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Bhutto, JFK, and Conspiracies: All change in the media

Paul Rigby

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The most recent Bhutto assassination has offered the curious spectacle of key components of the Anglosphere media suddenly taking the subject of high-level conspiracy seriously – the same media outlets, it should be noted, who have historically given conspicuously short-shrift to the merest suggestion of a conspiracy underpinning the death of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. At least one American blogger has turned his attention to the striking inconsistency:


Hornberger’s Blog

Saturday, December 31, 2007

Hornberger’s Blog Index

Bhutto, JFK, and Conspiracies

by Jacob G. Hornberger

It’s interesting to compare the attitude of the U.S. mainstream press toward the assassination of Benazir Bhutto with its attitude toward the assassination of President John Kennedy.

The immediate reaction of the American press (and U.S. government officials) to the Bhutto killing has been a presumption of a conspiracy. Equally important, among the prime suspects are Pakistani intelligence agencies.

For example, the New York Times reported:

“Pakistani and Western security experts said the government’s insistence that Ms. Bhutto, a former prime minister, was not killed by a bullet was intended to deflect attention from the lack of government security around her…. Her vehicle came under attack by a gunman and suicide bomber as she left a political rally in Rawalpindi, where the Pakistani Army keeps its headquarters, and where the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency has a strong presence.”

“The new images of the men who appear to have been Ms. Bhutto’s assassins showed one dressed in a sleeveless black waistcoat and rimless sunglasses, and holding aloft what appeared to be a gun. He had a short haircut and wore the kind of attire reminiscent of plainclothes intelligence officials, though Al Qaeda and other militants have also been known to dress attackers in Western-style clothing in order to disguise them.”

Yet, in the Kennedy assassination, the presumption has always been the exact opposite. After the killing, the U.S. mainstream press immediately embraced the conclusion quickly reached by U.S. officials that Lee Harvey Oswald was a lone assassin as well as the decision by federal officials to immediately shut down any serious investigation into whether there was a conspiracy behind the killing, including a conspiracy in which U.S. intelligence agencies might have participated.

Why is the mainstream press considering the possibility that Pakistani intelligence agencies were behind the Bhutto killing? According to the Guardian, Pakistan’s intelligence agencies “are widely believed to carry out kidnappings, unlawful detentions and extrajudicial killings. The speed with which the government accused al-Qaida did little to allay fears of state involvement, and conflicting accounts of the cause of death have convinced many of a cover-up.”

Yet, as everyone knows, U.S. intelligence agencies, especially the CIA, have long been involved in the same sort of nefarious activities — kidnappings, torture, coups, murder, and assassinations, even as far back as the Kennedy administration.

Now, notice that no one in the mainstream press is screaming, “Conspiracy theory! Conspiracy theory!” in response to the suspicion that Pakistani intelligence agencies might have been behind the Bhutto killing. On the contrary, the mainstream press is actually treating such a conspiracy as a viable possibility.

Yet, whenever someone suggests that U.S. intelligence agencies might have been involved in the JFK killing, the immediate attitude of the U.S. mainstream press is exactly the opposite: “Conspiracy theory! Conspiracy theory!”

The longtime protective attitude toward the CIA among the mainstream press has been most recently reflected in the controversy over the CIA’s obstruction of justice and cover-up in the George Joannides matter. Despite the ominous overtones of the Joannides scandal, the entire matter has been met with a collective yawn of indifference among the mainstream press.

During the time that Oswald was in New Orleans, one of the groups with which he interacted was a virulent anti-Castro student group in New Orleans. Oswald first approached the group by offering his services as a former U.S. Marine to help train anti-Castro guerrillas. Soon after that, Oswald switched roles and took a pro- Castro position, causing him to get into an altercation with the same anti-Castro group.

Soon after the Kennedy assassination, that New Orleans anti-Castro group made a big deal to the press about Oswald being a pro-Castro advocate. What no one knew at the time, however, was that the CIA was funding the group, a fact that, for some reason, CIA officials knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately kept from the Warren Commission.

Then, when the House Select Committee on Assassinations reopened the investigation into the Kennedy assassination in the 1970s, the CIA called a CIA official, George Joannides, out of retirement to serve as the liaison between the CIA and the House committee.

Why Joannides? Well, he was the CIA contact for the anti-Castro group in New Orleans with whom Oswald had had that interaction. He was the guy in charge of funneling the CIA money into the group. He, along with his superiors at the CIA, kept his role secret from the Warren Commission. He was also the guy who kept his role secret from the House Select Committee during the 1970s even though the CIA was supposedly cooperating with the committee’s investigation.

In other words, when Joannides was called out of retirement to serve as the CIA’s liaison with the House Committee, CIA officials knew that he could be trusted to keep the Joannides information secret from the House investigators.

For the past few years, the CIA has been fighting vehemently to keep the American people from viewing its Joannides files. Why? Well, the CIA’s position is that if the public were to see such files, the entire security of the United States would be threatened.

Now, think for a moment how ridiculous that position is. How in the world could the disclosure of files relating to a CIA’s relationship to an anti-Castro group with whom Lee Harvey Oswald interacted some four decades ago threaten the national security of the United States? The fact is: It couldn’t. It’s a ridiculous claim.

A few weeks ago, a U.S. Court of Appeals ordered the CIA to search for the Joannides files and provide a report of its findings to a federal district judge. My hunch is that the CIA, which is currently undergoing scrutiny for its intentional destruction of videotapes showing CIA agents torturing a suspected terrorist, is going to have a difficult time finding those files, perhaps for the same reason that it can’t produce those torture videotapes.

Yet, the U.S. mainstream press will undoubtedly accept without any question whatever explanation the CIA comes up with, including “national security,” even while the press accepts as perfectly natural the possibility that Pakistani intelligence agencies killed Bhutto.

I can’t help but wonder whether Pakistani military dictator Pervez Musharraf will appoint a blue-ribbon investigatory commission to investigate the Bhutto killing, headed up by one of those Supreme Court justices that he recently appointed to the court after he fired the independent justices that were serving on the court. Such a commission might not satisfy the Pakistani people but at least it would be likely to resolve doubts among the U.S. mainstream press.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

So why has the Anglosphere media offered abundant material undermining the Pakistan government’s (hastily revised – and just who prompted that risibly unconvincing about-face?) version of events?

Part of the answer lies in the racism which underpins the Anglosphere media. Eight years ago, I wrote a piece attacking a then Guardian columnist, Francis Wheen, in the course of which I pointed to the race hierarchy which pertained in the paper’s treatment of conspiracies:

In the good old days of C.P.Scott, British Intelligence was invisible, even as it played a key, perhaps dominant, covert role in the rise of Europe’s fascist dictatorships. Today’s Guardian appears very different. In the columns of Wheen and colleagues, spook malfeasance is regularly exposed and denounced. More attentive scrutiny reveals, alas, a less edifying truth: A more subtle dishonesty has merely supplanted an older, and cruder pattern of lying. The new dispensation offers us a world in which MI5 conspires frequently, MI6 when in conflict with CIA, and Langley only when the New York Times decrees. No such reticence, it is striking, attends the paper’s treatment of conspiracies among what the paper presumably considers the lesser races: Africans, Asians, Latin Americans and the white tribe of southern Africa invariably conspire. For the past decade or so, the paper has found CIA- detection in any of these continents difficult to impossible,”

A Viscious Experiment in Wheenland, April 1999

In addition, we must factor in a specific US goal – the collapse of the Musharraf regime. The undermining of the official account of Bhutto’s death has been lead within Pakistan by two media organisations, the Dawn publishing empire, and Geo TV. Here’s a Pakistani poster’s take on the latter:


80439, Yes. Even in chaos they must have a special place

Posted by Gaya, Wed Jan-02-08 12:09 AM

GEO Tv, an American CIA station to bring us democracy, was doing this always but Mush shut it down and now America forced it back up. GEO never showed any good news like Islamabad Peshwar motorway but instead it show dead people all the time....they never discuss 5.1 billion dollar of oil refinery in Pakistan instead they show beheading of Pakistani people and always blaming it on different sects.

Bringing Iraq-like democracy in Pakistan is what they want - chaos and civil war. They will bomb Shia mosques and Sunni monques and stand back and watch the people fight. They want inter-ethnic warfare, moderates against extremists, wives against mother-in-laws - anything that promotes conflict.

And here’s some of the back story to the Musharraff regime’s pre-assassination battle to control Langley’s favourite Pakistani newspaper group, and TV station:


Musharraf govt puts the squeeze on "Dawn"

MAR 27 - The Dawn Group of Newspapers, Pakistan's largest English language newspaper and magazine publishing house, is facing serious economic pressures as well as legal harassment by the government of Pakistan for its independent coverage of sensitive topics such as the military action against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in North and South Waziristan areas bordering Afghanistan, the insurgency in parts of the restive south western province of Balochistan, and a possible resurgence of covert government support to Kashmiri militants.

In September 2006, the government approached the Dawn Group seeking a news blackout on coverage of Balochistan and the troubled North and South Waziristan tribal areas, but the group turned down the request as being unreasonable. Since December 2006, the government has imposed massive advertising cuts on the publishing house equivalent to two thirds of total federal government advertisements.

The government also retaliated by withholding a television broadcast license to the group. According to Dawn, in December 2005, Mr. Shaukat Aziz, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, had himself informed Mr. Hamid Haroon, Chief Executive of the Dawn Group, that the government was keen that the group should start an English language news channel. (PPF)

Pak military voices concerns?

NJ, MAR 19 - Rumors are floating in Pakistan, according to Stratfor, that certain corps commanders within the military hierarchy have written a letter to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf expressing their concern for the way in which the matter of the suspension of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar is being handled as well the police raid on the offices of private television channel GEO. Moreover, the political fate of the embattled president could be decided in a meeting of the corps commanders as early as next week, the US-based news intelligence service Stratfor says. Meanwhile, President Musharraf said March 17 that a conspiracy had been hatched against him. He spoke to a large crowd in Pakpattan, a town about 150 miles from Lahore.

Riot police trash Geo TV station; Rafiq Tarar bundled up

MAR 16 - Riot police smashed into the offices of Geo television in Islamabad Friday after editors refused to stop transmitting pictures of police clashing with stone-throwing protesters. Glass doors were broken and journalists were assaulted by officers who ordered them to remove a rooftop camera with a panoramic view of the street violence. President Gen Musharraf later rang the television station to make an unprecedented live apology. Police also fired rubber bullets and tear gas, and detained opposition leaders as protests escalated over the ousting of the country's top judge. For the past eight days Gen Musharraf has been trying to sack the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, claiming he is guilty of unspecified charges of misconduct. But the judge and his swelling brigade of supporters, who have paralyzed the courts, say the charges have been cooked up to ensure Gen Musharraf can be easily re-elected as president later this year. In Lahore former president of Pakistan, Rafiq Tarar, was bundled into a police vehicle and driven away, and in Islamabad Qazi Hussain Ahmed, leader of the Jamaat Islami religious party, was arrested. The incidents are a measure of how badly government efforts to deflate the judicial crisis are failing, wrote The Telegraph.

Judiciary crisis in Pakistan deepens

NJ, MAR 16 - According to a BBC Online (Urdu) report, Sharifuddin Pirzada, noted Pakistani constitutional lawyer and Senior Adviser to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, has expressed his inability to represent the government in the reference by President General Musharraf against Justice Chaudhry.

The Judge was suspended by the General last week for "misuse of authority", escorted home, put under house arrest incommunicado. He is reported to have got back his television and his son's car, but the car is without keys. Besides, an Urdu daily is the only newspaper he is getting. He and his family have also been restrained from moving freely inside their home, media reports monitored here said.

Meanwhile, sources told Dawn newspaper that a top GEO TV official was summoned to Islamabad on Wednesday and `requested’ by the government to immediately stop the popular TV show titled `Aaj Kamran Khan key sath’. The show’s host, Kamran Khan said his TV channel would abide by the government's decision. The TV channel official was also told that such coverage of the judicial crisis was completely unacceptable.

Latest: Pakistani riot police stormed GeoTV - a private television channel's offices and tear-gassed employees after its editors refused to stop broadcasting pictures of protests in Islamabad over moves to sack the country's top judge. Geo News Bureau Chief Hamid Mir said on television that police broke windows, scuffled with staff and released teargas in the office. The channel was able to broadcast live pictures of the helmeted police carrying shields and batons bursting into the channel's building, and vehicles parked outside were damaged. The neighboring office of The News daily was also damaged by police. “We hold the president and the prime minister directly responsible for all this,” said News bureau chief Ansar Abbasi.

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