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Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the Sixties


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Joe:

I wonder if you would actually like to have a regular type spot today.  I don't think I would.

In that review of Morgan! I mentioned, if you recall, MacDonald quit right after that.  Get this.  He complained that although he had seen and reviewed films like Breathless, 8 1/2, Jules and Jim, The Four Hundred Blows, L' Avventura, La Notte, and Dr. Strangelove, from 1960-64, he did not think the last couple of years were up to that.  What is amazing about that statement is that still to come were Blow-Up, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Bonnie and Clyde, The Graduate, Z and Persona. Those films were all released right after he quit.  And as everyone knows, American films had a wonderful spurt of creativity from about 1967-75.  Both Joe and I have written about this in recent books.  And we have both then quoted that definitive statement by Susan Sontag about what has happened in the last 20 or so years.  I mean if I had to review stuff like Parkland, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and The Avengers, and Us on a regular basis,  I would not last long.

Like I said in my last book, this country needs films with some kind of political import now more than ever.  And what do we get: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

IMO, MacDonald would have never even taken up film reviewing or criticism--he did both--with the condition of the film industry today.  (He even had an interest in the JFK case.)  In fact, a book of his letters was released a few years ago.  The kind of criticism he wrote was so insightful, erudite and illuminating that the reviewers did not even understand it!!  That is how far film writing has fallen.  So I am glad Joe is still at it.

BTW, on this general subject, if you have not seen Cold Case Hammarskjold, please do. That cover story has finally fallen.

Edited by James DiEugenio
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Can we get the author here to answer some questions? He’s really hitting some nerves, making connections. I’ve just read some excerpts dealing with an operative named Reeve Whitson. Comment at the end of the excepts says O’Neill has more than he put in the book. 

Edited by Paul Brancato
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Mindhunter is director/co-producer David Fincher's crime fiction show for Netflix, loosely based on former FBI agent John Douglas's book of the same title about the development of the FBI Behavioral Sciences unit and its interviews with serial killers and multiple murderers. 

In this year's season 2, episode 5, we get this exchange between agents returning from a visit to Manson:

[Agent Ford]  What makes more sense?  Manson forced to go along with Tex and Sadie’s copycat crime, or a race war predicted by the Beatles?

[Agent Tench]  You’re saying the DA lied?

[Agent Ford]  I’m saying he gave it a narrative.  He had to explain to a normal, middle-class jury how some normal, middle-class kids murdered seven people.

So, limited hangouts seem to be in the breeze now that Bugliosi no longer snarls upon the earth.  Look for more of the same in other media.

However, just bringing up the question, the DA lied? is an important historical marker.

In the same episode, an agent's interview with Tex Watson floats the idea that Manson went to Cielo Drive after the killings.

 

Edited by David Andrews
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Interested parties may investigate the history of Christ-emulating California cult leader Krishna Venta, an influence on Manson.  This influence isn't mentioned much in Manson studies. 

I excerpted the statement below from the linked article.  If any errors, make your own examination and report on who and what brought Manson and the deceased KV's movement together:

But the most notable inter-cult connection was with another Jesus-claimant, long after Krishna Venta was assassinated.  In 1968, Charles Manson and his coterie resided for several months at the Fountain of the World; Manson even made an unsuccessful takeover bid.  When that failed and he was booted from the commune, he moved his group to nearby Spahn Movie Ranch, and the rest is history.

https://www.skepticink.com/lateraltruth/2014/11/21/krishna-venta-the-christ-of-box-canyon/

Krishna Venta had been more materially successful than Manson, and enjoyed good press as a peacenik eccentric when he and his followers made barefoot visits to eastern cities.  The cult had a comely little compound in Box Canyon, and a hierarchy of bishops and veil-wearing sisters.  Krishna Venta is said to have been mentored by Father Divine, who tutored Jim Jones.  Krishna Venta died in a 1958 suicide bombing by two former followers upset by his appropriation of their wives.  His cult persevered into the age of Manson.

Here's a distillation of Krishna Venta's apocalyptic vision.  Not only is it similar to Manson's - it's similar to J. Edgar Hoover's:

Venta’s version was well adapted to the Cold-War climate of the times.  The coming cataclysm would be a racially motivated civil war in the West, particularly America, where the blacks would rise up and bloodily vanquish the whites, with aid from Russia; and then the traitorous Russians would turn around and conquer the blacks, and try to take over the world. But then Krishna’s followers, after spending the war tucked snugly away in a place of safety, would re-emerge, conquer the Russians, and  build a shining new world of equality, justice, and peace, with Krishna Venta in his rightful place as world messiah.

More memorabilia of Krishna Venta:

http://krishnaventa.blogspot.com/

Edited by David Andrews
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2 hours ago, Paul Brancato said:

Can we get the author here to answer some questions? He’s really hitting some nerves, making connections. I’ve just read some excerpts dealing with an operative named Reeve Whitson. Comment at the end of the excepts says O’Neill has more than he put in the book. 

I feel as if I'm being asked to buy the idea that CIA operative Reeve Whitson took part in a plot to murder the preg daughter of US Army intelligence officer Col Paul Tate.

Of all of the millions of people this plot could have targeted in order to discredit the "counter-culture" they picked on one of their own?

No, I can't buy that unless there's evidence of a fierce CIA vs Army intel beef.

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14 hours ago, Cliff Varnell said:

I feel as if I'm being asked to buy the idea that CIA operative Reeve Whitson took part in a plot to murder the preg daughter of US Army intelligence officer Col Paul Tate.

Of all of the millions of people this plot could have targeted in order to discredit the "counter-culture" they picked on one of their own?

No, I can't buy that unless there's evidence of a fierce CIA vs Army intel beef.

I am unsure of my support of the intel op theory, but I am sure that intel agencies, as well as the military, have[,] past a certain, and low, bar[,] no regard for the lives of their operatives or their families.

Edited by David Andrews
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1 hour ago, David Andrews said:

I am unsure of my support of the intel op theory, but I am sure that intel agencies, as well as the military, have past a certain, and low, bar no regard for the lives of their operatives or their families.

Tell me more.  I'm all ears.  Please cite other instances of an intramural slaughter of a US intel official's civilian family members.

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11 minutes ago, Cliff Varnell said:

Tell me more.  I'm all ears.  Please cite other instances of an intramural slaughter of a US intel official's civilian family members.

Phillip Marshall and family (former Contra War pilot and 9/11 investigator))

David Crowley and family (former military turned CT filmmaker)

Col. James Sabow (individual, serving military, drug shipments whistleblower))

 

Edited by David Andrews
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4 minutes ago, David Andrews said:

Phillip Marshall and family (former Contra War pilot)

So the targets of the Marshall murders were his 2 teenage kids and Marshall happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

4 minutes ago, David Andrews said:

David Crowley and family (former military turned CT filmmaker)

What evidence is there that this was an intel agency hit?  And were his family members the targets of the hit the way Sharon Tate was the target of the Manson Family?

4 minutes ago, David Andrews said:

Col. James Sabow (individual, serving military)

What does that have to do with the targeting of civilian family members of intel operatives?

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Jim, you are right that I pity the poor people who have regular film reviewing

jobs today and have to watch so much garbage. I'm too old for that now. As the Jesuits

used to tell us, "Vita brevis, ars longa." When I was young, I reviewed many, many terrible films for Variety

and other outlets, along with the occasional good one. I did get to

see some films for Variety that were hardly shown anywhere. Then after

Variety tried to blacklist me over my PATRIOT GAMES review (an episode

I discuss in my new book, FRANKLY: UNMASKING FRANK CAPRA) I reviewed

for Boxoffice magazine (thanks to editor Ray Greene) and a number of film websites, though those kept going out of business. I am happier writing

books on film -- you can get much more deeply into subjects. And like you, I miss Dwight Macdonald. The very first article on film I ever published (in Film Heritage in 1967)

was a comparative essay on Macdonald, Pauline Kael, and Stanley Kauffmann.

Macdonald had great wit and political expertise. I often disagreed with him on films,

and he was caught in the middle of an historical change by railing snobbishly against lowbrow

and "middlebrow" films, but I always found him stimulating to read, and often hilarious. I

even used to listen to him on the Wisconsin state radio network when he was

doing his film lectures at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. I called him once

at The New Yorker and we got into a spirited discussion about literature and film. He

was irascible, but I enjoyed that about him and learned from him.

Edited by Joseph McBride
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9 hours ago, Cliff Varnell said:

So the targets of the Marshall murders were his 2 teenage kids and Marshall happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?

What evidence is there that this was an intel agency hit?  And were his family members the targets of the hit the way Sharon Tate was the target of the Manson Family?

What does that have to do with the targeting of civilian family members of intel operatives?

Cliff, below is my corrected original statement.  I see that I omitted punctuation, now corrected in brackets, and that because i was posting fast, the sentence is syntactically difficult:

I am sure that intel agencies, as well as the military, have[,] past a certain, and low, bar[,] no regard for the lives of their operatives or their families.

As I said, "operatives or their families."  Sabow was bludgeoned in the family backyard, on a military base, and discovered by his wife and neighbor.  This makes you wish there were more heart attack needles to go around.

Edited by David Andrews
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9 hours ago, James DiEugenio said:

But David, even Tom qualified what he said about Whitson to the point that he said it all might have been a red herring.

This is why i did not include  it in my review.

Jim,

I was responding to Cliff's second sentence,  Of all of the millions of people this plot could have targeted in order to discredit the "counter-culture" they picked on one of their own?

That's why I wrote,

I am unsure of my support of the intel op theory, but I am sure that intel agencies, as well as the military, have[,] past a certain, and low, bar[,] no regard for the lives of their operatives or their families.

Now, those of us who are unsure Cielo Drive was an intel or military op are in the wicked position of doubting Mae Brussell's suspicions.

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