Ever since the passage of the National Security Act of 1947, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has conducted media influence in the United States through its “Operation Mockingbird”. This is probably the main reason the international “Reporters Without Borders” gives a very low free press ranking among all nations, lower than other G7 nations such as Canada, Germany, Japan, France, and Britain. Only Italy is lower probably due to the press there being owned by a recent former conservative Prime Minister. National security issues particularly are subject to this kind of CIA influence. This is an empire story issue.
National Security Act of 1947
This Act represents a radical departure from American traditions begun by our first president George Washington and the founding figures. The act was passed over the opposition to it by the Department of War and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Their opposition was based on the American tradition of maintaining a small standing army between wars and using volunteer forces to fill out the ranks during war. Their opposition was based in part on Washington’s admonition against foreign entanglements. Changing the name of the Department of War to the Department of Defense represents the change in attitude from that of a republic to that of a worldwide empire. In actuality, this represented a change from defense to offense, from national border concerns to world control concerns. Inside the CIA the change went from classic intelligence operations to also include covert overseas operations to maintain the new empire.
Commercialism and Democracy
A long running theme in American history is the foreign policy clash between pursuing commercial interests and pursuing democratic values. In founding figure terms this was the clash between Hamilton and Jefferson. In twentieth century terms this was the clash between business interests and worker interests in the democracies, or the clash between small business freedom Leninism and totalitarian complete state control Stalinism in the communist world. Contradictions abound here so I hesitate to elaborate too much.
Kennedy’s journey toward peace was a long and difficult one. In between crises in the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis, back channel negotiations continued between Zorin representing the Soviet Union and McCloy representing the USA for mutual disarmament and an end to the Cold War in his second term. His Peace Corps and Alliance for Progress used carrots instead of sticks in his diplomacy and he was determined to end covert operations in the CIA in his second term. In a September 8th 1963 executive order he planned to begin troop pullouts from Vietnam starting in December 1963. His treaty banning atmospheric nuclear testing was the first on many with the Soviet Union. All of this was ended by his assassination. Lyndon Johnson was opposed to this peace initiative and asked McCloy to break it off. Kennedy laughed when McCloy told him this and assured him he had the full support of the president. The CIA man Kennedy had fired was put in charge of the Warren Commission whitewash. In the book “Brothers” Bobby Kennedy intuitively understood the forces opposed to his brother and blamed them for his brother’s death. Jackie had the French intelligence look into the assassination and they came back with the word Lyndon Johnson was behind it. Watergate burglar and long-time CIA operative E. Howard Hunt also confirms CIA and Johnson involvement with the plot in his death bed tape. Tony Morales of the CIA was Johnson’s alleged coordinator for the plot and also was in the Ambassador Hotel when Bobby Kennedy was shot. Khrushchev cried when he heard Kennedy died and lost his leadership the next year, as militarists on both sides prevailed. The Brezhnev military buildup that ensued ultimately brought the Soviet Union down. Likewise Vietnam brought Johnson down. Bobby Kennedy’s election to the presidency threatened to undue Johnson’s legacy and reopen the investigation into President Kennedy’s death. FBI director J. Edger Hoover did not have the blackmail material against Bobby that he had against John and Martin Luther King Jr.
As a peace activist I have learned about CIA influence gradually over the course of my lifetime. Initially I read Newsweek cover to cover during the Vietnam War years, and assumed their hawkish perspective even after Tet in 1968. I also assumed military spending stimulated the economy until my exposure to Sivard’s research in 1983. I assumed the Warren Commission was right about the Kennedy assassination until a 1988 Geraldo Rivera show began the long process of casting doubt and numerous books and academic conference presentations increasing confirmed the clear new realistic interpretation. Then the Gulf and Iraq Wars cast increasing doubt about official positions. Particularly the national and local peace movement discussion list-serves 2001-2005 were huge in clarifying my current understandings. Watching Ted Koppel’s nightline July 24, 2001 confirmed one of my key suspicions. Koppel was former Naval Intelligence, hence could get better stories with the help of Intelligence insiders and his own security clearance. He had Bush’s deputy defense guy on Nightline; Paul Wolfowitz, who insisted nuclear missile defense is a top defense priority. But Ted used the pentagon’s own list of ten major threats to show that terrorism was most likely (#1) and rogue nation nuclear attack was #9 and assault by another nuclear threat like Russia or China was only #10. He could not have done this without security clearance as I found out trying to obtain a copy of this ranked list. I had someone at the Defense Monitor guiding me through numerous phone calls in my effort, only to end up with the pentagon refusing to give me the list because it was classified. That’s why Bob Woodward, former naval intelligence, Walter Cronkite, OSS during the war, and Ben Bradley, Washington Post Editor and former CIA, and many others like them rise to the top of the media.
The 1975-76 Church Commission on Intelligence Activities revealed many abuses of power by the CIA, domestic and foreign, including foreign assassinations and domestic control of the American media, including the 400 top press persons in the nation. While Woodward and Bernstein became household words for their unraveling of the Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon, Woodward’s career was soaring while Bernstein was ignored after his expose of Operation Mockingbird’s control of the American press in a 25,000 word article for Rolling Stone magazine. This is how the CIA handles whistleblowers about its various blunders and misdeeds. Only now, some thirty years later is Bernstein reappearing on television shows in recent years. Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News “Dark Alliance” series is another treated poorly by former CIA veterans in the media. He dared to uncover the CIA role in the crack cocaine epidemic started by Freeway Rick in Los Angeles and protected by the Drug Enforcement Administration to fund the Contra Wars in Central America in the eighties.
National Security continues to be a weak spot in America’s so-called free press. Even though 15 million protested in major cities worldwide February 15th one month before the 2003 Iraq War started, this was dismissed by President Bush as a “focus group.” I personally attended a protest of 500,000 people in the nation’s capital in September 2003 and the New York Times reported the crowd as “tens of thousands” deliberately understating the crowd size. This happened again when 600,000 protested the Republican Convention in August 2004. Judy Miller dutifully reported in the New York Times the exaggerations and distortions of Dick Cheney and company about the weapons of mass destruction of Iraq. Phil Donahue was taken off the air for daring to counter these lies. Even one year after the invasion, 90% of American troops in Iraq falsely believed Saddam Hussein was behind the 9-11-01 attacks, so carefully inserted and repeated wording by the administration had left that impression.
For a tribute to the world peace President Kennedy:
President Kennedy was my mother’s third cousin.
Please cite this work as follows:
Reuschlein, Robert. (2018, May 28), “Media Influence by the CIA”, Madison, WI: Real Economy Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.expertclick.com/NewsRelease/Media-Influence-by-the-CIA,2018157946.aspx
Dr. Peace, Professor Robert Reuschlein, Real Economy Institute
Nominated Vetted for 2016, Given Odds for 2017 Nobel Peace Prize