persian city, including AFP columnist Philip Giraldi, formerly with the CIA, F. Michael Maloof, a veteran Pentagon employee stripped of his security clearance because of his success in finding the links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda (none), former State Department employees Peter Van Buren and J. Michael Springmann, and AFP columnist Kevin Barrett.
“Shell Game is my experience in my report about the massive corruption that was going on,” he explained. “[That corruption] has led to one of the greatest crimes against the American people, specifically the financing and funding of terrorism, these Wahhabi Saudi Arabian terrorists, while lying to the American people and claiming that we’re fighting ISIS, when we’re not.
He continued: “We’re financing them, we’re equipping them, we’re aiding them, we’re training them. We’re giving them visas to come over from Libya to be trained in CIA operations at Fort Bragg. We’re then deploying them back into places like Syria and Libya and Afghanistan.”
Before they locked him up, Bennett submitted his report to the entire Congress. He shared what response he got.
“Not a single one did anything,” he told this newspaper. “Rand Paul was the only person to write me back, twice. He didn’t really do anything significant, but he did write me back acknowledging it. Everyone else ran away from it like a dog with its tail between its legs.”
Bennett walked away from the conference with a greater understanding of his hosts.
“I came away with the understanding this is a wonderful country [and] a wonderful people, and we are completely ignorant of this fact,” he said. “The deep state, intelligence, Zionist operations that have put Iran as the enemy of America, they’re the liars to the American people.”
He added: “The Iranian people are a very peaceful, pleasant people. They are nothing like what the media portrays them as. They are not warmongers, they’re not savages, they’re not violent, they are not chanting ‘Death to America,’ and they don’t hate Americans. All of that is propaganda.”
Dave Gahary, a former submariner in the U.S. Navy, prevailed in a suit brought by the New York Stock Exchange in an attempt to silence him. Dave is the producer of an upcoming film about the attack on the USS Liberty. See the website erasingtheliberty.com for more information.
RFK Jr. Strikes at Deep State
Kennedy scion Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has penned a book calling for a new investigation into father’s assassination, and into Sirhan Sirhan’s guilt—or innocence—in that crime.
By S.T. Patrick
Early in the morning on June 5, 1968, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy lay flat on his back, bleeding onto the floor of the kitchen pantry at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He had just won the California Democratic primary and was exiting the hotel after a late-night victory speech when shots were fired, leaving six wounded, including Kennedy. He was pronounced dead 26 hours later. Sirhan Sirhan was blamed for the murder and is still serving time in a California prison today. For many historians and the LAPD, the crime of the RFK assassination has been solved. That may change, however, as Kennedy scion Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calls for a reinvestigation of the murder.
In his new book, American Values: Lessons I Learned from My Family, the third of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s 11 children openly calls for a reinvestigation of his father’s assassination, which occurred when RFK Jr. was 14 years old. His sister, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, concurs that the crime against their father deserves a reexamination.
In December, RFK Jr. quietly visited Sirhan for three hours at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility outside of San Diego. He had also spoken to witnesses and read the autopsy reports. If he was going to decide to call for a reinvestigation, he was not going to do so without evidence.
“I got to a place where I had to see Sirhan,” Kennedy revealed to The Washington Post.
Kennedy left Donovan Correctional even more steadfast in the view that his father had been killed by a second gunman and not by Sirhan. It is a perspective on the case that researchers such as Lisa Pease, Shane O’Sullivan, and Bill Turner have shared for decades.
Pease was mentioned twice in American Values. She had shared an internal CIA report with Kennedy. The report stated that RFK and his brother, slain president John F. Kennedy, had not known about the CIA plots on the life of Fidel Castro. Journalist Seymour Hersh, by way of CIA officer Sam Halpern, had argued that the Kennedys authorized the plots. The CIA’s own inspector general report—the last copy of which had been kept in a safe by CIA Director Richard Helms—stated that the CIA had told RFK only about the anti-Castro plots that had ended and not about the plots that were ongoing. Pease believes that one of these plots was then turned around and used on JFK.
Many in the assassination research community have lauded RFK Jr.’s book as the first Kennedy strike against the deep state. Rev. Martin Luther King’s family has spoken about conspiracy in the assassination of MLK for years and have long questioned the guilt of James Earl Ray. John Kennedy Jr. and Caroline Kennedy never publicly advocated for a reinvestigation of JFK’s murder, and, until now, the children of RFK have kept similarly quiet.
In an interview with this writer, Pease discussed RFK Jr.’s entrance into the Kennedy research community.
“It was really important that those of us who are trying to tell the truth connect to each other,” Pease said. “So it was kind of inevitable that Bobby and the community would eventually connect.”
Pease, the author of the forthcoming A Lie Too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, explained to this writer that the Sirhan family suffered just as much as the Kennedys. Because RFK would have viewed every person’s life as important, she argues that RFK Jr.’s new quest is as much about justice for Sirhan as it is about finding the truth about his father’s death.
Kennedy, now 64, is not the only person close to the case to call for a reinvestigation. Paul Schrade, who was shot in the head as he followed RFK into the pantry, is also advocating for a reopening of the case, as well as Sirhan’s innocence.
RFK was shot at point-blank range behind his ear. Sirhan was standing in front of him. At least 13 shots were fired. Sirhan’s gun held eight bullets.
While visiting Sirhan in prison would seem, to some, like a difficult, emotional act, Kennedy boiled the visit down to simple terms.
“My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country,” Kennedy explained. “I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn’t commit.”
Sirhan, now 74, has spent 50 years in prison for a crime he doesn’t remember. If RFK Jr. and his sister Kathleen can spur a deeper look into the case, Sirhan may finally be paroled after 30 years of failed attempts. For the son of the former attorney general, justice is what is sought.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.
‘Jonestown’ 40 Years Later: Was Peoples Temple an Intel Op Gone Bad?
With the 40th anniversary of “The Jonestown Massacre” approaching, on November 18th, AFP offers a three-part series on the Rev. Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and the massacre/mass suicide that took over 900 lives in the jungles of Guyana.
By S.T. Patrick
I: Jim Jones, the CIA & the FBI
Researcher Jim Hougan says the origins of famed cult leader Jim Jones are shrouded in intelligence activities. This is part one of three, originally published in American Free Press Issue 15 & 16, April 9 & 16, 2018.
Tragedy is often complex. In the mainstream media’s haste to explain the Nov. 18, 1978 massacre at Jonestown, Guyana, a quick resolution emerged. It was the oft-repeated, cautionary tale of a madman pushed beyond the brink of sanity. Moreover, it was a theme popularized in the “decade of decadence,” the 1970s.
Communal living had reached a peak of countercultural dissatisfaction, so much so that the media had turned its raging eye on these communities, which it now disparagingly called “cults.” Jonestown was portrayed as the failure of this anti-establishment movement. Its climax took the lives of over 900 men, women, and children, and was furthermore a glaring example of the imminent debacle incurred when following a fanatic “off the grid.”
Independent researchers and authors have disagreed with the mainstream mass media and have done so since the massacre occurred. What if Jonestown was not simply the inevitable result of a sociological experiment? What if anti-establishment movements are not doomed to fail on their own? And what if the rise of the Rev. Jim Jones was much more complicated than we had been told by Walter Cronkite, John Chancellor, and Frank Reynolds in 1978?
Jim Hougan’s breakthrough as an author and researcher came with his alternative take on Richard Nixon’s downfall, Secret Agenda: Watergate, Deep Throat, and the CIA. He established himself as an authority on the 1970s with Decadence: Radical Nostalgia, Narcissism, and Declinein the Seventies, and examined the sordid relationship between the CIA and private industry in Spooks: The Private Use of Secret Agents.
His multi-part article “Jim Jones, Dan Mitrione, and the Peoples Temple”—available at “JimHougan.com”—is the culmination of decades of Jonestown research. Hougan combines Jones’s biography, FBI and CIA infiltration, and governmental shenanigans to uncover what really occurred in northwest Guyana, and how the parishioners of the Peoples Temple found themselves over 5,000 miles from the Bay Area of California.
James Warren Jones was born in Depression-era Indiana. A friend of his mother took Jones to church, where he found his religious zeal. He was soon taken under the wing of a female evangelist who led faith-healing revivals at the Gospel Tabernacle Church, a Pentecostal offshoot of the Holy Rollers. While no hard evidence of an inappropriate sexual relationship exists, Hougan reports that the beginning of Jones’s reptilian nightmares coincided with his association with the woman. His later tendency to sexually humiliate those who had angered him was lamented by those who remained loyal and may also have been a sign of sexual abuse experienced as a youth.
As a 15-year-old giving sidewalk sermons in economically depressed Richmond, Indiana, Jones met Dan Mitrione, the anti-communist police chief, whose path would repeatedly and not-so-coincidentally mimic that of Jones.
Hougan infers that Mitrione may have recruited Jones as an informant within the black community. The Peoples Temple would include a predominantly black congregation, and Jones’s influence in the community was rising. Starting in 1956, the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) had observed, infiltrated, discredited, and disrupted subversive political and racial groups throughout the country. Mitrione’s ties to the FBI, the CIA, and Jones would continue throughout the remainder of his life. It was at this time that family members also report Jones engaging in private meetings with men they believed were government agents.
Indiana was quite a surprising hotbed of intelligence activity. The CIA’s Richard Helms and William Harvey were born in Indianapolis, and the University of Indiana, which Jones attended, was also the alma mater of the Symbionese Liberation Army’s Angela Atwood, William Harris, and Emily Harris. Hougan also ties the ownership of the Indianapolis-based Saturday Evening Post to CIA activity.
Jones purchased a former synagogue from Rabbi Maurice Davis in 1956. From the church’s history, Jones created the Peoples Temple name. Researchers are unsure how Jones may have raised the $50,000 used for the purchase, and Davis’s intentions in giving Jones a “little or no money down” deal are unknown. What is known is that Rabbi Davis was an anti-cult activist and “deprogrammer” associated with Dr. Hordat Sukhdeo, whom the State Department would later pay to travel to Guyana and bury Jones publicly as a cult leader.
Father Divine was the well-known “black messiah” of Philadelphia. His tens of thousands of Peace Mission followers earned him a seven-figure income, monitoring by the FBI, and Jones’s admiration. Jones visited Divine often and once, after Divine’s death, claimed he was the white reincarnation of Divine. Hougan speculates that Jones’s ultimate goal could have been integrating Divine’s followers into the Peoples Temple, but he also suggests that Jones could have been gathering “racial intelligence” under Mitrione’s guidance.
A biography of Divine was found in Jones’s effects in the aftermath of Jonestown. Within the biography, author Sara Harris alluded to mass suicide.
“If Father Divine were to die,” Harris wrote, “mass suicides among Negroes in his movement
could certainly result.”
This would not be the final time that the subject of mass suicide would interest Jones.
As the Peoples Temple continued to expand to over 2,000 parishioners, the reverend would make a curious decision to travel to Cuba and South America. He would not be alone. His experiences, his contacts, and his research would change the direction of the Peoples Temple and would lead them first to California and then to Guyana, where their end would be near.
II: Was Jim Jones an American Spy?
Biographers say the cult leader’s travels to Cuba and Brazil in the 1960s weren’t evangelism at all. They were actually intelligence missions. This is part two of three, originally published in American Free Press Issue 19 & 20, May 7 & 14, 2018.
By the end of the 1950s, the Reverend Jim Jones had grown his Peoples Temple to over 2,000 members. Considering this was the Cold War-era Midwest in a period long before the rise of mega-churches, Jones’s openly socialistic congregation was a surprising yet phenomenal success.
Jones was riding a meteoric rise as a pastor. Therefore, his actions in February 1960 become all the more curious and suspicious.
Fidel Castro, Raul Castro, Che Guevara, and their 26th of July Movement had overthrown the CIA-Mafia puppet Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. In their first year, they were already countering incursions and bombings from U.S.-supported exiles working out of Miami. Vice President Richard Nixon was lobbying for and overseeing the formulation of a plan that would end with the Kennedy-era Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961. From 1959-1963, Cuba was arguably the hottest epicenter of the Cold War.
In the midst of this political whirlwind, Jones inexplicably decided to travel to Havana. According to witness Carlos Foster, who met with Jones in Cuba, Jones was attempting to locate families willing to relocate to Indianapolis as part of a Peoples Temple recruitment project. Foster also claims Jones was scouting Latin American locations for potential extension centers.
Jones biographers, such as Tim Reiterman, disagree that the main purpose of the Cuban excursion was evangelism.
Reiterman reported that Jones later showed off photos from his Cuban trip. One such picture
featured a mangled pilot lying lifeless in the wreckage of a plane crash. Jones had also
claimed that he had met some Cuban leaders, and he showed a picture of himself with a fatigue-clad man that looked similar to Fidel Castro.
Jim Hougan, the author of the three-part “Jim Jones, Dan Mitrione, and the Peoples Temple,” which can be read on “JimHougan.com,” was more pointed when assessing Jones’s photographic travelogue.
“Pictures of that sort could only have been of interest to Castro’s enemies and the CIA,” Hougan wrote.
Under the guise of scouting safe places in case of a nuclear apocalypse, Jones then traveled to Brazil in 1962. En route, Jones stopped in Guyana, which was still a British colony. Jones learned of another mass suicide story that had long been a part of Guyanese history.
While in Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro, Jones socialized with American expatriates and Brazilians who were rabid anti-communists. Hougan compares Jones’s time in Brazil to Lee Harvey Oswald’s time in New Orleans in 1963.
Jones was not alone in Brazil. Dan Mitrione was serving at a post within the U.S. consulate. Many, including Hougan, believe Mitrione was an intelligence handler for Jones dating back to their time in Richmond, Ind.
According to Jones, the emotional effects of the John F. Kennedy assassination led him back to Indiana in late 1963. What he returned to was a congregation whose attendance had dissipated to less than a hundred parishioners. Mainstream chroniclers of Jonestown have posited that Jones was sightseeing and gallivanting through Latin America, taking in the culture as an uber-tourist. Meanwhile, the church he had worked so hard to build—and the church so tied to what he professed as his true ideology—was all but dismantling without him. This has led revisionists to further contend that there was some covert mission that guided the travels of both Jones and Mitrione.
Again using nuclear war as a reason for mobility, Jones returned to Indiana briefly, only to move the Peoples Temple to northern California, outside of Ukiah. Unlike the anti-communism he had professed in Brazil, he again turned to “apostolic socialism” in his sermons. Jones’s dogma becomes quite confusing at this point, as he begins publicly preaching against Christianity, the King James Version of the Bible, and God.
Within five years, Jones’s popularity had grown, and he had opened Peoples Temple branches in the center of the FBI’s COINTELPRO heartland—San Francisco, San Fernando, and Los Angeles. Templars also became more active in California politics. Their support was vital to San Francisco Mayor George Moscone’s win in 1975. In turn, Moscone appointed Jones as the head of San Francisco’s Housing Authority Commission.
The Peoples Temple had found a large following in the Golden State. They had also found allies in assemblyman Willie Brown, Gov. Jerry Brown, Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally, Harvey Milk, Walter Mondale, and Rosalynn Carter.
While California brought Jones and the Peoples Temple more notoriety, it also attracted more scrutiny. When an exposé in New West magazine criticized Jones and the Temple, the reverend could see that his house of cards was about to crumble. Journalist Marshall Kilduff would allege physical, emotional, and sexual abuse inside the Peoples Temple. It was time to flee California and the United States, altogether.
In the summer of 1977, Jones and his most influential members decided the time had come for what would be a final pilgrimage to the place where they believed they would be most free—Guyana.
III: No Mass Suicide at Jonestown?
Very few of the official “Kool-Aid” theories have proven to be conclusive, and research indicates that most Peoples Temple followers tragically died by injection—not ingestion. This is the conclusion of our three-part series, originally published in American Free Press Issue 23 & 24, June 4 & 11, 2018.
Rep. Leo Ryan (D-Calif.) had just been elected to a fourth term when he traveled to the Jonestown settlement of Rev. Jim Jones in northwest Guyana. Acting on the pleas of family members whose loved ones had joined the Peoples Temple, Ryan was investigating the charge that his constituents were being held in the South American country against their will.
Ryan was a crusading congressman. As an assemblyman, he had taken a substitute teacher position in south central Los Angeles so that he could document the conditions after the Watts riots of 1965. He later used a pseudonym to enter Folsom Prison as an inmate, just to investigate firsthand the conditions behind the bars of California prisons. Whether societal or penal, Ryan was a keen observer of what it was to be or feel trapped. On Nov. 1, 1978, he announced that he was going to Jonestown. In what would later prove an interesting turn of history, he asked friend and fellow congressman Dan Quayle (R-Ind.) to travel to Guyana with him. Quayle declined.
While at Jonestown, Ryan’s entourage was privately approached by a handful of members who desired to leave Guyana. He was nearly stabbed in one domestic dispute. On Nov. 18, 1978, Ryan, his aides, a team of journalists, and the defectors were scheduled to return to America from the Port Kaituma airstrip. An ambush by Jones loyalists prevented their return. Ryan, a defecting Peoples Temple member, and three journalists were killed. Nine others were injured, including aide Jackie Speier, now a Democratic congresswoman from California.
As tragic as the scene at the airstrip was, no one could have imagined what was happening simultaneously at Jonestown. News reports leaked quickly. Something had gone drastically wrong at Jonestown and had resulted in over 200 deaths. In succeeding days, the number of reported deaths increased until it finally rested at over 900. The news media reported it as a mass suicide, but questions persisted regarding how massive the numbers of suicides actually were.
It was said that one-by-one, the Templars came forward to drink the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid (it was actually Flavor Aid) concocted for such a moment. The cause was the effective brainwashing of a religious fanatic.
Very few of the official theories proved to be conclusive, however.
Only seven autopsies were performed, and all seven were conducted after the bodies had been embalmed. “Probable cyanide poisoning” was listed as the cause of death in five of the seven bodies, yet only one showed any traces of cyanide. No cyanide could be detected in the Flavor Aid vat upon examination.
The body of Jones was one of the autopsied corpses. The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head. Temple member Ann Moore had two causes of death, though it is unclear which occurred first. The autopsy listed a gunshot wound to her head, along with a massive amount of cyanide in her body tissues.
Guyanese physician Dr. Leslie Mootoo conducted cursory examinations of 100 bodies. Mootoo found that 83 of the 100 bodies had needle puncture wounds on the backs of their shoulders, suggesting that a majority of the victims were held down and injected against their will. Because they could not have legally chosen to die, all 260 children were considered murdered. In all, Mootoo estimated that over 700 of the bodies were victims of murder.
The idea of Jonestown as a “mass suicide” was perpetuated by Dr. Hardat Sukhdeo, a psychiatrist who was summoned to Guyana at the expense of the U.S. State Department. Sukhdeo was also an anti-cult deprogrammer. Dr. Stephen P. Hersh, then assistant director of the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), disagreed with Sukhdeo’s findings.
“The charges of brainwashing are clearly exaggerated,” Hersh told the Associated Press in 1978. “The concept of ‘thought control’ by cult leaders is elusive, difficult to define and even more difficult to prove. Because cult converts adopt beliefs that seem bizarre to their families and friends, it does not follow that their choices are being dictated by cult leaders.”
When Jones’s CIA case officer Dan Mitrione was murdered in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1970, the military personnel, or 201, file on Jones was purged, thus erasing any pre-1970 information the CIA may have gathered on Jones.
Author Jim Hougan of “JimHougan.com” offered his assessment of the fear that Ryan’s investigation struck in the establishment.
“Specifically, Jones was afraid that Ryan and the press would uncover evidence that the leftist founder of the Peoples Temple was for many years an asset of the FBI and the CIA,” Hougan wrote. “This fear was, I believe, mirrored in various precincts of the U.S. intelligence community, which worried that Ryan’s investigation would embarrass the CIA by linking Jones to some of the agency’s most volatile programs—including ‘mind-control’ studies and operations such as MK-ULTRA.”
Just as the horrific Charles Manson case figuratively ended the free-spirited 1960s, Jonestown ended the 1970s ideal that communal living was the backbone of a utopian existence. It also ended the rise of the super-preacher whose goal was the creation of an isolated group of parishioners. The 1980s ushered in a media that would chase evangelical superstars for their sexual and financial misdeeds, but even the televangelists’ most loyal followers would not have given their lives at the behest of their leader. The most devout Christians reflexively feared “another Jonestown.”
There is a mainstream version of the Jonestown story that is easy to understand. Its mythology reviles new religions and turns Jones’s church members into weak-minded devotees. To believe that Jonestown is understood only within these confining terms is a mistake.
There was a reason the edicts of Jones of Indiana were appealing. Jones’s own spook-filled, covert story is integral to Jonestown’s real history. To understand those complexities within the era in which they occurred is to understand the story in full. Jonestown, like the Patty Hearst kidnapping, is the effect of a COINTELPRO operation gone awry much more than it is a religious abyss.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.
Activists Target Another FAU Scholar
Florida Atlantic University professor Dr. Marshall DeRosa is being harassed over his politically incorrect Southern scholarship and prison outreach efforts as part of the left’s perpetual attacks on the Koch brothers.
By S. T. Patrick
Since March, Dr. Marshall DeRosa has been under fire from journalists and activists across Florida and nationwide. The charges against DeRosa, a professor at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) for 28 years, range from the innocuously political (“Koch-funded”) to the serious and potentially career-threatening (“white supremacist”).
The criticism of DeRosa had been a niche story until the left-leaning magazine The Nation published a hit piece on March 21, “How Charles Koch is Helping Neo-Confederates Teach College Students.” Since then, DeRosa has been the target of protests and harassment from across the FAU campus and beyond. Student activists, primarily from the FAU Democratic Socialists and FAU Student Power groups, have made DeRosa’s classes at FAU difficult endeavors. Some students have even gone so far as to post accusatory flyers inside DeRosa’s classrooms.
The attacks on DeRosa center on his ties to what critics are calling “white nationalist” and “neo-Confederate” groups such as the League of the South Institute (LSI), which, according to its own advertisement, is the “educational arm of the Mary Noel Kershaw Foundation.”
In an email exchange with this writer, DeRosa described the end of his tenure with the LSI. “My disengagement from the League of the South was a gradual process,” DeRosa wrote. “I don’t have a specific date, but I believe it began in the late 1990s. As an academic I was able and willing to give presentations about my scholarship. Professor Forrest McDonald [world-renowned historian at the University of Alabama] invited me to the first organizational meeting at the University of Alabama. The purpose was to provide an academic and research forum for scholars. It did not and was not intended to be engaged in politics.”
DeRosa is currently associated with the Abbeville Institute, an organization formed “to critically explore what is true and valuable in the Southern tradition.” Abbeville is named after the birthplace of former Sen. and Vice President John C. Calhoun of South Carolina.
What is confusing are the duplicitous motives of the protestors, as well as organizations such as Campus Reform and Media Matters for America. A majority of the headlines and flyers use the name “Koch” more prominently than they use “DeRosa.” Therefore, it can be assumed that DeRosa is just the target du jour for the left’s perpetual attacks on Charles and David Koch, the oil billionaires known for donating to Republican political causes. One of those causes, the Charles Koch Foundation’s education initiatives, allows FAU to fund the civics classes DeRosa teaches at the South Bay Correctional Facility (SBCF), a private prison operated by GEO Group, Inc.
DeRosa teaches approximately 130 students at SBCF. Almost 70% of his students are black. The remaining 30% are equally white and Hispanic. Sources within SBCF tell this writer that the students are “real fans” of both DeRosa and his classes. What he is teaching all of the South Bay students is uniform; he teaches about individual rights, duties, and dignity. In a reaction that may surprise his harshest critics, the classes seem to be affecting the black students most.
DeRosa told “WashingtonExaminer.com,” “(The black students are) coming to the realization that the government has been their enemy.”
These dictums must be surprising to an educational structure and prison-industrial complex that demands obedience to an authority, a reliance on government programs, and a blind faith in law. Yet they are ideals that DeRosa believes will make the prisoners valuable members of their communities and families after their time is served.
When asked why these classes were important to him, DeRosa responded with a quote from Matthew 25:36, “. . . I was in prison, and you came to me.”
The DeRosa story is really a crossroads of ongoing conflicts that have plagued Florida for decades. Florida is a state that is very Southern in culture, yet it attempts to promote itself as an impartial, fully modernized, coastal vacation destination. It is a state that has over 154,000 residents in jails or prisons. The state is also slowly moving toward prison privatization. That move had previously caused conflict on the FAU campus when in 2013 students protested over the GEO Group’s purchasing of the naming rights to the football stadium. DeRosa is simply caught in the current wave of old conflicts.
For DeRosa, however, the attacks and harassment have been very personal. In communication with this writer, as well as in reports culled from SBCF sources, DeRosa has been a polite intellectual with an intense devotion to both his students and his material. Unfortunately for DeRosa and his colleagues, he is also caught up in a schism that the historical community has yet to resolve adequately.
There has to be a way for scholars interested in southern or Confederate history to study it with impartiality and without the snap judgments that cause many to label them as “white supremacists” or “white nationalists” solely due to their interest and lack of volatile scorn. They should not have to reflexively despise the South or hate all of its institutions and principles to study it critically.
DeRosa is a scholar with an interest in the Confederacy, and he is an author of a book on the Confederate Constitution of 1861. He has done what many do in the field of history—he has associated with other historians with similar interests. That is professional; it is neither illegal nor immoral. It isn’t even a bad decision. It is the norm in any scholarly field.
DeRosa, to date, has been given the tacit support of an FAU administration that in 2016 fired James Tracy, the professor who contributed to a book on the Sandy Hook school shooting claiming he had some doubts about the official story surrounding the event. If FAU is an educational institution that seriously believes in the university being a forum for the marketplace of ideas, DeRosa will stay at FAU and his students at SBCF will continue to learn his valuable lessons.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.
And Washington Is Worried About Russian Trolls?
By AFP Staff
While Washington works itself into a lather over Russians supposedly trolling Americans and “ruining democracy,” a new poll from Pew Research Center found that less than 25% of American adults actually reads books. The percentage of non-readers is even higher among those over age 50.
It’s even worse than that. Television is normally a wasteland, but occasionally it shines a mirror on us and can reflect our flaws. A new video by late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel does exactly that when he sends staff out to interview the man-in-the-street with the simplest of questions: “Can you name a book?”
You can watch the video here:
For those who don’t want to patronize YouTube, here is the gist of the video: The comedian sent a team into the streets to ask average Americans if they could just name one book. They didn’t even ask for the last book they read—only to name the title to one single book. How did most people respond? Most couldn’t, but some went to so far as to name movies.
It’s painful to watch but worth a moment of your time.
And Washington is worried about Russian trolls?
Were JFK, RFK, MLK Killings Linked?
Multiple researchers are examining the similarities of the assassination operations that took out President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. These researchers, explains S. T. Patrick, “are not fringe theorists. In many ways, they are human encyclopedias of assassination and conspiracy.” Listen to his interview with author Carmine Savastano.
By S. T. Patrick
The assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have for decades been taught and written about in isolation. While the Kennedy brothers shared familial, political, and relational ties, the murders are still viewed as separate events. Though the deaths of RFK and MLK are separated by only two months, the means, motives, and opportunities that dictate criminal and legal investigations have never been woven together by the historical and educational establishment.
The tendency of the educational theorists and textbook conglomerates to isolate characters and events in history is understood—if not excused. By avoiding patterns and minimizing links, history can be taught as a series of spontaneous events that create patriotic heroes, ignite societal changes, and provide government-based solutions.
If the shared players, government agencies, behavioral patterns, and deep politics behind these seminal assassinations were highlighted, students as well as casual observers would begin questioning the structure of power that exists in America today. The survival of the richest would then be questioned with historical ferocity, the likes of which would be unparalleled.
In 2003, Jim DiEugenio and Lisa Pease coauthored and co-edited an anthology entitled The Assassinations: Probe Magazine on JFK, MLK, RFK, and Malcolm X. DiEugenio wrote that he and Pease “thought it was wrong to survey them only as individual incidents. They were related to each other, especially in their cumulative impact.”
DiEugenio, writing for “KennedysandKing.com,” noted that the impact of the assassinations was two-fold. First, the relative success of the JFK assassins buoyed the confidence of the perpetrators and encouraged them to carry out the other assassinations. Second, it was the literal death of the liberal left in the country.
Obvious in the three assassinations is the identification of a “lone nut” archetype, a killer who had been taken past his emotional peak by an ideological issue. For Lee Harvey Oswald, we were taught to believe it was Oswald’s hatred of an American way of life and a devotion to communism. For James Earl Ray, it was the weight of his criminal background and stereotypical Southern racism. Sirhan Sirhan, we were told, was motivated by his devotion to the allegedly anti-Semitic pro-Palestinian movement. He assassinated Bobby Kennedy because RFK had promised fighter jets to Israel, if elected. Critical researchers now contest all of these motives, most of which have been proven false by documents and interviews after the official reports were released.
We now know that Oswald had surrounded himself with rabid anti-communists in both New Orleans and Dallas. In New Orleans, he worked out of the same Camp Street office as the communist-hating Guy Bannister and in Dallas was befriended by a White (anti-communist) Russian, George De Mohrenschildt. Ray has a sparse history of racism and very few actions that can be tied to an innate, inescapable criminal personality. Sirhan was not an anti-Semitic follower of Islam. He was a Greek Orthodox Christian who had been brought to America by Christian missionaries. When Sirhan’s home was searched immediately after the assassination, no library of pro-Palestinian information was found.
Rep. Allard K. Lowenstein (D-N.Y.) once said, “What is odd is not that some people thought [the Kennedy brothers’ assassinations were] random, but that so many intelligent people refused to believe that it might be anything else.”
The newest attempt at understanding these assassinations in tandem as a foundational and structural problem is Carmine Savastano’s Two Princes and a King: A Concise Review of Three PoliticalAssassinations. Savastano looks at the errors, incompetence, and inaction of each investigation, as well as the generalized groups that may bear some responsibility.
Savastano examines potential culprits in the categories of underworld arm (criminal elements, including mob involvement), official arm (elected and appointed officials), military intelligence arm (including CIA), and the conspirators (those actually involved at ground level). In doing so, Savastano is identifying uniquely different patterns of operation and cover-up that exist within each element.
DiEugenio, Pease, and Savastano are not fringe theorists. In many ways, they are human encyclopedias of assassination and conspiracy. They do not agree on every source, nor do they agree on the importance of every revelation, but that is the norm for research communities. They have all, however, brought forth information and conclusions that are vital in understanding the assassinations of three transformative leaders of the 1960s. Most importantly, all three are replacing what Americans were told they must believe with what actually was, one detail, one interview, and one document at a time.
At the 50th anniversary of the MLK and RFK assassinations, it is more important and more possible than ever to look at patterns and connections in a more cogent, identifiable way. Independent researchers, authors, and content providers will continue to do what the historical aristocrats of academia and a failed educational system have not done. They will dredge through the mounds of bad historiography and ineffectual government reports in search of meaning and in search of truth.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as a respected educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” You may email him at STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.
Ed. Note: This article was originally published in American Free Press Issue 11 & 12, March 12 & 19, 2018.
Was FDR a Victim of Assassination?
While FDR was pronounced dead of a massive cerebral hemorrhage by his cardiologist, a new book from Steve Ubaney, author of the Who Murdered . . . ? series, believes the evidence tells quite a different story. Ubaney says Stalin and the president’s inner circle plotted to remove FDR from postwar decisions, and he was the victim of a “meticulous, systematic poisoning.”
By S. T. Patrick
By March 29, 1945, the United States could sense an end to the war that had both ravaged the globe and rescued the American economy from the straits of the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt had just entered his fourth term as president. Whenever the stresses of the nation’s highest office demanded a calming respite for the ailing president, an excursion to the Little White House in Warm Springs, Ga. was scheduled.
Recuperation was needed. FDR was about to attend a series of organizational meetings to charter the United Nations. In that all-important and lucrative practice of parsing and restructuring the world after a war, Roosevelt was to be the lead figure, maneuvering the chess pieces across the grandest of geopolitical boards. The general secretary of the Soviet Union, Josef Stalin, had led his country for two decades and was about to preside over his army’s victorious march through the streets of Berlin. Stalin believed that he, himself, had earned the right to helm the division of spoils emanating from the Second World War.
On the afternoon of April 12, Roosevelt, who felt increasingly ill, said, “I have a terrible headache,” and slumped forward in his chair, unconscious. After being carried to his bedroom, FDR was pronounced dead of a massive cerebral hemorrhage by his cardiologist Dr. Howard Bruenn. Vice President Harry Truman, an unassuming machine politician from Kansas City, became FDR’s successor.
Stalin must have seen a clearer path upon FDR’s death. In fact, it would be the beginning of a remarkably fatal 18 days. Italian Prime Minister Benito Mussolini was assassinated on April 28 and Stalin was led to believe that the German Chancellor Adolf Hitler had committed suicide on April 30. Churchill’s Conservative Party would soon lose an election, forcing the resignation of the prime minister, and France’s Charles de Gaulle had neither the financial stability nor the military fortitude to demand a powerful seat at the table of postwar politics.
While many characterize FDR’s death as the culmination of an adulthood riddled with health emergencies, author Steve Ubaney believes the evidence tells quite a different story. Ubaney is the author of the Who Murdered . . . ? book series. His volumes Who Murdered Elvis? and Who Murdered FDR? have questioned the official causes of death, and his upcoming Who Murdered JFK? will focus on the 2017-2018 JFK records releases. Ubaney believes the evidence shows that FDR was not solely suffering from the physical difficulties of a man who had contracted polio, a paralytic illness, in 1921 at the age of 39. Ubaney describes a situation in which Roosevelt was the victim of a meticulous, systematic poisoning that began around the time of the Tehran Conference in December 1943.
When examining the suspects, Ubaney writes as an investigator, examining means, motive, and opportunity. No one is off limits. He examines Eleanor Roosevelt’s growing anger over FDR’s trysts with Missy LeHand, his personal secretary, and Lucy Mercer, Eleanor’s social secretary. FDR was so fond of LeHand that he included her in his will after she suffered a stroke. Mercer was with FDR in Warm Springs when he died. FDR had refused his wife’s request for a divorce, leaving her fastened to a loveless marriage.
Harry Hopkins, FDR’s chief diplomatic advisor and friend, is the book’s most interesting character. Long treated by Roosevelt biographers as the heroic architect of New Deal implementation, Ubaney details Hopkins’s ties to Soviet intelligence, going so far as to label him “a Soviet spy and operative.” Hopkins had always been closer to the Soviets than many American diplomats had wished him to be. When FDR was going through a more difficult stint of immobility, Hopkins would act as the mouthpiece and legs of the president.
Ubaney writes that Hopkins was “the most important man that no one ever knew.”
Elizabeth Schoumatoff and Nicholas Robbins were also present in Warm Springs when FDR died. Schoumatoff, a friend of Mercer, was a Russian-born painter tasked with capturing FDR’s likeness in his fourth term. Robbins was a photographer and longtime friend of Schoumatoff. Both shared Russian backgrounds, ties to high-level anti-FDR financiers, and a presence in Warm Springs.
When Ubaney discusses the practicalities of poisoning, characters reminiscent of the board game Clue enter the story. There is Arthur Prettyman, one of FDR’s personal valets, Howell Crim, the chief usher of the White House, and the cooks who prepare Roosevelt’s daily meals, about which FDR had increasingly complained throughout his presidency.
After his death, many of FDR’s medical records at Bethesda were either lost or stolen. We know this because Mrs. Roosevelt had her own suspicions approximately 10 years later. She wanted a re-evaluation of her husband’s medical history and the records of his death. She soon discovered that what was not locatable could not be re-evaluated.
Though Roosevelt was only 63 when he died, he appeared much older, as many onlookers observed. The severe decline began after Tehran and then seemingly hit bottom after the Yalta Conference of February 1945. Ubaney points out that
the closer FDR traveled in proximity to the Russian delegation, the worse his health deteriorated.
Ubaney writes, “Are we really expected to believe that (FDR) died of natural causes at the same time the Allied troops were closing in on Hitler’s bunker? Are we really expected to believe that Roosevelt, Hitler, and Mussolini died within 18 days by coincidence?”
Though the lions of the Second World War were gone or removed from office, Stalin did not have complete autonomy. He had underestimated both Truman’s resolve and corporate America’s desire to control new markets. What he may have done, however, is end the fourth term of FDR prematurely. Ubaney admits that Stalin is the puppetmaster in the plot. The remainder of Who Murdered FDR? answers the questions of the players, their roles, and the strategies used to poison an American president.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.
Was Prominent Journalist a Target?
In a new book, journalist Mark Feldstein claims Nixon and his men desperately wanted to get rid of renowned columnist Jack Anderson, who Nixon blamed in part for his loss to JFK in 1960. They considered an assortment of ways to silence Anderson’s criticisms of Nixon and his administration, from criminal prosecution to defamation of character to outright murder.
By S. T. Patrick
The common factors that drove columnist Jack Anderson and President Richard Nixon to the apex of their respective fields are the same that tore them apart and made them adversaries for more than 25 years. The escalating tension between two of the most powerful men in Washington, D.C. climaxed in the year before Watergate, as Nixon’s men wanted Jack Anderson dead.
Anderson and Nixon were both from small, western towns. Their middle-class upbringings often made them uncomfortably conscious of the class warfare inherent within elite society. Anderson was a devout Mormon, while many of Nixon’s social leanings reflected his Quaker upbringing. Both men wrote, walked, talked, and lived like they perpetually had something to prove.
While money was not the driving factor behind the two men personally, they both placed a high value in the same Washingtonian commodity—information. They would gain it in ways that were morally and ethically repugnant to later observers and biographers. They would use it to stay one step ahead of their competition, as well as to belittle opponents who invariably attempted to agitate their most paranoid insecurities. The Beltway was a game, and they were both sore losers.
Nixon believed Anderson was partially responsible for his 1960 presidential loss to John F. Kennedy. Anderson, in his Washington Merry-Go-Round column, had printed a revelation that the Nixon campaign had secretly funneled a private donation from billionaire Howard Hughes. Anderson was in large part responsible for Nixon’s distrust of the establishment media. When the Nixon administration entered the White House in 1969, Anderson’s criticism intensified. He wrote about yet another contribution from Hughes, a favorable tilt toward Pakistan that almost caused a nuclear confrontation with Russia, a covert attempt to oust Chilean president Salvador Allende, and many other brewing scandals.
Mark Feldstein, the chair of broadcast journalism at the University of Maryland, has written Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture, which is simultaneously a biography of Anderson and a well-written account of his conflict with Nixon.
Feldstein details how Nixon’s “Plumbers”—G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, and company—were created to plug the leaks Anderson used to such success. At one point, Anderson’s column was syndicated in over a thousand newspapers, including The Washington Post. He was the subject of a Timemagazine cover story under the headline “Supersnoop,” he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1972, and he was featured on “60 Minutes.”
“Jack Anderson was like Ahab chasing after Richard Nixon, this great white whale, and he plagued Nixon from the very beginning of his career,” wrote Feldstein.
Nixon explored many options of what could be done with Anderson. On Jan. 3, 1972, he discussed with Attorney General John Mitchell the possibility of criminally prosecuting Anderson for publishing classified documents.
“I would just like to get a hold of this Anderson and hang him,” said Mitchell.
Nixon replied, “So listen, the day after the election, win or lose, we’ve got to do something with [Anderson].”
Liddy and Hunt met with other Nixon aides to discuss what could be done to thwart the muckraking journalist. A spy was placed in Anderson’s office where Colson attempted to plant a false White House document. They considered labeling Anderson as gay, which he was not, and charging that his legman Brit Hume was his gay lover. The administration then tried leaking information on Anderson to The Washington Post, which instead printed a story about how Nixon was trying to smear Anderson.
Exasperated, the Plumbers turned to the one method of silencing Anderson that would work permanently—murder. Hunt and Liddy, under orders from Colson, met and plotted potential ways to kill Anderson. They interviewed a CIA poison expert to determine whether they could poison him without detection. They put Anderson under surveillance to see if there was a location on his regular route to potentially stage a fatal auto accident. They staked out his home to case the vulnerable points of entry that could be penetrated to swap prescription medications for poison. The most bizarre consideration was the idea of lacing Anderson’s steering wheel with LSD, thus causing an accident.
Finally, they decided that the best means would be to stage a mugging that would end in Anderson’s death. Liddy later claimed that he had volunteered for the latter and was satisfied with breaking Anderson’s neck. Before his death, Hunt also corroborated the scheme to kill Anderson.
Colson called off the plan to kill Anderson, as the funds had been earmarked elsewhere. Six weeks later, the burglars were arrested at the Watergate complex.
When the second Watergate break-in occurred in June 1974, Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman tried planting a story that blamed Anderson. Dating back to the 1950s, Anderson had been involved in buggings and break-ins in an effort to acquire damaging information on politicians. Making Haldeman’s plan even more potentially credible, Anderson was also friendly with Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis, who had been his house guest in Washington, D.C. In a strange turn of coincidence, Anderson ran into Sturgis at the airport on the night of the Watergate break-in. Sturgis and the burglars were flying in from Miami. When Anderson first heard about Watergate, he instantly knew who was involved.
Anderson’s later career was plagued with factual errors, dwindling readership, and an affinity for the Reagan administration that took the bulldog out of the aging reporter. Nixon would resign from office and live out his life writing about global issues. Nixon would die in 1994, and Anderson would succumb to the effects of Parkinson’s disease in 2005. He had retired his column a year before at the age of 81.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.
Waco Massacre: Janet Reno’s Truth
On this 25th anniversary of the massacre at the Branch Davidian Church near Waco, Texas, AFP concludes its series of articles looking back on that terrible time when U.S. military and law enforcement waged war against a peaceful group of American citizens. This is part four of that four-part series. Parts one to three follow, in full, as published in previous issues of American Free Press.
Janet Reno Responsible for Waco Massacre
Part 4 of 4: The deadly fire at Waco was started by strategies approved by Janet Reno’s Justice Department.
By S. T. Patrick
The plan for the raid on what the mainstream media strategically called a “compound” worked its way up the chain of command to Attorney General Janet Reno on April 12, 1993. It was a two-step plan that the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) hoped would end at step one—injecting tear gas into two areas of Mount Carmel, the Branch Davidian home and church complex outside of Waco, Texas. They had hoped that this would drive the men, women, and children out and the engagement would be short-lived. Part two of the plan to lay siege to Mount Carmel involved tearing down the outer walls in an effort to expose those inside.
Reno was not alone in her decisions. She was often consulted not only by the commanders in the field, but also by FBI Director William Sessions and Assistant Attorney General Webster Hubbell, a Clinton administration appointee tied to the same Arkansas scandals that would trail the president and first lady throughout their tenure in D.C.
Reno suggested a scheme that would involve waiting until the water supply to the home was so depleted that the inhabitants would be thirsted out of Mount Carmel and into the hands of government officials. A later Justice Department report stated that the FBI convinced Reno that “(Branch Davidian leader David) Koresh was rationing water to ensure discipline.” Reno quickly abandoned the water strategy and instead asked the FBI for a written report on entrance options.
The FBI’s report was received by the attorney general on April 17. She quickly gave her approval to an assault plan that would begin on April 19. What was to be a 48-hour plan lasted approximately five minutes.
“It was not law enforcement’s intent that this was to be D-Day,” a later Justice Department report claimed.
At 6:02 a.m., M6OA1 tanks, modified for demolition, began tearing through the walls of Mount Carmel. The tanks then began firing CS gas into the building. Shortly thereafter, in protection of their home, the residents of Mt. Carmel fired shots at the armored CEVs (combat engineering vehicles). The operations plan, approved by Reno,called for an escalation of government action if the tanks were fired upon. The order of the shots and the identities of the shooters would remain a controversy within the Waco research community.
Regardless of the order of shots, return fire on the part of the Davidians was a certainty. Unlike many Americans, there are those who believe in the literal protection of property rights and the right to exist as a community. When they are threatened and fired upon by others—in an official governmental capacity or not—they will fire back. Self-defense laws protect individuals from other individual intrusions, but it is assumed that individuals are simply supposed to acquiesce when the intruder is a government entity over-aggressively and mortally enforcing its will. The Branch Davidians outside of Waco believed differently.
The Justice Department report detailed Reno’s reactions as those of a surprised attorney general and not as the country’s leading law enforcement official who had pre-planned for all likely outcomes. In defending Reno, allowing her a human reaction to the commanders’ militaristic actions, the report also made the attorney general look incompetent.
Reno “did not read the prepared statement carefully,” the report said. “Nor did she read the supporting documentation. She read only a chronology.” If that is true, then Reno approved fatal violence against American citizens after reading an outline in lieu of carefully studying the actual plans.
Around 11:40 a.m., after a vapor had formed from the over 400 ferret rounds fired into the home, the building caught fire. Within a half hour, Mount Carmel was destroyed and those inside had died.
Reno, President Bill Clinton, and FBI spokesmen all immediately began claiming that the Branch Davidians had started the fire. The BATF and the FBI made sure that no evidence could be investigated, just as Branch Davidian spokesman Steve Schneider said they would on March 10, over a month before the blaze.
“If anybody wanted to come here and burn the place down, kill all the people, what evidence would be left?” Schneider had asked, a month earlier.
Over the next month, Schneider made multiple statements predicting that government agents would, indeed, burn Mount Carmel to the ground in an effort to destroy evidence.
Schneider was correct in his predictions, despite a FBI negotiator once telling him, “No, we’re not going to do something like that.”
In a statement as callous as Hillary Clinton’s later comment regarding Muammar Qaddafi (“We came, we saw, he died.”), President Clinton summed up the entire horrific tragedy at Waco in one line: “Some religious fanatics murdered themselves.”
On a February 2001 episode of “Larry King Live,” former White House aide Linda Tripp alleged that it was the first lady who had pressured the late Vince Foster, Mrs. Clinton’s partner at Rose Law Firm and Deputy White House Counsel for the Clinton administration, to find a solution to the Waco standoff.
According to author Robert Morrow, “Foster, at Mrs. Clinton’s direction, transmitted the order to move on the Branch Davidians’ Waco compound, which culminated in a military style attack on the wooden building.”
Mike McNulty, producer of the documentary “Waco: Rules of Engagement,” also believed Mrs. Clinton gave the orders from the White House. In 1993, and throughout the Clinton administration, Mrs. Clinton did not have an appointed or elected role in the administration. She had neither been elected, nor had she ever been confirmed by the Senate. She assumed power by proxy, the definition of a shadow government.
Regardless of who gave the orders at the White House level, Reno is on record as having approved the tactics used against the Branch Davidians. She also approved the prosecution of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols as the only Oklahoma City conspirators, despite evidence that others, including a Middle Eastern man seen with McVeigh, were involved. In 2000, it was Reno who ordered Elian Gonzalez returned to his father’s custody in Cuba. Whether or not she made warm speeches for progressive groups before her 2016 death, she is still responsible for the 80-plus lives lost at Mount Carmel, 21 of which were children. For Reno, the first woman to serve as attorney general, this is her legacy. This is her truth.
Published in American Free Press Issue 17 & 18, April 23 & 30, 2018.
The Waco Massacre
Part 1 of 4: On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the massacre at the Branch Davidian Church near Waco, Texas, AFP begins a series of articles by S. T. Patrick to look back on that terrible time when U.S. military and law enforcement waged war against a group of American citizens. This is part one of a four-part series.
By S. T. Patrick
Twenty-five years ago, on April 19, 1993, America witnessed one of the most indelible moments of the Clinton presidency as it unfolded on cable news. In a field outside of the small community of Axtell, Texas—13 miles from Waco—a tank, on orders from the U.S. government, powered its way through the front door of Mount Carmel, a home to nearly 100 Branch Davidians. Mount Carmel was quickly ablaze in a gaseous inferno that would take the lives of approximately 80 Davidians, including almost 20 children.
Many questions lie in the smoldering ashes of Mount Carmel. The government spokesmen and national media owned the narrative immediately following the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) siege at Mount Carmel. Made-for-television films such as “In the Line of Duty: Ambush at Waco,” which presented the government’s view of the earlier Feb. 28 conflict with the Davidians, had been made even before the April siege.
In the years following the fire, the political right lifted its own public-relations torch regarding what is now simply known as “Waco.” Militias, Second Amendment activists, and libertarians have all pushed their own causes and anger through the hazy lens of Mount Carmel.
Dick J. Reavis, a former senior editor of Texas Monthlyand reporter for the Dallas Observer, wanted to take the story beyond the conflicts of current events. In 1995 Reavis released The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation, which studied the origins of the Branch Davidians and the trek that found them in McLennan County, Texas, just 90 minutes from Dallas.
In an interview with this writer, Reavis pointed out that the media never discussed the demographics of the Davidian community outside of Waco. They preferred, instead, to paint the Davidians as right-wing gun nuts and religious zealots. To the mainstream media, the labels are synonymous with white racism. Reavis describes a multi-cultural community that is much different.
“There were about 120 people, perhaps 130, living in Mount Carmel at that time,” Reavis said.
“The press never pointed this out—or skipped over it—but those people were of all races on the face of the Earth. About 20% of them were mainly West Indians, but black. . . . In other words, you had an integrated community. There were Asians and there were some Mexican-Americans. The rest were white. There were several nationalities—Brits, Australians, all the West Indies.”
Most of the Branch Davidians had been born into and raised in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, domestically and internationally. Those living in Waco in 1993 had located there out of a belief that David Koresh was a successor to Ellen White, the founder of the church. They believed that Koresh was next in a line of leaders who could decode prophecies.
The pilgrimage to the McLennan County countryside dates back to Victor Houteff and a schism within the church. Houteff founded the Branch Davidians based upon the ideology of an imminent second coming of Jesus Christ, an apocalyptic event that, it is believed, will also see the final defeat of the armies of “Babylon.” Financial instability led them to Texas rather than to Israel, their intended destination. After Houteff’s death and a failed Armageddon prediction from his widow, control of Mount Carmel—the Davidian home named after the mountain in Joshua 19:26—fell to Benjamin and Lois Roden.
An eventual struggle for leadership ensued after Mr. Roden’s death. Mrs. Roden supported Vernon Howell (who changed his name to David Koresh in 1990) in the position of prophet, because her son, George, was unfit for the position due to mental instability. In 1987, after threatening a Texas court with sexually transmitted diseases if it did not rule in his favor, George Roden was jailed for contempt of court. In 1989 he killed another Davidian with an axe. Found not guilty due to insanity, Roden spent the remainder of his life in an asylum. Koresh assumed the leadership of the Branch Davidians and control of Mount Carmel.
The Davidians at Mount Carmel saw themselves as Messianic Jews who celebrated the traditions of Judaism with the ideology of Christianity. Each generation would have a messenger sent from God that would interpret end-times prophecy. The prophet would then lead the flock via his or her interpretation of God’s word, prophecy, and a biblical analysis of current events.
According to Reavis, Koresh and the Branch Davidians had no problems with local law enforcement and even assisted the local sheriff on one drug case. When local law enforcement found out that agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms were going to raid Mount Carmel, local officials asked, “Why don’t you just go talk to (Koresh)?”
Reavis is most perplexed by the way political groups have taken up the case since 1993. The Branch Davidians, he explained, were completely apolitical. They aligned with no political ideology and believed American politics were minutia when faced with the Second Coming. Koresh pragmatically believed he could profit from second-hand firearm upgrades and sales if a national gun-grab occurred, but he was not a boisterous Second Amendment advocate.
“What the remaining Davidians think of the gun rights question is, ‘Why do you bring that up?’ ” Reavis explained. “They think they were attacked for religious reasons. They do not believe—because they are ‘End Timers’—that human beings can do anything to improve our circumstances on Earth. Therefore, banning guns or allowing guns is a moot question, because it has to do with life on Earth, and they are anti-political.”
Rather than fleeing the compound when the February raid and the April siege began to threaten their lives, Reavis describes a more devout group of believers that chose to stay. In one intense moment during the fatal burning of Mount Carmel, one Davidian asked another what they would do next. “I guess we wait on the Lord,” he was told.
“They thought they were in something like Noah’s Ark,” Reavis explained. “You don’t jump off Noah’s Ark. They thought that the outside world would be destroyed and not the inside of Mount Carmel. If that was wrong, they also thought, they would go immediately to Heaven. I think there were some who stayed in because of their religious convictions. Those who did flee ran into a great theological problem. . . . (God) wanted to take those people (inside Mount Carmel) to Heaven, and I ran out on that chance.”
Originally published in American Free Press Issue 3 & 4, Jan. 15 & 22, 2018.
David Koresh: Fact vs. Myth
Part 2 of 4: Why was the U.S. government so bent on taking down Waco religious leader?
By S.T. Patrick
The central figure in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) and FBI attack on the Branch Davidian home and church outside of Waco, Texas, was David Koresh. Many have called him a “cult leader,” yet to other researchers, he is a victim of religious and anti-constitutional persecution.
In 1959, Koresh was born Vernon Howell to a 14-year-old mother who would later turn to prostitution. His step-father, a violent alcoholic, was a carpenter-turned-bartender. His biological father had left the family upon meeting another teenage girl. Born dyslexic, Koresh lamented that he spent years being referred to by schoolmates as “Mr. Retardo.” It has been alleged by some researchers that Koresh was gang-raped by a group of older boys when he was eight years old. The peer abuse was so intense that he dropped out of high school to become a non-union carpenter.
Koresh picked up religion through his grandparents, both Seventh-Day Adventists. While working out of Dallas, he met a girl who became pregnant. Bothered by this as fornication and against biblical principles, he felt it was his duty to marry her. She declined, had an abortion, became pregnant again, and then had the child. Conflicted by his own personal decisions, the results of which left him alone, he drifted to Mount Carmel.
In the mid-1980s, while on a Davidian excursion to Israel, Koresh claimed he was taken up into a sort of spaceship called a merkaba. While inside, the knowledge of the Bible was implanted into his mind. Those around Koresh later said they noticed an instantaneous yet incredible change during this period. He had quickly gained the ability to quote long passages of the Bible without the use of an aid or text. After what other Davidians saw as a spiritual miracle, Koresh’s legitimacy and authority within the group grew. Koresh eventually won leadership over the Branch Davidians and Mount Carmel in 1987 when the mentally unstable George Roden killed another Davidian in a gunfight.
Much ado has been made about Koresh’s affinity for underage girls. The attention paid to the issue has been so deafening that it has overtaken many of the other pertinent religious, constitutional, and legal debates surrounding the Waco story.
Mark Breau, a former Davidian, left the group and reported Koresh to law enforcement for child molestation. The district attorney’s office investigated the complaint, and although they suspected it was true, the parents of the girls refused to either confirm or complain. It was also Breau who told authorities that Koresh had firearm pieces that would convert an AR-15 to an automatic firing weapon.
Dick J. Reavis, the author of The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation, has framed the debate over Koresh’s marriages to underage girls as a religious matter rather than a legal or societal one.
“In the Book of Revelation, which is behind a lot of Koresh’s theology, there are 24 judges who stand in judgment over people,” Reavis explains. “During the End Times, the judges are all born to virgins. Koresh said that he had to father those 24 judges. So the parents who followed [Koresh] thought it was a great honor for their daughters to be picked,” legally underage or not.
Reavis, without making a moral or legal argument favoring either side of the debate, points out the constitutional controversy that exists when genuine religious convictions conflict with both American law and societal norms. The legal age for marriage in many countries is determined by religious practices, whereas in America it can range from the age of 13 (New Hampshire, with court approval) to 21 (Mississippi). Koresh believed his relationships were marriages based upon religious practices.
“What I found most interesting about Mount Carmel was not the fireworks but what it reveals about American society,” Reavis said. “We say we have freedom of religion, but prohibit sex with women under the age of 16 or 18, depending on what state you are in. You can believe what you want, but anything you practice is regulated if the government wants to regulate it. The same thing is true about guns. We claim you have the right to bear firearms, but everyone knows that is regulated. So what happened exposes our mythology . . . freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of gun ownership . . . it exposes our mythology and teaches us a lot about where we are still living today.”
It is not uncommon for members of majority religious denominations to label minority religious sects as “brainwashed cults.” The difference between a so-called cult and a majority religion often boils down to the number of members. Mainstream historians will deride the idea of Koresh as anything other than a cult leader. But at some point, Americans will have to define and deal with the true meaning of freedom.
Minority religions, minority leaders, and minority thought always test the certitude of the majority’s beliefs.
For Koresh and the other 80-plus Davidians who died in the fires of Mount Carmel, the Constitution didn’t work. For the many who supported the raid and still believe in its validity today, the Constitution worked just as they wanted.
Originally published in American Free Press Issue 7 & 8, Feb. 12 & 19, 2018.
Unanswered Waco Questions
Part 3 of 4: Mysteries still loom over the U.S. federal attack on peaceful Waco church members.
By S.T. Patrick
Twenty-five years after a gaseous inferno burned down the last remnants of the Mount Carmel Church near Waco, Texas, unanswered questions puzzle investigators, historians, and journalists still trying to make sense of one of the worst tragedies of the 1990s.
The nature of the gas injected into Mount Carmel has been a controversial issue for scholars and bureaucrats alike. A Justice Department report noted that Attorney General Janet Reno had been concerned that CS gas would harm pregnant women and young children. At a briefing two days after Ms. Reno expressed her concerns, a Ph.D. from an Army research center assured her that no laboratory tests regarding CS gas had been performed on children but that “anecdotal evidence was convincing that there would be no injury.”
CS gas derives from an aerosolized white powder. It is a lachrymator irritant, which stimulates the shedding of tears. According to OSHA manuals, it also causes skin and respiratory irritation. Though an adviser had told Ms. Reno otherwise, CS gas is also flammable. In fact, one CS manufacturer explained that when burned, CS particles can create lethal fumes.
Named for the American inventors that created it—B.B. Corson and R.W. Stoughton—CS gas has been available since 1928. Though its use is quite obviously effective, it has been banned for use in warfare in over 100 countries, including the United States. It is not illegal, however, for a country to use it on its own people.
Amnesty International has reported that indoor use of CS gas has been known to cause death. Manufacturers, therefore, suggest that its use be limited to large, outdoor areas.
An Army manual on the quelling of civil disturbances highlights its effectiveness on people by stating, “Generally, persons reacting to CS are incapable of executing organized and concerted actions.” It goes on to state that affected persons may be rendered unable to vacate an area.
Waco victim Wayne Martin, who died of smoke inhalation, was found with traces of cyanide and burning CS particles. Cyanide is quite often a byproduct of house fires.
The injection of CS gas into Mount Carmel was a governmental decision. Many have tried to either ascertain or even guess what the motive behind the use of CS gas might have been. If the ramming of a tank through the front door was not enough of an eye-opening maneuver for the Davidians to exit their home, why use gas that could burn them, blind them, disorientate them, and start a towering inferno? What was the government’s goal?
Many have also wondered if the government or the Davidians fired first on April 19, 1993. There were clear bullet holes on the inside of the front door, yet the source of the bullets remains unclear. It would seem that the Branch Davidians were firing from inside Mount Carmel, yet researchers such as Dick J. Reavis, author of The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation, point out that once the door was involuntarily opened, holes seen on the internal side of the door could have also come from outside the home.
The forensics evidence would have given investigators a fuller picture had it not been destroyed in the fire as well.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) claimed that videotape from three cameras pointing at the door would prove that the Davidians, and David Koresh, specifically, fired first. The problem with that assertion is that the BATF seems to have lost the videotapes. The BATF’s onsite activities log for April 19, 1993 is also missing.
After the government had contended that no pyrotechnics were used at Mount Carmel, researcher Michael McNulty found expended tear gas and “flash bang” grenades in the evidence collected at Waco.
Ms. Reno stated that the FBI assured her that the pyro was used hours before the fire was ignited.
McNulty also found a memo stating that the Combat Applications Group—now called Delta Force—was present. The FBI had initially denied the presence of Delta Force operatives at Waco. Both the FBI and Ms. Reno, however, eventually admitted their presence but also claimed that Delta Force was “just observing.”
The horrors of Waco remain fresh in the hearts and minds of those who care about governmental abuses of power. And to those interested in the case, questions may always exist. Why didn’t the FBI simply talk to Koresh, as local law enforcement had suggested? Why did the FBI and BATF prepare as if it were a military invasion? If the children’s well-being was of the utmost concern to government forces, why was there such widespread support for the use of CS gas? Who fired first? If there was any compassion for the innocents inside, why were there no rescue efforts as soon as the fire began?
Waco is a puzzle. It is a labyrinth in which all the passions of contemporary political, religious, and constitutional debate are intertwined. To adequately answer one question is to make the others all the more difficult. The saddest reality is that 25 years later, we don’t appear to know much more than we knew after the initial independent investigations were completed. With so much of the evidence left in ashes, the questions may always remain unanswered.
Originally published in American Free Press Issue 9 & 10, Feb. 26 and March 5, 2018.
S. T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.
Big Media Lies About Nixon, Trump
President Donald Trump’s battles with special counsel Robert Mueller investigation are being compared to President Richard Nixon’s firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the Saturday Night Massacre. But recent comparisons between Trump and Nixon are based on historical fallacies promoted by mainstream media and Hollywood.
By S.T. Patrick
Evaluating CNN’s recent coverage of the predictably named “Russiagate” story reminds informed viewers that lazy journalism and bad history can exist, even on the hallowed airwaves of what the mainstream media regrettably defines as the upper echelon of modern news.
In its attempt to compare President Donald Trump’s tensions with special counsel Robert Mueller to Richard Nixon’s October 1973 firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox, CNN has enlisted Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to validate its flawed hypothesis. Woodward and Bernstein famously detailed their Watergate era reporting in the 1974 book All the President’s Men.
Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman’s likeable big screen portrayals of “Wood-stein” helped carve for The Washington Post darlings a permanent place in the journalistic pantheon of Big Media. Watergate revisionists such as Len Colodny staunchly deny that the Trump-Nixon comparison, as well as Woodward and Bernstein’s role in the original story, are legitimate.
Colodny, the author of Silent Coup: The Removal of a President, has tangled with Woodward and the Watergate story for close to 30 years. Colodny’s work documents a thesis that Watergate was not about a break-in at all. There were break-ins, which Colodny believes were ordered by Nixon’s White House Counsel John Dean, but the real story of Watergate centers on a shadow government set up by Nixon early in his presidency that inadvertently allowed Gen. Alexander Haig to climb the ranks of Nixon appointees. When Nixon became vulnerable as a result of the Watergate break-ins, Haig then ran a shadow government whose primary goal was to oust Nixon.
In a Feb. 10 piece for CNN.com, Woodward and Bernstein called Trump’s battle with Mueller “an eerily similar confrontation” to Nixon’s firing of Cox, now termed the “Saturday Night Massacre.” The constant comparison of Trump to Nixon has become an outlandish obsession. What Americans are getting isn’t Trump; it’s CNN’s Trump. And the Nixon being portrayed isn’t the historical Nixon, either; it’s Woodward and Bernstein’s Nixon.
An example is the opening line of Gloria Borger’s March 3 CNN.com article, “The Great Unraveling: Trump’s Allies Are Really Worried About Him.” Ms. Borger opens the article, writing, “Not since Richard Nixon started talking to portraits on the walls of the West Wing has a president seemed so alone against the world.”
That Nixon is the one portrayed in Woodward and Bernstein’s second book, The Final Days (1976), the story of Nixon’s final year in office. It shows a president that is crazed, neurotic, crying, praying, hyper-paranoid, and frothing with every emphatic syllable.
Borger’s source is simply called “One source—who is a presidential ally.” Woodward popularized the use of an unnamed source, the most famous of which became the euphemistically named Deep Throat. Though Woodward outed FBI Associate Director Mark Felt as Deep Throat in 2005, some researchers still believe he was a composite character.
Others have for decades believed Deep Throat was Haig, who, not so coincidentally, was also the hero of The Final Days. Haig tested the bounds of disloyalty and illegality in ways that Woodward and Bernstein spun as saving the country from a president that had flown off the rails.
Though Woodward told Colodny in 1989 that he had “never met or talked to Haig until sometime in the spring of ’73,” Colodny’s research unearthed a biography that contradicted Woodward’s claim.
Colodny confirmed that Navy Lt. Woodward in 1969 and 1970 manned the Pentagon’s secret communications room. In that position, Woodward often transmitted back channel messages to and from Nixon and Henry Kissinger. During this time, Woodward also delivered messages to Haig, Kissinger’s deputy at the National Security Council.
When Colodny and co-author Robert Gettlin wrote that Woodward had briefed Haig as early as 1969, Woodward fired back. “I defy you to produce somebody who says I did the briefing,” Woodward said. “It’s just, it’s not true.”
Colodny and Gettlin confirmed the Woodward-Haig relationship with two high-level sources, Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird and Woodward’s own former commanding officer, Adm. Thomas Moorer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
This is also in direct contrast to how All the President’s Men—the book and the film—portrayed Woodward. He had worked closely with important Nixon administration appointees, despite the film portraying him as a lucky, young reporter whose hard work and shoe-leather muckraking led him to stumble upon the story of the decade.
Bernstein, in his recent CNN appearances, has had even harsher words for Trump. “We have no reason to believe almost anything that Donald Trump says,” Bernstein told CNN. “What is so extraordinary about him and his presidency is the incessant, compulsive, continual lying. . . . We’ve never had a president who lies like this . . . even Nixon.”
Bernstein then reinforced the comparison to Anderson Cooper on “AC360.” In comparing Trump’s rejection of Russian collusion to Nixon’s denials of a Watergate cover-up, Bernstein said, “Ironically enough, you’re dealing with the same allegations in some way.”
With Woodward acting as the smooth scrutinizer and Bernstein as the hit man, CNN has passionately pushed the Trump-Nixon comparison at every turn. Colodny, a self-admitted liberal Democrat, is turned off by it. If Woodward lied about his relationship with Haig, lied about his early ties to Nixon appointees, lied about the complete source list for the Deep Throat information, and lied about giving briefings at the White House, Colodny believes any comparison Woodward and Bernstein make comparing Russiagate to Watergate is both self-serving and inapposite.
In an interview with this writer, Colodny denied that any comparison between the two presidents should be made. However, it may be worth pondering whether there is a valid comparison to be made regarding a more modern Silent Coup thesis itself. Are establishment insiders plotting Trump’s demise with the aiding and abetting of those he trusts? Could Trump’s Haig be a frequent visitor to the West Wing today? And will it take close to 20 years for revisionist researchers to uncover it all?
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as a respected educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News” show. You may email him at STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.
Hearst Kidnapping Was CIA Op
The author of a new book has powerfully countered CNN propaganda, boldly challenging the accepted mainstream version of “the most notorious American kidnapping since the baby of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was taken in 1932.” In doing so, Brad Schreiber exposes how the U.S. undermines dissident groups through revealing the real history of the Symbionese Liberation Army’s kidnapping of media mogul heiress Patty Hearst.
By S. T. Patrick
Political kidnappings are rare in North America. More common in Latin America, South Asia, and Africa, they are most often used to gain political concessions, commodity control, money, notoriety or a combination of the four. Someone who may be valuable to a wealthy and powerful entity is kidnapped in exchange for something that is of value to the kidnappers.
Patricia (Patty) Campbell Hearst was an heir to the publishing fortune of William Randolph Hearst. She was valuable. The Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) and their leader, Donald DeFreeze, wanted to make a statement that would instantly gain them notoriety through the media, a business the Hearsts knew very well.
When Hearst, a sophomore at the University of California-Berkeley, was kidnapped by members of the SLA on Feb. 4, 1974 there was reason to believe the motives were political and monetary. When no ransom demand was given to California authorities, the media began reporting the story as a political kidnapping. It quickly became the most notorious American kidnapping since the baby of Charles and Anne Lindbergh was taken in 1932. As the story unfolded, the characters, events, and history behind the kidnapping became even more bizarre than what was being reported.
In Revolution’s End: The Patty Hearst Kidnapping, Mind Control, and the Secret History of Donald DeFreeze and the SLA, author Brad Schreiber boldly challenges what is still the accepted mainstream version of the story. It is the mainstream version that was featured on CNN’s recent docuseries, “The Radical Story of Patty Hearst.” In challenging the CNN version of the story with documents and archival interviews that have been available since researcher Dick Russell revealed them in 1976, Schreiber is also challenging the work of CNN’s legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, on whose work the CNN series was based.
While Toobin’s work focuses largely on Hearst, Schreiber’s research delves deeper into the history and ideologies of the SLA and DeFreeze, both of which stem from California Gov. Ronald Reagan’s attempts at infiltrating left-wing political groups. California’s infiltration project was led by Reagan’s attorney general, Evelle Younger, as well as the CIA.
Three months before the Hearst kidnapping, the SLA had been responsible for killing Marcus Foster, the first black superintendent of the Oakland Unified School District. The killing baffled journalists and officials. The SLA had come to prominence as a radical left-wing group concerned mainly about the plight of black Americans. The Foster murder created a rift between the SLA and the Black Panthers, which had formed in Oakland in 1966. It is senseless unless you view the rift as an intentionally created one, as Schreiber does.
While DeFreeze was incarcerated at Vacaville Prison, he became associated with the Black Cultural Association (BCA), a group led by UC-Berkeley professor and CIA asset Colston Westbrook. The BCA would bring white, radical students into the prison to help facilitate political and educational discussions with black inmates housed in a wing used and funded by the CIA for mind control and sociological experimentation projects.
It was through the BCA that Hearst first met the incarcerated DeFreeze. Using a fraudulent ID of friend Mary Alice Siem in a time when prison rules were much more lax, she then began sending money to DeFreeze. Hearst and two of Westbrook’s other volunteers, Patricia Soltysik and Nancy Ling Perry, also engaged in sexual activity with DeFreeze while at Vacaville. DeFreeze and other prisoners targeted by Westbrook were placed on heavy doses of medication.
DeFreeze was offered a deal by the California Department of Corrections and the CIA. He would be released (portrayed as an escape) in exchange for starting a phony left-wing group—the SLA—and working in chaotic opposition to the goals of the Black Panthers and the New Left. Westbrook would serve as the control agent for DeFreeze, who had previously been used as an informant to set up the Black Panthers for the Los Angeles Police Department.
After DeFreeze left prison, he was reunited with Soltysik and Perry, who became SLA members. The group’s spurious origins were known by Westbrook and DeFreeze, but not by its white, radical members.
“None of the core 10 white followers of the SLA ever knew that DeFreeze was working for the state,” Schreiber said in an interview with this writer. “They believed it was a radical group, and they believed in revolution. They thought America was a racist country . . . and they thought that the Vietnam War was an immoral war. They were following a black prisoner . . . and they had no idea he was setting them up. . . . They were following DeFreeze blindly.”
According to Schreiber, the kidnapping of Hearst was undertaken by the SLA because DeFreeze felt abandoned by Hearst and had animus toward her. It was, therefore, a personal kidnapping and was neither political nor random. Schreiber believes that Hearst did not expect the kidnapping, nor did she take a willing part in it.
Aside from DeFreeze, the SLA members treated Hearst well. She was already politically radical. DeFreeze employed the use of drugs, intimidation, and sex with other members to mentally coerce Hearst into participating with the SLA in the Hibernia Bank robbery and other activities.
Schreiber is often indignant at the mainstream’s focus on the Hearst angle in the story. Reagan, Younger, and the CIA bear responsibility for the programs by which false left-wing groups were created in California. One of those groups, the SLA, murdered a school superintendent before engaging in a robbery of a San Francisco bank. In a later shootout with the LAPD, six SLA members were killed.
The focus of the story, to Schreiber, is the infiltration of the left, the corruption of the California Department of Corrections, the murder of school superintendent Foster, and the sad deaths of the group’s committed believers.
Schreiber’s point of view is a reminder that the truth of history can be found through dissecting the story of someone the mainstream media views as a minor character. Schreiber found both the truth and the true tragedy of the story within the biographies of the supposedly extraneous figures that surrounded Patty Hearst in 1974 rather than through biographies of Hearst herself.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News” show. His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.
Uniting on U.S. Prison Reform
Communist China imprisons half of what the United States currently jails—over 2 million people incarcerated in America today and over 4.5 million on probation or parole—yet we are told it is China that’s the “harshly prosecutorial” state. Prison reform movements in the U.S. are working to change the state of affairs in this “land of the free.”
By S.T. Patrick
In a country that boasts both the largest per capita and total prison populations in the supposedly civilized world, Americans have taken up the cause of prison reform in numbers greater than ever before. Commensurate with the framing of most political issues, reformers are both radical and moderate—yet their political skins have encompassed both liberals and conservatives. One of the more creative movements to arise from this current wave of prison reform activism is the Prison Abolition Movement.
According to Bureau of Justice statistics, there are over 2 million people incarcerated in America today and over 4.5 million on probation or parole. Compare that with the next two countries. The largest country in the world is China, with 1.4 billion people. Its prison population is half that of America, yet China is seen as a harshly prosecutorial country where imprisonment can occur for the slightest wrong. Russia is third-highest with over 800,000 imprisoned. There is sizeable drop to fourth-place Brazil, with over 300,000 incarcerated. To put the per-capita evaluation into perspective, America incarcerates 737 of every 100,000 people. China incarcerates 118 of every 100,000.
Organizations such as Critical Resistance and the California Coalition for Women Prisoners push to dismantle what they call the “Prison-Industrial Complex,” or PIC. The majority of the Prison Abolition Movement seeks not to open bars and allow inmates to filter onto every street, nor does it intend to put the public at harm. What it acknowledges is that, even after decades of massive prison-system expansions, we are not safer as a country. If the overall goal is not being met, then the structure of the system needs to change. When that is acknowledged, the abolitionists believe, it is time to eliminate prisons in favor of more humane and effective systems of correction and rehabilitation.
Americans are used to the ineffective means of imprisonment—cages and control. It is still a nation of quick-judgment artists. TV judge programs, after all, are some of the most lucrative franchises in syndicated television today. Americans are attracted to shows where the passing of judgment is swift. We are stimulated by the opportunity to quickly vote someone off an island, pass judgment on talk-show guests, and yes, even fire employees on national television. Real life, however, is not simple, and its effects do not end as credits roll an hour later.
Reformers are not abolitionists. Reformers attempt to find answers regarding methods to make imprisonment more effective. Abolitionists believe that caging a human being is a moral wrong that hurts society more than it increases safety.
No amount of imprisonment has solved the initial problems, including inadequate access to education and opportunities, the increase of single-parent homes, addiction, societal insecurity or lack of treatment for mental illness. However, a blind trust in imprisonment has increased the problems of politicized punishment, an epidemic of poor legal representation by public defenders, broken families, children without parents, bloated state budgets, class inequities in punishment, and the covering up of officer-on-inmate violence.
Darren Rainey was a mentally ill inmate under the care, custody, and control of the notorious Florida Department of Corrections until on-duty officers burned Rainey to death on June 23, 2012. Rainey was thrown into a scalding shower by the officers as punishment. The water temperature—controlled by the officers—topped 180 degrees and melted Rainey’s skin from his bones as he begged them to stop. Though it was clear the guards committed the horrible act, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s office announced that the four officers overseeing the gruesome murder would not be charged with a crime.
It is a natural defense to fortify societal norms with the “Then what do we do?!” argument. It is also natural to use the worst criminals and the worst crimes to make the argument for imprisonment. But if you disregard the worst 5% for the moment, the remaining 95% deserve a better path to change. Rehabilitation is touted but rarely accomplished.
The prison abolitionists believe that true rehabilitation cannot occur locked behind bars, as a tyrannical security corps treats the inmate as less than human. They believe true rehab should be enacted with one’s family or a team of supporters in an environment that is familiar, such as an offender’s community. The method commonly used and advocated for in America today clearly isn’t working when measured against any of the myriad goals expressed by the citizenry or by government officials.
If America is going to change its definition of reform, rehabilitation, and treatment, it will take a sea change—as it did with the marijuana decriminalization movement. When it does happen and those who have failed are seen as projects rather than objects, society will be better for it.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News” Show. His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.