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NATO's Secret Armies, Operation Gladio and JFK

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16 hours ago, Anthony Thorne said:

In general, the Safari Club was a method for US intelligence, military, anti-communist and nastily covert circles to continue doing all the stuff they’d just been told not to by congress.

But this minute I can’t recall whether it was also a conduit for controlling the Mujahideen forces set up by Brzezinski and co as they turned the ignition on the Afghan war against the Soviets. I’ll need to check. You’ll find discussion of the Safari Club in deep political books like Peter Dale Scott’s, and also now in a handful of mainstream publications, although they both stem from the same handful of sources. 

But the gatherings of some of the same figures in the US through this period deserve equal attention as some of the participants and discussions and events raise red flags, are pregnant with implication, use whatever metaphor you want. There were some big ones every year from ‘76 to ‘79. The infamous one from 1979 is the July conference that year in Jerusalem with George HW Bush, Wolfowitz, Paul Wilkinson and something like 40 or 50 other familiar names, Safari Club members, journalists from the UK and USA, military figures, the works. Here’s the Wikispooks page on it, documenting the scant online resources about it.


This was where a propaganda initiative was concocted to - essentially - blame all international terrorism on the Soviet Union, and to argue that an ongoing War on Terror was required on behalf of the United States and its allies to defeat it. You can draw a straight line from that conference to Alexander Haig’s announcements at the beginning of the Reagan administration that their new foreign policy focus was a fight against terrorism. Researcher Adrian Hanni has written some great online theses about how this developed through the Reagan administration, and I notice that PDF’s of his work tend to come and go online. Hanni has his own Wikispooks page but I’ll need to hunt for where I last grabbed his essays. But he’s a good writer.

And I say ‘infamous’ as that particular conference is barely documented online or in print, although a book later appeared collecting some of the conference proceedings. The most reputable volume mentioning that conference is Lisa Stampnitzky’s book from Cambridge University Press, DISCIPLINING TERROR. And the most cited work on it is an online thesis by Philip Paull that has never appeared online and which only appears to be available if you physically visit the libraries of one or two Universities in the US.  But a number of writers have read and paraphrased Paull’s work, including Nafeez Ahmed in the opening pages of THE WAR ON TRUTH.

But I no longer find that gathering to be the most notable of that year. A much more tight-knit group of neocons and Defense intellectuals gathered together in the US at the end of 1979. At least two conferences were held within a week or two of each other, with some shared participants. One conference was devoted to critiquing the operation of US intelligence agencies and advocating the changes that would be undertaken when Committee on the Present Danger figures made their way into the Reagan administration. Roy Godson was in charge of that gathering. The second conference was devoted to advocating for an aggressive military stance through the forthcoming decade, and for urging a massive increase in military spending. I’ve read much of the transcript of the latter conference, and am tracking down the publication that outlines the first. According to at least one online thesis discussing the Godson conference, Wolfowitz chose the occasion to warn about terrorism.

Here’s the Wikispooks article on Roy Godson’s conference, run by the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence.


But the military conference from the same period is really something. Paul Nitze was there, as were Albert Wohlstetter, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt, Kenneth Adelman and others. There’s two pages of a much longer transcript where participants speculate if future ‘triggering events’ will occur to help them achieve their geopolitical goals - ‘we will not lack triggers’ - and a lecture was given where the required military build-up was viewed as being conditional on a future Pearl Harbor event. This is in 1979, some two decades before PNAC used the same phrase. The guy who was involved in both those discussions was Fred Ikle, and the conference was held at Belmont House in Maryland. That’s the tip of the iceberg for that one. I have access to pages from that book, and if there’s interest I’ll post them.



       This is fascinating material about the prehistory of "PNAC."   Thanks for posting it.

        Is there a reference link for the history of the 1979 Belmont House conference?


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PNAC precursor-related:  There's a meme on the internet about 9/11, in particular the WTC attack, being a "30-year conspiracy," in that plans were floated as early as the 1970s.  When I find a study that turns that meme into an actual school of thought, I'll report back here or in an appropriate thread.

Thanks, Anthony, for raising the level of discourse in this thread.

Edited by David Andrews
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I guess I've asked for more than I can understand.  I thought Safari was a gathering of what (?) anti colonial extremists on an island in the Asian or South Pacific area to discuss things like sustaining the flow of oil in the mid East in the late 80's.

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2 hours ago, W. Niederhut said:


       This is fascinating material about the prehistory of "PNAC."   Thanks for posting it.

        Is there a reference link for the history of the 1979 Belmont House conference?


Yes, there is a lot to follow there:



Ray Cline is an interesting read from Anthony’s JCIS link:



And the rest of that list, from that link


In 1981, the Jonathan Institute published the speeches in a book, International Terrorism: Challenge and Response, edited by Netanyahu.[7][8]









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Since Michael has posted that list, I’ll add the following, without having time right now to fully explain the relevance - and this might be the first time I’ve posted this online, ever. A couple of months after the conference, Shlomo Gazit - mentioned down the bottom of Michael’s list, and the head of Israeli Military Affairs at the time - decided to pack his bags for a change of scenery. He decided to become a ‘visiting fellow’ at Harvard. See this late 1979 news story, where he explains the move with a shrug.


The United States’ ‘political counselor’ to Tel Aviv through 1978 and 1979 was a guy called Robert Blackwill. Blackwill - who isn’t discussed much at all in books of deep politics, but deserves some attention - isn’t listed as an attendee at the conference, but I’m sure he was in touch with all those who attended. When he finished his position in Tel Aviv, he returned to the US, became a director on the National Security Council, and took up a position at Harvard that continued for two decades or more. He was there through the 80’s and the 90’s and beyond.

Blackwill was associated with one school there - the Kennedy School of Government, and, periodically, the Belfer Center. When I dug through archives of the latter, I found the following interesting tidbit. In 1980, while recharging his batteries, Shlomo Gazit gave a talk at the Belfer Center, discussing the future direction of the Middle East. And Blackwill, ensconced in the National Security Council, was there during the same period. So from either attending or being in the milieu of the Jerusalem Conference on International Terrorism, Gazit and Blackwill ended up participating in the same faculty in the US a handful of months later.

Harvard, FWIW, was also the birthplace of the Committee on the Present Danger, and if you read the book HOW HARVARD RULES there’s a nearly 50 page chapter on Harvard and the national security state by John Trumpbour that makes that point. Spooks and anti-detente folk worked and mingled freely there.

Blackwill is a neocon figure who stayed in the background for most of the public life of the neocons, but in his books and publications, he thanks neocon figures for their assistance, and they have regularly thanked him for his assistance in theirs. So why do I think there’s something special about Blackwill? Blackwill had an assistant on his National Security Council staff in the late 80’s. This assistant later co-authored books and articles with Blackwill in the 90’s. And Blackwill later taught joint classes with that assistant at the Kennedy School of Government, again through the 90’s. The pair were joined at the hip professionally and evidently shared the same views, the same mindset, and the same goals.

That assistant was Philip Zelikow, future Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, and the guy who outlined the narrative of the report. In 1997, Zelikow co-ran a study group into the likelihood of Catastrophic Terrorism hitting the US. He ran the study group at the Kennedy School of Government. And on the very short list of participants of that group was Fred Ikle, the guy who I quoted as discussing triggering events and the potential of a future Pearl Harbor event at the Belmont House conference many years earlier. 

As I promised earlier, I’ll post more concrete references about the Belmont House conference later in the week. And a number of further details about the above. 

Edited by Anthony Thorne
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Ron and Jim

I read your July article about Gladio in Kennedy's and King and it is excellent. This article connects quite a few "dots" ... Gladio and Permindex, the Aldo Moro murder and the attempts against DeGaulle.  Shaw and PERMINDEX (and CMC).  Italy becomes Ground Zero for Angleton and Harvey's activities, and the sociopathy of Allen Dulles ... and how NATO was structured and used. The subversive work of Gladio operatives, Aginer Press, and who the real Puppet-Masters are.  How secret warfare is approached, stay-behind networks, false-flag operations and the use of patsies.  I often wondered why Charles de Gaulle removed France from NATO in 1966 and kicked them out of Paris.  Unfortunately, we are not particularly well-informed about issues in Europe, and especially Italian politics.  I have also speculated about who/what was behind the Red Brigade, FBI COINTELPRO, antiwar movements of the 70's  and other fronts.  Your article and the work of Daniel Ganser really shines a light on those tumultuous years. 

Most important for this Forum, it provides context for and perspective on JFK's murder.  It pulls many deep state concepts together in a more coherent picture, and shows that Jim Garrison was truly on the trail of the assassins.  And can there be any doubt that JFK's foreign policy is what got him killed?   Or that Dulles, Angleton and Harvey had a hand in it?  Who pulled the triggers becomes academic and moot.  The end of the article was poetic;  I did not know much about Elisabeth Frank's bronze sculpture of an eagle at the Dallas Trade Mart , an ironic location (and end point) for a great President that never happened ... and where the conspirator Clay Shaw's office front was located.  The quote from William Blake's "Marriage of heaven and Hell" inspires.     

Well done


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On 9/15/2019 at 8:03 AM, Gene Kelly said:

I read your July article about Gladio in Kennedy's and King and it is excellent. This article connects quite a few "dots"

Thank you, Gene. Much appreciated. If you haven't yet listened to it, you might also enjoy the interview I did about the essay on Len Osanic's show (link below).

I think when we consider all these issues, and then see how they link together with the amazing research that Anthony has done and continues to do, the panoramic view is really staggering.

BTW, on 10 September I conducted a nearly two-hour interview with PUPPETMASTERS author Philip Willan, who was absolutely brilliant. He is currently working on a new book, about the death of Aldo Moro. He also read the essay and shared his own insights about the parallels between the JFK and Moro assassinations, as well as the connection to the Permindex figures that Metta discusses in his book.

William Blake has been a lifelong inspiration, but it was only in the final stages of wrapping up the piece that I stumbled across the info on Elisabeth Frink's eagle sculpture, set in honor of JFK. And I found that particularly moving. Glad you did too.

Interview with Len Osanic (July 18, 2019):

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I was going to post more about the Safari Club, and I will do so, but the Belmont House conference deserves some background references. That conference came out of meetings and discussions undertaken by anti-detente folk in the latter half of the 1970’s, and this is the same crowd that had earlier organised to put together the Team B estimates, with Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Northwoods exponent Lyman Lemnitzer and others as part of that group.

A decent summary of what took place with Team B is here 

but Jerry Sanders’ PEDDLERS OF CRISIS probably has the longest book-forum discussion of the whole saga.

Details about the conference - from December 1979, not November 1979 as I had earlier recollected - appear in W. Scott Thompson’s book NATIONAL SECURITY IN THE 1980’s: FROM WEAKNESS TO STRENGTH, which collects transcripts of the lectures given there, and which also records some of the discussions. The event was organised by the Institute for Contemporary Studies (ICS), a right-wing, anti-detente think tank that was formed during the Nixon administration, and which ran into at least the late 1980’s - Donald Rumsfeld is cited online as having briefly run it through that latter period. Here’s some discussion about ICS from Joseph Peschek’s 1987 book POLICY-PLANNING ORGANIZATIONS: ELITE AGENDAS AND AMERICA’S RIGHTWARD TURN.



“Joining the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation in creating intellectual thunder on the right is the lesser-known, San Francisco-based Institute for Contemporary Studies (ICS). Its rise to prominence coincided with the presidential victory of Ronald Reagan, but the links extended further back. The institute was formed in 1972 by a group of men who had worked for Governor Ronald Reagan in the California State administration. Serving as the ICS president for many years was H. Monroe Browne, a cattle rancher who had been appointed by Reagan to the state Occupational Health and Safety Administration Appeal Board. Browne was later named ambassador to New Zealand by President Reagan. Longtime ICS executive director A. Lawrence Chickering worked for Reagan at the state Office of Economic Opportunity. Edwin Meese III, a close associate of Reagan’s in his California years, was in on the founding discussions and served on the board of directors. Also a director before becoming secretary of Defence was Casper Weinberger.

Representing corporate and financial backing on the board of directors were men like Vincent W. Jones of Coldwell Banker, Leif Olsen, a Citibank executive and former chairman of the ICS board of directors, and Donald H. Rumsfeld, president and chief executive officer of G.D. Searle and Company, a former Secretary of Defense and a personal representative of President Reagan in the Middle East. A partial list of corporate contributors in 1980 (amounts not known) included AT&T, Chase Manhattan Bank, Exxon, Ford, General Electric, IBM, Mobil, Shell, Texaco and U.S. Steel. While these giants are not openly identified with the right, the conservative ties of the ICS are more clearly revealed by the support received from such right-leaning funding sources as the John M. Olin Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.”



Discussions at the conference were held by the book's authors - W. Scott Thompson, Kenneth Adelman, Richard Burt, Miles Costick, Robert Ellsworth, Fred Ikle, Geoffrey T.H. Kemp, Edward Luttwak, Charles Burton Marshall, Paul Nitze, Sam Nunn, Henry S. Rowen, Leonard Sullivan Jr, William R Van Cleave, Francis J. West, Jr., Albert Wohlstetter and Elmo Zumwalt Jr. They were accompanied by discussions - some reprinted in the book - with Richard Allen, Angelo Codevilla, Fleming Fuller, Eric Hemel, Charles Kupperman, Robert Osgood, Dale Tahtinen, and Victor Utgoff.

Here's an excerpt from H. Monroe Browne's introduction to FROM WEAKNESS TO STRENGTH.




In the fall of 1976 the institute undertook its first venture into foreign and military policy with the publication of DEFENDING AMERICA: TOWARD A NEW ROLE IN THE POST-DETENTE WORLD. Organized in collaboration with Basic Books (New York), that study expressed the growing alarm of a number of participants who were concerned about the ongoing Soviet military build-up combined with a growing post-Vietnam U.S. isolationism.

The themes expressed in DEFENDING AMERICA gained a growing audience for the next couple of years, and by 1979 the Carter White House implicitly acknowledged the problem by calling for a small real increase in the defense budget. Inflation, however, eliminated the increase last year, and political leadership on the issue all but disappeared as the military and strategic imbalance was increasingly aggravated.

Toward the end of 1979 the seizure of hostages in Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan combined to change fundamentally the nature of the debate. In the wake of those events, it was no longer possible to ignore the growing threat. But although President Carter expressed a strong change of heart in his 1980 State of the Union message, his policies have changed almost not at all: the defense budget - to pick one important indication - is unchanged from what it was before the incidents in Iran and Afghanistan.

The most important point is that those incidents did not change the underlying situation, which has been readily apparent to observers for several years. The question has never been whether such crises would occur, but when. For this reason, in the fall of 1979 the institute asked W. Scott. Thompson to organise a sequel to DEFENDING AMERICA - to assemble a group of authors who would undertake a systematic study of the ways in which U.S. foreign and military policy ought to be reoriented, fundamentally. While DEFENDING AMERICA was a critique, this project was organised to set forth a positive agenda for policy. For this purpose a number of authors who had contributed to the earlier book were recruited: Edward N. Luttwak, Charles Burton Marshall, Paul H. Nitze, and Albert Wohlstetter, in addition to Thompson. The new project was designed to recommend a whole range of policy options, from short-term quick fixes to longer-term military and diplomatic strategies.

At a special conference at Belmont House in Baltimore, Maryland, the authors met with other experts and with media representatives to discuss problems and chapters with independent observers, including some from the administration. The discussions were then transcribed and included in the book to enrich its content and to ensure that contrary opinion would be represented. They appear, following the order of the chapters, at the end of the last three major sections.

In judging the results, it becomes clear why the American public has recently been preoccupied with foreign policy. It is especially clear that the post-Vietnam period is over and that U.S. policymakers have yet to chart a new course in foreign policy. The development of new strategies will no doubt be worked out over the coming months in the course of the presidential campaign, and into the next administration.

This book presents one set of military and strategic options which deserve a major hearing in the coming debate.

H. Monroe Browne


Institute for Contemporary Studies


10 May 1980

San Francisco, California



Many of the participants at the conference have interesting - and in some cases, startling - links to the world of deep politics. (There's a news story online about how Kissinger at point had made a sinister threat to Elmo Zumwalt, and Angelo Codevilla - beyond having some very funny disagreements with the CIA, which are documented on the CIA Crest site - later published some articles alleging involvement of the Bush administration with 9/11). Kenneth Adelman, one of the participants quoted below, was an aide to Donald Rumsfeld during the 70's. But I'll just note a couple of things about Fred Ikle.

Ikle, who spoke at the conference, was a former RAND consultant and defense intellectual who had earlier written a study for RAND on the effects of a catastrophic event on population centres - THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF BOMB DESTRUCTION. In the 70’s Ikle was a work colleague and occasional boss to neocons like Wolfowitz and Richard Perle. In the late 80’s, Ikle ran a forward-thinking defense study with Albert Wohlstetter, and published an accompanying report titled DISCRIMINATE DETERRENCE. The same year, he wrote an essay for a National Strategy Information Center book extolling the use of psychological warfare - POLITICAL WARFARE AND PSYCHOLOGICAL OPERATIONS: RETHINKING THE US APPROACH.

Ikle’s essay in FROM WEAKNESS TO STRENGTH is an extended plea for increased defense spending. His essay is called PREPARING FOR INDUSTRIAL MOBILIZATION: THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS FULL STRENGTH. In his essay, Ikle speculates that the trend towards reduced defense spending could change if an unspecified crisis provoked a ‘massive expansion of our defense effort’.



After suggesting that there are ‘many possible crises' that could provoke a major defense expansion in the United States, Ikle spends two pages listing possibilities. The first is the potential realisation that the Soviet Union had expanded its arms build-up. The second provoking event could be ‘local Soviet-supported aggression’, such as the North Korean attack in 1950. And the third precipitous event could be a major war between U.S. and Soviet forces. To depict how the U.S. would respond after that occurrence, Ikle cites ‘the extraordinarily successful mobilisation after the attack on Pearl Harbor’ (pg 61).

Later in the essay, Ikle states that the desired build-up is unlikely to happen unless a ‘dramatic external event’ occurs to mobilise the government towards increased military spending.


Ikle also suggests that government should have administrative and legal preparations - a ‘structure’ - in place and ready to be activated by the day of the emergency.


Various participants then continued the conversations further.


And during the talk sessions, Ikle and other members speculated on how ‘triggering events’ could precipitate further actions from the US.





Edited by Anthony Thorne
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       Thanks for posting this stuff.  It's beginning to look like Ikle was the Godfather of PNAC's September 2000 concept of a new "Pearl Harbor" to catalyze popular support for global U.S. military ventures.

      Incidentally, Belmont attendee Charles Kupperman is a candidate to replace John Bolton as Trump's third NSC chief.  Lucky us.

Edited by W. Niederhut
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Ikle worked in conjunction with a few others, and he's linked professionally with Richard Perle, Wolfowitz and 9/11 Commissioner John Lehman. Several of that group were pushing, continually, for an increase in US military budgets, and all that kind of links in with the infamous Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) that Andrew Marshall, Ikle's DISCRIMINATE DETERRENCE co-author and fellow RAND consultant Albert Wohlstetter, Rumsfeld and others pushed from just before the first Gulf War, through the 90's and, for some of them, into and past 9/11. But Ikle's comments are among the earliest I've come across where the general notion is, hey folks, maybe a big crisis can help us achieve all this stuff.


Edited by Anthony Thorne
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I think the recent attacks on Saudi Oil installations may be a false flag event. Curious that the attack occurred on the eve of Israel’s election. 

Why should we believe the Saudi’s about anything? 

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