Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Origins and Consequences of Operation Mockingbird

So I'm sitting with friends yesterday, sipping coffee and eating breakfast, at a local cafe. It's a Saturday morning ritual attended by a select few from the neighborhood who form our inner circle. Coincidentally, they had all just finished reading my book, and the questions flew at me fast and furious. I took them one at a time and wound up going on at length about the CIA's subversion of the free press in America after World War II. My friends could not grasp the concept of mainstream media spouting CIA/military-industrial propaganda. They could not wrap their heads around the fact that the press, TV, publishers, and radio airwaves have been complicit in covering up the truth about the real history of this country, circa 1945 until...well...even today. Like children who had just been told there was no Santa, these friends scoffed at the notion. I laughed heartily, and then I figuratively held their hands and took them on a truncated journey through the labyrinth. I began with a quote from Jim Garrison, the brave soul who was reviled and character-assassinated for daring to take the CIA into court for the JFK murder: "In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society. Of course, you can't spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can't look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they won't be there. We won't build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line."

Then I gave them a history lesson. James Forrestal, Defense Secretary under Truman in 1948, implored the president to grant the CIA unlimited power to control or suppress freedoms in foreign lands. Truman, against his better judgment, relented because he was promised that this would reduce the possbility of communist takeovers and, thus, help avoid another world war. The CIA, of course, had no intention of only controlling information abroad. It created Operation Mockingbird to control the media at home. It was dreamed up by Allen Dulles and Frank Wisner, whose intention was to influence, through coercion, threat, blackmail, recruitment, or any other means, all branches of the American media. Wisner recruited Phillip Graham of the Washington Post to be his point man inside the newspaper industry. Graham, proud to do his patriotic duty, recruited journalists who had worked for military intelligence during the war--Russell Wiggins, C.D. Jackson, John Hayes, Alan Barth, and James Tritt. Eventually, Stewart and Joseph Alsop, the Luces (Henry and Clare Boothe) of Time/Life/Newsweek, Bill Paley of CBS, and A.H. Sulzberger of the New York Times joined the operation. Under no circumstances would these people investigate, print, or broadcast negative stories connected with the CIA. This despite the fact that the CIA was overthrowing duly elected leaders, both foreign and domestic; was drugging, brainwashing, and torturing its own unsuspecting citizens (MK-ULTRA); importing, protecting, and providing jobs to ex-Nazis (Operation Paperclip) who should have been tried and hanged at Nuremberg for war crimes; acting as procurement agents for large Wall Street interests; funding and training secret militias for right-wing paramilitary operations; and many more secret atrocities. The press and TV, instead, ran cute, fluffy stories about Ike's golf scores and LBJ's hounds. The only reason they turned on Joe McCarthy is because McCarthy tried to bring down one of their own--Cord Meyer. Meyer posed as a leftist so that he could infiltrate left-wing organizations and report on them to the CIA. McCarthy, a drunken, bilious mouthpiece for the right, was unaware of the line he had crossed...and so he became dispensable.

At this point my audience looked dazed and incredulous. So I wrapped it up with Wisner's own words: "I can play America like a grand Wurlitzer organ. The people will follow along with any tune I wish to play"; and I gave them a list of books to do their own research.

Next Saturday? More questions, I'm sure.

5 comments:

Jack Jodell said...

Hitler and the Japanese war lords had no idea of the nightmares their actions would cause. Our media and world have forever been negatively altered due to the fallout from their escapades. That's a gross oversimplification of course, but without their shenanigans we may never have seen the rise of our CIA. And we have seen nothing but foul ups and dirty dealings ever since!

The Teacher said...

Have you mentioned Air America and how the CIA ran the largest private air freight company in the world bypassing laws so they could run covert wars without any oversight from the Congress? The drug problems in America are from that covert war. The CIA traded weapons for drugs grown in the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia. The CIA sold those drugs in the inner cities in America (the ghettos and barrios) and used that money to buy more weapons to trade for more drugs as they supported armies to use as a bugger along China's Southeast Asian borders with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, etc. The drug culture America has today that is spreading like cancer started with the CIA and Air America. There were Congressional hearings and the CIA was forced to shut down Air America but they still run black ops that violate laws passed by Congress. President Eisenhower warned America that this could happen and then he helped start it.

Tim Fleming said...

Yes...they loaded those Air America planes with the poppy and opium grown in the fields of SE Asia. The CIA also introduced LSD to this country. It hijacked the drug from the Nazis who were experimenting on concentration camp prisoners. In MK-ULTRA, LSD was used for brainwashing and mind control experimentation. Among other things, the CIA was trying to create Manchurian candidate killers.

Mark T said...

For many years I was convinced that the CIA was behind the murder of JFK, and could think of no plausible reason why they would do such a thing. JFK was hardly their enemy. (Best Evidence was a good book, by the way - it exposed important evidence, however, it did not get to the bottom of it by any stretch.) Thom Hartmann and LaMar Waldron did a couple of books on this, setting up plausible reasons for the hit and the unfortunate confluence of historical streams (Cuba and the Mafia) that ended JFK's and RFK's lives, throwing in MLK and Watergate for good measure. Possibly the CIA is not responsible for as much as we think, and they are under control of the executive and merely following orders. That doesn't excuse their behavior, but makes them less rogue, and the presidency less glamorous.

But you're right about control of the media - even the Miami Herald wrote nothing of the Bay of Pigs until it happened, though they surely knew. Church did a good job of bringing some of this to light, but nothing much has changed. When it was time to invade Iraq, our media clammed up. Just like in the old days.

Tim Fleming said...

Mark T--

There are many plausible reasons why the CIA wanted JFK dead. 1) He knew the CIA was secretly countermanding all of his foreign detente efforts with the Soviet Union and Cuba; 2) The CIA was undermining his Vietnam policy of withdrawal; 3) JFK fired those sacred intel cows--Allen Dulles, Dick Bissell, and Charles Cabell--after the Bay of Pigs; 4) CIA cold warriors considered JFK a traitor (read JFK's "peace" speech delivered at American U., June 10, 1963, for clarity on this point); 5) JFK wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the wind." In short, JFK was at war with the CIA during his 1,000 days. Read "JFK And The Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters," by James Douglass. And read my book for further proof of JFK's knowledge of CIA covert/black ops. There was motivation aplenty for the CIA to do what it did, and JFK bravely stood up to the bastards, knowing full well it was a dangerous game.

Tim Fleming