If you have followed this blog you know that I’m all about primary research whenever possible, I find that far too many people are convinced by articles and videos on the internet without doing much homework on their sources. It also seems that everyone has come to feel that the government never tells the truth about its activities – while that may be true short term, if you are interested in history, it’s amazing how much real information does eventually become available through document releases or FOIA.
And I’m talking about some real insider information, for example State Department documents are often quite outspoken about CIA activities – even when the CIA is not. In turn, CIA documents are often quite cutting when they start talking about the State Department. Almost all government agencies have Inspectors General, or the equivalent, and I can tell you from experience they often make no bones about calling out issues and failures. Admittedly Agency senior managers often disregard those points, even when a report singles out individuals and proposes performance investigations, but the devil and much dirt can be found in IG reports.
As an example, I’m convinced that most of the media who talk about 9/11 have never read the 9/11 Commission Report – which is quite damming if you really look at it – or read the responses from various agencies to it, which are wonderful examples of the fine art of CYA. It’s pretty embarrassing to see NORAD respond that it made numerous mistakes in reporting events of the day because its staff simply could not seem to get them straight. Of course the 9/11 staff were not impressed by that, they wanted to bring actual charges…
My real point here is that there are a host of resources, even online resources, if you want to get the real story on history. I find that many folks don’t realize the breadth of documents and information available at the Mary Ferrell Foundation (MFF). In addition to resources on the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations, the site also has information on Kennedy’s 1963 activities in Vietnam and Cuba and the Castro assassination plots. Moving on to the 1970’s it sources materials on Watergate and on the Intelligence Committee activities of the 1970’s and in regard to the 1980’s it contains documents and sources on the Iran-Contra scandal and investigations. I’m always amazed when I talk to those interested in the history of the period who are not even aware of the MFF.
Beyond the MFF, there are numerous other reliable online resources and you can find links to them at:
The National Security Archive is a mandatory stop for anyone interested in Cold War history; it is continually showing casing new documents obtained by its own FOIA activities. A new resource, known by far too few, is the immense collection of FBI documents related to its investigations of both right and left wing groups. Ernie Lazar spent an immense amount of effort in FOIA collection on the FBI and if you really want to understand how that agency operated, his sources are invaluable. Beyond that there are individual document collections and actual personal materials relating to a host of long time researchers in both the Harold Weisberg Digital Collection and the Baylor University Library of JFK Materials at the Poage Legislative Library of Baylor University.
In short, it’s easy to claim that the government never tells us the real story or whine about not knowing how things really happen. But to do so without realizing the scope of how much real information is released and available is a bit hypocritical….at least in my view