Right Woos Left: Chip Berlet
professional anti-conspiracist defense Bush regime's claim 9/11 was a surprise attack
Chip Berlet, "leftist" professional anti-conspiracist who defends the official 9/11 conspiracy theory, calls oilempire webmaster "essentially an industrious rumor-mongerer with a penchant for conspiracy theories"
Some background on Berlet
Berlet for Beginners
Portland Free Press, July/August 1995
by Ace R. Hayes
FROM THE PORTLAND FREE PRESS
The Truth Matters
by Ace R. Hayes
(July/August 1997 issue)
Chip Berlet, SlimVirgin, and Wikipedia
more on Wikipedia: www.wikipedia-watch.org/russmag.html
(dead link, sorry)
Ford Foundation funding
Organization: Political Research Associates
Purpose: To study the college and university campus leadership and outreach programs of major national organizations and social movements and their relationship to political environment on campuses
Location: SOMERVILLE, MA
Program: Peace and Social Justice
Unit: Governance and Civil Society
Subject: Civil Society
Amount: $ 175, 000
|Political Research Associates|
a liberal / progressive / left non-profit that claims that Bush is innocent of complicity in 9/11
PRA's page denouncing "conspiracies" about 9-11
This page insinuates that the "9/11skeptics" movement largely consists of anti-semites, far-right fanatics and holocaust denial people. Yes, those sites do exist, but one could make a very good case that several of them are "false flag" operations to provide rhetorical ammunition to attack the idea that the Bush regime allowed 9/11 or gave it technical assistance to ensure it succeeded.
PRA has resisted numerous opportunities to discuss credible evidence that 9/11 was not a surprise attack, refusing to discuss:
- prior warnings by allied governments
- warnings to political, military and corporate officials to get out of the way
- the NORAD wargames that confused the Air Force response
- the CIA / NRO plane into building exercise on 9/11
- the motivations of Peak Oil and "Homeland Security"
- anthrax attacks on the Democrats and passage of the Patriot Act
If the racists on the web didn't exist, groups like PRA would have to invent them.
After trashing 9/11 skeptics as racists and anti-semites, Mr. Berlet then mentions Mike Ruppert, and provides the liberal establishment "party line":
Ruppert, however, makes sweeping claims that cannot be verified at a time when there is some much verifiable wrongdoing by the government and corporations that the outcome, no matter how unintentional, is that Ruppert’s allegations serve to distract from serious progressive opposition to the status quo and sometimes even discredit it.
However, Berlet does not cite a single "unverifiable claim" by Ruppert to justify his comments. Berlet's page spends more energy pointing out that anti-semites believe there was a conspiracy on 9/11 than discussing the best evidence evidence of complicity. It's a relatively clever smear campaign.
Finally, Berlet states that
There are many unanswered questions about the attacks on 09/11/01, the obvious failures of existing security systems, the decisions regarding the assessment of terrorist threats; the wisdom, morality, and legality under international law of the unilateral attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq; the implementation of repressive domestic measures such as the Patriot Act and the confinement of immigrants and undocumented visitors without due process; and the reluctance and refusal of key government officials to fully cooperate with congressional and media investigations. Political Research Associates fully supports the vigorous investigation of these matters.
Despite the alleged support for "vigorous investigation of these matters," PRA doesn't provide any actual links to the independent investigations, not even to the most credible efforts such as the "Complete 9/11 Timeline," a database of over 1,000 mass media articles that show beyond any doubt that 9/11 was not a surprise attack.
FROM THE PORTLAND FREE PRESS
The Truth Matters
by Ace R. Hayes
(July/August 1997 issue)
Ace political analyst Ace Hayes (now deceased) takes on Berlet's limited hang outs.
It is fascinating that Chip Berlet sees so much need to attack the idea that 9/11 was not an "intelligence failure," and carefully omits any discussion of the volumes of evidence that is sourced to mainstream papers that shows that 9/11 was not an "intel failure."
I first heard of PRA when it published its "Old Nazis and the New Right" report during the 1988 presidential campaign, it was excellent work. I used it extensively in an anti-Bush campaign that a group of my friends were doing, although our main focus point was the "October Surprise" scandal, which Mr. Berlet probably doesn't share our enthusiasm for focusing on. (The Bush / Iranian deal to DELAY the release of the hostages constituted treason.) We had a great chant: "On October 19, 1980, Bush was dealing with Khomeini!"
A few years later, I was shocked to see PRA and other liberal / leftists (The Nation, David Corn, Alexander Cockburn, etc) attack the film JFK. This was extremely curious, since the film had an enormous amount of very credible material in it, particularly the "stand down" of the Secret Service's standard operating procedures. (The fact that it was a Hollywood production and not a literal re-enactment was less important than the volumes of excellent material it did include, particularly the motivation for the coup.) Does PRA really think Arlen Specter's single bullet theory is real?
Is PRA unaware of Kennedy's June 10, 1963 speech at American University (calling for cooperation with the USSR), his September 20, 1963 speech at the United Nations calling off the Cold War, the nuclear arms race and the moon race? JFK's repeated refusal to bomb Cuba? JFK's negotiation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which Kennedy personally pushed through over military objections? Or is PRA unaware of Kennedy's agonizing with his advisors about how to remove troops from Vietnam? Is PRA unaware of Kennedy's promise to scatter the CIA into a thousand pieces -- and the evidence the CIA scattered John Kennedy into a thousand pieces?
I imagine next Mr. Berlet will attack Coretta Scott King and the King family for publicly stating that James Earl Ray was the patsy and that the FBI and military were really behind the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dexter King met with James Earl Ray in prison, told him that the family knew he was not the assassin, and worked (unsuccessfully) for a trial for him for the rest of his life. Has he read the work of William Pepper, an advisor to King who has done some of the best work on the government role in the murder of Dr. King? Is Mr. Berlet aware of the King family's trial in Memphis in 1999 against some of the co-conspirators, the jury found for the King family. The most amazing thing about that trial was not the shocking evidence that was presented but the complete media blackout -- the corporate media and the so-called liberal alternative media refused to mention it at all. The only writer who covered the entire trial was James Douglass, who later wrote the 2008 book JFK and the Unspeakable and now is working on a similar book about the King assassination.
|July 2004 discussions about Berlet's appearance on Alternative Radio|
in descending chronological order (most recent first ...)
from Mark to Chip:
Actually, I try very hard to separate reasonable speculation from what
has multiple credible sources in the mainstream press.
The wargames, insider trading, and prior warnings are sourced in many, many different ways, and are not speculative.
There are other aspects that are strongly suggestive, but unprovable, such as remote control technology (the only thing I'm aware of that fits the fact the Pentagon was struck in the nearly empty sector).
I actually disagree with the "no plane at the Pentagon" meme - there were too many eyewitnesses. But why would terrorists hit the nearly empty part of the building, why would they fly 270 degrees around the complex to minimize casualties?
It is fascinating that the liberal / left alternative media largely avoids the topic of Peak Oil.
It is also fascinating that you don't cite a single rebuttal to Mike Ruppert on your site, merely attacking him seems sufficient for your purposes.
I can relate to the "White Rose" in Germany (who tried to warn German non-Jews about the Holocaust) and the underground newspapers of the Warsaw Ghetto, who tried to warn the Jews not to get on the trains to Treblinka. We live in a country of "not see's."
Best wishes for continued grants from the Ford Foundation in their 2005 and 2006 funding cycles.
Subject: RE: in response to chip berlet's challenge - a logical chart
that explains Bush's complicity in 9/11
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 15:42:37 -0400
From: "Chip Berlet" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Mark Robinowitz" <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I looked at your "chart."
You have no idea how logic works.
You have no idea what constitutes a documented fact.
You have no idea what would be reasonable speculation based on an incomplete set of facts.
You are essentially an industrious rumor-mongerer with a penchant for conspiracy theories.
I fully support your First Amendment right to waste bandwidth on the Internet.
That does not mean I have to answer every absurd question you send to me.
Political Research Associates
From: Mark Robinowitz [mailto:mark@ oilempire.us]
Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2004 3:05 PM
To: Chip Berlet; email@example.com
Subject: RE: in response to chip berlet's challenge - a logical chart that explains Bush's complicity in 9/11
So how do you evaluate the warnings from 15 countries, the stock
trades betting the value of United and American would drop, and the
paralyzing "war games" at NORAD, NRO, CIA and FEMA that morning? Are
reports in Newsweek, AP, SF Chronicle, the German mainstream press,
Financial Times, BBC, Aviation Week, CNN, USA Today, Toronto Star,
etc. not good enough for looking at these issues? Are you waiting
for Dick Cheney's confession on national television before
considering that the official "surprise attack" story might have a
flaw or two? Who do you think managed to simultaneously schedule war
games at NORAD, NRO, CIA and FEMA that paralyzed the military
response to the hijacked planes?
DId you even bother to look at my logic chart, or are you merely
issuing a blanket denial based on an ideological objection? You DID
make a challenge on "Alternative Radio" that there aren't any logic
diagrams showing how Bush could have been complicit in 9/11 -- and
this is my feeble effort. Surely you will want to look at it so you
can pretend to rebut it on your website.
(page moved to www.oilempire.us/lihop-mihop.html
At 10:27 AM -0400 2004-07-13, Chip Berlet wrote:
We obviously disagree on what the word "evidence" means, and have different ideas about how logic should be used. There is no point in extending an already fruitless conversation when we are using different rules for dealing with reality.
Political Research Associates
From: Mark Robinowitz [mailto:mark@ oilempire.us]
Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2004 4:37 AM
To: Chip Berlet; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: in response to chip berlet's challenge - a logical chart that explains Bush's complicity in 9/11
In response to your challenge on Alternative Radio that there is no way to logically outline the case for Bush's 9/11 complicity, here's a rough draft of this. I don't expect that you will dare talk about the mass media stories about foreknowledge, warnings from other countries, insider trading on United and American stock, or the wargames in the military, intelligence agencies and FEMA that morning. Good luck trying to disprove this, your Ford Foundation grants will not be very helpful to you in this regard.
One of the Murphy's Laws is "if the facts do not conform to the theory they must be disposed of." It seems that the defenders of the official surprise attack conspiracy theory are totally unable to deal with basic information such as the prior warnings and the 9/11 wargames. Since there is no way to explain the "wargames" in their incompetence theory, they must merely be ignored and hope that none of their readers and listeners have wandered onto a subversive internet site that dares to describe this information.
see the chart at http://www.oilempire.us/understanding.html
it's not exactly what you said was needed on the "Alternative Radio" show but it is a worthy effort toward this request
Meanwhile, the Bush regime is floating the idea of "postponing" the 2004 election. I hope that PRA, Alternative Radio, David Corn and the rest of the left / liberal elite won't ignore this the way 9/11 evidence has been ignored. www.oilempire.us/2004.html
earlier Email exchange with Chip Berlet:
Thanks for your suggestions, but many of the articles you clipped are
full of conjecture and speculation, and lack enough facts to be considered
Serious opposition has to be based on serious research.
Perhaps you might browse our pages on conspiracism.
From: Mark Robinowitz
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 4:01 PM
To: Chip Berlet
Subject: RE: coincidence theory
I've read your pages on coincidence theory - it seems to be yet another
case of ideology being more important than evidence. Not all of the "conspiracy"
stuff re: 911 is real - some is intentional disinfo - but the official
story is mostly lies, as easy to disprove as the "Oswald shot JFK
by himself" story.
I'd love to know how the coincidence theorists explain the refusal of the US Air Force to scramble planes from Andrews AFB.
From: Chip Berlet
Let's just focus on this false claim.
There is no evidence that the Air Force had planes ready to scramble from Andrews on that day. On some days it did, but on that day the task was assigned to another airbase.
This claim was originally based on an incompetent reading of a web page that used a military phrase about readiness that the conspiracy-minded authors simply misunderstood.
To: "Chip Berlet"
From: Mark Robinowitz
March 25, 2003
Subject: RE: coincidence theory - the stand down
I think you are wrong, since Andrews AFB has been known for years to
have scramble ready planes. The DC area is the most monitored in the US,
if not the whole world (with CIA, NSA, NRO and the rest of fed.gov). Read
"Puzzle Palace" by James Bamford to get a sense of this.
The other "airbases" that you suggest had been delegated the defense of the Capitol were still within range of DC. They had over an hour to intercept the plane that hit the Pentagon, but did not. If it was utter incompetence, Gen. Eberhart (then commander of NORAD) would have been court-martialed, not promoted (which is what happened). (Norfolk is not far from DC, especially at Mach 2.)
Even if you are right, then it would be interesting to hear your explanation
-- the CIA was running a simulation of a plane hitting the National Reconnaissance Office HQ (near Dulles) on 911
-- why numerous warnings from allied governments were supposedly ignored (at least a dozen countries, possibly more, warned the US that 911 was coming)
-- why the General in charge of Air Defense received a PROMOTION to run the "domestic" use of the US military
-- why the planes that eventually were scrambled traveled much, much slower than they are capable of traveling, especially in an emergency (ie. after the second tower was hit but before the Pentagon)
-- why the part of the Pentagon that was hit was the only part that had almost no one in it, and the part that had been strengthened against such an attack
-- why the CEO of Fiduciary (in the towers) just happened to be at a "fundraiser" sponsored by Warren Buffett at Offutt AFB (strange place for a charity fundraiser) on 911, the same base that Bush went to in the afternoon
-- why Bush showed no reaction when told of the attacks, and kept reading to second graders (and why his aide, Andrew Card, didn't even wait to ask for a reply from the "President")
-- why Bush had anti-aircraft missiles set up around Genoa, Italy during the July 2001 G-8 summit (due to concerns about a 911 type attack) but not around the Capitol despite numerous warnings that 911 was coming
-- why the director of the "commission" to investigate 9-11 is a business partner of Osama bin Laden's brother in law (Gov Thomas Kean, formerly of New Jersey, is a director of Amerada Hess, which is invested in the Saudi consortium to build the fabled pipeline across Afghanistan ...)
-- the Bush regime interfered with the investigation of al-Qaeda before 911, something that FBI whistleblowers, journalist Greg Palast and FBI counterterrorism director John O'Neill charged.
There's an enormous amount of evidence for this that is not easily dismissed with name calling like "conspiracy theory" or pointing out that some of the investigators don't share your particular political philosophies. However, this name calling does serve a very useful purpose in deflecting opposition to Bush's world war.
While I'm definitely "left" "progressive" or whatever label you wish to use, I was amused to read recently that even the John Birch Society (yuck) is making comparisons between Bush's Patriot Act and Hitler's Enabling Act (I assume you know what that was). Of course, it seems obvious - at least to much of the rest of humanity - that 911 was America's Reichstag Fire, and this is one of the reasons why the rest of the world is horrified at America's slide into blatant fascism.
Perhaps it's all a coincidence - Lee Harvey Osama was behind it all ...
note: Mr. Berlet declined to answer any of these questions, since they did not fit with his ideological attack on "conspiracy" researchers.
Chip Berlet: Sponsored By Ford Foundation?
by Bob Feldman
Like Democracy Now! and FAIR, Chip Berlet's Political Research Associates alternative media group has been subsidized by the Militaristic U.S. Establishment's Ford Foundation in recent years. In 2002, the Ford Foundation gave Chip Berlet's Political Research Associates $175,663 in grant money. That same year the Ford Foundation also gave a grant of $100,000 to the Militaristic U.S. Establishment's Council on Foreign Relations "for the development of a Council Task Force on Terrorism." A few years ago, the Ford Foundation also gave a $701,130 grant to the Council on Foreign Relations for "core support for the activities of the Program on Alternative Future for Southern Asia, its Energy and United States Policy."
Coincidentally, Chip Berlet's Political Research Associates has apparently not been eager to do any research about the Ford Foundation's historical role in funding either the Council on Foreign Relations, the RAND Corporation or the Institute for Defense Analyses.
The Ford Foundation and the CIA
PRA and ADL
an early report on a case which didn't end up well for the ADL...
The ADL Spy Probe
from Alexander Cockburn's "Beat the Devil," a bi-weekly column in The Nation.
May 31, 1993
There have been fears that political pressure might squelch the case against the Anti-Defamation League spies being built by the San Francisco District Attorney, Arlo Smith. But the "San Francisco Examiner"for May 11 carried a story by Dennis Opatrny and Scott Winokur reporting that top officials of the ADL are "the ultimate targets of the San Francisco district attorney's domestic spying investigation."
Such officials include the ADL's New York-based director of research, Irwin Suall. Meanwhile, the ADL's strategy is to link critics of its spy operation with neo-Nazis and with the World Trade Center bombers.I note here a story on the scandal in "The Village Voice" for May 11 by Robert Friedman. Since Friedman once wrote "The Nation" complaining I had credited another reporter for facts he had unearthed, I must say that I have a serious problem with the way he avoids giving credit to anyone but himself.Last July, in "Washington Report on Middle East Affairs," Gregory Slobodkin broke the story of AIPAC's smear operation in a story titled "The Secret Section in Israel's US Lobby That Stifles American Debate."
On August 4, Friedman did a "Voice"story, "The Israel Lobby's Blacklist. "Nowhere in Friedman's story was it stated that Slobodkin had already published an account of his experiences at AIPAC.In his May 11, 1993, piece on the ADL, Friedman was still boasting that AIPAC's "spy operation was disclosed last summer in the `Voice,'" which it wasn't. And he never thanks his sources or acknowledges the efforts of people long laboring on the story, such as journalists in San Francisco or ABC-TV's James Bamford, who discovered the Benjamin Epstein letter from which Friedman quotes without tipping his hat to the journalist who got the document first.In fact, Friedman relies uncritically on the statements of ADL spy Roy Bullock to the FBI and to San Francisco police, as though they were proven facts. And in the end he lets off the ADL with a light stroke, courtesy of researcher Chip Berlet, who says the ADL "is a group whose leaders, at least, consistently defend the actions of Israel against critics, which ... is entirely appropriate" and "is a group that maintains an information-sharing arrangement with law enforcement. Again, there is nothing wrong for a group to do that." Berlet argues that it was some malign synergy between such ADL functions that led to trouble. In effect, he OK's the ADL's venomous smearing of critics as anti-Semites and then makes the amazing statement that there's nothing wrong with illegal acquisition and dissemination of privileged government information about individuals. This is the basis of the class-action suit against the ADL in California.
Rebuttal by Chip Berlet:
The assertion by Alexander Cockburn that I was trying to apologize for
the actions of the Anti-Defamation League in the San Francisco Spy Scandal
are false. Cockburn was forced to retract this claim in print when Victor
Navasky of the Nation agreed with me that the quote Cockburn used had
been taken out of context and its meaning essentially reversed. I sometimes
praise the work of the ADL and I sometimes criticize it.
Your decision to post the original (and retracted) assertion from the Cockburn article raises serious questions about either your ethics, your competency as a researcher, or both.
offer from oilempire, not responded to:
I will gladly make a correction if you can provide the retraction. I'm
not omnipotent, and did not come across the retraction in my research.
I don't claim to be 100% correct. I don't have fat foundation grants,
I do the best that I can as a volunteer. However, the ADL story is not
central to my critique of your current criticism on 9/11 skepticism, it
is a tertiary issue.
I hope that you, in turn, will make a retraction of your claims about Andrews Air Force Base, Norfolk air base, NORAD's standard operating procedures, the absence of your analysis having any mention of the war games of 9/11 that paralyzed the response, the Pentagon's nearly empty part being struck, the fact that Bush did not give any responses when told the WTC had been hit (which shows he's not the commander in chief), the anthrax sent to the Democrats from the military during the Patriot Act debate, and other critical issues left out of your attack on Dr. Griffin and other prominent writers who have dared to try to connect the dots.
On your "conspiracism" site you attack Michael Ruppert for promoting unproven theories, yet you decline to mention anything from his analysis that is allegedly unproven. This is character assassination, not a scholarly analysis subject to peer review. Ruppert's work is far beyond the limited focus of PRA, and has broken numerous stories that have stood the test of time (and cross examination).
I did not answer your long list of questions about 9/11 because I am employed as a researcher by a non-profit think tank that sets my research agenda. While I try to answer e-mails sent to me, it is simply not fair for you to send me a long list of questions and demand that I answer them. It is even more unfair for you to falsely characterize my reasons for not answering your list of questions.
I read the transcript of your "debate"
with Griffin on DN, and heard your hour long interview on "Alternative
Radio," which was one of the more intellectually dishonest things
I have heard about 9/11 and 11/22 (JFK).
You accused "conspiracists" of selectively picking evidence, yet you did this far more than even the most incompetence 9/11 researchers (and I am painfully aware of some 9/11 skeptics whose research skills are poor).
If you are going to be paid by foundation grants to defend the official point of view than the official conspiracy theory of 9/11 (19 guys being directed by the evil one in a cave in Afghanistan) is correct, then don't be surprised if people who have looked at the evidence more than you apparently have point out where you are misleading and lying in public. I'm sure you have thick skin from years of political advocacy and won't take it personally. If you can deal with racists and other bigots, I'm sure you can cope with people who point out the logical inconsistencies and ignored evidence in your statements about 9/11 "conspiracism."
I note that you imply I run PRA. I do not. I am an employee. Ms. Jean Hardisty, Ph.D., our founder, runs PRA. Mr. Nikhil Aziz, Ph.D. is Director of Research.
I heard Ms. Hardisty at the Bioneers conference last fall. it was a good
speech, but it didn't say anything that 95% of the audience didn't already
agree with (preaching to the choir is getting tiring). Afterwards, I asked
her, as did others, why PRA chose to attack folks like Mike Ruppert for
daring to connect the dots of 9/11 complicity - and she didn't reply.
It is getting quite tiring to ask nearly all of the liberal / left defenders of the official conspiracy theory and the "incompetence / surprise attack" paradigm why they are backing Bush's view on this, and never get any substantive reply. This is the same non-response that numerous other people who have also asked these questions of the liberal elite -- and the non-response is nearly always the same. Must be a coincidence.
It is hard to escape the idea that sexism and racism are involved in the attempt to portray me as running PRA.
That is a fantasy of yours, which you can believe if you like.
You seem to be the most vocal person connected with PRA. You're the one chosen to attack David Griffin on the air, to defend the official conspiracy theory (the official story IS a conspiracy theory, it involves many people working together and it is not proven). Your name seems to be much more prominent on the PRA website, and in the many years that I've been aware, somewhat, of your organization, it has seemed to be largely your effort. Perhaps this is wrong, but it is not the real issue.
I have spent a lot of time on your website looking for justification of your attacks on Mike Ruppert and David Griffin (and noted that you did not address any of the central theses they promote). Perhaps I missed something, but your name seems much more prominent at publiceye.org than Ms. Hardisty.
The vast majority of research PRA conducts and publishes is not related to the issue of conspiracism, and much of it is critical of current government policies.
I like the quote by Peter Dale Scott who says that the best disinformation is 95% correct.
This is a good article about the perils of political correctness, with a focus on Mr. Berlet. I'm not quite as blase' about Liberty Lobby / Spotlight and the LaRouche political cult, they've gotten more destructive to truth seeking since this essay (mid 1990s). www.oilempire.us/afp.html is about the new incarnation of the Liberty Lobby, which inserted disinformation into the 9/11 truth movement.
An Incorrect Political Memoir by Daniel Brandt
From Lobster, December, 1992 (214 Westbourne Avenue, Hull HU5 3JB, UK).
Anyone who joined the U.S. New Left in 1967 and continued to define this event as a point of departure over the next 25 years is going to have some stories to tell. But only in the last couple years has it become necessary to tell them. Something strange has happened to "progressive" politics, and what's Left bears little resemblance to the issues that consumed us then. I'm doing pretty much the same thing with the same convictions, but someone seems to have moved the goalpost on me.
The Big One for me was 1967. In 1964 I licked stamps for Goldwater, but in 1967 I joined the tiny chapter of Students for a Democratic Society on campus. I walked in cold to one of their meetings after reading a book on U.S. involvement in Vietnam and walking out of my fraternity. They must have thought I was a spy, with my short hair and button-down clothes; it didn't matter because at the time SDS accepted everyone and I was wearing a strong suit of moral indignation over U.S. foreign policy. And I was eager to learn and ready to turn on. A year later we uncovered a spy, and were too naive and democratic to ask him to leave. We hated the war mongers, yet everyone was redeemable if presented with a little common sense. That was the New Left I remember; the positive energy and confidence were absolutely compelling. The grass and acid were just frosting on the cake.
Much has changed, but not everything. After driving up to San Francisco for the 1967 Stop the Draft week, my friends invited me along as they met with a JFK assassination researcher. Garrison's investigation was big news, and I recall the hushed, paranoid atmosphere in a crowded restaurant. Today we know more about the assassination than we did in 1967, and much more about CIA covert operations. The lowered voices still seem reasonable to me, and the questions they raised seem as vital now as they did then. This hasn't changed.
Other scenes have changed dramatically. David Horowitz was an editor of Ramparts in 1966, the only magazine that dared give issues like the CIA and the JFK assassination the coverage they deserved. In 1974 he persuaded the Ramparts bookkeeper to help the Black Panther Party get its books in order. Apparently she stumbled onto evidence that the Panthers were involved in drugs and protection rackets in Oakland, and was soon found murdered, floating in the San Francisco Bay.
Today Horowitz has defected to the hard Right, along with his longtime colleague Peter Collier. And if you want to keep up with anti-CIA and conspiracy journalism these days, it's helpful to have a subscription to The Spotlight, published by the right-wing Liberty Lobby. But first you had better be prepared to defend your choice of reading material to politically-correct leftists who are checking up on your associates.
What's going on here? In the first place, Horowitz isn't completely mad. Yes, the Panthers were riddled with FBI agents and other dirty tricksters, but Huey Newton was living in a luxury Oakland penthouse in 1971, overlooking Lake Merritt, and I doubt that "security" was the only reason. By 1978 I was living on the other side of the lake, and Newton was still considered politically correct as he returned from Cuba to stand trial for the shooting death of a prostitute and something about pistol-whipping his tailor. "Wait a minute," I hesitated from my one-room dump, "I've never even met any tailors. Are we in the same movement?"
I can trace my confusion back to 1969, when women on campus began to feel that they were more oppressed than men. I could see their point, but at the time I was in the middle of a two-year federal prosecution for declining the all-male privilege of lying face-down in a Vietnam rice paddy, so some of their arguments were lost on me.
By 1971 it looked like I had escaped from my prison sentence when a higher court reversed my conviction for refusing induction. The Ninth Circuit ruled that my draft board's punitive actions were illegal, and said that the district court also screwed up. My file, quite thick by then, was sent back to the draft board. They lost no time in ordering me to report for a pre-induction physical -- the first stop on the way to Vietnam.
For some reason I was getting cynical, and was quite fed up with legal problems. So I stopped eating for ten days and showed up a pound underweight. The doctor could see from my records that when I refused induction more than two years earlier I was fifteen pounds heavier, but he knew there was nothing he could do. Meanwhile, I was almost hallucinating from hunger. "Would you like to drink a glass of water?", he asked. "I'm not thirsty," I replied. This saved American taxpayers many thousands of dollars in new prosecution costs.
My draft board left me alone after that because by mid-1971 the Selective Service System was collapsing due to massive resistance. The fact that the anti-draft forces won is the best-kept secret of the sixties. Journalists don't get paid to write about it; you had to be in the middle of it to know what happened. Many hundreds of amateur draft counselors like myself knew more about the law than any of the 4,000 draft boards, and many thousands of draft-age men practiced noncooperation on one level or another. We simply overloaded the system, from local boards to the federal courts.
The next year I enrolled in grad school to study something the pipe-smoking professors called "Social Ethics." One day Jesse Jackson came to speak to a small group of us in the department. I was interested in the issue of affirmative action, and wanted to determine if he thought the concept of "merit" might play a role in a normative social ethic. I posited a hypothetical situation of a super-qualified white surgeon and a black doctor just out of med school. "Which one should perform the critical brain surgery," I asked. But Jackson's interest was political, not intellectual, and he wasn't going to play: "There are lots of qualified black surgeons," he responded. "Next question, please." That was my first clue that I was already out of the loop.
In 1975 I transferred to a Ph.D. program in Berkeley and took a part-time handyman job to support myself. I found myself carrying heavy boxes of copying paper up the stairs to the Women's Affairs Office, and being told to change their light bulbs. These feminists were all cruising comfortably on a huge Ford Foundation grant, spinning out analyses based on sex divisions while playing their neo-Marxist cards whenever it was in their interests.
I was a theoretical Marxist by then (in the sixties I never needed it), and felt I knew a thing or two. I pointed out the obvious, namely that sex divisions cut the class divisions in half again. This branded me as a troublemaker, which is terminal in graduate school. The smart ones see their mistake immediately, while the dumb ones spend ten years writing a dissertation and end up driving a cab. I dropped out of academia and several years later got into electronics. Jimmy Carter's CETA job training program paid me minimum wage to attend tech school; these days it costs too much and wouldn't be possible. Social and political theory was getting difficult to understand, while those little electrons were very reasonable.
A technically advanced Leftist
By the time the microcomputer revolution came along I was technically ahead of every other leftist in the country. That isn't saying much; the phrase "technically-advanced leftist" is a lot like the phrase "military intelligence." But I could design and build circuits and write software. With the microcomputer, something I had been trying to do the hard way was suddenly within reach the easy way. High-tech has been good to me. Over the ten years I've pursued my obsession, microcomputers have become more powerful and less expensive at the same rate that my project expanded.
To explain this obsession -- there's no other word for it -- I have to return to 1967 again, the year I woke up. One day I noticed from a puff paragraph in our campus yearbook that University of Southern California trustee John McCone was a former CIA director. By 1969 I had done some research on him, which was published in a campus alternative paper I edited. Here was a multi-millionaire entrepreneur who was well-connected with corporate elites, and very conservative, with a CIA-on-campus issue thrown in for good measure. My story came and went, seniors graduated, and McCone stayed. By 1973 the CIA had overthrown Allende in Chile. McCone, as a director of ITT and a friend of Richard Helms, was involved. He still stayed at USC. All the correct ACLU liberals on the Social Ethics faculty had nothing to say when I pressed them on the issue. This was before I moved to Berkeley -- certainly this couldn't happen there!
Now I was fundamentally upset, and started collecting investigative books and building a clipping file. Watergate was also in the news, and several of those players were former USC fraternity rats like me, only a few years older. I was beginning to develop an appreciation of the power structure. In fact, it was beginning to look like not only had my political instincts been accurate all along, but I was quite probably in the belly of the beast.
Within several years there were plenty of amazing CIA revelations on record, confirming that our most paranoid fantasies in the 1960s were underestimations. I began compiling a name index of CounterSpy and Covert Action Information Bulletin using little pieces of paper. Someone had to track the beast. When I saw my first microcomputer in action in 1980, I knew instantly that I was doing it all wrong -- those clanking floppy disks were like lightening compared to my fingers sorting little pieces of paper. By 1982 I moved to the Washington DC area (alone and without knowing anyone), bought my own computer, wrote the software, and began inputting my library. I was a refugee from California correctness, and I migrated to the information capital of the world. Fortunately it was also a high-tech area, which made it easier to keep up with electronics and find technical work when I had to.
We eventually incorporated as Public Information Research. Ten years of inputting and five computers later, NameBase has 135,000 citations and 64,000 names. Although we received our first grants recently (from the Funding Exchange and the C.S. Fund), we basically meet our expenses with income from sales -- not to mention the nine technician jobs I had while living in the DC area. In other words, we are self-sufficient and answer to no one. NameBase exists from the purest of populist, anti-establishment impulses, and it is used by hundreds of journalists and researchers all over the world.
David Wise, the dean of all CIA-tracking journalists, had written about McCone in The Invisible Government in 1964. Almost all of my research on McCone in 1969 had to be lifted from this book because there was nothing else to be found. I've finally come full circle. Wise is still churning out important books and says for the record that NameBase is "absolutely indispensable." It's too easy to forget that very little information about the secret state was available in the 1960s -- we had to get by pretty much on instinct.
But ironically, NameBase it isn't used that much on the U.S. left. Even worse, I've spent far too much energy over the past few months defending PIR against charges of political incorrectness. They're not only moving the goalpost on us, they're beating us over the head with it. And all we're doing is developing something that would have saved us massive amounts of time in the 1960s. Surprisingly, ten years after the micro- computer became available we still don't have any competition, so it's not as if someone else was doing it better. What's going on here? Is it us, or is the U.S. left a basket case?
PC does not mean personal computer
I'm not bitter yet, but I'm getting touchy. Bitterness is just around the corner. Already I do things like cancel complimentary subscriptions because I get angry with the same Politically Correct line when it has nothing to do with investigating or challenging the establishment. Recently I sent a letter to an editor to correct the record about NameBase and express my opinions on his PC cover story. At the last minute I marked it "not for publication," because I was worried that it would come back and bite me. Now it's a month later and I'd rather get bitten than keep it bottled up. Editors don't know what to do with people like me, and he wrote back to complain that mine was one of the strangest letters he had seen in some time. Like I said, I'm getting touchy.
Things seem strange from my perspective also. As soon as PIR got its tax-exempt status I filled out our first grant application. We have three other directors besides myself. Steve Badrich, my best East-coast friend, is a white male like me. I don't blame him, he was born that way. He has a Ph.D. in English and is an excellent teacher, but the department needed a woman so he was laid off. Now he's unemployed and probably wishes he had gotten into electronics back when Jimmy Carter was paying for it. Martha Moran is an artist from a working-class background; she and Steve recently got married.
Then there's Dennis Brutus, a black professor and poet who was exiled from South Africa, where he broke stone with Nelson Mandela and was shot while trying to escape. Dennis likes what we're doing and has an internationalist perspective on black struggle that makes the U.S. PC left seem petty by comparison. Essentially the other three directors let me do my thing and I keep them informed, which works fine for all of us. I appreciate their support. We also have a Board of Advisors, people that let us use their name on our letterhead. Legally we don't need them and they have no formal say, but their support means a lot to us.
My first grant application was to a group called Resist, which was a name I recognized from the old days. I was an active member of The Resistance, a loose nation-wide collection of draft resisters who practiced conspicuous noncooperation and were expecting to serve prison time for eventual felony convictions. Resist was their adult support group. They didn't face the same risks that draft-age men faced, but they stood with us in spirit. The new Resist will remember their roots, I thought, and here's an easy $600 for us. But by 1990 everything was strange, and I received a PC application form in the mail.
The tough question was this one: "Please be specific on the programs, coalition work and position of your group in relationship to the rights and concerns of each of the following: a) people of color, b) working class and poor people, c) women, including your position on reproductive rights and abortion rights, d) gay and lesbian rights/liberation, e) disabled people, f) older people." The next question was easier, because our Board of Directors looked okay: "What is the make-up/diversity of your group in terms of age, race, sexual preference, class, gender? Have you taken steps to increase the diversity?"
I went for honesty: "The Board of Directors has not taken any positions of this nature. Our work is technically specialized, and we would tend to defer to technical ability over considerations of class, race, and gender when considering a particular technical project. It seems apparent to us, however, that any effort to curtail U.S. covert activities in the Third World would be appreciated by more people of color and poor people around the world than exist in the entire U.S. population."
After all, we boasted the largest collection of CIA names that was publicly available anywhere in the world. Didn't this count for something? Two weeks earlier we had helped provide the Washington Post with obscure information about the CIA's involvement in the arrest of Nelson Mandela. Another point, perhaps?
No way. Not only didn't we end up with the $600, but Resist apparently couldn't believe what they were reading. Staff member Nancy Moniz wrote back to say that the page with these questions was missing, and would I please supply it? In other words, we aren't unreasonable; we're going to give you another chance to get your act together! At this point I wasn't even touchy. I sent a copy of my copy of the supposedly missing page with a polite apology, and waited for the inevitable polite refusal of our application. If the same thing happened today, they'd get quite a long letter from me. A person can only take so much.
It wasn't called PC then, but by 1991 "Politically Correct" became a buzzword to describe a phenomenon that was happening on U.S. campuses. Critics like Dinesh D'Souza, funded by conservative foundations and think tanks, helped popularize the concept. Although I rarely agree with anything they write, I'll give credit where it's due. Because of them it now takes just two letters to describe something that's real, and everyone I've talked to knows exactly what I mean, even if they see me as part of the problem. Anything that facilitates communication as thoroughly as this is a step forward.
The first hint of a PC crack within Public Information Research came in October, 1990, when Chip Berlet resigned from our Board of Advisors because he objected to the fact that Fletcher Prouty was also on the Board. We did not discuss the issue because I was putting in overtime on my technician job and wasn't in the mood to call him back. I whipped out the white-out and removed his name from the letterhead, and thanked him for his past support.
In July 1991, Martha Wenger resigned from our Board of Advisors after reading something about Prouty in a leftist publication, and her final advice to me was to "think long and hard about working together with others who may be opposed to CIA covert operations, but whose political commitments are diametrically opposed to those of the progressive movement." I first met Wenger and her husband Konrad Ege when our paths crossed while working on CounterSpy magazine, and think very highly of them. Wenger is an assistant to Joe Stork at the Middle East Research and Information Project, which does excellent work.
Meanwhile, Chip Berlet was starting to release early drafts of Right Woos Left, which received wide coverage in the left press beginning in early 1992. I still wasn't into writing long letters, so Martha Wenger got the same polite white-out that Chip received the previous year. Then in January 1992, Holly Sklar resigned from our Board, stating that "I find Chip Berlet's objection to sharing a board with Fletcher Prouty compelling, even more so at a time of increasing right wing efforts to build insidious alliances with often unwitting leftists." In the same letter she enclosed a check for an update of NameBase, so it was clear that our work was not the issue. In fact, our work has never been an issue; everyone who uses NameBase swears by it, right or left. It's just that we're not PC.
Sklar is best known for editing a fat volume on the Trilateral Commission in 1980. This book began as a classic of left power-structure research, and is now a staple on the populist, anti-elitist right. In fact, the only inquiries we get at PIR these days on Trilateralism or Bilderberg are from right-wing researchers who are concerned about corruption and conspiracies in high places. Sklar is aware of this, but for her that means that the insidious right is trying to sneak up on the left, and we should exercise extreme caution. To me it means that the right includes reasonable people with reasonable concerns. There doesn't seem to be a middle way, but at least I wrote Sklar a letter defending my position.
Let's go get Stone
It all pretty much hit the fan when Oliver Stone's JFK was released in December, 1991. Z Magazine had just run a Chip Berlet interview in which he bashed Prouty, the Christic Institute, and dozens of others. Stone's sin was to portray a "Man X" that was based on Prouty's experiences in the Pentagon shortly before the JFK assassination. Stone had first approached Prouty for script assistance in July 1990.
Although Right Woos Left in its earlier drafts, as well as the Z Magazine interview, were in type before anyone saw the movie, Berlet was in position. He had the goods on Prouty, and Prouty's prominence in the wake of JFK made the issue that much more topical. Everyone knew about Prouty and "Man X" by then, because one-time assassination author Robert Sam Anson had bashed Stone and Prouty in Esquire two months earlier. What you have to realize about assassination researchers is that they barely tolerate each other. It's just one of those things. And what you have to realize about the Stone movie is that the long knives were out at least six months before it hit the screen. It's enough to make you paranoid.
Berlet hand-delivered a letter to Stone dated January 16, 1992, in which he called on him to "distance yourself publicly from attempts by racist, anti-Jewish and pro-fascist groups to use your film JFK as a vehicle to promote bigoted theories claiming Jewish control of U.S. foreign policy and the CIA.... You appear to have been misled by JFK film advisor Fletcher Prouty regarding the extent of his cooperation with the Liberty Lobby and other neo-fascist operations created by Willis Carto. Willis Carto is infamous around the world as a leading Nazi-apologist. Fletcher Prouty and two other critics of the CIA, Mark Lane and Victor Marchetti, have forged deep and longstanding ties to the Liberty Lobby and other Carto groups."
And so it goes. Berlet hardly gets out two paragraphs without mentioning the words "anti-Semitic," "racist," "bigoted," and "neo-Nazi," and frequently they all appear together. I've read Liberty Lobby's Spotlight every week for ten months now, and I find only infrequent hints of what Berlet is talking about. Of course this must mean that they're only being sneakier than usual. (I signed up for another two years; some of it is good NameBase material that the left ignores. Spotlight is consistently anti-elitist and anti-CIA, they hate George Bush, and they staunchly opposed U.S. intervention in the Gulf.)
Another Berlet target is the Christic Institute, and anyone else who has ever been guilty of sharing information with the Lyndon LaRouche organization. I've been privately critical of Christic's conspiracy theories myself. I won't rehash this now, because the federal government is going after Christic with a vengeance and is turning it into a dead issue (and a dead organization). Christic eventually did some homework and had pretty much cleaned up their act by 1988, but by then their earlier legal offensive was already set in judicial concrete. Now it has collapsed on top of them.
Berlet objects to any association with LaRouche on any level whatsoever; for him it's a moral issue. He has spent most of his career tracking Main Enemy Lyndon LaRouche. In the late 1970s some LaRouchies were locked out of their office for nonpayment of rent, and Berlet purchased several boxes of financial records from a janitor by posing as a paper recycler. He wrote it up, and the Illinois State Attorney General launched an investigation of LaRouchian financial activities. I suppose this is brilliant investigative journalism (at least Berlet is still proud of it), but please remind me to watch my dumpster when he's in town.
I don't object to associations with LaRouche people, but I do feel that all associations should be open and acknowledged, because in some cases it has a bearing on our judgment of certain information offered by certain sources. In other words, Berlet's concern is PC purity, while my concern is the quality and reliability of a particular piece of information. Often I'm unable to make this judgment, in which case the fact of the association itself is filed away for future reference and judgment is suspended. Berlet, on the other hand, makes an immediate judgment on the basis of the association itself, whether the information is useful or not. So if LaRouche was into Iran-contra before the mainstream press discovered it, and if they are uncannily well-informed on certain other specific issues as well, this is irrelevant.
For Berlet, Fletcher Prouty's main sin is that Liberty Lobby's Noontide Press reprinted The Secret Team, which was first published by Prentice-Hall in 1973. The content of the book itself has never been an issue; everyone agrees that it is valuable. Berlet's point is that Prouty should not have given his good name to Liberty Lobby. And once he gave his name, everyone should avoid Prouty. If Public Information Research fails to avoid Prouty, then you should avoid PIR, and so on down the line. But this quickly becomes absurd, and while Berlet probably realizes this he doesn't have time to explain himself. Never mind that no one else offered to reprint Prouty's book, and forget all the trouble I went to when I needed a copy in 1977. It makes no difference to Berlet whether this book is important or useful, or that Prouty's latest book, JFK: The CIA, Vietnam, and the Plot to Assassinate John F. Kennedy (New York: Birch Lane Press, 1992), offers unique perspectives based on his own experiences in the Pentagon.
At least Holly Sklar tried to define where she would exit this reductio ad absurdum. She stated in her resignation letter that "I have no problem with NameBase being a research tool used across the political spectrum; I know Trilateralism, for example, is widely used on the right. But I think there's a big difference between sometimes overlapping resources and overlapping boards." I don't find this very convincing, particularly when dealing with informal advisory boards that have no legal power. If political identity is important to someone personally, then I can see Sklar's point. But if the quality of the resource is as important as it ought to be, then Sklar has it backwards.
The debate became more pitched during the first half of 1992. First Joel Bleifuss of In These Times quoted an anonymous source -- I think it was Berlet because the particulars matched him and he ignored my invitation to deny it -- who called Prouty a "Nazi crackpot." Then Bleifuss bashed Stone for overreaching with the JFK conspiracy. As this is the same Joel Bleifuss who has been plugging away at an elusive October Surprise story for five years now, he of course ended the same column by implying that it would be more reasonable for Stone to reach even further, by also incorporating more recent conspiracies! Fortunately he started the column by confessing that he was only in the third grade on November 22, 1963, which put me in the proper frame of mind to get through it.
Then Berlet recruited the chief pundit from The Nation, Alexander Cockburn, who started sniping at Stone and Prouty and then proceeded to destroy his own credibility by blithely defending the Magic Bullet theory. Here's someone who should stop writing long enough to read a few books now and again, or perhaps it's no coincidence that The Nation reads like the Wall Street Journal on issues that matter. Bill Schaap and Ellen Ray of Covert Action Information Bulletin and Lies Of Our Times, who played a role in getting Stone interested in the assassination in the first place, have endured some of Cockburn's snipes in The Nation. They seem to be trying to stay out of the fray, probably because some years ago Cockburn was on their advisory board. We've fallen out of touch in recent years (the war between CounterSpy and CAIB is another sad story), so I can only guess what they're thinking lately.
I did try to interest Schaap in a response to Berlet from me and Carl Oglesby, but he never returned my call. That left me all bottled up until Lobster expressed an interest. It's worth noting that this piece you're reading cannot get published in the U.S. unless I defect to the right, or I'm lucky enough to stumble onto some mainstream editor who happens to think it's cute, harmless, and topical. That, in a nutshell, is what PC is all about. It's the exact opposite of what we were about in the late sixties.
Jeff Cohen and Marty Lee of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), who in the 1970s researched the JFK assassination and ought to know better, both support Berlet. When I spoke with Lee, it was clear that he bought the Berlet line completely, but I have only second-hand information about Cohen's current position. Cohen and I belonged to the same group in Los Angeles in 1977 and 1981, working on the issue of police repression. I've heard that In These Times staffers generally feel Berlet has gone too far, and Bleifuss is more or less holding his own out there in Chicago. In These Times even runs intelligent discussions of the PC issue on occasion. But judging from FAIR's monthly publication Extra!, FAIR is increasingly in the PC camp. They devote more and more space to soft issues, while carefully paying ritual homage to the god of cultural diversity. As for [recently deceased] Erwin Knoll, longtime editor of The Progressive, he was downright proud of his anti-conspiracism and ran Berlet's Right Woos Left as a cover story titled "Friendly Fascism." Knoll is the one who got my strange letter.
Maybe it will all go away soon; I hope so. Even Sara Diamond, a member of Berlet's fan club, recognizes that the U.S. left is talking to itself on this issue. "In part, it's desperation," Berlet quotes her in The Progressive by way of explaining why leftists are easy prey for rightists. "We have, in fact, lost influence and become marginal." This is easily the most lucid observation that has yet emerged from the Berlet camp. However, the reason that they are increasingly marginal has somehow escaped them. It's simply because the PC left is becoming a privileged segment of society and frequently acts only to preserve their privileges.
That's what I believe is really happening, but if the split deepens it will certainly be disguised with more elevated terminology. Already it seems that a distinction is evolving between the conspiracists and the structuralists. The former see specific historical events (e.g., the assassination of JFK) as probable determinants of other events (the war in Vietnam), while the latter view this as a naive challenge to the conventional left wisdom about infrastructure and economics as major determinants.
The structuralists feel it's inconceivable that John Kennedy, who was initially a predictable product of the System, changed his mind about the System once in office. And more amazingly, that the System would deal with it the way they did -- real people with real names (if only we knew who they were!) deciding he was a threat to their private interests and successfully engineering a coup. Besides Fletcher Prouty, who has long maintained this view, another Stone advisor was Maj. John M. Newman, a professor and military intelligence officer, whose competence was demonstrated in JFK and Vietnam. As soon as it was published this year, structuralists like Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn went scurrying back to the documents to try and refute him, as if their careers depended on it. But as Newman pointed out in a folksy talk on June 17, 1992, it's finally unimportant whether you are "left wing, right wing, or from the middle of the bird." There are a number of ex-Cold Warrior analyst-academic types in the military who are taking a fresh look at recent history, he assured us, and that has to be healthy. If he's telling the truth -- and I have no reason to doubt him -- then I have to agree.
Back to the real world of people behind the events. Personally, I don't think the PC left has any legitimate use for theory at all. I haven't seen any for over ten years, and that makes me reasonably skeptical. When I requested the names of the Board of Directors from Political Research Associates, the group that sponsors Berlet, it looked like theory had nothing to do with anything. I discovered that their Board is less diverse than one might expect. For me this makes the situation transparent -- these are people who have something to lose if populist conspiracism replaces political correctness. They are the System. They don't need theory, they need protection. If theory provides some protection, that's when we'll get theory.
Political Research Associates doesn't list their Board on their letterhead because, as director Jean Hardisty, Ph.D., explained to me, they've been sued by two of the groups they've attacked and their liability insurance is becoming problematic. Fair enough, I suppose, because it's part of the public record and there are other ways to get it. But Spotlight has a large staff box in every issue, and Berlet seems to be calling up the people on my letterhead, so I'm going to quote from Hardisty's letter:
"Because I am not comfortable putting people in a position of risk equivalent to the risk I am willing to assume, we have a small board. It is made up of me, Lucy Williams, Esq., Rev. Sally A. Dries, Prof. Robin Gillies, and Prof. Deborah Bright. They are, respectively, a law professor at Northeastern Law School in Boston, a United Church of Christ minister in Shamokin, PA, a Political Science Professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL., and an Art Professor at Rhode Island School of Design. I do not list their names on the letterhead and do not advertise their membership on the board in order to protect them from harassment."
By contrast, the readers of the hated Spotlight, Liberty Lobby's weekly with a circulation of over 100,000, are far down the elitist ladder. They are concerned about the very issues that have injected Ross Perot into presidential politics. The jury is still out on Perot as a potential leader, but something is stirring out there in the heartland, and Perot is a convenient symbol. He might well be the first presidential candidate who is willing to say that conspiracies and corruption exist in high places. To my knowledge he hasn't made any statements about the JFK assassination, but it's sobering to speculate: How much money would you put on his ability to serve out his term, if he got elected and suddenly reopened the JFK, MLK, and RFK investigations?
The PC left, meanwhile, not only sees this as irrelevant, but is even inclined to call it neo-fascism. There is, of course, fascist potential in any populist movement, just as there is also democratic potential. And it appears to me that there is no potential at all in business as usual on the PC left. Everyone knows it except them. The 75% of the population that feels JFK was the victim of a high-level conspiracy involving the CIA or mafia know it. The 50% of the population who don't vote know it (this year I voted for the first time since 1972). The conspiracy "buffs," "nuts," and "crackpots," -- the ones against whom Berlet crusades and Alexander Cockburn pontificates -- know it. But it is still news to a small group that controls the diminishing "progressive" press in America.
This "progressive" press has been blindsided by a special-interest multiculturalism that has the ruling class laughing all the way to their banks. Unlike in 1976 and 1977, when progressives were interested in Jimmy Carter's rampant Trilateralist connections, these days you have to consult Spotlight to discover that Bill Clinton attended a Bilderberg Group meeting in 1991 (before anyone outside of Arkansas had even heard of him), and that currently he is a member of both the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. So it came as no surprise to Spotlight readers when David Rockefeller Jr. wrote a strong endorsement of Clinton for the New York Times (October 16).
The populist right considers Clinton a set-up, in the sense that the rich will continue to get richer. The ruling class knows that more subtle techniques are needed than those used by Bush, and will offer some health insurance and job training to deflect discontent. But ultimately free trade will prevail in the New World Order, and the U.S. middle class will be picked clean. I'm "incorrect" if I try to explain this to the U.S. left, and treasonous if I enclose a clipping from Spotlight.
Meanwhile, I'm going to try and ignore the handful of vocal PC leftists. We still have one woman on our Board of Advisors, and a woman and a "person of color" on our Board of Directors. We will survive without grants if we must. Some may continue to call Prouty a "Nazi crackpot" without any justification whatsoever, but we have former Nazi-hunter John Loftus on our Advisory Board also. If that helps confuse the issue, so much the better. We also have other investigative journalists such as Peter Dale Scott and Jim Hougan, who do excellent work and have no need of PC distinctions.
The late Bernard (Bud) Fensterwald of the Assassination Archives and Research Center helped us a bit with our tax-exemption, and I helped them with their computers. Bud was incorrect enough to let his law firm represent Lyndon LaRouche, but so what? Anyone can walk in off the street and go through AARC's impressive collection of material. Is this worth anything to the left these days? Probably not, and it's their loss.
Prouty can stay on our Board of Advisors as long as he likes; we're proud to have him. I submit that left-right distinctions have outlived their usefulness in America, and particularly in the Washington information milieu. They should be replaced with other distinctions -- perhaps between those who believe in more information for more people and those who don't. Or as Dan Moldea suggested to me, maybe a distinction between "players" and "non-players." In either case, Prouty continues to make an important contribution, and so does Victor Marchetti, Mark Lane, and yes, Spotlight and Liberty Lobby.
So forget it, Chip. I'll turn in my SDS membership card if you promise to go away, but the only one qualified to accept it these days is former national SDS president Carl Oglesby. Carl is too busy writing JFK assassination books to bother with your concerns, and feels fine on our Board sitting next to Prouty. And if you ask him, he'll probably tell you that at some point between the late sixties and now, you are the one who changed, not us.