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Posts Tagged ‘CIA’

A Go-Along, at Best

Posted by heyrandy on August 12, 2017

LBJ: the Mastermind of JFK’s Assassination, Philip Nelson, 2010

Who did it? According to the author the answer is obvious: the one who benefited. This is not a new theory. Nor does the author prove it. In 729 pages the author tells us a lot about Lyndon (a crude, lying, murdering thief), fails to make the case that LBJ was behind it all.

There is much about the assassination that we do not know. The Warren  Commission is criticized in this book. That much Nelson get right, but this is nothing new. What government investigation is not just a public-deceiving fraud? the Warren Commission is part of long tradition of reports that do not do what they say they do. The official 9-11 report is the latest piece of junk.

The major thesis is the CIA was behind the killing to keep the agency from suffering the wrath of Kennedy over the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Allegedly the agency feared it demise once Kennedy won re-election. So naturally they took the only reasonable course by killing the president in public. What other plan could they have?

The Warren Report is weak. But the alternative offered by Nelson is weaker. Multiple assassins with much better rifles shooting from much better locations is a difficult case to prove. It is also absurd. If you are going to blame a patsy with an inaccurate gun, why would you equip your assassins with different guns? Why would you equip your patsy with a junk gun? The crime would be investigated. The ballistics tests would prove there were at least two rifles since the bullets would be different even it the bullets were so damaged as to not allow testing to see if they were from different guns.

Why would the CIA worry about what Kennedy did? Yes, it would take a hit, but it would survive and regrow. Bureaucracies simply out wait politicians. Kennedy would have to go through congress to get the budget cut, the only thing that ends a bureaucracy. The CIA had many friends in congress. It had the goods on the others.

The book needs an editor. The book is repetitive, meandering, and full of irrelevant material.



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Deep Dope

Posted by heyrandy on July 15, 2013

The Politics of Heroin, Alfred McCoy, 1991

The production and sale of heroin has deep political roots. The trade prospers because of government permission. Sometimes that permission is government cooperation. All governments need money. This is an easy way to get it.

Opium is grown in the remote hills of third-world countries and through an elaborate series of chemical processes is turned into the white power of heroin. The profits in this business are so great that many countries’ secret intelligence services have used the trade to finance their clandestine operations.

The book focus on the area of southeast Asia called the Golden Triangle. This is the border areas of Laos, Thailand, and Burma (now Myanmar.) Peasant framers grow opium and then trade it to mostly Chinese merchants. The merchants then sell the opium to secret laboratories which turn it into heroin. The heroin is then smuggled into the western countries.

Along the way there is massive bribery and corruption of government officials.

The unspoken thesis of this book is that the trade is unstoppable. As long as people want heroin they will bet it. Government would go broke without it.

The book gives the history of heroin and how it became illegal. It was once a minor problem they grew when the drug became illegal. There is a lesson here. Read the book to learn it.

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Misplaced Tessera

Posted by heyrandy on August 8, 2012

Mary’s Mosaic, Peter Janney, 2011

The only thing certain is that Mary Meyer was murdered on October 12, 1964. The rest is a mass of confusion involving the power élite of Washington, D.C. One of those elite was the author’s father.

The author’s thesis is that Mary Meyer was killed to silence her. She was about to tell the world that the CIA killed President Kennedy and then engaged in a huge cover-up to hide its involvement. She has put all the tiles in place and so knew the truth the mosaic told.

Mary Meyer was the wife of Cord Meyer, a senior CIA official. Unlike other CIA wives, Mary hated the CIA. She thought that it was an impediment to world peace. Mary was very vocal about it. This animosity towards the agency and especially its director, Allen Dulles, cost her her marriage. The author thinks it cost her her life.

The author claims that Mary had put all the pieces together and concluded that the Agency murdered Kennedy to protect itself from Kennedy’s anger about the Bay of Pigs failure. Kennedy was rumored to want the agency disbanded. He was to do it after he was re-elected.

The author gives us a lot of information about the players in this mystery. Included are Philip and Katherine Graham, owners and publishers of the Washington Post;
Ben Bradlee, managing editor of the Post and husband of Tony Pinchot, Mary’s sister; Cord Meyer; Wistar Janney, the author’s father; and some JFK assassination researchers.

The real  problem with the book is that it relies upon unsupported statements. One of the witness at the trial of Ray Crump, the man charged with and acquitted of Mary’s murder was a mysterious William Mitchell.  Mitchell said that he was a Lieutenant in the Army stationed at the Pentagon. Janney checked the 1964 Pentagon telephone directory and found a William Mitchell listed. The 1965 edition did not list him. Mitchell also said that he was a mathematics instructor at Georgetown University. The University said they had never heard of him. But Janney says that while he was talking to an assassination researcher, Leo Damore, Damore said that he used to live in Mitchell’s apartment building and knew Mitchell. Mitchell left no forwarding address, but Damore would try to find him. Janney says that Damore wrote a letter to Mitchell’s last address asking Mitchell to call. Janney never saw the letter, but it must have persuaded Mitchell to call because Damore says Mitchell did.

This is not believable. If Mitchell was a CIA assassin why would he answer the letter? It had been 30 years since the killing. How did the letter get to Mitchell? But the real stunner is that Mitchell confessed to being the killer! Over the phone to a stranger. Why? Why is this considered evidence?

There is no real evidence that Mary had completed her mosaic. Even if she did, so what? Who would believe her? She would have been ignored, or she would have been laughed at and dismissed as just a conspiracy nut. This is usually how such things handled. It is a safe and effective method of dealing with the problem.

One of the things that come through in the book is the Ivy-League elitism. All of these people were the “right sort.” They all went to the right schools. They came from the right families. They were educated, polished, promiscuous. They could not keep their pants on. Mary was JFK’s paramour (his favorite, according to the author). In this role Mary learn many secrets via pillow talk. All the players were all corrupt, self-centered, and vain. There was nothing to like about any of them.

The book’s back cover betrays the book’s flaws. The back cover show several jig saw puzzle pieces, each with a name of a person or thing written on it. Some of the pieces fit, some are loose. The loose one don’t fit.

If you want a few insights into the machinations of the power-elite whoring, read the book. Otherwise go to the art museum. They have real mosaics.

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Misplaced Trust

Posted by heyrandy on July 20, 2012

In Banks We Trust, Penny Lernoux, 1984

We take banks for granted. Make a deposit, make a withdrawal. Ho hum. All very  ordinary. Perhaps not. Lernoux takes us on a global tour of banking. It is a wild ride. There is so much corruption in the international banking system one wonders how everyone is not  in jail. Lernoux tells us that too.

Modern banking is built upon an image of stability. Most people consider bankers staid, dull, boring. Behind the bland façade there are some real cowboys. Some of these cowboys were thrown from their horses and hit the ground hard.

Banks are interconnected. They lend money to each other. They form partnerships in large loans. This causes lots of problems. The big problem is self-delusion. The bankers see what they want to see. The criminals know this.

Lernoux begins the tour with an obscure bank in Oklahoma, Penn Square Bank. It was not very large. It was located in a strip mall. It took the big banks for a ride. Penn Square was in the heart of the “oil patch.” It was supposed to know the oil business and those in it. The large New York based banks used Penn Square as a middle man in making loans to the oil men. Penn Square was corrupt and incompetent. The big banks did not do any checking. If they had, they would have found out about Penn Square’s fast dealing.

This error of not checking things was repeated throughout the book. The banks did not even check on themselves. Safety was a minor concern. What mattered was growth. Make loans, lots of them. The managers obeyed. The banks suffered. Even the small, local banks did not do the appropriate checking. Many of the small banks went into partner withe the giant New York banks in loans to third world countries. The small banks assumed that the big boys knew what they were doing.

Lernoux tells us of the international drug dealers using U.S. banks to launder the drug money. Gone are the days when crime profits were carried by people using suitcases with hidden compartments. The amounts of money are just to large to be transferred by anything but a bank. How to get a bank to coöperate? If they don’t do it willingly (many did because the profits for the bank were huge), just buy the bank. Or start one. It is amazingly easy for a foreigner to buy an American bank. It is also very easy to start one.

Most of these banks were located in Florida, especially Miami. Miami was the hub of through which passed most of South American produced drugs and through which most of the drug profits were channeled to other parts of the world. The business was so lucrative that many of the world’s major banks opened branches in Miami so they could get in on the action.

It was not all drug money. The CIA was involved. It uses banks to move money around the world to fund its actions. Some banks did so much Agency business that they were almost themselves Agency operations. If the drug money was dirty, this money was filthy.

The author also tells us of the problems involving the Vatican Bank. It is a story of secret P2 Masonic lodge, corrupt Italian bankers, bad business deals, and a strange death. The principle person was an Italian banker, Roberto Calvi, who was found hanging from a London bridge. Calvi’s bank collapsed. He was in London hiding because he feared for his life. His death was ruled suicide, but the circumstances are very strange.

It is in the area of lending to governments that the banks did their most foolish business. The amount of money owed the banks by South American government was so large that the banks were in danger of failing if the governments defaulted on the loans. But the American taxpayer came to the rescue. The banks were saved to practice moral hazard another day.

After reading the book I will never again see banks in the same way.

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Off Key

Posted by heyrandy on July 31, 2009

The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America, Hugh Wilford, Harvard University Press, 2009. 342p

I am beginning to think the creation of the CIA is the worst thing to happen to America.  First I read Proudy’s The Secret Team (reviewed here).  Then I read the Invisible Government. Now I get music lessons.

The Mighty Wurlitzer details how from 1947 to 1968, the so called golden years of  American espionage, the CIA used front organizations to fund its Cold War propaganda operations.  The name comes from Frank Wisner, a major CIA officer, who made the  statement that the Agency had a system of front organizations that like a giant organ could play any propaganda tune.

It played many tunes, mostly with sour notes.  There was almost no aspect of American life that did not have a chord in this performance.  The Agency used various foundations to fund everything from labor unions to student associations.  It used Catholic priests, Africian-American dissidents, and a lot of news organizations.

Most of the people used did not know the true source of their funding.  Only the most senior officers of these front organizations were, in CIA language, “witting.”  However, a good many of the “unwitting” suspected that the immediate source of funding was not the ultimate source.  Few objected to taking the money.

The golden age ended and the Wurlitzer fell silent, sort of, when an upstart, iconoclastic publication, Ramparts, published a story about the real funding of the National Students Association.  A former head of the Association, recently disaffected by the CIA’s use of his group, told Ramparts’ editor of the matter.  The magazine conducted an investigation, found out the truth, and published it.

The CIA had found out that the story was due in the next issue, of the Agency went into defensive mode.  When there were prior exposures of Agency involvement, the Agency and the organization affected strongly denied the claims until both parties had to admit the claims were true.  Denial was not going to work this time.  By the late 1960’s the mood of the country had changed.  The Agency new it had to do something different.  It chose damage control.  The idea was to emasculate  the magazine’s story by making it old news.  The National Students Association would simply hold a press conference admitting to the taking of Agency money.  It would also say that it no longer took such funds (this is true).  But Ramparts had informants inside the Association and knew of the plan.  To counter this, the magazine took out full page newspaper ads promoting the the story.  In a sense the magazine scooped itself.

This stratagem worked very well.  There was enormous media coverage of the story.  The Agency was embarrassed.  This was the real end of the Wurlitzer.  The major news organizations had long cooperated with the Agency, running stories favorable to the Agency and suppressing stories the Agency didn’t want published.  No more.  Or so we are told.

I found Wilton’s story interesting, but his writing style is dull.  There frequent usage of the tried and true cliche.  There are modifiers that are throughout the book misplaced.

The Wurlitzer had a long recital, but played the wrong tune.  The Agency spent millions in this propaganda effort, yet the results were minimal.  Given the Agency’s support of even more nefarious projects, the Wurlitzer concerts are just a minor cacophany.

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Secrets of the Secret Team

Posted by heyrandy on October 15, 2008

The Secret Team The CIA and Its Allies in Control of the World, L. Fletcher Prouty, 1997

end notes, bibliography, index, no pagination

Available on line free.

Do you want to overthrow a government?  Do you need to supply Russian made weapons to an “anti-communist guerrilla group?  Do you need a propaganda campaign to vex a foreign regime?  No problem for the Secret Team.  This group are the professionals, and they have lots of experience.  Just give them the word and off they go.  They offer worldwide service.  You never get you hands dirty.  Everyone will know who did the deed, but you can deny it all, with a wink and a smile.

Thus the work of the Secret Team.  Who are these folks?  Prouty, for many years an U.S. Air Force briefing officer, says they are a sub set within the CIA, comprising about 80% of the Agency.  They are the “black operations” people.  They are what the CIA has become in spite of what the language of the law that founded the CIA says.  For the Secret Team the law is no obstacle.  For the Secret Team nothing is an obstacle.

The Central Intelligence Agency was created to coordinate and process the data gathered by the various U.S. agencies.  The CIA was to be a servant of the National Security Council.  The law that created the CIA also allowed the Council to direct the Agency to do an operation in the field “from time to time”.  A lot has changed since the law was passed, but the law itself has not changed.  The CIA’s working interpretation of that law has certainly changed.  It began changing almost as soon as the law was passed.

Over time the CIA has become a force unto itself.  It no longer waits for the National Security Council to occasionally direct it to do some operation; the Agency develops its own plans and brings them to the Council to approve.  The plan is always approved.  This change in initiative has give the Agency great latitude in its activities.  The Council really does not control the Agency.  The Agency manipulates the Council; the Council routinely approves the Agency’s plans.

The Agency became so influential that it succeeded in getting President Kennedy to abolish the National Security Council as an unnecessary hold over from the Eisenhower administration.  This stratagem left the Agency without any oversight.  The Agency took advantage of this mistake and a lot of people paid the price at the Bay of Pigs and in Vietnam.

It is under the general rubric of fighting Communism that the Agency has spread itself into every part of the world.  The Agency does not feel that it needs a direct order to act; a suggestion will do quite well.  After all, you want the commies stopped, don’t you?

How did the Secret Team develop?  The team slowly began to work its way into the other branches of government by giving those branches free employees.  These employees would be loaned to the needy agency but the salaries would be paid by the Agency.  With the usual employee turn over, the CIA person would soon be assumed to be a regular employee of the host department.  The Agency would then work to get its personnel promoted into more powerful positions.  This action would enable the Agency to benefit from the department’s resources and services, often without any cost to the Agency.  No one knows just how many Agency employees are buried inside what parts of the government.

Transplanted employees are not the only asset that the Agency has in other departments of government.  Often it uses the actual employees of the host department.  It is the excitement of being part of something secret, something special, that entices many people to be part of the Secret Team.  Most jobs are mundane and boring.  It is the same thing every day.  There is little change.  This is also true of jobs within government.  When a opportunity comes to join in a black operation, most people cannot resist.  It is all so secret.  “I am not allowed to talk about what I do; because if I told you, I would have to kill you.”  It is an element of mystique, of romance, of elitism.  It is the chance to be James Bond, without the girl.

The Agency also benefits from the sale of surplus government equipment.  The law requires that other government entities be given first access to surplus equipment.  The CIA uses this to get what it needs on the cheap.  It then uses much of this equipment to supply its clients in foreign countries.  Due to the confused nature of the government’s accounting, the Agency is often not billed for the sale. Most of the time the matter is dismissed with an “It’s all the government’s money, anyway” kind of resigned attitude.  However, the Agency says it will pay for anything it buys if it is properly billed.  According to Prouty, it does indeed pay; it’s just not billed very often.

The Team has had many successes in its black operations.  But it has had some real failures.  But it has managed to avoid the blame.  The two most obvious failures are the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Vietnam War.  In both of these debacles the Agency let the Department of Defense take the largest share of the blame.  How?  It is all those loaned employees.  They help do the research for the investigation committees and help write the reports.  They are Team players.

How can the Agency get away with such antics?  Is not the Agency required to keep the elected officials informed about Agency activities?  Yes, and it does.  Prouty points out that in briefings conducted for the overseers, the Agency uses the teaspoon technique.  The overseers get the entire picture, but only a little at a time.  Prouty says it is like seeing a movie one frame a day.  By the time you are through, you do not know what the movie is about, but you have seen the entire film.

A further technique at concealing the truth in the open is the use of surrogates.  Most of the major title holders, the department Secretaries, and the Directors of the most important agencies, are so busy that they must send subordinates to the briefings.  The senior men rarely attend.  By doing this the agency can avoid many hard questions.  In some cases the Agency can actually be briefing one of its loaned employees!  The Agency has worked hard to shield itself.

The ultimate power in the U.S. government is with the President.  Here the Agency is not without influence.  The Agency worked hard to get the right to do a Presidential daily security briefing.  The Agency tailors this briefing to its own ends. The Agency is the only government entity that has the advantage of daily access to the President, so why not use this advantage to help itself?

Prouty wrote to expose the Secret Team.  He felt that it is a serious threat to the America that it is supposed to protect.  He points out that in the case of Vietman the U.S. spent $200 billion and thousands of American live in this futile venture.  The Russians spent only a few billion and no lives.  They clearly won.  Prouty wrote to try to preclude another mistake of this type.

Prouty did live to see the fall of the Berlin Wall and the disintegration of the communist threat.  He wondered what would be the next threat the Secret Team would claim to protect us from.  He suggested an invasion by space aliens.  This did not happen.  Prouty did not live to see the terrorist attacks of 2001.  Had he lived to see them, he would not have been surprised at the response.  After reading his book, neither am I.

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