A Political H Bomb

It looked like it could be just that back in 1967. It was a revelation of an American assassination effort against a foreign leader. Beyond that it purportedly provided proof that President Kennedy had been killed by a Communist conspiracy.  The potential consequences for the Johnson Administration, the Democratic party and the CIA were immense. What made the whole thing even more shocking was that the news was coming from an extremely credible source, an individual that both the FBI and CIA knew had personally been at the center of a series of CIA assassination efforts over some three years and he had been working directly with the CIA officer assigned to establish an Executive Action program capable of covertly eliminating foreign leaders.

It should have generated immense media attention and investigations by the Justice Department, perhaps the establishment of a new Presidential inquiry. What did happen is fascinating and may in itself tell us something very important about the conspiracy and the individuals that were involved in the murder of President Kennedy.  If that sounds interesting, you can find the details at the presentation I made for the AARC – the link is below:

http://aarclibrary.org/larry-hancock-a-political-h-bomb/

If that link is not clickable for you just copy and paste it into the web address line on your browser and it should take you directly to the presentation.

 

 

Surprise Attack now available

I’m excited, Surprise Attack is now in stock and shipping from Amazon. It is in bookstore distribution and available for order – but it probably won’t make it on to the shelves for another couple of weeks.  Should certainly be there around Labor Day. We actually beat the publishers target release by a few weeks, not always an easy thing to do, especially when with end notes and index it came in at a whopping 568 pages.  Counterpoint did an fantastic job with the layout and font sizing; it’s amazingly readable for a book that size.

http://www.amazon.com/Surprise-Attack-Pearl-Harbor-Benghazi/dp/1619025663/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
It’s had positive advance reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly; a Library Journal article described it as being among the most “intriguing” books for this fall. That’s about as good an adjective as a history book is going to get, especially when you make a serious effort at being objective and don’t try to play to a particular “base”. I’ve noticed that when I say things people already agree with it’s very well received; when I don’t I suddenly become a lot less bright – but since I’m not running for office and not writing against a given political agenda, that just comes with the territory.
I’ll have more to say about the book of course, it’s particularly important to me because I constantly encounter incomplete and misinformation about the events that it covers, especially in regard to some more contemporary events. I can’t promise readers they will like everything in the book, that’s unlikely given its subject and breadth. What I can promise is that it’s as close to real history as I could take it.  If it sounds interesting, buy it, read it, pass the word about it to your friends, relay it on social media and I’ll be here to respond to your questions as comments as I have on all my other works.

Note:  The publisher advises me that it takes two three weeks for Barnes and Noble to actually get the books into all their stores. In addition, for their larger stores  Surprise Attack  should  begin showing up on their “new non-fiction book” stands/tables beginning the week of September 22.  How and when the independent book stories shelve it is an individual matter – so feel free to go into your local store and ask for it…repeatedly….no need to be shy…

Phony War

The first few months of WWII in Europe are often referred to as the “phony war”, nations had declared war on each other, mobilizations had occurred but there was no widespread or large scale combat. Civilian populations remained largely untouched, other than by constant media coverage of a war that was not personally involving them. It leads me to wonder what phrase future historians will use to describe America’s “wars” in the early 21st Century.

We have been in almost constant overseas combat since 2001, but there is no draft nor general military mobilization – in fact in the most recent years force levels of both personnel and equipment have been reduced. Regular military units simply serve more overseas “rotations” and we have constantly deployed the National Guard internationally and into foreign combat. A limited number of military families deal with an increasing percentage of injuries and losses of loved ones, but not the general population. Instead of increasing taxes to support the war efforts, taxes have been either reduced or frozen – and with no massive war bond initiatives such as seen in WWII.
With a bit of political maneuvering the cost of the actual warfare has been moved outside the regular budget, resulting in special and much less visible appropriations; its impact has primarily been on debt levels and that has been very real. And there has been no sign of “dollar a year men”, senior industry figures or scientists/engineers donating their time or resources to our war on terror, or on ISIS. It’s been pay as you go for the government, and often with cost plus contracts.
In the more contemporary chapters of Shadow Warfare, we traced the evolution of “gray warfare”, involving a mix of intelligence and special operations personnel in a fashion that keeps much of their combat operations out of the media. Equally importantly we explore the emergence of “contract warfare”, where both combat and support activities are privatized and performed by corporate entities or non-government entities. Unlike the “phony war” this combat is very real, highly targeted and while it sometimes involves civilian casualties, they are nothing on the scale found in earlier warfare. All of which means the combat goes on and on, the media is never involved on the ground as it was during the Vietnam era, no draftees are involved and the casualties are very real but largely invisible in the main stream media. While the relatives of the combatants continually deal with the results, the general civilian population suffers not at all, other than with its concerns about increasing government intrusion, loss of privacy and similar issues.
I’ve previously made a number of comments about the negative results of contracting security operations to private firms – in respect to both the impact on the uniformed military combat and on the military operations themselves. Shadow Warfare gives that story in some detail, using security contractors in place of uniformed military nicely moves the truly hard, fundamental decisions off the table, its results are obvious from Iraq to Benghazi. Beyond that it’s truly amazing that the fantastic support and construction scandals have escaped true national attention, including from all of the current presidential candidates. Senator Truman made a name for himself investigating contracting scandal during WWII, yet that pales in comparison to the graft, corruption and loss of American money in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you question the extent of the scandal, read the following articles:
http://www.khou.com/story/news/investigations/2014/11/16/prosecutors-troubled-by-extent-of-military-fraud/19145567/
http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/19/business/iraq-war-contractors/index.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/usaid-suspends-ird-its-largest-nonprofit-contractor-in-iraq-and-afghanistan/2015/01/26/0cafe16a-a599-11e4-a2b2-776095f393b2_story.html
The scope of the fraud is reinforced by the fact that the investigation into Iraq/Afghanistan contract violations could only estimate the overall amount since record keeping was so poor that it could not be sure if it was only $31 billion or as much as $60 billion. In any event, it’s not reassuring that once again, as we are putting a limited number of personnel back into Iraq, the same contracting firms and personalities are again getting multiyear contracts for everything from logistics to security.

The only conclusion that I can draw from all of this is that our continuing combat is very real for those involved, but as far as the nation is concerned, it’s not real at all. Which means that it is not generally painful enough to force any true national involvement – such as say a declaration of war – under virtually any circumstances. That includes the months long, brutal rape of an American hostage by the ISIS leader. If that sort of incident does not lead to anything more than a handful of news stories, then the American Congress is indeed doing nothing more than enabling ongoing combat – with limited loss of life but ongoing profit for what has to now be called a “military contracting complex” rather than a “military industrial complex”.

Mad Men

I recently ran across an elaboration of a famous quote, to wit:

“Those who don’t study history are doomed to repeat it. Those who do study history are doomed to stand by helplessly while everyone else repeats it.”

I couldn’t immediately identify the author but it struck to the heart of the frustration I often feel when writing about Cold War history and even contemporary national security issues. This post and the one that follows will track back to those subjects and address some lessons which have clearly not been learned – some from bad experiences less than a decade old which are so fully documented and coldly factual that it seems almost impossible that we could be repeating them so quickly.

Several readers will no doubt be familiar with the “mad man” strategy introduced by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon in the last years of the Vietnam conflict. Nixon very much wanted to bring an end to the fighting but both men wanted to do so while somehow appearing to preserve the international image of overwhelming American military strength. Not only was such an outcome virtually impossible, but in reality the years of focus on SE Asia had given the Soviets the time required to match and even exceed both the nuclear strike and defensive capabilities that America had possessed at the time of the Cuban missile crisis.  At that point in time, the U.S. did indeed have an advantage which would have allowed it to conduct a terrifyingly decisive atomic strike on the Soviets. That advantage had given JFK the leverage he needed to force Khrushchev back from his intended covert effort to neutralize the American advantage by placing a nuclear striking force within decapitation range of both American command and control and SAC’s bomber and missile bases.

Nixon had no such advantage in the early 1970’s, mutual assured destruction was a fact. Yet given that conventional combat had obviously failed in the Vietnam conflict, the nuclear option was the only military alternative – but only a mad man would turn to it. Which led Nixon and Kissinger to develop the “mad man” strategy, portraying Nixon as so desperate and literally out of control that he was on the verge of using nuclear weapons against North Vietnam. The strategy was intended to force negotiations and a viable peace settlement which would preserve an independent South Vietnam. Lesson one, that didn’t work.

A bit over a decade later something similar may – or may not – have happened. It involved a series of events that I explore in some detail in Surprise Attack, basically what happened was that President Reagan engaged in a massive American military buildup accompanied by a series of public statements which essentially convinced the Soviet military and civilian leadership that the West was intent on a preemptive atomic war. What remains unclear is whether or not Reagan actually knew details of some of the military exercises and activities that fueled the Russian fears. Whether he did and it was all part of some effectively hidden plan or whether some of his advisers were pursuing a strategy without his knowledge is open to debate. Regardless, it was effective enough that for a period of time the Soviets fully anticipated a preemptive strike, deployed a highly covert effort to detect preparations in time for warning and on one or more occasions were seriously panicked enough to consider a strike of their own in response to the threat. Lesson 2, perception can become reality. How that near crisis evolved to the first true reduction in nuclear weapons reads as nothing short of a miracle.

Forward to 2013/2014, at a time where relations between the West and the Russian Federation had moved to the point where Russia was being truly integrated into a global partnership and the Cold War had become a historical event. At that point Russian President Putin suddenly appears to have gone mad. In a course reversal almost impossible to grasp, within two years Russian returned to frequent public pronouncements regarding its nuclear weaponry, ceased its move to stockpile reductions and began to aggressively deploy new nuclear weapons systems. Russian moves in Eastern Europe, combined with showcasing what truly were awesome new weapons systems created a situation which forced America had to readdress its own nuclear force, which it had been quietly letting drift into history. Was Putin truly mad, locked into the Cold War paranoiac mindset in which he had reached power? Or was he, like other leaders before him, turning to the national security card for political purposes – at a time in which Russian oil production seemed not only capable of sustaining a military renewal but a point in which the U.S. could be driven into a level of spending that would generate the financial crisis that the Soviets faced in the early Reagan years. Lesson 3, playing the national security card for internal political gain is seductive, and dangerous to one and all.

Three presidents, two American and one Russian. Each seems to have toyed with the advantage of bringing extreme fear into play to pursue their international goals. One failed, one came close to triggering Armageddon and one is currently at risk of destroying his own nation’s economy and international credibility. However at the time, each decided that an image of strength and assertiveness was their tool of choice. Perhaps most frightening, for two of the three, their choices had immense popular appeal within their own nations, regardless of its risk.

Command and Control on 9/11

Without getting too far ahead of myself – or the availability of Surprise Attack – I think it’s germane to my last post to comment on the 9/11 photo series which has just been released. Those releases provide us with numerous candid photos of various national security principals on 9/11. A great number of the photos are of VP Cheney and National Security Adviser Rice. The photos can be found at the links listed here:

Vice President Cheney with Senior Staff in the President's Emergency Operations Center (PEOC)

http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/25/politics/gallery/cheney-911-photos-released/index.html

One interesting comment I’ve seen is that Cheney’s expressions and demeanor suggest the sort of self-control and possession that is desirable in a leader during a crisis. Such photos can indeed become iconic, in recent years the classic image of LBJ alone at a large board room table, head downcast and apparently weeping has been used to portray him as something of a victim in the Vietnam combat. Being a bit more of a skeptic or perhaps just less charitable in regard to national command responsibilities, I would submit that actions actually speak louder than both words and photos.

In terms of understanding or even relating to what Cheney and other national security leaders were actually doing on 9/11, the photos are somewhat useless outside the context of a timeline, time stamping each photo and more importantly a full understanding of what their operational roles/actions should have been during the attack. That would also allow us to compare them to what their counterparts were doing during other national security crises.

It is also important to know where the individuals actually were when the photos were taken.  I’ve already seen some commentary on how little communications and command/control equipment appears in the Cheney photos. Unfortunately the commentary is written as if the VP were in the White House Situation room at the time, which has evolved to the point that it can serve as a command center – and that is most definitely not where either Cheney or Rice were. In terms of actual operational locations, the photo series includes no images at all from the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon – the appropriate place to find the Secretary of Defense, at least while the attacks were ongoing and the threat potentially active. It also contains no photos from Air Force One, equipped to serve as the true center of Commander in Chief activity during such an attack. Based on the new photos alone, a viewer might even conclude that President Bush was actually involved and active personally involved in his role as Commander in Chief during the initial period of the attacks and threat – which would most definitely not be the case.

In terms of true value, images showing the actual front line of national defense would have been far more interesting. That would have included the NMCC, the Situation Room were terrorism adviser Clarke was actually trying to manage a response, the Northeast Air Defense Center (NEADS), NORAD battle control in Florida or NORAD headquarters in Colorado. Of course such locations don’t have staff photographers – fortunately for us some of them do at least maintain audio tapes of operational events and despite a great deal of hesitance those tapes eventually became available. That allows us to cross reference the actual national defense of the day to the recently released photographs, a very educational exercise.

I think you will find the new photo releases interesting, they add to photos of President Bush at the school in Florida which have been available for some time.  I also think you will find them especially interesting once you get a chance to relate them to the analysis in Surprise Attack.

LBJ on Nov 22 1963

One of my long time interests has been behavior of Vice President Johnson during the hours immediately following the attack on President Kennedy – an attack which at the time could not have been known to be limited to an action against only the President. There has been a good deal of speculation, including some of my own, that Johnson’s actions were not what should have been expected of the Vice President. Others have suggested that there was a broader pattern of national security failure.

One way to test such speculation is to actually compare the response of the people at the very top of the national security chain of command during major crises, including events that would have produced fears that the nation itself might shortly come under attack. To do that effectively it’s necessary to really dig into what the plans and preparations for such crises have been and to study their evolution over time.  As it turns out there are ample incidents which do allow comparison, beginning with at least two instances under President Eisenhower when he was informed of an apparent, incoming Soviet attack on the United States. I’m not talking about some quickly resolved NORAD alert, but presumed incoming atomic bomber strikes which were tracked and monitored over several hours.

An even more direct comparison can be made concerning the Vice Presidential and national security response to the shooting and near death of President Reagan. One of the most dubious parts of Johnson’s response to President Kennedy’s death is his apparent ignorance of his responsibilities as Commander in Chief and his conduct in taking over those duties on November 22. Of course if he had prior knowledge that a Soviet “decapitation” attack was not actually in play, it would provide an explanation for what appears to be a dereliction of duty on his part. Some have painted the brush even more broadly, pointing to similar failure to act by the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Adviser and other senior officials – indicative of a conspiracy involving one or even all of them.

The question then is how their actions compare to those of their counterparts during other crises, including President Reagan’s shooting or the attacks of 9/11. It is possible to explore that question in detail, even to the point of comparing events on and communications from the Presidential and Vice Presidential aircraft during major crises. I tackle those comparisons in Surprise Attack and while I’m not going to give away the conclusions I can say I found doing the research absolutely fascinating. The comparisons in the book apply not only to Johnson’s performance but to that of other positions, specifically that of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Adviser and beyond that to the Presidential military aides.

I can also say that certain of Johnson’s activities on November 22, 1963 were impossible to compare – and for readers of Someone Would Have Talked, I refer to the calls from Presidential aides to Texas on the evening of November 22. What would be most revealing, and something someone should undertake, is a study of the phone calls and contacts made by Johnson immediately following the Tonkin Gulf incident and the attack on the intelligence ship Liberty. The question being, was it routine practice for Johnson to initiate major cover ups for any incident in which he failed his duties as Commander in Chief. I have gone down that trail to a certain extent and some of that is discussed in the book; there is a much expanded story to tell though, of that I’m sure.

Ample Warnings

The Publishers Weekly review of Surprise Attack is in and it gives an insightful overview of the book.

http://publishersweekly.com/pw/reviews/single/9781619025660

Rather than simply repeating the review here, I’d like to pick out some of its observations and elaborate on them a bit. For example the review notes the book’s analysis is “detailed, technical, and pessimistic”. Readers of my other works won’t be shocked about the “detailed and technical” characterization, that’s what I do. It would be meaningless to write about surprise attacks without examining the mechanisms and practices of warnings intelligence, about nuclear deterrence and MAD without discussing the SIOP, its evolution and the stances of various presidential administrations in regard to nuclear warfighting. It would be equally wrong to analyze the events of 9/11 without going into the evolution of American air defense, NORAD air defense exercises in the period of 1999-2001 and the ROE in place on September 11, 2001.

The alternative would be the similar to political commentary on which presidential candidate would be the best choice to respond to a “bolt of the blue” wake up call at 3 am in the morning, when the writer offers no insight at all on the nature of National Command Authority or shows any ability to differentiate the appropriate chains of command for various types of threats – from overseas embassy attacks to cyber warfare strikes. As far as the reference to “pessimism”, perhaps. The history I trace is not particularly encouraging, especially in regard to institutional memory in Washington D.C.  Still, there are fixes and I spell a number of them out in the book. And if you are not familiar acronyms I just used, I guarantee you will be if you choose to delve into Surprise Attack.

The review mentions the book’s discussion of “mirroring” and that is an immensely important concept, not only in regard to Cold War history and the development of military industrial complexes but to contemporary events. In particular, events of the Eisenhower Administration provide a tutorial very relevant to today’s confrontations with an assertive Russian Federation, and a warning on how even exceptionally good intelligence work can be overwhelmed by political realities. Studies of that same era demonstrate how we ended up with a 10,000 nuclear warhead inventory – when 200 weapons were initially perceived as sufficient to totally destroy the war fighting capability of the Soviet Union.

Another point the review mentions is that neither lack of warnings nor even assessments of incompetence are sufficient to explain some of the worst losses of American lives. What emerges decade after decade, from the Philippines in 1941, to the attacks on the Liberty and Pueblo and on to the terror attacks on America in 2001 is that the most fundamental issue is one of “ownership”. Ownership was exercised in regard to the Bojinka airliner plot of 1995 and the Millennium threats of 2000 – those attacks were interdicted. Ownership was not exercised in 2001 and the planned attacks of 9/11 were carried out.

It should also be noted that the Publishers Weekly review conveys the impression that Surprise Attack might have just a touch of attitude – while I would maintain that I worked extremely hard at being objective and factual, I can’t completely deny that assessment.

Deep Political Action

 

OK, so I sort of ripped that title off from my friend Peter Dale Scott. But I think it provides a very valuable context in which to view the complexity of how very high level American policy decisions – and by that I mean the worldview and attitudes of the movers and shakers at the NSC level of any given presidential administration – are translated into foreign policy “interventions” overseas. I use that phrase in regard to post WWII foreign policy because the actual practice of foreign policy which evolved after the national security acts and legislation at the end of the WWII decade significantly transformed American foreign policy practice. Before that matters were much more direct and “deniability” was not a serious consideration. You can start with examples such as the Barbary Pirates, move on to Commander Perry and Japan, through “gunboat diplomacy” in the Caribbean and Latin America and to the Great White Fleet. Presidents passed their messages to the State Department for delivery and to the Navy as required.

Of course I’m exaggerating a bit for effect, but to a large extent the genesis of today’s practices began in the years immediately prior to WWII as perceived foreign threats exploded and the Roosevelt administration realized that the America had become something of a second class military power (actually in some areas, such as its Air Force, it ranked far lower). That sort of position tends to lead to covert and clandestine practices and in Shadow Warfare we illustrated how that happened before the war in support of Nationalist China and after the war against Red China.

Which leads me to the point of this post – that American foreign policy has become a very complex mix of covert political action (dollar diplomacy – read bribes to individuals and groups), covert military activities as required, overt military activities (military assistance programs and joint officer and armed forces training programs) and overt dollar diplomacy (foreign aid and loan packages). In fact it has often become so complex that the different elements begin to act independently of each other and sometimes at cross purposes. Most often it’s the State Department official positions being subverted by covert activities but at times it’s actually the reverse, with State driving the CIA or the military nuts….or getting things so tangled (as during the Contra period) that both CIA officers and military officers were disciplined or charged for going against headquarters directives and Congressional legislation.

That’s why the sources used for the Foreign Policy book that I recommended in my last post lean heavily to Foreign Military Sales agreements and the Arms Export act:

http://www.us-foreign-policy-perspective.org/index.php?id=329

The bottom line is that you really can’t tell what our real foreign policy is from looking at Administration press releases or at State Department policy papers (not the public ones at least – the ones you get to see 20 or 30 years later are the real story). You also have to wait at least that long to get the real story about covert and clandestine operations…..unless a Congressional inquiry pushes it out more quickly. Still, you might get a little feel for the scope of that from the following:

http://www.us-foreign-policy-perspective.org/index.php?id=331&L=-1%27

Or from the very interesting set of tables in the Foreign Policy Perspective book:

http://www.us-foreign-policy-perspective.org/index.php?id=333&L=-1%2527

The point is that the neither the CIA’s political or covert actions efforts really give the full story of any administration’s deep political activities, CIA operations are more exciting, perhaps more intriguing, but the devil is in the details and until you get into the hard core of our military and aid programs, you really don’t have the full picture.

It almost makes me yearn for Teddy’s “Great White Fleet”, at least then you knew exactly what message was being sent to whom.

CIA Political Action

Before I jump into the political action, for those who have followed my research and writing into the “political” murders of the 1960’s – JFK, MLK and RFK – I want to say that I certainly have not lost my interest in in them. As with State Secrets by Bill Simpich, I will blog on any research that I see as truly new and relevant. For example William Law has an updated version of his work on the Bethesda autopsy coming out this year and hopefully Gary Murr will be publishing some truly new and relevant work related to the JFK murder. I will report/comment as their work becomes available. And if anyone has any specific question related to my own work in those areas, I’m happy to respond to it via email or post on it here if that seems best.

With this post I hope to encourage interest in a broader factual knowledge of American Cold War foreign policy and in particular the use of the CIA for political action in “regime control” (not necessarily “regime building” in the immensely expensive fashion the United States nation does it these days – with the generation of huge construction and security contracts and massive impact on the Federal budget – but the much lower profile, deniable “cash diplomacy” programs that the CIA conducted for several decades beginning immediately after World War II. In Shadow Warfare Stu Wexler and I focused on the CIA’s covert and clandestine paramilitary activities through that period, digging deeply into the names, practices and tradecraft of such operations.

We intentionally took a pass on the much broader practice of “political action” as carried out by the Agency – of course in a number of instances when dollar driven regime change or the more subtle efforts of DOD military assistance programs failed, the next step was regime change/coups so of course we did cross the line there and trace the evolution from political to paramilitary action in many interventions. Still, the reality is that political action was far broader and more pervasive than shadow warfare, across the globe and on all continents including in Western Europe. Without a full grasp of that history, it is particularly hard for the post-Cold War generations to understand the extent to which America and its foreign policies are so deeply mis-trusted around the globe. Of course that is not to say that the Soviets did not also engage in similar extended global meddling over the same decades, earning their on level of mistrust in some nations.

However, much of the Soviet (and later Chinese) manipulation was effectively disguised under the cover of communist and socialist political movements, with ideology rather than simply dollars as the prime driver. With so many indigenous communist movements, even if small, Soviet engagement was often seen as much more purely political, and “home grown”. They were also much more effective at courting and engaging neutral governments, and far more politically sophisticated in doing so than the United States – Viet Nam being one example, India another.
Fully appreciating where the United States is today in international relations requires a firm grounding in the history of both its political and covert operations overseas – over decades. The good news is that there is a very useful resource that complements Shadow Warfare (actually it came first). The problem is that it’s a book, and a very expensive book. But the good news is that the authors have put a good deal of its content online, enough so to give even a causal reader a good introduction to the breadth of American political operations over the decades. I would encourage all those interested to give their web site a look; a good number of the interventions listed in the chronology actually open up to descriptions of the named operations and that provides a great summary for those who don’t realize the scope of what was actually occurring. The book is expensive but for browsing the web side is superb and actually lists a great number of deep sources for research.

http://www.us-foreign-policy-perspective.org/index.php?id=279

It would be fascinating to see such an analysis of Soviet foreign policy and political action operations. Such a study might have emerged, bits and pieces did. However with Mr. Putin in charge, we are unlikely to see the deeper and darker side of Soviet foreign relations in the foreseeable future.

Conspiracy

Over the past twenty five years I have studied, researched and written about three murders, the practices of “political” assassination, the investigative practices of the FBI and various police departments and national security practices relating to deniability – both in regard to operations security for cover/clandestine actions and the protection of sources and methods (and careers via CYA) after the fact.

Generally I’ve found career and political CYA to be as significant a historical factor as true security. One of the things I’ve learned in those 25 years is that the blanket term “conspiracy” is very overused, actually explains little and because of that true conspiracies don’t receive the attention they deserve. My friend Peter Dale Scott, a poet by heart and nature, understands intuitively understands the value of words while I wrestle with them in the more clinical context of historical and cultural analysis/synthesis. In an effort to address the problem, Peter coined the term “deep politics”, an immensely important term which describes the interrelationship between commercial/private interests and government decision making – especially at the highest political levels.

Deep politics is the way the world works and has always worked, it would be naive to think that personal and corporate financial interests do not consistently attempt to drive government policies based on their self-interests – and commercial concerns. Stu Wexler and I visited areas of deep politics and their influence on various presidencies in Shadow Warfare. In doing so I began to get a much clearer picture of the fact that deep politics are “complemented” by what I would call “deep crime” and “deep money”. Just as respectable businesses and moneyed individuals try to drive national policy to their own agendas (and yes that includes various “complexes” from the much discussed military/industrial complex to newer associations such as “big pharma” or “big healthcare”) there are groups engaged in illegal activities and individuals engaged in questionable global business transactions who actively suborn individuals and “game” legitimate activities. While “deniability” is key to their activities, it’s really all about making or investing money, rather than manipulating long term national policy or strategic military/trade positions.

Personally I’ve found using the term “conspiracy” to be increasingly unproductive – to some extent because a great number of folks have begun to use it as if it were synonymous with “government conspiracy”. While I have a healthy respect for the ability of both administrations and agencies to engage in deniability and media management, I think calling that sort of activity “conspiracy” not only obscures its actual practices and methods but can cover up actual conspiracies. Unfortunately I don’t have a good phrase to describe it – or not one nearly as good as Peter’s “deep politics” – so I generally fall back on simply calling it “damage control” when I think it’s truly security related or “CYA” when I think it’s primarily career or political.

Which is why I write about the Kennedy assassination conspiracy separately from the national security level damage control and agency CYA that prevented a true investigation of the crime. Stu and I made the same distinction when evaluating the MLK and RFK murders; both which involved true conspiracies and were followed by activities at the national and local law enforcement levels which prevented exposure of the actual conspiracy.

All of which leads me to the point that there are very real and very dangerous conspiracies that need attention. And for what it’s worth that does not include radical Islamist attacks, which would be better termed and addressed as warfare rather than individual acts of terror. What I’m talking about is very real domestic conspiracy, which Stu and I tried to address in The Awful Grace of God and which Stu has gone on to pursue and write about in his new book on the subject. If you want a look at what real conspiracy looks like I encourage you to read the following:

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/24/behind_dylann_roofs_race_war_the_highly_motivated_secret_white_supremacy_movement_working_toward_the_battle_of_armageddon/#comments

….and if you really want to dig into it, get a copy of Stu’s new book:

http://www.amazon.com/Americas-Secret-Jihad-Religious-Terrorism/dp/1619025582/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435418122&sr=1-1&keywords=stuart+wexler