Jump to content


Spartacus

An interview with Joseph Trento


2 replies to this topic

#1 John Simkin

John Simkin

    Super Member

  • admin
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 16,104 posts

Posted 22 May 2006 - 06:04 PM

Joseph Trento is a journalist who has published several books on history including Windows: Four American Spies, the Wives They Left Behind, and the KGB'S Crippling of American Intelligence (1989), Renegade CIA: Inside the Covert Intelligence Operations of George Bush (1993) The Secret History of the CIA, 1946-1989 (2001) and Prelude to Terror: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty, the Rogue CIA, and the Comprising of American Intelligence (2005).

(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?

#2 Joseph Trento

Joseph Trento

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 22 May 2006 - 06:15 PM

[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.

#3 Dr. Gregg Wager

Dr. Gregg Wager

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 22 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:California
  • Interests:I am a guest professor of music composition at the Korean National University of the Arts in Seoul. I am also a composer, author, and critic.

Posted 02 June 2006 - 05:49 PM

A lot of JFK researchers might know Joseph Trento’s name from Mark Lane’s PLAUSIBLE DENIAL. I am very glad that I recently decided to sit down and read Trento’s THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE CIA from cover to cover.

Perhaps Trento is great example of how to expose secrets while writing history since he has painstakingly put what might otherwise be insignificant, albeit strange, facts into focus, even though I strongly disagree with at least one of his conclusions. Trento discusses at length his interviews with the mysterious historical figure James Jesus Angleton, perhaps even getting too close to this beguiling and sneaky head of CIA counterintelligence.

Trento gives us in depth and intelligent insights into the lives of certain important spies, whose lives and influence had been by and large invisible to the general public: there’s Soviet spy Igor Orlov (whose real name was Alexandr Kopatzky) who ran a art framing shop outside Washington DC; Yakterina Fursetseva, who Trento believes “handled” Lee Harvey Oswald for the KGB; the morbid imprisonment and torture on American soil of Yuri Nosenko; and finally CIA man George Weisz, whose mysterious murder in 1980s remains unsolved. Accounts of these bizarre lives are must-reading for any student of Cold War spying.

The great flaw I believe Trento made in the book was getting too close to Angleton, and taking undo stock into Angleton’s version of the JFK assassination: that Oswald was a KGB agent. In Trento’s epilogue, he writes that Angleton’s onetime close friend, Soviet spy Kim Philby, was responsible for spreading rumors on behalf of the KGB that the CIA killed JFK. On page 477, Trento writes: “Angleton was convinced that Philby was behind the propaganda campaign, now confirmed in the Mitrokhin materials, in which the KGB leaked stories that the CIA was behind the [John F.] Kennedy murder.” The “Mitrokhin materials” Trento refers to are papers former KGB employee Vasili Mitrokhin claims are copies of top secret files, which he turned over to British intelligence agents and were published as THE SWORD AND THE SHIELD (Basic Books, 1999). The trouble is, there is no mention in this book whatsoever of such false rumors by Philby, let alone a “confirmation,” let alone anything, that would link the KGB to the JFK assassination. It appears as if Angleton, ever the clever spook, fooled Trento into turning suspicions about the JFK assassination away from the CIA (where such suspicions belong).

Perhaps Trento’s otherwise excellent research proves one thing: we all must familiarize ourselves with history and make our own versions and conclusions. He is an important writer.



Reply to this topic



  


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users