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Joseph Trento: Prelude to Terror


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 30 December 2005 - 09:47 AM

My copy of Prelude to Terror arrived yesterday. So far I have only read the first 70 pages (plus sections on topics that I am very interested in) but it is clearly a very important book. Like all great history books, it is about the present as much as it is about the past. It is definitely a book that needs to be better known (as far as I can see it has had no publicity in the UK).

Here are some questions that the reading of the book has raised so far.

(1) The first chapter takes a look at the activities of Allen Dulles and Prescott Bush. You look in some detail at Bush’s business dealing during the Second World War. On page 3 you state that John J. McCloy and Allen Dulles were both involved in covering up Bush’s dealings with Nazi Germany. Of course, McCloy and Dulles were also both members of the Warren Commission. Is that relevant?

(2) McCloy was also German High Commissioner after the war. In February, 1951, he ordered the release of Alfred Krupp from Landsberg Prison. Krupp was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg. He was accused of plundering occupied territories and being responsible for the barbaric treatment of prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates. Krupp was found guilty of being a major war criminal and sentenced to twelve years in prison and had all his wealth and property confiscated.

When he was released, Krupp had his is property, valued at around $45 million, and his numerous companies were also restored to him. He was not the only wealthy war criminal released by McCloy. Is it possible that Krupp and his Nazi colleagues went on the fund CIA illegal covert activities? In other words, was McCloy part of CIA’s “Secret Team” as early as 1951? If that is the case, could this be the reason why he was on the Warren Commission with Dulles in 1964?

http://www.spartacus...k/FWWkruppA.htm

(3) On page 7 you quote John Loftus to argue that “Bush and his associates did not invest in Nazi-controlled companies out of any ideological devotion to Hitler, but because this was simply good business practice”. I would like to challenge this proposition. A significant number of businessmen in the US and the UK supported the Nazis in the 1930s for “ideological reasons”. The main reason for this was that they supported the way the Nazis were dealing with the threat of socialism and communism. Remember, the first thing that Hitler did when he gained power was to put left-wing activists in concentration camps (the Jews were dealt with at a later date).

The most high profile supporter of the Nazi Party in the UK was the media magnate, Lord Rothermere. Throughout the 1930s he used his newspaper empire to support Hitler and was the leading advocate of what became known as “appeasement”.

http://www.spartacus...Urothermere.htm

Recently released MI5 documents show that there were a significant number of people within the British establishment that supported Nazi Germany even after the outbreak of the war. Some of these characters even supplied the Nazis with classified information. See for example the activities of the Right Club (interestingly they were working with people from inside the American Embassy) below:

http://www.spartacus...WWrightclub.htm

Is it therefore not possible that people like Bush, Dulles and McCloy did have ideological reasons for their political activities? After all, the main thing that drove the CIA agenda was the perceived fear of communism.

(4) On page 9 you mention that Prescott Bush was a “close friend and adviser to William Pawley”. Are you aware that some people believe Pawley was one of those right-wing businessmen who helped fund the assassination of JFK?

http://www.spartacus...k/JFKpawley.htm

(5) I found the section on Paul Helliwell very interesting. You make a good case that he was the CIA officer who originally came up with the idea of working closely with those involved in the drug trade in order to fund illegal covert operations. I was interested to read that he was transferred to Miami in 1960 to provide business cover for its Cuban operations. You state on page 29 that Helliwell was CIA paymaster for JM/WAVE. This is where Helliwell becomes very close to Ted Shackley. Is it not possible that Shackley’s “Secret Team” dates back to the early 1960s and might have been a reaction to the Bay of Pigs disaster?

(6) In Chapter 4 you outline the CIA career of Edwin Wilson. You say that Wilson first met Clines in 1960. Is there any evidence that Wilson was involved with Shackley and Clines at JM/WAVE?

(7) You point out that Chi Chi Quintero and Felix Rodriguez were important members of Ted Shackley’s Secret Team. Were they working for Shackley at JM/WAVE in 1963?

(8) Your account of Shackley’s activities is very similar to the one provided by Daniel Sheehan in his affidavit (12th December, 1986). However, you do not mention Sheehan in your book. As you know, Shackley took a successful legal action against Sheehan. Do you think Shackley would have taken you to court if he was alive today?

http://www.spartacus.../JFKsheehan.htm

(9) Nor do you mention Gene Wheaton in your book. He was of course Sheehan’s main source in 1986. Wheaton also told Sheehan that Shackley’s Secret Team was involved in the assassination of JFK. Wheaton repeated this claim to the Anne Buttimer, Chief Investigator for the Assassination Records Review Board, in July, 1995, and in a filmed interview in 2005. He claimed that Carl Jenkins, Chi Chi Quintero and Irving Davidson were also involved in the assassination. Did you come across this suggestion during your research?

http://www.spartacus.../JFKwheaton.htm

http://www.spartacus...JFKquintero.htm

http://www.spartacus...JFKjenkinsC.htm


(10) Wheaton, Jenkins and Quintero are still alive (as are two other members of the Secret Team, Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada). Did you interview any of these men for your book?

http://www.spartacus...k/JFKposada.htm

http://www.spartacus...Kroderiguez.htm

(11) On page 247 you describe William Buckley as “one of Shackley’s oldest and dearest friends.” Where did you get this information from? Do you know when they first met? Leslie Cockburn pointed out in her book, Out of Control (1987) that Buckley had “to approve CIA assassinations undertaken by the Shackley organizations”. Did you find any evidence of Cockburn’s claim while researching your book?

http://www.spartacus...FKbuckleyWF.htm

#2 Joseph Trento

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 05:33 PM

John Simkin: (1) The first chapter takes a look at the activities of Allen Dulles and Prescott Bush. You look in some detail at Bush’s business dealing during the Second World War. On page 3 you state that John J. McCloy and Allen Dulles were both involved in covering up Bush’s dealings with Nazi Germany. Of course, McCloy and Dulles were also both members of the Warren Commission. Is that relevant?

Joe Trento: Well certainly they were top leaders in the establishment here who would not rock the boat or come up with any conclusions that might lead to WW III.

John Simkin: (2) McCloy was also German High Commissioner after the war. In February, 1951, he ordered the release of Alfred Krupp from Landsberg Prison. Krupp was tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg. He was accused of plundering occupied territories and being responsible for the barbaric treatment of prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates. Krupp was found guilty of being a major war criminal and sentenced to twelve years in prison and had all his wealth and property confiscated.

When he was released, Krupp had his is property, valued at around $45 million, and his numerous companies were also restored to him. He was not the only wealthy war criminal released by McCloy. Is it possible that Krupp and his Nazi colleagues went on the fund CIA illegal covert activities? In other words, was McCloy part of CIA’s “Secret Team” as early as 1951? If that is the case, could this be the reason why he was on the Warren Commission with Dulles in 1964?

Joe Trento: I am aware, please see Secret History of the CIA. Only as that they were trusted members of the establishment and Johnson didn’t want panic here.

John Simkin: (3) On page 7 you quote John Loftus to argue that “Bush and his associates did not invest in Nazi-controlled companies out of any ideological devotion to Hitler, but because this was simply good business practice”. I would like to challenge this proposition. A significant number of businessmen in the US and the UK supported the Nazis in the 1930s for “ideological reasons”. The main reason for this was that they supported the way the Nazis were dealing with the threat of socialism and communism. Remember, the first thing that Hitler did when he gained power was to put left-wing activists in concentration camps (the Jews were dealt with at a later date).

The most high profile supporter of the Nazi Party in the UK was the media magnate, Lord Rothermere. Throughout the 1930s he used his newspaper empire to support Hitler and was the leading advocate of what became known as “appeasement”.

http://www.spartacus...Urothermere.htm

Recently released MI5 documents show that there were a significant number of people within the British establishment that supported Nazi Germany even after the outbreak of the war. Some of these characters even supplied the Nazis with classified information. See for example the activities of the Right Club (interestingly they were working with people from inside the American Embassy) below:

http://www.spartacus...WWrightclub.htm

Joe Trento: You are right about British support of Hitler in the upper classes but you cannot lump Bush into this. Your characterization of Prescott Bush is unfair. There is no evidence he was a man who was ideological supportive of the Nazi’s. Like many American businessmen – and British he could be blinded by money.

I knew McCloy, he was a patriot and did not take part in the murder or coverup of JFK. He was on the Warren Commision because he was one of the most distinguished Americans in 1963.


John Simkin: Is it therefore not possible that people like Bush, Dulles and McCloy did have ideological reasons for their political activities? After all, the main thing that drove the CIA agenda was the perceived fear of communism.

Joe Trento: Come on – there is no basis to indicate any Bush believed in Hitler – just money. I remind you that the Royal family had a very cozy relationship with their German cousins. Don’t overreach.

They hated communism – by the way so do I. I don’t think fear is what this was about. They had a pragmatic approach to eliminating it and fighting it. Sometimes they over did it. Often innocents suffered. What drove the CIA agenda was commercial US interests and bureaucratic survival for this unsuccessful agency.


John Simkin: (4) On page 9 you mention that Prescott Bush was a “close friend and adviser to William Pawley”. Are you aware that some people believe Pawley was one of those right-wing businessmen who helped fund the assassination of JFK?

Joe Trento: I think that is nonsense.

John Simkin: (5) I found the section on Paul Helliwell very interesting. You make a good case that he was the CIA officer who originally came up with the idea of working closely with those involved in the drug trade in order to fund illegal covert operations. I was interested to read that he was transferred to Miami in 1960 to provide business cover for its Cuban operations. You state on page 29 that Helliwell was CIA paymaster for JM/WAVE. This is where Helliwell becomes very close to Ted Shackley. Is it not possible that Shackley’s “Secret Team” dates back to the early 1960s and might have been a reaction to the Bay of Pigs disaster?

Joe Trento: Shackley prospered on the Bay of Pigs disaster and was promoted in the aftermath of it.

John Simkin: (6) In Chapter 4 you outline the CIA career of Edwin Wilson. You say that Wilson first met Clines in 1960. Is there any evidence that Wilson was involved with Shackley and Clines at JM/WAVE?

Joe Trento: Yes there is. He worked with many of these Cubans in the Congo and later Laos and Vietnam.

John Simkin: (7) You point out that Chi Chi Quintero and Felix Rodriguez were important members of Ted Shackley’s Secret Team. Were they working for Shackley at JM/WAVE in 1963?

Joe Trento: Yes.

John Simkin: (8) Your account of Shackley’s activities is very similar to the one provided by Daniel Sheehan in his affidavit (12th December, 1986). However, you do not mention Sheehan in your book. As you know, Shackley took a successful legal action against Sheehan. Do you think Shackley would have taken you to court if he was alive today?

http://www.spartacus.../JFKsheehan.htm

Joe Trento: No, because I didn’t make up what I wrote. Sheehan largely lifted what was right in his allegations from writers like me. I consider Sheenan one of the reasons Shackley wasn’t exposed till now, Sheenan went with rumors Shackley planted and spread them and nearly ruined the life of Martha Honey with the law suit that followed. His role in other cases, including the death of a Marine Colonel in California had a stunningly similar outcome of family members of the Colonel. Sheenan is no hero.

John Simkin: (9) Nor do you mention Gene Wheaton in your book. He was of course Sheehan’s main source in 1986. Wheaton also told Sheehan that Shackley’s Secret Team was involved in the assassination of JFK. Wheaton repeated this claim to the Anne Buttimer, Chief Investigator for the Assassination Records Review Board, in July, 1995, and in a filmed interview in 2005. He claimed that Carl Jenkins, Chi Chi Quintero and Irving Davidson were also involved in the assassination. Did you come across this suggestion during your research?

Joe Trento: I consider Wheaton in the same class as Sheenan.

John Simkin: (10) Wheaton, Jenkins and Quintero are still alive (as are two other members of the Secret Team, Felix Rodriguez and Luis Posada). Did you interview any of these men for your book?

http://www.spartacus...k/JFKposada.htm

http://www.spartacus...Kroderiguez.htm

Joe Trento: I can’t comment.

John Simkin: (11) On page 247 you describe William Buckley as “one of Shackley’s oldest and dearest friends.” Where did you get this information from? Do you know when they first met? Leslie Cockburn pointed out in her book, Out of Control (1987) that Buckley had “to approve CIA assassinations undertaken by the Shackley organizations”. Did you find any evidence of Cockburn’s claim while researching your book?

http://www.spartacus...FKbuckleyWF.htm

Joe Trento: Cockburn is wrong. Shackley was well above Buckley in Agency rank. I got the information from family members and colleagues of both men.

#3 John Simkin

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 09:43 AM

Joe Trento: You are right about British support of Hitler in the upper classes but you cannot lump Bush into this. Your characterization of Prescott Bush is unfair. There is no evidence he was a man who was ideological supportive of the Nazi’s. Like many American businessmen – and British he could be blinded by money.

I knew McCloy, he was a patriot and did not take part in the murder or coverup of JFK. He was on the Warren Commision because he was one of the most distinguished Americans in 1963.


John Simkin: Is it therefore not possible that people like Bush, Dulles and McCloy did have ideological reasons for their political activities? After all, the main thing that drove the CIA agenda was the perceived fear of communism.

Joe Trento: Come on – there is no basis to indicate any Bush believed in Hitler – just money. I remind you that the Royal family had a very cozy relationship with their German cousins. Don’t overreach.

They hated communism – by the way so do I. I don’t think fear is what this was about. They had a pragmatic approach to eliminating it and fighting it. Sometimes they over did it. Often innocents suffered. What drove the CIA agenda was commercial US interests and bureaucratic survival for this unsuccessful agency.


John Simkin: (4) On page 9 you mention that Prescott Bush was a “close friend and adviser to William Pawley”. Are you aware that some people believe Pawley was one of those right-wing businessmen who helped fund the assassination of JFK?

Joe Trento: I think that is nonsense.


I agree that people like Prescott Bush and William Pawley were capitalists who were trying to maximize their profits. This is what people like Alfried Krupp, Friedrich Flick, Hjalmar Schacht and Kurt von Schröder argued at Nuremberg. As you know, none of the people who provided the money for the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party in Germany suffered very much after 1945. Schröder got three months, Schacht was sentenced to eight years imprisonment but he was freed after serving just over 2 years.

Krupp and Flick got longer sentences but were both released by John McCloy in February, 1951. They were also given back the money and property they had made under the Nazis. This included the considerable wealth Krupp made from the labour of over 100,000 inmates of concentration camps. For example, Krupp’s fuse factory inside Auschwitz. It is estimated that around 70,000 of those working for Krupp died as a result of the methods employed by the guards of the camps.

Krupp's property, valued at around 45 million, and his numerous companies were restored to him. Within a few years of his release Krupp's company was the 12th largest corporation in the world.

By 1955 Flick owned over 100 companies with an annual turnover of two billion dollars. Flick was reported to be the richest man in Germany and the fifth-richest man in the world. However, he refused to pay any compensation to the families of the people who had died making him wealthy.

Friedrich Flick died at Konstanz on 20th July, 1972. He left over a billion dollars to his playboy son but nothing to the families of the 48,000 people who had died while slave labourers during the war.

You say that people like Bush and Pawley are just anti-communist. You add that you are also anti-communist. So am I. But I am also anti-fascist. Krupp, Flick, Schacht, Schröder, Bush, Pawley, etc. do not fall into the same category. They are willing to back fascism when it makes them money. It is no coincidence that people like Prescott Bush, William Pawley, Henry J. Kaiser, George & Herman Brown, Stephen D. Bechtel, Tommy Corcoran, Sam Zemurray, etc. like fascist governments. They provide ideal conditions for making high profits. This is why these people provided backing for military dictatorships in Asia and Latin America.

Joseph Pratt and Christopher Castaneda pointed out in their book about George and Herman Brown that the common goals of the Suite 8F group involved working towards a “healthy business climate characterized by a minimum of government regulations, a weak labor movement, a tax system favorable to business investment, the use of government subsidies and supports where needed to spur development, and a conservative approach to the expansion of government social services.” This is what fascist and neo-fascists governments in third-world countries give investors from the West. That is why they back them. That is why they are willing to work so closely with the CIA to get these kind of governments. That is why most American presidents in the 20th century were so keen to back these military dictatorships. JFK tried to develop an alternative policy and as a result he had to be removed from power.

#4 John Simkin

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 07:37 AM

(1) Could you explain the reasons why you decided to become an investigative journalist and historian?

(2) Is there any real difference between the role of an investigative journalist and a historian?

(3) How do you decide about what to write about?

(4) Do you ever consider the possibility that your research will get you into trouble with those who have power and influence?

(5) You tend to write about controversial subjects. Do you think this has harmed your career in any way? Have you ever come under pressure to leave these subjects alone?

(6) The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that the "committee believes, on the basis of the available evidence, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy".

However, very few historians have been willing to explore this area of American history. Lawrence E. Walsh's Iran-Contra Report suggests that senior politicians were involved in and covered-up serious crimes. Yet very few historians have written about this case in any detail? Why do you think that historians and journalists appear to be so unwilling to investigate political conspiracies?

(7) What is your basic approach to writing about what I would call "secret history"? How do you decide what sources to believe? How do you manage to get hold of documents that prove that illegal behaviour has taken place?

#5 Joseph Trento

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 09:36 AM

[quote name='John Simkin' post='63156' date='May 22 2006, 06:04 PM'](1) Could you explain the reasons why you decided to become an investigative journalist and historian?[/quote]

I don't consider myself a historian. I have been labelled that by others. I think historians rely too much on documents and since most documents are written to cover your ass and can't be totally relied on. I wanted to find out things really worked when I was young. I also grew up believing life is complicated and government officials don't always tell the truth. That combination made me a terror as a young reporter for my school newspapers. I think journalism is the best profession one who is curious can go into providing you don't worry about a career. If you worry about offending bosses, getting into the right clubs and winning awards you will be lost.

[quote name='John Simkin' post='63156' date='May 22 2006, 06:04 PM'](2) Is there any real difference between the role of an investigative journalist and a historian?[/quote]

They should compliment each other. I think journalists have the opportunity to interview participants in history and should treat those interviews with enormous respect and get to as many important issues as they can. Because that interview may be the tool a historian a hundred years from now uses to put pieces of a story together.

[quote name='John Simkin' post='63156' date='May 22 2006, 06:04 PM'](3) How do you decide about what to write about?[/quote]

What I think is important. There are hundreds of stories I would like to do, but practicality forces you to focus on a few and try to do a decent job.

[quote name='John Simkin' post='63156' date='May 22 2006, 06:04 PM'](4) Do you ever consider the possibility that your research will get you into trouble with those who have power and influence?[/quote]

Sure. You get it from all ends. Because early in my career I had the nerve to relook at Sy Hersh's Chile reporting I was punished by being excluded from working for a major establishment paper. Abe Rosenthal saw to that. Now at nearly 59, I find myself the target of my own government and a few others. You make liberals mad and you make conservatives mad. But none of that matters. All that matters is getting to the work. We all have a limited time here. You do your best then let the chips fall.

[quote name='John Simkin' post='63156' date='May 22 2006, 06:04 PM'](5) You tend to write about controversial subjects. Do you think this has harmed your career in any way? Have you ever come under pressure to leave these subjects alone?[/quote]

Yes. Usually financial pressure through publishers and networks, sometimes foundations. So you pick your shots and try to get the stories right. I have lost book contracts and grants because of political pressures. Some of the most liberal organizations are the worst in displaying this kind of political correctness. The saddest thing for me is when new facts you have uncovered get lost in the political exploitation of new information.

[quote name='John Simkin' post='63156' date='May 22 2006, 06:04 PM'](6) The House Select Committee on Assassinations reported that the "committee believes, on the basis of the available evidence, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy".

However, very few historians have been willing to explore this area of American history. Lawrence E. Walsh's Iran-Contra Report suggests that senior politicians were involved in and covered-up serious crimes. Yet very few historians have written about this case in any detail? Why do you think that historians and journalists appear to be so unwilling to investigate political conspiracies?[/quote]

"Conspiracy theorist" is a charge the right and establishment uses as McCarthy and his henchman used "commie sympathizer." I and others have been accused of it. Sometimes you get labelled for just writing about someone else’s views, as I did about Angleton's in Secret History. Here is the deal: It takes just a couple of politicians to cook up a conspiracy. They happen all the time. The press has become fearful of being labelled. Would it be fair to say a group of neo-cons cooked up a way of getting Bush to go into Iraq? I think so. But rather then letting the public focus on getting at the truth, we call the reporters and people who dig names, "conspiracy theorists" so no one will listen to what they find. It is the oldest technique in the world and the Bush Administration and their right wing friends have made it an art form. They having talking heads actually calling people conspiracy theorists for stories that have already proven out. It really is the new McCarthyism.

The House Select Committee got a lot right and ignored important stuff concerning the Soviets and Castro.

[quote name='John Simkin' post='63156' date='May 22 2006, 06:04 PM'](7) What is your basic approach to writing about what I would call "secret history"? How do you decide what sources to believe? How do you manage to get hold of documents that prove that illegal behaviour has taken place?[/quote]

You rely on your gut and experience. You test sources with opposing perspectives against each other and you talk to enough people involved to get a good approximation of what happened and your force yourself to keep your mind open that there is always more. I laugh when people claim to have written the definitive anything. Nothing is definitive. History is a moving target based on what new information that might emerge.

#6 Guest_John Gillespie_*

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Posted 23 May 2006 - 04:38 PM

"It is the oldest technique in the world and the Bush Administration and their right wing friends have made it an art form. They having talking heads actually calling people conspiracy theorists for stories that have already proven out. It really is the new McCarthyism."
______________________________________________

Joe,

Unfortunately, there is nothing new about it and it's among the older techniques of government - not "the oldest technique in the world" - but, come to think of it, there are parellels to be drawn to the world's oldest profession, no? At the least, it's another round of the emperor's insistence.

However, I would like to point out here and now that throwing out the 'McCarthyism' saw - always good for a wink, nudge and smile - isn't the flip side of accusing others of being conspiracy theorists. It's the very same thing.

Swimming in the Left/Right paradigm is precisely where the emperors want us. Last one out of that pool is a rotten egg.

Regards,
JG

#7 Dale Thorn

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 02:54 AM

"It is the oldest technique in the world and the Bush Administration and their right wing friends have made it an art form. They having talking heads actually calling people conspiracy theorists for stories that have already proven out."

However, I would like to point out here and now that throwing out the 'McCarthyism' saw - always good for a wink, nudge and smile - isn't the flip side of accusing others of being conspiracy theorists. It's the very same thing.


Technically it may be the same, as a technique goes. But McCarthyism isn't just about labeling - it's about having the bully power to make the label stick and harm the target. And that's what the media does to "conspiracy theorists" - they are marginalized and have their reputations smeared by the accusation.



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