Systemic Destabilization in Recent American History: 9/11, the JFK Assassination, and the Oklahoma City Bombing as a Strategy of Tension1 French translation available; Spanish translation available.
Peter Dale Scott
Introduction: Structural Deep Events and the Strategy of Tension in Italy
From an American standpoint, it is easy to see clearly how Italian history was systematically destabilized in the second half of the 20th century, by a series of what I call structural deep events. I have defined these as "events, like the JFK assassination, the Watergate break-in, or 9/11, which violate the … social structure, have a major impact on … society, repeatedly involve law-breaking or violence, and in many cases proceed from an unknown dark force."2
The examples in Italy, well known to Italians, include the Piazza Fontana bombing of 1969, the Piazza della Loggia bombing of 1974, and the Bologna railway bombing of 1980.
Piazza Fontana bombing
These bombings, in which over one hundred civilians were killed and many more wounded, were attributed at the time to marginal left-wing elements of society. However, thanks chiefly to a series of investigations and judicial proceedings, it is now clearly established that the bombings were the work of right-wing elements in collusion with Italian military intelligence, as part of an on-going "strategy of tension" to discredit the Italian left, encourage support for a corrupt status quo, and perhaps move beyond democracy altogether.3 As one of the conspirators, Vincenzo Vinciguerra, later stated, "The December 1969 explosion was supposed to be the detonator which would have convinced the political and military authorities to declare a state of emergency."4
Vinciguerra also revealed that he and others had also been members of a paramilitary "stay-behind" network originally organized at the end of World War II by the CIA and NATO as "Operation Gladio."
In 1984, questioned by judges about the 1980 Bologna station bombing, Vinciguerra said: "With the massacre of Peteano, and with all those that have followed, the knowledge should by now be clear that there existed a real live structure, occult and hidden, with the capacity of giving a strategic direction to the outrages...[it] lies within the state itself...There exists in Italy a secret force parallel to the armed forces, composed of civilians and military men, in an anti-Soviet capacity that is, to organise a resistance on Italian soil against a Russian army...A secret organisation, a super-organisation with a network of communications, arms and explosives, and men trained to use them...A super-organisation which, lacking a Soviet military invasion which might not happen, took up the task, on Nato's behalf, of preventing a slip to the left in the political balance of the country. This they did, with the assistance of the official secret services and the political and military forces.5
Gladio connections to sustained false-flag violence, again involving NATO and the CIA, were subsequently revealed in other countries, notably Belgium and Turkey.6
The original purpose of Gladio was to consolidate resistance in the event of a Soviet takeover. But many of the senior Italians involved in the bombings implicated the CIA and NATO in them as well:
General Vito Miceli, the Italian head of military intelligence, after his arrest in 1974 on a charge of conspiring to overthrow the government, testified "that the incriminated organization, … was formed under a secret agreement with the United States and within the framework of NATO." Former Italian defense minister Paulo Taviani told Magistrate Casson during a 1990 investigation "that during his time in office (1955-58), the Italian secret services were bossed and financed by ‘the boys in Via Veneto'—i.e. the CIA agents in the U.S. Embassy in the heart of Rome." In 2000 "an Italian secret service general [Giandelio Maletti] said . . . that the CIA gave its tacit approval to a series of bombings in Italy in the 1970s to sow instability and keep communists from taking power. . . . ‘The CIA wanted, through the birth of an extreme nationalism and the contribution of the far right, particularly Ordine Nuovo, to stop (Italy) sliding to the left,' he said."7
Daniele Ganser, in his important book Nato's Secret Armies, has endorsed a Spanish report that in 1990 NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner (a German politician and diplomat) secretly confirmed that NATO's headquarters, SHAPE, was indeed responsible:
The Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), directing organ of NATO's military apparatus, coordinated the actions of Gladio, according to the revelations of Gladio Secretary-General Manfred Wörner during a reunion with the NATO ambassadors of the 16 allied nations.9
Extrapolating from such testimony, Ola Tunander has compared the strategy of tension in Italy, with its false-flag bombing attacks, to "what the Turkish military elite might describe as the correction of the course of democracy by the ‘deep state' [a Turkish term]."10
Strategy of Tension
But I believe it would be too simplistic an analysis to blame the Italian strategy of tension exclusively on Vinciguerra's "super-organisation which… took up the task [of false-flag bombings], on Nato's behalf." There appear to have been other directing forces besides NATO and those elements Vinciguerra was aware of through Italian military intelligence (the SID, later SISMI). It is important to recall that the Italian trials of those convicted for the 1980 Bologna bombing implicated not only Vinciguerra, SISMI, and Gladio, but also elements of the Italian mafia (the Banda della Magliana) and the Italian Masonic Lodge Propaganda-Due (P-2), with links to criminal bankers and the Vatican.11
In short, if we suggest that something like the Turkish deep state was involved in the Italian strategy of tension, this does not suggest a solution to the Italian mystery, so much as a zone, or interlocking network, for further research.
Has a Strategy of Tension Been Exercised in America?
Gladio connections to sustained false-flag violence, again involving NATO and the CIA, were subsequently established in other countries, notably Belgium and Turkey.12 I wish to propose that America, as well as Europe, has also suffered from a similar series of false-flag structural deep events, including bombings, that have, in conformity with the same strategy of tension, systematically moved America into its current condition, a state of emergency.
Among the false flag structural deep events I wish to consider today are
The John F. Kennedy assassination of 1963, or 11/22, which led to the CIA's Operation Chaos against the anti-Vietnam War movement. (11/22 was clearly a deep event: many documents in the area of Lee Harvey Oswald's relations to CIA operations are still being withheld, despite statutory and court orders to release them.13
The Robert Kennedy assassination of 1968, followed immediately by emergency legislation which led to state-sponsored violence at the 1968 Democratic Party Convention.
The 1993 first World Trade Center bombing and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which led to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
9/11 and the subsequent false flag anthrax attacks of 2001, which led to the imposition of Continuity of Government (COG) measures, the Patriot Act, and the proclamation, on September 14, 2001, of a State of Emergency which remains in effect. (In September 2012 it was once again renewed for another year).14
These structural deep events have had a common and cumulative result: the erosion of public or constitutional power, and its progressive replacement by unconstrained repressive force. I have argued elsewhere that
1) as in Italy, all of these events were blamed on marginal left-wing elements, but in fact involved elements inside America's covert intelligence agencies, along with their shadowy underworld connections.
2) some of these structural deep events bore a relationship to the ongoing secret planning - known in the Pentagon as the Doomsday Project - for Continuity of Government (or COG) in an emergency, which entailed its own secret communications network, and arrangements for what (in the Oliver North Hearings) was called "suspension of the American Constitution."
3) in every case, the official response to the deep event was a set of new repressive measures, usually in the form of legislation.
4) cumulatively, these events suggest the on-going presence in America of what I have called a "dark force" or "deep state," analogous to what Vinciguerra described in Italy as a "secret force…occult and hidden, with the capacity of giving a strategic direction to the [successive] outrages."15
The Oklahoma City Bombing (4/19) and 9/11
Recently I viewed for a film, "A Noble Lie," about the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.16 This gave me a chance, for the first time, to test these hypotheses against the case of Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, or what I shall call 4/19. More than I could have anticipated, 4/19 fit into and strengthened this analysis.
Oklahoma City Bombing
The film "A Noble Lie," itself points to some striking similarities between the events of 1995 and of 2001. The most obvious is the alleged destruction of a steel-reinforced building by external forces (a truck bomb in the case of the Murrah Building in 1995, flying debris in the case of Building Seven in 2001). Experts in both cases have asserted that the buildings in fact could only have been brought down by cutting charges placed directly against the sustaining columns inside the building. Here for example is a report to Congress from General Benton K. Partin, a retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General and expert on non-nuclear weapons devices:
When I first saw the pictures of the truck-bomb's asymmetrical damage to the Federal Building, my immediate reaction was that the pattern of damage would have been technically impossible without supplementing demolition charges at some of the reinforcing concrete column bases…. For a simplistic blast truck-bomb, of the size and composition reported, to be able to reach out on the order of 60 feet and collapse a reinforced column base the size of column A-7 is beyond credulity.17
There is now a broad and growing consensus among architects, engineers, and other experts, that the three buildings which collapsed on 9/11 in the World Trade Center were also most probably destroyed by controlled demolition charges.18
Another important similarity was the legal consequence of most of these events: the response to Oklahoma City was the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, while the response to 9/11 was the first implementation of COG and the passage (after a false flag anthrax attack) of the Patriot Act. "A Noble Lie" focuses on the domestic consequences of the Antiterrorism Act, and indeed it did, like the Patriot Act after it, provide for significant restrictions on the right of habeas corpus as the courts had interpreted it. In other words, both acts provided pretexts for implementation of the proposals for warrantless detention that had been a central focus of COG planning in the 1980s with Oliver North. This fit into a larger ongoing pattern of the progressive restriction of our constitutional rights by unrestrained coercive power -- a pattern that I will trace back to the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.
But there were important foreign consequences of the 1996 Antiterrorism Act as well, in particular Section 328, which amended the Foreign Assistance Act to bolster
assistance in the form of arms and ammunition to certain specific countries, for the purpose of fighting terrorism.19 This in turn led in 1997 to the creation of secret "Eyes Only" liaison agreement between the CIA's Counter-Terrorism Center (CTC) and Saudi Arabia, followed by a subsequent CIA agreement in 1999 with Uzbekistan (i.e. two of the most secretive and repressive regimes in the world today).20
I have argued that these secret liaison agreements - with Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan - may have provided the cover for secret CIA withholding of information before 9/11 about the designated 9/11 culprits al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar.21 Thus, if my analysis of the CIA's withholding in 2000-2001 is accurate, then 4/19 in 1995 did not just exhibit similarities to 9/11: it was a significant part of the build-up which allowed this withholding to occur, and also 9/11 itself.
Increases in Repressive Power After Deep Events
That 4/19 in 1995 had repressive legal consequences links it both to 9/11 in 2001 and also to 11/22 in 1963, after which the Warren Commission used the JFK assassination to increase CIA surveillance of Americans. As I wrote in Deep Politics, this was the result of
the Warren Commission's controversial recommendations that the Secret Service's domestic surveillance responsibilities be increased (WR 25-26). Somewhat illogically, the Warren Report concluded both that Oswald acted alone (WR 22), . . . and also that the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, should coordinate more closely the surveillance of organized groups (WR 463). In particular, it recommended that the Secret Service acquire a computerized data bank compatible with that already developed by the CIA.22
In the ensuing Vietnam War this involvement of the CIA in domestic surveillance led to the CIA's Operation Chaos, an investigation of the antiwar movement in which the CIA, despite its Charter's restrictions on domestic spying,
amassed thousands of files on Americans, indexed hundreds of thousands of Americans into its computer records, and disseminated thousands of reports about Americans to the FBI and other government offices. Some of the information concerned the domestic activity of those Americans.23
The pattern of increased repression would repeat itself four years later in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King, in response to which two US Army brigades were (until 1971) stationed on permanent standby in the United States, as part of Operation GARDEN PLOT to deal with domestic unrest.24
The pattern was repeated again with
the assassination of Robert Kennedy. In the twenty-four hours between Bobby's shooting and his death, Congress hurriedly passed a statute— drafted well in advance (like the Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 1964 and the Patriot Act of 2001) — that still further augmented the secret powers given to the Secret Service in the name of protecting presidential candidates.25
This was not a trivial or benign change: from this swiftly considered act, passed under Johnson, flowed some of the worst excesses of the Nixon presidency.26 The change also contributed to the chaos and violence at the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968. Army intelligence surveillance agents, seconded to the Secret Service, were present both inside and outside the convention hall. Some of them equipped the so-called "Legion of Justice thugs whom the Chicago Red Squad turned loose on local anti-war groups."27
Other Similarities between Dallas in 1963 and Oklahoma City in 1995
The repressive consequences after 11/22 in 1963, and after 4/19 in 1995, are linked to other shared features between the two events. Almost immediately after 11/22 there were reports from both inside and outside government, suggesting that Oswald had killed the president as part of an international Communist conspiracy.
In Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, I called these "Phase-One" reports, part of
a two-fold process. Phase One put forward the phantom of an international plot, linking Oswald to the USSR, to Cuba, or to both countries together. This phantom was used to invoke the danger of a possible nuclear confrontation, which induced Chief Justice Earl Warren and other political notables to accept Phase Two, the equally false (but less dangerous) hypothesis that Oswald killed the President all by himself. …. [T]he Phase-One story… was first promoted and then defused by the CIA. Michael Beschloss has revealed that, at 9:20 AM on the morning of November 23, CIA Director John McCone briefed the new President. In Beschloss' words: "The CIA had information on foreign connections to the alleged assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, which suggested to LBJ that Kennedy may have been murdered by an international conspiracy."28
To this day both Phase-One and Phase-Two stories have dominated the treatment of 11/22 in the governing media, to the virtual exclusion of non-establishment analyses treating 11/22 as a deep event.
Many have forgotten that there was a Phase One-Phase Two process with respect to 4/19 as well. Both immediately and thereafter there were a number of reports linking McVeigh and Nichols to Iraqis and other Middle Easterners, including Ramzi Yousef, the fugitive bomber in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing (which also used an ammonium nitrate (ANFO) bomb in a Ryder rental truck.)29 Both Clinton and his Counterterrorism Coordinator, Richard Clarke, have confirmed that some of these stories were discussed at a meeting of the Counterterrorism Security Group on the day of 4/19.30 Both men also claim to have dismissed them in favor of a low-grade Phase Two local conspiracy led by the two designated culprits: Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. But reports of Middle Eastern involvement, sometimes attributed to sources inside government, continued to appear in the governing media, including CBS, NBC, and the New York Times.31
First World Trade Center bombing of 1993
Meanwhile, signs of a local Iraqi conspiracy were industriously pursued by an Oklahoma City NBC reporter, Jayna Davis, and collected in her book The Third Terrorist. Her Phase-One evidence was centered on an all-points-bulletin initial search, quickly suppressed, for an unnamed John Doe #2. Her research was subsequently endorsed in a Congressional Report by Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.32
Moreover Richard Clarke has written that the Oklahoma City bombing was followed by a spate of new internal Presidential Decision Directives or PDDs (in addition to the Antiterrorism Act), which were drafted by himself. One of these addressed a security problem in response to the Oklahoma City bombing, and another conferred new counterterrorism powers on himself, including his new title as National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism. Two (PDD 62 and especially PDD 67) dealt with what he calls a more "robust system of command and control" for "our Continuity of Government program," which in his words "had been allowed to fall apart when the threat of a Soviet nuclear attack had gone away."33
These words recall Tim Weiner's report of April 1994 in the New York Times that in the post-Soviet Clinton era, "the Doomsday Project, as it was known" was scheduled to be scaled way back, because "the nuclear tensions" of the Soviet era had faded away.34 In other words Clinton had planned to scale back the Doomsday Project (which was governed by a secret extra-governmental committee including Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, then both not in government); but Richard Clarke used Oklahoma City to save the Doomsday Project, make it more robust and place it under his own control.
According to author Andrew Cockburn, a new target was found:
Although the exercises continued, still budgeted at over $200 million a year in the Clinton era, the vanished Soviets were now replaced by terrorists. . . . There were other changes, too. In earlier times the specialists selected to run the "shadow government" had been drawn from across the political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans alike. But now, down in the bunkers, Rumsfeld [and Cheney] found [themselves] in politically congenial company, the players' roster being filled almost exclusively with Republican hawks. "It was one way for these people to stay in touch. They'd meet, do the exercise, but also sit around and castigate the Clinton administration in the most extreme way," a former Pentagon official with direct knowledge of the phenomenon told me. "You could say this was a secret government-in-waiting."35
Of course the fact that 4/19 was followed by a strengthening of COG does not of itself corroborate my thesis that COG planning has been a significant factor in the planning and execution of America's structural deep events36 However there were other recurring features in the picture I have presented of America's structural deep events, and we do find these in the Oklahoma City story.
Of these the most prominent is the importance in the official story of designated culprits who were very possibly government informants or double agents.37 Perhaps the best documented recent example is the US Government's use and protection of the senior al-Qaeda operative Ali Mohamed as a double agent inside al Qaeda; this protection allowed him to train some of the participants of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, and later help organize the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombing in Kenya.38
In my 2008 book The War Conspiracy I discussed the possibility that both Lee Harvey Oswald and some of the Arabs designated in 9/11 (Ali Mohamed, al-Hazmi, al-Mihdhar) may in fact have been double agents working with a US Government agency, such as the FBI or Army Intelligence.39 Others have suggested that at the very least Oswald was an FBI informant; and Lawrence Wright wrote in The New Yorker that, in withholding the names of al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar from the FBI, "The CIA may also have been protecting an overseas operation and was afraid that the F.B.I. would expose it."40
In this context I noted with great interest the contention in "A Noble Lie" that Timothy McVeigh, the prime designated culprit in 4/19, may also have been an informant or double agent working for the U.S. Army.41 Of course this contention remains unproven, but the film provides some corroborative evidence.
The Oklahoma City Bombing and Operation PATCON
What is certain is that McVeigh, like Oswald, al-Hazmi, and al-Mihdhar, was in a milieu of known informants and or double agents, who were part of an important secret operation. In the case of Oswald and the two Saudis, this suggests reasons for the U.S. Government's on-going suppression of important facts about them, both before the crimes they are alleged to have committed, and ever since to the present day.42
In 2005 John M. Berger, an excellent researcher, discovered that in the 1990s the FBI, in a major counterintelligence operation, codenamed PATCON for "Patriot-conspiracy," had been investigating McVeigh's milieu of armed right-wingers -- or what Berger called
a wildly diverse collection of racist, ultra-libertarian, right-wing and/or pro-gun activists and extremists who, over the years, have found common cause in their suspicion and fear of the federal government. The undercover agents met some of the most infamous names in the movement, but their work never led to a single arrest. When McVeigh walked through the middle of the investigation in 1993, he went unnoticed.43
PATCON was particularly focused on a former asset of Oliver North's illegal network to supply arms to the Nicaragua Contras: Tom Posey and his paramilitary group Civilian Material Assistance (CMA). In the 1980s, according to Paul de Armond, CMA had begun as "as an adjunct to the Alabama Ku Klux Klan."44 Enrolled in the Contra supply effort by first the Defense Intelligence Agency and then Oliver North, CMA's "volunteer" work in patrolling the Arizona border against incoming aliens persuaded then-Congressman John McCain to serve on its board.45 But in PATCON's eyes in the Post-Reagan era, "Posey was a notorious black market arms dealer, suspected of having contraband sources on more than one U.S. military base."46
In both JFK and 9/11 it seems clear to me that the subsequent cover-ups derive from the fact that the respective plots were skillfully designed to piggy-back on authorized covert operations, in such a way as to ensure a subsequent cover-up. Berger's important essay in Foreign Policy on PATCON does not suggest a connection between McVeigh's plot and the FBI operation. However he notes deep in the essay that Dennis Mahon, an associate of McVeigh and another important target of PATCON,
would go on to be a well-known figure in white supremacist circles and was convicted in February for the 2004 mail bombing of a state diversity official in Arizona. After his arrest in 2009, Mahon told his cellmate that he was "the number three anonymous person in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation."
In other words, Mahon identified himself as John Doe #2.
Berger, on his own Website Intelwire, has written that "Mahon has spoken of knowing McVeigh in the past," and has concluded that, "Based on those comments and other information, it is at least plausible that Mahon was involved in the [Oklahoma City] bombing.47 Berger's "other evidence" is the testimony of ATF informant Carol Howe, transmitted first by Jayna Davis and then by Congressman Rohrabacher, that before 4/19 "Mahon talked about targeting federal buildings for bombings. …[and] took three trips [with McVeigh's contact Andre Strassmeir] to Oklahoma City."48
Mahon has been characterized as a self-aggrandizing loose talker. However, it seems safe to say that we better understand the context of Oklahoma City after considering the new evidence relating to PATCON, a secret FBI operation from 1991 to 1993 then known only to insiders.
Was Oklahoma City "a Sting Gone Wrong"?
Although PATCON itself was officially terminated in 1993, we learn from its files that there were in fact a number of ongoing informants at Elohim City, Oklahoma very likely including not only Howe but also Strassmeir.49 The Government's lack of response to the reports they received of an intended bombing strengthens the hypothesis, voiced in the film "A Noble Lie," that the 4/19 plot was initially intended as a sting, the lethal result of which represented "a sting gone wrong."
If so, this would increase the similarity between 4/19 and the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. According to the official account, this was also a conspiracy penetrated by the FBI, also involving an ANFO bomb on a Ryder rental truck that was also later identified by its vehicle identification number (VIN) on a metal fragment.50 In the 1993 bombing the New York Times later reported from tapes of interviews of the FBI's informant with his FBI handler:
Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.
The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.51
This Times story of the 2003 WTC bombing clearly describes a conspiracy that had been effectively penetrated by the FBI, which nonetheless, for whatever reason, reached its lethal conclusion. One such case of a penetrated operation "gone wrong" in 1993 might be attributed to confusion, bureaucratic incompetence, or the problems of determining when sufficient evidence had been gathered to justify arrests. A repeated catastrophe two years later raises the question whether the lethal outcome was not intended.
Together with the example of inaction on the CIA's prior knowledge of the alleged 9/11 hijackers, the three mass murders strengthen the claim to the International Criminal Court of Judge Ferdinando Imposimato, the Honorary President of Italy's Supreme Court: that 9/11 was "a repeat of the CIA's 'strategy of tension' carried out in Italy" from the 1960s to the 1980s.52 I appreciate that it will be difficult as well as painful for most Americans to contemplate that America's own history, like that of Italy a half century ago, could have been systemically manipulated and destabilized by unknown forces. But the more research I do, the more I am convinced that something like Judge Imposimato's verdict must be considered.
Moreover, if the Italian analogy is applicable to the United States, then the judgment that "9/11 was "a repeat of the CIA's 'strategy of tension' carried out in Italy" raises a larger question about all the structural deep events we have considered, especially the bombings of 1993 and 1995. Were these all part of a single sustained strategy of tension? It is too early to tell. But at the very least the WTC bombings of 1993 and 2001 show suggestive signs of common origins - both outside government (the plotters Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the informant Ali Mohammed) and possibly inside (as indicated by the overlapping, ongoing cover-ups of both).53
In contrast, all of the structural deep events I have been discussing are predictably treated by the governing media as the work of marginal outsiders - by a "lone nut" like Oswald, or a "lone wolf" like Timothy McVeigh. The commonalities between these events I have presented suggest a different analysis: that insiders including intelligence officials and other government officers, as well as outsiders, including government agents and double agents, must be held responsible for repeatedly designing plots that, because of their interface with sanctioned intelligence operations, will not be revealed by government.
My own analysis identifies these insiders as part of an on-going milieu, admittedly amorphous and unstructured, linking the secret networks in government to other powerful forces in our society, For want of a better phrase, I have labeled this milieu, reluctantly, as the "deep state."54 But as I remarked earlier with respect to Italy, the term "deep state" is not offered as a solution to these unsolved crimes, but as a focus for further research.
An Alternative Analysis of Deep Events: State Crimes Against Democracy
Let me contrast my own analysis with those of two others. The first is the notion of a "secret government" put forward in an important PBS program in 1987 by Bill Moyers.55 It rightly points to the dangerous rise of covert agencies, and above all the CIA, inside government since the National Security Act of 1947. And it analyzes the crimes of Iran-Contra in particular as an example of secret government escaping from the jurisdiction of the law and other restraints of the Constitution and public state.
In the words of the Moyers show
The Secret Government is an interlocking network of official functionaries, spies, mercenaries, ex-generals, profiteers and superpatriots, who, for a variety of motives, operate outside the legitimate institutions of government.
In other words, the show was pointing to the "Enterprise" used by North and his allies inside and outside the Executive Office Building to implement Iran-Contra and other policies that violated law and/or the directives of Congress. As I have shown elsewhere, North, implementing these policies, availed himself of the emergency antiterrorist network, codenamed Flashboard, that had been put together, at immense cost, by the Doomsday Project.56 In so doing, he was "piggy-backing:" using the authorized secret network for an illicit, criminal program, outside of the network's designated purpose.
Such an analysis could be screened on PBS in 1987 because one part of the U.S. government at that time was at war with another - a war which set Casey at odds not only with Congress but even with senior officers in his own agency the CIA.57 One can locate Moyers' show as part of a series of insider leaks and governing media exposés of Oliver North's off-the-books "Enterprise," which North (and behind him CIA director Casey) had used to violate official policies and laws.58 In short Moyers' challenge to Casey's and North's "warriors" suited the aims of the traditional CIA (and their usual backers, the "traders" on Wall Street).59
Thus we should not be surprised that it had nothing to say about the role of North's superior, Vice-President Bush, or about the stake of corporate interests in promoting CIA covert operations around the world (such as the much larger 1980s CIA operation in Afghanistan). Above all, it had not a word about North's Doomsday Project planning to "suspend the U.S. Constitution," even though this did surface for an instant in the Iran-Contra Hearings.60 By its silence about the Doomsday Project, the show failed to address the ongoing planning which, I believe, allowed for the fruition of COG plans in 9/11 and the Patriot Act. To sum up, the Moyers attack on the secret government was largely confined to what was already in the public record. It did not venture into deep politics.
More recently the concept of State Crimes Against Democracy, or SCADs, has been proposed by Prof. Lance deHaven-Smith, and endorsed by some of my friends in the 9/11 Truth community, including Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff. By SCADs, Prof. deHaven-Smith means "concerted actions or inactions by government insiders intended to manipulate democratic processes and undermine popular sovereignty."61
One great advantage of the SCAD hypothesis is that, unlike my own work, it has been discussed in academic journals, thus breaking a kind of sound barrier. But I have problems with the term "State Crimes." On the one hand I would claim that the State, or some segments of the state, is often the victim of deep events, as in 4/19. On the other I see the State as primarily a guarantor of democracy, not simply an enemy of it.
I agree that some government insiders play an important role in these events, indeed, I have documented some of these in the preceding pages. But I find it misleading to pin the blame for the crime on the State alone. After all, if a bank insider opens the door to a group of bank robbers, what ensues (even if you choose to call it an "inside job") is unmistakably a robbery of the bank, not by it.
SCAD analysis is far more useful and sophisticated than I can present it here, and I expect to continue to learn from those who pursue it. But it is not deep political analysis. DeHaven-Smith's list of SCADs includes "the secret wars in Laos and Cambodia," two relevant policy decisions (rather than events) that we know came from the Oval Office; although covert at the time, and very arguably illegal, they were when exposed not at all mysterious and thus essentially not very deep.
By positing SCADs as a struggle between the State on the one hand and democracy on the other, I believe this analysis oversimplifies both concepts, and underestimates (as Moyers did not) the internal contradictions within each. Democracy is after all a form of the state in which the people's freedom and power is constitutionally guaranteed by the state (or what I call the public state). And at least one of deHaven-Smith's SCADs - the JFK assassination - might more logically be considered a crime against the state, rather than by it.
Phillips and Hoff seem to recognize this difficulty: they drop the JFK assassination from their own list of SCADs.62 But this artificially segregates the JFK assassination from other deep events, such as the Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy assassinations, which I believe are parts of a common syndrome.
In short I believe in the crucial importance of a distinction that SCAD analysis does not make - between the public state that is ostensibly dedicated to fostering the welfare, rights and upward power of the people, and that residue of unofficial powers inside and outside government, or what I have awkwardly called the deep state, that for a half century has been progressively eroding that upward or persuasive power, and replacing it with unrestricted, unconstitutional power (or violence) of its own.
My final objection to SCAD analysis is practical. If the state is the author of these crimes, then the work of critics must be to mobilize public opinion against the state. This fits the libertarian politics of those who (like Alex Jones and other lovers of the Second Amendment) profoundly distrust the public US state in its entirety, and not just its covert agencies. Prof. DeHaven-Smith's own analysis implicates not just covert intelligence agencies of the US Government but the government as a whole, and perhaps particularly the courts. (In support of this indictment, he is able to point to the Supreme Court's unusual action, in 2000, of itself electing George W. Bush as president, by a vote of five to four.)
But a strategy of attacking the state as a whole seems to me an example of defeatist politics. Here again we can be enlightened by the Italian strategy of tension, which is a tale of indiscriminate terror with a happier ending. The terror bombings ended after Bologna in 1980, thanks to a series of vigorous and courageous investigations by first journalists, then parliamentary commissions, and finally the courts (not least the court of Judge Imposimato himself, which investigated the murder of Italian premier Aldo Moro and the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II). The victory of truth over violence did not come easily: journalists, parliamentarians, and at least one judge were themselves killed. And it was clearly a victory against one part of the state, which was achieved through the countervailing forces of other parts.
The Italian example proves that the forces behind a strategy of tension are not invincible. They also suggest that, if the dark forces of the deep state are to be defeated, this will take the combined resources, not just of the people, but of those elements in government that can, eventually, be aroused in search of the truth.
If this essay contributes to this purpose, it will be because others take up the line of inquiry I have indicated. I myself do not claim to understand the inner truth about these structural deep events. But I hope I have successfully indicated some of the directions which future investigations should pursue.
Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of Drugs Oil and War, The Road to 9/11, and The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War. His most recent book is American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection and the Road to Afghanistan. His website, which contains a wealth of his writings, is here.
Recommended citation: Peter Dale Scott, "Systemic Destabilization in Recent American History: 9/11, the JFK Assassination, and the Oklahoma City Bombing," The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10 Issue 39, No. 2, September 24, 2012.
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1 This essay is adapted from a talk I presented at the 2012 Oakland 9/11 Film Festival presented by the Northern CA 9/11 Truth Alliance.
2 Peter Dale Scott, "The Doomsday Project and Deep Events: JFK, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11," The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, November 21, 2011, http://www.japanfocus.org/-Peter_Dale-Scott/3650.
3 Daniele Ganser, Nato's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (New York: Routledge, 2005); Philip Willan, Puppetmasters: The Political Use of Terrorism in Italy (London: Constable, 1991).
4 Vincenzo Vinciguerra, in "Strage di Piazza Fontana spunta un agente USA," La Repubblica, February 11, 1998, here.
5 "Secret agents, freemasons, fascists . . . and a top-level campaign of political 'destabilisation,'" The Guardian, December 5, 1990, here; quoted in Daniele Ganser, NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (London: Frank Cass, 2005), 7.
6 Ganser, NATO's Secret Armies, 125-47, 224-44.
7 Peter Dale Scott, The Road to 9/11 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007), 181. Cf. Ganser, NATO's Secret Armies, 6.
8 Ola Tunander, "The War on Terror and the Pax Americana, " in David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2007), I, 164.
9 Ganser, Nato's Secret Armies, 26; citing El Pais, November 26, 1990.
10 Tunander, "The War on Terror," 164.
11 Cf. Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010), 30: "In February 1989 Italian Special Prosecutor Domenico Sica asserted that responsibility for at least some of the terror bombings during the past decade lay also with the Mafia—that is, what I am referring to as the global drug connection."
12 Ganser, NATO's Secret Armies, 125-47, 224-44.
13 Scott Shane, "C.I.A. Is Still Cagey About Oswald Mystery," New York Times, October 16, 2009, here. For my analysis of deep similarities between 11/22 and 9/11, see Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich, MA: The Mary Ferrell Foundation, 2008), 341-96.
14 See White House, "Message from the President Regarding the Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to Certain Terrorist Attacks," September 11, 2012, here.
15 For my ambivalent use of the term "deep state," see Scott, American War Machine, 20-23.
16 For an introduction to the film, see "A Noble Lie: Oklahoma City 1995 with James Lane and Chris Emery," Alex Jones Channel, December 16, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XmHnePnaR6E.
17 General Benton K. Partin, letter to members of Congress, May 17, 1995; in David Hoffman, The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror (Los Angeles: Feral House, 1998); on line at here. Another explosives expert, Samuel Cohen, wrote to a Congressman that "It would have been absolutely impossible and against the laws of nature for a truck full of fertilizer and fuel oil… no matter how much was used… to bring the building down" (ibid.). Anders Breivik's ammonium nitrate car bomb in front of the Norwegian Prime Minister's office would seem to corroborate Partin and Cohen: Breivik's bomb shattered windows but caused no structural damage whatever to the building.
18 "9/11: Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out," a film prepared by AE911Truth, PBS, September 16, 2012; viewable on line at here. Cf. Bill Christison (a former senior official of the CIA), "Stop Belittling the Theories About September 11," Dissident Voice, August 14, 2006, here. www.dissidentvoice.org: The WTC buildings "were most probably destroyed by controlled demolition charges placed in the buildings."
19 Charles Doyle, "Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996: A Summary," Federation of American Scientists, June 3, 1996, here. In a December 2000 memo, Richard Clarke confirmed that this assistance was being supplied "through the CIA's Counter-terrorism Center (CTC) and State's Anti-Terrorism Program (ATA)"
20 Scott, "Launching the U.S. Terror War," The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, here; citing Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, The Eleventh Day (New York: Ballantine Books, c2011), 396.
21 Scott, "Launching the U.S. Terror War." This withholding of information is a significant parallel with the CIA's withholding of significant information about Lee Harvey Oswald from the FBI in 1963, in the weeks just before the 11/22 JFK assassination.
22 Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 280; quoted in Scott, "Doomsday Project."
23 Church Committee, Report, Book III - Supplementary Detailed Staff Reports on Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans, 682.
24 Nate Jones, "Document Friday: ‘Garden Plot:' The Army's Emergency Plan to Restore "Law and Order" to America." National Security Archive, August 11, 2011, here.
25 Public Law 90-331 (18 U.S.C. 3056); discussion in Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch, and Russell Stetler, The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond (New York: Random House, 1976), 443-46; quoted in Scott, "Doomsday Project."
26 Army intelligence agents were seconded to the Secret Service, and at this time there was a great increase in their number. The Washington Star later explained that "the big build-up in [Army] information gathering…did not come until after the shooting of the Rev. Martin Luther King" (Washington Star, December 6, 1970; reprinted in Federal Data Banks Hearings, p. 1728); quoted in Scott, "Doomsday Project."
27 George O'Toole, The Private Sector (New York: Norton, 1978), 145, quoted in Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 278-79, also Scott, "Doomsday Project."
28 Peter Dale Scott, "Overview: The CIA, the Drug Traffic, and Oswald in Mexico," History Matters, here; citing Michael Beschloss, ed., Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997), 22. "Phase-One" stories, followed by "Phase-Two" media rebuttals, have continued ever since, most recently in 2012 with the publication by former CIA officer Brian Latell of an informant's claim that Castro had prior knowledge of what would happen in Dallas (Brian Latell, Castro's Secrets: The CIA and Cuba's Intelligence Machine [New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012]).
29 Wall Street Journal, September 5, 2002, here; "Take AIM: Jayna Davis on OKC Third Terrorist," AIM.org, here. Cf. Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, "The Oklahoma City Bombing: Was There A Foreign Connection?" Report, December 26, 2006, here.
30 Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror (New York: Free Press, 2004), 97-99.
31 Jim Naureckas , "The Oklahoma City Bombing: The Jihad That Wasn't," Extra! (Fair), July/August 1995, here.
32 Jayna Davis, The Third Terrorist: The Middle East Connection to the Oklahoma City Bombing (Nashville TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004); Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman's Report, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, Oklahoma City Bombing Investigation.
33 Clarke, Against All Enemies, 167.
34 Tim Weiner, "Pentagon Book for Doomsday Is to Be Closed," New York Times, April 17, 1994: quoted in Scott, Road to 9/11, 186.
35 Andrew Cockburn, Rumsfeld: His Rise, Fall, and Catastrophic Legacy(New York: Scribner, 2007), 88; quoted in Scott, Road to 9/11, 187.
36 Scott, "The Doomsday Project and Deep Events."
37 Over and over the daily news provides instances of new deep events that involve informants. As I write, the headlines report widespread Muslim violence throughout the world, in response to a despicable anti-Muslim film one of whose promoters admitted to be a deliberate provocation (Sheila Musaji, "The Tragic Consequences of Extremism," The American Muslim, September 14, 2012, here). I was not surprised to read later that one of the men responsible for the film, Nakoula Nakoula, was also a federal informant ("Producer Of Anti-Islam Film Was Fed Snitch," The Smoking Gun, September 14, 2012, here). As I wrote on my Facebook page, "I don't think anyone should leap to sweeping conclusions from this revelation that one of the film's makers, Nakoula Nakoula, was a government informant. But this fact so complicates the background of this allegedly "amateurish" film that I feel justified in my original assumption: that we might be facing here another deep event (as defined in my book American War Machine)."
38 Scott, Road to 9/11, 151-60.
39 Scott, War Conspiracy, 355-56, 357-63 ("The Role of Double Agents"); Cf. Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 247-53, 257-60.
40 See Anthony Summers, Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover (New York: PocketBooks, 1994), ch.29, n4; Harrison E. Livingstone, The Radical Right and the Murder of John F. Kennedy (Bloomington, IN: Trafford, 2006), 131 (Oswald); Lawrence Wright, "The Agent," New Yorker, July 10 and 17, 2006, 68; cf. Wright, Looming Tower, 339-44 (al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar).
41 This is in line with other features he exhibited in conformity with those I had previously pointed to in the designated culprit stereotype. One is the absurd ease and speed with which he was soon arrested for driving without license plates. In 2008 I compared Oswald with the alleged 9/11 hijackers under the heading "Instant Identification of the Culprits" (Scott, War Conspiracy, 347-49). David Hammer, who was on Death Row with McVeigh, has written that McVeigh confided to him at length how in fact he was a federal undercover agent in a sting operation targeting right-wing extremists. See David Paul Hammer, Deadly Secrets: Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing (B.oomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010).
42 Jefferson Morley and Michael Scott, Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA (Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2008) [11/22]; Kevin Fenton, Disconnecting the Dots (Walterville, OR: Trine Day, 2011) [9/11].
43 J.M. Berger, "Patriot Games: How the FBI spent a decade hunting white supremacists and missed Timothy McVeigh," Foreign Policy, April 18, 2012, here.
44 "First organized by Tom Posey as part of his Civilian Military Assistance (CMA) organization, the CMA operated as a shadow wing of the Reagan administrations illegal Contra network. Posey and the CMA began as an adjunct to the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. They were first active in smuggling weapons to Central America with the assistance of a Defense Intelligence Agency operation called "Yellow Fruit" and later absorbed into Oliver North's Contra re-supply operation. Posey was later indicted for violations of the Neutrality Act for his gunrunning activities. North and Reagan administration officials intervened in the trial and the charges were dismissed under the curious grounds that the Neutrality Act only applied during peacetime and the Contra operation was the equivalent of a formal state of war" (Paul de Armond, "Racist Origins of Border Militias").
45 "John McCain has worked with white racists before," Daily Kos, October 12, 2008, here. I have not been able to determine whether this is the Tom Posey whom David Koch named to be Treasurer of his Citizens for a Sound Economy. Cf. "Tom-Posey, KKK, Koch Brothers, CSE," here.
46 Berger, "Patriot Games."
47 John Berger, "Witness Mahon Claimed He Was Third Man in Oklahoma City Bombing," Intelwire, January 10, 2012, here.
48 Dana Rohrabacher, Chairman's Report, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House International Relations Committee, Oklahoma City Bombing Investigation.
49 For Strassmeir as an intelligence agent, see e.g. Investigative Report prepared for Oklahoma Representative Charles Key, in Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee, Final Report, 460-62; David Hoffman, The Oklahoma City Bombing and the Politics of Terror (Venice City, CA: Feral House, 1998), 121-47.
50 Athan G. Theoharis, The FBI: A Comprehensive Reference Guide (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1999), 94.
51 Ralph Blumenthal, "Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast," New York Times, October 28, 1993, here.
52 "Top Italian Judge Refers 9/11 to International Criminal Court," Aangirfan, September 11, 2012, here.
53 Scott, Road to 9/11, 151-61. Both before and after 1993, and again before and after 2001, a key role in the cover-up was played by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. See Scott, Road to 9/11, 152, 155-59; Peter Lance, Triple Cross (New York: Regan/HarperCollins, 2006), 219-23, 274-79, 298-301, 317-18, 358-64, etc.
54 Scott, American War Machine, 20-23.
55 Bill Moyers, The Secret Government, PBS 1987; here.
56 Peter Dale Scott, "Northwards without North," Social Justice (Summer 1989); revised as "North, Iran-Contra, and the Doomsday Project: The Original Congressional Cover Up of Continuity-of-Government Planning," Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, February 21, 2011, here.
57 See e.g. Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes (New York: Doubleday, 2007), 396-404; Scott and Marshall, Cocaine Politics, 125-64. (Posey),
58 North's ventures into illegality eventually involved the mobilization of known drug-traffickers in support of the Contras. One of his more dubious assets was the patriot paramilitary group Civilian Military Assistance of Tom Posey, which eventually became a prime target of PATCON (Berger, "Patriot Games).
59 For the distinction between traders and warriors or "Prussians," see Michael Klare, "Beyond the "Vietnam Syndrome" (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Policy Studies, 1981); Peter Dale Scott, "Korea (1950), the Tonkin Gulf Incident, and 9/11: Deep Events in Recent American History," The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, June 22, 2008, here.
60 A personal note: when I was at a think tank in Washington dealing with Iran-Contra, I was videotaped at length by the two producers of Moyers' show. One week before the show aired on PBS, they assured me that I would be in it. But in the end, all that remained of me in the show was my forearm, in an unexplained group shot of the think tank sitting around a conference table. At the time my research focused on the activities of Bush and North (including North's alleged plans for "suspension of the constitution") that the Committees, like the Moyers program, did not pursue. See Scott, "North, Iran-Contra, and the Doomsday Project."
61 Lance deHaven-Smith, "Beyond Conspiracy Theory: Patterns of High Crime in American Government," American Behavioral Scientist, 53, 796; citing Lance deHaven-Smith, "When political crimes are inside jobs: Detecting state crimes against democracy. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 28(3).
62 Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff, "State Crimes Against Democracy," Media Freedom International, Mar 2, 2010, here.