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Reporting the JFK Assassination: The Origins of Operation Mockingbird


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 11:15 AM

Part 1

I have started several threads over the years on the reporting of the JFK assassination. Probably the most significant is the thread on Operation Mockingbird. Remember, when I started this thread, Wikipedia was stating that Operation Mockingbird was an urban myth. They kept on deleting my version but eventually they left it after I completely referenced the article. It has since been severely edited but you can find the original version here:

http://www.spartacus...mockingbird.htm

http://en.wikipedia....ion_Mockingbird

Even given the existence of Operation Mockingbird, the fact that none of the important investigative journalists of the time showed any real interest in the case is surprising. For example, Drew Pearson was seen as the leading investigative journalist in 1963. Some believe he helped JFK elected in 1960 with his articles about Nixon. He was also no friend of LBJ and wrote several articles about his relationship with Bobby Baker. Yet, as far as I can see, he wrote no serious articles that questioned the lone gunman theory. This raised the possibility that Pearson was part of Operation Mockingbird.

Who therefore was in Mockingbird? Carl Bernstein had an article, CIA and the Media, published in Rolling Stone Magazine on 20th October, 1977. His article included the following: “Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were William Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Time Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier-Journal and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps-Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, The Miami Herald, and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald-Tribune. By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with The New York Times, CBS, and Time Inc.”

It is noticeable that Bernstein fails to name anybody who worked for The Washington Post, the newspaper he actually worked for. Deborah Davis, the author of Katharine the Great (1979) and the first to use the term “Operation Mockingbird” in print, believed that the Washington Post was the key organization in this CIA Operation. Davis claimed that Philip Graham, the publisher of the newspaper, and Ben Bradlee, the editor, were key figures in the conspiracy. She also were their journalists, James Truitt, Russell Wiggins, Phil Geyelin, John Hayes and Alan Barth. Others like Stewart Alsop, Joseph Alsop and James Reston, were recruited from within the Georgetown Set. According to Deborah Davis "By the early 1950s, Wisner 'owned' respected members of the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS and other communications vehicles."

Most articles on Operation Mockingbird state that it began in the late 1940s. In a sense this was true as the CIA was established in 1947, however, several of these named figures were connected earlier than that. I thought it might be an interesting idea of tracing back the careers of those named as members to see if it might bring in other names such as Drew Pearson. I therefore decided to take a close look at Henry Luce, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, Barry Bingham Sr., Ernest Cuneo, Frank Wisner, Allen W. Dulles , Philip Graham, C. D. Jackson and Joseph Alsop. Eventually I found an important link with all these people in something that happened as early as 1940. What is more it brought in others such as Drew Pearson, Walter Winchell, Walter Lippmann, William Allen White, Dorothy Thompson, Raymond Gram Swing, Edward Murrow, Vincent Sheean, Helen Kirkpatrick, Eric Sevareid, Edmond Taylor, Rex Stout, Edgar Ansel Mowrer, Whitelaw Reid, Helen Rogers Reid (publisher of New York Herald Tribune), Barry Bingham (publisher of Louisville Courier-Journal), Paul C. Patterson (publisher of Baltimore Sun) and Dorothy Schiff (publisher New York Post).

However, the story begins in 1935 when Allen Dulles visited Nazi Germany. He was appalled by the treatment of Jews in the country he encouraged his law firm to close their Berlin office. Dulles also joined forces with Hamilton Fish Armstrong to produce a pamphlet, Can We Be Neutral? (1936). As a result of this publication, Dulles came to the notice of MI6. He also came to the attention of Ernest Cuneo, one of Roosevelt’s main advisers on foreign policy. Cuneo, who was Jewish, like Dulles, was very concerned about the treatment of his race in Nazi Germany.

At the time British intelligence had mixed feelings about its attitude towards Nazi Germany. For example, Charles Maxwell Knight, the head of B5b, a unit that conducted the monitoring of political subversion, was a former fascist who expected Hitler to head east and destroy communism in the Soviet Union. Most members of MI6 shared this view and fully supported the British government's policy of appeasement. However, some, believed, like Desmond Morton, that Hitler needed to be taken on as he would eventually pose a threat to Britain, and by this time he would be too strong to defeat. (Franklin Roosevelt also held this view as regards Hitler's long-term threat to the United States). In his efforts to deal with the appeasers, Morton leaked classified files to Winston Churchill, who at that time was the leader of the Conservative faction, of those opposing the foreign policies of Neville Chamberlain.

The outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 undermined the pro-appeasement group within MI5 and MI6. However, it was not until Winston Churchill became prime minister in May 1940 that he was able, with the help of Morton, to purge this group. Churchill realised straight away that it would be vitally important to enlist the United States as Britain's ally. Randolph Churchill, on the morning of 18th May, 1940, claims that his father told him "I think I see my way through.... I mean we can beat them." When Randolph asked him how, he replied with great intensity: "I shall drag the United States in."

Churchill sent William Stephenson, an anti-fascist businessman, who had been working with Morton, to the United States later that month. Stephenson's main contact was Gene Tunney, a friend from the First World War, who had been World Heavyweight Champion (1926-1928) and was a close friend of J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI. Tunney later recalled: "Quite to my surprise I received a confidential letter that was from Billy Stephenson, and he asked me to try and arrange for him to see J. Edgar Hoover... I found out that his mission was so important that the Ambassador from England could not be in on it, and no one in official government... It was my understanding that the thing went off extremely well." Stephenson was also a friend of Ernest Cuneo who met with Roosevelt and reported back that the president wanted "the closest possible marriage between the FBI and British Intelligence."

On his return to London, Stephenson reported back to Churchill. After hearing what he had to say, Churchill told Stephenson: "You know what you must do at once. We have discussed it most fully, and there is a complete fusion of minds between us. You are to be my personal representative in the United States. I will ensure that you have the full support of all the resources at my command. I know that you will have success, and the good Lord will guide your efforts as He will ours." Charles Howard Ellis, a member of MI6, who became Stephenson’s assistant, said that he selected Stephenson because: "Firstly, he was Canadian. Secondly, he had very good American connections... he had a sort of fox terrier character, and if he undertook something, he would carry it through."

Churchill now instructed Stewart Menzies, head of MI6, to appoint William Stephenson as the head of the British Security Coordination (BSC). Menzies told Gladwyn Jebb on 3rd June, 1940: "I have appointed Mr W.S. Stephenson to take charge of my organisation in the USA and Mexico. As I have explained to you, he has a good contact with an official (J. Edgar Hoover) who sees the President daily. I believe this may prove of great value to the Foreign Office in the future outside and beyond the matters on which that official will give assistance to Stephenson. Stephenson leaves this week. Officially he will go as Principal Passport Control Officer for the USA."

As William Boyd has pointed out: "The phrase (British Security Coordination) is bland, almost defiantly ordinary, depicting perhaps some sub-committee of a minor department in a lowly Whitehall ministry. In fact BSC, as it was generally known, represented one of the largest covert operations in British spying history... With the US alongside Britain, Hitler would be defeated - eventually. Without the US (Russia was neutral at the time), the future looked unbearably bleak... polls in the US still showed that 80% of Americans were against joining the war in Europe. Anglophobia was widespread and the US Congress was violently opposed to any form of intervention." An office was opened in the Rockefeller Centre in Manhattan with the agreement of President Roosevelt and J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI.


#2 Nathaniel Heidenheimer

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 02:49 PM

Recently I read that James Truitt was also influential in key developments of Cold War culture. If this author is correct, he was a key player in the popularization of Jack Kerouac. He also urged the Washington Post Company and Newsweek to buy ARTnews a key magazine in defining what it meant to be a McHipster in the Cold War.

If one thinks about how depoliticized art became during the Cold War, this might not be as far removed from the JFK assassination as it initially seems.

Also, in my ongoing research into Communications Research during the Cold War, I have noticed a strategy that I call "the side vein" strategy of disinformation. By this I mean posting key, but isolated, bits of disinformation-- USUALLY in MAGAZINES--which reach professionals but who are NOT primarily political / historical in their main interest. For example if a writer lumps together the JFK assassination with UFO banter, and publishes a monthly article in say, Scientific American, or ARTnews, those readers are educated but they are much less likely to read more and contextualize the political tid bit they read, because they specialize in other fields. These "Side Vein " snippets are designed to prevent larger audiences, who ARE educated and could matter, from "going there," as it were.

In short, this "Side Vein Strategy" is a way of keeping the powder damp, so that the explosive implications of key events in the history of the National Security State will have trouble spreading to wider audiences, even when the correct match is finally lit.

My Source for the info on Truitt is Carol Felsenthal's book Power, Privilege, and The Post

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer, 26 July 2012 - 06:02 PM.


#3 John Simkin

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 03:08 PM

Recently I read that James Truitt was also influential in key developments of Cold War culture.


James Truitt was also one of the main sources about the death of Mary Pinchot Meyer. His wife was Mary's best friend and she knew all about her diary. Unfortunately, Mary also told her sister, Ben Bradlee's wife. The reason he broke cover was that he was sacked by Ben Bradlee, another agent of the CIA.

#4 John Simkin

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 11:51 AM

Part II: Allen Dulles joins British Intelligence and begins attempts to control the American media.



Thomas E. Mahl, the author of Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States: 1939-44 (1998), has argued that Ernest Cuneo was the "liaison between British Security Coordination and several departments of the U.S. government". Cuneo later wrote to Charles Howard Ellis, assistant-director of the British Security Coordination: "I saw Adolf Berle at State Department, Eddie Tamm, J. Edgar Hoover and more often the Attorney General; on various other matters Dave Niles and the White House and Ed Foley at the Treasury, but as far as I know there wasn't a sentence recorded. I reported to Bill Donovan and George Bowden, but never in writing."


Winston Churchill had a serious problem. Joseph P. Kennedy was the United States Ambassador to Britain. He soon came to the conclusion that the island was a lost cause and he considered aid to Britain fruitless. Kennedy, an isolationist, consistently warned Roosevelt "against holding the bag in a war in which the Allies expect to be beaten." Neville Chamberlain wrote in his diary in July 1940: "Saw Joe Kennedy who says everyone in the USA thinks we shall be beaten before the end of the month." Averell Harriman later explained the thinking of Kennedy and other isolationists: "After World War I, there was a surge of isolationism, a feeling there was no reason for getting involved in another war... We made a mistake and there were a lot of debts owed by European countries. The country went isolationist.


William Stephenson knew that with leading officials supporting isolationism he had to overcome these barriers. His main ally in this was another friend, William Donovan, who he had met in the First World War. "The procurement of certain supplies for Britain was high on my priority list and it was the burning urgency of this requirement that made me instinctively concentrate on the single individual who could help me. I turned to Bill Donovan." Donovan arranged meetings with Henry Stimson (Secretary of War), Cordell Hull (Secretary of State) and Frank Knox (Secretary of the Navy). The main topic was Britain's lack of destroyers and the possibility of finding a formula for transfer of fifty "over-age" destroyers to the Royal Navy without a legal breach of U.S. neutrality legislation. Lord Lothian, the British ambassador in Washington, contacted the government on 28th July, 1940, and told them that Britain had entered the war with 176 destroyers and that only 70 of these were still afloat. He requested 40 to 100 destroyers and that only 70 of these were still afloat. He also requested 40 to 100 destroyers and 100 flying boats.


It was decided to send William Donovan to Britain on a fact-finding mission. He left on 14th July, 1940 with the journalist Edgar Ansel Mowrer. When he heard the news, Joseph P. Kennedy complained: "Our staff, I think is getting all the information that possibility can be gathered, and to send a new man here at this time is to me the height of nonsense and a definite blow to good organization." He added that the trip would "simply result in causing confusion and misunderstanding on the part of the British". Andrew Lycett has argued: "Nothing was held back from the big American. British planners had decided to take him completely into their confidence and share their most prized military secrets in the hope that he would return home even more convinced of their resourcefulness and determination to win the war."


William Donovan arrived back in the United States in early August, 1940. In his report to President Franklin D. Roosevelt he argued: "(1) That the British would fight to the last ditch. (2) They could not hope to hold to hold the last ditch unless they got supplies at least from America. (3) That supplies were of no avail unless they were delivered to the fighting front - in short, that protecting the lines of communication was a sine qua non. (4) That Fifth Column activity was an important factor." Donovan also urged that the government should sack Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, who was predicting a German victory. Edgar Ansel Mowrer also wrote a series of articles, based on information supplied by William Stephenson, that Nazi Germany posed a serious threat to the United States.


On 22nd August, 1940, Stephenson reported to London that the destroyer deal was agreed upon. The agreement for transferring 50 aging American destroyers, in return for the rights to air and naval basis in Bermuda, Newfoundland, the Caribbean and British Guiana, was announced 3rd September, 1940. The bases were leased for 99 years and the destroyers were of great value as convey escorts. Lord Louis Mountbatten, the British Chief of Combined Operations, commented: "We were told that the man primarily responsible for the loan of the 50 American destroyers to the Royal Navy at a critical moment was Bill Stephenson; that he had managed to persuade the president that this was in the ultimate interests of America themselves and various other loans of that sort were arranged. These destroyers were very important to us...although they were only old destroyers, the main thing was to have combat ships that could actually guard against and attack U-boats."


Stephenson was very concerned with the growth of the American First Committee. by the spring of 1941, the British Security Coordination estimated that there were 700 chapters and nearly a million members of isolationist groups. Leading isolationists were monitored, targeted and harassed. When Gerald Nye spoke in Boston in September 1941, thousands of handbills were handed out attacking him as an appeaser and Nazi lover. Following a speech by Hamilton Fish, a member of a group set-up by the BSC, the Fight for Freedom, delivered him a card which said, "Der Fuhrer thanks you for your loyalty" and photographs were taken.


A BSC agent approached Donald Chase Downes and told him that he was working under the direct orders of Winston Churchill. "Our primary directive from Churchill is that American participation in the war is the most important single objective for Britain. It is the only way, he feels, to victory over Nazism." Downes agreed to work for the BSC in spying on the American First Committee. He was also instructed to find information on German consulates in Boston and Cleveland and the Italian consulate in the capital. He later recalled in his autobiography, The Scarlett Thread (1953) that he received assistance in his work from the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, Congress for Industrial Organisation and U.S. army counter-intelligence. Bill Macdonald, the author of The True Intrepid: Sir William Stephenson and the Unknown Agents (2001), has pointed out: "Downes eventually discovered there was Nazi activity in New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, Cleveland and Boston. In some cases they traced actual transfers of money from the Nazis to the America Firsters."


Charles Howard Ellis was sent to New York City to work alongside William Stephenson as assistant-director. Together they recruited several businessmen, journalists, academics and writers into the British Security Coordination. This included Roald Dahl, H. Montgomery Hyde, Ian Fleming, Ivar Bryce, David Ogilvy, Paul Denn, Eric Maschwitz, Giles Playfair, Cedric Belfrage, Benn Levy, Noël Coward and Gilbert Highet. The CIA historian, Thomas F. Troy has argued: "BSC was not just an extension of SIS, but was in fact a service which integrated SIS, SOE, Censorship, Codes and Ciphers, Security, Communications - in fact nine secret distinct organizations. But in the Western Hemisphere Stephenson ran them all."


Grace Garner, Stephenson's secretary, claimed he recruited several journalists including Sydney Morrell from the Daily Express and Doris Sheridan, from the Daily Mirror. "This was propaganda, or at least putting forward the British case. Sheridan liaised with the Arab sections in New York, keeping in touch with foreign nationals. The English playwright Eric Maschwitz was recruited to write propaganda and scripts. University professor Bill Deaken worked for the office, as well as the philosopher A. J. Ayer." Cedric Belfrage and Gilbert Highet were also recruited by Stephenson: "Belfrage was brought in as one of the propaganda people... he was a known communist... Gilbert Highet was in propaganda with Belfrage." John D. Bernal, used to call in the office. Garner described as a "dead ringer" for Harpo Marx. "You could have walked him straight onto the set. Wild. He had a funny hat on, and this saggy, greeny old coat, bulging with documents."


Ian Fleming, Louis Mountbatten and James Roosevelt were visitors to the British Security Coordination head office. Grace Garner recalls: "Mountbatten would not come to the office frequently. Fleming came in from time to time, and of course they were both so good-looking that just like dominoes, the girls would go down - whoosh, like that.... James Roosevelt, the president's son, did a few things in the way of propaganda for Britain, and he appeared at meetings."


William Allen White, the veteran journalist, had established the Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies (CDAAA) in May, 1940. White gave an interview to the Chicago Daily News where he argued: "Here is a life and death struggle for every principle we cherish in America: For freedom of speech, of religion, of the ballot and of every freedom that upholds the dignity of the human spirit... Here all the rights that common man has fought for during a thousand years are menaced... The time has come when we must throw into the scales the entire moral and economic weight of the United States on the side of the free peoples of Western Europe who are fighting the battle for a civilized way of life." It was not long before White's organization had 300 chapters nationwide.


Members of the CDAAA argued that by advocating American military materiel support of Britain was the best way to keep the United States out of the war in Europe. It played an important role in the passing of the Lend-Lease Act on 11th March, 1941. The legislation gave President Franklin D. Roosevelt the powers to sell, transfer, exchange, lend equipment to any country to help it defend itself against the Axis powers. A sum of $50 billion was appropriated by Congress for Lend-Lease. The money went to 38 different countries with Britain receiving over $31 billion.


However, the CDAAA refused to support military intervention in the war. William Stephenson as the head of the British Security Coordination (BSC), found this frustrating and he encouraged William Donovan to recruit Americans to start a much more militant organisation. Donovan approached Allen W. Dulles and along with BSC agent, Sydney Morrell, to establish the Fight for Freedom (FFF) group in April 1941. Members included Ulric Bell, (Executive Chairman), Peter Cusick (Executive Secretary), Joseph Alsop, Henry Luce, Dean G. Acheson, James P. Warburg, Marshall Field III, Fiorello LaGuardia, Lewis William Douglas, Carter Glass, Harold K. Guinzburg, Conyers Read, Spyros Skouras and Henry P. Van Dusen. The group also contained several journalists such as Herbert Agar (Louisville Courier-Journal), Geoffrey Parsons (New York Herald Tribune), Ralph Ingersoll (Picture Magazine) and Elmer Davis (CBS). At its peak, the FFF headquarters at 1270 Sixth Avenue in New York City had an office staff of twenty-five.

Fight for Freedom group monitored the activities of the leading isolationist organization, the America First Committee. Leading isolationists were also targeted and harassed. When Gerald Nye spoke in Boston in September 1941, thousands of handbills were handed out attacking him as an appeaser and Nazi lover. Following a speech by Hamilton Stuyvesan Fish, a member of a group set-up by the BSC, the Fight for Freedom, delivered him a card which said, "Der Fuhrer thanks you for your loyalty" and photographs were taken.

In 1941 BSC agent Donald MacLaren employed Rex Stout, George Merton (another BSC agent) and Sylvia Porter of the New York Post, to write a propaganda booklet entitled Sequel to the Apocalypse: The Uncensored Story: How Your Dimes and Quarters Helped Pay for Hitler's War. It was published in 1942. Stout also hosted three weekly radio shows, and coordinated the volunteer services of American writers to help the war effort.

Another BSC agent, Sanford Griffith, established a company Market Analysts Incorporated and was initially commissioned to carry out polls for the anti-isolationist Committee to Defend America by Aiding the Allies and Fight for Freedom group. Griffith's assistant, Francis Adams Henson, a long time activist against the Nazi Germany government, later recalled: "My job was to use the results of our polls, taken among their constituents, to convince on-the-fence Congressmen and Senators that they should favor more aid to Britain."


As Richard W. Steele has pointed out: "public opinion polls had become a political weapon that could be used to inform the views of the doubtful, weaken the commitment of opponents, and strengthen the conviction of supporters." William Stephenson later admitted: "Great care was taken beforehand to make certain the poll results would turn out as desired. The questions were to steer opinion toward the support of Britain and the war... Public Opinion was manipulated through what seemed an objective poll."


Michael Wheeler, the author of Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: The Manipulation of Public Opinion in America (2007): "Proving that a given poll is rigged is difficult because there are so many subtle ways to fake data... a clever pollster can just as easily favor one candidate or the other by making less conspicuous adjustments, such as allocating the undecided voters as suits his needs, throwing out certain interviews on the grounds that they were non-voters, or manipulating the sequence and context within which the questions are asked... Polls can even be rigged without the pollster knowing it.... Most major polling organizations keep their sampling lists under lock and key."

The main target of these polls concerned the political views of leading politicians opposed to Lend-Lease. This included Hamilton Stuyvesan Fish. In February 1941, a poll of Fish's constituents said that 70 percent of them favored the passage of Lend-Lease. James H. Causey, president of the Foundation for the Advancement of Social Sciences, was highly suspicious of this poll and called for a congressional investigation.

#5 B. A. Copeland

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Posted 08 August 2012 - 10:43 AM

Part 1

I have started several threads over the years on the reporting of the JFK assassination. Probably the most significant is the thread on Operation Mockingbird. Remember, when I started this thread, Wikipedia was stating that Operation Mockingbird was an urban myth. They kept on deleting my version but eventually they left it after I completely referenced the article. It has since been severely edited but you can find the original version here:

http://www.spartacus...mockingbird.htm

http://en.wikipedia....ion_Mockingbird

Even given the existence of Operation Mockingbird, the fact that none of the important investigative journalists of the time showed any real interest in the case is surprising. For example, Drew Pearson was seen as the leading investigative journalist in 1963. Some believe he helped JFK elected in 1960 with his articles about Nixon. He was also no friend of LBJ and wrote several articles about his relationship with Bobby Baker. Yet, as far as I can see, he wrote no serious articles that questioned the lone gunman theory. This raised the possibility that Pearson was part of Operation Mockingbird.


I am not in the least surprised that Wikipedia has sought to conceal the truth as I feel that they personally work with (etc.) the PTB. That is a "mainstream" site and therefore I would assume that important and newsworthy truths would never survive there (in general). I guess its possible Pearson could have been part of Mockingbird (he was well known and 'powerful' in his own right but could it also be that he was fearful to attempt to spread such truth? I was honestly curious. I guess either possibility is plausible.




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